Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
R/Hr vs H/Hr Essay
I have been of the firm belief that Ron and Hermione are going to be a romantic couple in the Harry Potter series, and Harry and Hermione are most decidedly NOT going to be a romantic couple. Though I could wax on about how likely they are because of how they are compatible, the evidence in the books etc. I am going to instead use the words of someone I trust to know just who will end up with whom: The Author herself, JK Rowling. – “I can’t believe that some of you haven’t worked this one out yet. ”— When addressing the question ‘Does Hermione love Ron or Harry’ she replied, ‘I can’t believe that some of you haven’t worked this one out yet. This statement from our beloved JKR points out something. Know what it is? *stage whisper* it’s not exactly a secret… It’s not some unfathomable mystery. It’s not something hard to figure out. It’s quite simple. She is baffled that it’s up for debate. That having been said, here are the quotes I find significant: “Do Harry and Hermione have a date? ” No! They’re, they’re very platonic friends. But I won’t answer for anyone else, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Because this quote was given to us on MPR radio on Nov. 20th 1999, many wish to believe that this ONLY refers to her (then) upcoming novel Goblet of Fire. GoF was published July 8th of 2000. ) Considering that she stated very clearly when she was referring to something that only applied to GOF in this interview, and the rest of the time was talking about the series as a whole (*1) there is no authentic reason to believe this quote only referred to GOF other than desperately wanting it to. (I have yet to see anyone cite any kind of actual evidence that this quote only referred to GoF other than the possibility that it could. ) (If anyone has evidence, please do post it. ) She also infers that there is someone else who WILL have a date with Hermione and WILL NOT BE ‘very platonic friends’ with her. — The phrase ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ traditionally can be translated ‘ya know what I mean? ’ When someone says this, it means you already have the info, and should know that the person is hinting at something specifically. In this case the ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ implies that we should already know who that other person is. — The thing is, as this is before GOF came out she couldn’t be hinting at Krum, as we hadn’t been introduced to him yet. Who was that ‘nudge, nudge’ referring to? Who was that ‘anyone else’ she ‘[wouldn’t] answer for? ’ Well, who else is Hermione friends with? Let’s see… She seems to talk with Neville occasionally. And Hagrid… She’s talked to Ginny… OH! WAIT A MOMENT! RON! Yes… yes, she does happen to be very good friends with Ron Weasley. Perhaps he is the ever elusive ‘anyone else’ that she won’t speak for. He’s the only person that it makes sense for her to be hinting at in such a way. That having been said, let us pretend for a moment that this quote only was referring to Goblet of Fire, just for the fun of it. If it did, that means that Hermione would be non-platonic friends with someone who was already established in the series. But wait! THAT never happened in GoF. She and Ron never dated in GOF. Also, if the quote only refers to GOF, then that also means that every bit of ‘romantic evidence’ there is to support H/Hr from that whole novel must be negated, as none of their actions are anything more than the platonic actions of a friend. The kiss she gave Harry was not romantic. It was platonic. When he found her to be attractive, it was not in a romantic way. It was in a platonic way. So, if you support H/Hr and believe that this quote only refers to GOF, then you can’t say anything between Hermione and Harry in that book was romantic between the characters as they were platonic friends. *1(Only 2 out of 21 or so questions had to do specifically with GOF, And it was very clearly indicated when she was talking about GoF or not (as either the question would say ‘in the next book’ or she would say ‘in Goblet of Fire’) But then, there’s this quote: Q: Does Hermione like Ron as more than a friend? A: The answer to that is in Goblet of Fire! Well, that means that from Hermione’s actions in GOF we can tell whether she likes Ron as more than a friend or not. This also can tie into the ‘Does Hermione love Harry or Ron’ quote. According to JKR it is rather obvious. Also, Hermione either loves one or the other. If the answer to ‘does she likes Ron as more than a friend or not’ is in GOF, and we know for certain that in that book Hermione and Harry ‘[are] very platonic friends, but JKR ‘won’t answer for anyone else, nudge, nudge, wink, wink,’ that means that someone in GOF is NOT a platonic friend. Someone who was already established in the series before GoF came out. That also means that someone who was already established in the series was to go on a date with Hermione. But wait! No one already established in the series had a date with Hermione. Does that mean the ‘platonic friends’ quote is NOT referring to only GoF!? That’s right, all signs point to yes. By using our skills of logic, it means that this quote couldn’t only refer to GoF. That means that for the whole series Harry and Hermione are nothing more than platonic friends. It also goes to mean that Ron and Hermione will be ‘more than friends’ and are not “very platonic friends. ” Here’s another quote that ties into this: Q: Is it just me, or was something going on between Ron and Hermione during the last half of Goblet of Fire? A: “Yes, something’s “going on,” but Ron doesn’t realize it yet. Typical boy. ” This means that Hermione DID realise that something was ‘going on’ between them. So if there is something ‘going on between them’ and Hermione recognises this, and the answer to ‘Does Hermione like Ron as more than a friend? ’ is in GoF, and also let us remember that Hermione says ‘”Next time there’s a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort! ’ what logical conclusion does this lead you to? Well, logically, it must lead you to conclude that yes, Hermione DOES like Ron as more than a friend in GoF as there is ‘something going on’ between them that is not platonic. quote: JKR: and he, yes, he does have certain adolescent, umm, rites of passage happen to him. Couric: And he’s snogging with Hermione? JKR: Hermione and Harry? Do you really think so? Couric: No, I’m kidding. JKR: Ron and Hermione, I would