We all know and love J.K. Rowling’s most famous book series. From “Yer a wizard, Harry” to the final “Expelliarmus”, Harry Potter’s characters and plot captivate readers. Harry, Hermione, and Ron never cease to win the love of bibliophiles, no matter what age.
But what is the real story of Harry Potter? Why did J.K. write Harry Potter the way she did? What makes this series so unique and special?
I have a simple answer to that.
My blogging series “The Surprising Truth About Harry Potter” will give you that simple answer, though it will take three posts to completely communicate efficiently and effectively so that comprehension will be at peak when I reveal the deep and simple truth.
One of the first steps to reaching this point is understanding this;
One of the things we sorely lack in this day and age. There is the illusion of community, yes. Sometimes we believe we have found our place when we really haven’t. It takes deep patience and dedication to find real community.
Harry leaves his place of isolation in The Sorcerer’s Stone (darn Dursley’s), and goes to Hogwarts. Harry is eleven and Hogwarts seems to be the answer to everything. Every problem he has ever had goes away at Hogwarts and by being sorted into Gryffindor he gets instant friends.
Hogwarts and the Houses may appear to be the answer we are looking for when defining community in the Wizarding World, but it is not so. Hogwarts is simply a place to find community. If the school were a place of pure community, Draco and Harry wouldn’t always be at each other’s throat. That would just be boring.
Apart from being boring, no one would grow. If Draco and Harry were not opposing forces, they would never have dueled in their second year. If they hadn’t dueled, Harry might not have learned Expelliarmus. If Harry didn’t use the disarming spell so often, might he have killed Stan Shunpike in the Deathly Hallows? Would he have overcome Voldemort’s final killing curse?
Hogwarts is a place for growth, not Kumbaya.
So when does Harry find his place in a community? We must first understand what community is before we find out.
Noah Webster defined the word “Community” in 1828 as this;
Properly, common possession or enjoyment; as a community of goods.
It is confirmation of the original community of all things.
Breaking this down, Webster is saying community is not a group of people. It is a feeling. It is comprised of good things; enjoyment, positivity, fellowship. My favorite part is the “confirmation of the original community of all things.”
All things used to be connected? Really? I wonder what made people, animals, plants, and objects disconnect? Could it be that we are human and fall short of our own ideals? That Sirius Black was right when he said;
“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
As we have discovered, community is a feeling, not a place or a group of people.
We find it inside of Harry, when he founds Dumbledore’s Army with the help of Ron and Hermione.
The DA brings together kids of all houses to unite under one common goal. Even Zacharias Smith is included in the group, a boy who Harry and Ron loath. The DA community is broken when one of their number, Marietta Edgecombe, betrays the contract of trust (we know how Hermione made her regret that one).
The Order of the Phoenix also creates community not only inside the Order, but outside as well. Fred, George, Ginny, Ron, and Harry are all denied entry into the Order. However, that denial makes them work all the harder to prove themselves and to connect with the adults inside the Order.
Harry even trusts Snape enough to take Occlumency lessons for a time, all because he is an Order member. Molly, too, would never have dreamed of serving stew to “the notorious mass murderer”, Sirius, had it not been for the common goal of fighting evil.
The pinnacle of community in Harry Potter, however, is in the last moment of the Battle of Hogwarts.
For starters, Harry’s final encounter with Voldemort takes place in the Great Hall.
The same Great Hall where the Sorting Hat shouted “Gryffindor!” and Harry found his home for the next seven years. Where he received his Nimbus 2000 by owl from McGonogall. Where his name was shot out of the Goblet of Fire. Where he had shared hundreds of meals talking and laughing with his many friends.
On top of this, Harry is surrounded by the people who have stuck by him through his magical journey. The ones who survived six books of trials and still stayed with Harry.
Why? Why do this when it was so clear that trouble and danger followed him wherever he went.
Because they loved him. Harry was not just “The Chosen One”. He was Ron and Hermione’s best friend, Ginny’s future partner in life, Neville’s mentor, Molly’s “as good as” son, and one of Luna’s few friends.
All of these people who had touched Harry’s life and who had been touched in return were there when he needed them the most. Even James, Lily, Sirius, and Remus lingered to see him face Voldemort, though they had passed from the living world.
Community is connection. Community is the first step to love. Individuality is encouraged in community but only as long as each individual is working not in self interest, but in the interest of others.
There will always be something opposing the unity of the human race. Whether it be prejudice, hate, Lord Voldemort, or our own blindness. But if we can learn to overcome those obstacles…what could stop us from simply loving?
After the Triwizard Tournament, Albus Dumbledore gives a speech to the students of Hogwarts, acknowledging Cedric Diggory’s death and the return of Voldemort. He gives the best example of community when he says this;
“Every guest in this hall,” said Dumbledore and his eyes lingered upon the Durmstrang students, “will be welcomed back here any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again, in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire