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My Musings on the Harry Potter Phenomenon

My Musings on the Harry Potter Phenomenon
The “Harry Potter” phenomenon got started in the U.S. in the late 90’s. Many, although not all of us, have come to love the stories written by J.K. Rowling, as well as the movies that have sprung from the books.

I remember my younger son (Travis, now 16 and a junior in high school) came home from visits to his dad’s house with the Harry Potter books; at Christmas, dad’s girlfriend would buy him (Travis) Harry Potter items, such as a “magic” mug that showed invisible images when hot liquids were poured in.

As each new book was published, dad bought it for Travis — I wasn’t going to buy the books for him because I thought it was just a passing fad and that Travis would lose interest. I was mistaken. Travis maintained interest, at least up until Half-Blood Prince came out. Travis still admits to a grudging interest in the books, taking one out at times, and reading it. He put the Goblet of Fire DVD in and watched that three times in one weekend recently.

I have to admit that I had not read even one book when Sorcerer’s Stone was released as a movie; Travis told me that, in order to understand the movie, I would have to read the books. My thought? “Oh, boy, I have to read it before we go see the movie.” At that time, Travis was just nine, and crazy about Harry Potter, Quidditch, Hogwarts and wingardium leviosa (a spell). I started reading the book at his urging and found out — surprise! It’s better than I thought! I borrowed the other books in the series that he had already collected and read those, as well.

Thank God he made me read them, because I would have been lost watching the movie, otherwise. My older son went with us — he ended up falling asleep, but said he enjoyed the parts he was actually awake for. I have read each book more than once; watched the movies more than once too, especially those for which we have bought the DVDs. The movies follow the books, though not so closely that every scene from the books is in the movies (or we’d be in the theatre for at least four hours per movie).

Travis has always been a reader, so I didn’t have to use the books to induce him to read. He read Order of the Phoenix in two days flat! I can see where the plotlines, characters and stories would attract children who are not normally interested in reading. The books also show the conflict between good and evil; the struggle against prejudice (pure-blood wizards and witches against Muggles, who are non-wizarding people, and against half-bloods, who are children born of wizards and Muggles). The plot throughout the six books already published has been Harry Potter’s struggles and battles against Lord Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry when Harry was just a baby. Because of the sacrifice made by Lily Potter, Harry’s mother, Harry was protected from Lord Voldemort’s killing spell (Avada Kedavra). This is a theme throughout each book that has become more and more touched upon by Rowling. Voldemort’s spell backfired upon him, nearly killing him and rendering him to the merest shadow of what he had been before he tried to kill Harry. The protection Harry has had with him throughout all of the books has been love. Harry’s best friend through the books has been Ron Weasley. His parents have taken Harry in as almost a surrogate son, giving him love, attention, guidance, advice and great quantities of food (Mrs. Weasley always tells Harry he is too thin). From the second book (Chamber of Secrets) on, Harry has ended up saving one Weasley family member or another. He has saved Ginny (sister), Arthur (father) and Ron. Hermione Granger, a Muggle girl with magic powers came to Hogwarts and is the “best witch” in Harry’s class. She is also one of the most ethical characters in the books; she reminds Ron, Harry and other characters that they need to follow the rules of the Wizarding world. At the close of Half-Blood Prince, she and Ron were just beginning a romantic relationship after both broke up with others. This relationship has been foreshadowed and in the making since Prisoner of Azkhaban, when Ron noticed that Hermione is “a girl”.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and other classmates have interacted with other students (Draco Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, Neville Longbottom, Colin Creevey, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan). Professors have included Snape, Binns, Dumbledore, Moody, Lupin, Quirrel, Umbridge and Flitwick).