say, have… there’s more… tension there And for those of you who would like to watch that snippet of the interview, you can go HERE When JKR states ‘Hermione and Harry? Do you really think so? ’ that is a rhetorical question. Couric answers this question anyways with ‘No, I’m kidding. ’ JKR never rights her when she says ‘No’, so by not correcting Couric, she is either lying by omission, or Couric answered the rhetorical question correctly. JKR then goes on to mention Ron and Hermione. Why the heck would she do that? We were talking about Harry and Hermione, then for some unknown reason she mentions Ron and Hermione right after they were talking about snogging. She says they have ‘more… tension there. ’ More tension where? Oh right, more tension when it comes to ‘certain adolescent, umm, rites of passage’ and ‘snogging with Hermione. ’ So they have ‘more tension there. ’ Well here is the dictionary. com interpretation of the word ‘tension’: 1. Mental, emotional, or nervous strain. 2. Barely controlled hostility or a strained relationship between people or groups. Some nice synonyms for tension are: anxiety, apprehension, concern, disquiet, edginess, jitters, jumps, nerves, nervousness, pressure, restlessness, shakes, strain, suspense, unease, uneasiness, worriment, worry. Again, WHY oh WHY did JKR mention RON when the question was about Harry and Hermione? If there were to be some ‘snogging with Hermione’ in the future, then she could have said something to the extent of ‘you’ll see’ as she usually does when we’re on the right track with question. Also, to compare this quote with another one: Question: Is Harry Potter ever going to fall in love with Hermione or is he going to fall in love with Ginny Weasley? JK Rowling: In Book IV Harry does decide he likes a girl, but it’s not Hermione or Ginny. However, he’s only 14, so there’s plenty of time for him to change his mind. ? She mentions a mystery girl (who is obviously Cho) and which book it is that he decides he likes her in. With the Couric interview quote up there, she went on to mention RON. They are similarly structured in that she was asked about certain people, but instead of saying yay or nay for the people in the question, she mentioned a character that the interviewer didn’t. Also, this parallels with the ‘”Do Harry and Hermione have a date? No! They’re, they’re very platonic friends. But I won’t answer for anyone else, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. ” Quote. She is very direct and gives an all out NO, but then says there is someone else who will date Hermione and won’t be platonic friends. The nudging and winking suggests that we already KNOW who it is, and as I said above, the only logical person would be Ron. Why should there be any tension between Hermione and Ron over snogging? Aren’t they just good friends who have no romantic interest in eachother? Perhaps the reason there is ‘tension’ there is because there ARE romantic vibes coming from them. So, if you want to make the ‘tension’ quote not stand in the way of H/Hr, you must assume that JKR was 1) lying by omission 2) misleading us by mentioning Ron and Hermione 3) misleading us by saying there was more ‘tension’ in the area of snogging between Ron and Hermione and 4) putting such an emphasis on SHIPPING that she had to resort to these fiendish tricks, because romance is one of THE most important things in the series. So, the conclusion we can reach is that either JKR purposefully misleads us in interviews only whenever she is talking about romance, OR we can reach the conclusion that JKR has no reason to mislead us, and was VERY straight forward in all her answers. small children: yaaaaaay!! Small child #1- But, Cambryn? Isn’t there another quote? -Why yes there is, small child #1. Thank you for reminding me. The ‘dreaded “everyone is in love with the wrong person,” quote. Here’s the quote: “Harry is changing as he’s getting older. He and his friends are 14 now and their hormones are kicking in, so it’s really fun to write about. Everyone’s in love with the wrong person, it’s brilliant. ” full transcript can be found HERE This quote, seems to me, to be a very odd one, as I don’t think that anyone was really ‘in love’ in GoF. Does anybody honestly think that Harry was ‘in love’ with Cho in GoF? LOVE is a word a bit too strong to use in this case. And unless Hermione and Krum are going to ‘get together’ in the future, the vague quote would apply to them. And Ron? Who was it he was lusting after so vehemently and constantly turning beat red and constantly trying to impress? It was Fleur. Some argue this negates R/Hr from happening in the future if you believe they were in love in GOF. The thing is, I DON’T believe Ron and Hermione were ‘in love’ in GoF. As JKR herself said ‘something’s “going on,” but Ron doesn’t realize it yet. Typical boy. ’ If Ron can’t recognise his own feelings, does that mean he’s ‘in love? I am of the firm belief that she was referring to Harry/Cho, Hermione/Viktor, Ron/Fleur when she said ‘everyone’s in love with the wrong person,’ but think that LOVE was WAY too strong a word for that. Ron seems more taken with Fleur in an open romantic manner than anyone else in GoF, BUT is VERY jealous of Krum’s attention to Hermione (for some unfathomable reason, that is even a mystery to himself. ) Also, considering the context of this quote (not a Q & A, but an article that simply quotes her) it’s hard to know what her answer was in response to. This quote, out of all of the ones I’ve given, seems to have the least amount of credence due to her using the word love to refer to feelings that don’t really constitute love, the article isn’t showing her response in context, and it is very vague by using the word ‘everyone’ along with ‘Harry and his friends are 14 now. ’ Does that mean that everyone who was fourteen and a friend of Harry’s was in love with the wrong person? To take it literally means that it applies to Neville, Parvati, Lavender, Dean, Seamus, Padma and any other 14 year old who is a friend of his in the book. I doubt she meant ALL of them. This was a throwaway comment that is very unclear as to whom it applies and which relationships constitute being ‘in love. ’ Conclussion: The quotes JKR has supplied us with are straight forward answers that clearly indicate R/Hr as a possibility, and do not indicate H/Hr as a possibility, unless JKR has lied in her previous interviews and feels H/Hr is so important that she must use R. Hr as a red herring, even in interviews.
