I didn’t ask my family members for birthday gifts this year. Mostly because such an expectation felt childish, but mainly because I wanted instead something valuable beyond price–a sample of their thoughts and ideas, frozen forever in time in a literary format. In other words, I asked them to write a paper. I have been working on an essay titled, “Life Lessons I learned from Harry Potter,” and I asked each of my siblings to do the same. I have at present only received four out of ten, but I am optimistic that the remainder will soon arrive. To be completely fair, my own essay is far from complete, but I wanted to share some excerpts from the lists I’ve already received:
(Courtesy of my brother Nathan)
Even bad guys recognize the importance of honoring The Sabbath. Uncle Vernon, one of the many villains of the Harry Potter series, very early one in the first book declares his respect for Sunday.
“‘No post on Sundays’ he reminded them happily as he spread marmalade on his newspapers, ‘no damn letters today!’”
Almost get killed, and you’ll be famous. “’He’s not even that good, it’s just because he’s famous… Famous for having a stupid scar on his forehead…’”
“Ron had become an instant celebrity. For the first time in his life, people were paying more attention to him than to Harry, and it was clear he was rather enjoying the experience… ‘He looked at me, and I looked at him, and then I yelled, and he scarpered.’”
(Courtesy of Michael)
“People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”
“I’d say that it’s one short step from ‘Wizards first’ to ‘Purebloods first,’ and then to ‘Death Eaters.’ We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”
Related bonus quotation: “One can never have enough socks.”
(Courtesy of Stephen)
Harry Potter is a story about sacrifice. See Dumbledore, Snape, Lily and James, Sirius Black Harry himself and a dozen others as examples. Hardly anything pricks the heart more than deliberate sacrifice, so Harry Potter ends up pricking the heart a lot.
Harry Potter is a story of good versus evil, with extremes and halfway people. One of the delights of reading Harry Potter is to find characters like Snape, who does horrible things while still trying to nobly save Harry’s life, or Slughorn, who loved Lilly Potter but is too cowardly to do much about it, or Dumbledore, who loves Harry but manipulates him in selfish and hurtful ways. Readers can resonate with these halfway characters, because most readers have a little half-good and half-evil in them.
(Courtesy of Delaney)
I don’t remember if I first fell in love with the teachers at Hogwarts when Professor Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret or when McGonagall gave Harry a biscuit for lashing out at Umbridge (probably before that when she let him on the quidditch team or when she stood watch over the Dursleys house for an entire day – that’s called commiting to your students, man.)
I will share one of my favorite lessons–magic is real. Maybe magic isn’t the swish of a wand, or uttering the right pronunciation of an incantation. Magic is more. All you have to do is spot it when it’s before your very nose.