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10 Reasons Why I Love Deathly Hallows

I had a fantastic time at the Harry Potter Midnight Magic party on Friday night, and then I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, finishing it on Saturday afternoon. Now that I've had a bit of time to let it sink in, I present (with spoilers, obviously)...



10 Reasons Why I Love Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

Disclaimers: A. There are more than 10 reasons why I love this book and think it a fitting conclusion to the series, but hey, I haven't got all day. B. My love as a whole does not extend to the "Epilogue," which I thought presented a jarring change of tone and offered precious little new information that the readers couldn't have guessed on their own. (And it was, I think, rather lame.) Considering this is only 7 pages out of 759, however, my problems with and disappointment in this section hardly affect my overall love for the book. C. These reasons are in no particular order. D. I'm sure I'll think of more things to say and better ways to say them as soon as I've posted this. And now, on to the list.

Reason 1: Power and Responsibility: J.K. Rowling throughout this series has been remarkably consistent (as well as subtle and clever) in emphasizing several key themes, and I appreciate how this book unifies and underscores her messages. One example rests in her handling of the ideas of power and responsibility. Deathly Hallows makes it clear, once and for all, that those who desire and seek power are those who are most poorly suited to wield it wisely and justly, while those who do not want power when it is thrust upon them are most likely to be good and responsible stewards of it -- and, like the classical Cincinnatus, are most likely to relinquish it willingly, rather than become tyrannical. Her Orwellian portrait of the fall of the Ministry of Magic to Voldemort's control is chilling, and the readers' final understanding of Dumbledore's unwillingness to serve as Minister of Magic serves as an instructive contrast to the ambition of You-Know-Who.

Reason 2: Death and Immortality: Complete with a resurrection scene, Deathly Hallows completes Rowling's stated purpose for the entire series, to wrestle with the idea of death and how we handle the idea of dying. Like Tolkien and others before her, Rowling takes the sting and fear out of death and puts the emphasis on living -- both before and after death. It's telling that she begins the book with two quotes about life after death and how we can connect to dead ones we love: significantly, one quote is from The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus, which tells the tale of a young man with a scar on his forehead (Orestes) who seeks revenge on those who murdered his father (Agamemnon)! Dumbledore makes explicit the fact that we must focus on living (both before and after death); perhaps the most haunting image from the whole book is that of Harry, prepared to embrace his own death, walking forward to meet Voldemort, flanked by his parents, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin. "Stay close to me," he asks them. "We are part of you," explains Sirius. Enough said.

Reason 3: Arthuriana: The "Hallows" part of the Deathly Hallows title led me some time ago to speculate that there would be significant Arthurian references in this story, and I was not disappointed. In particular, the book completely drives home the grail quest message that the real power, and the real journey, is not in finding and using mighty objects, but rather in making one's self worthy of them, through enlightenment, sacrifice, and loyalty to others and to a higher calling. Dumbledore's point that he was not worthy, and Harry is worthy, is key to understanding this entire series (reminiscent, if I do say so myself, of Qui-Gon Jinn's recognition of his student Obi-Wan Kenobi as the wiser man, in Star Wars, another mythos heavily influenced by Arthurian legend).

Reason 4: Coming of Age: I think Deathly Hallows does an excellent job of completing the process that began in previous books, of Harry's coming of age through disillusionment and anger and, at last, reaching mature understanding. Part of the process of growing up is learning that your parents and/or heroes are fallible humans who make mistakes and possess incomplete knowledge and answers. Harry's already learned this about his father: now he learns it about Dumbledore. By the end of the book, however, he has overcome his anger at Dumbledore's failings, and learned to appreciate him as one of the bravest men he ever knew -- an inspiration not because he had no faults, but because of what he was despite them. Conversely, he recognizes in Snape, whose faults he already knew well, the heroism to which he had previously been blind, and he learns to forgive and respect the Potions Master. The series of revelations, and Harry's ultimate response to them, show the readers that the Boy Who Lived is now a man, and one we would do well to imitate.

