Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Muggle in Mourning

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense."

Ah...but many, many other Muggles have been enchanted with the magical world in which Harry Potter lives.

In 1997, a single-mother published a tale of an orphan boy who never knew the world to which he truly belonged. In 1999, the book began to gain popularity and a friend's mother suggested that I read it. Her granddaughter loved the book, she raved, and that I would love it too. As someone heading off to college I dismissed this children's literature "new favorite." Then in 2001, the book was made into a movie, which I saw simply because I was a college student and I saw almost every movie in Marshall because they were $2 a ticket. A year later, in my Adolescent Literature class we were told to read a banned book. Having seen the movie and found it mildly interesting, I chose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In the next 3 weeks, even as a busy married, working college student, I read the next 3 books. Maybe devoured would be a better term?

I was hooked! I was immersed in this world, loving and hating characters as if they were real. Staying up 24 hours to read the The Order of the Phoenix when it FINALLY came out! Telling others just how badly they needed to read these books! (In fact, our 65 year old friend read them and loved them!!) And just like other epic tales, Daniel and I began to wonder...what IS it about Harry Potter and his world that captivates our Muggle world like it does? I'm not the first nor the last to discourse the benefits of JK Rowling's magical dyslexic children were suddenly flying through 500 page books like never before! The moral lessons of how it takes great bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends!

But I wonder...and again, I'm not the first...why do we become so wrapped up in this world? Why do wish we could find Platform 9-3/4? Why did we discuss at such lengths Snape's character and agenda? Why do we cry and mourn when the headmaster is buried? We want so badly for evil to be vanquished, for good to be victorious and for love to win...

Is it possible, that I...that we...become such a part of Harry's world, Harry's battle; because we were made play a part too? We live through Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Dobby, Snape, etc...because there's something inside of us that wants to fight? That wants to be a part of an epic battle? That, just maybe, we shrink back from the unseen war (as Christians) we are in...because it is SO hard to we settle for a "safer" war? A "less costly" battle? A fictional one that makes us feel as if we were actually fighting?

The religious, specifically Christian themes are plentiful scattered throughout the series:
Lily's self-sacrificing love (as well as Dumbledore, Snape, Dobby, etc)
The resurrection stone
King's Cross after Harry goes to Voldemort
Our choices define us more than our abilities
The world is not divided into Death Eaters and Good guys
(These and many more may not make sense if you haven't read the books, but don't take my word for it...go read!)

And so, in July 2007, a pregnant Mary stayed up all night trying to finish this series. Feeling, sheepishly, in mourning that the book was done, and yet Harry’s world would somewhere continue on without me. Flying through all 759 pages, and in the end wishing I hadn't finished so quickly. Feeling as if... my friend had died, or moved away...and it would never be the same again. That I was somehow a different person because of having been at Hogwarts and sat in the Great Hall. (I would have secretly have bought a SPEW badge, but never worn it in public of course. And I would have had a long talk with Neville about missing his parents and that it's ok.) That to be boarding other children on the Hogwart's Express was such a bittersweet thing.
As all endings usually are.

At 12:01 am Friday morning, the cinematic world of Harry Potter comes to a close. Harry has grown up over the last 10 years, and so have we. We celebrate and mourn at the same time...the end. We can re-read the books any time, we can watch the dvd’s over and over...but somehow, being a part of this from early on (10 years for me) it will never be the same. For those of you, like me, who waited and pre-ordered the books as they came out...who watched the movies and thought “Oh, so that’s how you pronounce ‘Avada Kedavra!” There is some finality to 7-15-11. A bittersweet ending.

My only consolation (besides Pottermore) and I find it rather fitting; is the conversation between Harry and Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows:
“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

1 comment:

Sarah said...

You are an amazing writer, Mary. I LOVED this post. And I am ashamed at how late I came to appreciate Harry Potter. Love you!