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Moral Ambiguities



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  #21  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 5:08 am
gyerv59  Male.gif gyerv59 is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by fang25 View Post
I noticed this too...particularly the Unforgivables.

Imperius I could deal with because it CAN have good intentions. Harry used it to make sure he was able to get the horcrux, not to make people commit horrible crimes against others or even themselves.

I didn't think Harry would have to use Avada Kedavra but when McGonagle said "we duel to kill" i was pretty shocked. I know that its the art of war to kill and attack so perhaps that can be justified as well. After all, It's self defense against the DEs. Harry and the gang are just young and naive to some extent despite what they have seen...........


The biggest problem for me was the Cruciatus Curse. Harry could have stunned Carrows but he instead causes horrible pain? That does not sound like the same boy that couldn't even cause pain on the woman who killed his godfather. that was the biggest thing that bothered me.
what really gets me about all these people talking about moral ambiguity, THEY WERE AT WAR. obviously these people have never been in combat, i have so let metell you. there is no moral ambiguity in combat, its you or the other guy, someones gonna die. what did you expect them to do say freeze, wands up.

as for mcgonagal saying we duel to kill, she had just warned slughorn about trying to sabatoge hier defenses and was defending the children, if your going to use the quote use it in the proper context.

harry's use of the cruciatis curse doesn't bother me in the slightest, he was angry and he acted on it, would it have been more humane to kill him. after all the carrows had done that year and considering what amycus was planning on doing to avoid punishment i thought a little pain was called for.

the greater good, its something thats thrown around alot in history, because it can always be used to justify your actions. while LV was working for his own greated good,DD was working for the greater good of he wizarding world. the needs of the many out way the needs of the few, as stated in an earlier post.

i just find it amusing that JKR writes these amazing stories of good vs. evil and there are still people who say the good characters aren't good enough.


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  #22  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 8:38 pm
Aunt_Marge  Female.gif Aunt_Marge is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

While I agree that killing in self-defense is not necessarily morally ambiguous, I definitely think that there are morally ambiguous moments in this book. That doesn't make me dislike it; however- life in general is morally ambiguous, and I like fiction to reflect that. That said, I do think that one needs to be mature enough to appreciate the concept of ambiguity, so I don't really see DH as appropriate for kids.

Here's one point not yet mentioned in this thread: Hermione modifying her parents' memory. I know she was protecting them, and I agree with her sending them to Australia. But couldn't she have explained to them what was happening or why they would have to leave? And if they refused and she had to "force" them somehow, did she really have to modify their memories and identities? Would you want someone you love to erase your memories of them in order to spare you the pain if he or she would die? Again, not saying that was Hermione did was WRONG, just that I see it as morally ambiguous.


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  #23  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 9:03 pm
fruitia pickleweed  Female.gif fruitia pickleweed is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

That is intersting, Aunt Marge. Never thought of that.

Just to stir the pot:

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoraDukes View Post
They were fighting to survive.
Well, actually they were fighting to keep Voldie from returning to Hogwarts until Harry could finish his task, which they took on faith as being critically important. I'm not passing judgement on that -- actually, I think they were very brave -- but it wasn't exactly self-defense. If survival were the goal, everybody could have evacuated.

For those who comment that in war you're not concerned about your soul: would that necessarily mean your soul would be unaffected?

And even when fighting to survive, couldn't the "good guys" of the wizarding world just use Stunners? The goal is to Stop the bad guys, right?



Last edited by fruitia pickleweed; August 3rd, 2007 at 9:05 pm.
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  #24  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 10:29 pm
GennyMW  Female.gif GennyMW is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Using the phrase, ‘for the greater good’ to justify murdering 6 million innocent people for self-gain is a far cry from sacrificing yourself in order to save the world. I don’t have the book on hand, but I believe DD already had an idea Harry would actually survive when he and Snape had the conversation about Harry being a horcrux. DD did not tell Snape everything, possibly on the chance Voldemort broke through his thoughts. Maybe this is one of the things he felt he needed to hold back.

