Friday, January 9, 2015

On Harry Potter

I have been intending to write a post about Harry Potter for a while now, but I never could find the rights words. Everything either seemed too "in your face" or too passive. Well, I think I have remedied the situation by realizing that my family has a rather unique age situation at the moment.

You see, I am currently 17 years old and a senior in high school. My sister, codenamed Merry for this blog, is 13 and in middle school. My other sister, codenamed Pippin, is 10 and in elementary school. While our different ages sometimes lend themselves to arguments, it also leads to very interesting takes and perspectives.

I read the seven Harry Potter books over the summer. Merry read them after me. And then I read them out loud to Pippin so she wouldn't feel left out and I could lessen some of the more violent scenes (Merry listened while I read them out loud).

So all that to say, instead of giving just my opinion on Harry Potter, I decided to interview Merry and Pippin so you could have all three of our opinions! Wasn't that nice of me? >:)

Oh yeah, and I interviewed them SEPARATELY. I was surprised at how similar some of their answers were.

Also, there are SPOILERS ahead.

Kaycee = Red

Merry = Purple

Pippin = Green

And just so my fellow Harry Potter fans can get a feel for our personalities...

What House would you be Sorted into?

Kaycee: Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart! *holds aloft imaginary sword*

Merry: Hufflepuff! :)

Pippin: I'd be in Slytherin and I'm proud of it! Being a Slytherin just makes me fabulous. If I were in something like Gryffindor, I would not be as fabulous.

Which character do you think you are most like?

Kaycee: James Potter. I get his sense of justice, his disregard for rules that don't make sense, and *sighs* the feeling that you have to punish/bully those who are seen as evil. I struggle with being judgmental.

Merry: Don't call me Nymphadora! XD

Pippin: Harry. We have the same Myers-Briggs type.

Which character's voice do you think Kaycee did the best?

Merry: Kreacher. >:) But they were all really good!

Pippin: Ron. Or Hermione.

Kaycee: Harry's voice was the best. *cheeky grin* (I used my normal voice for Harry)

Now on to the interview!

What, in your own words, is Harry Potter about?

Merry: Harry Potter is about a boy who was chosen to be more than what he wanted to be.

Pippin: It's about defeating Voldemort and stuff. Horcruxes. That sorta thing. When you think about it, the horcruxes are actually the main thing throughout all of the books.

Kaycee: It is a seven book series following the pre-teen and teenage years of Harry Potter and the adventures therein.

Why do you think Harry Potter is so popular?

by Viria- DeviantArt

Pippin: Cuz of how awesome it is.

Merry: I think it is popular because it is such an amazing story. It is probably the best story I have ever read, and I'm sure many others feel the same way about it.

Kaycee: I think part of the reason I delayed in reading Harry Potter was because I was positive it could not live up to the hype, as most popular novels cannot. I was wrong. Harry Potter is one of the deepest, most fun, most well-thought out, most exciting novels I have ever read. It deserves every bit of the fame it has acquired. I believe that is why it is phenomenally more popular than most books. It actually deserves it.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Dumbledore obviously has no favorites. :P
Pippin: Draco Malfoy because he may be a jerk but he knew he had to be a Death Eater because his dad was one. He didn't have a choice. But he only did what Voldemort told him to do because he loved his family. He was trying to save them.

Merry: My favorite character is Ron. I like him because he is relateable and not-perfect. He struggles through things, he struggles through envy and jealousy, yet he always works to overcome that. Plus, he's just adorable.

Kaycee: Being a writer, my favorite character is Severus Snape. I was instantly drawn to his character the moment he appeared in the first book, hating Harry for no apparent reason. As the series progressed, I enjoyed reading his scenes more and more. I did not necessarily like him, but I loved his character. And J.K. Rowling ended his tale so heart-breakingly, and so perfectly, that I am still astounded. However, if I weren't a writer, my favorite would probably be Hermione. Being a writer makes things complicated. You like complex characters instead of good characters.

Which book is your favorite and why?

Pippin: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was the most interesting to me. It explained a lot.

Merry: My favorite book in the series is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I like how it gives Draco Malfoy a character, how he's not just the school bully anymore. I don't really know, it was just interesting. It was different from the others, I mean, Voldemort's not really in it, but he's still a huge deal... if that makes any sense. It was just fun for me.

