Reflecting on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

One thing I admire about J.K Rowling’s writing style is that it’s clear and concise. I had no problem remembering the plot from the previous books because she did a good job at refreshing readers’ memories by taking the time to explain important events. But the greatest magic she did to me has opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the world. As I mentioned before in one of my previous posts, I was never really a fan of sports, but I could appreciate it now when the author used Quidditch to illustrate teamwork and good sportsmanship to support and fight for the right cause. Also, I learned what bravery looks like and why it’s the greatest trait above all else. It takes a lot of courage to conquer death. In fact, the entire story of Harry Potter is like the Christian Gospel for the Wizarding World. It’s meant to soothe and cradle the anxious soul who are fearful of death or have lost a loved one.

Since the beginning of the first book, particularly Book 6, I have always seen Dumbledore as the embodiment of good and wisdom (p.360). To me, he is like God, all-knowing and omniscient and Harry Potter had to have faith in Dumbledore’s instruction even though like Christ he was on a mission to be slaughtered like a pig (p.687). How is this not a parable of the Christian faith? The entire series is bombarded with Christian tropes such as the trinity (Hermione, Harry Potter, and Ron are metaphors for mind, body, and soul); the serpent as being the lesser being; the number 7 as a holy number; finally love, love conquers all. If you are familiar with the Christian faith then you know what I am talking about.

The scale of the story followed the same structure. God sent his beloved son to die for our sins. In other words, a hero sacrifices his life for the greater good. Harry Potter was born to destroy evil and that’s why he is the Chosen One who comes from the House of Gryffindor, which is the greatest House out of all the Four Houses. Why is that? Wit, ambition, and hard work are all great traits but bravery tops it all because they don’t fear death. The Four Houses are just metaphors for the virtuous traits that benefit and develop a stable society. I agree with the author. Great leaders don’t just lead by example but are selfless. Harry Potter puts himself in danger many times for others even for Draco, his enemy! That’s why the author made her point about bravery as the biggest virtue on several occasions by using Ron, the insecure character to show readers that anyone can be great and that there’s bravery in everyone. An example is a part where Ron saved Harry from drowning in Forest’s frozen pool in Chapter 19:

‘You’ve sort of made up for tonight,’ said Harry. ‘Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcrux. Saving my life.’

That makes me sound cooler than I was,’ Ron mumbled.

‘Stuff like that always sound cooler than it really was,’ said Harry. ‘I’ve been trying to tell you for years.’

Book 7, p. 379

As I was reading, I kept wondering what’s the significance of the Chosen One in relation to the story other than fighting evil. That plot in itself is too generic. Then I realized Harry Potter is the symbol of youth and bravery on the verge of corruption in a society. When I saw it in that light, I became more appreciative of the story as something more than just a children’s book. You see, if Dumbledore is the embodiment of goodness and wisdom, then Harry Potter is the embodiment of hope and change. Wouldn’t all parents want to see their children become better than them in some form? Parents would only hurt their children’s future if they make their children serve them by abiding by old outdated traditions. The western concept of rearing children is far different from Asian cultures (particularly Eastern and Southeastern Asians) and that came as a shock to me. We are taught to respect and serve our elders–not challenge them as we see in the Order of the Phoenix. Harry Potter’s behavior was appalling to me in Book 5 when he was upset that Dumbledore left him in the dark, but sometimes it’s necessary to continuously challenge an established society for the sake of the “greater good” which will benefit all. After all, it takes a brave person to stand up and make changes to a decaying society even at the expense of one’s own life.

