Harry Potter, nineteen years later ~ all was well

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I know this is supposed to be bateszi anime blog, but allow me this one-off transgression from the norm; I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I promised kauldron26 I’d post up some thoughts. Though this may be obvious to some, I’m warning you right now to expect spoilers in this post, the last thing I want to do is ruin any surprises for you — so if you haven’t already read the book, bugger off. My short, spoiler-free opinion is this; I loved it.

Now, I guess I need to emphasize the context of my HP fandom. The truth is this — without J.K. Rowling’s saga, I wouldn’t be reading books, period. That may sound sensational, but I’m somewhat ashamed to say that before I discovered Harry Potter (around about 2003), I was never interested in book-reading. I don’t know why I decided to buy the Philosopher’s Stone; probably the hype had something to do with it, but since then, I’ve been totally and utterly hooked on literature. For me, Harry Potter opened that window into an exciting new world of words and imagination, and for that reason alone, I shall cherish it as more than just another story, it’s become an important milestone in my life.

On that bombshell, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn I’ve loved all of the Harry Potter books. People have complained about this and that, about how the books are too long, overrated, whatever, but I never did. I’ve relished every new chapter, greedily devoured every chance to escape into Hogwarts. I don’t want to read through these books in a matter of days, I want to prolong the feelings and the excitement for as long as possible. My favourite instalment is the Goblet of Fire; I was absolutely on edge during its despair-ridden finale. The sheer shock of Cedric’s sudden death sent shivers down my spine; that’s the moment Harry Potter stops being just some aimless, vaguely-fun adventure and delves into the murky depths of Rowling’s universe; suddenly, the clouds blacken, the sky turns grey and the rain starts pouring.

I’m glad The Deathly Hallows finally revealed Snape’s true motivations. If truth be told, I was getting bored with Harry, Ron and Hermione. They are the heroic central characters, but by now, we know what to expect from them; we knew that Ron will get moody and run off, just like we knew he would end up with Hermione, but it’s totally different with characters like Snape and Draco Malfoy, we’re left guessing about them, left wondering whether or not they are good or evil right up until the last few chapters.

Snape’s undignified demise is the saddest thing in this book. Even when he "murdered" Dumbledore, I still had this sneaking suspicion that he would pull a Darth Vadar and redeem himself at the last possible moment. In the end, it didn’t really work out that way, he never did anything, he just died, but in typical Rowling fashion, his memories, and therefore, his unrequited love, redeemed his blackened soul. It’s hard not to feel moved by his Prince’s Tale chapter. It’s the one true glimpse into Snape’s sad life, his mistakes, his aggression and his insecurity make him my favourite character. A real human in a book of heroes.

If we’re handing out GAR awards, Neville wins hands down. For a start, his name is Neville; the most bookish name ever (followed closely by Percy). When Harry meets him at the Hog’s Head, he sports slashes, bruises and scars all over his face. And finally, despite facing certain doom, Neville looks Voldemort straight in the face and yells "Dumbledore’s Army", and as if that wasn’t enough, soon after, he decapitates the villain’s most precious giant-snake. BALLS OF STEEL; all this from the boy who, in the first book, was an untalented, unconfident oaf!

Thinking back over The Deathly Hallows, one of the most poignant moments comes in The Dursleys Departing. Harry’s step-family was always a cruel bunch of bastards, but in Dudley’s somewhat emotional good-bye, we see a softer side to them. It’s a revealing glimpse into the Dursely’s family dynamic, a sad and all-too-late suggestion that they aren’t such monsters after all. Another surreal interlude involves Dumbledore, another character who, struck down in the past by his own deeds, is searching for redemption. Towards the end, Harry enters a dream-like world and has a final, heavily symbolic meeting with the dead wizard. They sit in chairs facing one-another, but lying "whimpering" on the floor behind Harry is a "small naked child, its skin raw and rough, flayed looking". Dumbledore suggests Harry "cannot help" it. Clearly, it’s symbolic of something, but exactly what is no doubt the subject of a million debates currently raging across the ‘net. Personally, I suspect it’s Dumbledore’s tortured sister; the sister he ignored for years and may well have murdered. He is stuck in that place, unable to forgive himself for what happened. Of course, the "child" could also be interpreted as Voldemort, a man so full of childish greed, ambition and hatred that he is literally beyond help. Any other suggestions, dear reader?

