And speaking of Harry Potter

We recently had dinner with a family who are big fans, might I say obsessive fans of the Harry Potter series. I have enjoyed reading Harry Potter myself. I believe J.K. Rowling is a gifted storyteller. So, this may seem somewhat random, even contradictory, and I realize that I’m speaking of what to some is sacred ground, but I am just going to put this out there and take the flak. I’m talking about Harry Potter. I just struggled with the end of that series.  I’ve thought a lot about it because, hey, it’s Harry Potter, and everyone just raved (still raves) about it.  And it is an engaging series. Let me just say in my defense that I really like the Harry Potter series.  The books are clever and egrossing, but I really, really was disappointed with that climactic scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Let me tell you why.  Through the entire series Harry Potter grows and learns. He becomes stronger as he makes good decisions and fights evil. His experiences, painful though they are, make him bigger and better and more able–more substantial.  On the other hand, Voldemort, piece by piece, becomes less. He becomes less of a person/soul. So, he has fewer and weaker personal resources.  Yes, he is still an evil force to be reckoned with. He has his followers, also strongly evil forces. He threatens everything in the magical world, but personally, though his magic is powerful, he has diminished himself by his choices and actions.

My struggle comes here.  At the very end, I feel like the battle needs to be solely between Harry Potter and Voldemort.  The wand switch thing, for me, seems a cop out. I know he came to it through a brave quest, but It makes it seem, to me at least, that Harry wins, not because of his valor and growth and Voldemort’s personal flaws as much as twists in plot and pure luck.

Okay. That’s it.  I have formally put it out there. Go ahead. Tell me how/why I’m wrong, or if you agree, I’d love to hear that.

2 thoughts on “And speaking of Harry Potter

  1. Ooh, this is a hard one. I haven’t fully re-read the series in a few years and can’t quite remember the feeling of that scene (especially since the movie adaptation of that scene is stuck in my mind, with all the… Voldemort dust… floating in the air). From what you’ve written, I do see the merit of your point of view (and really, an actual battle would have been a lot more satisfying after all that). I do think I see why JK Rowling wrote the this scene the way it is, though.

    Up until that point in the novel (well, in all the novels), Voldemort has been this larger-than-life figure. He’s behind the deaths of Harry’s family, he keeps popping up and killing people and gaining more power. The wizarding world speaks in hushed whispers of “You-know-who” rather than risk saying his name. In a way, Voldemort’s attempt to become immortal and for his soul to live on is being fulfilled in that fear that his name alone elicits. Throughout the books, though (and especially in Half-Blood Prince), Voldemort’s past and his motivations become clear. He is just an angry boy who doesn’t want to die and who will do anything to get his way. By the time we reach the final battle, we are able to sense his desperation and then his sense of victory. I think the battle itself (or non-battle, if you may) is so short for a reason.

    Throughout the books, Tom Riddle has been Voldemort, someone with such power and evil; in his last moments, he is nothing. His death, despite the relief it brings, is not grandiose or dramatic: it is as insignificant a death as such a person could die, and it comes after he talks with Harry, is even given a chance to understand, and instead sticks by the ways that we have come to understand, the ways that he has upheld throughout the entire series. He casts the killing spell (typical Voldemort) and Harry casts the disarming charm (typical Harry), and it is not that Harry’s spell is superior or even that his wand is superior: it is that Voldemort’s death is entirely his own fault in underestimating Harry and the power of love, and that Voldemort isn’t even a being worthy of death at this point— he is a twisted, almost entirely soulless being. His death scene just plays out as a representation of the larger battle between Harry and Voldemort and love and hatred through the books, and it’s an almost natural conclusion.

    … so, that is my overly wordy case for the contrary (hope at least some of it got across). Sorry for the bombardment, Harry Potter is one of my favorites (although I will admit, it certainly has its faults, and your interpretation is just as valid, if not more realistic) 😅. Thank you for your post! I’d been reading through all of your others because I genuinely enjoy reading your writing, and I was very glad to find a Harry Potter one.

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    • Okay. I see your point. Actually, it’s one of the more convincing arguments–that Voldemort isn’t worthy of more of a death scene. I still wanted more of an arc for Harry, but I totally agree that Voldemort created his own destruction, and that love will always triumph.

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