Monday, July 30, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

OK. So, I stayed up late last night (Monday, July 23) and finished the book. I thought it was great.

And I'm ready to discuss. BUT ... only in the comments, where anything and everything can be discussed.

For anyone who hasn't read the novel yet, but intends to do so, PLEASE do not go into the comments section unless you want to have the book spoiled for you.

PS: For the next couple of weeks or so, I'll keep this post always rolling to the top of the blog.


Huck said...

OK. So, I'll start the discussion by pointing out two things.

First, did anyone notice the clear parallels between Harry's march into the Forbidden Forest to face his salvific death and Aslan's march towards the Stone Table in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? I mean, the parallels are too striking not to notice that Rowling relied heavily on the C.S. Lewis storyline. The sadness and resignation of the march towards certain death. The accompaniment by people who loved him during this march. The unresistent succumbing to death in the face of Voldemort/the White Witch (heck, even the pale whiteness of Voldemort references the pale whiteness of the White Witch), who is surrounded by cowering demons. Harry's/Aslan's resurrection and return to defeat the Evil by a "deeper magic." It's all there. JK Rowling did a nice job spinning CS Lewis her own way, but the story itself wasn't all that original. And, of course, it goes without saying that Harry (as well as Aslan) are Christ figures. I can't imagine how Christians who embarce CS Lewis and the magic of Narnia would NOT embrace equally JK Rowling and the magic of Hogwarts.

On a minor note, I thought it was extremely clever the way Rowling wove in final twist on the Great Wand (don't have my book with me, and I can't recall exactly what this wand was called). Harry's explanation of how the Wand that Voldemort thought made him all powerful was really bent towards the will of Harry, who essentially took it from Draco when he captured Draco's wand, who himself essentially took it from Dumbledore in The Half-Blood Prince.

Pity Snape, though. His sacrifice was so great, his love for Lily so moving, yet his death so ignominious. How alone he must have felt at the moment of his death. Harry had Lupin, Sirius, James, and Lily to walk with him to his death. Snape had no one and nothing. How sad. In some ways, because of this, Snape is the real hero of the series. And I think most people will see it this way. At least we have the comfort of knowing that, even after death, Snape will grace the walls of the Hogwarts Headmaster chamber in a portrait of his own. After all, he was Dumbledore's successor!

Also, did you notice how the puny-ness of Voldemort was revealed in the end? How he, essentially, was nothing, in the end, but a run-pf-the-mill wizard who had some talent, but who also made very human mistakes and who was really not the awesome and fearsome being that he had been made out to be. And I think this smallness was revealed by Harry referring to Voldemort not as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, nor even by the name Voldemort, but rather by the very mundane Tom Riddle. Harry's reference to him in this way made him just another Hogwarts student gone bad. I thought this was a nice touch at the end.

I have many, many more comments and thoughts; but I'd rather hear some of yours, now.

Adrienne said...

Interestingly, I wasn't quite as struck with the Lewis parallels in this book. I did keep thinking, "Wow, this reminds of Lord of the Rings," or "Boy, this is Star Wars." But all of those are stories about good versus evil, so maybe that is why the HP plot so closely mirrors many others?

I won't go there.

Overall, I loved the book because that is simply what one does. At least, if one is me. However, I did take issue with a few things. First, I don't like how Rowling treats Slytherin. Basically, the house is where all of the "evil" people go. Or, rather, all of the truly evil folks come from Slytherin. Just because someone is brave or smart or loyal doesn't mean they aren't just as likely to be seduced by the lure of power. Likewise, just because someone is cunning or sneaky doesn't make them bad. Each house is made up of people with equal free will. I don't think it's very good writing to have Slytherin, by and large, be so bad. So, there was Snape . . .

Let's talk about Snape too. His sacrifice was noble, I'm glad he was a good guy. But to pine for a childhood sweetheart and then live in the shadow of that obsession all of his adult life? I mean, move on Snape! Good grief. It often seemed like he didn't love Lily so much as want to possess her and he raged against anything that stood in the way of this ownership. This later translated into his ire against Harry, as well as his oath to protect him. So maybe love had something to with it, somewhere. But still.

And finally--the epilogue. Could have done without that. Oh, they're happy and have kids and they all go to Hogwarts and there are so many new names I can't keep track of them all. That's it??! I invested years of my life to hear that the scar didn't bother him for 19 years? What? Did he become an auror? Did he ever play Quidditch again? How did the wizard world rebuild?

Maybe I just don't want it to be over.

Because, despite my qualms with all things Slytherin (I think I would be sorted in to Slytherin, personally, and I hate that they get such a flat characterization), I have still loved Harry. Every last chocolate frog and moving picture. And now it's over.

Unless, of course, it's not. Prequel, anyone?

Huck said...

Yeah. Rowling does give Slytherin a bad rap. I never really liked that about the stories either. I've always thought that one could be a noble Slytherin that, when push came to shove, sided with good and against evil. Essentially, what Rowling is conveying to us is that at least one-fourth of the wizarding world, and probably more, are partisans of evil. And I find that very hard to believe. I think what would have been a perfect and simple way to address this would have been to put Sirius in Slytherin House (which is where he would logically have fit given his family legacy), and yet kept him as the same partisan of good throughout.

The epilogue was a bit cheesy and out of place, and did leave many things wanting such as answers to the questions you asked; but I think such an ending has its place in children's literature. I think kids are just fine with a cheesy and uncomplex "and they all lived happily ever after" ending.

Also, I think it was a stroke of brilliance for Rowling to set out a fixed number of books and a final ending. If there weren't a crescendo to a climax, and just a series of endless years in the life of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, we would not nearly have been as interested in the series as we were. I think the Harry Potter phenomenon was so impressive precisely because we knew it was a limited series and that it would come to a dramatic finale.

Do you think, now that it's over, that the Harry Potter series will be something we go back to and reread on occasion? That would be the sign of a lasting contribution to literature. I think so, but I'm not absolutely sure of this.

Don_cos said...


Don’t forget Peter Pettigrew. He was a Grifffendor. And in the end it turned out that Snape became a noble Slytherine.

However I do mostly agree with everything both you and Huck say.

I did like the twist that Harry himself was one of the horcrux’s, but the sacrifice that that led him into should have been more public. It should have happened in front of his friends, especially Ginny. The emotional play on it would have been much more powerful. And then Voldamort could give his “victory speech” while Harry is with Dumbledore. Then as everyone truly gave up hope, Harry could rise up right there in front of them all and get busy with some serious but kicking.

Don_cos said...

I also wanted to add that I think it is cool that the kid who started out as a shy and bumbling sissy, ended up the leader of the DA and is the one that killed the snake.