In the end, we got the Hollywood send-off for Harry Potter. Good triumphed over evil, with a few casualties along the way. Fred’s death felt rather forced, almost like a token sacrifice, while Dobby’s tragic and heroic end was so much more powerful. The final words, "all was well", in Rowling’s homely writing style, sums it up quite nicely. The nineteen years later chapter was a nice touch, millions of people have literally grown up with these characters and to leave them like this, with smiling faces, waving off their own children to Hogwarts was a poetic way to well and truly close the story. Saying goodbye is always the hardest.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

14 thoughts on “Harry Potter, nineteen years later ~ all was well”

  1. I’m terrified of spoilers and I hate them. That’s why I waited online at midnight for the seventh book and was about a hundred pages into it by the time I got off the subway. As much as I like savoring a good story, I needed to get through that book before somebody ruined it for me.

    I wasn’t really into Harry Potter. The third book was my favorite, only because Sirius was such a good character. Rowling did a good job, I have to say. She created such an imaginative and wonderful world. Harry Potter had its perks but the story wasn’t all that interesting. The Harry against Voldemort thing didn’t click with me. I thought it was a bit ridiculous. Rowling’s writing wasn’t that interesting, either. After seven hundred something pages, it got kinda dull.

    The whole thing was just so anticlimactic. After I finished, I literally sat there for a while and asked myself, “That’s it?” Maybe it’s because I’m not a HP fan, maybe it’s because I just read it to keep up with everything, but the ending wasn’t memorable. It came and went. I was hoping for the sacrificial death of Harry at the end, so the epilogue was a bit of a let down. However, it was, as you’ve said, a nice touch.

    Whether I wanted to or not, I grew up with Harry Potter. I was there for all the hype and all the excitement and I can’t complain. It’ll be one of those stories I tell my kids, y’know. It’ll be like, I was there at the midnight release of the last Harry Potter book. Ain’t that something? XD

  2. boy it took u long enough… lol… thanks for the shout out.

    First off, Rowling was Brutal in this brutal in this book. the death of tonks and lupin was the second most shocking thing in this book. there is no way i could have seen that coming. After Seeing how developed the characters were and the fact that they were bringing a new life into the world…. wow… and she just killed them off. one of my favorite scenes is when harry confronted lupin about being a horrible father… he basically called him a bastard avoiding responsibility. And lupin just snapped to the point where he attacked harry. talk about heavy issues.

    Bar none the most powerful and shocking thing in the book for me was the story of Ariana. The fact that Dumbledore had a sister that was raped knocked me on my ass. i did not see that coming at all. at first i was wondering why dumbledore had been so indifferent to his dad attacking the boys that hurt her and then finding out. what those boys did was unforgivable… to the point that it drove her insane. Now there is so much debate on whether dumbledore was really a good person. he ended up seeming like the master manipulator going so far as using snape to the point of putting his life at risk constantly.

    JKR foreshadowing is impeccable. do u remember that in book 1 there was only one line about the dark wizard that dumbledore fought before voldemort. only one line. who would have thought then that it would be so important 10 yrs later.

    Snape’s story was so tragic and sad. seriously, if snape had not been drifting to the dark arts, he definitely would have ended up with lily. Think about how close they were. he had known her since they were kids. younger than 11. i hate when people continue to view snape as obsessed with lily. Snape had been through so much, everyone including us have hated him this past 10 yrs. And seeing Harry honor him in the end my name his son after him brought tears to my eyes. how can people not be moved by that? seriously how is it corny?? if a man u have reviled and hated for 7 years, and even despised his very being turned out to have been ur protector, and even devoted his life to protecting you by making u hate him…. seriously man that is powerful. He chose to sacrifice the admiration of his peers and the son of the love of his life so that he could protect him and her memories. thats deep man. if anything i was hoping snape would get a heroes burial. He loved Lily, and she loved him too. *beep* they would have been together if not for James being a bully and a dick, and Snape going off to the dark arts. Even Harry recognized that it was love. Snape was a *beep* hero, and he sacrificed more than anyone else in the entire book. even more than dumbledore. and he did it all in the name of love.

    i actually loved the ending and didnt think it was hollywood-like, in the sense that the happy ending was well deserved. Harry has been through so much over these years, shit all his life. when has he known happiness ever??? and even when he did how quickly was it stolen away?? Most off all i love that the final confrontation btw harry and voldemort wasnt some long drawn out shounen battle. it reminded me of the masterful last scene of kill bill volume 2. every body was expecting some huge fight scene at the end of that movie when the bride and bill confront each other, but in reality when there is so much weight and drama and history between two characters that come to a final confrontation there is too much baggage to drag out the resolution. voldemort killing himself was masterful.

    Another surprising part of this series were the two main messages. love and race. i saw love coming from book one, but race?? wow… jk rowling has always stated that the one thing she hated in life was bigotry. i remember reading chamber of secrets and hearing the word mudblood for the first time. who new that the concept of pure blood and mudblood would grow and would end up being the spine of the war.

