Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Magic, Love and Death

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Well, that's done then.

The canon: revealed to be fanfiction on shoot-'em-up blockbuster steroids (interesting innit, the universality of certain fears and hopes and dreams), accompanied by healthy shot of deus ex machina, a goodly dose of Chekhov's gun, a sprinkling of peripeteia (some gratuitous). Throughout, the Harry/Voldemort mindlink was milked to the max for toggling between scenes. And at the end, an express cash-in of plot coupons for the final boss showdown. Ah but, Joanne, was the extended dénouement Epilogue at all necessary?

Following photo contains spoilers:
Lego Harry Potter and Severus SnapeHarry and Snape gaze into each others' eyes. Snape holds Harry and pulls him close.

"Look...at....me..." he whispers.

The green eyes find the black. Snape glows a pale fluorescent green at Harry...

Alright. Not totally.

Meanwhile, some fan's apparently typed out the whole book and pdf-ed it. Why in the name of Merlin's saggy left... But typos abound like a gnome infestation in the garden. A weighty tome of sustainable paper in hand might be fairer and better (for eyesight, probably not for trees).

PS: Magic in the Wizarding World, analogous to science in our Muggle world, has its limitations: it does not give the solution to every problem; vast and deep knowledge of it does not endow its holder with power and control over every aspect of life (and death).

PPS: Undergirding love motif and love motive in Harry Potter:
  • One of the limits of magic in the Wizarding World is that it cannot create love. Well, not true love anyway. Slughorn discussing the properties of Amortentia in Half-blood Prince:"Amortentia doesn't really create love, of course. It is impossible to manufacture or imitate love. No, this will simply cause a powerful infatuation or obsession. It is probably the most dangerous and powerful potion in this room - oh yes. When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love."
  • True love, which Voldemort dismissed as old magic and weakness, proved ultimately to be more powerful than the most powerful magic. It was Lily's love for Harry that caused her to shield him from the killing curse. It was Severus Snape's lasting love for Lily Evans that led him to betray Voldemort. It was Harry's love for his friends that brought him before Voldemort to be killed without any attempt at self-defence. It was Narcissa's love for Draco that made her lie about Harry's death.

    At the final battle, Harry tried to explain all this to Voldy:
    "You won't be killing anyone else tonight," said Harry as they circled, and stared into each other's eyes, green into red. "You won't be able to kill any of them ever again. Don't you get it? I was ready to die to stop you from hurting these people -"

    "But you did not!"

    " - I meant to, and that's what did it. I've done what my mother did. They're protected from you. Haven't you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can't torture them. You can't touch them. You don't learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?"
  • Plus, love motive in Wizarding World = not direct Christian allegory or symbolism but deliberate simulacrum? (The afterdeath chat between Harry and Dumbledore was, afterall, at *King's Cross*, whatwhat.) Only in reality, the sacrificial love unto death was not to save us from Eternal Evil (for Evil never quite had the upper hand) but from Eternal Condemnation to Death Wrought By Our Own Hands.
PPPS: Recurring death leitmotif:
  • One of the other limits of magic in the Wizarding World is that it cannot resurrect the dead. The Inferi are just dead bodies. The Resurrection Stone (one of the Hallows in Deathly Hallows) can recall some semblence of the dead but once recalled they are separated from the living as by a veil, and returned to the mortal world where they do not truly belong, the dead suffer. Magical objects like the Philosopher's Stone and unicorn's blood (drinking it with the terrible price of being cursed forever) can be used to assist living and prolong life, but that is in the absence of accidentally wandering into the path of a stray Avada Kedavra. Death still conquers in the end.
  • Knowing, perhaps, the limitations of magic, Voldemort feared death, specifically (seeing the bloodbath of Book 7) his own death. In Order of the Phoenix, the madeover Tom Riddle snarled,"There is nothing worse than death!". He went to great lengths to avoid it, what with soul-splitting and horcruxes and suchlike. To die was weak. The constant threat of his own death put a bit of a dampener on his ambition to universal and eternal power as Da Dark Lord. In one polite little exchange, Dumbledore corrects his former student: "...your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness".
  • Dumbledore too, in his younger days, wanted to master death for invincibility, for personal glory and triumph. Hence the search for the three Hallows. Later, though, it is clear he repented of this view, explaining to Harry in Philosopher's Stone that Nicholas Flamel destroying the Philosopher's Stone was no problemo; "After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure".
  • Harry, as expected, was the true master of death: not that he could not die, but that "...the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying".
  • And remember the gravestone of James and Lily Potter at Godric's Hollow:
    "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death"

    A horrible thought came to him, and with it a kind of panic. "Isn't that a death eater idea? Why is that there?"

