Throughout the seven Harry Potter novels written by J.K. Rowling, the theme of death has been explored in many instances to create a universal understanding and comprehensive idea of what it is. The novels, starting from Sorcerer’s Stone to The Deathly Hallows, all contain certain elements regarding death. Whether it deals with an object or a bigger picture, it has always been present, especially in subtle tones. She repeatedly stated in interviews how real-world instances helped to create the world of Potter, and that death was one of the most central ideas: readers journey with Harry as he discovers what death really means, and in turn, so do the readers. She creates a third world or dimension, solely surrounding death and essentially says that while it is an inevitable fate, the ones we love never really leave us. Throughout her novels, she emphasizes and encourages her readers to explore and understand the complex idea of death, and to come to terms with it, just as Harry does. One cannot escape death, even through the use of magic. While her novels revolve around magic, an essential theme is that magic, in itself, cannot cheat death.
In the beginning, the readers are introduced to two worlds: the muggle world, and the wizard world. However, she introduces death in her very first book, Sorcerer’s Stone. She incorporates unicorn blood and even the actual stone itself, both of which allow the drinker or wielder an unnaturally prolonged life. However, it is understood that even with unicorn blood, one cannot sustain life solely from that and that one will eventually fade to nothing. The same can be said with the sorcerer’s stone. Even though Flamel was around 700 years old, he finally realized that it was time to face death and so he destroyed the stone. Rowling illustrates here, right from the get go, that death is something that cannot be avoided. No amount of magic will help the pursuer achieve a life of immortality.
Rowling enjoys throwing in little instances for the larger picture in hopes that her readers will pick up on them. The Mirror of Erised (Mirror of Desires) illustrates that people cannot yearn for that which is lost. Harry stumbles upon it and sees his dead parents, and a watchful Dumbledore immediately reminds Harry that “it is best to not dwell on dreams and forget to live.” Desiring for his parents, both of which are dead, and wishing they were real, only takes away from the present and what he could be experiencing. Relying on seeing the dead is not something to dwell on. As Rowling goes through the books, more ideas of death are thrown at the reader in more “bigger pictures” ideas: the dementor, Sirius Black’s death, and then with the final two novels and the amount of death in them.
In the third book, dementors are introduced, as well as the “moving portraits.” A dementor is an evil creature, the guard(s) of Azkaban (the wizard prison), and completely souless. They suck the happiness out of their individuals and can perform the dementor’s kiss where the soul is completely drained. The person is then left to wander and most likely end up in a dementor like state: simply a body without a soul. Keeping in mind the general idea of a dead physical body, the inferi, which are dead bodies that are bewitched by a dark wizard to do his or her bidding, are inherently evil. They have no free will, since they are controlled by whoever bewitched them, and they also carry the appearances of the people they once were. However, no spell can bring back the dead, but the inferi are simply corpse puppets. Rowling illustrates through the use of the dementors and inferi that things that stay behind in a physical state after death are evil.
When it comes to the portraits, however, there is an argument about whether it was the actual individual in the picture or not. Thanks to the newly created website Pottermore, that information was revealed. The portraits for the headmasters and headmistresses (as well as anyone else) are usually administered before they pass away. The artist paints their subject the way in which he or she viewed that individual. Then, once the painting was given to the person, he or she would then teach the portrait things it would say and keep it under wraps. That way, once the person had passed on, if someone has a question, the portrait would most likely be able to help answer the question or pass on information. It is an element of where the person is sort of there, where one can communicate, but in reality, that person really is dead. The portrait is only a reflection and nothing more than a false hope. The idea of the portraits could also be similar to that of Tom Riddle’s diary in Chamber of Secrets where whoever had it was able to write things and read responses, as well as be transported to another dimension. Harry was also able to physically see a younger version of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Voldemort. This is almost like a written idea of the portraits. Though it is not paint, it is ink, and this item just so happened to have directly come from the writer himself.