Kaycee: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite, though I enjoyed the entire series. PoA had the best elements from the other novels all in one book. The climax had the excitement and the intensity of the Deathly Hallows, without the camping build-up. It had the mystery of the Half-Blood Prince without the heartbreak. None of the angst present in Order of the Phoenix or Goblet of Fire made an appearance. It had less plot-holes than the Chamber of Secrets, and it was more intense than the Sorcerer's Stone.

Which movie is your favorite and why?

Pippin: The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Cuz it was epic.

Merry: My favorite movie is Deathly Hallows Part 2. It was just epic, for one thing. I like that Ron is not an idiot at all in it. I thought it was a really good ending.

Kaycee: Prisoner of Azkaban. While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the films, I feel like the director of PoA, Alfonso Cuaron, truly captured the feel of the Harry Potter novels, while also staying true to the plot.

What was your favorite part of Harry Potter and why?

Pippin: It was all really good. I liked the part where Hermione slapped Draco. That was awesome. And I liked the part where Bellatrix DIES!

Merry: I don't know if I can pick a favorite exactly. I just really enjoyed feeling that you were there in the books. You feel like you're having the adventure with Harry.

Kaycee: Right after finishing the Sorcerer's Stone, I remember setting the book down and feeling intensely relieved and happy. It was so refreshing to find a novel, a popular novel, that managed to surprise me. Not through the plot (I guessed the ending of SS, I'm proud to say, though that's the only climax I guessed correctly), but through the writing. That was the best part of reading Harry Potter.

What have you learned from the Harry Potter novels?

Pippin: Being in Slytherin doesn't make you evil. Just because someone might be mean it doesn't mean they're evil, and just because someone is nice it does not mean they are good.

Merry: You can't do everything on your own. You need help from others, and you need to accept that you need help from others. You will always have more than one choice in any situation. There are always choices.

Kaycee: Never, ever, take the word of someone who has neither researched nor read what he or she speaks of. Always do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

And now we're getting into it...

How do you feel towards the magic in Harry Potter?

Pippin: It's not bad because there is good and bad magic in Harry Potter. There is Defense Against the Dark Arts and then there is the Dark Arts, It's like in The Little Mermaid. Ursula does bad magic, while Triton does good magic.

Merry: I know that practicing magic in the real world is bad. But in a fantasy world, there can be magic because it doesn't have to come from Satan. In the book there is good and bad magic, and the book is very clear on what is good and what is bad.

Kaycee: I find this to be the biggest complaint brought up against Harry Potter. It's shocking how many people do not take the time to even research this, so allow me to tell you a thing. The magic in Harry Potter is, first of all, genetic. Either you are magical or you are not. There is nothing religious or spiritual involved in the magic. Second, Hogwarts is not technically a school to "learn" magic, it is a school to "harness" magic. The students learn how to safely utilize their magic so that they won't accidentally hurt anyone. The wands allow the wizards to focus their magic. The spells are Latin based words that are a bit like mental stepping stones in helping the wizard control his or her magic. They are not prayers. There are no seances or Wicca or Satan worshiping in Harry Potter. The magic is genetic.

So I feel the same way towards it as I do a person's hair color. It doesn't bother me in the least, as it shouldn't.

Why do you think so many Christians are wary of the Harry Potter novels?

Pippin: Because they think the magic is bad. But it's not bad. They are not worshiping Satan or dancing around cauldrons or anything. It's a lot like the powers in Frozen. Elsa had her magic inside her. It's a lot like the magic in Disney movies or in Lord of the Rings.

Merry: I think some Christians don't like it because they make things up about it, and they convince themselves it's true. They make up that there are real spells or witchcraft in the novel, then believe it. I don't think they like the idea of magic, even fantasy magic, at all.

Kaycee: I love being a Christian. I love that Christ has given me grace. I love that he has given everyone grace and freedom. Through Christ, we are free from worry, from judgement, and from death. The love that He has shown me, even though I am a horribly judgmental, opinionated, stubborn, sinful person, compels me to be better. It makes me want to be like Him.

It's sad, then, that Christians are notoriously judgmental, harsh, condescending, self-righteous control-freaks.

