After several thousand pages of story, spread out over seven books, we have completed the tale of The Boy Who Lived becoming The Man Who Lives. We have witnessed love and death, life and hatred, trust and jealously, and wisdom and betrayal. Harry, Hermione and Ron have bonded into a trinity of wonder. And now, with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, penned by the incredible J.K. Rowling, we have closure for this tale of magic.
And it is simply smashing.
J.K. starts with how years of built up loyalty brings forth volunteers to help evacuate Harry from the Dursleys residence. A spell created by his mother’s love kept him alive. Now his friends love will help save him. The powers of good emotions permeate and fill Harry’s life, and in so many instances raise him up. This moment detours with some humour into the plan to save Harry, which may strike us as odd at first, but actually makes a load of sense.
This idea becomes a tragedy as the first action set in Hallows gets underway with explosive results. J.K. slams us to the edge of our seats here, with a daring thrill ride ending with death and paranoia. Just to remind us all that a war is waging. Even amidst this chaos, Harry will stay at The Burrow long enough for a wedding, a celebration of love marred by a hasty retreat. I find it ultimately impressive how J.K. plotted this whole section, from the clues dropped to shock endings to Hermione’s wise forethought. All parts come together masterfully to launch the next leg of the story.
While many fans have maligned this long middle stretch, I adored it. Having just the three principles interact and clash with each other makes logical and emotional sense. Baggage of various types they all harbour has to be hashed out so that the final transition from youth to adult can be completed. The love triangle that only existed in the certain Potterheads hearts is finally dispelled here, with Hermione and Ron admitting their feelings. Ron’s insecurities being force fed angry emotions, causing him to confront his nature and mature. Hermione’s slow realization not everything in magic is quantifiable. And Harry seeking closure and some solace in regards to his parents deaths. All this soul searching is punctuated with adventures freeing persecuted wizardfolk from Umbridge, a detour featuring a trap by Voldemort, and a trip down a chilly pond to retrieve a much needed sword. A slight interlude for plot reasons comes after these events, with the terror of Malfoy Manor, a close call at Luna’s place, and a break-in at Gringotts all leading to the concluding section.
One event, happening after the Manor escape, is the massively mournful death of one the most innocent characters of all. Dobby the free house elf was one of our favourites. His devotion to Harry is earned, tried and true, with so many of us wishing for a Dobby in our lives. He did not have much in the way of physical possessions, but was ever thankful for what he owned. And the infection of Harry and Hermione’s radical idea of house elf freedom, something we all consider so right and natural, made Dobby a pariah among his people. A stigma he held in high esteem. He was the normal one, they were held back by their fears. He died freely helping his friend Harry Potter. Which made him happy. RIP Dobby, you deserve it.
For the inevitable conclusion, the Hogwarts Three journey back to their old school for the final battle. They find out that Neville has become the man he was always meant to be, a development this Neville booster was waiting for. I always knew he would emerge as a formidable force in this war, it was just a matter of time. With massive reinforcements arriving in droves, giving my fanboy heart giddy palpitations, we see the final battle gearing up. Deaths pile up, and sorrow follows as beloved characters leave the tapestry. Fred. Tonks. Lupin. Colin. All shock. All causing grief. This ancient castle for leaning and camaraderie has now become a mausoleum. When Draco almost dies, but is given a last minute reprieve, you feel a universal injustice has been performed. But that is J.K.’s point isn’t it? War is not fair or equitable. War hurts.
With the realization at this point of Dumbledore’s troubled past and indiscretions, followed with Snape’s confessionals, I find myself in conflict. My forgiveness of Albus and his youthful lust for power engenders much headway from me. Maybe it is because he dedicated decades of the remainder of his time to fighting the good fight and doing nice deeds, or his now gentle manner, but I tend to overlook this earlier aspect of him. Snape, even with this unrewarded love for Lily being a motivating factor, still does not court my approval. The pain and guilt of her death still haunts Severus, motivating his secret help to Harry, but sometimes under duress from Dumbledore’s painting. Snape still seems bitter and nasty and slightly unrepentant all this time later. My own forgiveness of Snape is absent because the past several years his love for Lily never translated to paternal feelings to Harry, but as a confused reminder of his dislike to James. Grow up Severus. Dumbledore did. Harry did forgive you, something I am still grappling with. I hope the daughter’s middle name is Minerva.
Maybe the wonderful soul searching scene with Harry and the Resurrection Stone brings about this enlightenment. J.K. hits just the right notes, with Harry’s mortality being focused on, coupled with those ghostly visits, to complete his emotion journey. Of course they will come with him on his final trip. They love him. And that is the reason he survives so much in his last few fights with Voldermort. Tom has never known love, and seems to glorify in this fact. This primal emotion of goodness that saved Harry, depowered Voldemort, and helped Harry grow and survive, was the one thing that also caused the ultimate defeat of evil. Love is all you need is not just a classic Beatles lyric, but is what Harry Potter is all about. Love.
And as for those last few pages, bringing the coda into a future full of love and hope and caring, thank you J.K. Pure tears of joy and happiness. You created a wonder.
P.S. Harry Potter is copyright 2012 to J.K. Rowling. Her newest book, The Casual Vacancy, is due out on Thursday, September 27th, 2012.