Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Magic of Harry Potter

I guess this post was long overdue. Have been wanting to write this since I read Moonshine's post on Harry Potter.

I love Harry Potter. All seven of them!!

People who haven’t read the books often ask what’s so special about Harry Potter & why would sensible adults be so possessed with a bunch of kids frolicking around in some school of magic (SOME school of magic??!!)?

To begin with, everything about Harry Potter is special. The fact that he is the son of extremely brave & gifted parents who gave up their lives trying to save him from the evil curses of Lord Voldemort.

That he had a deprived childhood living in the 'cupboard-under-the-stairs' in the house of his self-centered aunt & uncle who want to have nothing to do with him (since he is the kid of a witch & a wizard) but reluctantly agree to raise him because they have no choice & his fat cousin Dudley who is always bullying him.

That his parents left him a fortune (in wizard currency, of course :) yet he is grounded.

That he has powers that can destroy THE MOST evil force in the world of magic (Lord Voldemort), yet never uses it to his unfair advantage.

That he has friends who don’t think twice before risking their lives for him.

As for people who think Harry Potter is about a bunch of kids frolicking around in a school of magic & is therefore, escapist fare …anyone who has read the books would know that Harry Potter is about much more.

It’s based on the basic premise of good vs. evil that all of us believe in and teach our kids. It’s about knowing right from wrong, and standing up for what you think is right even if it is proves dangerous for you. It’s about character. It’s about helping those in need. It’s about being a good friend & a good human being.

I also love Harry Potter because of JK Rowling’s imagination. She has created this enchanting, magical world that very few people in this world would be able to create with theri writing. Such is her imagination! And what’s even more marvelous about the books is the fact that what you imagine while reading the books is very different from what another person does. This is also why I’m not such a great fan of the movies. What we see in the movies is the director’s vision, not ours (though I must admit I associate Harry Potter with Daniel Radcliffe now).

The other brilliant thing about the book is the way Rowling has built up the characters. There isn’t a single character that isn’t fully etched out, and every single character is likeable. You like Ron & Hermione as much as you like Harry. You dislike Snape & Malfoy as much as Harry & his friends do. You feel terrible when Albus Dumbledore dies, and even worse when Fred & George are killed. You feel anxious every time the scene is set for Voldemort’s appearance. You respect Professor McGonnagal as much as the students do. You feel sorry for Neville. You love Hagrid but like everyone else in the book, you wish he was a little bit smarter. It’s tough not to love the characters in the book.

Instead of trashing Harry Potter books as escapist fare, we should be appreciating the books for the author’s imagination & the imageries she evokes. After all, isn’t it short of genius to come up with a game called ‘Quidditch’?

To invent terms like animagi, auror, Azkaban, Quidditch, Quaffle, Bludger, Snitch, dementor, hippogriff, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, Griffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, howler, muggle, mudblood, O.W.L. (Ordinary Wizarding Levels), Parseltongue, Whomping Willow etc. that become part of the lexicon of Harry Potter readers?

To have your characters spout inane ‘curses’ like these and be able to make the readers eat out of your hands:

Accio! - Summons an object)
Alohomora! – Opens locked objects
Avada Kadavra! – Killer curse
Crucio! – Torturing curse
Confundus! – Used to confuse the opponent
Expecto Patronum! – Creates a Patronus
Expelliarmus! – Disarms opponent
Impedimenta! – Slows an advancing object
Locomotor Mortis! – Locks opponent’s legs
Lumos! – Creates light at the tip of the wand
Petrificus Totalus! – Binds the entire body
Reducto! – Blasts objects away
Stupefy! – Knocks out opponent
Wingardum Leviosa! – Makes an object fly

Yes, I’m a sucker for Harry Potter (to the extent that I once had a Harry Potter blanket & a Harry Potter towel – gifted, of course), have converted many into Harry Potter readers & tried (in vain) to convert a few (such as a colleague that Moonshine knows all about), have read all the books twice over & still can’t get enough of them!!!


Moonshine said...

Hey scarlett!!!!!!!! I am excited at reading a Harry Potter post :-)!!

People who do not / have not read Harry Potter till now .. i mean what are they doing with their life!!!! Its so insanely important to just experience the world of Harry Potter! Imagine, their children will know about Harry Potter.. so sad!!!

Even sadder is people who have seen the movies and not read any of the books!!!!

These books are a treat to read.. its so nicely written that it will make you visualise even how a door jamb looks in a particular scene!

And the intonations!!! How could JK Rowling dream up of "Expecto Patronum".... mumbo jumbo.. but ask any harry potter fan and they would have an incredulous look and say.. "what? you dont know it?????"

Scarlett said...

Moonshine!! SO knew you would comment:) Yes, its really sad that kids of parents who havent read Harry Potter will grow up not having read Harry Potter. They'll miss a wonderful childhood experience.

The knife said...

somehow never got into Potter or Tolkien and the Hobbits. But I know a lot of grown ups who love both

Serendipity said...

Tolkein is a much better storytller than Potter. I AM a HUGE potter fan, but when i watched LOTR, and started reading it (havent finished yet), there are a lot of similarities, and u get the feeling that Rowling wouldvt read LOTR before she started writing HP.

Still, Potter remains one of my Fav.

Scarlett said...

@ Knife - Try reading Potter before you read Tolkien. It's easier to read :)

@ Serendipity - I couldn't read LOTR the first time round. Maybe I should try again?

The knife said...

there were a few guys when I was in plus two who were Tolkien fans. I think I tried to read LOTR but didn't finish it. I was more into Wodehouse and Asimov in those days. Pottermania started after I begun to work where my reading levels began to dip. With time at a premium the thought of picking a big book on wizards didn't appeal. And now I feel I am too way behind

Moonshine said...

Harry Potter and Lord of the rings are very different books!!! They cant be compared.They are both equally brilliant in their own manner!!! I love them both...equally :-)

And Tolkein is also fairly easy to read!! It just has less "fun" moments!!

@Knife PLs read both these books. It is an absolute must read.. if you do not want your children to blame you later in their life!!! Believe its as good as the Bourdain book!!! :-)

Scarlett said...

@Knife - Yes, that is true. If your kids grow up without reading either of the books, they will blame you forever!!