Reason 5: Fairy-Stories: I love how Rowling's use of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, for example, and even the romance of The Grey Lady and the Bloody Baron, suggests that fairy stories need to be taken seriously. Tales need not be factual to be true and meaningful (though some might be factual as well!), and when we blithely disregard so-called "childrens' stories," it may be to our peril. Some of Rowling's critics should ponder that a while!

Reason 6: Trust and Loyalty: By the end of Deathly Hallows, Voldemort is fighting almost solely by himself. Where are his legion of supporters? In some cases, dead. (Aside: Molly Weasley rules!) In many other cases, however, they have abandoned him, seeking things that are more important, following their true loyalties (in the case of the Malfoys, for example, family). Voldemort has inspired no loyalty because he shows none, because he trusts no one. Harry, on the other hand, has a large, if charmingly rag-tag, group of fellow fighters: the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore's Army, the Gryffindor Quidditch Team (including members from years ago), House-Elves, Centaurs, etc. This group comes together because they trust Harry, and Harry has proven his loyalty to them. Voldemort has no one, because he uses everyone for his own ends. Harry has an overwhelming show of support, because he has proven that he is willing to lay down his life for others.

Reason 7: Sacrifice: I am pleased that Rowling was true to her subject, as she has been in the past, showing that the defeat of Voldemort and lasting peace can only be purchased with sacrifice. Although my heart broke with the loss of beloved characters (including two of my very favorites), it would've been an insult to the series, the subject matter, and the readers to suggest that evil's defeat could be free and simple. The image of hiding in the woods, listening to Potterwatch, and hearing the list of the latest missing and deceased wizards, is appropriately haunting, as is the picture of the Hogwarts Great Hall, littered with the dead, wounded, and mourning. Making the choice between what is right and what is easy has serious, lasting consequences.

Reason 8: Cameos: Oliver Wood, Griphook, Dobby - Deathly Hallows offered, appropriately enough, a reunion of characters, and it was nice to see secondary actors from Lee Jordan to Professor Trelawney playing key, if brief, roles.

Reason 9: The Longbottom Effect: As much as all of the other characters have grown, it is Neville's transformation as the leader of Dumbledore's Army and, after Harry's apparent death, the self-appointed spokesman for all of Hogwarts, that is the most humbling to behold. (I had several flashbacks to marthawells's wonderful essay "Neville Longbottom: The Hero With A Thousand Faces" in Mapping the World of Harry Potter while reading Deathly Hallows.) In a way, he symbolizes much more than one boy: he sums up Rowling's philosophy about our surprising potential and promise, and embodies what Hogwarts will be in the future.

Reason 10: A Quote: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" I have nothing to add to this, except to say it is brilliant.

I haven't done this book justice, but suffice it to say that Deathly Hallows left me deeply satisfied.

I recommend checking out the "20 Discussion Points re: The Deathly Hallows" at Hogwarts Professor (or hogwartspro) for some very interesting ideas and springboards for further thought.

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
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estellye
Jul. 23rd, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)
I skimmed your entry. I will read in depth later. It seems you have made several great points with which I agree.

But I just couldn't wait to say #10 was the best Dumbledore quote yet! The moment I read it I decided to add it to my wisdom column on my LJ. Will do later.

Deeply satisfied is a wonderful description of how I feel as well. *hugs!*
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 23rd, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
Isn't it a wonderful quote? (I love your wisdom column, by the way - wonderful choices!)

I'm glad you're deeply satisfied, too. :) *hugs*
nakeisha
Jul. 23rd, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
I too thought Dumbledore's words were wonderful. And so very, very true.

And like you, although I too was saddened by the loss of certain characters, I'm also glad that she made the cost of winning so very real and painful. Peace always comes at a cost, and it would have been easy to have opted out and made the heroes come through with no major loss.

I also agree with you on the whole coming of age theme. I thought she did an excellent job here and in previous books. There were times when I really disliked Harry and thought him a 'brat', and that was excellent, because it was true to life. He wasn't perfect; he had his darker side; he may have been the hero, but he wasn't without faults. He was of his age, whilst having to be so much older in so many ways. (Did that make sense?)

And the same is true of the trust and loyalty theme you outline.

