I’m a big picture kind of guy, and for the last 13 years, nothing has been a bigger “picture” in the world of literature and pop culture than “Harry Potter.” I’m always inclined to participate in moments of meditation and internal consideration upon culmination of major events in my life (see Egg Bowl note) and so I thought it only fitting to attempt to sum up the last 13 years of ‘Harry’ in the way I know best.
Many Potter topics are trending on Twitter right now, and one of the most interesting ones concerns the idea that “my childhood is complete.” This notion causes me to think back to the beginning, both for Harry and my interest in him. I’m a sucker for behind-the-scenes anything, and one of the most fascinating videos I’ve come across pertaining to the Harry Potter series is a one-hour documentary on J.K. Rowling. A fellow British author follows her around for a year leading up to the release of her final novel in the series, “The Deathly Hallows.” I strongly recommend it to any Potter fan, from the casual movie watcher to the ones who were dressed up and in line well before sunset for the midnight premiere.
What Joanne Rowling did from 1990 to 1995 is really quite phenomenal. In 1990 she had a four hour wait on a train and began thinking up this world of wizards. She had neither pen nor paper, and was forced to sit and think for 240 minutes. She took time, albeit it a situation where she had no choice, and gave this thing, this future world-wide phenomenon, four hours of deep thought. Then, for the next five years, she executed her plan and put her thoughts to paper with varying degrees of success. Those five years brought Jo Rowling several moves across Europe, money problems, her mother’s death, a marriage, child birth, and divorce. Yet through it all, she stayed true to her dream and her goals. She did not sit around in self-despair or loathing, but rather worked tirelessly to produce the start of the most amazing fictional world since Tolkein’s Middle Earth. Joanne Rowling taught us never to give up.
Then, her characters did the same.
Whether you be a Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or, dare I say it, Slytherin, all of us have formed an attachment to a group of people in Harry Potter. From teachers to members of the Order to students and their families, most fans, book readers especially, have formed special bonds with Rowling’s characters. I think one of the major motifs in her series is that of the importance of supporting characters. Some of my fellow Potter nerds and I made a list last week of the Top 10 most powerful wizards in the book series. Only one member of “The Trio” (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) made it into most of our Top Fives. Rowling surrounds Harry with a tremendous supporting cast. From the brave Neville to the brilliant Hermione to the unwavering McGonagall, Harry was surrounded from day 1 by people carefully chosen to support and protect him.
And let’s not forget Severus Snape.
As many of you may know or have gleaned, I have a particular respect for Severus Snape. He is not my favorite character (that would be Remus Lupin) simply because for the first 98% of the series, I loathed him. However, his character story is unrivaled in the book, and once you learn the truth about his loyalty, bravery, dedication, and love for Dumbledore and the protection of Lily Potter’s son, it’s impossible not to feel a pang of sadness over his death. My favorite chapter of the 7 books is Chapter 33: The Prince’s Tale in Deathly Hallows, and the best scene in the entire movie series is his death and memories. Insert joke here about having something in my eye, it being dusty in the theater, etc. The way Rowling, and then DH director David Yates weaved Snape’s story around Dumbledore, Harry, and Vodlemort was beautifully genius, and both should be commended for it. The themes and motifs that will be drawn from the character of Severus Snape will be taught to our kids and theirs as well.
Also, Alan Rickman deserves the Oscar.
In closing, let us not mourn the “end” of Harry Potter, because nothing this epic and important can ever end as long as those of us who love it and learned for it keep it alive. My children will read these books and watch these movies, and we’ll have many long discussions about the characters and plots presented in the series. It all started 21 years ago on a delayed train in London. Some will try to tell you that it ended on July 15, but I urge you not to listen to them. Yes, our childhood may be “over”, but that does not mean that the Harry saga is. Let us make a Sorcerer’s Stone for Harry in our hearts, so that he may never die, but live long and be passed down for generations to come. If one thing is certain about all of this, it is this:
All is Well.