Essay PreviewMore ↓
Two weekends ago, I found myself accidentally proving the old theory that Harry Potter is a gateway drug to the wider world of serious literature. Standing in the very back of a gigantic horde at my local bookstore at midnight, wedged into a knot of adolescents reading People magazine through oversize black plastic glasses, I picked up and nearly finished a great American superclassic that I’d somehow managed to avoid for my entire life: Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Under normal circumstances I would have been perfectly happy to go on ignoring it—the paperback had an unmistakable high-school-syllabus stench about it—but I was bored to death and the aisles were clogged with potbellied wizards and it was the only readable book within arm’s reach. A few pages in, I found myself hooked. By the time I got to the register, I was three-quarters of the way through (just after—spoiler alert!—Lennie the man-child mangles the bully Curley’s hand) and all I really wanted to do was finish it. But the employees were all clapping because I was the last customer, so I closed Steinbeck right on the brink of what felt like an impending tragic climax, took my Potter, and left. Ironically, this meant that Of Mice and Men was now suspended at roughly the same point in its dramatic arc as Rowling had suspended the Potter series before Deathly Hallows. So I went home and conducted a curious experiment in parallel reading: a two-day blitz of 860 pages, with a pair of nested climaxes—one hot off the presses, one 70 years old.
I started with Potter. Not since 1841, when New Yorkers swarmed the docks to ask incoming Brits whether Little Nell died in the latest installment of The Old Curiosity Shop (spoiler alert! She totally did), have readers been so simultaneously poised on the brink of a collective climax. My gut, along with the new book’s scary epigraphs, kept telling me that—like Little Nell—Harry had to go. For a children’s series, Potter has been unusually death-obsessed—Harry’s heroism, remember, sprang from the gruesome murder of his parents—and in recent books, the body count has risen quickly: In the previous book, even Harry’s untouchable mentor Dumbledore died. Also, in a larger narrative sense, Rowling owed us. Harry had been too outrageously lucky for too long: He lived for six books in a big bland protective bubble of innocence and nobility and love.
How to Cite this Page
"Harry Potter And The Ignominious versus Of Mice and Men." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Apr 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Within the book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling, characters and stories between Voldemort and Harry’s continuous struggle allude to stories from the Bible. Voldemort, who represents the evil in the struggle, fights against Harry Potter, who is the “good” representative within the book. In the fight against Harry, Voldemort has a pet snake by the name of “Nagini.” Nagini, at one point in the book, possesses over a good character in the book, Bathilda Bagshot. Bathilda is an author and a historian, who Hermione and Harry trust and visit.... [tags: Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows]
959 words (2.7 pages)
- Through this paper, an analysis of Harry Potter fan forums will be executed. The analysis of this online audience will demonstrate how Harry Potter fans have used online communities, particularly those created through fan fiction and fan forums, as a means of self-expression. Concepts such as Gwenllian-Jones main text, subtext, and reading against the grain, Hill’s participatory culture, and Jenson’s fandom pathologies, and obsession, will demonstrate how Harry Potter fans, or Potterheads as they are referred to, have kept the magic of the books alive, well after the series ended.... [tags: Harry Potter]
2118 words (6.1 pages)
- The Role of Fate in Harry Potter In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series, fate plays a large part in the life of Harry Potter. As soon as Voldemort chose Harry to be the “Chosen One”, his fate as the defender of wizardkind was sealed. Harry must be the one to defeat Voldemort, or vice versa. However, although Harry’s fate was seemingly sealed from the time he was one year old, he still had free will throughout the series. Throughout the Harry Potter series, much of what happens in Harry’s life seems to be predetermined by Trelawney’s prophecy, which reads: The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...... [tags: Harry Potter]
943 words (2.7 pages)
- Introduction The story of Harry Potter amazed a whole generation of not only children, but also adults, and still does. Rowling’s series, tells the story of Harry Potter and his fight against Lord Voldemort, which takes place in the world of magic. The difference between Harry Potter and Lord Volde-mort is explained by Dumbledore at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone using the following words: „’If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realise that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.... [tags: Harry Potter]
