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On Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 

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As the release of the final installment of JK Rowling’s compelling seven-part novel on Harry Potter, who as a child was the only person to survive a Voldemort attack, fulfills his destiny with the help of his closest friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley and some of the unexpected peripheral characters like Neville Longbottom, who is responsible for destroying the final Horcrux.

jk-rollingRowling ends the series well, but this installment had some problems, mostly in too many loose ends left hanging from numerous plot diversions, without resolution. However, the main themes were completed. Realistically, it would have been impossible for her to have tied up everything in this last installment and, such as life, loose ends often occur. Part of their resolution is recognition they won’t ever be resolved.

Part of the problem was that she introduced new plot lines in the last book when The Deathly Hallows was meant to resolve the things that occurred in the six previous installments. The story seemed to drag at certain points. A lot of the first 300 or so pages of the concluding book could have been condensed and better edited to further a more streamlined path to the ending. Too much time was spent on “Harry On The Run” and almost getting caught but escapes, so much so that it began to feel clique-ish. The action scenes were well written but had the feel of a preliminary movie script being prepared for Daniel Radcliff and the others to act. Apparently, the screen adaptations influenced the way the last book was written, especially with respect to the characters, more so than any of the previous books. Here is a good example of a book and its film adaptation, that are nearly symbiotic-ally interchangeable.

deathly_hallows_1_posterHarry also experiences unbearable guilt over the death of some of those who tried to protect him, including Mad Eye Moody, Lupin, Tonks, Ron’s brother Fred, Snape and the devoted house elf Dobby, who died taking a knife in the chest meant for Harry. The end of Hedwig the owl, in the first attack, is poignant as Harry finally recognizes how often he took faithful Hedwig for granted, while the death of Lupin and Tonks leaves their infant son alone in the world as a painful mirroring of the full circle of life – another orphan left to be cared for and brought up by others, yearning to know what his parents were really like.

One emotional struggle Harry had throughout this book involved his anger toward Dumbledore over not revealing more then abandoning him by dying. When Voldemort’s first death curse against Harry is spawned in the forest, Harry enters “another reality” – a state of existence between life and death – encounters Dumbledore and learns the flaws his teacher had that made him susceptible to power by desiring the Deathly Hollows, but wise enough to finally recognize his weakness and allow him to resist its control over him. Here, the human side of Dumbledore is revealed with great sorrow and regret for his failure in life to learn the lesson that even he had to ultimately face in his earlier pursuit of The Deathly Hallows – that power is best wielded by those who don’t seek it. Dumbledore, needing redemption for his failing and forgiveness from Harry for continually placing him at risk. This helped Harry resolve his anger and have compassion for the one person he trusted, that he put on a pedestal and who, to some degree, let him down.

harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows_us_coverThe final answers to the ongoing question of why he, as a child, survived where others hadn’t, finally reveal themselves. He learns that he was the seventh Horcrux that Voldemort (unwittingly) created when he attacked Harry’s family. By doing that, he spread his (fragmented) essence so thin, that he couldn’t retain his physicality. When Voldemort recreated his corporeality using Harry’s blood, he intensified the bond between them without realizing it. This is why Harry was able to read Voldemort’s mind, speak parceltongue (snake talk) and ultimately led Harry to conclude that in order for Voldemort to die, he must die as well, as a fulfillment of the prophecy. They were connected, joined in a way no two people have ever been. This is the one flaw in Voldemort’s reasoning. He failed to see this connection, or attribute the true meaning of his link with Harry who is revealed by Dumbledore as “the destined sacrificial lamb”. By surrendering to the role, an almost unnoticed loophole emerged with Harry dying and coming back from that state. What Voldemort did when he sent the death curse onto Harry was to purge Harry of the Dark Lord’s essence by destroying his own Horcrux. With his soul freed, Harry tapped the confidence he needed and the power to finally defeat this pure evil in the final battle scene at Hogwarts between Dumbledore’s army and Voldemort’s forces. Using the existence of “an Elder Wand, the stone of resurrection and his own cloak of invisibility”, which together comprised the three elements of “The Deathly Hallows”, a power so great, but now held in the hands of someone who never desired its power. Harry understood now that the desire for The Deathly Hallows, had been Dumbledore’s bane and clouded his vision. “Even the very wise cannot see all ends”, Gandalf told Frodo.

 

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The moment he chooses to face Voldemort in the final confrontation is when the Dark Lord is about to attack and kill the only mother Harry has ever known, Molly Weasly. His destiny about to be fulfilled, the moment had come, Harry removed his cloak of invisibility, revealing himself to the battling forces, and standing between Molly and Voldemort, protecting her with his life, facing Voldemort now as a freed soul and ready to do battle with stronger magic, and more complete knowledge . Although Voldemort possessed the Elder Wand, Harry was its real Master. When Voldemort cast the final death curse at Harry, it boomeranged back on him and killed him. For the Elder Wand always protects its true Master.

harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows_-_part_2The notion that the way Voldemort could attain immortality by fragmenting his soul and placing parts of it in objects through the use of the dark arts is a very occult concept. That the fear of death would be so overpowering to him to motivate him, or anyone else, to accomplish it by tampering with the very essence of their soul, is alarming. This too is based partially in reality. We know that objects can and do have the “vibrations” of their owners. Heirlooms are always special for this reason when they are passed down from one generation to the next. This is not exactly the same as a Horcrux, but it is along those lines.

One of the many philosophical statements Rowling is making is that the things we learn from our own struggle and insights are more lasting and relevant than if we are told of them by someone else. We tend to understand things more if the insights are derived internally. If Glinda had told Dorothy that she always had the power to return to Kansas, she wouldn’t have believed her. This is true for parents who struggle with what to tell children, or teachers who grapple with the best way to teach students. Nudge them in the right direction and hope that all they have absorbed through life will be enough to allow them to put everything together on their own and survive through their own wisdom, especially when the elders are not around to protect them.

Another quality the novel speaks to is the importance of friendship. Had Hermione and Ron not been there to help, Harry would never have succeeded. Only with that special chemistry between them, based on their love for each other, also evident in the movies, was he able to grow and mature to become the wizard he was meant to be. Hermione in particular, who was recognized by Sirius Black as “the brightest wizard of her generation”, stood by him even when Ron, in a fit of anger and frustration, left. In the end, the only family that Harry ever felt close to, the Weasley’s, became even more so when he married Ginny and Ron married Hermione. Harry finally comes home and “all” is well with him.

Despite some of the flaws of this book, Rowling has done a remarkable job of completing a seven-part novel that has captured the attention and imagination of both children and adults, and motivating them to read. She has succeeded in creating a piece of literature that will continue to challenge people of all ages. Well done Ms Rowling.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix – Film Review