    "It doesn't mean defeating death in the way the Death Eaters mean it, Harry,"said Hermione, her voice gentle. "It means...you know... living beyond death. Living after death."
    Totally, word-for-word, 1 Corinthians 15:26 (KJV Bible).

    Death is not something to be feared, not because as mature adults, we accept death as a fact of life and do not seek to run away from it with pills and health regimes.

    We do not fear death because there is life after death. If, as Dumbledore says in Half-Blood Prince that "it is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more", then the antidote to mad fear is certainty about the afterlife. Not an afterlife of our own imagination of course, sometimes of the variety featuring fluffy white clouds, angels with harps and ("choose only Menu A or Menu B") Menu A: an everlasting chocolate fountain buffet where no buffeteer ever gets fat, Menu B: 7,000 virgins.

    For, if the afterlife is only of our own imagination, and if, infact, death is really The End, then Christians and their silly faith and hopes are to be pitied more than all others.

    How can we be certain about the afterlife? The usual way: on good solid evidence; the testimony of one of trustworthy character, who died and was raised again from the dead, who by his death conquered Death.

    So there will be a Last Day when all the dead will be resurrected. But not all afterlife will be equal: those who'd, in their earlier life, repented of their rebellion against God and trusted in Christ's death to save them will indeed see salvation from the wrath of God and will rise to new life. Those who didn't bother getting Christ's blood as a Protective Shield will rise to be condemned and bear the full brunt of God's terrible judgement themselves.

    Always good to plan ahead.
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
***
For everyone who keeps asking who died in Deathly Hallows:
  • Charity Barbage, the Muggle Studies teacher at Hogwarts, was killed by Voldemort at the Malfroy's mansion and fed to Nagini;
  • Hewig died when Harry was attacked by Death Eaters while leaving the Dursleys;
  • Mad-Eye Moody was killed by Voldemort while acting as a decoy for Harry. His body was never recovered though, grossly, his magical eye was found tacked to Umbridge's door, suggesting that the Ministry found his body;
  • Rufus Scrimgeour during the takeover of the Ministry of Magic by Death Eaters;
  • Bathilda Bagshot, a minor character, the author of the Hogwarts textbook A History of Magic and an old family friend of the Dumbledores, was killed off-set and was impersonated by Voldemort's snake, Nagini, the better to draw Harry and Hermione into a trap;
  • Peter Pettigrew, aka Wormtongue, aka the secret-keeper who betrayed the Potters to Voldemort, was strangled by his own silver Hand of Glory when he hesitated in killing Harry;
  • Dobby caught Bellatrix's knife in his chest while disapparating with Harry, Hermione, Ron and Griphook from Malfroy's mansion;
  • a Gringotts goblin (possibly Griphook?) for not preventing the break-in to the Lestranges' vault and allowing Potter etc to run off with Helga Hufflepuff's cup;
  • Severus Snape is killed by Nagini on Voldemort's order because Voldemort mistakenly thinks Snape is the master of the Elder Wand;
  • Vincent Crabbe accidentally burns himself to death with Fiendfyre;
  • Remus Lupin and his wife Nymphadora Tonks at the Battle of Hogwarts;
  • Fred Weasley at the Battle of Hogwarts;
  • Colin Creevey at the Battle of Hogwarts;
  • Bellatrix Lestrange at the Battle of Hogwarts by Molly Weasley(!); and
  • lastly, Voldemort, aka Tom Riddle, aka The Dark Lord, aka He Who Must Not Be Named, by his own backfiring Avada Kedavra. It's a long story.
  • (I suppose a whole lot of Death Eaters die too but no one seems to be keeping count.)
***
Harry Potter, the Deathly Hallows and the Internet Chatter Juggernaut (Or Something)
Some Christians Read Harry Potter

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5 Comments:

At July 22, 2007 2:38 am , Anonymous snitchseeker said...

Enjoy chapter art from the U.S. edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows here:
http://www.snitchseeker.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=410

 
At July 22, 2007 6:25 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry and The Deathly Hallows Book Super-trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gegHF9VGc04

 
At July 22, 2007 11:14 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can listen to JK Rowling reading Chapter 1 of Book 7:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4NCv-7LQ14

Ron

 
At July 23, 2007 8:48 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooh... can i pls borrow #6 and #7? :)

~ Joyous

 
At July 24, 2007 3:46 pm , Anonymous shadow said...

snitchseeker, anonymous on 22 July, Ron: thanks.

Joyous: sure! But I only have Book 6. Long story. Gist is that I turned up at Kinokuniya without the book vouchers and so stood for 3 or 4 hours in a corner reading Book 7. Will probably go down to get own copy soon.

 

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