The series, in itself, deals mostly with coming to terms with the idea of death as well as accepting and understanding it. Each book that Rowling wrote not only became more sophisticated, but more exploratory. A presence will be felt after death, sort of like an imprint on the witch and or wizard’s life. Very few witches and wizards choose to stay behind, and this is where Rowling introduces the ghosts. Harry learns this when he speaks with Nearly Headless Nick after the death of his godfather Sirius Black. Harry learns that that witches and wizards can choose whether or not they want to move on. Out of fear, Nick stayed behind to appear as a ghost. Sirius, on the other hand, moved on. This shows that he did not fear death and accepted it. He knew that death was unavoidable, and therefore by choosing not to come back, he did not fear death. In terms of the “veil” that Sirius passed through, in Greek mythological terms, it could be seen as the entrance to the underworld because Luna Lovegood did ask Harry if he could “hear them.” This is all speculation and possibly just a fluke, but the idea of the veil is interesting. One cannot see beyond it, just like one cannot see beyond death, only what is in front of them. Also, going beyond the veil to the other side suggests that death is only a step away. It is a mysterious concept, but the veil is a physical thing in the living world and acts almost like a portal to the world of the dead.
As the audience reads about Harry and his journey through the books, the audience also goes through the same realization and understanding of death that Harry came to terms with. Until the last two books, the reader only gets objects concerning death in a symbolic way, but actual character deaths of any significance do not happen until Sirius’ death in Order of the Phoenix (OOtP). But one can argue that death plays a very significant role in Goblet of Fire with Cedric Diggory’s death. The reason is because once Harry saw Cedric die, it was an initial understanding and seeing of death. The following year in OOtP, he was able to see Thestrals, creatures that can only be seen by those who have seen, and understood, death. Understanding death is crucial in this point, because many fans argue, “Oh well how come Harry could not see the before hand? He saw his parents die!” Yes, as a baby he could have seen them die, but at the age in which it happened, baby Harry was not able to comprehend what had happened. It is not until one actually sees and understands death that a Thestral can be seen. It is now suggested that after the Battle of Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows, that those who fought were all able to see Thestrals the following year.
Along with death came two very interesting ideas, one from Half-Blood Prince and the other from Deathly Hallows. First, the idea of a horcrux is introduced in the sixth book. A horrors is an item in which one places a part of his or her soul. To split ones soul into multiple pieces means a more immortal and prolonged life. Voldemort had managed to accomplish this by splitting his soul into six pieces, and then an accidental seventh (Harry). To do this, one must kill someone out of cold blood and perform the forbidden spell to transfer the soul to the object. If all the objects are destroyed, then that person is completely vulnerable to the mortal life and can easily be defeated. Rowling demonstrates through the use of horcruxes that one cannot cheat death, and if one tries to do so, there are consequences.
The hallows, on the other hand, do have certain consequences depending on which item the witch or wizard has in their possession. The deathly hallows are the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak. To possess all three at the same time, or possess the rightful ownership of them, makes one “Master of Death.” The idea of these hallows stems from an old children’s tale also written by Rowling called The Tales of Beedle the Bard - The Three Brothers. Each brother attempted to cheat and humiliate death by asking for specific items (the hallows). The two who possess the wand and the stone were either driven mad with power or stricken with grief, and so death claimed both their lives. However, the cleverest of the three, the one who possessed the cloak, evaded death all his life, but took off the cloak once he realized it was time to set off: “And so he greeted death like an old friend.” Rowling emphasizes this to say that death is not something to be feared, but rather acknowledged and accepted once the time is right. That in old age, there comes death, and moving on is a part of that cycle. Voldemort went after the Hallows after he learned of his horcruxes being destroyed, as another way to conquer death. However, becoming the “Master of Death” still does not allow one to cheat death, and this was a flaw in Voldemort’s plan.