    Xerox, no offense but i think u need to read the books again, but not as a fantasy But as a metaphor for the world we live in. after taking so many courses in power/philosophy/oppression/privilege/history the way i see the books and just well… subjective. the conversations btw harry/ron and grip hook about who has rights to do what with whos land/properties (metaphors for imperialism) or the metaphors for politics and todays govt can be seen in the very first chapter of book 6 or how the death eaters were scheming to take over the ministry from the back ground. not every war is fought physically. hermione and her fight for the house elves… for liberation.

    or how arthur weasley was considered insane for fraternizing with muggles yet 400 yrs ago michael johnson was ostracized and cast from society sent to an asylum for fighting to protect blacks during slavery. all these metaphors for racism/slavery/segregation and the consequences they have on our world… JK Rowling is a master story teller. Why?? the fact that this story is not only enthralling but have so much social commentary on race, abuse, terrorism (yes terrorism), power, politics, fear, the free press and have so much values to teach and touch the readers…

    now if only they’d get guiellrmo del toro to direct book 7. he made pans labyrinth for heaven’s sake. he’d do the movie justice.

  3. @Xerox: I do think that if you’re not “into” Harry Potter, then it’s easier to poke holes. For me, it’s never been a case of “anticlimactic” or “ridiculous”, I’m so into the story that I just accept anything the characters come across. Before reaching the final third, I was expecting Harry Potter to die, but when I was reading it, I was hoping that he wouldn’t. It would be too much, especially for the young kids reading. Heroes shouldn’t die, if they do, who can we believe in?

    I’m beyond the stage of reading for just entertainments sake, I have a vested interest in the characters and I’m reading it almost like a biography. To be honest, I’m glad I’ve been able to enjoy these books despite all of the hype, popularity and widely diverging opinions. It’s like being a Star Wars fan, people will tell you it’s either the greatest saga ever or just plain rubbish, but if you capture those movies at the right age, they’ll stay with you forever.

    @kauldron26: Lupin and Tonks dying was sad. Before the nineteen years later chapter, I was expecting Harry would end up looking after their son, Teddy. After all, as Sirius was to Harry, he was the kid’s “godfather”. It seemed like Rowling was setting that up, but then it didn’t happen.

    In terms of the deaths, I’m not sure if I would describe her as being “brutal”; it’s a little bit under the level of something like Fullmetal Alchemist because where Ed and Al have literally sacrificed their bodies for one another (not to mention what happens in the end of the TV series!), Harry, Ron and Hermione get off relatively unscathed. In fact, FMA is a decent comparison, since it’s use of magic, sacrifice and racial undertones are really quite similar to HP.

    I didn’t realize Ariana was raped? I knew she had been tortured pretty bad by a group of “muggles”, but rape (especially since she was a child) is another thing entirely. In the end, Dumbledore seemed neither good nor bad, he was simply human who made some brash decisions as a young man that later came back to haunt him.

    Any idea about that flayed child in Dumbledore’s final meeting? Was it supposed to be Ariana?

    By the end, Snape was my favourite character. He was so tragic, insecure and broken. He is probably the one character everyone can empathise with in this book, everyone else is so blatantly brave and heroic that they are almost unreal. What’s so compelling are the little touches, that how his “patronius” (sp?) was modeled to be exactly like Lilly’s.

    When I’m talking about the “Hollywood” ending, I’m mainly referencing things like Mrs. Weasly shouting “DON’T FIRE AT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH” – you know that line will feature massively in the movie. The actual end itself, Voldemort killing himself, is fairly symbolic for the life he has led – in the end, he was all alone, no friends in the world, and through his own evil deeds, ended his life. I quite like it.

    Certainly, Rowling laced the story with a none too subtle subtext for the real world. Racism, discrimination, fear, propaganda, it totally reflects our reality. But then, this comment is already too long! :)

  4. The fact that Dumbledore had a sister that was raped knocked me on my ass.

    I thought they just beat her…

    About all the deaths, I knew it was going to be crazy when they shot the owl. I mean, seriously, of all the characters to die! However, in a later interview, Rowling mentioned that it was symbolic of how Harry’s childhood has sorta been taken away from him by this menacing evil.

    I agree that Snape ruled. He wasn’t my favorite, but I felt he was the best crafted character in the story. Although a snake bite to the neck was a blase end, his final moments and memories were a nice touch.

    I didn’t like the Neville or Molly moments. While I can take comfort in that the hat (ONE FIRE!) probably told Neville what to do, it’s not quite as much of a stretch to think that Neville would have great internal strength (considering his family and his background). However, the idea of Molly one-shotting a fully prepared Beatrix is just not realistic. It’s like Beatrix experienced IRL lag or something.