I think it is fear that keeps Christians from researching and prayerfully considering aspects of our society. Christians are so terrified of tainting themselves or their children that when anything unknown or foreign comes into their narrow-minded view, they squeal, leap behind their barricade of rules and order, shove their children beneath stifling Law, and screech hatred at the world.

We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. That means we do not get to seclude ourselves in a Christian bubble. We are to be witnesses, even unto the ends of the world. We cannot only read books labeled 'Christian'. We need to understand what the world loves, and how we can witness from that.

Harry Potter is a good book with many worthy and moral themes that I completely agree with. Not all of the themes, but most of them. It is also clean. There is no inappropriate romance, no excessive cussing, no vomit-inducing gore. All in all, I'm impressed that a book with such conservative themes has become as popular as it has. It is a safe and easy way to create a witnessing tool for those who do not know Christ. Compare Harry's story to Jesus'. Compare Dumbledore's faults with God's perfections. If even Severus Snape can become redeemable in the eyes of a fanbase, how much more can God redeem us. The possibilities are endless.

And yet, many Christians hate Harry Potter because they hate anything that is hard. They don't want to challenge their faith. Personally I believe that if your faith can be taken down by a few fictional novels written for middle-schoolers, your faith, and your god, is weak indeed.

Am I encouraging Christians to read books like, oh, Fifty Shades of Grey? Absolutely not. Am I encouraging all Christians to read Harry Potter? No. Like I said, I read the books out loud to Pippin so I could skim some of the violence for her. Just please, attempt to do some research before you make yourself, and Christians everywhere, look so utterly stupid! Research and pray before reading a book you are unsure about. God will give you the answer, either through the research or He will let you know in your heart or through Scripture. If you don't feel God wants you to read Harry Potter, then don't read it! But do not condemn those who do, especially without researching it.

All in all, I think some Christians are wary of Harry Potter because it is a "worldly" book that has gotten famous enough to actually register on their static-filled radars. It has interrupted their regular scheduled programming, and now they are screeching their complaints. Complaints that sound a bit like a soft "hem hem" with a "I WILL HAVE ORDER!" *wink wink amiright?*

Aaand there you go! My, and my sisters', review of the Harry Potter novels. I'm reading Lord of the Rings aloud to them now. I'm looking forward to that interview! You'll probably get much less of my angst. Unless the subject of she-who-must-not-be-named comes up (*vomits* *coughs* Tauriel), then I can make no promises. But I really don't see how the subject will come up seeing as she's NOT IN THE BOOKS!

Wow. I am just really angsty today. I mean, I was ranting about Harry Potter one minute and then I turned it into Tauriel. Geez. I think I'm hungry. Yeah, that must be it. I need a sandwich. Bye-bye. I leave to eat the sandwich.

On Monday, I am will be posting what I have learned about writing sequels. :)

Thanks for reading!


  1. Thanks for the multi-review, Kaycee.
    I like picking apart books to see what makes them work; and it was fun to hear the different points of view.

    But, and please pardon me for saying this, but next time please eat the sandwich before posting.
    I understand that there is a lot of controversy with the Harry Potter series, I understand you'd want to support a book you love, and I understand the need for research and all that...
    But...we'll I suppose my points made.

    anyhow, looking forward to the next review!

    1. I guess much of my support from Harry Potter stems from my extremely independent and stubborn streak. I don't like feeling as if I have been manipulated or lied to, and that is exactly how I felt after reading Harry Potter and realizing everything I had been told about the novels was a lie. And when it comes to fight or flight...well, I've never really been much for the second option and so... whoolah! here we are! Writing blog posts while sandwich-less. :P

      Thank you so much for reading though, despite my angst. I appreciate people who are willing to read articles they don't agree with. :)

  2. Loved this post! Such a fun way to do a review!

    And I agree with your angsty rant completely... except... I kind of love Tauriel. I know she's not in the book... but I still love her. I love the subtle "Beren/Luthien" parallels in her and Kili's story. I know that probably means a lot of purists will demand my Tolkien-Nerd card... but I can't help it. I had a much bigger problem with the look/feel of Lake Town than I did with Tauriel and the extra elves. I also loved Jackson's explanation of why he added Tauriel, "I kind of get tired of looking at Dwarves all the time." hahahaha! And... I LOVED the final chapter of the movie and how all of that ended/got wrapped up... but I can't talk about that, because you're being all judgmental and refusing to see the movie... hahahahahahaha!