More specifically, the resurrection stone allows the possesser to bring back someone, or multiple people in Harry’s case, into the living world. Whoever appears, though, cannot be touched or felt, but rather seen and spoken too, and thus do not belong in that world. However, the stone does not conquer death. Harry possesses the stone once he unlocks the Golden Snitch, given to him as a gift from Dumbledore. He realized that the phrase, “I Open at the Close” meant that it would open once he accepted death. When he did that, it opened and revealed the resurrection stone. He uses this and both his parents, Lupin, and Sirius appear and tell him that they have never left him and will be with him until the very end. Harry’s action of throwing it away in the Forbidden Forest symbolized that he truly accepted death, and that he was ready to die. He did not fear it, he did not want to cheat it. He would face it head on. The entire idea behind this act shows that accepting death is a sign of maturity and of never turning back. Once it is understood, it is, embraced.
Towards the end of the series, Rowling introduces a play on christian quotes, specifically those written on the tombstones in the cemetery in Godric’s Hollow. On the tombstone of his parents, the inscription reads: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death,” however, it can be argued that death is never defeated in the series, literally. To live a life of fear, and to fear death, makes it an enemy to that person. As Hermione said in Chamber of Secrets, “Fear of a name only increases fear in the thing itself.” When one fears death, one cannot fully move on from it. However, to accept it, means to overcome it and move on. Death cannot be destroyed literally, but it can be destroyed figuratively. Therefore, the inscription on the tombstone is a figurative lesson, that destroying death means to overcome it, and accept it, both basic themes that Rowling implements in the series. Although in a symbolic sense, the phoenix would be the only creature that defeats death because it is a specific example of resurrection, and therefore it is in myth that death is defeated and not in a religious sense.
Death has always been an important theme in the novels, and it is not irrelevant in the slightest, and its presence has been felt from the very beginning. Coming to terms and accepting death are two very important lessons that one learns throughout life, and Rowling takes her readers on Harry’s journey as he discovers them for himself. In turn, the readers also understand and comprehend death, just as Harry does when he sacrifices himself for the greater good in Deathly Hallows. Rowling’s works are morally and spiritually constructed, and the idea of death had been planted in the series from the very beginning. From simple items such as the Sorcerer’s Stone to start it all, to the Deathly Hallows to end it all, she was able to weave storylines between them while keeping the acceptance of death as a dancing shadow in between the lines. Once her story was done, she brought her readers full circle: from fearing death, to accepting it. By managing to create not only two worlds, but three, she brought the element of the after-life into the picture to allow her readers to question what was really beyond the veil. All in all, in death, mischief will be managed.
All seven Harry Potter novels written by J.K. Rowling.
Prompt for my take home final: “Out of the three sets of novels [Narnia, LoTR, and Potter], why do you think that the Harry Potter novels have roused the opposition of certain conservative Christian groups - after all, there is magic in all of them”
My response to this is below, all copyrighted to me. You take any of it, cite it, or else you’re a shameful person!
Do Not Hate on Potter
Whenever Christian’s take a look at the Potter books, they scoff at them or, perhaps, burn them like they did in 2004 along with AC/DC albums and Star Wars books and movies. But what is it that sets them off with the series? It could be that they merely judge the book by its cover: a three-headed dog, a strange looking golden ball with wings, an eery looking castle, and a boy on a broomstick. Maybe it is the stigma of the broomstick that, back in 1997, set them off for saying that it was a book that promotes witchcraft - who knows. But most conservative Christian groups only looked at what the books project as a basic plot: a boy with magical powers goes off to a boarding school to learn witchcraft. For an outsider, yes, it is quite possible to see how people can be put off by it (for instance, I live with muggles, meaning both my parents hate Potter and believe it to be the worst sort of book out there). However, many do not understand that the books do not necessarily promote the conjuring of witchcraft, but rather the imagination to look outside of the box, and also to look within oneself and rediscover what it means to feel free, to think.