How Harry Potter Impacted the World
Many people all across the globe fell in love with Harry Potter over the years, whether it be the movies, books, games, or any other of the novelties associated with the franchise. Most people, however, haven’t thought how the books that started this global phenomenon, have impacted them. The Harry Potter book series has made an impact on numerous people throughout the world.
From helping young readers develop reading skills, to captivating people around the globe, Harry Potter has something for everyone, which is why it is why it has reached so many people, and taught us all a lessonhas been such a success.
The books have helped people develop reading skills, and made people want to read.
As the series progressed there are increasingly complex problems and language. In the first book there was a young wizard who had problems with his family, such as no parents and an abusive foster family. He was also solving problems, and attending school. The book used basic language for the most part. By the seventh book, Harry was battling the evil wizard, Voldemort, and his army. Harry had to cope with the loss of friends and to make difficult decisions. There was also more complex language and problems. The Harry Potter books have helped people develop reading skills, and made people want to readNeed transition here and more information to prove this point in this paragraph.
The books also allows people to escape everyday life and immerse themselves into a fantasy world, making people want to read. If someone has problems in their everyday life, they can escape these problems by reading about a fantasy world. The main character, Harry, also has his flaws and problems, but deals with them and overcomes them. This makes Harry Potter relatable to the reader, and shows that they can also overcome these obstacles. According to Sara Ann Beach, and Elizabeth Harden Willner, The magical world created by Rowling draws young readers into the books by connecting aspects of the world in which they live with a world that transcends reality. Harry and his friends participate in such everyday activities as buying school supplies, sending and receiving letters, going to classes, and playing sportsmuch like an average kid. However, school supplies are not pencils and notebooks, classes do not include science and mathematics, letters are not delivered by a mail carrier, and the main sport is Quidditch, a cross between rugby and basketball played on broomsticks. For school supplies, Harry and friends head to Diagon Alley, the equivalent of a wizard mall, to purchase wands, (1). Although this seems like the life of an everyday kid, it also has things outside of our realm. Since the book’s genre is fantasy, it allows people to experience things not able to be experienced in real life. According to Beach and Willner, The nonhuman characters that inhabit both Hogwarts and the wizard world are the creatures of myth and fantasy, creatures that fascinate young readers. A huge three-headed dog incongruously named Fluffy guards the entrance to the chamber where the sorcerer’s stone is kept. Unicorns and centaurs inhabit the Enchanted Forest on the edge of the school grounds. Goblins run Gringotts Bank, which holds the wealth of the wizarding world. The school headmaster Dumbledore’s pet is Phoenix, who regularly bursts into flames and then rises from the ashes, (2). This can appeal to those who normally dislike reading. An example of how Harry Potter has impacted reading for someone is Jennifer, age 10, I don’t usually like to read, matter of fact I don’t like to read. I thought Harry Potter was going to be an ordinary book, but it isn’t. When my teacher says that it [is] time to stop reading, me and my classmates would groan, (Beach and & Willner). This goes to show the lifelong love for reading that can develop overtime. It can help a child get into to reading that would normally dislike reading. It truly helps to captivate the reader. This can be useful to help impact readers develop a lifelong love of reading, and help teach other various things.
Harry Potter can, in fact, teach people lessons. It can help make people empathize. An example of this was done in a study. In the first experiment, the researchers studied attitudes toward immigrants, people often discriminated against in Italy, among a group of 34 elementary-school age Italian children. The children were first given a survey about immigrants and then divided into two groups: One read passages from Harry Potter that included prejudice (Harry’s nemesis Draco Malfoy calling Hermione, Harry’s friend, a filthy little Mudblood), and the other read neutral excerpts (citations). Among those who read the first passage and identified with Harry Potter as a character, tolerance toward immigrants improved. In the following studies, the researchers measured attitudes toward homosexuals in an Italian high school and toward refugees among British university students. Both showed a more positive outlook on the stigmatized group among Harry Potterr readers. In the first two studies, which included younger participants, these attitudes were associated with identifying with Harry Potter as a character. Among the university participants, who were older than Harry, the researchers attributed the lower prejudice to dissociation with the negative character Voldemort, (Kozlowski, page/paragraph number). It can also teach people to stand up for themselves and others. In one of the books, Malfoy makes fun of Harry, and is cruel to him, so Hermione stands up for Harry by punching him (citation). In the same book, Hagrid has a pet hippogryph, named Buckbeak. Hagrid brought him in to the magical creatures’ class he was teaching so they could learn about him. Malfoy mistreats him, and resulting from it, Buckbeak attacks him. Malfoy’s father complains, so they are forced to put him down. Harry, knowing that Buckbeak is innocent, saves him before he is executed, because it is the right thing to do. This is crucial reason why it has touched many lives, it truly makes people feel for Harry, and is highly relatable to the audience.
