By Alina Ostrovsky
Harry Potter came like a dazzling lightning bolt flashing across the world, not unlike the scar adorning Harry’s forehead—a scar that Harry was “graced” with in his infancy, surviving the deadly Abra Katabra curse. The series has been translated into a striking 93 languages. It has created an “unstoppable force of culture”—force analogous to the magnitude of a comet-landing from space onto Earth. This led to a revival of three significant values: Love, Death, and Friendship, the ultimate home-driven themes of the entire saga.
A biblical quest to save values
The book, according to an anonymous article, became the “puzzle box mystery plotting [that kept] the pages turning propulsively forward[;] the fantastic mythology [has] give[n] the world scope, magic, and joy.”
What makes the book a page-turner is the constantly threatened disappearance of the aforementioned values. This threat comes from the ground-quaking antagonist, You-Know-Who, Voldemort, who does everything to extinguish the power of Love and Friendship.
But, as John Killinger put it, “Harry’s [Christ-like] gift of himself from whom life has sprung out of, through the life of self-sacrifice, defeated death and kept the life of ongoing friendship” and love, restoring all the memories of those who died in the battle. Incidentally, just like Jesus, Harry too is revived into being after his self-sacrifice. Moreover, like Jesus “abolished death and brought immortality to light” (2 Timothy 1:10) through self-sacrifice, Harry makes “love and friendship” immortal as those two become the driving force and light of humanity. After Voldemort’s defeat, the source of death, the threat to those two values no longer looms overhead. The sorrow of death is officially vanquished.
Uniting a society over shared love
Before the release of the books, young adult readership was declining. However, after the books came out, it was like the society became alive again. Values were reclaimed and punctuated. “As more Harry Potter fans became more active online[,] they made discussion of young adult fiction, fantasy, and science fiction commonplace.” Instead of indulging in their own daily misery, people congregated to express their sympathies for the characters’ trials. This finally brought some kind of unanimity to the society, instead of individualism.
Harry Potter has vivified the corners of abstract thinking, identifying and zeroing in on people’s self-conscious desires, unleashing them outwardly to the freedom of the sunset. As Bill Trusiwicz points out, “[Harry Potter] create[d] a scenario to free the reader from the usual materialistic mental constraints to new heights of imagination [prominently known as] wishful thinking, [which is] a creative life that do[es] [not] generally thrive beyond childhood in modern day”.
Making the magical world accessible
The books demonstrated that “magic” is very much present in our mental capacities—a notion that had previously lain dormant. Xandra Robinson, a millennial reader, supports this notion: “Sure, [Harry Potter is] about witchcraft and wizardry, but [there is] magic that is very much rooted in the real world.”
Bill Trusiewics puts Xandra’s impressions into a more enhanced conceptualisation: “While modern scientific thinking leads us to the conclusion that the [‘]magical world[‘] of Harry Potter is a complete invention and impossible by any stretch of the imagination, spiritual scientific thinking…has been freed from the tyranny of the physical[.] [Spiritual scientific thinking can be perceived to be not an invention of the imagination as we] realize that the world of spells and charms depicted in Harry Potter points to a world that truly exists[.] [Although that “magic” is] hidden from ordinary vision, it is [still considered to be within the scopes of] a real world.” In other words, the spiritual life, everything that does not have a physicality to it, encompasses the magic that exists in our minds. This includes the ‘spiritual warfare between good and evil’. That ‘warfare’ is what humanity has been struggling with from the beginning of days. It is very well portrayed in the Harry Potter series.
An uplifting companion in hardships
Most importantly, however, the books have touched upon the reality of the subject of loss, death, and dysfunctional families. This, in particular, appealed to those readers to whom the circumstances applied. Because of the level of relatability, these books taught effective coping skills to those individuals by distracting them from their own plight. Seeing how the characters cope with hardships by supporting each other appears to be extremely cathartic to them. For these reasons, Harry Potter has proven to be a “life-restorer” for many who entertained the thoughts of suicide before getting acquainted with the resilient character, Harry.
According to Bill Trusiewicz, the book offered “…answers [that people at risk] need in our society; [until then,] we have not offered them the proper philosophical and intellectual means to incorporate death into their world views”. Melanie Martin, a part of that reading audience, writes: “From about the age of 17 to 20, I self-harmed regularly. [When] [t]imes were bleak, the series always g[ave] me something to look forward to. They were there when no one else was.” All in all, Harry Potter has been a redeemer of the society—bringing people out of numbness and indifference, and into sensitivity and care.
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