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29 March 2018
Having read and re-read the Harry Potter series countless times since I was 10, I’ve pretty much written this article in my head a million times so I’m just going to get straight into it! The Harry Potter series are arguably the best books ever written, and here’s why…
The books aren’t just about a boy wizard dealing with teen angst and the fact that an uber-powerful, psychopathic bad guy is trying to kill him. J.K Rowling’s magical wizarding world is a painfully beautiful reflection of our own.
The depiction of ‘mudbloods’ (wizards who are born of muggle parents) acts as a simple but profound mirror to every kind of prejudice in the modern world. Voldemort’s obsession with killing his own muggle father and the pedestal upon which he places ‘pure-blood’, speaks to racism, violence and power (and the ever-present connection between the three).
Harry’s first visit to the Ministry of Magic paints an enchanting picture of the workforce – memo’s flying to their recipients, workers transported to their office through a fireplace, a giant gold fountain in the atrium and a ‘Department of Mysteries’ #livingthedream.
The deeper layers of Rowling’s magical government, however, reveal the often ineffective and self-serving qualities of our own governing bodies.
A perfect example comes in the penultimate chapter of The Goblet Of Fire, ‘The Parting Of The Ways’, in which the head of the Ministry, Cornelius Fudge, refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned, choosing to act on his own fear rather than in the best interests of the wizards he serves.
Meanwhile in Australia…
While Rowling’s books clearly depict the prejudices that exist in every society, they’re also all about overcoming them.
Throughout the novels, it’s a female mudblood who’s the smartest, wittiest and sassiest character #allhailhermione. It’s a bumbling half-giant who has the biggest heart (literally and figuratively). It’s the dopey, forgetful, always friend-zoned Neville who stands up to his friends in the first book and slays a snake in the last.
Harry himself is an orphan with a permanent scar and a heap of baggage…and he saves the entire wizarding world from the wrath of a lunatic. He also learns his greatest lessons from a werewolf, an accused murderer, a geriatric principle and a reformed death eater. Because after all, “it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” Preach, Dumbledore, PREACH.
If you don’t believe me yet, there was a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that found that people who had read the Harry Potter books were more accepting and open-minded than those who hadn’t. The study found that readers of the books showed more empathy for and understanding of refugees, immigrants and the LGBTQI community.
YEP. READING HARRY POTTER MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON.
I’M ABOUT TO GET REALLY SENTIMENTAL BECAUSE THIS IS MY FAVOURITE PART OF ALL THE BOOKS. Harry Potter is about love, y’all.
Voldemort’s ultimate downfall is his inability to love and Harry’s biggest triumph is his capacity to do the exact opposite – to feel.
Right from the first book we learn that it was Harry’s mother’s sacrifice that caused Voldemort’s kind-of-death that made Harry famous. Her love for her son left him with a magical protection.
Dumbledore explains in The Philosopher’s Stone, “To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” It’s so damn touching.
The love and bond of friendship that exists between Harry, Ron and Hermione is one of the most beautiful threads throughout the series. THEY LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. I can’t even handle it.
It is their friendship that remains solid and constant throughout the seven books and despite bumps in the road in the form of trolls, a Triwizard tournament, sexual tension, Horcruxes and the like, they conquer them all, together.
And then we have the most heartbreaking love story of them all. Snape. OMG you guys. We all hated him for six books. Then by the end of the seventh, we wanted to wrap him up in a warm blanket, snuggle him and tell him everything was going to be ok.
From books one through six, the true allegiance and intentions of Professor Severus Snape were ambiguous. Was he still a death eater? Why did he hate Harry so much? Was his low-key sass a cry for help?
Finally, in The Deathly Hallows Snape’s story was told. He had loved Harry’s mother Lily his whole life, he tried to prevent her death and spent his final years protecting her only son.