One reason the Harry Potter seriesit has impacted the world, is the sheer volume of Harry Potter has reached is absurd. Harry Potter’s enormous amount of exposure has made it able to make an impact on maximum amount of people. This could be in part to Harry Potter being the fourth most sold book of all time. Facebook’s data team did a survey, and the series about the Boy Who Lived was on a whopping 21 percent of the 130,000 lists, making it what some have called the most influential book in the world. Harry Potter topped such standards as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the Bible. (Kozlowski). With all this exposure, it has had the opportunity to impact an immense amount of people. Harry Potter has an immense following, in part to various reasons. One being, the books have been turned into films. From these films, it has kept compounding, and growing. An example of this is in live action roleplay. There are groups that participate in live action role playing based on the series, which brings people together. Another example is that, there are numerous games, toys, and other merchandise for sale. At Disney World, they have even recreated a part of their theme park to be like Diagon Alley, with shops and various other places that allow people to feel like they are in the movie.
The boy who lived, will forever have an impact on the world. Harry Potter has touched people across the globe. The sheer exposure of the books, movies, etcetera, has helped this book leave a lasting imprint. It has resulted in various people who now have a lifelong relationship with reading. It has taught us about empathy, and standing up for what’s right. It has even taught us that we may have our flaws, but at the end of the day, we can still be the hero and overcome these flaws.
Beach, Sara Ann, and Elizabeth Harden Willner. “”The Power of Harry: The Impact of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Books on Young Readers.”” Children’s Literature Review, edited by Tom Burns, vol. 112, Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center, ezproxy.dbq.edu:2268/ps/i.do?p=GLS&sw=w&u=dubu98513&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CH1420068923&asid=96937ce3b9f63682866d45d8a3547777. Accessed 8 Oct. 2017. Originally published in World Literature Today, vol. 76, no. 1, Winter 2002, pp. 102-106.
Byam, Paige. “”Children’s Literature or Adult Classic? The Harry Potter series and the British Novel Tradition.”” Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center,ezproxy.dbq.edu:2268/ps/i.do?p=GLS&sw=w&u=dubu98513&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CH1100070667&asid=9b51e666b3b79cb1d7cf8835531bba5d. Accessed 8 Oct. 2017. Originally published in Topic: The Washington and Jefferson College Review, vol. 54, Fall 2004, pp. 7-13.
Galligan, Anne. “”Truth is Stranger than Magic: The Marketing of Harry Potter.”” Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Jeffrey W. Hunter, vol. 217, Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center, ezproxy.dbq.edu:2268/ps/i.do?p=GLS&sw=w&u=dubu98513&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CH1100070666&asid=2b6ac4869acfce0cad83f61844446f47. Accessed 8 Oct. 2017. Originally published in Australian Screen Education, vol. 35, Summer 2004, pp. 36-41.
Kozlowska, Hanna. Can ‘Harry Potter’ Change the World? The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Sept. 2014, op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/can-harry-potter-change-the-world/., op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/can-harry-potter-change-the-world/
Nye, Lesley. “”Editor’s Review.”” Children’s Literature Review, edited by Tom Burns, vol. 112, Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center, ezproxy.dbq.edu:2268/ps/i.do?p=GLS&sw=w&u=dubu98513&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CH1420068919&asid=bd0865556a2d8093c21c229cdcbd621d. Accessed 8 Oct. 2017. Originally published in Harvard Educational Review, vol. 71, no. 1, Spring 2001, pp. 136-145.
SpeakOutStandOut, London United Kingdom. Why Has Harry Potter Had A Huge Impact On Society? Teen Ink, www.teenink.com/opinion/movies_music_tv/article/481631/Why-Has-Harry-Potter-Had-A-Huge-Impact-On-Society/
Responsibility and Personal Growth in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it immediately becomes apparent exactly how much Harry Potter has grown since the first book in the series. In the beginning of the novel, Harry looks around 4 Privet Drive, his childhood home, and reflects on how he has grown since he first discovered he was a wizard. Soon after this reflection, Harry talks with the Dursleys, who are upset and angry about having to leave their home. It is only when Dudley Dursley, Harry’s cousin and long time bully, says he wants to go into hiding that his parents agree to flee to safety, and during this decision, Dudley says to Harry, “I don’t think you’re a waste of space” (Rowling 40), and it is with these words that Dudley makes one of the first acts of responsibility and personal sacrifice seen in the book. Dudley convinces his parents to make a responsible decision and protect themselves from Voldemort, and sacrifices his reputation with his parents to apologize to Harry in his own way. This act shows just how much Dudley has matured through the series, and introduces the major theme of the novel: responsibility through sacrifice. This theme appears multiple times in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, with great importance to both the plot, and Harry’s journey into adulthood.
According to a study done by the University of Massachusetts, society views “responsibility for self” and “responsibility for others” (Lowe 7) as two of the most important aspects of adulthood. These two aspects explain the decisions the three main characters make while hunting for horcruxes and trying to defeat Voldemort. For Harry, he feels personally responsible as the one who must kill Voldemort because he is the Chosen One, and Dumbledore tasked him with finding and destroying the horcruxes before he died. This is made clear when he says to Aberforth, “Your brother knew how to finish You-Know-Who and he passed the knowledge on to me. I’m going to keep going until I succeed – or I die. Don’t think I don’t know how this might end. I’ve known it for years” (Rowling 568-569) He also feels responsible to his loved ones and the wizarding community as the only one who can protect them from Voldemort, which is implied when he states “sometimes you’ve got to think about more than your own safety! Sometimes you’ve got to think about the greater good!” (Rowling 568). For Ron, he feels personally responsible as a pure-blood to protect those with impure blood from Voldemort’s regime, as exemplified by his disdain of the word “mudblood” (Rowling 489), and fierce protection of Hermione. And for Hermione, she feels a responsibility to protect herself and other muggleborns. Due to her activism in matters like S.P.E.W., Hermione likely also feels responsible for house-elves, goblins, and other non-wizard races that would be in danger under Voldemort’s regime, which is made apparent when she says to Griphook the Goblin, “We protest! And I’m hunted quite as much as any goblin or elf, Griphook! I’m a Mudblood… Mudblood, and proud of it! I’ve got no higher position under this new order than you have, Griphook!” (Rowling 489)
Because of these responsibilities, Harry, Ron, and Hermione each make sacrifices to help them succeed on their quest. Harry ends his relationship with Ginny Weasley in order to focus on his mission to stop Voldemort, and to protect her from danger (Rowling 117). Hermione erases the memories of her parents and sends them to Australia to protect them as well (Rowling 96-97). And Ron leaves his family and the cozy lifestyle he had grown accustomed to in order to help Harry (Rowling 99). The sacrifices made by these three characters are truly indicative of the level of maturity they have obtained. If this were their first or second year, it is unlikely they would have been able to make these choices and live up to these responsibilities. But since the trio are now adults, they are capable of making these difficult decisions in order to do what is necessary to finally defeat Voldemort.
Another great example of the relationship between responsibility and adulthood can be found when Harry is told the Tale of The Three Brothers. In the novel, the tale is meant to introduce the the concept of the Deathly Hallows. However, the tale also serves as an allegory about behaving maturely towards death. In the story, three brothers narrowly escape Death, and as a reward, Death grants them each a gift:So the oldest brother, who was a combative man, asked for a wand more powerful than any in existence: a wand that must always win duels for its owner, a wand worthy of a wizard who had conquered Death…Then the second brother, who was an arrogant man, decided that he wanted to humiliate Death still further, and asked for the power to recall others from Death…And then Death asked the third and youngest brother what he would like. The youngest brother was the humblest and also the wisest of the brothers, and he did not trust Death. So he asked for something that would enable him to go forth from that place without being followed by Death. And Death, most unwillingly, handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility. (Rowling 407-408) The moral of the tale is that the only way to defeat death is to be mature and accept him with open arms. The first two brothers are irresponsible, and seek to gain power and humiliate others. This attitude towards responsibility are exemplified in Dumbledore and his dark past. When Albus Dumbledore’s mother died, Dumbledore came home to take care of his sick, younger sister Ariana. However, instead of focusing on taking care of Ariana, he made plans for world domination with Gellert Grindelwald. Dumbledore’s desire for power caused him to ignore his responsibilities to his family. In his own words, “I wanted to escape, I wanted to shine, I wanted glory…I was selfish, Harry, more selfish than you, who are a remarkably selfless person, could possibly imagine” (Rowling 715-716). Because Dumbledore refused to swallow his pride and temporarily sacrifice his access to power to take care of his family, he became indirectly responsible for the death of Ariana. Ariana’s death forced Albus to realize how important his responsibilities to others were, and marked the point where he gave up trying to become powerful and truly entered adulthood.
The difference between Dumbledore and Harry is that Harry, unlike Dumbledore, immediately understands the responsibility he has to others. As Dumbledore states: “the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying” (Rowling 720-721). Harry sacrificing himself to defeat Voldemort as his parents and mentors tell him he is “so brave” and they are “so proud of [him]” (Rowling 701) is the clearest evidence that Harry is now an adult. He understands that he is responsible for defeating Voldemort, and does what is necessary to accomplish that goal.
This theme of becoming a responsible adult and sacrificing yourself for others is truly universal. It even appears in the first ever Western literary work, The Epic of Gilgamesh:Like the brother who wants the all-powerful sword, Gilgamesh sees himself as invincible, a fighter who cannot be beaten. Like the brother who wants the stone that brings loved ones back from the dead, Gilgamesh wishes he could resurrect his friend Enkidu. But after much exploration and consideration, Gilgamesh makes the same choice as the brother who takes the cloak that makes him invisible to Death; both men accept their mortality in the end and go peacefully to their deaths. (Whited 321)This theme is so universal, because everyone grows up and is faced with responsibilities. Harry Potter sacrificing himself in order to save the wizarding world is a massive sign that he is now an adult. He is able to make important decisions about his responsibilities, and do what is right for the people he loves.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007. Print.
Lowe, Sarah R. “Defining Adult Experiences: Perspectives of a Diverse Sample of Young Adults” Journal of adolescent research vol. 28,1 (2012): 31-68. Web.
Whited, Lana A. “From Sorcerer’s Stone to Deathly Hallows: The Failed Quest for Immortality in the Harry Potter Series.” The Harry Potter Series, edited by Lana A. Whited and M. Katherine Grimes, Salem; Grey House, 2015, pp. 306–325. EBSCOhost, felix.albright.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.felix.albright.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=2018580939&site=ehost-live.
Characterization through Death in the Harry Potter Series
Author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling is best known for her children’s books about a young boy who learns he is a wizard and goes on to have epic adventures. However, this book series is different from other children’s books in that it contains many dark themes and subjects, one of which is death. Harry Potter, the protagonist of the Harry Potter series, is an orphan who learns that he is a wizard and belongs to the world of magic, but must also face Voldemort, the man who murdered Harry’s parents and attempted (and failed) to murder him when he was a baby. After becoming the only person to survive the killing curse and an encounter with Voldemort, Harry became known as “the boy who lived”. Harry’s life was founded in death, so it must shape his life in many ways. Harry is also plagued by a prophecy about him and Voldemort which states that “neither can live while the other survives”. Harry knows that he must either kill Voldemort or be killed by Voldemort, and he has made choices and defined himself with that in mind. Voldemort, the primary antagonist of the Harry Potter series, is a dark wizard who attempts to take over the wizarding world and kill the only person to ever thwart him: Harry Potter. Voldemort had “tried to kill the Potter’s son, Harry [but] he couldn’t… [and] when he couldn’t kill Harry Potter, Voldemort’s power somehow broke.” Voldemort had already come closer to death than anyone else, and he now is determined to find a way to become immortal, which is one of his driving goals. Voldemort’s goal is “to conquer death.” Voldemort’s primary motive is to conquer death, and this affects his actions and thus his character. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the theme of death is employed to show various characteristics of Harry Potter and Voldemort, as well as to contrast the two characters.