Thank you for these ten points.

eldritchhobbit
Jul. 23rd, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
And so very, very true.

Yes indeed!

Peace always comes at a cost, and it would have been easy to have opted out and made the heroes come through with no major loss.

Exactly - just as it would've been easy to bring someone back to life (as many readers hoped), rather than being honest about the fact that death doesn't have any quick, magical solutions. She seems to be very consistent about actions and consequences across the board, which I very much appreciate.

Thanks for your lovely reply!
(no subject) - nakeisha - Jul. 26th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC) - Expand
groovekittie
Jul. 23rd, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
I have only read the first book so far (I was waiting for all seven to come out so I could buy the set in its entirety), but I couldn't resist clicking on the lj-cut to see what you had to say about this book. I've read a few other reviews on my flist and none of them were as coherent, intelligent nor as geeky (STAR WARS REFERENCES! HEE!)nor as emotional. The other reviews I have read so far contain mostly incoherent squee or they simply reported their overall impressions. You gave reason and meaning to their excitement. Thank you! (I actually got goosebumps when I read the part about Neville's role in the story. He's always been a favourite character of mine throughout the movies.)
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 23rd, 2007 08:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your kind words! I don't know about coherent or intelligent, but I'll definitely claim geeky as my own. LOL! :)

Wait until you read about Neville. I had goosebumps, too. What a fantastic character.
dement1a
Jul. 23rd, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
I finished reading it last night (this morning? It was 4:30 but the sun wasn't dawning yet), and I have to agree with all your points. Skipping around:

#1 - Indeed, death is not the worst thing that can happen to us, and if our society would please figure that out, we all might be better for it. Not that life should be carelessly regarded, but that death should not be feared, so that life might not be feared.

#4 - I disliked the most recent movie because, in the words of my mom, they "whitewashed" Harry to try and keep him absolutely likeable, when in OOtP he wasn't entirely so since he was going through so much pain and change - but who is perfect all the time? Hollywood wants to keep him as a white knight, though, and not a human being. *twitch*

#6 - I was also thrilled to see the house-elves subplot resolve itself in this book. The people doing the manual labor may be happy doing the manual labor, but it doesn't mean they're any less important, or worthy of good and kind treatment, and when people are treated well they more often than not respond in kind.

Agh, back to work. Miss you around here!
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 23rd, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
#1 - Indeed, death is not the worst thing that can happen to us, and if our society would please figure that out, we all might be better for it. Not that life should be carelessly regarded, but that death should not be feared, so that life might not be feared.

Well said indeed! I couldn't agree more.

Hollywood wants to keep him as a white knight, though, and not a human being.

That's an excellent point! Even his final "confrontation" with Dumbledore, when he says that the headmaster doesn't know how he feels, wasn't explosive or even particularly emotional. Most of the earlier angst and anger was absent completely. It's sad, really, to think that we can't see human foibles in our heroes (or, at least, Hollywood thinks we can't). Harry's growth is the more impressive because of his growing pains.

Wonderful point indeed about the house-elves! I absolutely mourned Dobby ("A Free Elf"), and I loved Kreacher's about-face when he was at last treated with dignity. But when the Hogwarts house-elves stormed out en masse, it was all I could do to keep from cheering out loud! :)

I miss you, too! Thanks for keeping in touch despite the miles.
alicambs
Jul. 23rd, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
I see you got Star Wars and LOTR via Tolkein referenced in your comments *g*

I loved the book. I could have done without the epilogue, but as daughter reminded me, it is a children's book, albeit a series that has grown and developed with both the characters and the readers I think.

Wonderful reasons for loving the book. I just was so impressed with how everything came togetherer, yet so much was left to the reader. I adored Harry in this, and loved that the Trio were together nearly all the way through. The sacrifice of Dobby had me in total tears, and I was delighted at the respect accorded him by Harry.

I could rattle on, Neville delighted me as did Luna. Snape's death was done so well, not heroic, but because he was inconvenient! How true that Voldemort inspired no loyalty while Harry drew people to him.

