Harry Potter Challenge: Four Locations⤵
#1: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
- She made reading a trend. One day everyone was collecting Pogs or Beanie Babies, the next, we were all deciding whether we were more like Harry or Ron, Hermione or Lavendar. For the first time, everyone seemed to have read the same books and had things to say about them. Though reading could be a solitary activity still, it didn’t need to be.
- She made Y.A. literature a cultural event on the level of boy bands and “Titanic.” Your friends all wanted to go to the Harry Potter midnight release parties with you, argue over the most crushable characters with you, and dress up as your favorites for Halloween.
- She made reading something to be anticipated. Speaking of those midnight release parties: How about that anticipation-building? When did it become normal for kids to insist on staying up past their bedtime… to start the next book in their favorite series? By creating such a hot literary commodity with seven painfully spaced installments building toward an agonizingly mysterious conclusion, Rowling imbued reading with excitement and anticipation for kids everywhere.
- She created a literary world that felt close enough to touch, but supernatural enough to thrill. In her deft blend of traditional fantasy elements and traditional British boarding school stories, she offers the perfect, intoxicating balance of familiarity and fantasy, comfort and thrill. You didn’t just want to read about Hogwarts; you really, really wanted to be there.
- She made us believe magic could happen to us. Harry Potter was a regular kid, and not a particularly happy one, when an owl arrived with his Hogwarts acceptance letter and he found out he wasn’t a regular kid at all. How many of us secretly felt a pang as our 11th birthday passed without that letter? We knew it wasn’t real (probably), but Rowling made it feel so, so real.
- She knew that words were the real magic, and she got us to feel that way too. Like some other incredible children’s book authors (Lemony Snicket immediately springs to mind), Rowling thinks words are fun, and it’s infectious. The clever wordplay hidden within her name choices, spell incantations, and general terminology ensures kids are learning some amount of linguistic history, if only by osmosis — and for some of us, it helped spark a lifelong fascination with language and meaning.
- She helped bring books for younger readers into a golden age. Rowling didn’t invent young adult fiction or fantasy, nor was Harry Potter the first very successful book series for younger readers. But after the worldwide phenomenon that wasHarry Potter, publishers couldn’t ignore the potential of that market. Today, Y.A. is experiencing something of a golden age, and it’s hard to say whether that would be true without the Harry Potter mania that opened the floodgates. (x)
If you think about it, Harry is one of the most amazing characters in the entire series, and he’s never given enough credit (strange, isn’t it, given that the entire series is about him).
- He forgave Snape and Dumbledore. I don’t know how he found it in himself to do this, because both of them treated him like shit, and didn’t really deserve his forgiveness.
- His attitude towards Pettigrew is incredible. You never find Harry as furious with Pettigrew as you think he should be. You never find him thinking about him with hatred, although he fully deserves it. Harry despises Bellatrix. He knows the difference between someone like Bellatrix and someone like Peter.
- He tries to pull Peter’s metal hand away from his throat for god’s sake.This is the man that betrayed his parents and was now working for a wizard who wants to murder him.
- He uses ‘expelliarmus’ on a death eater trying to kill him because he didn’t want to knock him off his broom.
- He even manages to find some sympathy for Voldemort. Dumbledore himself is surprised by that.
- He returns the elder wand.
- He is the one who decides to go back for Malfoy when they’re stuck in the burning room of requirement.
- He feels sorry for Malfoy when he sees to what use he’s being put by Voldemort.
And yet he doesn’t come off as an insufferable do-gooder. Rowling makes him so real. He’s jealous of Cedric and of Dean, he has blow ups with Ron, he frequently behaves like a typical obstinate teenager, he laughs at Fred and George’s jokes, he finds Hermione exasperating at times. He is the perfect hero. Moral and ethical, but not so much so that he seems like something out of a Morality Play from Medieval times.
He’s human-a flawed one, but a good one, and that’s what brings him to life, and makes us feel so fond of him.
Happy Birthday Harry James Potter; July 31st 1980