1898 words (5.4 pages)
- The wizardry and witchcraft of the Harry Potter series is precisely what makes them so enchanting in the eyes’ of J.K. Rowling’s readers. The other worldly aspects provide both children and adults with an escape from the real world through its text, allowing for a break from reality without any repercussions or extreme measures necessary. In the eyes of renowned astronomer and scholar Marcia Montenegro, however, this other worldly theme in Harry Potter is what makes the books dangerous to its readers and those around them in society.... [tags: Harry Potter]
1624 words (4.6 pages)
- In the world of Hogwarts, where there is a struggle between good and evil, people are not portrayed all that differently either with the possible exception of Professor Snape, there are no ambiguous characters, nor people who undergo moral character development. From the moment of entry into Hogwarts, everyone is fixed in place. The good is purely good and the evil is purely evil. There is no area of ambiguity or confusion. While the good struggles with the evil, the combatants are not free to choose sides Portrayal of Good and Evil: Harry Potter; Order of the phoenix, Half-blood prince Based on a dictionary being good is being favorable character or tendency.... [tags: Harry Potter]
1516 words (4.3 pages)
- The story of Harry Potter amazed a whole generation of not only children, but also adults, and still does. Rowling’s series, tells the story of Harry Potter and his fight against Lord Voldemort, which takes place in the world of magic. The difference between Harry Potter and Lord Volde-mort is explained by Dumbledore at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone using the following words: „’If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realise that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.... [tags: Harry Potter]
1842 words (5.3 pages)
- Joanne Rowling, also known as J.K. Rowling, was born in Yute, United Kingdom in 1965 (“J. K.,” Contemporary). She is best known for writing the Harry Potter series (“J.K., Authors). She has a creative imagination and has been writing since she was a child (“J. K.,” Authors). She wrote her first book when she was six years old; it was about a rabbit named Rabbit and a giant bee named Miss Bee (“J. K.,” Encyclopedia). Soon after writing this story, she knew she wanted to be a writer (“J. K.,” Encyclopedia).... [tags: Harry Potter]
945 words (2.7 pages)
- Harry Potter as the Warrior In the novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer 's stone, the author J. K. Rowling a warrior character can be seen in the protagonist, Harry Potter. The Warrior and Harry Potter have some of the same characteristics. For example, Harry Potter, like the warrior, has exploits to his quest. Also, Harry Potter, like the Warrior, has a purification ritual just as the warrior does. Lastly, Harry Potter is concerned about his school being in danger from a menace and corruption, the same way the Warrior defends his village from any menace or corruption that may come.... [tags: Harry Potter]
1093 words (3.1 pages)
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer 's Stone by J.K Rowling is the first book in the award winning Harry Potter series. It is about an orphaned boy who on his eleventh birthday discovers that his biological parents are wizards, and that he too is actually a wizard living in the muggle word. Through out the novel, one can see that Harry Potter is a hero archetype. He embarks on a magical adventure through the wizarding world and uncovers the stories from his mysterious past. Throughout his journey Harry learns and grows from the whimsy little boy living under the stairs to one of the most inspirational wizards that defeats the Dark Lord.... [tags: Harry Potter]
2127 words (6.1 pages)
Plenty of critics have noted the coincidence of Harry Potter and The Sopranos—the two great pop-cultural myths of the last ten years—ending simultaneously. But the parallel runs deeper. Both series depended on essentially the same trick: smuggling the mundane back into the exotic, normalizing the abnormal. A wizard buying school supplies carries approximately the same defamiliarizing charge as a mob boss going to therapy. Or, as Rowling once put it, a gun is only “a kind of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other.”
By now, the book’s final events have been spoiled as thoroughly as a pint of six-month-old cottage cheese in the trunk of a flaming car. And yet I still feel compelled to issue a warning. If you don’t want to know how Harry Potter ends, you need to fling this magazine, very hard and very fast, out of your window or into the nearest vacant horse carriage. Fling it! There’s no time to think! Gaaaaa!
