I wish the Harry Potter critics could have heard the animated conversation in our family room this morning. I listened nearby as our 11-year-old son and his friend P. spoke with great passion to one another for more than an hour about the series. As a high school English teacher, I would say the questions they were asking each other could be worthy of a literary analysis paper.
- Which book advanced the plot the most?
- Why was Book Five, Order of the Phoenix, so dense? Was it because it was a book that transform Harry's problems at Hogwarts to deeper moral problems?
- What is the importance of Dudley to the overall plot?
- Which character developed the most during the series?
- Should children be the age of Harry is before they read a specific book? What are the benefits and drawbacks to reading these books when one is younger than Harry is?
- Why is reading a series more compelling than reading an individual book?
We've always insisted our sons read a book before they see its movie adaptation. And so the thrill of seeing this final installment will be to see how faithful the movie makers are to J.K. Rowling's words. I am grateful to this writer, who has helped encourage so many youngsters to find beauty in literature, in the tales of a unwitting hero who learns that sacrifice of self is the path to greatness. While we won't be going to Thursday's midnight opening of this movie, we will see it sometime this summer.
Throughout the series Harry Potter battles against Lord Voldemort, who personifies evil. And Harry (SPOILER ALERT) defeats him. Always, we have an understanding that Lord Voldemort does not embrace the beauty and truth of this world. We know he is merely out for his own personal gain. We understand that true power lies in what is lasting and beautiful, not in Lord Voldemort's false promises.
As Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, says: "That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to understand. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped."