My very patient friends and coworkers (bless them) have known for years that I verge on the obsessive when it comes to the Harry Potter series. I have thrown parties for them at nearly every book and movie release over the years and positively enthralled them with tales of my midnight book buying and movie attendance. (I have no comment on the reports that I also wore an official Harry Potter sorting hat to said events as well; I will have my people get with your people on that.)So the question is, why would a grown woman so love this series? I mean, don’t I have a life? I have a great husband…and now two little babies…great friends…my health…a perfectly lovely home full of scores of other books and photography from travels over the years. Why would a grown-up feel such dedication to a tale and such sadness that the final movie opening this week represents the last epic Harry Potter occasion?
Even a basic English student can tell you that the Harry Potter story contains nearly all the archetypes that resonate across literature that has truly cemented itself in our collective consciousness (and thus unconsciousness): the “quest”/journey, good versus evil, light versus dark, the orphan, etc. Speaking strictly for myself however, I feel the most powerful message the series offers regards the notion of destiny versus free will, but specifically the value and meaning of choice in our lives. The main story arc is infused with Harry being the “chosen one” and notions of prophecy and destiny certainly, but one line of dialogue haunts me to this day from book two. Professor Dumbledore counsels a young Harry, who still felt concern that the sorting hat considered putting him in Slytherin House before he asserted that he absolutely didn’t want to be in the same club that produced all the dark wizards. The hat subsequently placed him in Gryffindor House. Dumbledore highlights this act on Harry’s part stating, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”This is a simple message, given in what could arguably be called a simple children’s book, but I think discounting this message for those reasons would be unfair. In our real Muggle lives, we have all known people of great skill and talents who completely ruined their lives with bad choices. Our IQs, our business acumen, our potential at any given time is truly meaningless if we don’t consciously make positive choices every day, every month, every year. It is scarily easy to destroy your life actually. So I think that is Harry Potter’s attraction to me…at every turn, he was a character who chose light again and again when it wasn’t easy or even “fair.” He highlighted the true power of individual choice and the results of choosing light more often than we choose dark, day in and day out. And this is the reason I wish the boy Wizard and his delightful crew the very best and thank J.K Rowling for a wonderful, wonderful ride one more time.
Image courtesy of The Leaky Cauldron.