Category Archives: Dan

Final Thoughts

New Harry Potter

Note from Ashley: My post about the Epilogue is still to come next week, which is why I’ve abstained from writing final notes, myself. I get an entire post to wax poetic about the end of this series and the end of this project, so it’s only fair everyone else gets a space, too.

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JENNIE

I’ve had so much fun with this, not only writing my own posts, but getting to read what everyone else thinks about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT: you all love it). I’ve enjoyed all the insights everyone has had that I’ve never, ever had in all of my rereads, and the discussions that followed, but my very most favorite thing was getting to see new GIFs I’d never seen before. You guys are good at GIFs, is what I’m saying.

Also, I can’t believe it’s over. Again. Sads. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be over here in the corner, rereading all the books and pretending Harry Potter is never going to end ever ever. Continue reading

The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 4-5: You Can’t Hurt Me, J.K., For I Am A Joss Whedon Fan

And here we are. The final book of the series.

Endings are tough, aren’t they? We’ve all invested time in a TV show or book series only to be totally let down by the conclusion, right? That’s just something you don’t forgive, is it? There are still people who complain about the ending of Lost or Battlestar Galactica. Hell, I’m still angry about the ending of X-Files. I’d argue that Deathly Hallows is one of the best conclusions in pop culture.

CHAPTER FOUR: THE SEVEN POTTERS

So, it turns out that Dudley isn’t that bad after all. This, of course, should come as no surprise to anyone who has read thus far. Rowling has been very clear on her concept of good and evil. People aren’t born one or the other, but are molded by the circumstances around them. This has been clearly stated in terms of Draco Malfoy (and hinted at with Sirius if not expressly stated), but it’s here in Book Seven that we finally see it applied to Dudley. Dudley was a bully because he was spoiled by his parents. Within the walls of Number 4 Privet Drive, Dudley got whatever he wanted, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he lashed out whenever he was denied something in the outside world.

Anyways… Here we are. The bug-out chapter. I must confess, the thought of Harry leaving the Dursleys’ house for the last time is a little bit emotional for me. My parents sold the house I grew up in almost ten years ago. I’ll never set foot in that house again. I’ll never see the bedroom where I spent countless hours trying to beat Legend of Zelda or the living room where I watched Star Wars while reenacting it with action figures or the staircase where I used to sit and read Dickens (shut up!). Sure, Harry’s life with the Dursleys was absolute shit and all he’s wanted was to get out, but this is still a huge moment for Harry. He’s not just saying goodbye to Privet Drive. He’s saying goodbye to childhood, to whatever innocence he had left.

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The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 24-25: Fell in Love With a Girl, I Fell in Love at Once and Almost Completely. She’s in Love with the World, Somebody Just Told Me Her Last Name is Weasley

Hello, gentle readers. We have arrived at the sixth book…how time flies. If I’m remembering correctly, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince doesn’t get a lot of love. I can kinda see why, given its unfortunate position between the psychologically damaging Order of the Phoenix and the big-ass conclusion to the whole shebang. There’s also the various romantic subplots that make this book feel more like a standard YA book then the others (which makes sense when you realize the kids who had been growing up with Harry and the gang were smack in the middle of YA territory by the time the sixth book came out).

I don’t really mind the romance stuff. The Ron/Lavender plot is hilarious. And, I’m not gonna lie, Harry realizing he has feelings for Ginny pushes the right buttons. I also enjoy the generous helping of backstory we’re given. We see more of Tom Riddle’s past. We learn about Horcruxes. What else do you want?!?

A word of warning: I asked for these chapters. For reasons. There may be some incoherent ginger admiration ahead. You’ve been warned.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: SECTUMSEMPRA

I’m trying really hard to recall if there’s anything in the books about the use of the Felix Felicis potion coming with any karmic kickback. Oh, sure, there are dangers about using too much, but does a single dose require the user to repay the universe in any way? Why do I ask? Well, after all of the ridiculous good fortune that Harry experienced in the last two chapters, these next chapters take a little bit of the wind out of our hero’s sails. This chapter, in particular, takes its pound of flesh and kicks Harry in the junk on the way out.

It’s safe to say that the centerpiece of this chapter is Harry’s use of the spell that gives the chapter its name. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this chapter follows the chapter where Harry learns about Horcruxes. In order for someone to make a Horcrux, they first have to commit murder, an act so horrible that it actually rips off a tiny piece of the murderer’s soul. That’s not something that’s easy to wrap your head around. I mean, what exactly does that mean: ripping off a piece of your soul. What does that feel like? What kind of person can willingly do that?

So, here we have Harry facing off against Malfoy, someone he clearly hates more than anything. Malfoy, who is willing to hurl a Cruciatus Curse at him, is clearly an enemy. Harry counters with Sectumsempra (you know…for enemies!)

The spell practically fillets Malfoy–something that looks particularly gruesome in the film. We’re gonna ignore the debate over whether or not Harry made the best decision to use a spell without having the slightest idea what it does. What’s important here, I think, is what the act does to Harry. Malfoy has made the last six years of Harry’s life miserable. He’s a bully and a racist. And, even in self defense, the thought of causing Malfoy that much pain shakes Harry to his core. Whether he knows it or not, this incident has given Harry insight into just how far gone Voldemort is.

