Quote 2

“Oh! 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.