Archive for September, 2012


Harry Potter Fact #242


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A lot of people I know say this one might be their least favorite book because of how angsty and moody Harry is (and also because of who dies at the end). It’s true, his character really does get darker in this book and we discover some of his imperfections. It’s hard to relate to for younger kids, but for me, it came out at the perfect time. I’m one of the lucky ones who was the same age as Harry when all the later books were released, and 15 was not a good time for me. It was kinda nice thinking about his troubles for a bit.

I also love the glimpses of the previous generation we get in this book…not to mention Dumbledore’s Army. Bad. Ass. To top it off, Order of the Phoenix contains my favorite Potter villain. I enjoy loathing Dolores Umbridge almost more than Lord Voldemort because as the series goes on, she becomes proof that bureaucracy, when corrupt, can be its own class of evil. She institutionalizes everything that Harry fights against, and he still finds a way to get around it. The way J.K. Rowling writes about abandonment and anxiety just makes his courage that much more admirable.

Plus, this is the book where Fred and George Weasley make their grand exit from Hogwarts, which is without a doubt one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. I can’t even count how many times I dreamed about sticking it to the teachers/admin and walking out of school when I was 15. To see it done so creatively and described in such vivid detail always makes me smile. That scene translated beautifully onto the silver screen, too. I went to the midnight premiere when the movie came out and the entire theater was cheering!

I like seeing Harry’s darker side in this book…it prevents his character from falling into the stereotype of the perfect hero who everyone loves. I can’t think of many other novels in which the writer makes the negative perception of the protagonist this believable. I’ll admit, there were some points at which I didn’t really like Harry myself, but I think it’s needed in order to stop him from ending the series looking like a saint.

For me, this book is the one that has the perfect blend of humor, dark themes, and run-of-the-mill teenage worries. The later ones start to reflect deeper political and social issues more, which I love, but can’t always connect with the same way.

Harry Potter Fact #126


I never even thought about this…he loves her so much 😦 I hope they’re together in the afterlife. Also, Chosen One or not, Neville is still a badass.


So, HP Month kinda got put on hold. I’m sorry, I really am. I love Mr. Pottah so so much and reliving the series is lots of fun for me, but life got dramatically crazier than normal for me after Labor Day. Now I get to wonder in amazement at how far I’ve fallen behind in school within the first two weeks of classes, and find myself a new place to live before the end of the weekend, all while learning the ropes of a new job. And that means HP Month needs to freeze for a hot minute.

In short, I’m in an unpleasant and sticky place right now….I’d like nothing more than to escape into Harry’s head for a good long while, but as I can’t, I decided to procrastinate for 10 minutes by writing a blog post for you wonderful people. I hope you’re having a  better week than I am.

Anyway, Harry Potter Month will recommence as soon as I can. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day/evening/whatever it is in your part of the world!

Harry Potter Fact #174


 

Hahahah! It’s so fitting that Fred and George would be the ones to do this. Excuse me while I go read Sorcerer’s Stone again and laugh my ass off.

 


The mother of one of the most notoriously Dark and unfeeling wizards who ever lived? Who wouldn’t be fascinated by her?

I feel like after Half-Blood Prince, we know just enough about Merope to understand Voldemort, but not enough to truly understand her. This is really important because of how deeply the theme of motherhood and the bond it forms is ingrained throughout the entire series. Notice that we know nothing about Merope’s mother – in fact, she’s not associated with any female characters at all other than Tom Riddle Sr.’s girlfriend and the ladies she met at the orphanage towards the end of her life. It’s curious, and I have so many questions about her in my mind already. How come she sold Slytherin’s necklace for just 10 Galleons when she had been told all her life how valuable it was? Why didn’t she seek Wizarding help after her father and brother had been locked up in Azkaban, rather than feeding Tom Riddle Sr. a love potion and running off with him? Did she know that something evil was growing inside of her when she got pregnant with Voldemort?

Jo never says this in the books, but she revealed in an interview that the reason Lord Voldemort cannot love is because he was conceived under a love potion. It’s just like how Harry received the ultimate protection from Lily when she died trying to save him. To a certain extent, both of their destinies were decided by their mothers, and that’s why Merope is the most interesting character to me.

Clearly, she still had some fight left in her when Morfin and Marvolo were taken away. She had enough magical education to know how to make a love potion, and she was a pureblood, so she was set to at least be taken care of in the magical world. But she shunned it so completely that she didn’t even leave her baby in a Wizarding orphanage (I’m sure there are such things…right?) even though she knew that it would have magical powers. And then, whaddaya know…the baby grows up to be a mass murderer of Muggles.

Isn’t it amazing to think about how much impact one woman’s choices had on the Wizarding world?

Honorable mentions: Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore


Believe it or not, even though this is just the first book, it was kinda hard to narrow it down to just 3. Here are mine, in no particular order:

1. When Hagrid comes to collect Harry from the little rock in the middle of nowhere the Dursleys have taken him to. This is such an amazing scene for a lot of reasons. Harry and Hagrid begin a deep and beautiful relationship with this meeting if you think about it. Jo said in an interview that the only thing she knew for sure about the ending of the last book is that Hagrid would walk out of the Forbidden Forest carrying Harry in his arms. He’s the one who rescues baby Harry from the ruins of his parents’ home in Godric’s Hollow, takes him away from the Dursleys after 10 full years of misery, brings him into Hogwarts for the first time, takes him away from the Dursleys again in the beginning of Deathly Hallows….And of course, this is when Harry gets the news that he is a wizard. Hagrid giving Dudley the pig’s tail doesn’t hurt either! 🙂

2. When Harry looks into the Mirror of Erised and sees himself surrounded by his family. I’m choosing this vision instead of when he sees himself holding the Sorcerer’s Stone because the former is the one that haunts him throughout the rest of the series. What he sees in that mirror remains his greatest strength as he grows up and fulfills his destiny, even though there are so many times later on where it’s tested. It was also a very personal moment for me as a young kid reading this book.

