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My Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

07/27/07

Permalink 05:01:15 pm, by millercommamatt, 1666 words   English (US)
Categories: Harry Potter, Fan Fiction, Books

My Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Spoiler Warning: This post will contain details about the contents of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If you don't want to know anything about the book, I'd starting looking at another website right about now.

Late Saturday morning, I found myself sitting on my front porch, waiting with a very minimal amount of patience for my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to arrive. It was finally delivered at half past noon. After few breaks for food and the occasional phone call later, I finished the book at quarter to three in the morning. Since then, my wife and I have talked about the the various details of the book and the entire series now that it's complete. I've been thinking about how I really feel about the book. I'm now ready to share my thoughts about the book, to talk about what I did and did not like, and to discuss a little bit about how the last book fits into the series as a whole.

Follow up:

Deathly Hallows finally accomplished something that I've wanted to see since Order of the Phoenix. Voldemort and his Death Eaters are finally villians worth fearing. Deathly Hallows, like no other book, finally creates an environment where there is truly justified fear of a terrible dark wizard and his blood thirsty minions. Finally, there is an atmosphere where you know that if the characters make one wrong move, the results will be swift and deadly. Deathly Hallows reminds us why wizards are afraid to even speak the name of Voldemort. There are very few things that disappoint me more that barely competent villains with no talent lackeys. In Deathly Hallows, the bad guys are worth fearing.

I like how Deathly Hallows brings together elements from almost all of the previous books and weave together various plot threads to a elegant conclusion to the plot of the series. The discovery of the history of many characters is essential to the development of the plot and this adds to the already deep and rich setting of the Harry Potter universe. To reach the end of the book, you wade through collective lives of Dumbledore, Snape, Harry's parents, and Voldemort to unravel all of the clues to unlock the path to destroying evil. Looking back across the series after finishing Deathly Hallows, one can appreciate the tapestry of carefully woven plot threads that span seven wonderful books.

I was very happy with many of the characterizations in Deathly Hallows and I think the Trio in particular evolved wonderfully. Harry and Hermione both grew as people. Through their harsh struggles, we saw both of them deconstructed by strife and reforged stronger in conflict. They learn to do more themselves while at the same time learning to lean on each other. Ron grew in a similar fashion. Ron had to learn about the trials of separation from first his family and then his friends. Ron felt the shame of abandoning his friends, but grew better through his efforts at redemption. Neville Longbottom became a serious badass. I smiled while reading about Professor McGonagall transforming into a warrior to defend her school. Even though we only see him briefly in the book, Harry himself gives Remus Lupin a lesson in what it takes to be a father.

Now, I'd like to say a few things about the ending for Deathly Hallows. If you had asked me at the end of Order of the Phoenix how I thought that Harry Potter series would end and how Harry would defeat Voldemort, I would have been quite wrong. Order of the Phoenix showed us a Harry who was becoming very adept at magic. He was teaching his friends how to fight. The fifth booked ended with an exciting running battle where Harry and his friends faired very well against a group of experienced Death Eaters. I figured that Harry would continue to improve as a fighter and that he would continue to teach his friends. I had guessed that it would all end in a torrent of light and fire and that, when all was said and done, Harry would stand over Voldemort's corpse with smoking wand in hand.

However, there were a few problems with my imagined scenario. For one thing, while Harry had proved to be an above average wizard, he had not proved to be a truly exceptional magic user like Dumbledore or Voldemort. Without some truly exceptional talent, Harry would never be able to beat a dark wizard with decades more experience in a straight up duel. It just wouldn't make any real sense. Thus, we got a different ending. The only way I see this being a viable ending is if Harry mastered his connection to Voldemort and used that link to stay one step ahead of Voldemort in a duel just like Sanpe used legilimancy to humiliate Harry in their duel at the end of Half-Blood Prince.