So, has my opinion of Dumbledore changed after learning that he’s not a family man and that it was out of selfish ambition that he wished to make peace with the Muggles so that both worlds can live in harmony? Not quite. Like Harry Potter, I felt a little betrayed, but the author did a great job at explaining his actions and redeeming him. Like Voldemort, Dumbledore operated in secrecy, pulling strings to see his plans come through. He wasn’t all that different from Voldemort who was lusting after power and domination. But there is a huge difference between the two. If you can recall the statement in the Sorcerer’s Stone: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure (p. 297), Dumbledore accepted his immortality whereas Voldemort didn’t. That’s why Voldemort will always fall short. It’s kind of like how Satan will always be less than God or why the number 6 is less than 7. So yes, I still like Dumbledore for many reasons and believe that his traits reflect Christian virtues. One of them is the fact he is modestly humble. He is talented and gifted but chose to be a headmaster of a school rather than be the head of the Wizarding ministry. The logic is that if you want to make a huge impact in the world, you start off in the classrooms. Training and disciplining young wizards and witches have a huge impact on the future of society. That’s where changes really happen. It always starts small, especially if you want to make the world a better place, but of course, great ideas don’t always follow through as we see with Tom Riddle, who turned out to be the evilest wizard. But it’s better to try than not try at all.

Another interesting point made by the author was the concept of respect for all life. Dobby, a slave elf who falls at the bottom of the wizarding community food chain is as grand as Dumbledore. However, when he died, all he got was a small burial and not an elaborate ceremony. It made me think about how society tends to place importance on social structure. Someone from the bottom of the food chain is just as impactful as someone on top. It was a nice touch to say that no matter how small someone’s place is in society, they can make a huge impact!

I could go on and dive deeper into the world of Harry Potter because I enjoyed every single moment of it and learned how to see new perspectives such as the concept of gold and treasure from the point of view of the goblins, but I decided to conclude my thoughts for now. Everything in this book makes sense. There’s the notion of empathy, forgiveness, and acceptance just like the Christian faith. Perhaps, it’s the statement that Harry Potter and Voldemort are one of the same kinds but at the same time different than confused religious people. Still, when it comes to great literacy work, nothing should be taken literally. It’s the lessons that are important.

Now I just need to watch the first two Fantastic Beast films before I can see the third one in the theater to get caught up with Harry Potter. While I was reading Harry Potter, each time I finished a book, I watched the film, comparing and contrasting them. Of course, the books are way better, but the films are cool too. This whole experience took me about 4 months but I am glad to say I have now graduated from Hogwarts and know what bravery looks like. Snape is the bravest and is my favorite character. Maybe if I feel like it, I might write an essay about why I think so, but I will just leave it for now. That was a lot to take in, I am sure.

Reflecting on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: It’s All about the “…ism”

There’s not much difference between classicism and racism. Both have the same prejudice in regard to superiority over others when we apply it in a social context, and you’ll see a lot of it in this book. Contrary to the film, one slight change in the event could change the entire tone of the plot. That’s why I am an advocate for presentations. Don’t underestimate it. It’s everything! The film version turned Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix into a story about friends, family, and love as something to be fought for. Whereas the book, cleverly mentioned all the “…ism (s)” (i.e., classism, racism, ageism, criticism, sadism, favoritism, etc.) that society goes through with seriousness and humor, making it more than just a story about fighting evil. The introduction of Professor Umbridge entering into the series is now and forever engrained in my mind. There is a line between punishment and sadism when it comes to teaching. What a witch!

Looking back at my questions, I am glad some of my questions were answered in this book such as why Harry Potter was given over to the care of the Dursleys and why Voldemort is so fixated on killing Harry Potter. To my surprise, I wasn’t so thrilled to get the answers because Harry Potter sort of reminds me of Oedipus Rex, a play by Sophocles. In the play, the protagonist was prophesized that he would murder his father. Therefore, his father attempted to kill his own son when he was still an infant. Doesn’t it sound just like the little famous Harry Potter who lived to tell the tale that he would destroy Voldemort who is terribly afraid of death? Harry Potter is the Chosen One. I often wonder why western media is so obsessed with being the special one. The difference, of course, is that Voldemort is not Harry Potter’s dad, but both are half-bloods, which makes them both the perfect opponents for the classic tale of good versus evil. However, what distinguishes Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix from a generic plot is that it emphasizes that the good guys are not always wise.

