Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Harry Potter re-read; an update

Spoilers. yup.

Half Blood Prince makes me weep. Big, fatty, mournful tears.
I'm not even sure what to say about this book, except that JK Rowling, beginning with the fifth book, took the series to a whole new level of epic. Suddenly it's not just a little boy with not so little issues. Now we're tackling the price of war, the fact that sometimes everything does NOT end up ok, and sometimes, it's not fair who lives and who dies.

Before discussing the big moments, though, how wonderful is the normalcy of school life? Harry still has to deal with difficulties on the Qudditch pitch, piles of homework and the madness of the inner workings of the female mind. Life does not stop moving simply because evryone is in mortal peril. It's so beautifully, perfectly, adolescently normal. Now, onto business.

Dumbledore's death makes me dissolve into tears every time I read it, because it just isn't fair. This book is our first look into Dumbledore as a real, fallible human being, rather than a mentor and benevolent patriarch. He has pain and suffering, he has a past, he makes mistakes, and this is our first chance to see that, and suddenly, he's gone. The sense of hopelessness at his death is awful. Through the entire series, we've gotten the feeling that Dumbledore is all that stood between Voldemort and the Wizarding world. With him gone, that protection ceases to exist. Plus, Rowling's descriptions of the grief each character feels is beautiful and painful at the same time...Hagrid, especially. This huge man, sobbing as though his heart has broken, is somehow more heartbreaking to me than any of the rest of it.

What I love about Rowling is how sympathetic she makes her villains. Voldemort is one of the most hateful, horrific villains ever created, and yet, in the reading of HBP, one finds themselves almost feeling sorry for him. What a terrible childhood, a terrible life. Malfoy, too. We never feel an ounce of sympathy for Malfoy until this book, when we find that, though he has chosen a master who knows nothing of love, Draco does not lack the ability to feel it and act on it himself, as he seeks to do exactly the wrong thing for precisely the right reasons. Murder is never acceptable, but what choice can he feel that he has when the threat of his parents death looms over him? Suddenly, this irrefutably obnoxious bully of a boy is the object of our anger, but also of our pity, and hopefully, of our empathy. What would we do in the same situation? I think Rowling's point is that very few people are truly evil. Mean, yes. Bullies, yes. Foul and terrible, yes, even that. But for the most, even beyond the prejudices and the cruelty, there lies a humanity and an ability for love and compassion, even if it is limited to one's own family.

Sigh. I always have to take a little while after this book before I read anything else...Deathly Hallows IS out in my car, though, and there's really no point wasting time...

No comments:

Post a Comment