Like you, I felt deeply satisfied.
agentxpndble
Jul. 23rd, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
Snape's death was done so well, not heroic, but because he was inconvenient!

That's very nicely said! I didn't pick up why I was so satisfied with his end until you said that - But it's because even his lack of "evilness" still somehow lacked "heroism". His death was so mundane - And yet, the lack of fanfare only makes the sacrifices he made even more tragic and mirrors the less-than-altruistic nature of his acts, however righteous those acts may have ultimately appeared. I would have loved him less if they had made his death a blaze of Martyr-like glory. The man's entire life was shades of grey - Perfect that his death was too. Very well done.
(no subject) - alicambs - Jul. 23rd, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - agentxpndble - Jul. 23rd, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - agingaglaea - Jul. 24th, 2007 02:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Jul. 24th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Jul. 23rd, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
agentxpndble
Jul. 23rd, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
This is why I just can't get anything on "paper"... Because I can't for the life of me capture what you just have in words... Better just to link to people like you. I suppose I should just *start* and work from there but... Augh! You (and your ability to communicate) rock!

Neville... Well, Neville just destroys me with his awesomeness. And the quote...? I turned over three pages and highlighted 7 items in the entire book - Guess which one I used PERMANENT PEN on? ;-)

I don't have the words to express my love of pages 211-214.

Peg Kerr posted something that has dominated my morning with thought and research here (http://pegkerr.livejournal.com/865023.html). I really am not a fan of analytical Harry Potter books, but I'm seriously thinking about reading this one.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 23rd, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC)
You are so incredibly kind! Thank you for your positive words.

By the way, I can't recommend John Granger's work enough. I used it in my class, and he came and presented some of his research on Rowling's use of alchemical symbolism at the C.S. Lewis conference I directed. His analysis is very, very compelling. I can't say enough good things about Unlocking Harry Potter! He's also posting his latest thoughts on Deathly Hallows at hogwartspro.
hapendfro
Jul. 23rd, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)
Had a chance to glance at this, great post by the way and thanks for the extra links. I will have to study it when more time. I have a questions that hopefully you will be able to answer. It's about the Room of Requirement. Can RoR assist the need of more than one group, person, need at the same time. I was under the impression it could not, otherwise what was to prevent DA being found out and was that not part of the reason Harry could not get in the room when Draco was using it in book 6. But in his one the trio ended up in RoR with Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle. they were all in their at one time, which I thought was peculiar due to what I thought was the restrictions of the room.

Unless somehow the room knew it needed Crabbe to be there to set the Frienfire (Spelling) to destroy the Horcrux. So it allowed them to all be there at one time. What are your thoughts?
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Hi there! Thanks for the kind words and thoughtful reply. My apologies for taking so long to get back to you.

I may need to go back and reread this section, because your idea that the Room of Requirement knew Crabbe needed to be there to set the fire really intriques me. To be honest, I had just assumed that the appearance of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle simply proved how serious the attack on Hogwarts was: no place was safe, as even the RoR had been infiltrated. Since Voldemort knew of the RoR, I guessed he'd found some way to assault it, as well, and this was one more proof that the Hogwarts we knew was being torn apart. I'll think on this some more. Thanks for the great question.
maidoforange
Jul. 24th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh, you make excellent points and I think it was a very fitting ending to the series. I did love that quote.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Isn't that quote amazing?
agingaglaea
Jul. 24th, 2007 02:28 am (UTC)
I love how JKR originally mirrored -- a paradox, okay, but I stand by it -- the very best ever (Tolkien, of course) in her description of why Voldemort didn't know certain aspects of magic. It was Gandalf talking to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli in Fangorn, with a bit of the conversations with Frodo thrown in for good measure. Wonderful! And okay, I was totally wrong in my predictions about the paper Neville's mom kept giving to him in her torture-induced madness, but I wasn't wrong about Neville. :-)
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
Yes! I couldn't agree more. AND, the entire book mirror's Tolkien's words in his letters and in his fiction, about the nature of mortality and immortality. I just love the symmetry there.

but I wasn't wrong about Neville. :-)

And didn't he shine? :)

savageseraph
Jul. 24th, 2007 02:57 am (UTC)
Excellent post. I'm seeing a lot of objections to this book from a large portion of my flist, who are looking at it through gender, race, and queer studies lenses. I can see how the book/series would disappoint on that level.