There is a difference between murder and killing in battle. It was also mentioned that remorse can mend your soul. This is what Harry is trying to tell Voldemort in the final battle.

I believe Stan was under the Imperius curse. The description of his blank face was also used when Harry used the Imperius curse at Gringotts.

I would have preferred seeing Harry handle Griphook differently also. However, given that Bill had already told him goblins couldn’t be trusted, I think it would have been foolish of Harry to expect Griphook to return the sword later. That would be like expecting the town gossip to keep a secret.

I hated that Harry used the Cruciatus curse. I think JKR was trying to show that even good people make bad choices, particularly in the heat of the moment. I know I have said/done some things I wouldn’t normally have done just because I was extremely angry/emotional at the time. And (please, no hate mail) teenagers aren't exactly known for being level-headed.

I don’t believe morals are ambiguous, and I do NOT believe in situation ethics. If something is wrong, it is wrong all the time. As much as we might try to follow a set of morals, no one is going to be successful all the time. I think this is reflected in DH.


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  #25  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 10:32 pm
Leon_Lionheart  Male.gif Leon_Lionheart is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by GennyMW View Post
Using the phrase, ‘for the greater good’ to justify murdering 6 million innocent people for self-gain is a far cry from sacrificing yourself in order to save the world. I don’t have the book on hand, but I believe DD already had an idea Harry would actually survive when he and Snape had the conversation about Harry being a horcrux. DD did not tell Snape everything, possibly on the chance Voldemort broke through his thoughts. Maybe this is one of the things he felt he needed to hold back.

There is a difference between murder and killing in battle. It was also mentioned that remorse can mend your soul. This is what Harry is trying to tell Voldemort in the final battle.

I believe Stan was under the Imperius curse. The description of his blank face was also used when Harry used the Imperius curse at Gringotts.

I would have preferred seeing Harry handle Griphook differently also. However, given that Bill had already told him goblins couldn’t be trusted, I think it would have been foolish of Harry to expect Griphook to return the sword later. That would be like expecting the town gossip to keep a secret.

I hated that Harry used the Cruciatus curse. I think JKR was trying to show that even good people make bad choices, particularly in the heat of the moment. I know I have said/done some things I wouldn’t normally have done just because I was extremely angry/emotional at the time. And (please, no hate mail) teenagers aren't exactly known for being level-headed.

I don’t believe morals are ambiguous, and I do NOT believe in situation ethics. If something is wrong, it is wrong all the time. As much as we might try to follow a set of morals, no one is going to be successful all the time. I think this is reflected in DH.
I like how people can say "If something is wrong, it's wrong all the time," yet people are still constantly bickering about what "wrong" actually is.


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  #26  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 10:38 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by Leon_Lionheart View Post
I like how people can say "If something is wrong, it's wrong all the time," yet people are still constantly bickering about what "wrong" actually is.
Everyone has their own idea about what morality is, what's moral and what's not. Everyone has their own idea about what's right or wrong. That's why people debate about it.


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  #27  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 10:40 pm
pandabear18788  Female.gif pandabear18788 is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by Leon_Lionheart View Post
I like how people can say "If something is wrong, it's wrong all the time," yet people are still constantly bickering about what "wrong" actually is.
I agree. If everything were so black and white, there'd be no reason to have a judicial system at all. Unfortunately, things are quite often in shades of gray...

To put it in context of Harry Potter: It is wrong to do magic in front of Muggles. So since Harry performed a Patronus Charm in front of a Muggle, he committed a crime. BUT you have to take into account why he performed said charm in front of a Muggle, and that reason was to save his and his cousin's (the Muggle's) life, which creates an acceptable instance of using magic in front of Muggles.

However, to look at it in the black-and-white, right-and-wrong sort of light: Harry performed magic in front of a Muggle (which is illegal), therefore he did something wrong and should be punished for it.



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  #28  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 10:43 pm
Leon_Lionheart  Male.gif Leon_Lionheart is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by snapegirl77 View Post
Everyone has their own idea about what morality is, what's moral and what's not. Everyone has their own idea about what's right or wrong. That's why people debate about it.
That's kind of my point. As an atheist, I know this quite well. It's rather a foundation of my beliefs, if ya dig it...


