Tales of Beedle the Bard
Chapter Summary and Analysis - Part Three
As JKR seemed to promise, although she was finished with "Harry," per se, we would see more of the wizarding world through some explanatory works that would capitalized on all the "back story" material she had developed for the books but never made it into print. Tales of Beedle the Bard played a significant role in the concluding book of the series and was ripe for expanding into such a work. Although it STILL doesn't reveal how Dumbledore obtained a scar in the shape of the London underground (a fact which fans have been dying to find out for years) it is, none-the-less, a breath of fresh wizarding air for readers who have suffered withdrawal pains since the series concluded.
And what a wonderful way to do it "discovered" notes from Dumbledore and a "translation" by Hermione. The original "Rowling" manuscripts were wonderfully thoughtful handwritten gifts of love to several persons in her life. And an "extra" that she made garnered over 2 MILLION dollars at auction which was given to charity. Now, her efforts can make a lot more money for one of her favorite charities: Children's High Level Group.
Another, and just as maddening, revelation from this book's publication is that it seems Rowling has absolutely no intention of "tying up all the loose ends" any time soon. The these fables are great and stand alone; but, she just couldn't resist informing us that: there is a "surviving wood cut" of Beedle the Bard which none of us have seen yet, a man named Brutus Malfoy may be related to Draco, another collection of children's stories (Beatrix Bloxam's Toadstool Tales) exists, we only know one of Adalbert Waffling's "Fundamental Laws of Magic," etc., etc..
- Literary Annotations These annotations are those of a literary nature which explain or add depth to the story in a literary sense.Parents Guide These annotations may be used by parents or other care-givers of children, to explain (or expand upon) moral aspects or 'life lessons' which can be learned.
Items displayed such as this are sample questions parents can ask while they read in order to assess the childs understanding.by JK Rowling These annotations are those written by JKR about aspects of the book she feels need clarifying for Muggles.
- Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump
- (Beedle as translated by Hermione Granger, 2008)
- Stupidest Title: The author claimed that she had no idea that she would actually have to write the story when she gave the titles to Ron to speak in book 7. She decided to write Beedle before book 7 was published, and could have changed the title in editing, but liked the idea of trying to "find what those stories were." It turned out to be a story about revenge, one witch's sort of cunning way of revenging herself from Muggle persecution JKR
- The Tale of the Three Brothers
- (Beedle as translated by Hermione Granger, 2008)
Three inordinately skillful wizard brothers were traveling together and at dusk arrived at a deep and dangerous river. They conjured a bridge without difficulty; but, were accosted by a hooded figure when only half-way across. He was "Death," he claimed, and apparently thought he was "entitled" to their deaths trying to swim the river. He feigned that they had "won" a prize for their skill and asked them what they would have at his hand.
The combative oldest asked for a wand that would always win duels, and was given one made from an Elder tree. The arrogant second brother requested the power to recall others (such as his dead fiancé) from death, and was given a stone from the river. The youngest but wisest brother requested something so that Death wouldn't follow him and was reluctantly given Death's own "Cloak of Invisibility."
Some weeks later the oldest brother dueled a wizard he had quarreled with in a distant city and killed him. After having boasted of his invincibility in a pub, he was killed by a thief as he slept. The second brother used the stone to bring his fiancé back from the dead. She was cold and miserable amongst the living so eventually the brother was driven mad with grief and killed himself. Now Death had received two of the brothers, but the third eluded him for many years; until, he had reached a great age and bequeathed the cloak to his son before willingly greeting Death as equals.
- Deathly Hallows Readers of the Harry Potter series will recognize this story as having played a significant role in the final book. Through this story, these items eventually became known as the 'Deathly Hallows' and their possessor the 'master of death.'"Escape V Evade": The handwritten copy of the book purchased from JKR at auction by "amazon.com" uses the word "escape" instead of "evade" as in the published copy where "Death" rewards the brothers for their skill in (avoiding) him."Bad Grace": In the handwritten copy of "Tales" purchased by Amazon.com, Death handed the cloak to the younger brother with "very bad grace" instead of "unwillingly," as in the published version."Elder Wand": I decided that the core of the Elder Wand is the tail hair of a Thestral; a powerful and tricky substance that can be mastered only by a witch or wizard capable of facing death JKR
- Three Brothers - Commentary
- (by Albus P.W.B. Dumbledore, c. 1994)
The profoundness that this story had on my childhood mind cannot be adequately described, except to say that it compelled me to argue repeatedly with my brother Aberforth over which to have read at bed time. He much preferred "Grumble the Grubby Goat." Its moral on the written page is crystal clear: "Human efforts to evade or overcome death are always doomed to disappointment." The youngest brother seems to be the only one who understood that fact. Taunting death through violence or necromancy is just fighting an enemy who cannot lose.
It is ironic that the powerful legend which has grown up around these artifacts contradicts the message of Beedle's original story. To the legend the invincible wand, resurrection stone and invisibility cloak are genuine and their owner "the master of death." To believe so is like believing, as the Muggle proverb: "Hope springs eternal." And the most ironic of all is that despite clear warnings against two very dangerous objects and that death comes to us all, a small group of wizards believe that a coded message is being sent by Beedle directly to them, saying just the opposite.