    1. Thanks! I'd be interested to see your thoughts on Harry Potter. You might not know this, but you were the reason I researched HP. When I was thirteen, my parents told me I could read any teen novel I wanted, be it Harry Potter, Twilight, whatever. It was amazing to be trusted to that extent, and I took it very seriously. Before they told me this, I had been asking to read HP, but after, I decided to wait since it seemed like such a horribly evil book. But then I found out you had read HP and you had written such wonderful, truthful stories... it didn't add up. Soo... I researched Harry Potter when I was fifteen and I realized that there was nothing wrong with it. I didn't read it until I was seventeen though only because I never found the time, and I was scared of being let down yet again by a popular novel. :)

      As to Tauriel... I don't like her because I feel like she undermines so many more poignant, and canonical, aspects of Tolkien's world. I feel like the Beren/Luthien parallels were covered well in the books through Aragorn and Arwen's relationship, and Peter Jackson further pushed those parallels in his LOTR trilogy. I don't see the need to do it again.

      I feel like she undermines the friendship that grows between Legolas and Gimli. It does not seem nearly as spectacular after seeing an Elf fall in love with a Dwarf. Besides, I always find friendships far more touching than romances, because true friendships are wholly selfless, whereas romances, no matter how pure and good, always have some degree of selfishness involved because you do stand to gain something- the love of the other person. It just rubbed me the wrong way, especially since the Tauriel/Kili romance begins through a sexist and crude comment.

      And finally, I believe that she undermines Eowyn. Eowyn struggles through the various conflicts plaguing her mind. Should she obey Theoden and stay with the people, or should she fight? Is it worth it to stay when she knows she will face death anyway? Is it better to die a warrior or to die in obedience? She is so feminine and so strong that she has, to me, one of the most astounding character arcs in all of the series. But then her struggles are made to seem minor because, oh look, the Elves already have a female guard captain. Eowyn suddenly becomes obsolete.

      Plus, I don't like the idea of creating a female character simply for "looks" and to create unnecessary filler tension between the (handsome) male cast (Legolas and Kili). It feels very fake and very forced to me.

      Ah well. I'm glad you enjoy The Hobbit movies. I don't think you need to turn in your nerd-card at all. (I mean, you did just make a Beren/Luthien reference... and you have kinda named your kids after the characters...) :P

    2. Dang... didn't realize the comment was that long. I've been writing WAYY too many scholarship essays recently. My apologies. :P

    3. I did not know that! Crazy. :) You can read my initial thoughts on Harry Potter here - (keep in mind that I wrote it before the 7th book was even out, and it was an initial reaction... and I didn't really love book 6 the first time I read it (okay, it downright annoyed me... but I had to wait a year between finishing it and getting my hands on book 7, so that annoyance was exacerbated by the frustration of not being able to find out "how it ends.") It's probably still my least favorite of the series, though...) My thoughts are much more well-formed now that I've actually read all the books and seen the movies multiple times... I should probably write a post about Harry Potter at some point. Yay! Blog post idea!

      I have a very different view of Eowyn. I don't think she struggled with obedience as much as she struggles with her role in society. And, to be honest, until she meets Faramir, Eowyn is pretty much a glory-hound. She's obedient to her role because she's never been offered another opportunity, but she is terrified of dying in obscurity. She throws herself at Aragorn, not because she's in love with him, but because she recognizes that he will be the King of Gondor, and that marrying him would make her the Queen. (That's in the book, by the way - but I didn't catch it until the last time I read it last year - er, 2013). Her decision to ride off into battle doesn't come from a deep-seated need to protect her people, it is her grabbing onto the only chance she sees of attaining any sort of glory, even if it is only glory in death.

      Add to that the fact that Rohan is pretty far removed geographically from the elves (okay, they're near to Lorien, but Fangorn is between them, and the elves of Lorien keep to themselves so much that they are just rumors and legends to most men), and that the elves don't mix with humans very often, I don't think it makes sense to say that Tauriel being a female warrior elf in any way detracts from Eowyn being a warrior princess. If these two races have no impact on one another, then Eowyn's struggles as you depict them are still just as weighty, because her culture says women can't go into battle, and she would have no way of knowing that it is different in any other culture.