I approached the book with some fear. For one thing, despite the charm and immersive power of Rowling’s magical world, despite her solid instinct for broad, mythic narrative strokes, she’s always had trouble with the basic mechanics of plot. Even by pulp standards, her storytelling is ridiculous. Exposition happens almost exclusively via overheard conversations. Narrative logic falls apart at crucial moments. Every book ends in an orgy of coincidence and revelations and arbitrary switcheroos. (As George Orwell once wrote about Dickens: “rotten architecture, but wonderful gargoyles.”) Since Deathly Hallows was the series-capping megaclimax, I expected to find it ponderous, overactive, dangerously clotted with characters, and confusing. This was pretty much exactly right. All the Rowling signatures are here: She’s still addicted to adverbs and (oddly) the word “bemused,” her caps lock gets stuck at critical moments, foreigners speak in intolerable accents, and everyone stutters uncontrollably at the slightest hint of stress. When the action gets heavy, she cranks the “coincidence” dial up to eleven and flagrantly abuses her imminent-death-thwarted-at-the-last-possible-moment privileges. (In an MSNBC survey of fan reactions to Deathly Hallows, a 10-year-old who claims to have read the entire series eight times observed that, for his taste, the final book leaned a little too heavily on coincidence. I believe this tells us something important.) As for plot, there’s a Mission Impossible–style break-in at the Ministry of Magic and a never-ending camping trip featuring some heavy Lord of the Rings plagiarism and innumerable action sequences in which everyone screams, “No! No! NO! NOOOOOOO!” A few minor characters die; most movingly, Dobby the house-elf. (“And then with a little shudder the elf became quite still, and his eyes were nothing more than great glassy orbs, sprinkled with light from the stars they could not see.”) Much of the book, however, was strangely forgettable.
And then I got to Chapter 33. In a powerful sequence that immediately makes up for much of the prior slog, Harry learns that, in order for the world to live, he has to die. He accepts this with genuine stoic heroism, relishes his last moments of life, and, surrounded by the ghosts of his dead family and friends, marches off to get himself nobly slaughtered. My tear ducts initiated their “misty” sequence; when Harry asked his mother’s spirit to stay close to him, I almost shed an actual tear. The Rowling-skeptic in me kept waiting for the impossible bailout, but it never came: Voldemort smote Harry into oblivion. Suddenly, Potter was a legitimate tragedy. The series had grown up.
Unfortunately, the cop-out—which in retrospect seems as inevitable as I once thought Harry’s death was—comes three pages later. Chapter 35 sees Harry wake up in an ethereal train station (presumably some regional hub halfway along the Heaven-Hell line), where the spirit of Dumbledore gives him special news: Because of the purity of Harry’s self-sacrifice, he’s eligible for a Jesus exemption. He’s not dead. He gets to go back and kill Voldemort. And just as a bonus, his sacrifice has redeemed all of humanity. (As Harry puts it, while he and the Dark Lord circle each other like the knife fighters in “Beat It”: “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 … I’ve done what my mother did. They’re protected from you.” I’m not sure, at this point, why they don’t just let Voldemort hang around like an old toothless lion—but I guess that would lack dramatic flair.) After the predictable duel, Rowling wraps things up with an epilogue that is, hands down, the worst piece of writing in the entire 4,000-page series. Harry and the gang, now all thirtysomething and blissfully intermarried, reappear at King’s Cross Station to drop off the next generation of wizards at Platform 9¾ while reveling in har-har family-sitcom humor. The final sentence is remarkably bland and awful, the linguistic crystallization of Rowling’s cop-out: “All was well.”
I’m not opposed to happy endings per se—I’m just opposed to an author trying to get emotional credit for both a tragic and a happy ending without actually earning either. Rowling had been gathering storm clouds for ten years; her fictional sky was as purple and lumpy as a Quidditch stadium full of plums, and the whole world had lined up to watch it rain. She owed this ritual sacrifice to the immortal gods of narrative: either the life of her hero or—infinitely harder to pull off—his convincing and improbable survival. With Harry’s death, the series would have graduated instantly from “light and possibly fluky popular megasuccess” to Heavy Tragic Fantasy Classic. Instead, at the last possible moment, she tacked on an episode of Leave It to Beaver. This is roughly the equivalent of Oedipus Rex’s tearing his eyes out, then stumbling across a wise old friend who tells him: “Hey, guess what, buddy? You know how you just killed your dad and slept with your mom, like the oracle predicted? Well, since you did it all with totally innocent love in your heart, it doesn’t count! Go tell your mom to untie that noose! And look, your eyes just grew back! All is well!” Rowling seems to misunderstand the power of catharsis. It’s not simple reassurance, it’s a primal release.
Meanwhile, back among Steinbeck’s farm laborers, all was not well. In fact, it was terrible. Curley’s wife came out to the barn while Lennie was playing with his puppy, and—you know what? I’m not going to spoil it for you.