Of course, Snape is the one who finds Harry in the crapper, standing over a dying Malfoy. And the bad luck just keeps on going. Snape tends to Malfoy, accuses Harry of using Dark Magic, and demands to see all of Harry’s school books. Now, when I first read The Half-Blood Prince, I just assumed Snape was being his usual suspicious self. But, now you can see the wheels turning in his greasy-haired head. He knows. (Full disclosure: It never occurred to me that Snape was the Half-Blood Prince. I always thought it was going to be Lily.) Harry’s karmic payback continues when Snape gives him detention on every Saturday until the end of term. That means no Quidditch and no chances to talk to Ginny (I’ll get to that in a bit).

I’m torn on how I feel about Snape’s punishment. On one hand, it’s pretty crappy for an adult to repeatedly point out that a kid’s parent, whom the kid never even got a chance to know, was a worthless little shit. It’s vindictive and immature. However, I can see where Snape is coming from. I was bullied. I was bullied in elementary school and middle school and most of high school. It sucked. If I had a chance to show the children of those bullies what their fathers had been like in school, I don’t know if I’d be able to resist the urge, especially if the entire world thought those former bullies had beer-flavored nipples.

Speaking of urges and whether or not you should resist them–

When he isn’t obsessing over Quidditch, Harry is obsessing over Ginny or, to be more specific, how Ron would feel about Harry having feelings for Ginny. I just realized that both Ginny and Cho are Quidditch players, which means that Harry might actually love Quidditch so much he tried to marry it. Harry’s stuck in detention with Snape, so he has to leave the Gryffindor team in the capable hands of Ginny, Ron, Dean Thomas, and Katie Bell. Returning to the Gryffindor common room after the final game of the season, Harry’s sure the Gryffindors came in last place. Stepping through the door, Harry is met with the sounds of celebration. They won! Gryffindor won the Championship! Yes. Yes. Blah blah Quidditch blippity blah blah. What’s important is that–

Harry.

Kisses.

Ginny.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: THE SEER OVERHEARD

“Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall in love with a gorgeous redhead!” -Lucille Ball

So, Harry has gotten himself a spunky ginger girlfriend. That lucky prat!

People argue against Harry and Ginny being together. (Okay, to be fair, people argue against EVERYTHING.) They say that Rowling only did it to make sure the main characters were all paired off or as a way for Harry to officially join the Weasley family. They claim that Harry’s feelings came out of nowhere. Well, isn’t that the way it happens sometimes? You see someone every day for years and all of a sudden you realize that they mean more to you than you initially thought. It’s not like Harry and Ginny just met at the beginning of the book. They’ve known each other for six years. They’ve hung out together. It makes total sense. If anything, I think Rowling is providing an important lesson through the Harry/Ginny relationship. Ginny had a crush on Harry when she was younger. It made her a total spaz whenever Harry was around. It was only when she let it go and started acting like a sane human person that Harry realized how funny and awesome she was. (Thanks, Hermione!)

Today’s lesson: Always be yourself. Unless you can be a ginger. Then always be a ginger.

Ah, gingers…

Where was I? Right. Harry and Ginny are dating and, for the most part, things are grand. Sure, Harry still has Saturday detention and Ginny is studying for her O.W.L.s, so they don’t have a lot of time together–can you ever really have enough time with your ginger girlfriend? Luckily Harry has other things to worry about besides ginger interruptus. Things like Hermione’s ever-vigilant quest to discover the identity of the Half-Blood Prince. The funny thing about Hermione’s Eileen Prince theory is that it would probably be the right answer in any other book. I would totally expect to have a solution like that in a Sherlock Holmes story. Or Ms. Marple. Or Nero Wolfe. Or Ellery Queen. (Ugh. I have so many conflicted feelings about J.K. Rowling and mysteries, you guys!) And, of course, Harry still has his number one pastime: Snape hating. A lot of people think Harry should become a professional Snape-hater. I think he should retain his amateur status so that he can hate Snape in the Olympics. (That’s an out-dated Friends joke. You’re welcome.)

After a chance meeting with Professor Trelawney–who’s attempting to hide empty sherry bottles in the Room of Requirement, the souse–Harry learns that Snape must have overheard the prophecy that Trelawney made for Dumbledore during her initial Hogwarts interview. Rowling has always been really good about the ol’ bait-and-switch when it comes to whether or not Snape is a white hat or a black hat. But, after five books of Snape simply being misunderstood, Half-Blood Prince has been working overtime to make us think he’s really gone over to the dark side. Or that he’d never left. No matter what you’ve thought about Snape to this point, by the time you finish Half-Blood Prince, he’s a Death Eater.

Random Thought: Does Dumbledore use the fact that his brother owns the Hog’s Head to cover his tracks and shake potential tails? “We just saw Dumbledore walk past the Hog’s Head, he must be up to something. Oh, wait, no. It’s just the Hog’s Head’s owner. Dumbledore must still be at Hogwarts.”