    I was also puzzled by the strange child. I took it to be a part of Tom Riddle’s tortured soul, which could not be saved. However, I’m not really confident in my conclusion.

  5. nah it was rape… she even clarified it in one of those interviews. she also stated why and how she could add it without being explicit because she knew kids were her primary audience, but a fact that it does happen to kids in the world.

    guys seriosly will a girl go insane just from being beat up??

  6. oh the flayed child in the meeting was voldemort. that is what he eventually became. he couldnt move on after death because he has only a piece (1/7th) of his soul and cant move on to the next world. he also couldnt become a ghost. he became the very same baby from goblet of fire. remember how he was a baby then?? he needed wormtail to look after him back then

  7. A second reading explains a lot actually.

    One Voldemecha dream that I had aside (think Earth Girl Arjuna/Scryed’s Alters + Code Geass + Harry Potter, and yours truly leading the rebellion), Ariana was definitely raped — Hermione and Ron’s reactions of shock and nausea respectively kind of hint at that, although it’s very implicit. Doubt any father would murder a bunch of kids for beating his daughter up.

    The flayed child was definitely Voldemort. Assuming that “Kings Cross” was a limbo of sorts for souls, and that he was unconscious for the same duration as Harry was, it kind of explains itself. His soul being divided and all that. Ditto what kauldron26 said.

    I loved the book. It had better pacing, action, and emotion packed into it than the three Spiderman movies, and that’s saying something. Everything — from the GITS:SAC-sque infiltration of the Ministry of Magic, to the Kanon-sque “sad wizard in snow” at the cemetery, to an exhilarating ending on par with Code Geass’s first season finale — perfect.

    I’m always amused when literary eggheads get on their high horse and claim Rowling’s writing isn’t “lit enough” — but then again to these people style is probably everything (the ignoramuses), and Rowling’s writing might have not been circumlocutious enough for them. Her writing is a great mix of the pathos of old classics and the tight, interweaving narrative of new fiction, which is enough to guarantee her a spot on my bookshelf for my children in the future. ’nuff said.

  8. Also, with regards to Neville, it’s stated that Harry told him to kill the snake right before he headed out to surrender himself to Voldemort, although it’s easy to forget that minor detail, what with all that happens next. A rereading takes care of that though.

  9. I must admit, I’ve never been able to understand criticism of Rowling’s writing or indeed, her Harry Potter books. I suspect a lot of it is just a knee-jerk, elitist reaction to something that’s popular. For me, I love these books and once I’ve finally grasped the fact that there won’t be any new Harry Potter, I’ll feel deflated. The Deathly Hallows is the only book I’ve both pre-ordered and ventured out to the post-office to pick up on its day of release. I was really looking forward to it and it’s a shame everything has now finished :(

  10. I’m sorta deflated, but at the same time, I really want to see what she will come up with next. I feel she left HP in a good place, and maybe in a few years I’d like to see some kinda spinoff, but for now I am hoping that Rowling with delight us with a new world and new characters.

    Also, people will hate on anything, no matter what.

  11. Well, the first Harry Potter was the first book I really liked, but I was like… 8 years old? Many things have changed, and there I was reading The Deathly Hallows as a break between the heavy books I like to read (this summer it was psychotherapy).

    I liked the book, and some chapters were really awesome (and the best was Prince’s Tale, of course), but there were many flaws. The mystery was really well-made, and the world of the wizards was expertly crafted, I liked Dumbledore’s past as well… BUT! There were so much deus ex machina it felt so cheap and anticlimatic. The battles were not really interesting. And some objects like the Invisibility Cloak made the plot progression so easy it was ridiculous. The very ending was pretty cheap as well. But as a whole, I found the book great and probably the best of the series (along with Goblet of Fire, maybe). My expectations weren’t very large, and it was a really nice surprise.

    I thought Rowling’s writing was fantastic, by the way. My cousin practises his english by reading the first book in english (we’re greek), and boy, that’s a change! To be frank, I found some difficulty reading the latest book. Rowling must be a very smart person and a quick learner, to master her english so efficiently; well, “bad mouths” speak of some well-known authors taking her writing job in the last 3 books, but I don’t really think that’s true.

  12. @kauldron26
    Ariana being raped? Im confused at where you got this in the story? I’ve read the Harry Potter books numerous times and never made that connection. Please share because I am a big fan and am very curious about this.

  13. harry potter was fucking amazing i was torn after reading the books i felt as if apart ofo me had vanished or was hiding underneath an invisibility quilt it was a thrilling adventure and am dying for a 8th book me must read another one or i will comitt suiside and lovey harry potter to much im obsessed

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