Voldemort's downfall was the end result of a grand scheme crafted by Dumbledore since before Harry was born. It's my opinion that Harry had very little to do with defeating Voldemort. He was just the legman; the one who did the grunt work. The prophecy said that both Harry and Voldemort could only die at the hand of the other. Half by planning and half by luck, Voldemort ends up with a wand that won't allow itself to be the instrument of destruction. For the third and final time, Voldemort's fatal curse doesn't behave as expected and he dies, more or less, by his own hand.

You know, when Harry and Voldemort faced off for the last time I really had to question what the hell Voldemort was thinking. When Voldemort first cursed Harry the curse rebounded and struck Voldemort who almost died and was saved only by his horcrux safety net. The second time, Harry just doesn't die and Voldemort is knocked on his ass. The killing curse is supposed to be the “end all, be all” of dark magic. However, in the case of Harry versus Voldemort, it just leads to a bad day for Voldemort. Why would you use the killing curse on Harry a third time? The killing curse hadn't worked yet. Why is using the killing curse again a good idea? It doesn't work. I'm betting that Deathly Hallows would have had a very different ending had Voldemort just pulled a gun and emptied the magazine into Harry's chest. I guess death is the price of pride, vanity, and irrational stupidity for evil wizards.

I read a lot of fan-fiction. In said fan-fiction, a lot of attention is paid to relationships between the various characters. Many of the fan-fiction archives where I seek out stories cater to specific parings (e.g. Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, etc...). As a result, I find myself paying close attention to romantic and friendly relationships between characters throughout the Harry Potter series. In particular, I find it interesting how the romantic relationships develop and play out. It seem that all most everything happens “off camera”.

Ginny Weasley, Harry's eventual wife, gets very little attention in the series. She remains a background character. I just found this odd. Harry grows feelings for her in Half-Blood Prince almost out of the blue. They get together, but any bonding between them is left unwritten and up to the reader's imagination. In Deathly Hallows, Harry longs for Ginny on several occasions. Nevertheless, Ginny remains almost entirely out of the story. I was disappointed to see Harry's future wife reduced to barely more than a foot note. Maybe from the point-of-view of J. K. Rowling their relationship just distracted from the story. Perhaps, Harry and Ginny being too close at the end of Deathly Hallows would have prevented Harry from freely letting Voldemort try to kill him.

As for the relationship between Hermione and Ron, while I plainly see all the details in the books that foretell their eventual romance, I can never see what it is that attracts them to each other. Every now and then there are moments in the books that are very endearing that would push Ron and Hermione closer to one another. However, with the exception of the beginning of Deathly Hallows, all they do is fight or just behave as polar opposites. All they really seem to have in common is Harry. All of that notwithstanding, before Deathly Hallows I fully expected Ron and Hermione to get together and I even welcomed it. What really left me disillusioned however, was when Ron left and abandoned Harry and Hermione for weeks. I know that he came back and I know that he tried to atone for his actions and he may have even learned from his mistakes. However, I was very glad that Hermione tried to hex the crap out of him when he decided to come back and I'm only sorry that she let up on him as soon as she did. I'm disappointed that Harry accepted him back so quickly, though, to acknowledge all the facts, Ron did save Harry's life. Nevertheless, from the point-of-view of Hermione, I would have never fully trusted Ron again. The doubt that he might abandon her when things were hard and run home pouting to his family should have ruled out just about any chance at a lasting relationship. Ron came back, but I don't think he came back changed. Lacking any attraction to Harry, I think Hermione should have ended up with someone else and Ron should have found a nice vapid girl would would cater to his selfish needs. I've found myself defending Ron's similar actions in the previous books, but I can't believe Ron's behavior in Deathly Hallows.

This post is well over 1500 words so I will leave my other thoughts for another time. Please leave comments. I'll gladly respond to any good points raised. I'll even make a whole post answering questions to really look at any good questions or topics.

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This is where I rant about whatever I want. Here is where I share my thoughts, dreams, strange ideas, and general commentary on my life and the world around me.

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