Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Five Takeaways from Reading the Harry Potter Books for the First Time


I have recently finished reading the Harry Potter series for the first time in my life. Many attempts have been made to read this series. My first attempt was when I was young, and my sister read it to me and after every chapter she would quiz me on what she read. After numerous failed quizzes she gave up on me. Now she is a junior high school teacher; her poor students! May they have more mercy than I ever had!

Anyway, after copious numbers of fans encouraged me to read the series, I recently accepted their challenge and read it. I enjoyed the series for the most part. The last book was the weakest in my opinion. But after reading the books, here are 5 takeaways that I noticed while reading the series for the first time.

Fair warning, I watched all the movies before reading the books, but it has been a long time since I have seen them. The books are better than the movies so if you liked the movies and have not read the book, read them! Also, spoilers. . .

Voldemort Could Have Won if he Trusted His Followers

In the first book Voldemort is using Quirrell to host his spirit as he attempts to get the sorcerer’s stone. Instead of doing it all on his own if he confided in Snape that he is with Quirrell, then Snape would have been bound to prevent Quirrell from getting the stone increasing Voldemort chances on getting it and becoming resurrected, even though Snape was a double agent.

Also, if Voldemort kept his promise not to harm Lily Potter, then he would have a devoted Snape following him. With Lily surviving, the prophecy would have been voided. Without killing Lily, Harry wouldn’t have been marked therefore he would not have an equal.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

Neville Longbottom is a Leader

In the movies I remember Neville being a burden with low affinity for magic, but he stood up for his friends. He will do what he must to protect them. In the books he starts off the same way, but in the seventh book he becomes a leader.

When Harry, Ron, and Hermine need to find a horcrux in Hogwarts they meet up with Neville who sneaks them into the school. We find out that Neville has been taking a stand against the Death Eaters and is the leader of Dumbledore's Army. Because of this, he gets tortured with the crucio curse (the same curse that was used against his parents), blackmailed (they attempt to kill his grandma), and, finally, they try to kill him. That year he became a leader for the school. When he spoke no one talked, they listened. Unlike Voldemort’s followers Neville’s followers trusted him because he loved them. No wonder he could have been the other chosen one. He has something Voldemort didn't. . .

The Comedy is Priceless

From the movies I knew that Fred and George were the comedic relief, but in the books, they are way more fun. Not only were they the comedic relief they were friends with Harry Potter and they were the trouble makers for the school. What James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Petter Pettigrew did at school was nothing compared to the twins did. 

Peeves was a character in the books that was never in the movies. He was a ghost that caused trouble for the faculty and students, but no one could do anything about him. He didn’t listen to anyone except Fred and George. In book 5, Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George are leaving school with a bang and gave Peeves an instruction and he listened.

"'Give her hell from us, Peeves.'

And Peeves, whom Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultuous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset."

Loosing a Wand in a Duel

In the last book, Deathly Hallows, the idea of wand ownership was introduced. If you lost in a duel than the winner of that wand would have been able to use the loser’s wand better than the loser. This is how Harry wins against Voldemort in the end. The Elder Wand was rightfully Harry’s and, therefore, Voldemort spell backfired when using Harry’s wand against him.

This should have been introduced earlier in the series. If it did, I believe it would have been a great tie-in to how the ending of the last book. The rules are confusing and I think readers would be able to understand it better if we had more time to learn about it.

Also does this mean when they practiced dueling in the second book, Chamber of Secrets, the winner of each duel would have a new wand, potentially a collection of new wands?

Dumbledore Died by Greed

We all know that Dumbledore is the mentor in the series and like every mentor he dies to help the chosen one. In the books we learn that Dumbledore's downfall is because of his greed for immortality. When Dumbledore gets Marvolo’s Ring with the resurrection stone in it, he puts on the ring because of his desire to resurrect his family and therefore became cursed which led to his death. Dumbledore has always been interested in immortality: we've known this since book one, since he helped create the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I think it was clever of how we learned of Dumbledore’s imperfections and desires for immortality which led him to his death and how that tied in with what we already know about him.

In conclusion, I see why people love this series. The series follow similar fantasy tropes, but also expands on them. The book is serious and also humorous. Instead of having a protagonist that everyone can relate to we have a teenager. Instead of Gandalf we have Dumbledore. The chosen one could have been anyone that Voldemort chooses. All in all I had a fun time reading this serious. If you have not read it you should!

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