This is just a pithy review on the Harry Potter series as a whole. It is not an in-depth analysis of the work in general, nor is it a review on any on...moreThis is just a pithy review on the Harry Potter series as a whole. It is not an in-depth analysis of the work in general, nor is it a review on any one particular installment.
Harry Potter is a work of art. I got made fun of once¹ when I was out to dinner with some friends, because while we were discussing these books I made the mistake of referring to them as “literature.” I felt like I had to defend that assertion because, although the definition of literature is pretty broad, it seems like it should really only apply to works with some definable qualitative value or literary merit. In this case, my friends were wrong—Rowling explores themes and concepts in this series that I think are valuable to children and young adults who look to her characters for qualities they seek to emulate, and I believe her works will have lasting impact on this and future generations.
I’ve heard it said before that everything you need to know you’ve learned in kindergarten. Well, that might be somewhat of an oversimplification, but I do think children or young adults who grow into this series, seeing Harry and his friends mature as they themselves mature, can glean some pretty important life lessons from it. They are impressionable human beings who are learning about themselves and are starting to make the choices that reflect the kinds of people they want to be.
So what does Harry Potter teach them? Well, here is a bullet list of what it has taught me. And if you’re good, I’ll think about turning this into a PowerPoint presentation. Or maybe not.
• The quality of your character is not a reflection of where you come from or who your parents are; rather, it is a reflection of the choices you make, so make them wisely.
• The way you treat other people, especially those less fortunate than you, reveals your true colors more quickly and more completely than almost anything else you do.
• It is a good thing to have dreams and ambitions, but that alone is not enough. You cannot expect success without effort.
• It is far less important what your abilities are than what you actually do with them. Your abilities alone do not define you.
• Nobody likes to fail, but to refuse an attempt at success on the grounds that you’re afraid to fail is failure in itself.
Growing up is about figuring out who you are and coming to terms with your strengths and weaknesses, and it is about deciding how to utilize the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses in order to become a better person. It’s a lifelong struggle, but it starts early, and I think Harry Potter offers the tools to help achieve that. It can help young people find their way, and maybe that’s an oversimplification for a seven-volume series of novels, but that’s what I got out of it, and that’s why I will recommend this to my kids as they start to become ready for some life lessons of their own.
¹This is misleading; I’ve been made fun of countless, countless times.(less)
I’ve pretty much stopped buying lunch at my work cafeteria because no matter how often the description of the day’s entrée induces those salivary glan...moreI’ve pretty much stopped buying lunch at my work cafeteria because no matter how often the description of the day’s entrée induces those salivary glands into action, the end result is always terribly disappointing. The food looks like it should be good—braised beef that seems savory, fresh-looking tomatoes to impart a robust flavor, colorful specks of herbs that hint of a certain deliciousness and make the tummy grumble. So it’s a fresh shock to the system almost every time when it turns out to be nothing but a ruse. Doesn’t it takes a special kind of talent to start with what appear to be such promising ingredients and to produce with them a dish as utterly bland and as pitifully uninspiring as that cafeteria food invariably turns out to be?