A year and a half ago, I would have had no idea what in the world that means, or the reference it’s making. If you said that to me, I would have cocked my head and looked at you like a confused puppy, wondering where the toy you just “threw” went.
No, seriously. Until the spring of my freshman year of college, my Harry Potter knowledge was rather limited. I mean, I knew the basics: Harry is a wizard, his parents were killed by the bad guy, he was raised by his cruel and ignorant aunt, uncle, and cousin, and then a giant fuzzy-headed guy came and said, “Yer a wizard, Harry!” and whisked him off to Hogwarts, where he met a ginger, a smarty-pants, and a greasy-haired blonde kid with an attitude. When The Sorcerer’s Stone first came out and was gaining popularity, my mom bought it for me, and we tried to read it together. I was young–second grade, I think–and I didn’t quite grasp the whole magical/mystical thing, so I put it down and moved on to something else. I never picked it up again.
It was one of those nights at college…none of us really wanted to go out and do anything, so we gathered in my dorm room to hang out for the night. One of my friends asked if she could turn on my TV, that a Harry Potter movie marathon was on ABC Family. I had seen bits and pieces of the films here and there throughout middle school and high school, but I was still the most out-of-the-Harry-loop in my group of friends by far. Somewhere in the course of that night’s conversation, we started discussing possible “group” Halloween costumes for the next year. After some careful debate, a Harry Potter theme was chosen, and I was to be Hermione.
“Because, let’s face it, Kate is totally our Hermione,” my friend Katya so gracefully put it.
I took that as my cue. If I was going to dress up as her, I might as well know what she’s like and learn about her character. That summer, while I was sick in bed with mono, I went back to Harry. I blew through books 1-4 rather quickly, but books 5-7 took me a bit longer than I anticipated; I blame being an English major and taking two literature classes per semester (at least this past year). I turned the final page of The Deathly Hallows this past weekend.
Going into it, I knew some of what happens in the books and films. Most of my friends in high school were Harry Potter fanatics and often had deep discussions about it, and I caught whatever they talked about at lunch. That’s not to say I still wasn’t shocked at certain parts. But I digress.
I never expected to enjoy those books as much as I did. I was completely blown away by J.K. Rowling’s craft and ability to keep me hooked for seven whole books. The characters, the story, the plots, the descriptions, the places…the everything just amazed me the more I read. I quickly understood why my friends told me I had to be Hermione for Halloween: she is my literary parallel! I’m not as bad as she can be, but I’m sure my friends would beg to differ.
And yes, I have watched all of the films. I only allowed myself to watch a film once I had completed the accompanying book.
With that said, let me go through the series somewhat chronologically and point out some of my standout moments and characters, aside from Hermione:
- “It’s levi-OH-sa, not levio-SA!” No joke, I totally pulled this in a lecture one day. The TA was talking about “evangelists” and pronounced it “evan-GEL-ists” instead of “e-VAN-gelists.” Without hesitation, I said to my two friends sitting with me, “it’s e-VAN-gelist, not evan-GEL-ists!” I was so glad they, and about six other people sitting around us, got the reference.
- When Harry and Ginny first meet for real in The Chamber of Secrets. The look on Ginny’s face in the film gets me every time.
- Also in The Chamber of Secrets, when Hermione falls victim to the basilisk, and Harry takes her hand in the hospital wing. Such a loving gesture.
- The Prisoner of Azkaban. Everything about it. This is my favourite book in the series, and my second favourite film (first favourite being Order of the Phoenix…more on that coming). I love how Rowling handled Sirius throughout the entire book, and then when everything comes out in the end, you just want to hug him. Or at least I did.
- Hermione smacking Draco in the face in book/film 3. It needed to be done, and if anyone was going to do it, I so wanted it to be Hermione.
- Snape. Snape. Severus Snape. Maybe it’s Alan Rickman. Or maybe it’s the character himself. Whatever it is, I love Snape, and was rooting for him from the beginning. “Turn to page 394…”
- Luna Lovegood. She’s nuttier than a fruitcake, but I adore her and her innocence.
- Speaking of Sirius…his death in book 5. Oh my God. I had to put my book down and let it sink in. And I wanted Bellatrix Lestrange dead almost more than I wanted Dolores Umbridge dead.
- That…that passion for characters, whether it be loving them or hating them. I could only dream of being able to create that kind of attachment to a fictional figure. I loved to hate Umbridge, Bellatrix, and Draco Malfoy, and I loved to love Sirius, Lupin, and Snape.
- Dumbledore’s death in The Half-Blood Prince. This was one of those parts that I knew existed, but I didn’t know who did it. When I read those few sentences, when I saw the name of the man who spoke that curse…my eyes just dried and I couldn’t even formulate a thought.
- The romantic tension between Harry and Ginny. Enough said.
- In the beginning of Deathly Hallows Part 1, right after George’s ear is blown off…and Fred kneels by him and they start talking, and this exchange occurs: “How you feeling, Georgie?” “Saint-like.” “Come again?” “Saint-like. I’m holey.” “The whole wide world of ear-related humor, and you go for holey…that’s pathetic.” “I reckon I’m still better-looking than you.” Words cannot describe…the fact that George was so hurt, and could still be so lighthearted…stop me before I weep.
- Snape’s death. And then how Harry goes into the Pensieve and sees all the memories, and it all comes together. Again, enough said.
I could go on for another hour writing some of my favourite scenes and moments, but I will stop there.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fanatic. Maybe if I had read them when everyone else did…maybe if I had grown up reading the books, and felt “that” connection to the series…maybe I’d call myself a fanatic then. But I can say this: those books are brilliantly crafted, beautifully written, and wonderfully executed. I was sad to finish The Deathly Hallows, but I know their legacy will live on. I often wonder if, in a decade or two, students will be studying the Harry Potter books like we study Shakespeare, Austen, Orwell, and other classic British authors? Only time will tell.
But for now…mischief managed.
And because I cannot think of Harry Potter without this coming to mind:
Oh, and I forgot to mention: I did end up dressing as Hermione for Halloween this year. And I made a dang good one, too!