Morality and Mortality
Death is inevitable, and eventually, every person encounters and must respond to it. However, even though death is a universal experience, one’s response to it varies depending on one’s personality. Some may react with fear, while others react with stoicism. Rowling acknowledges this common occurrence and uses it as a device to define key features of many of the characters in the Harry Potter series. One such character is Harry Potter, the orphan wizard, who must overcome his dark past to defeat the primary antagonist, Voldemort. Because of Harry’s tragic back story, death becomes a major theme of his life and shapes his character. Throughout the Harry Potter series, Rowling uses the theme of death to characterize Harry as moral, human, and brave.
A defining trait that Harry possesses is his morality, which Rowling reveals through Harry’s refusal to kill the man partially responsible for the death of Harry’s parents. For instance, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry stops Sirius and Lupin from murdering Pettigrew by telling them “[he doesn’t] reckon [his] dad would’ve wanted them to become killers-just for [Pettigrew].” Here, Harry recognizes that neither Sirius, Lupin, nor himself has the right to decide whether or not Pettigrew should die, even if Pettigrew framed Sirius for killing thirteen people. Harry also knows that Pettigrew betrayed his parents to Voldemort, which makes Pettigrew partially responsible for their deaths, yet Harry still demands that Pettigrew not be killed. Harry’s ability to not let himself be ruled by his own prejudice against Pettigrew shows his morality and understanding of the ramifications of murdering another person. However, Harry also acknowledges that he and his father may approve of Sirius and Lupin murdering someone other than Pettigrew, if it is necessary. Although this may seem to show a flaw in Harry’s morality, it actually proves that his act of mercy on Pettigrew is based on principles instead of blind faith in humanity. However, standing by his morals also displays Harry’s bravery, which is a characteristic that Rowling elaborates on in various scenes.
Rowling uses the theme of death to characterize Harry as courageous, through the manner in which he faces his own death. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is in a duel with Voldemort, and at one point takes shelter behind a tombstone. He has the choice of staying behind the tombstone and hiding from Voldemort, or standing up and fighting even if it seems hopeless. Harry decides that “he [is] going to die trying to defend himself, even if no defense [is] possible.” Harry fights even though it means dying, which proves that Harry’s willingness to face Voldemort does not stem from an arrogant notion that he could beat Voldemort. Instead, this shows how Harry overcomes his fears and faces the adversity in his life. It is important that Rowling has Harry respond courageously to a threat when the threat is made on his own life, because in any scenario less than the possibility of his own death, Harry’s courage would not seem as genuine. Harry stands up and fights even when he believes that he will die, which shows the highest level of courage possible. However, Rowling contrasts Harry’s courage, as shown by his own death, by showing his reactions to the deaths of others.
Rowling uses the deaths of people that Harry loves to humanize him, so as not to make Harry an unattainable or god-like hero. For instance, when Snape kills Dumbledore, Harry’s hero and mentor, Harry panics, thinking of how “he could reverse what had happened if he had [Snape and Dumbledore] both together” and that “Dumbledore could not have died.” Harry’s refusal to believe that Dumbledore died serves to show his compassionate side and makes him appear more human, because denial is a natural reaction to a personal disaster. It is also important that Rowling uses the death of a loved one as Harry’s personal disaster because his reaction may be false in any other scenario, but death strips away any pretense or false emotion. Harry did not have any delay of thought in which he could prepare a reaction to Dumbledore’s death. His response is portrayed as genuine because of the rapidity with which Rowling transfers from Dumbledore’s death to Harry’s reaction. Harry is also humanized through his reaction to his godfather Sirius’s death. After Bellatrix kills Sirius in front of Harry, Harry is full of so much blind rage, he says that “[he’ll] kill her.” In this moment, Harry is willing to kill, but it is out of the love he felt for Sirius and the hatred he felt toward Bellatrix for killing Sirius. This further shows how he is not the perfect hero and humanizes him. It is important that Rowling used Sirius’ death as a catalyst for Harry’s rage because had his character been willing to kill for anything less than the death of a loved one, his morality would have been put into question. However, Rowling had already presented the idea that Harry believes that killing is acceptable in extreme situations, and Harry’s godfather was just murdered by Bellatrix; therefore, Harry’s moral status is not tarnished from this fury that he feels towards Bellatrix. Harry’s reaction to Sirius’ death humanizes him further when he calms down and begins to blame himself for Sirius’ death. Harry believes that “it was his fault Sirius had died; it was all his fault”. This self-blame that Harry feels for Sirius’ death serves to further humanize him, because it provides a moment of relief for Harry to release his emotions. It is important that this blame Harry feels is an effect of a loved one’s death because this is a common feeling for many people. Rowling acknowledges this common experience and uses it to appeal to a large audience by garnering their sympathy for Harry. This effect is also more powerful on a smaller, more concentrated audience of people who have had similar experiences as Harry and therefore become more empathetic towards him and his story. Rowling helps the audience understand Harry’s situation, turning Harry into a more relatable and human character.
