Every true Wizarding World fan knows that when J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter she was writing about love. Dumbledore is always talking about love this and love that. Harry gets to the point of being annoyed by it just as much as Voldemort scorns the concept.
Before reading what I have to say about this, might I suggest reading the first two posts in “The Surprising Truth About Harry Potter” series if you have not already done so.
Readers get bored with the whole love thing as well. I know that when I read the books, I was slightly disconcerted by the shallowness that I thought lingered behind the repetition.
It took me years to realize that when Rowling wrote the word “love” she meant so much more.
I just now turned to a random page in my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I ended up on page 244, where Dean Thomas, Griphook, Gornuk, and Ted Tonks are hiding out in the same woods as Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Goblins and wizards working together?
I did this again and landed on when the Golden Trio went to Xenophilius Lovegood’s home to ask about the Deathly Hallows. A man doing anything to save his daughter?
What do these two events have in common? What does almost every single scene in each Harry Potter book have in common?
Open up to a random page of the Harry Potter book nearest to you (The Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts don’t count!) and I bet my Marauders Map the root of that scene is love.
Now that you have found a random Harry Potter passage, open up Google News, turn on your TV, or glance at the newspaper’s front page. How much love did you find there?
The readers that read Harry Potter, me included, have grown up in a generation of hate, turmoil, and human immortality. Love is a concept many people do not completely understand.
J.K. never defines the magic of love. She operates on the first rule every writer knows off the top of their heads. Show, don’t tell.
The first time love is noticeably brought up as a concept of importance is in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
“Your mother died to save you. If there’s one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mothers for you leaves it’s own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who left us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrel, full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.”J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
It hurts how prevalent Dumbledore’s words are in the modern age. Good people are attacked on a daily basis and lost and confused people get stung because of it. So they try again and again to prove their own rightness and fail just as much.
To worldly eyes it may appear that love can be overcome by lesser things. But in the end, once the story has taken its course and arrived at the end, what prevails? Harry or Voldemort?
Quirrel tries to take the Stone and kill Harry, but Lily Potter’s love stops him. Tom Riddle attempts to regain strength and kill Ginny Weasley, but Harry’s friendship and Dumbledore’s protection stops him. Sirius and Remus almost kill Peter Pettigrew and Sirius’ soul is almost taken, but Harry’s sense of justice and protection stops these. Again and again, love overcomes without the characters even realizing it.
Even Harry, who has saved and been saved by multiple forms of love doesn’t understand the importance of it until the very end. I know I have referenced the Battle of Hogwarts multiple times in this blog series but as a dedicated Potterhead, I cannot emphasize the importance of this scene enough.
“I know things you don’t, Tom Riddle. I know lots of important things you don’t. Want to hear some before you make another big mistake?”
Voldemort did not speak but prowled in a circle and Harry knew that he kept him temporarily mesmerized and at bay, held back by the faintest possibility that Harry might indeed know a final secret…“
Is it’s love again?” said Voldemort , his snake face jeering, “Dumbledore‘s favorite solution, love, which he claimed conquered death, though love did not stop him falling from the Tower and breaking like an old wax work? Love, which did not prevent me stamping out your Mudblood mother like a cockroach, Potter- and nobody seems to love you enough to run forward this time, and take my curse. So what will stop you dying now when I strike?”J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
But it was love that saved Harry. His own love. The love he had learned that triumphed over everything. Community, friendship, mercy, and redemption.
As I have said, Harry simply using the Disarming charm was a deep act of love. That act saved him and killed Voldemort.
This is easy to miss nowadays. Readers are constantly attacked in every day life and they believe less and less in the power of goodness. These readers completely loose sight of how love saved Harry and his friends again and again. All they read is an epic tale.
But for those who see past this, for those who learn from the seven books, who read what J.K. Rowling meant them to read…they take much more with them when they close the book.
I geek out as much as the next fan and I enjoy it too. But what is that compared to the knowledge that some do not see what I see when they read Harry Potter?
Love. Just hearing that word makes me want to do better, to reach out to the list, to defend my beliefs, to cry at how much love I have been given, how much mercy has been bestowed upon me.
Is that how Harry feels? Knowing that his parents died to save him and that he would die (and did die) to save the ones he loved. How sad is it that Voldemort had so many opportunities to discover this deep and simple truth yet never had the strength to take it inside his heart (even if it was two sizes too small.)
It is love that gives us the confidence of a brighter day, even when we cannot see it. It is always there. A good ending, a better ending than we could ever hope for.
Harry, Ron, Hermione and every other great character’s ambitions were nothing compared for what was in store for them.
The last trace of steam evaporated in the autumn air. The train rounded a corner. Harry’s hand was still raised in farewell.
“He’ll be all right,” murmured Ginny.
As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absent-mindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.
“I know he will.“
The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows