Blogalogue

Blogalogue


Harry Potter Fans: Let’s Not Play Find-the-Jesus

posted by Paul Raushenbush

By Patrick Rothfuss
Spoiler Alert: Jesus Dies.
Fair warning: I’m going to speak plainly about book seven here. Also, I’m going to talk about what happens in the end of the Bible, and give away some of the major plot points of the Tao Te Ching. So if you’re worried about having the endings ruined, you’ll probably want to go finish those books first and come back later.
Harry as Jesus
I agree with Orson. I think we can very comfortably put the whole issue of Potter-as-Christ-Figure to bed.
When answering the question “Is Harry a Christ figure?” Orson exhibits wisdom and moderation, giving a qualified no. I, however, being neither moderate or wise, am willing to go all the way and answer with a unhesitating “no.” Extra no. Double-plus no.
Yes, yes, there are a few similarities. Yes Harry is willing to sacrifice himself for others. He dies (kinda) and comes back.
But after that, you really have to start scrabbling to come up with connections. I spotted a chart where someone lists all the multifarious similarities between Harry and Jesus. The list includes the fact that they both had father figures. (Harry: Dumbledore. Jesus: God the Father.) They both suffered. (Harry: Cruciatus curse. Jesus: Hung on the cross.) Both of them even had a decent into the “nether regions.” (Harry descends into the Chamber of Secrets. Jesus descends into hell.)
Well, this brilliant and insightful list got me thinking. Last night I had a descent into my basement where I did some laundry. It was dark down there, and I stubbed my toe really hard. (You know how much that hurts when you bang your little toe? I bet it’s as least as bad as the Cruciatus curse.) Then my dad called me on the phone and I realized that I have a father figure too! Wow! What are the odds?
So does this make me a Christ figure? No. Anyone thick enough to believe that would be really shocked to hear the words that came out of my mouth after I stubbed my toe. Trust me, it wasn’t anything so noble and plaintive as, “Eloi Eloi….”
Of all the irritating literary games people play, Find-the-Jesus is one of the most wearying to me. Not every book has Christ symbolism. Let it go.
People use stairs. People suffer. People have fathers. People make noble sacrifices. And, in fantastic stories, people come back from the dead. Odin did it. Osirus did it. Sherlock Holmes did it. Buffy did it. Spock did it. Hell… Voldemort died and came back. It takes more than that to make a Christ figure.