First, a Christian looks at Potter and sees that he uses a wand to conjur magic and obviously that is bad because it promotes the use of witchcraft! Also, the incantations goes against all the God preaches. I mean, it is obviously the devils work and J.K. Rowling is a satanist. These groups greet the books as if they are the work of Satan, and that the pages blatantly promote witchcraft to young children. They fear the books teach children to dwell in the realms of the Occult, and to turn away from God (but then I have to wonder if these groups saw how satanic their book burning rituals were back in 2004). It is the obvious with what they fear with these books. Most have not read them, and most find them repulsive on the surface. On a personal note, my family refuses to let my little sister even touch the novels or see the movies because they fear she will start waving sticks arounds and attempt to conjur magic in our own backyard. The discouragement, blindness, and unwillingness to open up to what the books actually entail is incredibly unsettling.
Compared to the other novels read this semester, Narnia, while taking place in another world, and Lord of the Rings, being more in depth and somewhat psychological, neither are as obvious with magic as the Potter books are. With Potter, the magic is on the surface - it is out there and it is known, and the combination of that and it even coinciding with our world is what separates it from the other two series. Narnia and Lord of the Rings both contain magic, however both are also taking place in other worlds not within our own. This may very well contribute to the scrutiny the Potter novels receive amongst the groups, just because magic is the most obvious quality to the outsider.
The story is, in no way, promoting the use of witchcraft in any sort of society. The Potter novels are seen by those who love and care for it as a way to escape to another place where they feel free to do as they please and roam free without the confinds of their reality. Hogwarts became home to billions of readers worldwide. Christian’s, who have read the Potter story to their children, end up falling in love with it as well and use it as a teaching guide for morals in life. The underlying goal of the novels is exactly that: to be a teaching method for what there is to cherish in life. It is not magic. It is to believe in oneself and know that one can accomplish the impossible, even when there are many obstacles in the way.
My ENGL 302 paper. All copyrighted to me. You use it, you’re a shameful person.
14 December, 2011
ENG 302, Sec. 13
The Link Between Magic and Christianity:
In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
Novels that simultaneously incorporate the traditional literary themes of magic and the Christian religion have, historically, been subjected to ridicule. The same can be said of the literary phenomenon Harry Potter, written by J.K. Rowling. Even though some say the series represents witchcraft, it invites children to become familiar with their imaginations and acknowledge differences between fantasy and reality. Witchcraft heavily surrounds the Harry Potter series; however, themes such as love, death, sacrifice, and making the right choices are etched into the storylines of the characters and occur in parallel to biblical references. This evidence shows how the series is not just about magic, but also unity and love for all. Rowling uses references to Christian numerology that entertain her readers and to show certain qualities and attributes of characters and objects. These connections help convey a Christian essence that Rowling delicately embeds into Harry Potter to carefully construct a magical and meaningful story.
In Christian theology, numbers are significant and influential. Therefore, they should never be ignored. Their heavy use in the Bible is always noted, especially in Gensis and Revelations. From the plethora of numbers mentioned in the Bible, three and seven in particular are used in and relate to the Potter series. The number three is an influential number in Christian religion. The Resurrection Stone, which Harry obtains in Deathly Hallows, must be turned thrice in hand to have spirits reappear. Once Harry turns the stone three times, his parents, Lily and James, his godfather, Sirius Black, and old Dark Arts Professor and friend, Remus Lupin, appear. However, as he runs towards his mother, he cannot touch her; she is simply a ghost. The fact that the stone must be turned three times references Christ’s own resurrection, which is mentioned in Matthew’s chapter of the Bible: “After three days I will rise again” (Matthew 27:63). This connection to one of the fundamental themes of Christianity emphasizes the importance of love in the story. The Resurrection Stone also plays an important role in Harry’s heroic journey to defeat Voldemort. Once Harry learns that he is a Horcrux (a dark object into which a person places a piece of their soul), he realizes that he must sacrifice himself so that another piece of Voldemort’s soul is destroyed. While he walks to meet his fate, he enables the stone and seeks guidance from those who appear before him. Sacrifice is prominent throughout the series and provides an immediate connection to Christianity. Harry’s sacrifice is reminiscent of Christ’s own sacrifice; he was born to erase the sins that Adam and Eve brought forth upon man, so Christ sacrificed himself to rid the world of sin and to restore mankind.
