Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (2007)

With the sacrificial lamb ending, it's probably apropos to quote Jesus:  "It is finished."  Or perhaps I should be quoting Aslan in some way, as Deathly Hallows has a very, very Narnia sort of ending.  Really, though, Rowling will never be completely finished with Harry Potter.  There's a new movie coming out - based on what is essentially a mock reference book.  A new play about Harry, Ron and Hermione (in which Hermione is a black actress, cue internet outrage).  Pottermore, the Dead Sea Scrolls of Harry Potter-mania, in which scriptures, er history, is added bit by bit.  Perhaps Harry Potter is the Beowulf of our times, destined to be read and dissected a thousand years from now. It's a fun thought.

Parsing out Harry Potter into seven published books clearly worked very, very well for making bank, but I think reading them in concert, one after the other, was a pleasant and more enjoyable experience.  Like binge watching a television series, you fell head over heels into the characters and action, and by the end I was sobbing aloud, sometimes unable to even continue reading, my eyes were so sore crying to hard and so much.  I now believe that when Rowling wrote Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets, her world wasn't quite baked yet, and she wasn't quite sure where she was headed.  Azkaban is a little bridge of a book that leads you into Goblet - but then once you start Goblet, Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and finally Deathly Hallows all ALMOST can be read as one continuous epic.  Half-Blood Prince works the best if you read it like this (see my earlier post about not liking six).  

Deathly Hallows is a magnificent book.  The things I remember not liking about it when I read it long ago, particularly the scenes of them stuck in the wilderness arguing about Horcruxes, I didn't find annoying or boring at all this time.  Because I'd been immersed in Harry Potterdom for thousands of pages, Harry and Hermione stuck together waiting didn't seem tedious - I felt like I was there with them.   I can remember disliking Dobby when I read it in the past; now I wept like a baby when Dobby appeared to save Harry and Co., knowing he was going to die.  I thought the whole S.P.E.W. thing was silly; now I wept when Kreacher led the house elves of Hogwarts to battle for his master.  I thought there were too many characters sometimes; now I appreciate the vast multitude of minor characters who Rowling uses to infuse life into this world, and I wept when they all appeared, some of them for the last time, at the end of the book.  I wept when Snape asked Harry to look into his eyes (ohhhh, he sees Lily in Harry's eyes).  It's a very emotional book.  

I love this scene at the end:  " 'Get back!' shouted Ron, and he, Harry and Hermione flattened themselves against a door as a herd of galloping desks thundered past, shepherded by a sprinting Professor McGonagall.  She appeared not to notice them: her hair had come down and there was a gash on her cheek.  As she turned the corner, they heard her scream: 'CHARGE!'"  It's McGonagall as that wonderful British heroine, Boudica, right?  Not the sexy Boudica you get when you do a google image search; the Boudica from legend, the prim and proper mother figure taken to arms to defend her land.  I already argued that Harry Potter was a satire; now I'm going to inject some postmodern flavor as well.  

The ending is completely, and totally, straight out of a classic British series that will be the Elder Edda to Rowling's Beowulf:  The Chronicles of Narnia.  Aslan, slain by an evil witch, but not before being tortured by her followers, comes back from the dead and kicks her ass.  Harry, slain by an evil wizard, is tortured afterwards instead of before, but comes back from the dead and kicks his ass.  

(I think I'm failing in the use of metaphors here, as The Lord of the Rings would be more rightly called The Elder Edda to Rowling's Beowulf, but I couldn't think of another thousand year old epic).  

Worst things Dumbledore says to anyone in the whole series.  To Snape:  "You know, I think sometimes we Sort too soon."  Snape has proved his Gryffindor bravery; how different this world would have been if Snape had been sorted into Gryffindor.

Two lines from the movie that wasn't in the book, but sure have been.

one:  Hermione offers to come with Harry when he goes to face Voldemort.  She's offering up her life, as she probably wouldn't survive.  Although Hermione is a kick ass witch on her own, and perhaps could have defeated Voldemort.

two:  Harry asks his ghost parents:  "why are you here?" and his mother answers "We never left."

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In a thousand years, I would like to imagine that Harry Potter will be the Beowulf of the 31st century, a massive and exciting epic, studied for its clues on literature and life of a certain time period in the history of humanity. Students will still be imagining themselves as Hermione or Harry, debating the merits of Dumbledore, weeping over the death of Snape. Parsing out Harry Potter into seven published books clearly worked very, very well for making bank, but I think reading them in concert, one after the other, was an exciting, rewarding and ultimately intellectual experience. Like binge-watching a television series, in one fell swoop you become one with into the characters and action, and by the end I was sobbing aloud, sometimes unable to even continue reading, my eyes were so sore crying to hard and so much. Deathly Hallows is a magnificent book. The things I remember not liking about it when I read it long ago, particularly the scenes of them stuck in the wilderness arguing about Horcruxes, I didn't find annoying or boring at all this time. Because I'd been immersed in Harry Potterdom for thousands of pages, Harry and Hermione stuck together waiting didn't seem tedious - I felt like I was there with them. I can remember disliking Dobby when I read it in the past; now I wept like a baby when Dobby appeared to save Harry and Co., knowing he was going to die. I thought the whole S.P.E.W. thing was silly; now I wept when Kreacher led the house elves of Hogwarts to battle for his master. I thought there were too many characters sometimes; now I appreciate the vast multitude of minor characters who Rowling uses to infuse life into this world, and I wept when they all appeared, some of them for the last time, at the end of the book. I wept when Snape asked Harry to look into his eyes (ohhhh, he sees Lily in Harry's eyes). It's a very emotional book. I was sorry to see it end.


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