You want good Jesus symbolism in a fantasy story? Go to Aslan in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. There’s a Christ figure for you. Harry is, at best, just following a standard sacrificial hero archetype. It’s a storyline that was old before Jesus was born.
I think we’re good here. Let’s move on.
The Unasked Questions
In his last post, Orson mentions Rowling has brought us into an imaginary world, and that “within that place, she has created clear rules. Magic functions according to a set of principles.”
I can only half agree with this. While she has certainly created some rules, they aren’t particularly clear. We’ve spent seven years of following Harry through a wizard’s school, and honestly, I have no idea how magic works. While magic does seem to function according to a set of principles, those principles seem ill-defined and fluid, subject to change according to the author’s whim.
A few examples: Harry gives Kreacher a locket. While he is obviously delighted with the gift, he’s still in Harry’s thrall. Why doesn’t this gift free him from servitude? You wear clothing. You wear a locket. What’s the difference?
Is clothing only something made of cloth? Does metal lack the requisite mojo? And if that’s the distinction, if it is the material itself that’s the key, does it need to be an organic fiber? Are we lucky that Harry wasn’t wearing polyester socks the day he tried to free Dobby?
If the cloth is the key factor, would a towel count as clothing? You can wear a towel. You can wear a washcloth on your head. What are the rules? We just don’t know.
Another example: When Severus takes George’s ear off, we learn that it’s for good. Mr. Weasley says, “I can’t make it grow back, not when it’s been removed with dark magic.”
When did this become a rule? Just now, apparently. How is it that Harry has lived in a wizard’s school for, say, seven years and never heard this valuable little tidbit? Personally, that would have made my ears perk up a little.
What’s more, this new rule goes against other things that have happened in the earlier books. Severus himself heals the damage done by the Sectumsempra curse in the previous book. And what about when Lockhart dissolved all the bones in Harry’s arm? They fixed that. What makes those situations different than that one?
The truth is, I suspect, that the difference is that Rowling wanted some tragedy early in the book, so she wrote in a new rule. Easy as pie.
But even more irritating than the abrupt insertion of a new rule into the story, is the galling fact that everyone shrugs and gives up. Even George. It just doesn’t ring true. Why doesn’t he say, “Are you sure? I mean, we are wizards, right? We have potions and stuff. Voldemort found a way to tear up his own soul and come back from the dead. He got a whole new body. Are you really telling me you can’t grow back my friggin’ ear? Seriously, quit being all weepy, get some books, and look in the index under: Ear – regrowth.”
But nobody looks for a way out. Why? Not because the rules of magic are against them, but because the author is against them. The author wants him maimed, and you can’t fight the author.
This irritates me, partly because an author has a responsibilityto make their stories plausible and internally consistent. But even more because the behavior the characters show goes against what we know about human nature. It’s one thing for a question to go unanswered, but it’s another for it to go unasked.
Here’s what I mean. If a character in a book asks a question and can’t find an answer, that’s not a big deal. As readers, we’re used to that. It’s familiar because our own lives are a series of unanswered questions, or at least questions where the answers open to a great deal of speculation and interpretation.
But still we ask. It is one of the defining characteristics of human beings. Even if we can’t get the truth, we like to grope toward it as best we can.
But in the Harry Potter novels, nobody asks questions. Nobody really seems curious about the nuts and bolts of how magic works. Nobody tries to figure out the details. For example, what exactly makes some spells “Dark Magic”? Why is casting a death spell more dark than simply stunning someone off their broomstick so they fall to their death? What makes the Imperius curse more dark than a love spell that enslaves a person?
What counts as clothing? And for that matter, what counts as a gift? Technically, Malfoy didn’t give Dobby a sock. Giving implies an intention. Malfoy threw a book at Dobby and Dobby caught it. By this logic, Dobby could have freed himself by hiding under Malfoy’s bed and caching a pair of dropped underwear before it hit the ground.
We also know that not all magic requires a wizard to have a wand. Elves don’t. Goblins don’t. Harry makes a sheet of glass disappear without a wand in the first book. Tom Riddle works some serious mojo on the other kids in the orphanage growing up. But if wands aren’t necessary, how come nobody pursues this? Why doesn’t anyone even talk about it as an option? Let me tell you, if I were a wizard, and I knew that there was a war against evil brewing on the horizon, I’d make a point of learning all the tricks available to me. It’s a better option than being completely helpless as soon as your drop/lose/break/forget/are disarmed of your fragile magic stick.
Snape and Dumbledore invent new spells when they’re students. Why don’t Harry, Ron, and Hermione attempt something like that?
There is so much good in these books, and I do enjoy them. But I’ve grown increasingly disappointed as this list of unasked questions gets longer and longer. Each one is a missed opportunity for characters to be clever and resourceful. When the characters fail to even consider these things, I lose respect for them. Magic might be inscrutable. Fair enough. But they’re wizards. It’s their job to scrut it. Or at least make a passable attempt.
In my next post, I’m going to tackle what, in my opinion, is the most glaringly unasked question in the Harry Potter universe. What is the nature of the soul?
Tune in. It’ll be a good time.



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Henry

posted July 27, 2007 at 3:54 pm


Your article reminds me of comments made by John C. Wright on his blog:
http://johncwright.blogspot.com/2006/06/bellyaching-about-order-of-phoenix.html
His argument is that HP takes place in “Halloweenland”, a breezy, almost cartoony sf/fantasy setting where characters don’t ask too many questions about their world’s rules, and the reader’s not expected to either.
In my opinion, HP is Halloweenland and I have no problem with that.



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Gigi

posted July 27, 2007 at 4:43 pm


I’m looking forward to what you have to say. All the inconsistency bothers me, too. The fact that the author and characters don’t seem to care exactly what magic is and how it works irks me. Hermoine seems to care, but that fact is a running joke. No one knows anything, and no one cares. Even after seven books.
So what you have to say about the soul will be interesting. Harry Potter is such a strange mix of things. But I think you are right on in all your posts so far, especially Tom Bombadil :) (In fact, I enjoyed your posts so much I clicked your name and found out you’re an author. I’ll be picking up your book tonight.)



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Jeff Peters

posted July 28, 2007 at 12:32 am


Gigi, you won’t be disappointed with Rothfuss’s book, Name of the Wind. I’m halfway through it and, dare I say it, like it better than the Potter books I have read.
I’ve also had the pleasure of interviewing him, and he’s as witty and interesting with the spoken word as with the written. I even remember a brief tirade on this very subject as we sat in the Mission Coffee House in Stevens Point and he talked of failed premises and the work behind building gritty, believable worlds.
I’m really enjoying these blogs, guys. Keep it up.



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Christian Seehausen

posted July 28, 2007 at 1:09 am


Everybody makes mistakes. Those that you listed are frustrating ones, but far from crippling ones, when you consider the fact that Rowling does state rules and does use them to good effect time and time again.
In fact, she does it much better than many fantasy writers, who tend to use magic in a more fluid, mystical, and unexplained sense than she does–sometimes to ill effect.
Of course, those who do use magic that way probably complain that she “trivializes” it, or makes it seem too mundane, but that’s a subject for another time.



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Lance

posted July 28, 2007 at 1:43 pm


I found your blog/post interesting and I have found myself asking the same questions. Here is what I would like to ask Orson Scott Card (and I would be glad to hear from others, including Mr. Rothfuss):
Mr. Card, I have attended on of your writing workshops, have read everything I can find that you have written about how to write SF and Fantasy. What I recall most vividly is your rule about the “cost of magic”.
Now, I don’t believe that all fantasy has to be based on the “cost-of-magic” principle, although I really do like the principle. But there really does not seem to be any cost of magic here in the Potter series. In fact, as Rothfuss points out, I don’t even see much internal consistency in the rules of magic of the books.
I love the Harry Potter series. I cried many times throughout the books. But, unlike my experiences reading Tolkien or, more recently, Robin Hobb, I have had to suspend my adult expectations of internal consistency in these books in order to enjoy them.
Fortunately, there are other reasons to really enjoy the books.
Thanks,
Lance



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Laurie

posted July 28, 2007 at 6:07 pm


If you believe the effects of Dark Magic can be so easily mended, then what happened to Moody’s leg, nose, and eye? And remember, Snape was right there to repair the effects of the Sectumsempra spell Harry cast, and even then he wondered if Draco would be scarred for life. Harry had never used the spell before, and probably was not as sucessful with it as Snape would have been. Just my two cents about that. Now, what she could have done was have George make some comment about getting a super-ear like Moody’s eye, and we would think back and say, yeah, I guess she has shown us some examples of times where limbs or body parts have been forever lost to Dark Magic.



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Llyralei

posted July 29, 2007 at 10:32 pm


XD You’re my hero for seriously putting “spoiler: Jesus dies” on a real page.
Anyway, I understand your perspective on the whole whim-of-the-author thing, but I was thinking [and please don’t be offended] that maybe your imagination as a reader is being a little lazy. ;]
Um, like, the locket thing. A locket is, technically, an accessory. Not clothing. The diary thing: Lucius intended the diary [and therefore the sock] to end up in Dobby’s hands. At least, we can assume this.
George’s ear: I think Laurie makes a good point, mentioning Moody’s eye. The reader can infer that Moody lost his eye to dark magic, and it can’t be repaired. As a matter of fact, I agree with Laurie on all counts about Sectumsempra and all that. But, as for your question on Dark Magic, I can’t answer that either. XD; I can assume that Dark magic is magic that can only be used for dark purposes. That’d be my answer.
On wandless magic, I was also a little frustrated that JKR never explored this, but I take it that goblins and elves have different kinds of magic, whereas wizards have a magic that requires channelling through a wand [or wandlike object?], though enough pressure can cause it to burst free without the channel, but lacking control. There’s my assumption. And as for the inventing spells thing, I think it’s safe to say that Snape was ambitious and Dumbledore was a genius. The trio, I suppose, just never really got the motivation to make their own spells, which would be untested and probably unreliable.
Making assumptions does make for good conversations when you discuss the series with someone, though I do feel your frustration for the lack of solid, concrete answers. So… yeah. :D *fails at conclusions*



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Aris Katsaris

posted July 30, 2007 at 8:39 am


“When did this become a rule? Just now, apparently.”
No, it happened atleast way back in “Goblet of Fire” when we were hearing about old Mad-Eye Moody missing part of his nose (because it was cursed off) and one of his eyes too.
And in “Half-blood Prince” Snape stopped someone’s bleeding, that’s a far-cry from regenerating lost limbs.
“Why doesn’t this gift free him from servitude? You wear clothing. You wear a locket. What’s the difference?”
Lockets are not typically considered clothing, they’re considered jewelry. You don’t usually go to a clothes’ shop to buy yourself a locket.



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Chris

posted July 30, 2007 at 4:29 pm


Re: lockets as clothes.
It’s not about how you or I define “locket,” whether we consider it clothing, or just decorative adornment.
What’s important is how each House Elf defines it. And I mean precisely that: Most of them aren’t trying to get free, whereas Dobby patently was. And it seems that there’s not much a Wizard could do to change a House Elf’s opinion on the matter–House Elves don’t get their magic from Wizards, they have their own.
In short, I suspect that if Kreacher had been handed a book with a sock in it, he would not have considered himself free. And similarly, if Dobby had been given a locket, it would (to him) have been just as good as a sock for setting him free.



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Laurie Hall

posted July 30, 2007 at 4:48 pm


“In short, I suspect that if Kreacher had been handed a book with a sock in it, he would not have considered himself free. And similarly, if Dobby had been given a locket, it would (to him) have been just as good as a sock for setting him free.”
I completely disagree about that. That’s a very postmodern view of magic, and I don’t think JKR has given us any reason to believe that magic has different rules depending on what you believe. It is or it isn’t. Whether Kreacher considers himself free or not does not affect the magic binding him to the Black family. There are specific rules that don’t depend on what someone believes. Personally, I’d much rather she made a mistake or didn’t think it through completely than think she was going for this interpretation!



