Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some Reflections on Harry Potter

I want to do a littel mini-series in review of Harry Potter, so I will get going with this one and explore a few themes and characters as I go. Hope you enjoy.

The more I think about the Harry Potter series, the more marvelous they become to me. Indeed, I am convinced that the series is magical in every sense of the word, and I find it a pity that many of my brethren have been unable to enjoy it because of their superstitious fear of Harry's magic. This series is not about magic. Magic is a prop, just as lightsaber's are a prop in Star Wars. Truthfully, the use of the Force in Star Wars is far more theologically problematic than the use of magic in Harry Potter. I will leave that statement for now, I can pick it up later if anyone would like.

I believe that the Harry Potter series has suffered from being classified incorrectly. I suspect that this has as much to do with marketing as it does with Mrs. Rowling's intent. Harry Potter was marketed as a children's book, and in some ways it is a children's book, but it is far more than that. This is a series about death, life, loyalty, friendship, courage, and love. These themes grow as the series progresses, and as they grow, the content seems to grow darker and darker. This is on purpose, for such is the nature of life.

Harry's adventure begins with an invitation to Hogwarts' school of wizardry, which if I remember correctly, Harry receives on his twelfth birthday. Hogwarts is a welcomed escape for Harry, for Harry lives with an abusive Uncle and Aunt. Harry's foster parents are over-the-top belligerent. They threaten Harry constantly, but it is evident from the outset that they are simply full of bluster. This does not lessen their cruelty by much, but it will serve as a tremendous contrast to the type of evil we will see in Voldemort.

Ah Voldemort! The man whose very name brings a curse on those who speak it. He is the perfect villain. I confess that I have hardly ever read a more sinister character. He is a nearly souless, pitiless, murdering, self-loving, others-loathing fiend. There are no redeeming qualities in Voldemort. If you want a peek at what the devil is like, then Voldemorte is a good place to start.

Early in the series, the scariest, most evil characters we meet are Harry's Aunt and Uncle. As I mentioned, they are simply full of bluster. The other evil characters we meet are the Malfoys. They are cronies of Voldemort. Draco is a classmate of Harry. He is arrogant and annoying, and he serves as a proper rival and foil to Harry, but he poses no real danger beyond rivalry. Lucius, Draco's father, is a far more imposing figure. He hints and threatens that he could do harm to Harry, but he is mostly harmless. By the end of the series, the Malfoys are cowering in fear in their own home, terrified of their own master. It is striking that Lucius, so feared in the early books, is reduced in our eyes to a powerless toady, so impotent that he willingly gives up his own son, his own house, and his own wand. Lucius is evil because Lucius is a coward.

And so it is in the world of Harry Potter. Things that seem terrible to a lad of twelve are going to pale in comparison to what he will know as a man of eighteen. Harry has to grow up fast due to the horror that is Voldemort.


Rebekah said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I was very hesitant to read the series because of all the things I had heard about it negatively until I saw that several Christians I respect greatly had read them and liked them. My sons wanted to read them, so I decided to read them first. I found them to be just as you've said here and enjoyed them so much. They have sparked some very good discussions with my boys, too. As a Christian mom, I found it to be better to read them and discuss them together rather than just knee-jerk and say no without finding out if the negative press was accurate. I'm glad I read them and glad for the conversations we are still having because of them. And look forward to reading them more than once. Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts as you choose to share them. Thanks again!

Lisa writes... said...

Well said. Of course, I am somewhat prejudiced because I, as you know, am a huge Harry fan and consider the novels marvelous and magical both. Glad to see Rebekah commenting here because I sort of talked her into reading the series. ;-)

Brad Williams said...

Thanks ladies!

I actually had to re-write this several times due to length. Every time I think of something amazing in the book, it leads to something else. Believe it or not, this post started to be about the significance of Thestrals. I shall have to finish that one some time.