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The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 4-6: The Kreacher from the Blacks’ Spare Room

Okay, time to get real: between the upcoming holiday and a project at work that has become something of a behemoth, life is eating my face. In other words, this post might not be up to my usual brilliance. But I’ll try my best.

I hate this book. I do. Not because I think it’s poorly written or anything. In fact, it’s probably the opposite. Order of the Phoenix might be written too well. I’m also going to say that the reason I hate Book 5 has nothing to do with “moody Harry.” That’s apparently a thing. Did you guys know that? There are some people who hate this book because they say Harry is too moody. These people have probably never been teenagers. (Full disclosure: I wasn’t a moody teenager. I never cared enough about the things that make moody teenagers moody–girls, being popular, not wanting to go to school, wanting to stay out later–so I kinda coasted through my teen years.) Besides, all three of our main characters carry the moody ball at one point or another: Ron in Book 4, Harry in Book 5, and Hermione (more or less) in Book 6.

So, you’re asking yourselves right about now, why do I hate Order of the Phoenix? It make me anxious. It makes me angry that the Ministry is steamrolling over Dumbledore, Harry, and Hogwarts and no one really seems to be doing anything about it. Harry feels powerless and, through Rowling’s writing, so do I. And I hate it. Just the mundane, bureaucratic evil of everyday life makes me uncomfortable. (We will not talk about what the twins do later in the book. No. No, we will not.) Of course, there are things about this book that I absolutely adore: The Order of the Phoenix, Tonks, Luna, the DA. What can I tell you, I’m complicated.

CHAPTER FOUR: NUMBER TWELVE, GRIMMAULD PLACE

We’ve already seen the ways the Wizard world sort of rubs up against the Muggle world, particularly Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4. But, now we see an enchanted house right smack in the middle of a bunch of regular Muggle houses. I remember being pretty blown away by the very idea that this house is hidden between two other houses, literally. While this is not the best example of it, the headquarters of the Order certainly gave me TARDIS-y flashbacks.

This chapter takes the place of the shopping chapter in the earlier books, meaning this is Harry’s reintroduction to the wizarding world after spending the summer with the Dursleys. He gets to see Hermione and the Weasleys again. He’s reunited with Sirius, too. Harry is understandably upset that he’s been ignored for the entire summer and unloads on Ron and Hermione with both barrels. Do wands have barrels? No? Okay, skip it. To make matters worse, Dumbledore is the reason his friends haven’t been in touch. This is the beginning of Dumbledore the Aloof. The guy who Harry looked up to as a mentor and even as a father figure is now going out of his way to ignore him. Hormonal teenager or not, I’d be pissed, too.

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The Goblet of Fire, Chapters 28-29: I Think I Just Invented Goblin Porn

It’s a little weird writing about Goblet of Fire. On the one hand, it’s my least favorite of the books. On the other hand, I don’t have as visceral a reaction to it as I have to Order of the Phoenix. Sure, there are little bits here and there that I could (and do) talk about—the way Harry and Ron’s fight about fame could have ended before it began if they’d both just take a second and talk about the things they each saw in the Mirror of Erised or those first, shaky steps towards Hermione and Ron admitting their feelings for each other—but, other than that, I usually find myself just sort of skipping over this book. (Metaphorically, of course. I would never skip over it during a reread. I mean, what would be the point of that?)

I guess I have a level of apathy towards this book. This is the midpoint of the series. The calm before the storm. This is the last time, really, when these kids will have anything even remotely resembling a normal childhood (or as normal as a childhood can be in the Wizarding World). And that’s probably why I’m so cool towards it. I want to get to the next step—I need to get to the next step—and this silly tournament is in my way.

Luckily, these two chapters have little or nothing to do with the Triwizard Tournament.

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: THE MADNESS OF MR. CROUCH

Let’s take a break from all of the dragons and gillyweed (and confused teenage hormones) and get back to what’s really important: drunk house-elves. Harry and the Potters pay a visit to Dobby down in Hogwarts’ kitchen. While they’re there, they learn that Winky has sorta let herself go. She’s been hitting the butterbeer pretty hard since she was sacked by Crouch. I’ll get back to Crouch in a minute.

House-elves are…problematic. I mean, there are clear parallels to slavery in the whole house-elf system, especially when you look at the way Lucius Malfoy treated Dobby and the way Mr. Crouch treated Winky. But then you have Hogwarts, a castle full of house-elves, and you have to ask yourself whether or not their presence there is Dumbledore’s silent acceptance of house-elf slavery. Or, do we let Dumbledore off the hook because the house-elves at Hogwarts aren’t mistreated and are simply left alone to do what their kind are meant to do? (We know, of course, that Dumbledore wouldn’t do such a thing, which is what sets him apart from those clowns in the Ministry, as we’ll see in a bit.) See? Problematic. Of course, all of the house-elf stuff in Goblet of Fire is just a way to give Hermione something to do in this book other than being the lady part of a love trapezoid. (Am I the only one who almost types “Goblin” instead of “Goblet”? Goblin of Fire would be a totally different book. Actually, Goblin of Fire sounds like the kind of naughty magazines you’d likely find in the employee restroom at Gringotts.)

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