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Gigi

posted July 30, 2007 at 7:14 pm


Wow, people have thought seriously about this whole sock thing. I guess what bothers me is that the first few books felt like such mindless, silly fun (which is what I liked about them) that all this didn’t matter. Then when the stories got serious, it felt like all of a sudden all this silly stuff from the first few books had to become serious, too. Are you telling me that when you read the first two books, you felt like there was a concrete way in which magic worked? Did it matter back then? The sock in the book was a cute, clever, eleven-year-old trick on an old crabby guy – not some ingenious scheme by a hero to thwart a diabolical enemy through a superior understanding of the subtle art of magic. It was just plain don’t-think-too-hard cute. Now what is it? Have the later books ruined the first few books for anyone else?
As for whether a locket is clothes and whether it matters what the elf thinks it is – what about what the wizard thinks it is? I haven’t studied the books closely for an understanding of how all this works because I don’t think there is much to know. All this discussion over the locket just shows how inscrutable this magic in Harry Potter is. If that’s the point, that’s one thing. Just throw in a quote from Ron saying to Hermoine: “Why do you bother reading all those books? Everyone knows magic is totally unpredictable, unreasonable and impossible to understand.” Did I miss that somewhere? But I don’t think that’s the point. I think Rowling started out having fun (good) then only later tried to make sense of it (bad).



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Jillian

posted July 30, 2007 at 9:43 pm


SPOILER WARNING!
Maybe the question is, is it fair that Rowling implies that there will be answers to some questions, then never provides them? I’ve been pondering this since I finished the seventh book, because there was an awful lot I wanted (and expected) to find out, but didn’t.
The seven Harry Potter books contain an awful lot of characters, and have given us, their readers, a lot of time to invest emotionally in them. Characters like Luna and Cho and Dean and Fred and Kreacher and the Dursleys.
Yet all we find out in the end is that Rod/Hermione/Harry/Ginny/Malfoy all end up having kids and sending them to school, that Neville ends up the herbology professor and Hagrid is still working at Hogwarts at the ripe old age of 86. WTF? When you consider how much time and effort Harry spends working towards being an auror, why do we never find out what he does for a job?
The ending felt, to me, rushed. We barely get a glimpse of how the wizarding world reacts to the overthrow of Voldemort, or the impact the loss of Fred has on George (and the rest of his family), or what becomes of baby Ted between the loss of his parents and heading to Hogwarts years later. Apparently Rowling wrote the final chapter a long time ago, and the lack of detail really shows.
There is a lot in the books that makes no sense at all (like why do they only ever have one flying lesson? Do wizards live longer than muggles generally do?), but to me this is the series’ biggest fault. It’s the modern equivalent of “…and they all got married and lived happily ever after”. How unsatisfying!



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Laurie Hall

posted July 30, 2007 at 9:45 pm


“I think Rowling started out having fun (good) then only later tried to make sense of it (bad).”
I don’t think that’s the case. She claims to have had her story mapped out from the very beginning, and I don’t see any reason not to believe that. I think her writing has certainly matured along with the books, but I think the world portrayed in the books became progressively darker because the characters were getting older and seeing what true evil can be, and what the stakes really are in life. In other words, her books grew up primarily because her characters grew up. When you’re a child, you’re much more concerned about which teachers are mean to you or which other students are your friends, inter-house rivalries and sporting events, and things like that, than you are about what’s going on in the world at large.
I definitely miss some of the humor of the first few books, but I certainly wouldn’t trade that for the depth of the last few. This really hit home for me in Deathly Hallows when Harry lost his Firebolt broomstick while escaping from Privet Drive. It was such a throwaway moment, you could almost miss it if you weren’t paying close enough attention. And yet, just a few short years earlier, in Prisoner of Azkaban, the loss of his beloved broom was a devastating, depressing experience for him. It just shows how much he’s grown up, and how much the tone of the books have changed since then, that we see what’s really important and what we really stand to lose to true evil. And part of what they stand to lose is the fun we see–quite necessarily–in the first few books–the candy and magically-appearing feasts, the warmth and coziness of the great hall and the Gryffindor common room, the security of The Burrow…



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Laurie Hall

posted July 30, 2007 at 9:59 pm


Actually, Rowling said she originally included all that information in her Epilogue, but left it out in rewrites because it just didn’t work as well. I guess it felt too much like just listing a bunch of facts about what happened to everyone. I was apprehensive about any kind of Epilogue at all, but I thought it was perfect. Just enough information to let us know everyone was happy, not enough that we couldn’t use our own imagination a little. I thought the middle name of Harry’s middle child was especially touching. But if you really want to know what happens to everyone, she *does* have that information, and has been doling it out already. Here’s the transcript of a live web chat she gave today, with *tons* of that sort of info:
http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/7/30/j-k-rowling-web-chat-transcript
Sorry, I’m not great with html–you’ll have to copy and paste!
Rowling has also said that she plans to write an Enclyclopedia of Harry Potter information, including information about what happens to all the characters.



