Note: This article contains spoilers
Emerging from page 784 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I realize that the spell cast upon me ten years ago has finally lifted. Yet its after-effects still linger, like a suffusing glow threatening to overtake my mind. The adventure Harry took us on is one the world will find hard to forget. It is not only him who has matured through the series but readers like myself all over the world will inevitably link their childhood and their own experiences growing up to Rowling’s seven magical books.
Rowling’s writing may not be any match against those age-old authors adept at manipulating words but her intense and deeply involving plot, her extremely life-like characters, and fast-paced storytelling style more than make up for what she may lack as a writer. The seventh installment was perhaps the most loaded with thrills and excitement, for all the doors she had opened in the first 3341 pages were explored in the last 784. Yet her plot is as such that even visiting each door is quite impossible, because like the ‘Department of Mysteries’, each door has several more hidden behind.
Since it has been a while after Deathly Hallows was published, and mostly all who wanted to read or know what happens in the end already do, I will take the liberty to discuss the “spoilers” without mercy. Here is your warning to leave.
Harry doesn’t die. For all those wishing for or supporting his death, let me give you a quick recap. Harry’s parents were murdered brutally when he was only a year old. He grew up with an aunt and uncle who only kept him because they had no choice, sleeping in a small cupboard until almost the age of 11. He faced Voldemort twice in his first year, once in the Forest and once in the dungeon, this delayed his return to power. Soon again he faced humiliation in his second year and then defeated both a 16-year-old Voldemort and a basilisk, a giant snake with eyes that can kill. The turning point came towards the end of his fourth year where his focus of irreversibly shifted outside the safety of Hogwarts.
At this point, both Harry and the plot start revealing their true colors where we see Voldemort returning to power and Harry facing him bravely, and also barely escaping death once again. In the fifth year, Dumbledore’s protection is snatched away from him and Harry turns into a leader, training his peers in armed combat when their teacher fails to do so. Umbridge even bans Harry from the one thing he excels at and enjoys beyond all others which is flying. The freedom signified by his broomstick is taken away, events turn darker and darker as Voldemort searches in vain for a weapon the Order is guarding and finally his godfather’s capture causes him to take action. Those who accompany him to the Department of Mysteries later become leaders amongst the students in the final battle against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. In the sixth year, the world realizes that Voldemort is back at large and Harry faces new struggles. He realizes how truly invulnerable his enemy has made himself and how slight the chances are of killing him. And in the seventh? Well, camping out in forests, watching the world become increasingly hateful and discriminative, escaping from several near-death experiences, all while hunting for five elusively hidden objects simply sounds like loads of fun right?
No! Nobody in their right mind can say that Harry has had a happy life. Yes there were certain moments of happiness, but bloody hell! Give the boy a chance to live and to enjoy life as it should be, without the constant fear of death or the world falling apart because of him. Rowling made the right decision and that is indisputable. After all, she started the magic, who are you to dictate how it should end?
In a recent interview, Rowling was asked who she would choose to meet from her books and what she would say to him/her. She chose her lead Harry, and stated that she would apologize to him for all the trials and tribulations she put him through. Yet, if he didn’t survive all that grief and suffering, he wouldn’t be the Harry we all know and a character most of us have grown to love!
The magic of Harry Potter remains strongly with me and will continue to. I will now take the opportunity to discuss some elements of these series that provided insight into the mysteries of Harry Potter and the events happening around him but somehow, many a reader remained blind to all the clues provided; those readers include me.
Horcruxes: from the very beginning, there is evidence of these horrible magical objects. Hints that Harry is a horcrux are scattered all throughout the books, for example, his scar, speaking Parseltongue, even subtleties like Trelawney guessing that Harry is born in the dead of winter. In fact, looking back at all the hints she left us, I’m amazed that more of us didn’t deduce that he was a Horcrux earlier. Then again, they were just subtle enough to blend in with the flow of the book but obvious enough to make us hit our heads in shame when we look back. That is the genius of Rowling.
