As most of you probably know by now, I just finished reading Harry Potter for the first time. When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to read the books due to the word “witchcraft” in the synopsis. I get it. My parents didn’t know and they were doing what they thought was best for us. (Although after finally reading the series there’s nothing evil about it really.) So I went through my life not reading Harry Potter, not seeing the movies and not know anything about the series. As I got older I told myself that one day I would go back and read it. It’s such an iconic, classic series and I knew eventually I would get around it.
But time passed and I let other books jump ahead of Harry Potter.
At the beginning of 2016, I made a list of books I vowed to read this year. Harry Potter made that list. Now, I had vowed to read it before and always failed, but this year, I was serious. I received the box set for my birthday in March and after that there was no real excuse. So in May I finally picked the first one up and for the last two months I have been living at Hogwarts. It has been a magical experience to say the least. I am so emotionally attached to this series and these characters and I am mad at myself for waiting so long to read them. But the important thing is that I’ve finally done it. And now I have thoughts to share.
There are so many amazing themes throughout this series. So many lessons to be learned that J.K. Rowling packed into these pages.
Harry Potter taught me many lessons. And I’m sure there is more to learn as I reread these books time and time again (which will definitely be happening). One of the most important things it taught me was the value of friendship. And the definition of true friendship. Ron, Harry and Hermione are the three best friends in the whole world. They fight. They hurt each other. But no matter what, they are there for each other. Even if that means breaking 100 school rules to investigate something. Even if it means leaving school early to go on a journey where death is highly probable. Even if it means sacrificing yourself for your friends. This friendship was absolutely incredible. I feel like Ron, Harry & Hermione are my best friends. I feel as if I was at Hogwarts with them the entire time. Their loyalty to each other is astounding and admirable. I hope everyone has friendships like this in their life.
Because it’s friendships like this that make life worth living.
We also see an amazing friendship between Dumbledore and Harry. I loved their relationship. I loved that Dumbledore never treated Harry like a child. He confided in Harry. Yes, he kept stuff from Harry that he probably should have shared, but Dumbledore always had faith that Harry would win. That Harry would come out on top. He never doubted the Boy Who Lived, just as Harry never doubted him.
There were so many other friendships that I adored as well. Sirius, James & Remus. Fred & George (best sibling relationship ever!). Snape & Dumbledore. Hagrid & Harry. Dobby & Harry.
There are many themes throughout the series, but one that really stood out to me was equality. It starts with Hermione’s movement for equality for house elves. We see it in Voldemort’s desires for a pureblood Wizard ruling class. We see it as Draco calls Hermione mudblood throughout the entire series. It was painful to see the disparity. It hurt to see how the house elves were treated. It hurt to see the wizards not take muggles seriously.
But all that hurt made the fight that much more important.
I loved seeing all the different perspectives on equality. Hermione, a muggle born. Dobby, a house elf who wants his freedom. Harry & Voldemort: half-bloods. The Malfoys: purebloods. One of the most interesting perspectives was Ron. He’s a pureblood, brought up by a father who is fascinated by muggles. He doesn’t readily agree with Hermione on her “free the house elves” mission though. Because he’s been brought up in the wizarding world, house elves as slaves is the norm. He doesn’t see why the house elves should be free. It’s not because he’s a bad person, it’s just the way he was brought up. He also argues that house elves wants to serve. Which does in fact seem to be true for many of them. But he jumps to Hermione’s defense instantly when Malfoy calls her mudblood. Ron was on the line in the middle to me and it made his perspective all the more interesting.