The ways in which a character approaches death can also reveal his or her negative attributes. Feelings of hatred, malice, and glee can result from encounters with death, and the expression of these feelings through specific characters allows the reader to gain insight into that character’s personality. Rowling utilizes this method of characterization to give description to Voldemort, the primary antagonist of the series whose ultimate goal is to conquer death. Throughout the series, Rowling uses the theme of death to characterize the cruel, egotistical, and fearful nature of Voldemort.
A key feature to Voldemort’s character is how he is equally ruthless to both allies and enemies in order to take over the world, which Rowling includes to prove his cruelty. While waiting for his power to be restored, Voldemort casually mentions to Harry that “killing Mudbloods doesn’t matter to [him] anymore.” In the Harry Potter universe, “Mudblood” is a derogatory term for a witch or wizard who does not have magical parents, also known as a muggle-born. For the majority of his teen and young adult life, Voldemort devotes himself to ridding the world of what he considers to be people, namely mudbloods, unworthy of living in a world that he rules. However, he is able to switch his obsession from mudbloods to Harry, because he sees Harry as the biggest obstacle in his quest for power. This cold move to kill a twelve year old boy shows his unrelenting cruelty to anyone who stands in his path. Also, the nonchalant manner in which Voldemort mentions genocide, as if it were a hobby, is one of the first glimpses the reader sees of Voldemort’s sociopathic nature. Until now it is never known that Voldemort kills simply for the sake of killing. Rowling also reveals Voldemort’s cruel nature by through her description of Voldemort’s followers who fail him in a task. For instance, in a fit of rage upon learning that Harry had destroyed another one of his Horcruxes, which are pieces of Voldemort’s soul placed in objects to keep him alive, “again and again [Voldemort’s] wand fell, and those who were left were slain, all of them, for bringing him this news.” Voldemort slaughters the people around him without bias, despite the fact that many of them devote their lives to serving him. This shows how Voldemort puts no value in the lives of others, even when these people are devoted completely to serving him. This act is especially cruel because the people that Voldemort murdered were not completely to blame for Harry destroying Voldemort’s Horcrux. Voldemort hides the Horcrux inside of Gringott’s, the wizarding bank, knowing full well that it is possible to break into a Gringott’s vault as he himself broke into a vault six years earlier. This rage was not logical or premeditated and reveals how Voldemort’s instinct is to lash out at others around him, not considering whether they are loyal to him or his enemies. Rowling includes this scene in the series because, although it does not advance the plot, it characterizes the violent nature of Voldemort.
Rowling also characterizes Voldemort as egotistical by describing one of Voldemort’s primary ambitions as cheating death. When Voldemort begins his conquest of the wizarding world, he names his followers “Death Eaters.” Rowling chooses to name Voldemort’s followers Death Eaters because this title is symbolic for Voldemort and his quest for power and immortality. This name suggests not only that Voldemort wants to conquer death and become immortal, but also that he increases his strength by killing others. This shows how megalomaniacal Voldemort is because all that matters to him is staying alive by any means necessary. Voldemort’s fervor for immortality leads to him mercilessly murdering anyone who stands in his way. Rowling accentuates his obsession with immortality because it sharply contrasts the value that Voldemort holds his own life at versus the lives of others.
Rowling also uses the theme of death to portray Voldemort as cowardly and controlled by his fears. While dueling Dumbledore, Voldemort declares that “there is nothing worse than death.” Although it is natural to fear death, it is another thing entirely to insist that death is the worst thing in the world. Voldemort’s belief in this assertion reveals the true intentions behind his quest for immortality. Although this ambition is partially driven by his need to dominate others, the major driving force behind Voldemort’s determination to live forever is his fear of death. This humanizes Voldemort to the reader, but Rowling ensures that Voldemort is not pitied for his fear through Rowling’s description of the extreme measures to which Voldemort traveled to avoid and conquer death. Voldemort becomes obsessed with avoiding death and as a teenager researches possible ways to defeat death. He soon learns about Horcruxes, and determines that “he would be prepared to murder many times, rip his soul repeatedly, so as to store it in many, separately concealed Horcruxes.” This is significant because it shows the lengths to which Voldemort goes to keep himself alive. He willingly splits his soul into seven pieces, and unintentionally made an eighth piece, just to make it more difficult for him to die. These acts violate the laws of nature, and as a result, Voldemort lost much of his humanity, although he did not have much to start with, by splitting his soul into different pieces. Voldemort is willing to sacrifice all of this to hide from his fears. Also, a part of the process of creating a Horcrux is to murder someone. This further exemplifies the lengths to which Voldemort goes to in order to avoid death.
Harry Versus Voldemort
Throughout the Harry Potter series, Rowling uses character interactions with death to characterize Harry and Voldemort separately. Harry is characterized as virtuous and human, while Voldemort is characterized as cruel and alien. However, it is also possible to gain insight into a character by analyzing how the characters react differently in similar situations. Rowling employs character contrasting to describe Harry and Voldemort as good and evil, respectively.
