Posted on February 6, 2008 by Monica Valentinelli
Written by J.K. Rowling
As the last of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the finishing touch to a series full of magic, mystery and friendship. Having read all of the books, I’m sure that fans of the series have either already picked up this book or will shortly. Still, there are interesting things to point out here that have left many readers feeling a little bit unsatisfied with the events that have happened here.
The biggest criticism I have for this novel is that the fights, the knock-down, drag-down fights where Neville, Lupin and others of the secondary character set go head-to-head against the Death Eaters and Voldemort. Much of the novel is a race for Harry, Hermione, and Ronald to stay hidden in the shadows, in order to find a series of items, Horcruxes (and later Hallows) to finally defeat Voldemort. Their danger seems fairly anti-climactic, even though we know the threat is real, because there is so much explanation and additions to the Harry Potter universe in order for Harry to finally defeat Voldemort and live. However, this is a children’s book and Rowling has taken certain liberties to ensure that the book is reader-friendly for the children’s market she has targeted.
Voldemort is not defeated by Harry, he finally meets his demise through a complex philosophy and trail of “Wand Lore” that circles back upon himself. Translation? Voldemort is his own undoing.
Whether this book was written with children in mind or not, all of the primary character deaths happen “off-screen,” and as a result, diminish their memory for us, adults, because even though we know what happens, but we do not feel it. To me, the true heroes of this tale are not the major characters, but the secondary set of characters (like Neville and Luna) who do not run away when they are face-to-face with an inexplicable, unavoidable evil.
Some critics of this series continually point fingers at its magic and its fantasy claiming that this is a work meant to promote witchcraft among children, steering parents away from purchasing books like this one for their kids. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is dark and filled with magic but, in my opinion, no darker than most of the other books in the series because the violence and fighting happen “off-screen.” Strip away the magic and the fantastic creatures, and this is a story about what it means to do the right thing and what it means to “grow up.’
In sharp contrast, there are several young adult books out on the market that deliberately address very modern, very real problems like addiction, drugs, and overt sexuality. This last book, like the others in the Harry Potter series, do not delve into urban problems, but emotional ones as part of a “coming-of-age” theme.
Like many fables and fairy tales, the creative descriptions help remove us from reality to become engrossed in the story to learn a lesson. As I mentioned above, this book does have several layers of “lessons” that continue to circulate around the fight between good and evil. It’s as if Rowling asks our favorite characters a series of questions to test their budding maturity, sense of responsibility, and morals. If you came face-to-face with darkness, would you stand up against it? Would you run away in fear? Or would you find a way to stop it, sacrificing those you love in the process?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is truly a story about new beginnings and hope at the deepest, darkest point in the story, a common and necessary theme for fantasy stories of this sort. In this one, Harry, Hermione and Ron survive this adventure to build a new future, a world without fear – and the evil known as “Voldemort.”
At over 700 pages, the last in the Harry Potter series is a fast read and a good example of how to write heavy and dark themes for children to come to a satisfying conclusion.