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  #29  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 11:00 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by Leon_Lionheart View Post
That's kind of my point. As an atheist, I know this quite well. It's rather a foundation of my beliefs, if ya dig it...
I know and I agree with you.


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  #30  
Old August 3rd, 2007, 11:28 pm
Leon_Lionheart  Male.gif Leon_Lionheart is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by snapegirl77 View Post
I know and I agree with you.
Good. It just sounded like you might have been explaining that to me, not just the thread at large, so I thought I'd just make it clear that I'm no stranger to the concept... keep things un-foggy...


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  #31  
Old August 4th, 2007, 7:11 am
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Life is morally ambiguous. There is no absolute right or wrong. It's all about situational ethics.


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  #32  
Old August 4th, 2007, 7:42 am
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by fruitia pickleweed View Post
Some of this has been discussed in other threads, but I am interested in the whole picture.

Several moral or ethical messages that I thought Rowling was trying to convey through the first 6 books and part of DH seemed to fall apart by the end.

"For the greater good" is presented as a cover slogan for a totalitarian tyranny. Yet bythe end of DH, it seems to be Dumbledore's working motto.

Dumbledore seemed to show exemplary respect for others, even when he strongly disagreed with their choices. Courtesy was a matter of principle, even at the point of death. And then he turned out to be using the others as tools, even Harry -- not respectfully at all.

Killing is bad, unnatural, and highly dangerous because it rips the soul apart. Dumbledore tries to protect Draco from such a disaster. Yet, everyone goes at it happily in the Big Battle, with no apparent concern for their souls.

Harry took a principled stand against the incarceration of Stan Shunpike without due process. Yet in the end, it appears that Stan may have been a Death Eater -- at least the matter is left very unclear, so that people on this forum are arguing about it. Was this an unimportant matter to Rowling after all, or did she mean Harry was wrong?

Harry wouldn't cause Stan's death just because Stan was in the way. He stood up to Lupin about it. "That's Voldemort's job." At that point, I was thinking Harry has the strength of ten because his heart is pure. But later events make me doubt it.

Harry chose to lie to Griphook. (He had alternatives, at least he could have tried them. He could have made it a condition that Griphook would lend him back the sword for a specified period, for instance.) If Griphook had actually been faithful, Harry would have, essentially, cheated Griphook. Is Rowling condoning that too, "for the greater good"?

Harry uses the Unforgiveables. And he "means them." Maybe he had no choice at Gringotts, but after that? Is "meaning" an unforgiveable curse a good thing to Rowling? Are they so unforgiveable after all?

In Rowling's world, in short, do the means justify the ends after all? Were the principles I thought so meaningful for Harry's character just plot points or just qualmish scruples to be overcome?

Is Rowling giving us a Henry V, where these are the lessons of leadership?

Did anyone else wonder what is going on here?
Yeah, you make an excellent point, but I sort of liked that the fact that these things broke down. I mean, maybe it doesn't look too good for the series in the long run, but during my frist reading I thought it was nice to break away from the forumla, both plot-wise and as far as morality.


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  #33  
Old August 4th, 2007, 4:40 pm
Psychoburner420  Male.gif Psychoburner420 is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by katchick View Post
I don't think the word "flawed" actually covers what happened in this book. I really felt that the moral of the story went from "love conquers all" to "the end justifies the means". Thank you, Fruitia, for giving voice to what I also felt. I had several problems with the breakdown of morality in this book. First of all, Harry did not just mean the curses, he actually started to like them. Second, using people, for any reason, is wrong. Third, NOBODY returns from the dead. I cant count the times that Harry has been told that, yet, we get a resurection.

All that said, as an adult, I loved the book and understand that it is fiction. I know right from wrong and I pride myself on trying to have strong moral values. However, this book was written for kids. I have made the decision not to allow my nine year old to read this book. He is very impressionable and I do not feel that this book sends him the right moral lesson. I am dissapointed and was honestly shocked as I read.