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Gigi

posted July 31, 2007 at 2:21 am


I wonder just how much she had mapped out. I go back and forth between not much, which would explain why it feels made up along the way, or too much, which would explain why so often magic pops up just right to fit the bill and move the plot just so. Either way, if she was planning to grow up the tone with the characters, I think she did a bad job. Obviously, I’m a minority. But it didn’t work for me. I think it was an incredibly tall order and that she ultimately failed to pull it off well. Is there any other series that has pulled this kind of thing off – starting with a little kid and a silly tone and gradually shifting to a grown up teenager and a serious tone?
In the first books I wasn’t bothered by questions because it was just fun. But as I was forced to take this story seriously, I started to be annoyed by it. Taken seriously, it doesn’t make much sense to me. My biggest question: why magic? If its not fun, but deadly serious, what’s the point? Who cares? Modern technology is so much better. Do you think a real evil wizard would still be waving a wand when he could Accio some nukes? Is this a real war or not? I just couldn’t take the threat seriously, and it didn’t feel to me that Harry did either. Yeah, he moped and whined about it, but did he study magic? Did he make use of any resources to become a better wizard? Not much. He became whiny and arrogant. I loved the first three books, and I grew to love all the characters. But the rest of the books have killed it for me. All of it just annoys me now. I’m glad its over.



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Laurie Hall

posted July 31, 2007 at 11:58 am


See, for me it was never about the magic at all. Maybe that’s why I never took that part of it too seriously, although of course it was always fun. For me, it was about the relationships of the characters, the effect of power on good people and bad people, the way evil can insinuate itself in a decent community, and how it would feel when it did.
For me, she did her job. The first book feels safe and happy. By the end, nothing and no one really feels safe anymore. Look, I’m a scientist. I know how to think analytically. It’s not that I don’t think about the workings of magic, and see the little inconsistencies or loopholes here and there. But when I have kids, I’d rather they take from this that we must “fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated…” than worry about whether a locket is a piece of clothing.
I’m sorry you were annoyed by the last four books. What made you keep reading all those 3000 pages? Did you get anything out of it?



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Gigi

posted July 31, 2007 at 3:00 pm


I loved the first three books. I stopped reading the fourth book when Harry’s wand and Voldemort’s wand locked and people started popping out of Voldemort’s wand. A few years later I decided I couldn’t not finish the books, so I read the fifth and sixth. I labored through half the seventh and then gave up and skimmed the rest.
It’s hard to say what I get out of Harry Potter. Nothing like OSC gets. I want my kids to fight evil, too. Isn’t that every parent’s wish? If they’re going to do it with magic, then I’d tell them they sure as hell better learn magic, and use it to make choices, instead of hoping for a loophole to turn up in the end. When they try to learn about magic, and none of it makes sense, and it seems to contradict itself, and everything they do is thwarted by some unknown other magic that no one who ever lived understands, I want them to come to me and say, “Mom, magic is stupid.” They’ll be right.



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Gigi

posted July 31, 2007 at 4:00 pm


Laurie,
I just reread your comment, and I don’t think I was clear in mine.
In a an epic battle between good and evil, it’s not about magic for me either. That’s good. But for the characters in the story, magic is everything. For them, it’s all about magic. We care for them as we see them struggle through their *real* environment. When the characters don’t care about magic, they aren’t real, whether we care about the magic or not.



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Laurie

posted July 31, 2007 at 4:20 pm


Gigi: No, I understand what you’re saying, and even see some of your points. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. I guess we just disagree that the characters were real. They felt very real to me. But I think it’s about more than just magic to them, as demonstrated by Harry’s desire to dig a grave by his own strength, without magic, almost as if it would be cheating to do some things magically. In other words, I never got the impression that they were saving the world for *magic*, but for each other, and for future generations. I always got the impression that *that* was what it was all about to them, not the magic.



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Laurie

posted July 31, 2007 at 7:17 pm


Gigi, somehow I missed your second to last comment, and only read the last one. My impression of the last book was that it was Harry’s character–his ability to sacrifice himself–that saved everyone, not some magical loophole. Dumbledore concentrated his efforts on making Harry the type of person who would be able to this, in the end, because he knew it would be necessary. He knew all the magical power in the world wouldn’t cut it on its own. Anyway, that was my interpretation.



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Laurie

posted July 31, 2007 at 7:26 pm


I also wanted to say that your experience with these books sounds *exactly* like my reaction to the Series of Unfortunate Events books, which I started out loving, but grew annoyed with, and eventually ended up loathing. By the 10th book, I definitely felt that they had become something they were not at The Bad Beginning, and felt a bit hoodwinked by the author–almost as if he had pulled a bait-and-switch on me. I felt cheated out of the experience of the last few books. So I think I might know how you feel, maybe, even if I don’t agree that that’s what happened in Harry Potter.



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Ian Lynch

posted August 2, 2007 at 9:46 am


I was never able to get myself interested in the Lord of the Rings. To me, there was way too much detail. I wanted story, not backstory. Perhaps that is why I have so loved the Harry Potter books, there is a predictability and constant progress toward the inevitable climax built into the structure of each of them and the series as a whole. Even in the 7th book we have Privet Drive/birthday/Christmas break/battle at Hogwarts – did anyone doubt that the final battle would be there? That familiar structure, more than consistencies and explanations of magic were more important to my enjoying the reading. I also think that that structure was the vehicle for showing the maturation process of these young characters. I remember thinking how very well JKR portrayed the emotional (im)maturity of 11, then 12, 13-year olds, etc. The “darkness” of the later books is a fine reflection of the dark feelings of adolescence. Then using a hero myth to tell it makes it all the more compelling as we watch the hero mature and ultimately triumph. This gives the series the power to inspire us all as that poor 11-year old orphan becomes a great seeker of truth and the one who shows us all how to overcome evil.
BTW, I agree that Harry is simply a Christ figure in the ways that the two stories intersect and that both are examples of the same hero myth. And that is not to minimize the power of the hero myth.



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Carolina Romero - California

posted August 9, 2007 at 5:12 pm


To Jillian who didn’t like the happily-ever-after ending, and feels gypped. And to Laurie Hall about the epilogue and additional info.
I agree with you Laurie. Guys, look: that is an afterward. The book could have easily finished with Harry in the Headmaster’s office breathing a sigh of relief that everything is over. THAT would have been a perfect ending to Deathly Hollows and no one would have been griping that the years-later ending was unsatisfying. JKR didn’t have to add anything else. It was done as far as I’m concerned. He obtained the objects that were the title of book 7, and he saved the wizarding world from the big bad to wrap up the whole series.
What happened to leaving readers with enough room for use of their own imagination? Isn’t that the best part, imagining for yourselves what COULD have happened? Rowling was being nice and giving that epilogue. She was under no obligation to do it, nor to give us that much info. And if people DEMAND more, it’s simply because they’ve been spoiled and become complacent.
I had similar gripes at first when I finished book 7 of the Dark Tower by Stephen King. The hero reached the end of his journey, and that would have been that. King had an epilogue, but he warned everyone that they DIDN’T HAVE TO read it. They would be happy, go on with their lives, and feel content that their hero finished his quest. But no, I read the epilogue, and was PISSED. Luckily, I realized that it was a good epilogue, and I would have been happy either way, whether I read it or not.
Same here with Harry years later. I’m glad Laurie mentions that JKR will do us the KINDNESS of giving out the info in encyclopedia form later. But what she wrote was enough for me. His kid’s middle name was a MUST in my opinion. And what their jobs were is meaningless. The epilogue ends where Harry’s magical journey started: at King’s Cross where parents embark their kids on future lives of their own. I’d rather use my own imagination as to the filler info, but I got enough to know what’s important.
But if people want more, read the Comic Relief books, and hope for the Beedle Bard book.
Ditto also on Unfortunate Events. I had to put book 4 down. It repeated itself in every story. It might entertain children, but my adult brain just needed more.