3. When Hermione, Ron, and Harry defeat the troll in the girls’ bathroom and Hermione takes the blame by saying that she went looking for the troll, and the boys were just trying to help her. The reason Hermione was there (and unaware of the troll) in the first place is because of a mean comment Ron made about her earlier, but when the three of them are caught with the smoking wand (so to speak), they forget everything else and just protect each other. This is when the friendships within the trio are cemented, and in hindsight, a clear metaphor for the journey they embark on together. It was such a wonderful scene in the movie. Made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, despite all the troll snot and destruction.

Runners-up: Harry killing Quirrell-Voldemort with his bare hands, Snape saving him from being thrown off his broom in his first Quidditch match.

What do you think? Agree/disagree?


Half-Blood Prince, Hogwarts professor, Death Eater Snape. I’ll confess I had the hardest time dealing with all the truths about him revealed at the end of Deathly Hallows. For a while I was mad at how fanfiction-y the whole thing sounded, and thought Jo just pulled an incredibly far-fetched, oversimplified explanation out of nowhere to tie up loose ends. Then I thought about it and realized that it was probably her plan all along. Sometime after that, he replaced Sirius as my favorite male character. (Of course I love Harry, but come on, he’s the protagonist. I can’t name him my favorite character.)

He was awful to Harry, Sirius, Remus, and even Wormtail years and years after everything had happened, and I’m not saying that’s okay, but it is an inevitable consequence of his remaining just as strongly devoted to Lily. The thought came to me that if Lily had married him instead of James, she would still be alive. Harry wouldn’t exist, and Snape might never have turned good, but he is cunning, intelligent, brave, and yes, distrustful enough to have protected her successfully. That sounds TERRIBLE and I’m sorry!!! But I’m sure the thought occurred to him as well, and that’s the real reason for the hate towards James – and by extension, towards Harry.

Everything else aside, his love for Lily doesn’t change how vicious he was. It doesn’t erase all the evil things he may or may not have done as a young Hogwarts student or Death Eater, but it does give him another side. He’s the embodiment of Sirius’ words: “The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters”. Of the three abandoned boys, Snape is the one who can’t be defined as clearly good or clearly evil, and that’s why he’s so fascinating to me.

The course of his life is as altered by Lily’s death as Harry’s is. I think his being capable of loving that deeply combined with his skill at deception and concealment make him almost more dangerous than Harry, in a way. I feel like he’s a much more complex character than most of the others in the books.

Runners-up: Sirius Black, Ronald Weasley


Harry is the central character, but surprisingly, Hermione is the reason I initially got as attached to the books as I am. She is the mirror image of me in the Wizarding World, minus the glasses. As the series went on and the movies began coming out, I started to look up to her more and more because she never tries to hide or change who she is.

She definitely grows a lot, but she stays true to herself and never (not even once) feels the need to dumb herself down or be anything other than comfortable in her own skin. I don’t know about J.K. Rowling, but when I was in high school 3 years ago, that kind of self-image was all but priceless. I’ll admit that she was kind of obnoxious in the early books before Harry and Ron completely integrated her into the group, but it’s kind of endearing.

Another thing that I admire about Hermione is her integrity. Take what she did in Prisoner of Azkaban, for example. She was already uncomfortable with Harry having the Marauder’s Map and on tenterhooks with Ron because they were fighting over their pets. But when Harry got his Firebolt, she still went to Professor McGonagall with her suspicions about it having been sent by Sirius Black, even though she must have known that doing so would probably make the boys hate her. I’m not sure that I could have done that.

At the same time, she doesn’t take it to extremes. She could be all self-righteous and refuse to help Harry and Ron with their homework if she wanted to, but she doesn’t (not usually, at least). She’s not all about following the rules and doing what she’s told. It’s a rare gift to have that level of intelligence and also the bravery to think for yourself at a time when everyone wants to give you instructions.

More than anything, though, I admire her determination. She had her heart broken by the boy she had been in love with for at least a good 3 years when Ron walked out in Deathly Hallows, but she still stayed and finished what she and Harry had to do. It’s a character-defining moment for her. She had two choices that would both have been understandable: 1) throw a fit like the lovestruck teenage girl that she is, or 2) grit her teeth and step up to the challenge in front of her anyway. This is the rite of passage to adulthood for her, and I am so, so glad that Jo set this example for the rest of us.

When I watched some of Jo’s interviews and heard her say that Hermione is an exaggeration of herself, I was beyond thrilled. I already looked up to J.K. Rowling because I (like her) wanted to be a writer pretty much since I began to understand the concept of a career, and it was awesome to have something – even the smallest thing – in common with her. I think that’s another reason why Hermione is my favorite female character.

Runners-up: Luna Lovegood, Bellatrix Lestrange


Harry Potter Month is here, everyone! I’m starting it from my smartphone at work (some people don’t get Labor Day weekend off, you know) so I apologize if the formatting is messed up or something. I’ll fix it once I get home. Enjoy, “like”, comment, and be merry this weekend!