In Christian symbolism terms, seven means perfection, and initially, completion. In magical terms, it is the age when a witch or wizard reveals that they have magical properties (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). Some more examples include the seven books in the series, one hundred and forty-two staircases in Hogwarts (the numbers equal seven when added together), and seven snakes that guard the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. Also, Harry Potter was the seventh, and accidental, Horcrux that Lord Voldemort created, first-years at Hogwarts are sorted into their houses in the seventh chapter of the first book, wizards and witches come of age when they are seventeen, and there are seven obstacles that lead to the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Seven immediately appears in the beginning of the Bible. The chapter Genesis says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested… God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (New International Version. Genesis 2:2-3). Then, in Revelations, God comes full circle with the number seven (the seventh angel) to show how it was the beginning of the Earth and the beginning of the end of times. Revelations says, “But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished just as he announced to his servants and prophets” (Revelations 10:7). This idea can be related back to the Potter series and the number of books in it. Seven books total, each one telling the readers about Lord Voldemort’s return and how it will cause the end of the Wizarding World. When Harry finally confronts Voldemort in Deathly Hallows, he is essentially this seventh angel (seventh Horcrux) who battles to the end, vanquishes the Dark Lord, and restores peace and prosperity to the world.
In order for Harry to fulfill the hero’s journey, he needed an extensive amount of protection. He was always under different forms of protection, whether from the Ministry of Magic (the corrupt governing body of the Wizarding World) or from his peers and professors. However, magic itself was one of Harry’s greatest protectors. John Granger, author of the book Looking for God in Harry Potter, discusses two different kinds of magic: invocational and incantational. He says that the Potter series exhibits incantational magic, and states that this kind of “magic by spells and wands requires that we understand our world as a created world dependent for its existence on God’s creative Word” (Granger 9). Granger’s distinction between incantational magic, which is spoken magic, and invocational magic, which calls in evil spirits, can be applied to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In Azkaban, Harry overcomes feelings of helplessness and darkness when faced with a Dementor, a creature that sucks all happiness from one’s soul. With the help of Professor Remus Lupin, his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry’s task is to conjure a Patronus Charm. This charm is a powerful protective force: when conjured, it acts as a shield, or, in a Christian analogy, a spiritual guardian. A Patronus is brought forth from the happiest of memories (the happier the memory, the stronger the Patronus) and performs saint-like actions by protecting the soul of the conjurer.
Love and death are the two most common and powerful themes in the Harry Potter series. Rowling introduced this concept early on in Sorcerer’s Stone when Dumbledore told Harry about the love that protects him from Voldemort. According to movie critics and journalists Hal Conklin and Denny Wayman, “At Hogwart’s School, as well as in Christian theology, sacrificial love is the ultimate power” (Conklin, Wayman Vol. 6 No. 1). The first character who exemplifies this type of love is Lily Potter, Harry’s mother. Readers consider her a martyr because she was murdered when she would not join Lord Voldemort and his followers, the Death Eaters. Because of this love and through her unusual gift for creating Charms, she embraced Harry with this sacrificial love which ultimately saved him from Voldemort’s killing curse. But in the end, Voldemort’s demise comes about because he is never able to embrace or understand the idea of love. Religiously, the idea of love is a powerful bond. The chapter Romans says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (Romans. 13:8). This verse is brought to life because of Lily’s continuing love for her son; she fulfills her purpose through death and sacrifice, to love him and ultimately save him.
