Seven DADA Teachers = Seven Missing Lords?
By WaggaWaggaWerewolf

When J.K Rowling recently compared libraries to ˜The wood-between-the worlds' 1 from C.S Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, I suspected that it wasn't the only Narnian chronicle which shared an aspect with Rowling's own Harry Potter series. And when Rowling related in an interview how her elder daughter tried to read ahead The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,2 which Rowling was reading to her, there was a hint how that book might relate to the themes of each Harry Potter book, despite the strongly different characters, story line and setting.

Contributors to a Leaky Lounge topic, “The Seven Deadly Sins,” 3 did see the relationship between The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and the Seven Deadly Sins. When Lucy and Edmund sailed on Caspian's ship to seek out what happened to seven missing lords, the voyage also became a deeply spiritual and personal journey of discovery for the travellers, who found that one sin matched each lord they found. Perhaps most tellingly of all seven examples was when Eustace turned into a dragon, while wearing the Lord Octesian's gold arm-ring.4

Do the seven books of the Harry Potter series have a similar, maybe clearer relationship with the Seven Deadly Sins? In the Scribbulus essay, “The Mystery of the Number Seven,” 5 the author, memyslfnI, examined a number of references in the Harry Potter series to the number seven. It would be reasonable if other famous examples of the number seven also appeared. For example, would the nature of Voldemort's jinx of the Defence Against the Dark Arts positio6 be that each holder would be found unworthy to continue more than a year, due to some hidden weakness, however virtuous the successful applicant for the position appeared initially? And would Harry draw lessons from each Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, not unlike the lessons drawn from Caspian's missing lords?

What Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Revealed

After the 2003 publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I was involved in a discussion thread on ˜Violence in H.P.' 7on To my surprise, Hermione's slapping Draco generated the most heated interest, compared to other incidents like Umbridge's detention pen or Voldemort's rebirth. It was then I began to realise how many facets of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were over the top, such as punishments out of keeping with the crime, for example Harry's being excused for blowing up Aunt Marge, or Sirius' twelve years' incarceration for something he didn't do, even overloads of schoolwork, not only Hermione's slapping Draco. Hermione, of course, was a workaholic, a real glutton for punishment. But wouldn't Aunt Marge's drunken disparagement of Harry's dead parents be considered beyond the pale? Or, wouldn't Buckbeak's threatened execution, at the urgings of Lucius Malfoy, livid that he had injured a disrespectful Draco in retaliation, or Snape's intemperate refusal to listen to Sirius or Lupin's side of events, due to an old grudge, also be considered excessive?

When, at the end, Hermione surrendered her Time-turner, which allowed her to attend several classes simultaneously, and when Harry learned to control his fear of Dementors, it was clear that the themes of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban not only concern punishment, but the sin of gluttony and the need for moderation. At the end, the three friends finally accepted why they should accept limits on their behaviour, whether for blaming Crookshanks for murdering Scabbers, or whether or not to take Sirius' or Peter's lives. But when a favourite character, Lupin, lost his Defence Against the Dark Arts job having neglected to take the Wolfsbane potion, which Snape prepared for him, to control his monthly werewolf episodes, I wondered why there had to be a new ˜DADA' teacher in each book.

After all, J.K. Rowling has said that there would be a new DADA teacher in book 7,8 and that Remus Lupin would not return to fill the position.9 Moreover, when Voldemort unsuccessfully applied for the then vacant DADA position, he jinxed it in some way so that each year there had to be a new teacher. Even Snape's exchanging Potions with Horace Slughorn to teach DADA did not stop his leaving Hogwarts at the end of the year, having killed Dumbledore. If Lupin's loss of the position is due to issues of Gluttony, loss of self-control or intemperance, perhaps the other six ˜DADA' teachers also match one or the other of the remaining Seven Deadly Sins, not unlike the islands and lords of the Dawn Treader's quest.

What are the Seven Deadly Sins?

The seven deadly sins are defined as Greed or Avarice, Lust or Exploitation, Gluttony, Envy, Anger, Sloth and Pride. This definition was first attributed to Pope Gregory the Great, who died in 604 A.D., and who described the Seven Deadly Sins in his Moralia,10 a study of Job XXXI.11 One explanation for why there would be seven sins was that:

seven is the number of greatest religious significance in ancient Judaism. God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh, hallowing it. The number seven consequently had connotations of completeness or perfection.12

In Latin-speaking days, the sins were called Avaritia (Greed), Luxuria (Lust or Exploitation), Gula (Gluttony), Invidia (Envy), Ira (Anger), Tristia (Sadness) and Superbia (Pride), and it wasn't until later that ˜Tristia' or Sadness was changed to Sloth (Accidia) or Laziness in today's terminology. When in a recent interview, J K Rowling admitted that the overarching theme for the series is Death,13 it becomes of profound importance that at least two of the Seven Deadly Sins are also emotions felt in stages of grief resolution, in particular, Anger and Sadness or Depression,14 the latter causing the very Sloth or lack of motivation so often damned by employers.

Nor are such concepts confined to Christianity15 and Judaism. Such values resonate with other faiths, including Ba'hai16 or Buddhism.17 Islam teaches:

a man or woman need only have so much as is necessary required to walk upright and straight, and that if he has more, or desires more than is required to walk upright and straight, then he's guilty of greed.18

Firephoenix's post in the Leaky Lounge's “Seven Deadly Sins” thread matched seven sins to seven virtues.19 These were the Seven Heavenly Virtues, which include the New Testament theological virtues of faith, hope and charity20 combined with four cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude (courage) and justice,21 adapted from Classical Greek usage. By comparison, the seven opposing virtues are defined as humility, kindness, abstinence (temperance?), chastity (fidelity?), patience, liberality and diligence, and come from an ancient epic poem, Psychomachia, written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius about 405 AD.22

However, Pope Gregory the Great's original Moralia, which defined the Seven Deadly Sins, mentioned instead of virtues the Seven Corporate Acts of Mercy. That is to say: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter to strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, minister to prisoners, and bury the dead, as outlined in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25.23 Since these Corporate Acts of Mercy also relate to universally held values, it is a person's choices, and the reasoning behind those choices, rather than abilities or lineage, which show so clearly what people are, as Dumbledore pointed out.24

How Does That Apply to Harry Potter?

Now how would these sins and virtues fit in with the six stories so far? They aren't an obvious part of the plot, but when the theme of each individual book is examined, a different picture emerges. For example, the first book is about discoveries and new beginnings, as Harry Potter entered the Wizarding World and learned about its secrets, protocols and significant personalities, including that year's DADA teacher. When Harry left for Hogwarts he could hope for a better life, like meeting Ron on the Hogwarts Express and enjoying sharing generously his good fortune with a prospective friend. What a change from living with Dudley and his greedy insistence on more presents, especially when later, Harry and Ron befriended Hermione, so liberal with her knowledge and helpfulness!

Something similar happens with the other books. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which opens with a ruined business dinner, stopped mail and an adoring but enslaved Dobby, suggests the theme is all about friendship, while the disciplinary theme of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has been noted already. Clearly Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was about sport, such as the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard contest, while the story in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is about the conflict caused by the Ministry of Magic, and its denial that Harry's assertions were true.

The story of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince does strongly suggest a theme of service, whether it is Bellatrix calling Snape to account for his lack of service to the Dark Lord, the difference between Kreacher's enforced service and Dobby's willingness to help Harry, or McLaggan's lack of team spirit. If it is agreed that the themes of each book do follow similar patterns as suggested, then the associated sins and virtues start sliding into place. If the DADA teachers are added in as well, something of the apparent strengths and the weaknesses which cause their downfall are also revealed as in the table below:

Book Theme DADA teacher Sin Heavenly virtue Opposing virtue
PS/SS Discovery Quirrel Greed Hope Liberality
COS Friendship Lockhart Lust
Faith Chastity
POA Discipline Lupin Gluttony Temperance Abstinence
GOF Sport 'Moody' Envy Charity Kindness
OOtP Authority Umbridge Anger Prudence Patience
HBP Service Snape Sloth or Laziness Fortitude
Bk. 7 Story's end ? Pride? Justice? Humility?

