Sunday, December 1, 2013

Teaching Character Foils with Harry Potter

On Friday, I was teaching my students about foils in Jane Eyre.  Every time I teach foils, I find that it is helpful for students to have an example of a foil that they can see.  So I have been thinking about some more examples that are more student ready than using the book that we are reading so that they can come up with those on their own.  I think that's why on Saturday, when I was watching Harry Potter, these just came to me.  There are so many foils from J.K. Rowling!! (Warning if for some reason you have been under a rock and are not familiar with Harry Potter--there are spoilers below)

Okay the first one that everyone can usually think of is Harry and Draco.  This is especially apparent in the 6th book.  This is the book that Draco is chosen to kill Dumbledore--so he is a chosen one. And this is the book after the prophecy that reveals Harry Potter as the chosen one which becomes a major issue in this book. But of course Draco is trying to prevent the good side from moving forward; while Harry is trying to prevent the evil side from moving forward.
Another one people often think of is Harry and Neville.  Neville's parents, like Harry's are, taken out by Death Eaters situation when Neville is young. Neville could have been the chosen one--but he is always seen as the clumsy one.  But as Harry mentions--he is really just lucky. Neville is just unlucky with what he wanted to achieve.  In the seventh book, Neville finally comes into his own--and kills the snake--thereby ending Voldemort once and for all!
One that I hadn't realized until I was watching the movies back again this weekend, but Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange are foils of each other too.  I didn't realize it until I saw Molly kill Bellatrix.  Bellatrix does everything to break up families--probably because her family (the Blacks) is all messed up with burn marks on the wall. She breaks up Neville's family, Harry's family, and the Weasley family.  But Molly does everything that she can to keep her family together.  She is the mother that Harry always wished he had.  She keeps track of them on her fancy clock.  She ultimately protects her family and that is when the foil comes to a head when Molly kills Bellatrix.
The final foil is probably a bit obvious, but Voldemort and Dumbledore are foils to each other.  They are both very powerful wizards. But they naturally go about their power in different ways--but they both want Harry to be on their side--almost like Darth Vader and Yoda.  But Harry chooses to not go down either road.....which leads to an idea I have about allegories for a different blog post.

But now I have some great examples of foils :)

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