He kept an eye on Quirrel in the first book, knowing he was out to get Harry, gave Professor Umbridge fake Veritaserum when she was questioning Harry in Order Of The Phoenix, sent the Patronus that led Harry to find the sword of Gryffindor in Deathly Hallows and finally ensures he delivers his memories to Harry moments before his own death.
Most importantly, he turned double agent for the good side and had to work as a right-hand man to the bloke that killed the love of his life. Why? Because he loved Lily Evans, ALWAYS. *insert ALL of the crying emojis.
Ok. J.K Rowling is a straight up gangster bitch when it comes to writing. Reading her passages is like receiving a warm, familiar hug.
There are so many stunning sentences throughout the Harry Potter series, spoken by her brilliantly crafted characters. From Hagrid’s infamous one-liner, “You’re a wizard Harry” to Dumbeldore’s many philosophical declarations, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” her words are an actual gift.
Then there’s the actual story. It’s bloody brilliant. There’s legit shit in book one that’s relevant in book seven. There are so many little-hidden gems that you uncover every time you read them. I’m not even sure I’ve discovered them all. A ghost will fart in book one, the reverberations will knock over a broom in book three that scares an owl who drops a feather in fright. Harry will use that feather as a quill in book five, supervised by the ghost that farted in book one. FULL CIRCLE.
But seriously, Harry learns about Grindelwald on a chocolate frog card in book one and he becomes a significant character in the final instalment of the series. Harry, Ron and Hermione find a Horcrux hidden in a draw at Grimauld Place in The Order Of The Phoenix, before they even know that the Horcruxes exist.
Speaking of Horcruxes, Harry hides the Half-Blood Prince’s Potions book in the Room of Requirement next to ANOTHER Horcrux without even knowing it.
Speaking of The Room Of Requirement, Dumbledore mentions it in passing at the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire and it becomes Dumbledore’s Army’s meeting place in The Order Of The Phoenix as well as the place where the Horcrux is hidden in The Deathly Hallows.
There are SO many of these intricate links that makes re-reading the series just as thrilling as reading it for the first time. BRAVO MS. ROWLING, BRAVO!
Finally, while the series is named after and centred around a male protagonist, throughout the books we are introduced to a list of smart, vivid, strong and sassy women who are like a feminist dream team.
Molly Weasley, the stay at home mum who duels and kills the most terrifying and powerful female witch in the final chapters of the series. Professor Minerva McGonagall, the unapologetic, fearless, self-respecting teacher extraordinaire. Luna Lovegood, who DGAF about your opinions of her, thanks. Ginny Weasley who grew up with six older brothers and can play Quidditch just as well as the lot of them.
Then, there’s my girl, Hermione. The frizzy-haired, wildly intelligent, muggle-born, fierce friend of Harry and Ron. If it wasn’t for this KWEEN Harry legit would have died in book one and then and then about 16 times after that.
While Hermione is easily the smartest of the trio of friends, she knows what’s up when it comes to what’s really important, “Books, and cleverness? There are more important things – friendship and bravery.” Plus her sass is next level and I am HERE for it. Like the time she told old mate Ron, “you are the most insensitive wart I have ever had the misfortune to meet.”
Hermione is pretty much always right. There ain’t a spell she can’t perform and she discovers so many of the mysteries of the book before anyone else does.
She figured out in The Chamber Of Secrets that the murderous creature was a basilisk and that it was getting around the school in the pipes, she knew Lupin was a werewolf in The Prizoner Of Azkaban, she recognised Sirius’ tendency to treat Harry like he was his father James in Order Of The Phoenix, she knew the Horcrux was changing the mood of whoever was wearing it in Deathly Hallows.
She’s intuitive, empathetic, clever and an incredible role model for young women, just like the actress that played her so well.
Just to give this ode to HP a bit of balance, I will admit ONE thing that I don’t like about the beloved seven books, and there is only one…
Fred shouldn’t have died.
BRB, going to re-read for the 193476th time.
Words by Anna Bradley.
26 March 2020
24 March 2020