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July 22, 2011

Good vs. Evil Harry Saves the World

Joe Charlebois

If you have kept yourself aware of popular literature and cinema over the past decade, you must be aware of the phenomenon created by J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series of seven books and eight movies have spawned a sensation unlike any other.


It like its literary predecessors written by C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” series as well as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings” series that play on the fantastical in classic good versus evil tales.


If you are not familiar with the story of Harry Potter, it is a tale that follows an unknowing 11-year-old Harry as he leaves his adoptive “muggle” family (non-magic people) and is accepted and attends the Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each additional novel details the adventures of the next six years at Hogwart’s.


Harry, as we learn early on, has been orphaned as a baby. His parents were killed when, in an act of selfless sacrifice, put themselves in harm’s way to protect Harry. Voldemort was unsuccessful in his attempt to kill Harry, who would then be known as – among other things – “the chosen one.” Based on wizard prophesy, Voldemort had singled out Harry as the one who would fulfill the prophesy to become the only true challenger to the “Dark Lord.”


Each year, as Harry grows, he learns more and more about his role in the world of magic and his eventual role as the foil to Voldemort from his mentor and headmaster, Dumbledore. He grows in maturity, skill and preparedness as he comes closer and closer to the final meeting with Voldemort and his army.


What started out as a “young adult” reader has become the greatest literary fiction series and movie combination of all time. The latest movie “Harry Potter, The Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” brings to a conclusion the seven years of Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts. The film has brought in unprecedented millions in box office revenue, surpassing “The Dark Knight” as the highest grossing film in its first three days of release, as well as many millions in book sales.


The fantasy is so popular because it is filled with action and dynamic lessons about friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, overcoming weakness and, most of all, doing what is right despite the potential for bad things to happen.


My entire family has been captivated by the story since the youngest were able to understand the concepts of the wizard world and my oldest since she was able to read.


When the seventh and final installment – The Deathly Hallows – came out we got the book on audio and listened all the way to Disney World. Never have I had such a quiet and peaceful ride. At rest stops we would turn off the car and listen until the end of the chapter.


It was altogether spellbinding, terrifying, and funny and, of course, filled with action and surprise, that is to those of us who didn’t read the book first.


My family, some of whom have read each book several times, are amazed how the author (J.K. Rowling) was able to tie all the books together with threads from the original book “The Sorcerer’s Stone.”


I realized that those going into high school and college now are truly the Potter Generation, but I would encourage you to have your children read the series, or at least see the movies. Much can be learned by reading about the doings of “The Boy Who Lived.”


Likely the greatest thing that Ms. Rowling has created is a literary bond between parent and child, one where the elder is just as excited to stand in line for the first release of the new book, or at the box office window as their child. If you look closely at the lines in the theatres this weekend, you’ll see the same look of anticipation in the eyes and smile on the faces of both parent and child.


We’ll miss you, Harry.


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