Prior to reading my post, you should read Adrian Waller’s post on “Drawbridge Exercise” (or maybe you know that story already). Seriously, go read it or else what I’ll say won’t make a lot of sense (well, it will… but it won’t be as interesting).
So… hopefully now you know what the Drawbridge exercise was all about.
My ratings were initially:
The Lover ____1
The Baroness ____2
The Boatman ____3
The Baron ____4
The Madman ____5
The Friend ____6
I didn’t think Baron was to blame for the Baroness’ death because after all, he did warn his wife not to leave the castle. In Adrian’s story (and the more popular version of the story online), the Madman was the one who kills and his quote is
“Do not attempt to cross this bridge, Baroness, or I will kill you”…
So he’s a mad man (so much is obvious from his name) and he simply says “I’ll kill you.” (Sort of reminds me of that Akhmed the Dead Terrorist skit… “SILENCE! I kill you!” But I digress.)
The Madman is quite straightforward.
Then, however, my ever-curious mind decided that I want to read more about the story and the meaning behind the exercise and I stumbled upon a slightly different story. The change was in one sentence, yet it made all the difference.
The Baroness returns home “…only to find it blocked by a Gateman wildly waving a long, cruel knife. ‘”Do not attempt to cross this bridge, Baroness, or I will have to kill you” he cried. “The baron ordered me to do so.”
So here we see almost a completely different story.
There’s a Gateman instead of a Madman. A Gateman with orders – to kill the Baroness if she leaves and comes back. The Gateman here is not just a man with a single mad intention to destroy someone’s life – he’s an instrument of the Baron – which makes the death of the Baroness Baron’s fault.
Baron becomes a real killer. A killer who performs an intended murder. Yes, he warned his wife. Yes, he’s not the one who actually murders her. Yet it’s his idea to kill… so while there’s fault with the Baroness and the Lover, Baron’s the one ultimately responsible for the death.
This mental processing of the facts made me wonder: how often I judge the situation without knowing details? In this particular case, it was a single phrase that changed my view of the Baron. In real life there are so many times when you can find out something about someone and that will kill the reputation of that person for you. Or, on the other hand, you can find some fact that will make you think about the person in a completely new light.
As I write this, I can’t help but think of Snape. All throughout the Potter books, he seemed odd and unpopular. Neglected as a kid, considered a misfit at Hogwarts, his appearance not helping the general image… Black oily hair, black robes, sullen face expression, and hate towards all-things-Potter – that’s what Snape appeared like. A dark horse, who is trusted by Dumbledore, yet who was a known servant of Voldemort… and continues to appear by You-Know-Who’s side. Everyone (but Dumbledore) thought he was evil – especially when Snape ended up the one who killed great head of Hogwarts.*
I respect Rowling. I have written about Potter a lot on my blog and I think my love towards those books will never change – I can’t wait until I can read them with my own kids. There are so many lessons to learn.
One of those important lessons that Rowling teaches is not to judge a person too quickly. I remember reading the last book, the Deathly Hallows, and I think I did actually cry when Severus was killed. I cried because in the memories he shared with Potter via Pensieve showed a layer of his personality that no one but Albus knew about. It was a layer of sacrificial love for Harry’s mom, Lily. They were good friends as kids yet drifted apart in later years. However, he loved her all his life. Even his Patronus was the same as hers.
Dumbledore watched [the doe] fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.
And later, Harry shows that he’s above holding grudges when he is faced with facts. Even though he loathed Snape while at school, when he saw the “inside information,” he was able to change his opinion.
“Albus Severus,” Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”
All this to say… don’t be quick to judge before you know the “inside information” about the person. It’s extremely hard to do because I’m used to assessing people I meet right away (because I like to observe them), yet it’s a good habit to wait before forming an opinion.