However, Lily Potter is not the only character who exemplifies this idea of sacrificial love. There is a controversy surrounding Headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s death in the sixth book, Half Blood Prince. Nikolaus Wandinger, a professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, said that Dumbledore’s death “is a diminished form of such a [Christian] sacriﬁce because it involves the deliberate bringing about of one’s own premature death (that is, it has a suicidal element) and burdens a second person, who would otherwise be innocent of that crime, with the guilt of bringing it about” (Wandinger 26). While Wandinger does make a valid point about the suicidal element towards Dumbledore’s death and how it brings about a burden on a second person, Professor Snape, he does not take Dumbledore’s compassion for others into account.
John Burns, a Professor of Religion at George Mason University, believed: “Dumbledore’s death could be construed as having a Christian dimension since he does sacrifice himself for others – he knows that he is going to die, much as Jesus did” (Burns). Dumbledore asks Snape to murder him out of love and protection for Draco Malfoy, for it was Draco’s mission from Lord Voldemort to murder him. Dumbledore acknowledges this and knows that Draco would not be able to accomplish this task given to him him. The Book of Jonah says, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD” (Jonah. 2:9). Dumbledore’s death is arguably Christian because he made the sacrifice out of love and protection for the greater good.
One of the most pivotal sacrifices is Professor Snape’s in the last installment of the series, Deathly Hallows. He has been working as a double agent for both Dumbledore and Voldemort, but he remained loyal and true to Dumbledore. Susan Johnston, who wrote an article concerning Christian theologies and eucatastrophes (sudden and favorable resolutions of events in a story) also believes that, “this expiatory sacrifice illuminates both what the Harry Potter books take to be full humanity, and, moreover, the authentic hope in which the consolation of the eucatastrophe lies” (Johnston 74). She later writes that, “the Christian story posed the greatest of eucatastrophe” (Johnston 82). In the Bible, John says, “love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him … But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (John 1:4:17-19). Snape was in love with Lily since they were young children; once he heard of her death, he swore to help protect Harry at all costs. This event in the series brings joy to the reader because it shows Snape is a good person and that he is able to love. Snape’s sacrifice allows Harry to know the truth about everything. His sacrifice, however, was not just for Harry’s sake so he could learn the truth of his mission to defeat Voldemort, but primarily out of love for Lily. This is the joy, the sacrifice, and religious influence that Snape brought into this series. He is the hero who risks everything between two loyalties for love. Identifying Snape as the consolation of the eucatastrophe is appropriate. His love for Lily was stronger than any punishment, and he greets death with dignity and honor.
It was through his love for Lily that he became aware of the path he was traveling down. In school, he discovered a passion for the Dark Arts and followed the pureblood Slytherin supremacists in their doings. This put his friendship with Lily through great turmoil. Upon graduating from Hogwarts, he joined forces with the Death Eaters, Voldemort’s devoted followers. However, once he hears of Lily’s death, he understands that he must betray the Dark Lord and protect Harry because he knew it would make Lily proud. This reminds him of what it means to love, and he veers onto the path of righteousness to set things right.
Snape was not the only character to undergo this change of path; one character in particular, who could have become good, labors in the realm of the Dark Arts. Amanda Cockrell, a Professor of English at Hollins University, says that Rowling insists on the idea that, “It is the wizard, the practitioner of the magic, who makes it good or evil” (Cockrell 27). In the chapter of Isaiah, he proclaims, “Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceress, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror” (Isaish 47:12).From his early childhood, Tom Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, was sent to live in an orphanage where, when he turned eleven, he was paid a visit by Albus Dumbledore because Tom possessed unusual qualities.
Tom is able to talk with snakes and make other kids, who are mean to him, do terrible things. Until that visit, he never had a single visitor. Dumbledore brings Tom to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he hopes Tom will learn to use his magic in a good, well-controlled manner. As time progresses, Tom veers off and learns of Horcruxes. By doing this, he veers down the wrong path and goes against the balance of nature. He uses his powerful and great magic for achieving terrible things.
