Several things have happened today that have lead to this blog post. The second I arrived to work, my lovely colleague, Marie, added to my ever growing Harry Potter memorabilia with a wonderful (and weighty!) Gryffindor prefect badge.
Later, while wasting time on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest, I noticed that J.K. Rowling has tweeted the following:
Finally, while queuing for pastries – a break time staple on the first day of school – the amazing, if slightly Potter-lacking, Lottie questioned my Harry Potter memorabilia and said, “Isn’t this getting a bit much now…?”
I have quoted Harry Potter
a little a lot on this blog already, but I haven’t really delved into my love affair with Hogwarts, or my everlasting obsession with the trio of wizards who overcome adversity, who overcome darkness. When the Universe signals so many times, I really can’t ignore its request for a HP oriented post.
I fell in love with the wizarding world when I was in Year 4; I vividly remember coming home and telling my mum about the book my teacher was reading us, about a little-known boy wizard, named Harry. It’s hard to remember a time when Harry Potter was virtually anonymous, when the world wasn’t filled with Potterheads and the magic of Hogwarts was all but non-existent. To me, as a bookish pre-teen, the studious ideal that Hermione perpetuated fascinated me, and the magical challenges the witches and wizards had to overcome were so far removed from my ordinary life, that I became wildly encompassed by every Alohamora and every Wingardium Leviosa.
It’s easy to fall in love with a world which requires so much imagination at age 8; the age old question that I feel people asking (whether out loud or not…) is “How do you still love it so much as an adult?” This question begs many answers. This blog post is a compilation of some of the reasons I still, at 25 years old, adore the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
- Hermione Granger – So many female characters are developed as the sidekick; the tag along, reliant on the support of the man to overcome challenges. The worth of many female characters is pitted against how desirable they are; their beauty and ditzy manner becoming their most redeeming feature. While, of course, not being the only character in history to do this, Hermione Granger was a character I felt an instant connection with when I was younger. “She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth.” Being the eldest child, I was naturally the bossiest (helpful in a teaching career), and was going through a rather unfortunate short hair phase, which left my head resembling a chunk of Toblerone. This slightly nerdy, bookish character fascinated me; she was so different from most characters I had encountered before. Why do I still love her? I was fortunate to grow up in a world where it was OK to read, where we discussed our latest read in the playground. Sadly, this seems less than true nowadays; for whatever reason, it is inherently uncool to read, to study, to academically better yourself. I feel like Hermione, in the same way she did for me, provides respite for all those girls who feel slightly outcast from the social media ruled, selfie state that the teenage generation is currently in. Of course, she grew up to be more than just this nerdy girl, and with the casting of Emma Watson, ended up being a desirable character in the end, but she still embodies all of those traits which are so hard to work out when you are an uncool teenager in a cool world.
- Facts – Hogwarts, Honeydukes and Hogsmeade are worlds that keep on giving. So much of J. K.’s work didn’t make it into the books, which means there are always little nuggets of information that appear on the internet. So although there won’t be that moment of joy when the doors to Sainsbury’s open and you can pick up two copies to avoid the inevitable fights between you and your mum… there are always snippets of information which pop up; whether it is that Dumbledore is gay, that Neville was almost the Chosen One, or that Ron Weasley initially had a potty mouth that would rival Danny Dyer, before Rowling’s publisher made her change it. The thing I love even more, is the dialogue between fans that still continues to this day. The Harry Potter Fanverse is riddled with theory upon theory, and while many of them are wildly unfounded and ridiculous, the desire to bring more out in this world is testament to the way the series captures people’s imagination.
- *SPOILER ALERT* – Dobby et al – House elves are not real. Yet the death of Dobby is, in my honest opinion, one of the most heart wrenching pieces of text I have ever come across. The film version is even worse, and Dobby was played mostly by computer, partly by puppet/model. The reason we all feel so connected to him as a character, is because he embodies a phenomenal amount of moral fibre; he demonstrates love, truth, honesty, selflessness – traits which are often lost in the sensationalised world we live in. Dobby isn’t alone in this; many of the characters make us feel an overpowering sense of awe and love, while simultaneously epitomising the every day human flaws we see in people every day. Nobody is perfect and each of the characters in the franchise demonstrates this. Hermione, while ‘the brightest witch of her age’, has a tendency to look down on people who are ‘less’ than her. Harry, while brave, coasts along on other people’s finds and would be nothing without the support network surrounding him. Dumbledore, while a fierce protector, is often selfish and does things for his own gain. The list could go on. The human race (magical or not), is fundamentally flawed in some way. The world which seems so far away, is brought somewhat closer by the characters constant failure to live up to an idealised standard.
- J. K. Rowling – No she is not the next Shakespeare. No, she has not written the greatest work of literature of all time. What she has created, however, is a world in which children and adults alike can indulge in; a world so far removed from our own that, whether you indulge in books, films or games, you can remove yourself from the daily pressures of every day life. Reading is my favourite form of escapism – for that split moment, you feel as though you could cast a spell on your boss when they demand a thousand pieces of work by yesterday morning, or as though you could click your fingers, and beg the help of a (liberated) house elf when you have washing up piled to your eyeballs. Life only gets more stressful, more challenging and more out of your control as you get older, and without the stability of your parents, which was there when you were younger, escapism, you-time and emotional release becomes ever more important. What J. K. Rowling has created is a world which is so well researched and well thought out, that even she hasn’t left the wizarding world behind. Because…
“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the reasons why I love the franchise. I think it would take me several years to tell you everything I love about it. But it is a list of some of the reasons why, for me personally, it isn’t “all getting a bit much” (soz Lottie…), and why I will always return to both page and big screen.
Oh, and incase you were wondering….