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!