Search This Blog

Sunday, July 22

Harry Potter As Metaphor

I know you are all gonna groan seeing that title. This is not about the plot and no spoilers. It is about the books in general. You may or may not know that when Tolkien was writing his famous books Hitler was rising and World War II was raging. Most literary critics see that as having influenced the darkness of those novels. We all know what has been rearing its head during the Harry Potter cycle. The early books were very much lighter than the latter ones. I have just reread books five and six as well as the seventh. It struck me much more this time around how it can be seen as a metaphor for our times.

Rowling is absolutely scathing toward the press in her Potter books. There is no reliable journalist to be seen. The intelligent characters know better than to get their news from the usual suspects. Sound familiar? In the end the press is virtually an arm of the government.

She is equally cynical about the government. In the latter books the government goes from just comically ignorant to actively malignant. Sound familiar?

Whether representative of her own feelings on the subject, and I can hardly suppose otherwise, it is a masterful metaphor. Unfortunately in the real world we seem to have no dragonslayers. Maybe that is why the books are so beloved. Reality sucks and diversion is comforting.

I also don't know whether Rowling is an atheist or not but Hermione Granger certainly is. Here is a short conversation regarding a stone that supposedly can raise the dead:

"'. . . . . . The thing you call the Resurrection Stone?'

'What of it?'

'Well, how can that be real?'

'Prove that it is not,' said Xenophilius.

Hermione looked outraged.

'But that's - I'm sorry, but that's completely ridiculous! How can I possibly prove it doesn't exist? Do you expect me to get hold of - of all the pebbles in the world and test them? I mean, you could claim that anything's real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody's proved it doesn't exist!'"

You are so right Hermione.

No comments: