5 Reasons We Love Harry Potter
By Amanda Lynch, The Children’s Book Review
Published: July 14, 2009
Just as a warning, there are book spoilers in this post.
For me, it was the third book.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the first two. I loved the premise. Don’t we all sometimes wish we could be plucked from obscurity and tell us our true destiny? From the moment Hagrid says, “You’re a wizard, Harry”, the picked on, poorly attired, lonely Harry Potter suddenly feels his life falls into place. It’s not without obstacle, of course: Harry has a terrible time in Potions class (mostly due to Professor Snape’s intense dislike of him), from time to time students suspect that he is trying to kill them (as in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry is suspected to be the Heir of Slytherin), and he sometimes has to sadly learn that even Magic has its limitations (as the Mirror of Erised can show him his parents, but not bring them back). Over all, the first two books in the series, while fraught with peril, were a great deal of fun: we cheered Harry on as he became a Quidditch hero, we enjoyed his successes at Hogwarts, and we always suspected that Dumbledore was almost approving of the mischief that he, Ron, and Hermione got into.
But then the third book changed everything.
For the first time, Harry had someone to be angry at besides Lord Voldemort for the death of his parents–Sirius Black. Harry’s rage and anger at Sirius–the person who he believed deprived him of a happy and loving childhood–really turns Harry into a sympathetic and relatable character. It was from that point on that I really wanted to know what happened to little Harry Potter–and each subsequent book brought a stronger emotional attachment to his plight.
With the sixth movie coming out today, we wanted to take a look at why the Harry Potter Books are as beloved as they are. So, without further ado, here are the top five reasons we love Harry Potter:
1. The Magical Realm
The Burrow. Hogwarts. Hogsmeade. Don’t you just want to visit all of these magical places? J.K. Rowling’s creations are exquisite: the shiny red Hogwarts express; the beautiful castle at Hogwarts; the spooky Forbidden Forest. I think Rowling is often at her best when describing Diagon Alley: The Magical Menagerie (where Hermione finds Crookshanks and the dancing rats put Ron’s pet Scabbers to shame); Flourish and Blotts, a bookstore where I’m sure any booklover longs to go; and of course, Ollivander’s, where the wand chooses the wizard. Of course, in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, where we get the fabulous addition of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, which (after 5 books filled with pranks pulled by the Weasley twins) is everything we could hope for from the schemers of the family.
2. The Students and Staff at Hogwarts
Colin Creevy with his camera. Romilda Vane and her love potions. The elusive Cho Chang. Burly Oliver Wood, whose life revolves around Quidditch. The often-overlooked but extremely brave Neville Longbottom. The dreamy and unusual Luna Lovegood. While the story often centers on the exploits of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, some of the other Hogwarts students really steal the show. The teachers also are fantastic, from Hagrid and his unfortunate love of deadly creatures, to the self-obsessed Gilderoy Lockhart. What I think is one of Rowling’s strongest suits is her ability to make even the most repulsive character seem humane. She somehow manages to make Argus Filch, the caretaker, pitiable when we discover he’s a Squib (unable to do magic); Draco Malfoy, who’s been antagonistic to Harry throughout the whole series, arouses sympathy when we find what he’s forced to do under Voldemort; and of course, there is the case of Severus Snape, whose true intentions we wonder about from the beginning to the end.
3. The Supporting Cast of Characters
Ask yourself: would these books be half as delightful without all the quirky minor characters? The sometimes misguided devotion of Dobby the House-Elf to Harry can sometimes be exasperating, but equally endearing (and Dobby’s fanaticism with socks always can elicit a chuckle). Molly Weasley’s mixture of pity and love for Harry is also one of the sweetest points of the series, as she consistently strives to make Harry feel like he has a home at the Burrow by cooking his favorite meals, fussing over him, and never failing to knit him a sweater at Christmas. Even Hedwig, Harry’s owl, has quite the personality: she gets angry at him when he doesn’t visit her or when he keeps her locked in her cage for too long.
One of the best supporting characters by far is Peeves the Poltergeist. Something that never fails to make me laugh is his song from Chamber of Secrets:
“Oh Potter, you rotter, oh what have you done?
You’re killing off students, you think it’s good fun!”
4. Albus Dumbledore
Dumbledore’s love for Harry as practically his own son is one of the most moving aspects of the series. From the beginning, he takes an especial interest in Harry, and it’s easy to see from the gift of his father’s invisibility cloak at Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts that he cares. That’s also why it’s so heart-wrenching to see Dumbledore distance himself from Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when he believes doing so will be beneficial to Harry, whose mind is being invaded by Voldemort. Dumbledore’s pride in Harry is often obvious, from the time when he rescues Sirius in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to when he obtains a vital memory from Professor Slughorn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Harry’s relationship with Dumbledore is one of the cornerstones of the story, as it is nice to see a father figure in Harry’s life. And of course, the reunion of the two at the end of the series easily brings tears to one’s eyes.
5. Harry Himself
And then there’s Harry. Harry has many great qualities, but he’s also deeply flawed–another reason why he’s such a relatable character. He’s also very normal for a wizard. Harry deals with the same problems that boys and girls his age deal with: worry about being accepted by others in school; a desire to live up to his father’s athletic skills, and his unrequited love for Cho Chang–which becomes an awkward situation for the both of them as the series continues. In Order of the Phoenix, for instance, Harry starts behaving as less of a hero and more of what he actually is: an adolescent boy. While he has a temper and is sometimes arrogant, Harry is characterized by his humility and often tries to downplay his accomplishments. Still, he does do well when he steps into the role of leader of Dumbledore’s Army; he is a natural teacher and is patient with his fellow classmates.
Something that really stands out about Harry is his concern for others. He has obvious indignation over the other students who are unkind to Luna, and he shows a particular kindness to her by inviting her to Professor Slughorn’s party. He is strongly guided by his conscience, as shown when he is insistent on bringing back Cedric Diggory’s body after he is murdered. What is especially heart-wrenching is in the sixth book when Harry insists on ending his relationship with Ginny in order to protect her from Lord Voldemort.
Finally, Harry is extremely brave: he confronts Voldemort on numerous occasions, he rescues Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets, he goes into almost certain death on more than one occasion because of his self-sacrificing nature and knowledge that he is the one who can stop Voldemort. However, he also deals with self-doubt and frustration that he is “The Chosen One”, the “Boy Who Lived.” His own celebrity gets to him on more than one occasion, and he frequently wishes that this burden wasn’t put upon him. In the end though, Harry’s love for others saves them all.
So….do you have your tickets yet for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?
For some extra Harry Potter fun, check out Cake Wrecks. They have some incredibly beautiful Harry Potter cakes. They’re almost too pretty to eat! Note that I said “almost”…
Leave us a comment below telling us why you love Harry Potter!