Albus Dumbledore may be strong and powerful, but he is not immortal. Even wise people make bad decisions, and no one is prone to escaping ageism at his age. Dumbledore even admitted to Harry that he failed in judgment when he asked Snape to put his old grudge away and teach Occlumency to Harry Potter whose thoughts were penetrated by the Dark Lord with nightmares and visions. Snape loathed Harry Potter’s father, James Potter. And it’s in this book, we learned the reasoning behind it when Harry took a sneak peek into Snape’s memory during the Occlumency lesson. Snape was heavily bullied by James and his gang of friends for simply just existing. And to be honest, I was a little disappointed in this section of the book to learn that Snape has a legitimate grudge against James Potter. He is made out to look as if he is some sort of weirdo shunned by society because of his obsession with the Dark Arts. For that reason, it’s easy to empathize with Snape, especially coming from someone like Harry Potter who has also been heavily mistreated by his cousin, Dudley. I was turned off by Sirius’ and Lupin’s justification for bullying: they were teenagers who didn’t know any better. Emotional scars don’t heal overnight. Emotional scars in fact rarely heal, which by far is worse than having a cut on your hand. The wound lingers and it stays. Sometimes it subsides but then comes back in waves. Sometimes there are things in life that can be forgiven but NEVER forgotten. His prejudice toward Harry Potter formed out of nowhere. His grudge runs so deeply that he forgets Harry is nothing like his father; even Sirius, his dad’s best friend and godfather, admitted it! Yes, Snape has a reason to justify his hatred toward Harry, but it still doesn’t make it right.

Speaking of prejudice, the house-elves exist to serve their master and we learn a little bit more about their nature by examining the house-elf Kreacher who serves the Black family. They are not entirely innocent and deserving of freedom. It is in their nature to serve their master and they are content to serve as long as their masters don’t mistreat them just like we see in Doby with Lucius Malfoy and Kreacher with Sirius Black. I see the author’s point of view: everything has a functional structured hierarchy. House elves are loyal to a fault as long as you treat them well.

This book opens up a lot heavy loaded topics on social issues: classism, racism, and ageism, and what I found a little disturbing is the conclusion and justification that come from it (I noticed a pattern in the series: everything falls into place at the end of each book). I don’t know if I entirely agree with the author. Harry Potter as a character is not what I ideally pictured as a hero or someone I can admire. He is kind of too arrogant for my liking. Then again, the book did mention Harry’s Potter weakness is heroism. Also, I don’t like how Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood are portrayed as pitiful misfit characters in comparison to Harry Potter. Far too often writers make jokes about it in a way where it becomes insensitive. In this book, Harry Potter is framed as unstable and a liar by the Daily Prophet, a newspaper for the Witchcraft and Wizarding community–simply because he tried to tell the truth about Voldemort’s return. I find it ironic, considering that such a community is able to define what normalcy is considering that magic is involved because there’s nothing normal about magic. The Ministry of Magic should know better or perhaps this is a weak point of the plot. Mental illness is not a symptom of weakness. It’s an invisible disability. You can’t really expect a maimed person to compete in a sport like a basketball if they have no hands to grab the ball, or do you? It’s the same concept with the oddballs. Anyway, that’s beside the point of my analysis and I still got two more books to go to make a final conclusion about Mr. Potter. I want to define the Order of Phoenix as a book about prejudice, but that would simplify it because it’s more than that. It’s more about the abuse of authority. Even the “right authority” (Order of Phoenix) is not immune to failure. And if there is one lesson I took out from this book: be aware of the biases and prejudices when we make a judgment about a person. We are all prone to making mistakes. We are only human, after all.

Now I recalled the time my old boss defended his trusted employees from breaking a company’s procedure. With my own eyes, I attested it; however, my boss was too blind in favoritism to acknowledge it. Tsk…tsk…favoritism can be such a good bad thing. And that concludes my thoughts on this book, the book all about the “…ism”.

