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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More on Harry Potter and Rowling

I have now finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. There's a lot to chew on and digest in that thick book. A few thoughts (I'll refrain from predicting what comes next, and from giving away the plot.)

The author's achievement is impressive, if only because of its size. Whether J. K. Rowling had all this in her head from the beginning, or made much of it up as she went along, there's a lot of material in the six books published so far.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and their peers, are growing up. There is less juvenile rule-breaking, and more interest in courtship and love, as there should be, than in the earlier books. There's still a lot of deceit, by nearly everybody, except maybe Hagrid.

Loyalty, and the capacity to love, seem to be the principal virtues at Hogwarts, as they have been in the previous works.

There are some clear moral choices in these works. Probably the clearest in this book is this one:
". . . I can help you, Draco." "No, you can't," said Malfoy, his wand hand shaking very badly indeed. "Nobody can. He told me to do it or he'll kill me. I've got no choice." "He cannot kill you if you are already dead. Come over to the right side, Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine. . . . Come over to the right side, Draco . . . you are not a killer. . . ." Malfoy stared at Dumbledore. "But I got this far, didn't I?" he said slowly. . . . "No, Draco," said Dumbledore quietly. "It is my mercy, and not yours, that matters now." Malfoy did not speak. His mouth was open, his wand hand still trembling. Harry thought he saw it drop by a fraction. ( pp. 591-2, J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, New York, Scholastic, 2005).

This exchange parallels the moral choice given to Saruman by Gandalf in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, including the similar result--Draco Malfoy, like Saruman, is tempted, but rejects the opportunity to be on the good side.

I have previously posted on the Potter series here, here, and here.

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Added later in the day:

There seems to be less about the animals (familiars?) that accompany the scholars at Hogwarts in this book.

Why is there so little evidence of marriage, or courting, among the Professors at Hogwarts? Hagrid was attracted to a female earlier in the series, but I don't recall any other such attractions to any of the professors.

Thanks for reading.

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