I recently finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Again. For some reason, whenever I finish reading it, I am compelled to re-open the book to a random place and start reading again. Do I keep reading it because I don’t want the series to end? Or do I keep reading because it’s become my favorite book of the entire series? I honestly don’t know. But what I do know is that I love this book and I hope that Rowling does publish that encyclopedia she’s talked about so I can get some more details about the characters I’ve come to know and love over the past 10+ years.
With the last movie scheduled for release on July 15, I’d decided to re-read the entire series, starting with Philosopher’s Stone, and I am truly in awe of Jo Rowling’s ability to tell a story. While some of the characters are caricatures (Dolores Umbridge, Gilderoy Lockhart and Argus Filch, to name but 3), most of them are very, very real. We know people like them, or we are like them. We want friends like Harry or Ron or Hermione. We wish we’d had teachers like McGonagall. We wish our parents were more like Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
There are people out there who still believe that these are nothing but children’s books. They can not be more wrong. The books can be read on several levels, and adults are really missing out if they refuse to read them. Rowling is familiar with classic literature, Greek and Roman mythology and French and Latin. Among the countless books written about Rowling and her work is Harry Potter’s Bookshelf, which talks about books that influenced the Potter series (whether intentionally or unintentionally). From Austen to Dickens to Shakespeare to the Bible, they’re all in the Potter books. There’s a bit of the picaresque too, like Don Quixote or Candide. Unlike most series for or about children, these kids grow up over the course of the series. They become older and wiser. They experience true joy, and they suffer true heartache.
But the people who really tick me off are the people who try to ban the Potter books because they supposedly endorse Satanism. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a church-goer, but I cannot for the life of me understand how these people get the idea that these books encourage readers to practice the occult. They cannot possibly have read them. If they had, they’d know that the magic is incidental — it’s not the focus of the stories. These books are about love, loyalty, friendship and doing what’s right, even if it’s inconvenient. They are about the struggle between Good and Evil. How anyone can say otherwise is beyond me.
Now that the re-read is over, it’s time to start watching the movies. I can hardly wait.