The DADA Teachers Until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Of all the people mentioned in the entire series, none take such a prominent part in the life of Hogwarts as these teachers, yet none could be so ephemeral. All of their careers so far follow a set pattern. Harry meets each of them before his final arrival at Hogwarts. There is at least one lesson demonstrating the teacher's competence or lack of it. But however good or bad a teacher they might be, they all have secrets which, when exposed, create circumstances which force them to leave at the end of a year. Usually it is because their first appearance in the series belies their true weaknesses, just as psychological defence mechanisms like reaction formation, denial, repression and projection hide adult anxieties.25 Defence mechanisms permit people to avoid facing unpleasant realities about themselves by denying them, or projecting weaknesses onto others. But do the DADA teachers and their careers actually illustrate how the Seven Deadly Sins and the opposing virtues apply to each as suggested by the diagram? Let us look at their careers.

QUIRRELL: This was Harry's first DADA teacher, who tried to steal the Philosopher's Stone before school even commenced, who also tried to kill Harry Potter and who said: "There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it." 26 When Quirrell returned from a study trip seeking knowledge overseas, one memento he had of his sabbatical was hosting a parasitical Voldemort who greedily sought immortality. What reader could have expected that poor, stuttering, inoffensive Quirrell could have been such a dangerous epitome of greed? Or that he would lose his life seeking the Philosopher's Stone?

LOCKHART: The glamorous publicity hound, Gilderoy Lockhart, the winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile award, published seven authoritative works about his heroic subduing of evil creatures. How reliable were these texts when a Basilisk, surely an evil creature worthy of his attention, ˜petrified' several hapless Hogwarts denizens, including Hermione? This gilded roi fainéant,27 so surprisingly incompetent at managing Cornish pixies, was prepared to flee as soon as he was expected to take action about Ginny's being taken into the Chamber of Secrets.

But when confronted, his secret was revealed. Lockhart courted heroic people so he could take credit for their exploits in his books, after he had used memory charms on them. This was only too similar to Tom Riddle, who used memory charms to deflect blame for his actions onto others, and whose diary/Horcrux not only ensnared poor Ginny but also summoned the Basilisk. Too bad Lockhart tried to cast his last memory charm with Ron's damaged second hand wand which backfired¦.

LUPIN: Remus Lupin would have to be one of the most moderate characters of the entire series. However, this hard-working, able, but desperately poor teacher was unable to stay for more than a year, once Snape exposed his secret. Without the foul-tasting Wolfsbane potion, he became a dangerously uncontrollable werewolf at every full moon.

MOODY: And what about Alastor Moody, who insisted he hated "a Death Eater who walked free' 28 without risking Azkaban? Moody was already known by reputation as an eccentric but relatively humane auror when he took over the DADA position. He seemed a kind but capable teacher, who discretely coached Harry through the Triwizard tasks and who defended Harry against a maliciously envious Draco.

But ˜Alastor Moody' had his own agenda.29 The very Death Eater who cast the Dark Mark at the Quidditch World Cup walked in Moody's mismatched shoes, impersonating him throughout the year, in an elaborate plot to help Voldemort get the body he so wanted. And when Harry escaped from Voldemort, Barty Crouch Jnr's murderous secrets were unmasked and the real Moody, captive in his own trunk, was freed.

UMBRIDGE: There is an Australian saying: Those who can, do: Those who can't, teach: Those who can do neither, go into politics. Whoever coined this saying must have had someone like Dolores Umbridge in mind. Percy might have found Umbridge a "truly delightful woman" 30 who attempted to ingratiate with simpering, faux-ladylike and patient ways. However, Harry had an angry relationship indeed with this teacher which tried the patience of both, especially when she used her cutting detention pen on Harry when he insisted that Voldemort had risen again.

