Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Harry Potter – A Muggle’s Viewpoint

Harry Potter – A Muggle’s Viewpoint

On July 21st the 7th and final installment of the Harry Potter series gets released world wide. Titled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the book promises to bring about the final confrontation between Harry Potter and the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter fans the world over have been waiting for it with baited breath. Adding to the excitement is the release of the 5th movie of the series Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix just days before the release of the book.

So why is Harry Potter such a world wide phenomenon? From the first installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, it has captured the imagination of the population like none other. The success of Harry Potter is a reflection of the times that we live in. In this time and age of free and easy access to information it is very easy to get into a trend or fad and make it a part of popular. In the global village if a sizeable amount says something is good then the whole world jumps on to the bandwagon. This frenzy is whipped up to such a level that you end up looking like a dork if you haven’t read any of those books. A kind of snow balling effect takes which encompasses us all. And once you have read one you will end up reading the whole lot as your natural curiosity would take over and lead you to the other. Add to that clever marketing strategies and the book just took off in terms of popularity and fan following.

The author’s own story is not short of a fairy tale. How this poor single mother transformed from sitting in a coffee shop giving the final touches to the book to being richer than the Queen herself is the stuff of legend. Her life story too has spawned various books and has been the subject of endless media attention.

Harry Potter started off as a children’s book. But as Harry, the character got older; the book too grew to be relatively darker and started addressing a wide range of topics that adults as well as adolescents could identify with. Also remember the readers who read the first Harry Potter books have all gown up now. So it is a credit to J.K.Rowling that she has been able to maintain the interests of both the grown ups and the kids in the series.

Children love this series because it opens up an entirely new world to them, a world of magic and amazement. But J.K.Rowling has interwoven this magical world with parallels from real world. From the rigors of daily school activities and homework, to the intense competition and rivalry between the houses; there won’t be a child on the planet that couldn’t identify with his troubles. Every child would have friends or want to have friends like Hermione and Ron. Every child at some stage of his schooling would have encountered a nemesis like Malfoy. Every school will have its own favorite sport, like Quidditch is the flavor for everyone in Hogwarts.

It is not just this school life that the kids love. The adventure and mystery brings in a touch of intrigue to the whole series. The riddles and mysteries are answered and replaced by seeds for fresh ones. This ensures reader loyalty and continuity as the curiosity to know what exactly each book unfolds is quite overwhelming.

The magical world contains its own inherent wonders. The various spells and their magical powers, the amazing variety of magical creatures and their abilities, and the game of quidditch all arises a sense of awe in all readers. What amazes you the most is the imagination of the author to think up of such a myriad of characters and for painting the world of Howarts in such vivid detail that it almost feels real.

However it’s all not fun and games in Harry Potter’s world. Rowling candy flosses the topic of racism. The hatred of pure blood wizards (those born in magical families) towards muggles (non-magical people like yours truly) and muggle born is amazingly similar to racist overtones in the real world. She touches upon slavery in how the wizarding world treats elves, their servants, in the book.

Harry Potter series is above all a story about the battle of good and evil. Lord Voldemort must rank alongside some of the greatest literary villains of all time. His quest for immortality mirrors the secret dark desire that we all possess. Harry Potter is the antithesis of Voldemort even though he shows a rather large disregard for following the rules. He embodies everything that Lord Voldemort is not. He is the tragic orphan whose parents are murdered by the former making his summit clash with Voldemort almost inevitable.

Parents love the series because it imbibes in their children a sense of right and wrong. It also makes them aware about the moral fortitudes that they should be possessing. The values of friendship and fellowship also encouraged in the series. Above all the parents are just thankful that their children have found something other than TV and Video games for entertainment. The MTV generation at last has stumbled upon the joys of reading and the magic of books which is the single most achievement of these books.

There has been criticism of these books from various quarters. From Catholics to Critics, all have thrashed the books for various reasons. But if these books form the stepping stone for kids to cultivate the habit of reading books then what is the harm in it. Or maybe we all are taking these books just a bit too seriously and forgetting the primary function these books were written for, to have some plain unadulterated fun. So get on your Firebolts and fly into the world of Harry Potter and his friends and forget the rest.

1 comment:

Alex said...


Great write up, Muggle! :)

The book is nice entertainer. Thanks to this post, i thought about its relation to issues in the world.