The first area in which Rowling contrasts Harry and Voldemort is how each character approaches his own death. After realizing that the only way that his friends can survive is to sacrifice himself, Harry faces Voldemort and does not defend himself, allowing Voldemort to kill him. Although Harry fears death, he goes to it willingly if it means that doing so will save the people he loves, which shows his bravery and selflessness. However, Voldemort has never loved anything enough to sacrifice himself for it. In fact, the only person that Voldemort loves is himself, which causes him to have the reverse reaction to Harry when it comes to his own death. Whereas Harry would lay down his life to save others, Voldemort does the opposite by killing others to preserve his own life. Rowling uses both Harry and Voldemort’s fates to further assert that Harry’s reaction to his own death is virtuous while Voldemort’s reaction is selfish. Harry inadvertently destroys another piece of Voldemort’s soul and is able to come back to life and defeat Voldemort. Voldemort’s obsession with avoiding his own death ultimately leads to his own spell rebounding and killing him, which occurs years before he would have died had he just led a normal life and not made any Horcruxes.
Harry and Voldemort are both contrasted in their fears of death. Harry does fear death, but it is the deaths of his friends and loved ones that he fears, whereas Voldemort only fears for his own death. Because both characters fear death, Harry and Voldemort initially appear to have a similar characteristic. However, it is proven through the book series that it is how a person reacts to their fears that matters. Harry reacts to his fear of his friends dying by sacrificing himself, which shows his morality. However, Voldemort allows his fear of his own death to rule his life, and he reacts to it by killing others, both to create the Horcruxes which Voldemort believes would make him invincible and to eliminate any adversaries or allies who get in his way. This shows Voldemort’s selfishness and weakness of will, as he cannot control his fear. The sharpness of the contrast between Harry’s willingness to die and Voldemort’s determination to become immortal strengthens the characterization of each person more than if they were both characterized separately.
Rowling also characterizes Harry and Voldemort differently by showing how Harry accepts that there are fates worse than death and Voldemort cannot conceive this idea. Rowling uses Harry’s ability to understand the pain of others as a device to characterize him as compassionate. Throughout his life, Harry sees the pain and suffering of other people, and from these experiences, learns that death is not the worst thing to experience. Harry sees how his friend Neville’s parents who were once brilliant Aurors, a part of the wizarding law enforcement, were tortured to the point of insanity by four of Voldemort’s followers and are living permanently in St. Mungo’s Hospital, where they are visited by Neville who they hardly recognize. This insight into Neville’s life matures Harry as he sees that although Neville’s parents are not dead like Harry’s, Neville is affected by his parents’ mental instability just as much as Harry is affected by his parents’ deaths. Harry realizes that every time Neville sees his parents he is reminded of their torture, whereas Harry has little to no memory of his parents. Rowling contrasts this compassionate characterization of Harry by using Voldemort’s belief that death is the worst fate to characterize him as ignorant. In Voldemort’s many attempts to preserve his life, he often experiences situations that could be considered worse than death. Voldemort forced a lonely life on himself by turning any person that could be his friend into a follower, who he may kill on a whim, as well as killing all of his remaining family members. Voldemort also purposefully disfigured himself, both physically and spiritually, to stay alive. He lived on the body of Quirrell, the professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts during Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, like a parasite in an attempt to recover the sorcerer’s stone, which grants immortality. When Quirrell’s body was destroyed, Voldemort possessed the bodies of different animals, mainly snakes, until he created a crude body to inhabit. He lived in a state of extreme discomfort, if not pain, for extended periods of time just in the hope of returning to a normal body, something many people would consider against the laws of nature and not worth the pain. Voldemort also mentally disfigures himself when he purposefully split his soul into seven pieces as backups in case his body is destroyed. Because the use of Horcruxes is so rare, little was known about their psychological effects when Voldemort first asked Professor Slughorn about them, and yet Voldemort made the Horcruxes anyways. This is a sign that Voldemort was willing to sacrifice his mental stability to stay alive, which contrasts Harry’s understanding of the tragedy of Neville’s parents. Whereas Harry accepted that their insanity is worse than death, Voldemort would embrace insanity to avoid death.
In the end, Harry understands and respects the finality of death, whereas Voldemort repeatedly breaches this natural order through the creation of Horcruxes, the objects that hold pieces of a soul, and Inferi, corpses brought back to life to do the bidding of a dark wizard. To show this, Rowling has Harry take the Resurrection Stone, which is a stone that allows its user to see and talk to people they know who have died, and is able to use it successfully, where he finds comfort in the words of his parents and friends while not believing that they can be brought back. Many people had used the Stone before him but went insane because they believed that the people could be brought back from the dead. Harry accepted that this is not possible and uses the Stone for a better purpose, showing his maturity of mind. Rowling further showed this acceptance by using the scene above when Harry was on the way to sacrificing himself to save his friends. Rowling then contrasts this with Voldemort’s actions, bringing dead bodies back to life and splitting his soul in pieces, to characterize Voldemort as conceited, where the only person that matters is himself.
Rowling uses the theme of death to reveal multiple characteristics about Harry and Voldemort as well as show the differences between the two characters. Characteristics such as courage, cowardice, wisdom, and ignorance are shown through multiple uses of the theme of death. Rowling used not only Harry and Voldemort’s deaths to characterize each person, but also their reactions to the deaths of others and each character’s beliefs about death as a part of life. Rowling’s use of these various characteristics and methods of characterization allows for each characteristic to be defined in a unique way. Although the question of to what extent Rowling uses the theme of death to characterize Harry and Voldemort has been answered, new questions have arisen from this analysis: What other themes has Rowling used to characterize different characters, is characterization the primary purpose of the repetition of death in the Harry Potter series, and what other characters has Rowling characterized using the theme of death?