Sunday, July 29, 2007

Harry Potter Reflections, From A Muggle

Tonight I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series of fantasy (but not children's) novels. I've been reading off and on for the past week. Obviously, when you are in charge of kids all day, you don't find much time to read. Then again, the book was fabulous (how could it not be?) so it was a quick read. There won't be any (major) spoilers in this post, so you can read on even if you haven't finished the book yet.

I found the book to be the most literary of the series. Although all of them are wonderful stories with fascinating characters and suspenseful, gripping plots, the last book had the marks of classic literature: complex and intriguing characters, rich language, and most importantly, a definite, well-rounded theme. Without spoiling too much (it is, after all, in the title), the theme of the book was death, and how different people deal with that single most inevitable part of life. Author J.K. Rowling has been alluding to this theme for the entire series, but never has it been so brought into focus. Never has it been spoken of in such a philosophical sense, and never have the characters (or, for that matter, Ms. Rowling) so boldly stated their different views of death. It is an awesome book, and I nearly cried when I finished it.

I consider myself a writer, although I have not really published anything. I used to write for a school newspaper, I write for the blog, I've written a few short stories and poems, I've written a novel and I am working (on and off) on a second. Writing is simply what I enjoy doing, and if I keep at it, I'm sure that I will be published in some way, shape, or form. So I might as well call myself a writer now, right? ;-)

My main genre of interest is fantasy, and Harry Potter probably has a lot to do with that. I don't think it's a stretch to say that J.K. Rowling's books have influenced my writing. They have probably influenced the writing of many future fantasy authors. I don't mean that in the low sense of mimicry. I'm sure you have all seen plenty of authors trying to emulate Rowling's success by writing about young people who all of a sudden realize they have special, magical powers.

It not the plot or the situations of Harry Potter that I would try to emulate; it is the themes of friendship, family, and love. Some of my favorite scenes in the series were the scenes where Harry would be at the Weasleys' house, or with members of the Order of the Phoenix, or maybe just with Ron and Hermione. Rowling knows how to write about the comfort that family and friends can bring, and during those scenes it literally jumped out of the page for me. It is scenes like that that I try to put into my books, and I can say that if it was not for Rowling, I probably wouldn't be doing that. It's not that Harry Potter made me appreciate family and friends; it's just that before reading those books, I would never have thought that such quiet, warm scenes would make for good reading.

Well, those are my reflections on the Harry Potter books. Maybe now with them read and out of the way, I can start writing again! Once I'm out of camp, of course... Hope everyone is doing well!

Jay

4 comments:

grace said...

I can't wait to read your novel one day. :)

Ben said...

Curious what you think of this:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20070725/cm_csm/ysawyer

Jay said...

Grace: Wait till I'm out of camp, and I'll send you a copy for free. ;-)

Ben: I actually think that's a very fair critique. The author hits on a lot of points that I've thought about as well. I don't think that the moral dilemma of a story always has to be with the protagonist, though.

Having it with a secondary character is just fine, as long as the author makes sure to make it clear. Rowling may not have, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Harry Potter is a great story.

Pomoprophet said...

Hurry back to us. I miss you yo!