    4. Ummm, my original comment was so long that Blogspot won't let me leave it...... so... apologies for the novel-length comments... but here's the rest of mine! LOL
      All that aside, the reason I love the Hobbit movies so much is three-fold: 1) I can now share this awesome story with friends who will go see the movies who would NEVER read the books either because they don't read period, or they don't read fantasy. and 2) I love that the movies, while adding in a bit more of a light-hearted feel, did keep the same look and feel of the LOTR movies. and finally, 3) I love that there is nothing "silly" about the Dwarves in the movies. They may be comical at times, and yes, even unnecessarily crude (I'm right with you on that... I had no need to see naked dwarf derrieres in the extended edition of the first movie!) but they are NOT silly. If you go back and re-read the Hobbit, the dwarves and elves of that book are so very different than the ones he portrays in LOTR. The dwarves Bilbo travels with are kind of portrayed as ridiculous, bumbling buffoons, and the elves that you get to see are either up in trees singing and mocking the dwarves, or partying underground in Mirkwood. There's a bit of a disconnect between the stories when you read them, their tones are completely different. I like that the movies kind of grew The Hobbit up a bit and made it fit with the LOTR movies, even if they didn't stay perfectly true to the written story, because I feel like the movies should go together, while the books can be read further apart and don't have to have the same tone because they were written for different audiences (and a lot of the difference in style, I'm sure, can be attributed to the fact that the Lord of the Rings was written several years after The Hobbit, and it took him about 10 years to complete it... so it is only natural that his life experience and personal growth, as well as his craft as an author grew and developed and matured in that 10-ish years).

      Anyway... I could talk about Tolkien for hours... but I'll spare you... for now :)

  3. Interesting post. Ahem. I get your point of not judging things without adequate research and prayer. I'm sure you did some before and you made the decision to read the series. That's great and all, but how do you know other Christians have not prayed before deciding not to read it? Maybe they don't want to saturate themselves in everything that the world enjoys just to go with popular vote. I agree that Christians should go out of their comfort zone and be witnesses, but not by doing everything everyone else does. If Christians shouldn't judge others for reading this particular series, how can anyone else judge Christians for not reading it?
    Please don't take offense, though and I think interviewing your little sisters for the review was a neat idea.

    Gloria Newton :)

    1. I agree completely. I said in the blog post that I don't believe Harry Potter is for everyone. Like most fantasy novels, it has it's fair share of violence. I also don't agree with all of the themes in Harry Potter. My sister Pippin is an excellent reader, but I read them out loud to her so that I could skim some of the violence in the later books, and also talk about some of the themes and ideas in the novels as they came up.

      So yeah, I don't think it is for everyone. I know several Christians who have prayed and done research and decided not to read it, and I support them absolutely. I also know some people who perhaps should not have read the books. Thanks for bringing this up. I definitely should have made it clearer in the post! :)

  4. Personally, Harry Potter makes me feel uncomfortable. I just get this squirmy, nagging feeling that is downright unpleasant. However, I do not think that means everybody should not read them. Just that it would probably be wise if I didn't. My parents are pastors - their view on magic is that in the real world there is no good or bad magic - but that magic is always from Hades. It, whatever it is used for, belongs to and comes from Satan. I am inclined to agree.

    However, fantasy is different and they acknowledge that. It can be compared to or influenced by reality, but should not be confined by it. My dad practically forced me to read Lord of the Rings a couple years ago - he wouldn't let me read anything else until I had finished at least the first one. ( Can you believe that I didn't even know about LoTR until two years ago? I hardly can. I spent twelve whole agonizing years of my life without my preciouses...). Many books, movies, etc. with magic are staples in our house.

    I think that people make too many assumptions. They assume that if something is true for them it must be true for everybody else, too. Some truths are universal - but I'm pretty sure "thou shalt conform to thy neighbor's unchecked conscience" is not in my Bible.

    My dad doesn't have anything to do with vampires - he says it is a personal calling, something between him and God. Not for me, my mom, other church members. It's personal. (And then there's the whole Twilight thing, too. Insecure, obsessive, sparkly, vegetarian vampire... that actually happened. >_<)

    So yeah... I guess I was sorta ranting, too. The Harry Potter books definitely aren't for me. But I have to agree with you - that doesn't mean they're not for anyone else.