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yo mam

posted August 17, 2007 at 3:20 pm


I can understand your points of view.
I agree with your views on his similarities with Christ. I’m sure JK Rowling noticed and maybe even threw some in for her own amusement. I’m sure that she knew the reaction it would cause. However, I don’t think that was her reason, I mean, she must have had her story planned out already. She had left a lot of loose ends in previous books so she must have known what she was doing. However there are some things I disagree with.
For one, eleven year olds show signs of magic to show that they are witches or wizards. This is how they find out. And like Hermione says in the seventh book, even small children can produce powerful magic they’ve never even heard of without knowing how they did it, because it comes from a place inside of them
And obviously some of the wizards such as Voldemort knew that not all magic was neccesary for wands, considering he could fly.
So yes, you are correct, though some spells or magic did not require wands, others did. And the spells depended on them crucially, such as the way that they maneuvered the wand. Also I imagine that wands helped with aim considerably, to keep things organized, so the spell had a very defined target, but there is much more to it than that. For example, wands are very peculiar. Take the Elder wand for example, it could defeat anybody up against it. Harry’s wand protected them. Magic comes from a place inside of a person (in the story of course) however the wand has a lot to do with it. When Harry tried Bellatrix’s wand, it didn’t feel as comfortable to him as Malfoys. Look at it like running. You can run, with or without shoes, however some places you need shoes. And some types of shoes work better for you than others.
And the difference between gilderoy and sirius…is that gilderoy was a bonehead who didn’t know anything.
I thought the same exact thing as you when it came to Kreacher’s locket. However after much consideration I came to the conclusion that a locket should be considered nothing more than an accesory. The definition of clothing:a covering designed to be worn on a person’s body
a locket is hardly a covering. Yes there are other types of accesories considered clothing, like a scarf but you can say “She was dressed in a scarf” you can not say “She was dressed in a locket”
An item of clothing covers a significant part of your body. For example, a shirt covers your upper half, a sock covers a foot.
When Lucius Malyfoy gave Dobby a sock, he did in fact do the act of giving. Although he was unaware of what was in the book, he still gave the book to Dobby, with no order. He gave Dobby an object containing a sock, which is in fact an item of clothing.
There is a difference between recieving an object given to you, and hiding underneath a bed and catching underwear, surely you must know that.
I’m not sure if you remember, because I forgot too, however the rule of limbs and body parts being cursed off by dark magic deemed as irreplaceable had actually been established before the seventh book. If you recall, mad eye moody had mentioned this, actually barty who was under the polyjuice potion. but the real mad eye was missing a leg and an eye, that had been cursed off by dark magic. he was an auror so of course he knew a thing or two about dark magic. if there was anyway to replace his leg or eye, then i’m sure he would have figured it out.
It was not a new rule.
Some of your points are justifyable, however a good majority could be more well thought out.



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K. Wyse

posted August 23, 2007 at 10:07 am


Harry Potter as Jesus Christ. I agree with a ‘no’. I have yet to read Orson Scott Card’s analysis so I can only hope that what I say won’t bore you (though since I’m no way as clever as OSS, I doubt the possibility of repeating his words).
I think the Christ analogy that people so readily draw is because their biggest connection to Jesus is through that one quote: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son … ” etc. And this sort of sums up JC’s most important job whilst he was with us. From that we come to understand that Jesus’ role in life, his moment of destiny, was to save us all by dying. From that singular point of view, HP is a JC figure because discovering that he carries a remnant of his enemy’s soul and thus enables his enemy to gain immortality: he willingly sacrifices his life so that the rest of us may live and defeat Voldemort.
But Harry Potter is not Jesus. JC was a great teacher and prophet. He quite literally redefines the Bible. You see a great change between the God of vengeance and wrath and punishment in the Old Testament, to the Father figure in the New Testament. Through JC’s teachings, we are able to better discern God’s intentions for us, and live more according to those intentions. HP does none of that. He is not enlightened, and the only teaching aspect he takes up has more to do with fighting the injustice of the Ministry’s stupidity, than to do with him being a fount of wisdom and knowledge.
The messages that lean more towards the great Truths, such as unity amongst all the Houses, are shown as overall themes and quite often pointed out by Hermione, rather than from HP’s insight. Speaking of which, what happened to that unity? To me it felt like suspicion was rather rife when everyone came to deal with the trio: sorry, Dumbledore only trusted us. To me, HP has more of the John Connor (the Terminator) leadership-type, than the way Jesus stepped into his leadership role.
So no, I do not believe that Harry Potter is a Christ figure, and frankly I’m appalled at the comparison of Hell to the Chamber of Secrets. The Chamber is merely a place that houses a monster that can do great damage. Hell on the other hand … if you’ve ever experienced the deepest, darkest, most terrifying bouts of depression, then you know that the Chamber has nothing on Hell.
That’s just my two cents.
-Wyse



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LORI

posted August 30, 2007 at 3:08 am


Hello,
I got as far as some one having the nerve to compare Harry Potter to
JesuS! Excuse me, I am in a tailspin, that just completed the post for me, why read on? Really, is it just me, or is that just plain foolish?
Would be glad to talk to any one on this subject……



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Janie S.Poole

posted September 18, 2007 at 2:56 pm


For pity’s sake! If we do not teach our children the difference between fantasy & truth,then who will?
Harry Potter books are just like traditional Fairy Tales in olden times!
If you can’t keep your child in the real world,then you can’t blame Harry Potter!



