By- Shruti Vairagkar (L&T Howden)
The Boy Who Lived a.k.a. Harry Potter is re-entering our world as an adult and an employee of Ministry of Magic later this year in The Cursed Child. The last book and movie had released nine years and five years back respectively. Yet the furore around the series and characters refuses to die down. The series has churned out not only memorable characters, but also has given its fandom two amusement parks, thousands of fan fictions, fan theories, and headcannons, and brought forth lesser known British actors on the world stage.
These books were definitely a part of my childhood and adolescence. The magic, the characters and their friendship, their many adventures and misadventures fired my imagination and I longed for Hogwarts to exist and be a witch and not a muggle.
The excitement surrounding the release of The Cursed Child later this year simply reinforces the magic weaved by J K Rowling through the books and her website Pottermore where she dishes out stories and news about the magical world.
There are several things about the book which hooked my generation and I am sure would grab the attention and become the objects of obsession for generations to come.
Friendship. This book if not anything is about friendship. Ron, Hermione, and Harry become inseparable half way through the first book. Ron and Hermione are with Harry every step of the way whether he is battling Lord Voldemort, participating in the Triwizard Tournament, or figuring out what the motives of Sirius Black are. It is aptly described by Hermione in the first book – “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things — friendship and bravery…”
Unconditional Love. Harry was saved by a mother’s love at least twice if not more – Lily Potter and Narcissa Black. The Weasley family was perhaps the epitome of familial love contrasted against the Vernons, Blacks, and Malfoys. The relationship of Bill and Fleur, and Tonks and Lupin was beyond the physical appearance and lycanthropy. In this era of short term love, the fiction provides some scope for the possibility and power of love sans conditions.
Flawed Characters. None of the characters in the books are black and white. They’re capable of love, respect, and friendship but there are instances when the characters have been overbearing, complacent, apathetic, mean, or bullies. The varying shades of grey have made them believable as well as relatable.
Good vs. Evil. Another premise of Harry Potter is good versus evil. It’s a story of Lord Voldemort versus Harry Potter (although LV does deserve some credit for trying to kill Harry always at the end of the school year. Education is important, folks!). There is good and evil in all of us, something perfectly phrased by Sirius Black, “You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” Which brings me to…
Our Choices. There are so many choices to make and paths to walk on. A good decision can do wonders and a bad decision may wreak havoc (case in point – Harry befriending Ron and not Malfoy on the Hogwarts Express; Peter Pettigrew as the Potters’ Secret-Keeper, etc.) Golden words by Albus Dumbledore – “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”
Use of Metaphors. Various magical creatures, situations, and characters have beautifully depicted the struggles one may face. Depression has been caricaturized as Dementors who feed on your soul; Lupin’s lycanthropy and ostracism was synonymous with any form of discrimination one may have faced; the harsh reality of the coming war through Hedwig’s loss… The list is endless. Rowling successfully created a world where one could find their reflection in the characters and instances.
Nuggets of Wisdom. The series is abound with wise words. Whether it be Albus Dumbledore, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Minerva McGonagall or even Luna Lovegood. Some of my favourites are (apart from those mentioned above) –
- It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live
- If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals
- It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends
- Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure
- Fear of a name increases fear of a thing itself
- Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living and above all, those who live without love
Humour. There have been times in the books when I have tickled pink and laughed out loud! All the instances with the Weasley Twins and Marauders Map are particularly funny. Humour is also found in the rather unlikely circumstances like during some interactions between Snape and Harry, and Umbridge and McGonagall. The humour in the books is situational, impromptu, sassy, with a hint of sarcasm.
Chocolate. And the series also proved something I have long believed in. When feeling down and out, have some chocolate!