This autocratic fifth DADA teacher, a ministry official with Fudge's support for her purely theoretical reading program, was determined to run the entire school, not merely seeing DADA classes through Slinkhard's textbook. While showing how imprudent it was for Harry to contradict her, Umbridge emphatically denied Voldemort's continuing existence as lies. To enforce the Ministry's conservative viewpoint, educational decrees were issued, an Inquisitorial Squad was formed, teachers faced dismissal, and Dumbledore once again was forced to leave.

But when Umbridge sat on the Wizengamot at Harry's trial, who could have guessed that it was she who authorized the Dementors to attack Harry and Dudley, to get Harry discredited, silenced, or expelled? When Umbridge imprudently insulted the centaurs in the Forbidden Forest, she was not only too carried away, but also became too traumatised by the irate centaurs to continue her career at Hogwarts.

SNAPE, the Sixth DADA Teacher

Nobody could have faulted the perseverance of Severus Snape, the sixth DADA teacher, who had diligently applied for the position each year during his entire employment at Hogwarts as Potions Master, finally getting it when replaced as Potions master by Horace Slughorn. Meanwhile, Snape had prevented "greedy and unworthy Quirrell" 31 from getting the Philosopher's Stone, watched sneeringly Lockhart's incompetence, exposed vindictively Lupin's werewolf condition, and witnessed warily the unmasking of Barty Crouch Jnr, who, like Alastor Moody, knew something of Snape's past. That was until Umbridge put him on probation, the night after she sacked Hagrid.

Dumbledore repeatedly insisted he trusted Snape, and he had reason to be grateful for Snape's intervention when the ring Horcrux damaged his right hand. But Bellatrix had a wildly different view of Snape's activities. When she called him to account at Spinner's End, Bella said:

˜Oh he'll try, I'm sure¦.the usual empty words, the usual slithering out of action¦oh, on the Dark Lord's orders, of course!' 32

Despite finally getting the job he sought, Snape remained a curiously unchanged teacher who waved lazily at Slytherin students at the initial welcoming feast, "waved his wand carelessly' 33 spoke in a "bored voice' 34 and who described the dark arts "with a loving caress in his voice." 35 Meanwhile, Harry, having found out he did better when Snape ignored him, was discovering that he was learning more from Snape's hand-me-down Potions textbook than he had ever learned from Snape, himself.

Snape still remained in his depressing dungeon office, issuing horrible detentions for trivial reasons, or setting hard assignments, marked down when students dared to disagree with him. Nor did he seem to try hard "to investigate the Slytherins¦ or a single Slytherin" 36 after Ron's poisoning. And although suspicious of Harry's unexpected ease with Potions, he did not pursue the matter as he might have done. What youthful misdeeds did Snape fear might be revealed?

When Draco or even Katie Bell was hurt, Snape was able to demonstrate his abilities as a healer and curse-breaker. Maybe Snape's abilities had never been fully realized, either for good or evil, even when he saved Dumbledore's life. Perhaps Snape's long stay in Hogwarts was every bit the soft option that Bellatrix had damned in Spinner's End, a comfortable way of avoiding Azkaban, unavailable to the likes of Barty Crouch Junior, who, according to Dean Thomas, taught Hogwarts students "loads" 37 and who had envied and resented Snape.

Previously, as a fellow member of the Order of the Phoenix, Snape, in asserting the risks he had run, had accused Sirius Black of cowardice.38 But Snape himself hotly denied Harry's accusation of cowardice.39 Nevertheless, Snape's feeling ill-used by the Marauders did not make killing an old, sick and disarmed man, at the mercy of five other Death Eaters, an act of courage. Ever since Snape killed Dumbledore at the top of the Astronomy tower, the hottest Harry Potter topic – not only on Leaky Lounge but everywhere – has been which side Snape was serving and whether or not Snape, the double-agent, and, like the dead Karkaroff, one of Voldemort's "three missing Death Eaters' 40 was truly an enemy of Voldemort. After all, wisdom suggests that "no man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to one and despise the other." 41

A Seventh DADA Teacher?

