My salvo in the Harry Potter debates

My salvo in the Harry Potter debates

I finally finished the “Harry Potter” series of books by J.K. Rowling. I’d got a late start only picking up the first book earlier this year. I’d been meaning to read them, but only got serious when I heard that the final book had a big ending that I didn’t want to have spoiled for me.

With that in mind, if you haven’t read the books, I suggest you stop reading now. Otherwise, the rest of you can click through the jump to read my impressions.

  • Good observations.  I started out late myself reading all the book this year, though I did read the last book on the day it came out.  I found the books quite enjoyable myself, but think she could have used a more fervent editor in her later books.  I agree about the age appropriateness shifting as you get deeper in the series.

  • My seven year old started the Potter books this summer.  I stopped him at book three, and told him he could read four and five at age ten, and six and seven at age twelve.  He is not happy, but obedient (at least for now).  My twelve year old read the last book when it came out, after reading the sixth book for the first time.  Other parents may draw different lines.  The important decision is to draw lines in the first place.  Perhaps for some, it’s too difficult to distinguish between “pretend” and “real” with regard to the occult—but they are cutting themselves off from fairy tales, Oz, E. Nesbit, Lewis, and Tolkien, as well.  Too much of a loss for me!

  • I am 18 and the eldest of six kids. I totally agree about the age being about 12 and even then having an older reading companion. We have also seen all the movies, but they are not nearly as good as the books.
    First, I would like to say that there is absolutely no hint of Dumbledore being gay in the book. In other words if anyone was reading these books the idea that Dumbledore is gay would never even cross anyone’s mind. The most amount of affection that Dumbledore shows Harry is that of a father or uncle (and I mean the normal and good type.) Dumbledore was a good friend of Harry’s parents and he knows that Harry must face Voldemort so he takes the task of personally tutoring Harry. He knows that he is the only one who can match Voldemort, but that Harry is the only one who can defeat Voldemort. So he teaches Harry what Harry needs to know. 
    Secondly, as far as families go the good kids all have good parents and the bad kids all have not so good parents. I mean Hermione, Ron, Harry, Neville, Luna…. They all have (or had) parents who loved them and would die to save them. The bad kids like Draco, Crabe and Goyle all had evil fathers. It also showed that sometimes despite bad parents a kid could turn out good like Serious. Almost his entire family was with Voldemort, but somehow he resisted.
    Thirdly, in this book the evil is very evil. But also the good is believable. The good people are not Hallmark characters that never do anything wrong. They are normal people, like you and me and they make mistakes. Voldemort was very similar to Harry, but Harry chose to be good and Voldemort to be evil. Harry makes mistakes all through the books he is a normal kid so readers can relate, but all in all he never does anything that is BAD. He has great friends who also make mistakes, but they all help each other stay on the right road. 
    Fourth, some may dislike the way she removes the parents for allot of these books, but in most stories where the main characters are children the parents are removed to allow the characters more freedom. Parents are always watching, trying to protect their children and books are about characters being in danger so the parents in stories would remove their children from the danger. This would not be any fun so the parents are removed to a safe distance to allow the children freedom of movement. 
    Fifth, Rowling does a wonderful job keeping these books clean. There are no drugs, no sex and no fags. This is one of the few “teen” books that is not cluttered with this junk.
    Sixth, in the books the evil wizard are out to kill all the muggles and the good wizards protect the muggles at all costs. The muggles are defenseless and voiceless when it comes to wizards, but the good wizards defend them with their lives. The muggles are much like the unborn, they are both defenseless and voiceless and it is up to the more powerful to defend them. In these books the good wizards do this.
    Seventh, these books show that even the worst person can and should be given the chance to repent. At the very end Harry and Voldemort are dueling and Harry gives Voldemort the chance to repent he tells him that there is a chance. Harry tells Voldemort that he must repent or he will spend eternity in torment. Voldemort does not listen though and destroys himself with the death blow he intended for Harry. I thought it was wonderful the way Rowling saved Harry from killing and made it that Voldemort’s pride was his downfall. She did not have a child kill even if it would have been in self defense. Instead evil destroyed itself because it would not listen; because it was proud. 
    Eighth, these books show how the evil can stop doing evil. The Malfoys, some of the evilest people in the end decided that love of family was most important. They stopped being evil because they realized that evil only destroys and allows for nothing good especially love. The Malfoys loved each other and when they realized that Voldemort despised them for it and would probably kill their son they were prepared to risk their lives, to help Harry kill Voldemort. Love is the real reason for everything good, for the destruction of evil, and for the evil turning to good, in these books. 
    So all-in-all these books are about love and good conquering evil and hatred. The love of Harry’s parents saved him from Voldemort, the love of the Malfoys for their son cause them to betray Voldemort, the sisterly love between Harry’s mother and aunt caused Aunt Petunia to take care of Harry, the love Snape had for Harry’s mother made him protect Harry, the lack of love that Voldemort had for anything was the cause of him being so utterly evil. So really these books were about how powerful true love can be. True love was shown to be more powerful than any magic or any evil.
    I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year with you loved ones

  • Dom,

    Very astute review.  Rowling has *always* said that she intends the books for readers who are approximately the same age as Harry is in each story.  She said way back in the late 90s that she would not allow her own daughter to read the books below a certain age.  C. S. Lewis said much the same thing of his own books, especially his science fiction.

    There are certainly some who can’t separate fantasy from reality, but such people can’t really tolerate much fiction at *all.*