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shane farley

posted September 27, 2007 at 12:47 am


ok dude, whoever you are, the one talking about the harry potter not being a christ figure, our deffinantly wrong.
J.K Rowling actully said she meant for him to be one. You havnt looked at all the hidden clues, not just his sacrifice, but this: Jesus and harry both head to a secluded place and talk to their father, jesus being the garden and harry being in the forest. they both ask advice of their fathers, and both are heading towards their death and they both know it, they are both brave enough to go down that path. They are both jeerd at and mocked by others before they die, in harrys case not really dying though. They are both betrayed, judas betrays jesus, and wormtail betrays harrys whoel family, and both end up dying later by there own hand.
ok, the whole clothes thing with the hosue elves, who cares?
its just house elves, when it means clothes, it means like clothing, not lockets, they would have said something like jewelry or a special possession.
the spell thing with not being able to fix it. sectumsempra was used on draco malfoy, who should have been fine cuz harry wasnt a fully trained wizard yet, and he didnt really mean it. snape is a powerful wizard and hit fred, only on accident. The whole no bones spell isnt dark magic, a teacher performed it on him when he was already hurt, it was just a stupid idea that lockhart thought would help harry, not harm him.
and the epilouge was there for a good reason. if she didnt put it in there, all you folks would be like, oh well what happens next, what happens to harry, and would be expecting it. that way, u know a little enough to know that he was living a good life and he was ok.
no one said harry potter IS jesus, they just said he resembled jesus.
if you notice the times harry doesnt use a wand for magic, it is an accident, it says only truly powerful wizards can perform magic without a wand, i dont beleive harry could have doen it without his wand, besides, he was then weaponless, only able to fight with what he had, but it also opened the path for him to own the elder wand.
so ya, i hoped ive convinced you of a very obvious and purposful idea of harry being a christ figure
have a nice day
Shane Farley



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ant

posted October 8, 2007 at 11:07 am


I think “kings cross” was the descent to the dead. not the chamber of secrets



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Andrea Veitch

posted October 20, 2007 at 8:29 am


Hi
just to let you know Shane’s right. J K Rowling has always admitted to believing in God and in her later interviews she states she says that no-one in interviews delved deeeper into that belief actually suited her purposes. If they had she felt they would have realised what the end of the sries would have been. She also stated that she intended it to have a religious theme. By the way, she’s a commited Christian and talks about the fact that in the books her struggle with faith and belief is somehow played out.
Before deciding whether he is or he isn’t, perhaps the articles writer could have considered finding out what she actually intended!



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McNair Wilson

posted October 23, 2007 at 1:16 pm


Did I miss the hordes of young Harry Potter readers who are now practicing ACTUAL witchcraft (vs. the made-up tricks in Ms. Rowlings books)?
I shutter to think how Tolkien’s RING trilogy would be received in these hyper-careful times if he were just now releasing “Lord of the Rngs” book one.
There is a staggering lack of imagination, and ignorance to long-established literary conventions by so many church folk. Many of the stories of the Old Testament would be banned, burned and besmirched for their witches, wars, and evil doings were they not IN the Bible.
In 1937, with the release of “”Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, his ground breaking film, the first full-length animated feature ever, Walt Disney received similar ridicule and criticism from morally vigilant church-goers. The problem? The witch was TOO scary. Walt’s response was to ask, just where would parents like their children to learn to deal with their deepest fears: sitting beside them in a darkened movie house or out in the world, alone?
Maybe J.K Rowlings biggest mistake was not announcing her faith FIRST and then getting a “nice Christian publisher” to release her books and do ALL her appearances in the lobby of some big ministry that focuses on the family. But NO-O-O-O, Rowling believed in, and trusted, the imagination of children and the discernment of parents to read and talk with each other about the grand themes of her remarkable books.
The real magic is that she got thousands of young girls and BOYS READING, and reading a lot.
Maybe she could pen one more stack of Potter pages, just for concerned churchaholics:
“Coming in the Summer of 2008 – –
“HARRY POTTER AND THE EVANGELISTIC GUN CLUB OF ABSTINENCE.”



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Linz

posted November 5, 2007 at 2:05 am


Christ figure or no, that’s for philosophers and historians to debate. Have at it; I’ll be reading and enjoying.
I love all the questions, though. You’re right – you know, it sort of makes HP seem like a giant rough draft. And honestly, is it anything more?
Maybe she’ll rewrite it now… ;)



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Leslie

posted January 2, 2008 at 12:31 am


You seem to have forgotten that Harry’s “dying” for the others kept them from being hurt (reference the scene in the book where Harry and Voldemort meet, at last, in the Great Hall. Harry himself points out that the work of Voldemort’s Death Eaters and their dark magic could not hurt the others. But, as Bellatrix’s demise shows, the evil characters are wholly unprotected by Harry’s sacrifice.



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Derek Murphy

posted April 17, 2009 at 6:27 am


I find it interesting that both sides of the argument recognize the similarities between Harry and Jesus. Yes – Harry Potter is a Christ Figure because the similarities are there; No – he is not, because the similarities come from universal mythological traditions in the case of Harry, but not (?) in the case of Jesus. Where the symbols came from is irrelevant – they exist, or do not. The danger is that in recognizing the similarities, it can be shown that the stories of Jesus also developed out of universal mythology.



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