how stiff you are! Just go straight ahead as if you were walking
. . . Dancing, don’t you see, is every bit as easy as thinking,
when you can do it, and much easier to learn. Now you can understand
why people won’t get the habit of thinking. . . .”
Hermine speaks these lines to Harry
at their first dance lesson. Harry has never bothered to learn how
to dance and is an utter beginner, while Hermine, a frequenter of
restaurants and nightclubs, is well versed in all the newest steps.
Below the surface, however, dance is a stand-in for the compatibility
between the life of the body and the life of the spirit or intellect.
By dancing, Harry is tuning his physical actions to the promptings
of the divine, which are symbolized by music.
All his life Harry has focused on the life of the mind,
to the egregious neglect of his body. Alluding to a conversation
they have just had, in which Harry has complained about people who
do not bother themselves to think, Hermine accuses Harry of being
just as lazy and bullheaded as those people he disdains. Over the
course of the novel, Hermine succeeds in motivating Harry to get
in touch with and take pleasure in exerting his more sensuous side.
In fact, Hermine can be seen as a reflection of this lost, repressed
part within Harry—so much so that once he has fully integrated the
sensuous and material within himself, he no longer needs her and
puts an end to her.