Not only does the theme of good and evil reside in characters, but in the story as well. Connie Neal, author of What’s a Christian to do with Harry Potter?, explains that, “J.K. Rowling has created a moral world that is consistent with the biblical revelation of the nature of good and evil” (Neal 178). The conflict between good versus evil is prominent throughout the Harry Potter series. In the Bible, the chapter Romans says, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). This battle stems exclusively from choice. Everyone makes choices in their lives that direct them down whichever path they wish to venture. When the Sorting Hat was placed upon Harry’s head in the first book, his choice to not be put into the Slytherin house was respected by the Sorting Hat, who placed him in Gryffindor instead. In The Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore explains to Harry that, “It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities” (Rowling). This quote links to the biblical idea and teaching that our choices define who we are as a person, whether we choose to be good or side with evil.
These notions of love, sacrifice, and choice help to define character and humanity. John Killinger, author of God, the Devil, and Harry Potter, explains that, “the Harry Potter stories will keep alive for a whole generation … a sensitivity to the spiritual realities that lie at what it means to be human” (Killinger 9). In Potter, Snape is devastated when he hears of Lily’s murder; Hermione lies in order to protect Harry and Ron from punishments; Draco learns what it means to be good; and Harry learns of sacrifice in order to save his entire world: his friends and the family he came to love and be a part of. These virtues define humanity, and they reside in Rowling’s series beautifully. The characters that she has invented are ones that readers have learned to love and have formed a connection with. The Bible teaches what it means to be human, and it spans throughout all the scriptures. The fall of man in Genesis starts with Adam and Eve’s betrayal to God’s judgment; the rise of man starts with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This story spans several chapters and shows different lessons throughout which continuously help to define humanity.
Even though the Harry Potter series deals with magic, the religious themes planted within it blossom with each turn of the page. From the Sorcerer’s Stone to Deathly Hallows, the reader becomes aware of the Christian parallels that Rowling integrates within her storyline and characters. The idea that love helps drive the series, from Lily’s sacrifice in the beginning to Harry’s in the end, helps to create a bridge between the superficially conflicting concepts of magic and Christianity. Rowling’s choice in using the numbers three and seven as the two most influential numbers in the series reflect back on the numbers used throughout the Christian bible. The choices made in Potter have Christian undertones which affect the outcome of all situations encountered. Just as people can connect or relate to things in the Bible, people of all ages who read Harry Potter can do the same. People who open the Bible look for comfort and guidance; Potter allows for the same experiences, but in a different context. Regardless of the ridicule directed at the series, one cannot ignore the Christian morals that Rowling implements in her story which captivates and entrances all who read it. Mischief managed.
Word Count: 2,312 without quotations/2,763 with quotations
Burns, John. E-mail Interview. 11/27/2011.
Cockrell, Amanda. “Harry Potter And The Witch Hunters: A Social Context For The Attacks On Harry Potter.” Journal Of American Culture 29.1 (2006): 24-30. Humanities International Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.
Granger, John. Looking for God in Harry Potter. 2nd ed. Tyndale, 2006.
Johnston, Susan. “Harry Potter, Eucatastrophe, And Christian Hope.” Logos: A Journal Of Catholic Thought & Culture14.1 (2011): 66-90. Humanities International Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.
Killinger, John. God, the Devil, and Harry Potter: A Christian Minister’s Defense of the Beloved Novels. 1st ed. New York: St. Martin’s, 2004.
Neal, Connie. What’s A Christian to do with Harry Potter?. 1st ed. WaterBook, 2001. 178.
The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan. 1984, 2008. Print.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 1st. Scholastic, 1999.
—-. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 1st. Scholastic, 2007.
—-. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 1st. Scholastic, 1999.
Wandinger, Nikolaus. “”Sacrifice” In The Harry Potter Series From A Girardian Perspective.” Contagion: Journal Of Violence, Mimesis & Culture 17.1 (2010): Humanities International Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.
Wayman, Denny, and Hal Conklin. “Film Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Journal of Religion and Film. 6.1 (2002): n. page. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.