I do not believe the the end always justifies the means, and the motto "for the greater good" just seems evil to me. I think I was a little "too" reminded of Hitler and WWII. Hiroshima was deemed "for the greater good" also. Hitler claimed that the extermination of the Jews were "for the greater good". I don't like that it turned out to also be the motto of a children's book hero.
Firstly, Harry NEVER DIED! Dumbledore explains to him in King's Cross that because Voldemort took Harry's blood, and part of Lily's protection into himself, that while Voldy lives Harry is 'anchored' if you will, to life.

Secondly, people still seem to be under the illusion that HP is still a children's series. I agree, it started out as one, but only because we are seeing through the main characters' (a child) eyes. As Harry ages the novels become less for children and more for young adults, because we are seeing now through a young adults eyes.

It's like Stephen King had on the inside cover of HBP "By the time we finish OotP, with it's extraordinary passages of fear and despair, the distinction between 'children's literature' and plain old 'literature' has ceased to exist....This is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages."
Can't put it any better than that.


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  #34  
Old August 4th, 2007, 4:44 pm
Leon_Lionheart  Male.gif Leon_Lionheart is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Quote:
Originally Posted by fruitia pickleweed View Post
That is intersting, Aunt Marge. Never thought of that.

Just to stir the pot:



Well, actually they were fighting to keep Voldie from returning to Hogwarts until Harry could finish his task, which they took on faith as being critically important. I'm not passing judgement on that -- actually, I think they were very brave -- but it wasn't exactly self-defense. If survival were the goal, everybody could have evacuated.

For those who comment that in war you're not concerned about your soul: would that necessarily mean your soul would be unaffected?

And even when fighting to survive, couldn't the "good guys" of the wizarding world just use Stunners? The goal is to Stop the bad guys, right?
It would be absurdly easy for those Stopped bad guys to be Un-Stopped, though. One Ennervate, and they're up and fighting again.


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  #35  
Old August 4th, 2007, 5:05 pm
Psychoburner420  Male.gif Psychoburner420 is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

About 'Stopping' the bad guys. The good guys did stun them, knock them out, transfigure them etc... But if you noticed, they returned in the Great Hall scene (some at least) Greyback for instance takes a Crystal Ball to the dome, and from what I could tell, it seemed darn heavy. Yet we see him again in the Great Hall scene, so obviously most of the Hogwarts Defenders weren't fighting to kill, but some might have been. In all fairness though, Grawp, the centaurs, and the house-elves probably shed ALOT more blood in the fight than any wizard, seeing as the centaurs and house-elves used conventional weapons (knives and arrows) and Grawp smooshed people. Rofl. And to everybody harping on about Harry using Unforgivables being immoral and highly contradictive, I have one question. Did anybody ever see Harry use, or even attempt to use AK? Because I sure didn't. I think what Rowling is showing us is that Harry has gotten to a point where he'll do ANYTHING to acheive his ends, short of killing. He never kills, not even Voldy at the end. If anything, that is morality. Do what you gotta do, but don't kill people. It's like the difference between a person who breaks into a house and robs it, killing the residents while he's at it, and a person who just breaks in and robs you. It's all the difference in the world.



Last edited by Psychoburner420; August 4th, 2007 at 5:11 pm.
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  #36  
Old August 4th, 2007, 5:07 pm
Shewoman  Female.gif Shewoman is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

Katchick said: I don't think the word "flawed" actually covers what happened in this book. I really felt that the moral of the story went from "love conquers all" to "the end justifies the means". Thank you, Fruitia, for giving voice to what I also felt. I had several problems with the breakdown of morality in this book. First of all, Harry did not just mean the curses, he actually started to like them. Second, using people, for any reason, is wrong. Third, NOBODY returns from the dead. I cant count the times that Harry has been told that, yet, we get a resurection.

