During a debate, someone raised the topic of ‘Harry Potter’ and how ‘unfinished’ and ‘unsatisfactory’ the last book really was. One person said that during the series, J. K. Rowling seemed to change the fundamental roles of some of the characters. It started me thinking…perhaps it may not have started out as such, but, by the end, WHAT was the ‘Harry Potter’ story really about?
Let’s look at it.
We have a young boy, living in an average British suburb, average British house, yet still disenfranchised from all about him. Without knowing why, he feels different, he does not fit in. As he grows, he learns he is a part of this very special group of people who live within the British culture, but are different, separate from the mainstream population in so many ways!
This ‘special’ group of people could, at first look, pass for Brits – but were decidedly different. They believed in different things, behaved differently, dressed differently, yet kept their ‘differentness’ secret from the mainstream. With their own rules (though their ‘Minister’ did have a ‘quazi-legal’ status with the ‘Muggle’ Prime Minister) and laws, their own separate legal system administered justice among them.
Most of the Brits are not even aware of their separate existence: and many of the members of this ‘special sub-culture’ live integrated, among regular people. Yet others live isolated, in whole communities devoted to ‘their kind’ – and it is only in these isolated communities that members of this special ‘sub-culture’ openly practiced their ‘differentness’.
Those who spent their whole lives in these communities often fail to understand even the basic principles or social customs of the greater British society surrounding them. Not only do they think, act, and dress differently…they can not even be bothered to learn about the rest of the society that surrounded them, even as they consider them as ‘less evolved’ or ‘less special’ than themselves. They euphemistically refer to ‘regular people’ by the patronizing term ‘muggles’, or by the downright derisive ‘dirty mud people’….
And though they may be self-isolated from the cultural mainstream – having their own beliefs and their own schools where they sent their children – they do keep in close contact with other people of their own kind, who live scattered in secret or isolated communities in other parts of the world….all of them taking care to go unnoticed by their host society.
Hmmm, any thoughts yet?
It gets better.
Within this secretive sub-culture, there was a struggle: those who were kindly pre-disposed towards the lowly ‘muggles’, those who wanted to ‘get along while being allowed to keep their separate sub-culture’, were battling against a militant group from within. Led by a mythical, powerful, but hard-to-define and often absent leader, this ‘evil’ sub-sect was downright hostile toward the host culture, killing ‘muggles’ without regard, just to prove their superiority, and murdering any member of their sub-culture who opposed them too loudly….
But that was not all….not only was this sub-sect hostile and militant, it sought to gain total and complete control over the whole of the ‘magical world’ sub-culture. Nobody knew any longer whom to trust, who was on whose side, who was secretly controlled….and the subtle blackmail and mind-control by the ‘evil side’ could escalate to open intimidation! The ‘moderates’ kept trying to identify and battle the ‘militants’, only to be infiltrated and betrayed, time after time….
Is this still sounding like the story of a boy who wakes up and realizes he is ‘magical’?
Or does the change of attitudes Ms. Rowling’s book take as the story progresses pass comment on a completely different matter altogether? A matter we all need to pay attention to, before Voldemort (who, by the way, changes his name from the one he’s born with, when he enters this special ‘sub-culture’) gains complete control over ‘the special community’ and subjugates ‘muggles’ in all the world?
Hmmmm, change a few of the labels, and you might not be looking at a fairy-tale at all!