Harry has endured the loss of several people important to his growth and development. His parents, James and Lily Potter; Albus Dumbledore; Sirius Black. However, he has been able to draw strength and encouragement from their presence in his life (James and Lily appeared to Harry in the mirror of Erised and during the pivotal battle in the Little Hangleton cemetery between Harry and Lord Voldemort). Sirius Black died near the end of Order of the Phoenix

; no doubt we will see him appear in Deathly Hallows at a critical juncture of the book when Harry is in need of guidance, advice or protection (remember the two-way mirror that Sirius gave him at the end of the Christmas holidays in Order of the Phoenix). Even though Dumbledore died near the end of Half-Blood Prince, his pet phoenix did not die. Harry, Dumbledore and the phoenix share a strong, mysterious bond. I have the feeling that the bird will play an important role in the upcoming final book of the series. I also believe that Dumbledore will have a role beyond the grave in guiding and protecting Harry.

As the years between books and movies dwindle and become months, then weeks, those of us who have come to love Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, McGonagle and others, look forward to spending some enjoyable hours with them again. We don’t know who will die or who will survive, but we do know this: even as the last page of the last book is turned, we can resume our relationships with these characters every time we pick up the books or watch the DVDs (in spite of the spoilers who would try to reveal the plot and who dies in the last book).


“Harry Potter” Reflections

“Harry Potter” Reflections
The release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is two weeks away. Fans have been speculating about Harry’s probable fate since the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Anonymous persons have attempted to spoil the release of the latest book by posting “exclusive evidence” that Harry buys it in the last book. I have restricted myself to reading blogs from established websites such as bn.com (Barnes and Noble). I have signed in and added my own thoughts to the various topics surrounding Harry, Hermione, Ron, Professor Snape, Ginny, The Order of the Phoenix members and, yes, Lord Voldy Thingy.

The clues are hidden in J.K. Rowling’s prose, but if you read the books often enough and pay attention to what she is writing, you can catch a clue here and there.

For instance: Harry’s parents died at Godric’s Hollow. James Potter was a pureblood wizard, while Lily Evans Potter was a Muggle-born witch. What was Gryffindor’s first name? Godric. Where did James, Lily and Harry hide out before Voldy Thingy found them, killed James and Lily, attempted to kill Harry, and was blown away into insubstantial vapor after his killing curse backfired? I believe Rowling will reveal James and Harry Potter to be direct descendants of Godric Gryffindor.

First, Harry, who is rumored to be one of Voldy Thingy’s horcruxes (not) has been able, through the first six books, to maintain his beliefs and practices in all things good and honorable. Even though he struggles with a “rescue complex”, his actions come from good intentions. Harry, who rescued Ginny after she had been possessed by Voldy Thingy, was able to kill the basilisk (Chamber of Secrets) using Gryffindor’s sword. (Since he is potentially a direct descendant of Gryffindor, it might be easier for him, even as a twelve-year old child, to use the sword to kill something that is threatening him and one of his friends.)

Even though Harry’s curse scar gives him tremedous abilities in connecting with Voldy Thingy, and even though Harry felt very foreign impulses to harm Professor Dumbledore in OOTP, he did not do so. He resisted.

Second, even with the presence of that scar, Harry suffers tremendous pain at the point when Voldy Thingy tries to possess him during the final chapters of OOTP. He (Harry) wants to die because of the pain. Only when he remembers Sirius (with love and grief) does Voldy Thingy leave his body.

Third, again from OOTP, when Harry ventured so far into Voldy Thingy’s mind on the night that V-T/Nagini attacked Arthur Weasley, Harry’s intrusion made him physically ill.

Finally, all through the time before the beginning of Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry stayed good, honorable and, for the most part, honest, even after all of the neglect and ill feeling he endured from the Dursley family. And, remember, when the Sorting Hat was deciding which House to place Harry in, it placed Harry into Gryffindor. Harry was whispering, “not Slytherin, not Slytherin.” The Hat heard and paid attention to Harry’s Gryffindor heritage. I believe the Hat detected Voldy Thingy’s powers in Harry via the scar, but knew Harry was a true Gryffindor, not only by temperament, but by blood.

We shall know in two weeks who was right and who was wrong. Good predicting, and don’t spoil things for those of us who want to find out the old fashioned way!


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