Time to discuss some actual Pottermore content!
But first… I draw your attention to the new Pottermore CEO’s comments on Pottermore’s future. You can stream or download Charlie Redmayne’s remarks and listen to them for yourself. But here are a few key points:
- We will see new books on Pottermore in the “next few weeks and months.”
- Content, rather than functionality, will become the primary focus in the next few weeks, and there will be a considerable amount of new JKR content added to the site.
- “New interactives and community functionalities will be added in the coming weeks.”
- Pottermore will be looking to port the Pottermore experience to other platforms, including tablets and phones – and to make greater use of Facebook and YouTube. (No timeline given on this)
- The future may include enhanced ebooks from the Pottermore Shop. (No timeline given on this)
One thing to realize: Redmayne took over Pottermore in November. Apparently, not having the site up and running by October – as originally promised – and needing to migrate to an entirely new platform did not play well for the previous CEO.
So… what this means is that Redmayne was not involved in any of the Beta problems. His job was to fix them. And actually, dueling came up in December (a month after Redmayne took over) – after it had been down since August. Not a bad start!
Anyway, it sounds like Redmayne has the vision for Pottermore that previous leadership lacked. He wants to make Pottermore “amazing”… and he recognizes that it’s not close to being there at this point.
Now, on to some content…
A couple of weeks ago, I made my first purchase from the Pottermore Shop. Actually, I bought all 7 ebooks all at once and put them on my Kindle.
One nice thing about the Kindle is that you can see popular highlights. And the most popular highlight in PS/SS is this one:
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
That sentence has been highlighted by 7 people.
7 books, 7 highlights… interesting. But I digress.
Now, much as I love the opening line, and love its whimsical quality, I’m not sure I would have highlighted it. It’s not like it’s possible to miss it! After all, it’s the first line in the Harry Potter series!
Yet it is important… and JKR’s content on Pottermore gives us a little bit of insight into the thought process that went in to assigning that address to the Dursleys. The privet bush is, apparently, the quintessentially suburban British hedge bush. And that alone would make it remarkably Dursleyish.
But what I found curious is what she says about the number four in the “exclusive JKR content” for the very first scene in Pottermore. There, she claims that she has always found four to be a “rather hard and unforgiving number” – which is why she gave it to the Dursleys.
Obviously, four is the number of the square – and perhaps JKR does not like being boxed in. But in addition to the box, four is the number of letters in the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) – the Hebrew name for God. A considerable amount of Western music is composed in 4/4 time. There are four Gospels, four temperaments, four humors, four suits of cards, four seasons, four Beatles, four elements, and yes…
There are Four Hogwarts Founders, and Four Hogwarts Houses!
So JKR did not give the number four only to the Dursleys. She gave the number to Hogwarts itself.
I don’t know about you, but I find this point curious. Even back in the bad old days before the publication of Deathly Hallows, when many fans assumed that Slytherin = Evil and that it should be eradicated not only from Hogwarts but from the face of the Wizarding Earth (thus turning four Houses into three), JKR held strong and said that the four Houses aligned with the four Elements, and that they all were needed to balance each other out and reach fulfillment.
So what do you think?
- In tying the four Houses to the the four Elements and claiming the necessity of each, was JKR trying to move beyond her antipathy to the number four?
- In showing the conflict between the four Houses throughout the series (or at least between the three Houses and Slytherin), was JKR playing to her antipathy to the number four – and illustrating the hard, unforgiving nature of the number four?
- Is the conflict between the four Houses necessary in order to arrive at the uneasy reconciliation at the end, when Harry offers his son a more enlightened, adult view of Slytherin House?
- Or is it just oddly coincidental that the number four is both the number of the hard, unforgiving Dursley home and the number of Hogwarts Houses?
I await your comments…