Monday, March 1, 2010

The Life and Tales of Harry Potter...I Have to Say Something!

I promise, I'm not obsessed. However, I did finish books 1-7 in 17 days but who's counting. I'll at some point have to figure out how many pages there are total in the series but at this moment google is not spewing out helpful information on that topic.

For anyone who hasn't read the series AND THINKS THEY MIGHT WANT TO: SPOILER ALERT.

Here are a few thoughts.

I love that Neville (who shows only a true proficiency in botany) is a bit of a magical late bloomer. He struggles with being an awkward and useless wizard to killing 1/7th of Voldermort and allowing the final triumph of Harry to succeed. He is (though I admit not seeing it earlier) juxtaposed to Harry in so many ways except that Harry has the skill and confidence that Neville lacks. Both have effectively lost their parents and while this inspires and drives Harry, it seeps within Neville rooting him to the ground until he is able to overcome it in his own due time. I feel like many children would be able to relate to him. He receives the least amount of praise, glory, or popularity yet remains true to himself, his friends, and his beliefs.

Hermione's stable character rarely falters and her pillars of silent and sometimes painful strength let the others make dramatic saves, potions, and ultimately overcome evil. From the beginning with her polyjuice potion gone wrong turning her into a cat (and taking her out of the action) to her practical pessimism that saves Harry from a fate like Dumbledore's she rocks these books. She is tortured by Bellatrix (?) and even in her torture is able to weave a tale that helps them. Then weeks later we find out she has saved one of Bellatrix's hairs to help create another useful polyjuice potion to lead the gang one step further on their mission. All while under torture! Her knowledge surpasses any other character in the text except perhaps that of Dumbledores. Yet her Muggle background protects her from the deep magical knowledge in a way that Dumbledore failed. Her practical denial of anything "too" magical saves Harry, whereas Dumbledore's faith in magic to do anything costs him his life. Without Hermione Harry couldn't have survived any of the trials of the seven books. Yet we see her fragility when others make fun of her, scoff at her ideas, rebuff her academic brilliance, or abandon her. Her silent tears cuts to the quick of just how painful life can be, magical or not.

Ah Dumbledore. Book six shook us to our core to watch us trust Snape and yet see him kill you. Book seven became even harder as we read what any practical person would have believed, that you too were not perfect. A man that had been destined for the Minister of Magic for years and had never taken the position, the rumors about a messy family life and an affection for the Dark Arts must have only seemed to blot the already untimely and unfortunate passing of our protagonists' mentor. Yet, in all of this he still had a plan. I'm grateful for Dumbledore's less than stellar portrait so that it is not possible to see him as any kind of god, savior, or swaying power in the universe. Although for so long it seemed that Dumbledore was anything and everything we could want him to be he still had flaws. He forgot what it was like to be a young man and almost risked loosing Harry. His scandalous death and the truth about his life rocked Harry and presumable the magical world that believed in him to their core. What could a man that was trusted with the lives of so many students be interested in the Dark Arts for. Even more concerning was the treatment and outcome of his tragic family. Yet with these flaws his knowledge redeems him to continue to work for the greater good. He realizes (though not without relapse) that he is not meant to wield power or unnecessary authority. He is, as so many quotable and lovable lines remind us, wise beyond all of Harry's years and even when he's guessing, he is usually right. Dumbledore taught Harry about a magic that didn't have spells or signs but a gut feeling and the desire to do what is right and good. Even yes, love, wonderful love. The redeeming quality in so many spells and that continue to waft around Harry throughout each book. Love changes our actions, lives, spells, and connections. Dumbledore loved Harry enough to not make the journey easy, but to make it successful.

Still reading!? I suppose this is just my journal at the moment. Again, I'm really not obsessed. I don't think. Maybe after I've read them a 2nd or 3rd time I'll be able to tell you. JUST KIDDING.

Not that I'm going to stop now.

Snape. Ah the man we long to hate. Detentions, petty jealously, unearned hatred, at times what seemed like murder, aiding the enemy, and providing the stone on which to sharpen the sword to hurt Harry Potter. Yet book after book (except of course the thrilling hatred we're left with at the end of book six) he redeems himself. We continue to want to believe Dumbledore that there is SOME reason to trust him. Yet why does Snape quit teaching Harry to block his mind from Voldermorts anger and experiences. How can Snape kill Dumbledore and take his position? Where does he get off leaving Hogworts the night of the battle between Voldermort and the people. Snape, painfully, may have had even a harder time than Harry with the years it took to fulfill the plan to once and for all kill Voldermort. Hated by others, waiting for a job that continues to be beyond your reach, living in secrecy to everyone except Dumbledore, and having to watch over the child that should have been yours. He loved Lily but couldn't be quite the brave, charming, and openly honest that James was. His deal with Dumbledore to do anything to try to save Lily left him without her, against the powerful dark wizard he had pledged allegiance to, and to watch over the son that looked just like the classmate that had taunted, jeered, and made his life awful. And where is Snape's reward. His dying memory to give to Harry shows everything that Harry, and we, had doubted. Too clear to be argued, too useful to wish it hadn't happened, and too much of a martyr to wish he had never been there. Thousands of pages upon pages of our hate for Snape hasn't let me let Harry's lingering words soothe Snape's memory. If you get chosen for Gryffendore or Slytherine, both have had great men capable of great deeds. Oh....but the frustration. The tragedy here is the true hero that gets no credit and is justifiably questioned for years dies without being able to impart his thoughts or clear his name.

And oh what to say about Harry, Ron, the Weasly family, Hagrid, Draco and everyone else? I've lost enough sleep recently reading I better get to bed and continue these thoughts later!