Reflecting on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Back in middle school, I disliked all sports, despite having a few good friends who joined the school’s volleyball and basketball team. Unlike my friends, they were built to be athletes, standing at 5’7 and 5’10 on the robust side, whereas I stood around 5’2 on the frail side at the time. Far from athletic, I often wonder why my best school friends associated with someone like me who was not at all sporty and who was often found daydreaming and doodling in her notebook during class. Surely, they would gain nothing from copying my homework unless they are asking for a bare minimum passing grade (I was behind in homework due to frequent absences). In fact, they didn’t even need to copy my homework because they had the brains. I suppose I was just someone they can trust. Someone who didn’t judge them when they started blabbering about their school crushes and who enjoyed a good laugh. After all, friendship is about trusting and helping each other out. Similarly, the same can be said about sports. It promotes trust and collaboration which then results in friendship. But what happens if you are the only one selected from your school to compete in the Triwizard Tournament because you stood above everyone at the school? Then it is no longer really about trust, collaboration, and friendly competition. I am surprised a “civil war” hasn’t broken out in Hogwarts. Oh wait, we see that in the 5th book. We definitely see some tension between two best friends in this book. Ron wasn’t so happy to see his best friend Harry chosen by the Goblet of Fire. For one, he didn’t meet the age criteria, and yet, he is talented enough to compete in the tournament. Obviously, jealousy can ruin a friendship, especially for someone who is often overshadowed by his brothers. Who wouldn’t want the glory and recognition for a change?

The book got political fast and I like how sports as a theme is incorporated into the politics in the magical world. It’s a great way to display the intensity behind sports which is supposed to promote healthy competition and build friendships among other magic schools (Hogwarts is not the only magic school) when in fact it masks the ugly hunger for power in the Witchcraft and Wizarding community. What I enjoyed about this book is how the author illustrates sports as an activity that is really no different from politics (perhaps, that’s just my interpretation). Sports like politics are about representing a group. It’s about leading and cooperating. It’s about winning and losing. It’s about coming on top to promote an idea or for a “good cause”. It made me understand why someone like Hagrid would root for Harry Potter because it gives people like him who are underrepresented and shunned by society a chance to shine:

Yeh know what I’d love, Harry? I’d love yeh to win, I really would. It’d show ’em all…yeh don’t have to be pureblood ter do it. Yeh don’t have ter be ashamed of what yeh are. It’d show ’em Dumbledore’s the one who’s got it righ,’ letting anyone in as long as they can do magic.

pg. 456

If I were to read Harry Potter in middle school, I’d be a fan of the franchise myself. However, it’s not really Harry Potter that I like. He’s an all-right protagonist. It’s actually Dumbledore that wins my affection from this series. In fact, he is the only wizard that Voldemort is afraid of. He stands for everything right and just, and honestly, being exposed to many pessimistic entertainment materials in the past couple of years, particularly video games with a nihilist mindset, it’s nice to read something for a change that has a lot of warmth. There is such thing as right and wrong, and there is such thing as genuine friendly cooperation and not this whole concept of eat or be eaten lone wolf crap. Lastly, the world is not all dark and gloomy and everyone is only out there to save themselves. Reflecting back on my middle school days, there’s no mystery why I disliked sports. All I saw was a fierce competition that did more harm than good. Luckily, I was no rival to my friends and perhaps it was a good thing that we didn’t step on each other feet. I mean, I’m surprised Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory are good sports about winning the cup together on top of the fact they both like the same girl, Cho Chang from Ravenclaw!

Anyway, the last few chapters were intense and emotional. I would be a liar if I didn’t shed some tears. I’m so eager to know what will happen next. Stay tuned for my thoughts on the 5th book: Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. It’s getting really intense! Will the house-elves learn to know what freedom is? Are they genuinely happy to serve or do they serve out of fear for their masters? And what is freedom? Why is the Death Eaters so evil and why do they hate Mudblood so much? What’s going to happen to Hogwarts if Dumbledore is no longer headmaster? So many questions.

If you are new to the blog, please check out my blog post for the previous three books to follow the discussion. Hope to see you again and thank you for reading!

