The Harry Potter series of books need little introduction. There were seven of them, and each became a movie. So the author J.K Rowling basically wrote a 4500 page novel (or so) and between the movies and all the rest supposedly made around a billion dollars, literally. Quite an accomplishment, and one to be praised. I get this. Now, let’s talk about the books, the basic question being are they significant beyond stimulating the economy, and, if so, in what way?
I may seem a bit late to this party, as the series was concluded a few years ago. A child I know is fond of books, and she read them. I suppose I could have discouraged her, or even forbade this. I did make her promise to read THE HOBBIT next, in my view a superior book. My compromise–I read the books along with her so I know what she was being influenced by. Readers recognize each other, and I know how influential a book can be on a child, for better or worse. Translate–I would not have read these books unless somehow prompted. Banning books just makes people curious. So, in typical fashion, I got on board with it so I could have some control over it.
The books are set in England. I will project and say there must be some ambivalence in England over the waning of the Empire. The conflicts in Harry Potter address this through a literary abstraction. At Hogwarts, the primary Magic school for the children of Western Culture, forced integration has occurred as the Pure Blood Magical people have been deposed from power and “Muggle borns,” or people with the magical knack born from non-magical people, are tolerated.
Hogwarts became a meritocracy after the downfall of the Pureblood leader, Voldemort. Before this, the magical world was pretty inbred, and marrying a Muggle born could lead to criminal prosecution.
Rowling makes a point of including Pureblood magical people of all races in Slytherin, the Pureblood school at Hogwarts, but all the principal magical Supremacist Baddies, if you will, are white skinned, so the whole book series is pretty allegorical. Indeed, the most magically pureblooded family in the book, the last descendants of Slytherin, are depicted as inbred English hillbillies, white trash living in a hovel, with nothing left but a few poorly understood family traditions and heirlooms.
One token Muggle born, Hermione, is depicted as example of all that is good in the world. Sterling intellect and rigid morality, but also likeable as a conduit through which other Muggle borns reading these books can understand the magical world better. Hermione is one of Harry Potter’s two main friends and co-conspirators as he struggles against the evil of Voldemort. So on the surface, the books promote a universalistic message.
What else do the books promote? Well, the occult, of course. There seems to be some kind of debate about this to which I must answer “Are you kidding me!?” These books are steeped in the occult. By presenting occult information in the form of a children’s book, Rowling really earned her paycheck, because she had to sacrifice some form of her better nature for it. In itself, the concept of sacrifice to further a magical spell is pretty occult in nature.
There is a gradual escalation in the books. The first one is pretty much a fairly good classic British children’s novel, well written with amusing social satire implicit. The hardcore occult stuff isn’t revealed until the reader is deeply into the books, and identifying with the main characters to the point that the reader’s point of view becomes chained to Harry Potter and his buddies. The occult elements in these books are what may have propelled them to such popularity, at least in the mainstream. Rowling carries water for occultists at times, such as her glossing over potentially telling symbols as the eye in a triangle that starts popping up. This was the Tolkien’s symbol for Saruman, the real Dark Lord, from the Lord of the Rings series of books from which Rowling has derived much.
Tolkien had a much more intimate experience with true evil as a WW1 veteran than Rowling seems to have had, although of course I don’t know much about her. She is extremely photogenic and in a more grueling way, she seems to have suffered under Great Britain’s grinding Socialism, which is a form of Fascism, or at least her books spoof bureaucrats.
Politically, I liked the books and have no issues with them. The books are against Fascism and espouse what seems like Libertarian principles to me.
There were some plot holes, but refer to my first paragraph. This series is epic. Rowling accomplished a lot. Also, as an adult, discussing the various glaring problems can only diminish me and make me look ridiculous. Of course Potter should have tried to contact Sirius using the magical two way mirror Sirius gave him for that express purpose. Potter never even addresses this during his extended guilt over the death of Sirius, which was brought about by Potter’s use of magical Floo powder to travel to the Ministry of Magic to stop Sirius from being tortured, which was merely a trap set by Voldemort to lure Potter in. This type of observation makes me feel like a sissy nerd just for knowing, but still!! I mean, I know that otherwise the ending of Part 5 is pretty tame.
Harry Potter: “Oh, hi Sirius, I just had a pretty bad dream about you. Are you in reality being tortured by Voldemort to hand over the all important prophecy crystal ball, the having of which is absolutely critical to Voldemort’s taking over the magical realm and not incidentally, killing me”
Sirius: “No Harry. It was just a dream, no doubt brought on by the mysterious curse associated with your association with Voldemort.”
Harry Potter: “Well, that’s a relief. I’m off to finish up school for the year. Lots of magical exams, you know. Hope to see you over the summer. Lucky I remembered you gave me present to contact you with in case of problem, but after all, I am History’s greatest wizard, and you are one of the most significant people in my life. I mean, imagine how dumb I would have felt unwrapping your present after you had died from me not bothering to try to use it. I suppose my only recourse then would be to blame Dumbledore.”
My conclusion–Learning to read is hard. School takes good books and over-analyzes to take all the fun out of them. The Potter books get kids reading, and promote the literacy rate. Illiteracy is extremely dark magic in this world as far as getting paid goes. Mild profanity, some snogging (whatever that is), and if you read all seven you just completed at the very least an introductory magical primer on how to cast a spell. At least Rowling is fairly straightforward about it all. What you really have to watch out for is Frosted Flakes cereal ads. TV ads aimed at children are satanic, but the messages are subliminal. Those sugar coated bits of cardboard don’t even help you learn to read.