Me: I thought "love conquers all" was exemplified clearly when Harry, suddenly discovering that Dumbledore intends him to die, is STILL faithful to his dead Headmaster and goes to his death willingly, not making any effort to stop it. It is because of that that the rest of the Hogwarts extended community is protected; Voldemort's spells can't harm them now. And in his last encounter with Voldemort, he says "I've done what my mother did." Like his mother, he let his body die for the love of others (not knowing that he will be able to choose to return), and like his mother his death protected others. The series ends as it began, with a loving self-sacrifice. And it's worth noting that it is his sacrifice that saves the day. The fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts buys Harry time, but it isn't the fighting itself that results in victory; it's Harry's love.

2) I agree with you about the Unforgiveables. Perhaps JKR did this to show that it's hard to fight evil without being tainted by it.

3) I was very disappointed in Dumbledore here--using both Harry and Snape.

4) Technically Harry wasn't dead and magic didn't bring him back; his body died, but he was still tethered to our world because part of him--his blood--was still alive in Voldemort. And this was so because V insisted on using his blood to get his body back in GoF. Evil overreached itself, and the result was its own defeat. Sounds a lot like Martin Luther's interpretation of Jesus' death and resurrection.


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  #37  
Old August 11th, 2007, 12:02 pm
cabepfir  Female.gif cabepfir is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

I still have problems with Dumbledore's death... Dumbledore gave every explaination for it - he was already dying, he wished to avoid Bella's and Greyback's tortures, he wanted to save Draco's soul, he wanted to preserve the mastership of the Elder Want - yet I find it ambiguous. In my country if you'd ask to another person "Kill me", it would be a crime. For me there's always the specter of euthanasia behind DD's death, no matter how many explaination we got for it, and how much I like Snape as a character and believed since HBP that DD's death was planned.


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  #38  
Old August 11th, 2007, 2:00 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

This idea of doing things for the greater good even if they were morally wrong really bothered me. I understand why it was done, after all, this is a war and generals order soldiers to their death as part of the battle plan. But I had really hoped that it could be without venturing into some of the grey areas like mercy killing. It was well done and the story worked, but I think that doing whatever was necessary for the greater good, even if it meant death for Mad Eye Moody, made it a little harder for me. It is one thing to go into battle knowing that you may be killed. It is another thing to go into battle and be killed because one person, a spy, has a greater value to the war than you do.


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  #39  
Old August 11th, 2007, 2:29 pm
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

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Originally Posted by SusanBones111 View Post
This idea of doing things for the greater good even if they were morally wrong really bothered me. I understand why it was done, after all, this is a war and generals order soldiers to their death as part of the battle plan. But I had really hoped that it could be without venturing into some of the grey areas like mercy killing.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Do you object to war? That's what war is, doing morally abhorrent things, hopefully for the greater good. Although each side in a war generally believes their side is doing morally abhorrent things for the greater good, while their opponents are… morally abhorrent. Can there be a nice war, with game rules? Dumbledore is a general who orders his soldiers to their death and I respect him for being equally willing to die himself, if it's necessary for the cause. Was his death a 'mercy killing?' I didn't see it that way, I saw it as necessary to move the Order's cause forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanBones111 View Post
It is one thing to go into battle knowing that you may be killed. It is another thing to go into battle and be killed because one person, a spy, has a greater value to the war than you do.
I don't think that's why Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him. Dumbledore was dying, and soon. His decision to ask Snape to kill him was the logical one, given the complete circumstances. I don't think it was because a spy had more value than he did.

Such decisions are not made under normal circumstances in the real world. But in war, while I try to stay naive, I fear that far more horrific decisions are made. Not just morally ambiguous, but really dreadful choices are made. I'm glad JKR gave us this flawed world to read about, ponder, and discuss.


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  #40  
Old August 11th, 2007, 2:37 pm
katchick  Female.gif katchick is offline
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Re: Moral Ambiguities

DD's asking the be killed also made me think about the debate over assisted suicide. It is considered a crime and a major issue in "the real world". I wasn't really happy about the way DD was killed, for that reason. I pretty much thought that DD had asked Severus to kill him, but not for that reason. I do think that DD explained his reasoning pretty well though. Even though I don't agree with it, it was well written and clearly explained.


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