The First Three Year at Hogwarts: What I Learned from Each Book

I remember my co-worker, a big Harry Potter fan looked at me in shock when I told her that I have not read the books. She said jokingly that she won’t be my friend until I read Harry Potter. That was a few years ago. It’s not that I didn’t care, I just didn’t see the magic and wonder about it from the movies (it’s probably because I have a habit of mind wandering when watching a film). I remember thinking Harry Potter is just about some nerdy boy and his friends going to an exclusive magic boarding school. But I was wrong about Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling gave me what I needed in good storytelling: humor with a little bit of horror and mystery. The biggest things the movies failed to capture were DETAILED EXPLANATIONS of the story and a GREAT CONCLUSION at the end of each book! It’s the suspense that kept me turning the pages and not the flashy cool special effects that the films attempted to create. A great story is like putting all the puzzle pieces together to get a big picture. All the pieces are important, and leaving them out will only make the picture incomplete. The films took out some of the most important events in the story and turned Harry Potter into a tolerable story with great flashy impressive production. Yes, the world is magical. But why? Why is his story important? Well, for one there’s a lot to it than just looking at the surface and if I didn’t read the books, I wouldn’t understand the films as plain as that.

So here, I am back with my 3-list post. I think it is safe to reveal some spoilers. By now, most people have been exposed to Harry Potter so I am not here to persuade people to change their opinion or convince people to like it. Let alone, criticize the films. I mean come on, Harry Potter is famous in the real world and the book! Instead, I am going to write about what I learned during my first three years at Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Year 1):

There’s a lot of humor in this book. I learned what a Muggle is, although not in the best light. The book introduced the Dursleys as mean-spirited and who hate everything out of the norm. But that made me wonder if they hated Harry Potter so much because he comes from a wizard family, why did they take him in and raise him? Somewhere in their disapproval, they have to have a heart. Some people would have just turned the abandoned toddler into social service, I think. In some rare cases, sadly in some countries, babies are put into dumpsters because their parents couldn’t afford them. Sad, but true. Or another sad story is about a baby who was found crawling around in the apartment by himself. He was so hungry he started sucking and eating on his fingers. So, the Dursleys can’t be so bad; at least they gave Harry Potter a place to sleep even though not the best place (under the stairs in the closet!). They’re just fixed in their ways. They remind me of those who care about their image in society, the herds that follow the crowd and who shun everything odd and peculiar. Then it dawned on me that they kept Harry Potter around for tax purposes. But more importantly, out of fear. That’s just my speculation for the time being. The Dursleys are a mystery to me and their presence serves as comic relief to the plot. In contrast to Muggles, wizards and witches aren’t all that great either (well that is what I learned in Year 4). So, Harry Potter is more than just about race and class issues, although it’s kind of hard not to notice the author’s dislike for Sunday Christian-like folks. Or is it just my imagination?

I think I have more questions than answers. The book left me with a good impression with its quote: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure (pg. 297).” So why is Voldemort so adamant about obtaining the Sorcerer’s Stone, the thing that will give him life and body? Is he afraid of dying? Why is he so fearful? And why does he want to kill Harry Potter so badly?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Year 2):

I was pleasantly surprised at how spooky this book can be. There were parts where I got the chills. Students are petrified, and spiders crawl away from something ominously dangerous from the castle into the Forbidden Forest! I couldn’t help but be on my toes, eager for the mystery to unfold! I think so far, this is my favorite book out of the series. The suspense and mystery were really good. Unlike, the first book where we got a glimpse of Harry Potter’s Muggle relatives who hate all things abnormal and peculiar, some pure-blood witches and wizards look down on Muggle’s blood. Mudblood is the term referred to witches and wizards who come from non-magic families. The opposite of a Mudblood is a Squib, which is someone who comes from a Wizarding family; however, he/she has no magic powers (pg.145). Lastly, we get a glimpse of the nature of house-elves through the appearance of Dobby, which is a slave to a wealthy Wizarding family. So, it’s hard not to see the plot involving class and race issues. In addition, the conclusion at the end of the book was also good too. Dumbledore, a wise wizard always has something wise to say when Harry Potter finds himself in uncomfortable thoughts or situations: Anyone is capable of doing evil, but it is “our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than abilities.” (pg.333). In other words, your abilities do not define you; it’s what you make of yourself. Another great lesson from the book is not to trust something that can think on its own because you don’t know where the brain is (pg.329). Great wisdom there. I can only imagine how a child can easily get exploited online. Be mindfully cautious, kids.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Year 3)