Despite my wordy discussion of the Harry Potter series, I have not so far penned anything akin to a review of Deathly Hallows. I realize there is no way I can even begin to write an unbiased review of the final installment in a series I think to be beyond everything. What I am able to do is discuss, and so with unrestrained glee I continue.
Of the entire series, the one aspect of these books that really pulls the reader in is the lifelike characters. The development of all the characters is so deep and thorough that most fans have come to think of them as real even outside those pages. In Deathly Hallows, there are surprising revelations about many characters such as, Dumbledore and Snape, and these will most likely change your perception of them and help you better understand the depths of their characters.
Dumbledore had always been an infallible mentor. Someone who was always ready with the answers, knowing exactly what to do, and knew how much guidance everyone needed. He was a steady source of comfort and the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. Dumbledore’s name was synonymous to security. However from the very start, Deathly Hallows is intent on proving that after all is said and done, Dumbledore is simply human. Although, and nothing less can be expected of Rowling, there are several red herrings along the way and he doesn’t turn out to be as horrible as we had begin to suspect. Eventually it shows power can get to the best of people. We learn that mistakes he made at Harry’s age continue to haunt him until his death. Fear that he might have been his sister’s murderer disturbed him constantly. In the chapter ‘King’s Cross’, Dumbledore tells Harry that Harry is a much better and a more selfless person than he ever was. While that may be hard to believe at first but in the end, it’s true.
Dumbledore, being as brilliant as he was, always had a yearning to prove himself. He wanted the world to know that he was ready to control muggles “for the greater good.” Harry on the other hand, had never wanted anything more than his parents’ love. He was in the public eye since the day he entered the world of wizardry but his craving was quite the opposite; he wanted a normal life. Nonetheless, in each adventure he displays a constant and deep-rooted bravery. There are points when his bravery and chivalry could almost be called stupidity for example in the ‘Second Task’. When Dumbledore learned of the Deathly Hallows, at the same age as Harry, he wanted the Elder Wand. If Harry could choose a Hallow it would be the Resurrection Stone, to bring his parents back. And in the end, when Harry is actually in possession of all the Hallows, he gives them up. He realizes their danger and keeps only the one harmless one: the Invisibility Cloak. It is this sacrifice that proves Harry, although slightly foolish and rash, is a good person. All his decisions were made with the best intentions.
Hermione was dubbed “the cleverest witch of her age” a while back. In this book, she’s finally of age. And even though we always knew she was bright, her quick mind is tested in life-and-death situations like never before and she comes out with shining colors. For example, when Bellatrix discovers the sword and is torturing her, Hermione denies that it’s the sword and says it’s a fake thereby saving them from inevitable doom.
Ron on the other hand, is finally forced to grow up. Although he has always, well, mostly always supported Harry unwaveringly in the toughest of times, he never displayed the same maturity as Harry and nowhere close to Hermione. When he abandons the two of them, he discovers how much he really cares for them and knows immediately his decision was wrong. However, he is too ashamed to go back to The Burrow and instead stays with his brother Bill. And like Harry said, Dumbledore knew that even though Ron would leave, he’d always want to go back.
The love of Harry’s life, Ginny Weasley, is one powerful witch and there is no denying that. Being a huge fan of hers I felt that not enough emphasis was put on her and when looking back, I realized that she played a pivotal role at Hogwarts but the readers simply didn’t hear much of it because Harry wasn’t there. As in the previous installments, her stubborn, kind-hearted, and fiery character remains constant in the Deathly Hallows as well.
The Deathly Hallows isn’t just a search for the horcruxes but the tale of Harry Potter maturing into a man, of dealing with helplessness and frustration, friendship and love, trust and betrayal. Despite numerous encounters with death, never before did he accept them as well as he did in this last. Decisions such as choosing between Hallows and Horcruxes, embracing his death, discarding the Hallows are such that even the wisest of adults would struggle with. Harry not only faced them but he conquered them!
In the saga of Harry Potter, there are so many characters that we’ve come to love, only to shed tears for as they left the world. And those we didn’t lose were bid good-bye to at the end of this odyssey. Yet is it really good-bye? I don’t think so! As clich