Thoughts upon finishing the Harry Potter books (open spoilers)

I finally finished reading the Harry Potter Series. It has taken me years. Actually what happened was that after they were first recommended to me around 2001 and I decided to read them, I first determined that I would read only the British printings, because I didn’t want to add my financial contribution to the outrageous idea that we Americans are too stupid to deal with terms like “philosopher’s stone” and “jumper.” So, I ordered the set from Amazon U.K. and read through Goblet of Fire. Just recently, I ordered the rest of the books and finished them.


  1. The one death that really affected me strongly was Fred Weasley’s. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because I had already been spoiled with regard to Dumbledore, Lupin, and Tonks. But I have a feeling that even had I not been, Fred’s would still have been the hardest blow. Maybe it was because he was essentially a comic relief character and it was therefore unexpected.

  2. Of course it’s supposed to be children’s fiction, but really a lot of the ideas, themes, and events were perfectly suitable for adults. However, the biggest thing that struck me as fault-ably childlike was the romance. I’m not saying that I wanted anything explicit as far as sex or anything. I was just disappointed in the uber-fairy-tale quality of it, especially since most other aspects of the story were pretty harsh when it came to things like death, courage, evil, etc.

Nearly all the major characters are shown as having found their true loves in adolescence: James-Lily, Arthur-Molly, George-Angelina, Ron-Hermione. Indeed, you might say that the Snape-Lily and Harry-Ginny romances are pre-adolescent. I just find it kind of ludicrous and I imagine trying to take seriously a story about lifetime love with the classmate I had a crush on when I was 6 years old.

The sole romance I found to be more realistic was Lupin and Tonks, and it was starkly so. It wasn’t an easy romance, there were plenty of conflicts (difference in age, etc.) and Lupin was shown contemplating running off after Tonks conceived.

I would have been much happier with an epilogue that was a little more realistic, showing that adulthood does tend to result in drift with regard to teenage romances, especially Harry-Ginny and Ron-Hermione. I thought that this aspect of the story deserved as much clear-eyed starkness as the rest of the story.

I was also a little put off at the post-histories supplied by Rowling in which pretty much all the characters had had multiple children by age 36. (So far as I can tell, you have to go as far down in importance as Charlie Weasley and Neville Longbottom to find a character whose offspring, if they exist, haven’t been mentioned by Rowling.) More and more people these days, even while in stable relationships, remain childless, or put off having children until later, and I was somehow disappointed at the idea that this seemed to be outside the realm of normality that was reached by the end of the story.

  1. I was particularly pleased by the resolution of Snape’s storyline. Fortunately, I was unspoiled on it, although, I admit that I suspected that Dumbledore intended to die at Snape’s hand, but I hadn’t guessed that Snape was in on it too.

  2. I still can’t get over the whole existence of Slytherin house. The whole point of it seems to be a breeding ground for evil wizards. And I don’t understand why it was allowed to continue after the Slytherins refused to take sides against Voldemort at the end.

More thoughts later. I’m interested in any reactions.

The first topic DID show up…so now there will be two of them when all the topics show up now.

It showed up…it’s just that the board isn’t spitting them out/showing that they’re made yet.

Yeah, the outcomes of the teen romances were achingly predictable, but there isn’t really any other way to do it. She built up these relationships over 7 books, and to tack on an epilogue saying “oh by the way their marriage dissolved” would feel like a slap in the face. It’d be more realistic, but it wouldn’t really work in that type of story.

I too was a little disappointed that every single Slytherin refused to fight on the good side. The theme of their house is ambition, and there’s nothing inherently evil about ambition. Slughorn was really the only positively portrayed Slytherin in the whole series, and even then he was kinda a shallow, slimy character. Well, and there’s Snape, I guess.

I loathed the epilogue and won’t read it again. For me, it ruins what was a fine story. Sort of like having a great meal and find that dessert is Twinkies. I hate the last line of it. It’s so banal and shallow and stupid–of course all is well: Voldemort is dead, so Harry’s scar won’t prickle or burn. Duh.
I don’t mind the romances, but I think the lack of any sexual behavior is a bit odd–but then, these are kids’ books, not even YA (young adult). I did think Rowling’s handling of Ginny’s scene with Harry at Harry’s birthday in book 7 was subtle and masterful. I read into that she was (essentially) offering herself to Harry, but they were interrupted. I think a kid won’t necessarily read that subtext.

I also found no Slytherins fighting to be ridiculous. Black’s brother had a conscience, other Slytherins must as well.

Yeah, Eleanor, I think you’re right about that. I think I’m going to pretend the epilogue isn’t there.

A few more thoughts –

  • I think I would have liked to see Snape and Pettigrew survive and have to be dealt with. It’s too much of a cliche for the most troublesome characters to end up dead.

  • Generally speaking, the books got better as they went along, with the exception of Order of the Phoenix. Something went wrong there.

  • Also, generally speaking, I think the idea of stretching out the main plot over a full school year was a mistake. There were too many times in which it seemed to me that Dumbledore, etc., let a looming danger go on for too long.