Don’t judge a book by its cover and most often don’t believe everything you read in the news! The truth is more obscure than it seems. Your convict uncle is probably a good guy; your pet rat is a disgraceful human and your favorite teacher is a werewolf! Oops, I said too much about this book! I warned you though that there will be spoilers! I have to keep reminding myself that Harry Potter is intended for adolescents so it may be mind-boggling to them, but quite the contrary, I think it’s full-grown adults who need a good reminder not to judge people based on their social status and appearance. There are some well-groomed-looking criminals out there with high positions in society. The bottom line is don’t judge. Happy that Harry got his final say with his Muggle relative towards the end of the book. Never insult someone’s parents, especially their bloodline because what does that get to do with character? I think I’m seeing a pattern here with Harry Potter which has gained my respect. It speaks a lot to someone who cares for social justice and thinks there should be more of it. Well, for that to happen, people must learn how to think properly like sensible human beings.

Well, I hope you enjoy this little rant which is more like a writing prompt. The student in me never dies. Currently, I am on the fourth book and a few chapters left to go. Please join me next time for more discussion on Harry Potter!

The Handmaid’s Tale (Book Review) – Eggs and Butter

I cringed when I hear sexist comments such as how women are irrational beings governed by their emotions rather than logic. How can anyone think that 1+1+1+1 ≠ 4? If you put 4 women in a room together, would you call them a clone of one another? No, each woman is different. Women are not a division of a whole number! So, the answer is not 4. The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, is about all kinds of women.

The book is a dystopian drama but doesn’t expect a lot of action. The flashback showing the downfall of society can get painfully distracting sometimes. I had to go back and read the same passage several times. For the most part, the book is poetically descriptive to the point it made me feel sick to the stomach. It loves to point out how the sex organs both male and female are used for reproducing purposes only. There were a few times I wanted to vomit because the author refers eggs to as ovaries and butter as beauty cream. Both eggs and butter are consumable and when associated with sex, it makes it less desirable. Consuming too many eggs and butter will make you sick. In this case, the Commander has access to a lot of women but based on the way the author described the sex part, he doesn’t seem to enjoy it much, especially when the wife is positioned on the bed where she can see the husband penetrating the handmaid. It’s awkward.

Sex is a production. Anything that deviates from that is considered evil. Sluts should be imprisoned especially the ones who wear false eyelashes. So, get rid of those seductive magazines such as Mademoiselle and Vogue! They are forbidden in this absurd society called the Republic of Gilead. Let me reiterate. Sex is a production. Baby making is a production. The Commander is a tool, a wife is a tool, and the handmaid, Offred (protagonist) is a tool for society. Everything about it strips the rights of humanity—the freedom to choose, to express oneself, the free will to desire, and so forth.

Now that I finished the book, I’m glad I have the choice to slip onto a nice black dress, reach out for the red lipstick, and spritz a little perfume if I want to feel sexy. Ironically, I’ve never walked out of the house like that in my entire life. It’s not because I am religious. I am just reserved. For other women though, I am left wondering how much should they express themselves sexually without losing their dignity. Slut is such a derogatory word. More importantly, the book made me wonder why society emphasizes so much control over a woman’s reproductive system and ties it to her value. Is she supposed to be nothing more than a pious, baby-popping machine? That’s just inhumane. There is a difference between being a good mother to a child and being a slave to a system. Let’s not mix politics with sex.


There is a TV Show version on Hulu, but I have not watched the entire thing since I got all the important details from the book. It’s a heavy read and a political one that’s hard to digest for many reasons.