Thursday, July 25, 2013
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Description: WE NOW PRESENT THE SEVENTH AND FINAL INSTALLMENT IN THE EPIC TALE OF HARRY POTTER. (book flap)
My Thoughts: Wow. Just wow.
Deathly Hallows is such a well-written, beautiful story. It is the story of Harry and his friends changing from school-aged young adults to true adults as they are forced to deal with the horror and cruelty of Voldemort's rule while racing to destroy him. It is the story of a people faced with unimaginable darkness that chooses to fight back no matter the cost. It is a story of hope and hopelessness, trust and friendship and love, good and evil. It is a masterpiece.
You may think I'm being dramatic. Well, maybe I am. But this is by far the best-written Harry Potter book, the most complex and beautiful. It's the only book I've ever read where I cried, not only the first time I read it, but every single time I have read it. In fact, every time I cry more rather than less. It is one of those amazing books that improves and expands with rereads rather than becoming flattened and boring.
Deathly Hallows is a complex novel. As I mentioned, it is much more adult in theme than any previous Harry Potter novel. The themes are similar to those dealt with throughout the series-- friendship, love, trust, good and evil, hope, family--but they are dealt with in much more depth and maturity than ever before. Harry discovers more about his family, Voldemort, and Dumbledore (an aspect of the novel that I especially enjoyed).
Deathly Hallows is also the most overtly Christian novel of the series. Most discussions of this aspect of the novel focus on the end, where Harry willingly dies to save everyone at Hogwarts and his sacrifice prevents Voldemort from being able to enchant them in any way. Yes, it is very Christian, but what really struck me as Christian were two other aspects of Deathly Hallows. The first was the emphasis on doing what was right, no matter what, without losing hope and without fearing death. The second was Harry's struggle to come to terms with Dumbledore's mission for him (destroying Voldemort). Harry doubts Dumbledore and what he has asked him to do, despite everything that Dumbledore has done for him and shared with him in the past. Harry struggles especially after the true reality of the situation sinks in: the seeming impossibility of his task, difficulties getting along with his friends, loneliness, the reality of Voldemort's regime, worry about friends and family left behind, and physical discomforts. The first time I realized how much like it was like my relationship was God--its difficulties, my struggles, God's trust--was when Harry makes the irrevocable decision to trust Dumbledore's judgement despite his doubts and despite the many logical reasons to go against Dumbledore's wishes. It's a truly beautiful scene when he makes the final decision to trust, especially because it comes after an emotional episode where the ultimate trust and loyalty were shown by multiple people. It truly seemed as if their courage inspired Harry to make the final step of faith.
This is a book with a very stark portrayal of the results of evil, especially the emotional results. Again, Rowling shows her mastery of writing emotions that can be truly felt by the reader. There is very little graphic violence, although much is alluded to; this is the first Harry Potter novel to contain swearing, but still few, far between, and choice. However, Deathly Hallows is stark and realistic without being hopeless; in fact, I'm not sure I've ever read a more hopeful novel. Rowling acknowledges that defying evil can be difficult and painful, but shows that it is absolutely the right choice and that one should never lose hope. She does an excellent job at showing that death is not what should be feared; rather, evil and its results should be.
The final scenes of the novel are beautiful, beautiful and tragic. Almost everyone we know fights in the final battle against Voldemort and his forces, and it is one of the best battle scenes I've ever read. The sense of hopelessness, the courage of everyone who fights, everyone's determination to do what is right no matter the consequences, the losses suffered, the tragedy, the evil against which they fight--all are palpable and combine to create a truly wonderful battle scene. I cry every time.
As the conclusion of the series, many questions from earlier books are answered. Many characters who were previously seen as evil or at least unpleasant receive grace and redemption. A few of these characters have their motives and actions explained without making them more acceptable. Rowling strives for understanding of the humanity of many characters. Harry rises to the occasion every time and reaches out to offer kindness and another chance. He has truly grown into a loving human being. Although he makes mistakes, he continues to learn from his mistakes. Ron and Hermione grow much more noticeably as well, learning to trust and offer kindness and forgiveness as well.
A wonderful conclusion to the Harry Potter series that is masterfully written and plotted. It was a joy to watch Harry and his friends complete their metamorphosis into strong, caring people and their quest to destroy Voldemort. A strong call to stand against the darkness, no matter the cost, because there is always hope.