Please Let Harry Potter Die

Overcoming evil requires real, hard sacrifice, says an Orthodox priest. Rowling should let Harry be a tragic hero.

Reprinted from with permission of the author.

Father Jonathan Tobias knows exactly what he will do when J.K. Rowling releases the final volume of the

Harry Potter


The family tradition is that he reads the entire book out loud to his wife and two daughters. Then, when the final page has been turned, they start debating what will happen next.

Things will be different this time. However, the Eastern Orthodox priest knows how he hopes the last act plays out. Unlike many other ministers, Tobias doesn't want Potter to renounce magic or to lose his adolescent flaws. It would be awkward, he said, for the young wizard to "fall to his knees and make the sign of the cross." His suggestion is simpler than that.

Rowling should let Potter die, because that is what tragic heroes do.

"There is little decent tragedy around" in modern culture, said Tobias, at his "Second Terrace" weblog. "There is a lot of irony, where a non-heroic central character is pitched into the abyss of ambiguity. There is a lot of farce, where burlesque mummers traipse around in varying degrees of moral undress.


"But tragedy? No. ... We do not see the sense of the pollution of evil, and its uncleanness. We have no immediate feeling of the necessity to fix or to cleanse. And we haven't seen much of a fable where the story demanded, clearly, the surmounting and cleansing of evil -- even at the cost of real, hard sacrifice."

Tobias is one voice in a global digital chorus debating this issue at myriad websites with names like and Potter fans have, after all, purchased more than 300 million copies of the six novels.

The faithful have been sweating ever since Jim Dale, the voice behind the U.S. audio-book editions, claimed that the author had told him Harry would die. Then Rowling stunned British television viewers by revealing that she had tweaked the finale (the last word is "scar") so that "one character got a reprieve, but two die that I didn't intend to die." And Harry Potter? She answered, "I can completely understand the mentality of an author who thinks, 'I'm going to kill him off because after I'm dead and gone they won't be able to bring back the character.' "

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