There’s an overwhelming theme of love throughout the series. The lesson taught is that love conquers evil every time. It’s the one thing Voldemort was missing. Love. He didn’t understand the concept of love and therefore, would never be able to conquer over Harry. Harry showed a great capacity for love in spite of how he grew up. He shows it in his sacrifice at the end of the series. He shows it whenever he helps Hagrid out of a sticky situation. When he’s a friend to both Ron & Hermione even when the two are bickering over something ridiculous. He shows his love to Dobby by freeing him. He shows his love to Dumbledore by believing in him no matter what. And one of the most pivotal moments for me is when he shows his love and pure goodness to Draco Malfoy when he saves him from the fire. Harry saves a boy who has been awful to him for seven years. This shows maturity beyond his age and it shows just what a huge capacity for love Harry has.
But it’s not just Harry we see this from. A mother’s love was also a huge theme throughout this series. We see it with Harry’s mom first who sacrifices herself for her child. Then we see it with Molly Weasley who loves her children more than anything and will do anything for every single one of them. Even the bad eggs like Percy. I loved the scene in the Deathly Hallows where Molly is fighting Bellatrix and she screams that she’ll never hurt another one of her kids again. She refuses help from anyone, determined to take down Bellatrix on her own. And then she does and it was epic. And finally we see a mother’s love shine through with Draco’s mom who lies to Voldemort just to save her son. That is an intense love.
I could talk about every single character but then we’d be here for hours and hours and you would be bored and probably leave me. This post is already too long so I’ll attempt to make it quick.
I have to start with Snape because to me he was the most complex character in the series. I started off hating him. Then he saved Harry’s life and I loved him. I flip-flopped back and forth the entire series on whether or not I liked Snape. And then he kills Dumbledore. And my heart just shattered. I was in a state of disbelief for the rest of the book. I kept thinking Dumbledore would come back, but he didn’t. And then I began to wonder why. Why did Snape kill him? Why did Dumbledore trust him? There had to be a reason. And once I found out the reason I realized that Snape was good all along. A lot of people think that doesn’t excuse the way he treated Harry. No, it doesn’t. However, I can see why he treated Harry the way he did. He was in love with Lily and he lost her to James. When Snape looks at Harry he sees the woman he loved and that hurts. He also sees the man he hated, the man who stole the woman he loved away and he feels anger. The complicated emotions couldn’t have been easy to deal with. Yes, at times the way he treated Harry was awful and inexcusable, but ultimately Snape was always looking out for Harry’s best interests and that’s why I love him.
Dumbledore is quite the mystery throughout the series. We know he’s inherently good, but he has many secrets and is often cryptic and frustrating. But I always believed in Dumbledore because it was clear that he truly cared about the students, about equality and about defeating Voldemort once and for all. I really loved getting Dumbeldore’s backstory because it showed that he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t always a symbol of good. He made mistakes and those mistakes got his sister killed. He once believed that wizards should rule over muggles. But he realized the error of his ways and corrected, dedicating his life to fight against people like Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Albus Dumbledore taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes.
Harry Potter & Voldemort
I’m going to put these two together because I think they’re so closely related. Harry & Voldemort came from very similar backgrounds. Both orphans. Both half-bloods. They both had nothing as children. They both get to Hogwarts and discover magic. They both had a choice to either hold onto the bad memories and become a dark wizard or to let it go, make friends, embrace love and do good things. I think it’s so interesting that the two of them are so similar, but walked such different paths in life. It just goes to show that everyone has a choice. You always have a choice in life. Just because life deals you a shit hand of cards doesn’t mean that you have to go down a dark and lonely path. Life is what you make of it. You can take that shit hand of cards and turn it into something good if you choose to. Both Harry and Voldemort had the same opportunities in life. And that taught me that destiny isn’t pre-determined.
You make your own destiny and you choose your own path.
Okay, I could go on and on forever and I definitely feel more Harry Potter posts coming in the future so I can really dive into all my feels, but in closing, this series was amazing. The characters are absolutely incredible. I call them all friends now and will revisit them over and over again for the rest of my life. I now want to spend all money on all the Harry Potter things. I’ve already bought four Funkos. Sorry not sorry. And will soon be investing in a Hufflepuff scarf since that’s my house. And new bucket list item is to visit Harry Potter world. Off to spend some money!