Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Thoughts on the "Harry Potter" Stories


I am in the process of reading the Harry Potter series, and have finally found my way to book 6, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". I admit it took me a while to give J.K. Rowling a try, and I would say that I was both wrong and right in my initial reluctance.

I was right to some degree. Rowling introduces a lot of characters in her stories, and she has had a bit of trouble making all of them believable, or creating the sort of depth of character one likes to see in novels. A good example is Voldemort; for such an important character he's paper-thin in personal depth, and annoyingly predictable. It's also difficult to believe he is some kind of Mastermind, given how badly he seems to blunder a lot more than someone of his ability should suffer. His victories are always heard about only in passing, and never seem to rank up with his defeats. Rowling seems to have drawn up Voldemort only as a foil for Potter, and this is a distinct disappointment in the stories.

That said, Rowling has done an exceptional job with many of the other characters. Since she is an Inkblot, I would say that she did more with Dumbledore, than Tolkien did with Gandalf, and that's saying something. I especially liked the way that Harry Potter has developed, making mistakes and going through doubt and worry like any boy his age. I like the Weasley family, particularly the sibling rivalry between Ron and his brothers. I also thought it especially good, how Rowling not only makes some of the outcasts appealing, like Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom, but makes them integral to certain elements of the story. To that point, Rowling has a nice touch about telling the lesson of how things may come back around - Harry's basic decency to Dobby early on, pays a lot of dividends later, and the same thing shows up in other places. Everything counts, though you don't always see it on the surface.

And then there is Snape. Obviously, everyone interested in the story is trying to sort him out. I am beginning to suspect that Snape is one of those 'hiding in plain sight' guys, the kind who turns out to be rather like he appeared, but you lost him in all the talk and action. What I mean is, I think that in the end, Snape will turn out to be the sort of fellow who is driven by his emotions, even as he keeps them concealed. Snape hates Potter, but he hates the Dark Lord more. Why? Because if you think about it, the nemesis of Snape is not Harry Potter but James Potter, the arrogant powerful type who can do exactly as he pleases. Harry Potter looks enough liek Snape to set off Snape, but in the end, it's Voldemort whose character is the most like James Potter's cruel nature. So, in the end Snape will turn on his former Master, to Potter's benefit - but these two will never be friends. I like that; in real life there's many times you have to cooperate with someone you despise, yet need.

To those who think the 'Potter' series is somehow anti-Christian or supports witchcraft, let me set your mind at ease. There's a good deal of symbolism in the stories, and more than a few lessons one could apply to Bible Study (and I might do just that, if there is any interest). I do not, however, see anything that is designed to lead people away from Christ, or oppose Christian teaching. Yes, it's true that there are no obviously Christian symbols in the story, but then C.S. Lewis' 'Perelandra' and 'Narnia' series held none of that either, yet they are well-affirmed as Christian literature. Subtlety sometimes is the better way...

Most of all, the 'Potter' series is an engrossing tale, with a lot of good lessons and worthwhile characters. If you have not read the books, you might want to give them a try.

1 comment:

cslewisfan221 said...

Apparently, there are Narnia Events going on all over the country that are movie "sneek peeks". I just found some information at Narnia Resources