I've been trying to muddle through my own reaction, which was more positive, and I realize that I'm reading it more as you are: through the lens of legend and the fairy story.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
I'm reading it more as you are: through the lens of legend and the fairy story.

Yes. Thank you for putting your finger on it so clearly. I honestly think that's how Rowling intended for it to be read.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 24th, 2007 04:24 am (UTC)
epilogue
I must agree with the assessment of the epilogue. It was cute but not really revealing. Did Harry become an Auror? Play Quiddich? What did the others do in their lives (we know what Neville did)? After playing such a famous part in history does Harry just settle down for a life of family and anonomity? (Which isn't bad or anything)
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
Re: epilogue
You've captured my frustration completely. We learned so very little from it, and its cuteness seemed too immediate considering the depth and power of the story up until the final pages. Perhaps the promised Harry Potter Encyclopedia will give us more insights on how Harry managed the transition from The Boy Who Lived to adulthood.
melissagay
Jul. 24th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Loved it, loved it, loved it. This book did everything I wanted it to do.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
This book did everything I wanted it to do.

Yes! I was a bit worried about the long list of things I wanted out of it, and yet the book delivered anyway!
sittingduck1313
Jul. 24th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
I must admit the folks predicting that Snape would be proven to be evil (with one saying his evilness was up there with Blofeld's) had me a bit uneasy. Going through the book I started to wonder if maybe I had been foolishly optimistic about him. Glad to be proven that's he's more like Matt Cvetic, only more screwed up.

I did a double take on page 415 with Hermione's statement regarding how wizards like to brag about having a bigger and better wand than anyone else.

Grindelwald's association with the Deathly Hallows symbol may have a sort of real life equivalent. IIRC the swastika was a Hindu symbol of some kind long before it was used by the Nazis.
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC)
Great point about Grindelwald and the Deathly Hallows symbol! I laughed out loud at Hermione's comment about the wand, by the way (hey, it was a nice change not to be crying for a minute! ha) - I'm glad I'm not the only one who read that with a less than pristine mind. ;)
melissagay
Jul. 24th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
SPOILER
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Am I the only one who thinks that in about fifteen years Rose is TOTALLY going to marry Scorpius?! =D I get such glee from imagining the various families united!
fungus_files
Jul. 25th, 2007 08:32 am (UTC)
LOL. No, you're NOT the only one!! :D

except that I thought Albus and Scorpius might have a go, too.
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Jul. 25th, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
fungus_files
Jul. 25th, 2007 08:36 am (UTC)
Oh, A. Entries like this are why I love your LJ!! Thanks for your thoughts. I managed to finish the book Monday (early morning) and haven't had a chance to post thoughts, preliminary or otherwise. Like you, though, I found the last book extremely satisfying and rivetting. Must admit that when I read that Tonks and Remus were about to have a baby, I thought, "They're GONE." (it's like in war films when the young soldier shows his platoon-mates the photo of his fiancee...or the teens who snog in horror films...)
eldritchhobbit
Jul. 25th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, A. Entries like this are why I love your LJ!!

You have made my day! Thank you for your lovely feedback. I was frustrated that I couldn't really do the subject justice.

Must admit that when I read that Tonks and Remus were about to have a baby, I thought, "They're GONE."

Exactly! And when Lupin asked Harry to be Teddy's godfather, I thought, "No! You're signing your death warrant!" And yet I held out hope anyway, 'cause I loves my Remus. Did you read the Rowling interview where she said only one character in the series got a reprieve? She'd originally planned to kill Arthur Weasley (another of my favorites) in Book 5, and couldn't bring herself to do it then or later. I'm glad. I remember going into Book 5 thinking "Please don't kill Lupin," up until Arthur was attacked. Then I backtracked and thought, "Wait! I didn't mean you could kill him instead!" Someone needs to survive to worry about the function of rubber ducks and wonder how aeroplanes stay up in the air.
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