Their hope is not supported but by the smallest amount of actual evidence. Invisibility cloaks do exist but are rare. The kind described in the legend however; namely, durable and infallible, has never been identified by anyone. The so-called "true believers" explain this away by conjecturing that either the descendants don't know what they have or are just not talking!
Nor has the stone ever been found. Vile substitutions of such have been made by Dark Wizards who created Inferi; but, they are merely re-animated puppets. Beedle's story is clear that the fiancé wasn't truly resurrected but rather only sent as a specter, neither present or absent, to lure the second brother into Death's clutches. (See my previous annotations for Babbitty Rabbitty and her cackling stump).
The only one of the artifacts ever mentioned in history was the wand made of Elder. Perhaps only to glorify themselves, some wizards in history have claimed ownership of a wand more powerful than the ordinary. Many have even suffered death when they were targeted by covetous thieves. The names "Deathstick," "Wand of Destiny" and "Elder Wand" have been variously used throughout history possibly for the same wand. The proverb "Wand of elder never prosper" may have its origins in this legend. And there are others: "When his wand's oak and hers is holly, Then to marry would be folly" and "Rowan gossips, chestnut drones, ash is stubborn, hazel moans." For whatever the reason, elder is not a wood that is much favored by wandmakers.
Before there was a Ministry of Magic to regulate the "sport," dueling was usually fatal to the wizard. Such was the case with Emeric the Evil who terrorized southern England in the Middle Ages and was cut down by Egbert (who subsequently disappeared to history). A century later Godelot wrote a compendium of Dark Magic with the claimed help of his wand "my moste wicked and subtle friend, with bodie of ellhorn, who knowes ways of magick moste evile." Although not complete, history is spotted with dreadful occurrences over a powerful wand. Godelot's mad son, Hereward, took the wand and locked him in a cellar where Godelot died then Hereward disappeared. The eighteenth century Barnabas Deverill's reign of terror was ended by Loxias who renamed the wand "Deathstick" and used it repeatedly for that purpose. Many people claimed to have "ended" Loxias, including his own mother.
Despite the delusions of 'true believers' (in the legend) the wand is not in the least "unbeatable" and, in fact, only seems to draw trouble. The few knowledgeable persons about wand-lore understand that there is a somewhat enigmatic relationship between a wizard/witch and their wand. Over a period of time, the wand 'absorbs' magic from the wizard; then, apparently, if given the chance, can "instruct" a subsequent owner such as what Godelot claimed. Normally our practice of destroying the wizard's wand at his death prevents the accumulation of ability or 'style' within any one wand. Although they don't often understand the reasoning behind it, witches and wizards nearly always prefer a wand that has "chosen" them instead of a second-hand one which has learned incompatible "habits" from the previous owner.
- Dumbledore's Annotations According to the frontispiece, Dumbledore must have completed his annotations sometime before about 18 months prior to his death. Of course this would have been before he found the resurrection stone but not before he examined Harry's cloak in depth.Magic Moste Evile Readers of the Potter books will recognize this title. It was this book which gave Hermione such insight into Horcruxes.Elder Wand The book Deathly Hallows continues the chronology of the wand. Gregorivitch, the German wand maker, claimed to own the elder wand and be using it for 'template' purposes. Grindelvald stole it from him in his youth and of course Dumbledore won it in their duel. Draco Malfoy unwittingly became its master (although not possessor) for a short time until Voldemort took it from Dumbledore's grave. Harry disarmed Draco (which gave him mastery of the wand although not ownership) and then disarmed Voldemort as well (in order to gain ownership). [Harry, as far as we know, is still its master; although the deceased Dumbledore its possessor.]Necromancy The dark art of raising the dead. It is a branch of magic that has never worked, as this story makes clear JKRMuggle Quote This demonstrates that Dumbledore was not only a well read wizard but followed the Muggle literature as well i.e. the poet Alexander Pope's quotation. JKRInvisibility Cloak These are not, generally, infallable. They may be torn with age, the spells may wear off and be counter-charmed. Most Wizards use Disillusionment Charms for concealment. Dumbledore was especially skilled at such. JKRInferi Inferi are corpses reanimated by Dark Magic. JKRAlternate names Other names used throughout history for "Elder" are: Ellhorn and Eldrun.
- About the Children's High Level Group
- (by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, MEP Co-Chair of CHLG)
The book ends with a "thank-you" letter from the baroness for buying the book. She also explains how the donations the group receives from the sale of the book will be used. Scholastic has said that they will donate the company's NET profit from the sale of the book to the CHLG. And she says that she will donate her royalties. The Baroness advises that more than a million children are in large institutions across Europe; mostly, she says, because their families are poor, disabled or are from ethnic minorities. Even though many have disabilities and handicaps, she says, they remain without any health or educational interventions and sometimes even life's basics such as adequate food.
The CHLG was established by herself and JKR to "change the lives of institutionalized children" by getting them out of the institutions and into adoptive, foster or small group homes. They want to see "full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child across Europe and ultimately around the world. They have written "best practices" manuals and in Romania set up a national children's council to represent the rights of children and allow them to speak out about their own experiences. Project "Edelweiss" allows marginalized children to "express their creativity and talents."
Baroness Nicholson invites the readers further investigation at: www.chlg.org.