J K Rowling said, in answer to a question about Snape continuing to be the DADA teacher in Book 7: "There must obviously be a new one." 42 Nothing is known yet about this seventh DADA teacher, or how he will finish the year, even if Hogwarts does indeed open with that position filled, and if Dumbledore's death alone has not somehow ended the jinx. If the careers of the DADA teachers so far are a guide, then a seventh DADA teacher, like the others, will stand or fall on his merits and shortcomings.

The travellers in C.S Lewis' tale found ˜Ramandu's Island'43 where they learned what to do to release the enchantment on the remaining missing lords. Maybe something similar might happen at Hogwarts. Could Harry find out what would release Hogwart's DADA position from Voldemort's jinx? Or would Voldemort once again apply for the DADA position, now that Dumbledore has gone?

Whatever else happens, and whoever dies in Book 7, there is going to be a confrontation between Voldemort and Harry Potter before the end of the series. Harry must seek out any Horcruxes not already destroyed, and we will learn more of the back story to the series. But I agree that issues of pride, humility and justice will be among others involved in the story. Whatever the cost, there will be a victor and a loser to finish the series. And, like the seven missing lords of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, whomever the new DADA teacher may be, he or she will be associated with different adventures, with associated lessons about good and evil, like the six predecessors.

In Conclusion

When he attended that doomed interview for the position, Lord Voldemort said: "Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies' 44 indicating just how the Seven Deadly Sins and the accompanying virtues could have played a role in the fates of all DADA teachers. Strangely, it never mattered whether the incumbent DADA teacher was someone who had been from the Order of the Phoenix, an outsider or one of Voldemort's own minions. In fact, the DADA teachers for Books 1 and 4, both Voldemort's servants, ended up dead or soulless, while outsiders from Books 2 and 5 ended up "impaled on their own sword." 45 Lupin and Snape, both friends of Dumbledore, finished their year as DADA teachers with tattered reputations.

Not only one story, but a whole series will have been reflecting the events of seven Defence Against the Dark Arts careers and how they contributed to Harry's personal journey through the books and the ending of the series in Book 7, much as the voyagers on the Dawn Treader learned valuable lessons about themselves in their quest. And perhaps Voldemort's jinx whereby there has to be a new DADA teacher every year at Hogwarts will finally be broken.

Works cited

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4. Lewis, CS. Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. London: Lions, 1980. p. 271

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12. Department of Art History.˜Seven Deadly Sins and seven corporate acts of mercy, frequently asked questions.' 20 December 2001. University of Leicester. 15 July 2006. <>

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23. The Holy Bible, Authorised King James Version. ˜Matthew 25:34-40.' London: Collins. 1958. p. 31.

24. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1998. p. 245.

25. Gale encyclopedia of psychology. Detroit: Gale. 1996. pp. 97-98.

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28. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. London: Bloomsbury, 2000. p. 414.

29. Ibid. p. 590.

30. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. London: Bloomsbury, 2003. p. 267

31. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005. p. 33.

32. Ibid. p. 40.

33. Ibid. p. 430.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid. p.169.

36. Ibid. p. 381.

37. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. London: Bloomsbury, 2003. p. 219.

38. Ibid. p. 460.

39. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005. p. 564.

40. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. London: Bloomsbury, 2000. p. 565.

41. The Holy Bible, Authorised King James Version. ˜Matthew 6:24.' London: Collins. 1958.

42. ˜Edinburgh “cub reporter” press conference.' ITV, 16 July 2005 . Quick Quotes Quill. 4 July 2006. <>

43. Lewis, CS. Prince Caspian and The voyage of the Dawn Treader. London: Lions. 1980. p. 375.

44. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005. p. 415

45. Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1998. p. 244.


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Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.

Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. London: Bloomsbury, 2000.

Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005.

Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.

Rowling, JK. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.

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Quick Quotes Quill. 2003-2005. Quick Quotes Quills. 29 July 2006. <>

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Comments? Discuss this essay here on the Scribbulus forum.

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