Harry Potter and the End of His Saga
Posted by Casey on November 6, 2007
With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows we come to the end of the story of “the Boy Who Lived.”
Rowling has said that her favorite books to write were 3, 6, and 7. Her least favorite is 5. As I’ve noted, 3 and 6 are the best written and 5 is the worse, so she has a good feel for her creative process. I think she liked 7 because it was the end of a long, exhausting creative journey. Readers have no idea how difficult a feat it is to write a series like this, much less write most of it with her publishers, a film company, merchandisers, and millions of readers breathing down her neck.
I didn’t like Book 7. It had the same floundering without going anywhere quality as Book 5. When I was on page 551, I said out loud that I could stop reading and not care how the whole series came out. After six-and-a-half books, I still hadn’t mustered enough empathy with the characters to care.
The biggest question was whether Harry Potter was going to live or not. From a literary point of view his fate could have gone either way. Rowling makes an interesting compromise in answer to this question. In a sense, Potter does die (or gets as close to death as one can get and still be alive) and makes the decision to live because he hasn’t finished what he’s fated to do or die trying. As long as there’s life in him, he’ll battle Voldemort.
Something wonderful was revealed in this book and it made the whole series worthwhile for me. It made me giddy with excitement. We discover that these books aren’t really about Harry Potter at all. He is not the hero of these books. He’s a victim of circumstance and not the only one. These books could have just as easily been Neville Longbottom and the Whatever but Harry got the unlucky spin of the wheel. I’m pleased that Neville follows Harry’s final instructions to him and is the one who performs the final act that gives Harry the only chance he has to defeat Voldemort.
The true hero of this series is Severus Snape. The whole story hinges on Snape doing his job. He doesn’t have to like Potter to play his part. In fact, he hates Potter, which makes his role in this series all the more fascinating. In the end, Potter considers Snape the bravest man he has ever met.
By the way, the whole Draco/Elder’s wand thing . . . For me, it’s a little too coincidental that Harry Potter ends up with Draco’s wand. It would have been a little more believable if someone (like Snape) who knew the significance of the wand had a hand in Potter gaining possession of it.
So that’s it. I can see how dissertations and endless papers will be devoted to this series, both for its rise as a popular culture phenomenon and as a deeply flawed literary work.
I like to think that Rowling will revisit this series in a decade or so and decide to take the time to work out the flaws and do a proper job of telling the story without the whole world nipping at her heels. Rowling’s favorite author is Jane Austen. Well, even Jane Austen wasn’t satisfied with her first version of Pride and Prejudice (called First Impressions) and rewrote it. The result was one of the greatest books ever written.
I’m rather glad I read this series, if for no other reason than to know what it’s about. But it also helped get my stalled creative juices going again. Watch out world.