  • Related to that, and also related to my comment about Slytherin house, it seemed to me that the students were allowed to stay in danger far too much. Hogwarts didn’t really seem to be the safest place for them to be, although they kept saying it was.

  • A lot of the characters seemed to be underwritten, especially for the importance they seemed to have been given. Tonks and Bellatrix Lastrange come to mind.

Plus, they already did that in The Wonder Years. :smiley:

I agree. If Slytherins were all so evil, their house should be dissolved. They should have been more like the Ferengi in DS9 than Bad Horse’s Junior Evil League of Evil.

Rowling had said all along that she not only knew how the series would end, but had actually written the very end quite early on. When I read the epilogue, I believed it. I don’t object to the basic idea of the series ending with a happily-ever-after Harry seeing his own kids off to Hogwarts, but I don’t think another revision or two would have hurt. After seven books she could do better than that.

The fact that the entire school was under the control of Death Eaters who very clearly favored Slytherin students during the entire year prior to the battle no doubt helped. Also, many Slytherin students might have been afraid to defy Voldemort for fear of reprisals against their families. We know Draco Malfoy’s activities in the last two books were more from fear than from malice. And finally, the Sytherins hated Harry Potter. When Dumbledore (everyone’s headmaster) was the main point of anti-Voldemort resistance, there might have been some Slytherins who liked him, but not Potter.

As much as I enjoyed the books, throughout I was thinking “This could have been so much better with the help of a good editor.” A lot of it seemed very first draftish.

CMKeller, that doesn’t explain why what is essentially a breeding ground for evil wizards is allowed to exist in the school, does it?

I didn’t find this completely unreasonable, and here’s why: wizard society, never well-populated, had been through a devastating war that further reduced their numbers while making them freshly aware of how precious life is. One could make comparisons to the “baby boom” that took place after WWII. Plus, don’t forget that the two main couples in the epilogue each have one partner that’s a Weasley. The Weasley family is huge, and people from large families often have many kids themselves. OTOH, Draco (an only child) has just one kid himself.

But Slytherin has not produced only evil students, as we know from Slughorn, Snape and Regulus Black. It’s just that in this particular book, in this particular battle, the Slytherins have been indoctrinated by Death Eaters to favor Voldemort, and Harry Potter (even before the Death Eaters took over the school) was an object of their hatred, so it’s not out of the question that every Slytherin in the school AT THAT TIME refused to respond to a rallying call from Harry Potter (and his friends) to fight against Voldemort.

Book Seven was a tedious drag which spent far too much time dwelling on Harry and Hermione camping out in the woods (or at least it seemed to), and the final battle with Harry and Voldy was nothing like worth the wait.

Did I miss something, by the way, on why Death Eaters are called Death Eaters, other than “it’s a really spooky name, OK”?

Too bad. The U.S. editions are much nicer because of the excellent contribution of illustrator Mary Gran Pre. There’s a chapter illio near the end of Deathly Hallows of Neville, beat to shit but with a big smile on his face because Harry’s coming back that’s worth the price of admission.

The series has its flaws, of which to my mind the biggest is the aforementioned rarity of Slytherins who aren’t Death Eaters or at least sympathetic to them.


I thought the whole “house” concept was very poorly thought out, mostly because I thought Ron obviously belonged in Hufflepuff and Hermione equally obviously in Ravenclaw. Of the four houses, only Gryffendor (all good guys) and Slytherin (all bad guys) really got any play in the series. I wish Harry had had close friends from all four houses, each with different strengths and weaknesses.

The books are much better than the films in portraying the houses. The houses in the films come down to Slytherin and Gryyfindor, with almost no mention (and no characters, barring Cedric) of any other house.
I don’t see Ron in Hufflepuff at all. He is not kind (he’s rather thoughtless and a bit too honest), but in the books, he is clever (unlike the films where he is primarily comic relief sidekick nonsense). Hermione does belong in Ravenclaw, but like Harry, she chose Gryffindor (mentioned in the books when she is asked by another house member why she isn’t in Ravenclaw).

I agree with you that the premise for the 4 houses is weak. Hufflepuff suffers most of all–a house of “nice guys”? Rowling should have made them [del]the dumb jock house[/del] the athletically gifted house, to match Ravenclaw’s intellect, Gryffindor’s bravery and Slytherin’s cunning.

Technically near the end of the series he did. Once he created the DA there were a good number of members who lived in different houses. Luna Lovegood being the biggest example of this (she was a Hufflepuff)

I thought the Hufflepuff characteristic was loyalty, not kindness.

I thought she was Ravenclaw.

Luna was indeed a Ravenclaw. She was the one who took Harry to the Ravenclaw common room to see the statue of Rowena wearing her diadem.

The scoring system in Quiddich. What’s the point in the non-seekers even playing?

Voldemort’s demise. After all this build up about Harry’s destiny, and the inevitable showdown, Voldemort kills himself. Accidentally. AGAIN. All because he didn’t read the special instructions on the Super Wand.:rolleyes:

So was Cho Chang, who was a good deal more than a minor character. Cedric Diggory was Hufflepuff.

The series was about Harry and his friends, and he and his friends were in Griffendor. The relative lack of attention paid to other Houses seems fairly natural in that context.