Happy Birthday Harry Potter

Monday was the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Since so many people have been sharing their Harry Potter stories, I figured today I would too because Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life for most of those 20 years. I am almost positive I have discussed a great deal of this before, but I can never talk about Harry Potter enough, so here is it: Deanna and the Adventure with the Orphan Boy Under the Stairs.

I was introduced to the wonderful world of Harry Potter in six grade. As part of book day, which I think had something to do with Dr. Suess’s birthday we all brought in our favorite books and talked about them in a mini presentation. I brought in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, my friend Jess brought in a book about a magical bespectacled orphaned boy. I was interested. So I asked my parents for the book because I was eleven. This was the spring of 1998, shortly after the US release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I remember sitting in my parent’s friend’s living room reading the last pages of the book, learning that Voldemort was back, the revelation of Quirrel and what he did. I remember thinking that this was the best book I had read in my whole 11 years. Before I knew that books could change lives, I knew that this one had permanently changed mine.

The Harry Potter books connected so much with me, maybe because I was eleven too. Maybe because I felt like I didn’t really belong where I was. Maybe because I was bullied for being different. There is something about discovering you really are different and being swept away to someplace where there are people like you, that you really are special that connected so deeply with me. Maybe there was a world outside that small town, maybe I should be a part of something bigger.

I got the next two books for Christmas that year from my Uncle. Escaping again into that magic, escaping my middle school life. Figuring out those mysteries, learning about the Chamber and the Marauder’s, these stories were becoming more and more important to me. Harry Potter was becoming more than a book.

My grandmother bought me the 4th book while she was visiting from Wisconsin. I remember thinking that it would take me a year to read it, it took probably a week. I wanted to devour every last bit of Harry Potter and his adventures. I knew that seven books would never be enough. There had to be something that kept this story, these characters alive after the stories were over.

I was in a cast when the 5th book came out, so that book gave me something to do as the summer went on while I could do nothing because I had fallen off the side of the road (I was totally pushed) and broke my ankle.

The sixth I bought at the grocery store I worked at and read part of it behind the register when I had a moment. It was through my friend Tracy’s LiveJournal that I learned what “Do not click this if you don’t want spoilers” meant. As I clicked and got *the spoiler.* I thought it was a funny joke– you know because people would make jokes about the Potions teacher murdering the Headmaster– and then it happened.

The seventh book, I bought it at the mall and read about half of it before I had to go to work. I remember reading about Fred’s death in parking lot of Kmart. I remember being so numb reading that passage, thinking that I was making it up, thinking it couldn’t be true. Fred wouldn’t die. But war, which is what those characters were fighting, doesn’t care.

When I was in the height of my Harry Potter reading, it wasn’t cool to read, let alone read Harry Potter. Now, maybe because I’m older or maybe because of Harry Potter, reading isn’t seen as something that only nerds do. I mean, I’m a nerd, but reading Harry Potter wasn’t the main piece of evidence. There are plenty of other things to make fun of me for, please don’t get stuck on the fact that I read. These books were like a secret, I mean, like, everyone read them, but the people who were outwardly Harry Potter fans were seen different than we are now. I remember finding out that someone else at my high school read the books and it felt like a secret club. I don’t know how to explain it, maybe you just had to be a high school kid in the early 2000’s.

Harry Potter Merch wasn’t everywhere then. As popular as it was and as much a people talking about it, you had to search for your stuff. Maybe only Hot Topic, but also, Google early 2000’s Hot Topic if you are unfamiliar with it. There was a time when I was in high school where I went to the mall with my friend Patty and we were going to go into Hot Topic, and we felt like we would be too out of place there because Patty’s flip flops matched her polo shirt. It wasn’t the store it is now. It’s still not cool to match your flip flops and your polo shirt, but you won’t get weird looks in that store anymore.

There was a part of me that was worried that when the last book or last movie came out that it would be over. Maybe if we didn’t live now it would have been, but we live in the time of the Internet.

Harry Potter became cool with the popularity of Youtube. Like, being a nerd became cool because of Youtube really. Remember early Youtube? Remember one of the super popular videos of 2007? It was released the Tuesday before Deathly Hallows came out.  The video that launched the Vlogbrothers into super internet stardom: Accio Deathly Hallows. Hank’s song is far from the first wizard wrock song. I think Harry and the Potters celebrated their 15th anniversary recently. I was on the edge of Wrock, but Hank’s song propelled me into the different bands and the different youtube channels where people talked about Harry Potter.

I fell into the Harry Potter internet fandom through the Vlogbrothers, which I’ve talked about on this platform more than once. I joined the forums and started to read the fanfiction, become more involved. Discovering fandom, people who loved what I loved, read what I read, Harry Potter became something that will never no be important in my life.

Harry Potter is more than a book. Harry Potter is a movement. The books are about so much more than an orphan boy. It’s about overcoming, fighting, standing up for injustice. I’ve read so many articles about how reading this series teaches our generation empathy that the ones before us don’t have. We see the world around us and can point and something and relate it to something in Harry Potter. We are able to see things happening in real life and compare then to things that happened in those books and know what we have to do to change it. We know that maybe the Minister of Magic won’t listen, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t stand up and shout over and over again that it’s really happening, evil is really out there.

Because of what Ginny goes through in Chamber of Secrets, we learned to listen when people and don’t ignore what they are saying because they are a kid or a girl. We’re taught to look for signs that things aren’t right. Through Luna we learn not to take things at face value, just because it’s a little odd doesn’t mean it’s not worth getting to know or understand.

Through Goblet of Fire we learn creative problem solving, and for many of us, the death of Cedric Diggory was the first time some of us dealt with death. Cedric was an innocent victim, but someone that throughout that book we get to know and love.

The deaths in these books were hard to accept and deal with. Rowling did that on purpose. She built these characters, these people up for ten years, seven books and then in the horrors of war we lost important people. Remus and Tonks, Sirus, Dumbledore, Fred, Dobby (which as much as Fred is the character I loved the most, the death of Dobby is the one that hurts the most. Dobby was very brave, a true hero, and he died so so others could live) and so many other deaths. They hurt because we care about these characters. They’ve become part of our lives in ways that make them real.

I recently became a part of the Harry Potter Alliance, which I will talk more about in a different post at some point I’m sure, but basically, what The HPA does is takes the lessons that Harry Potter taught us and uses them in real life situations. We see the fictional plights of characters like Lupin and turn that into a way to fight for the rights of people who are seen as less than for something they cannot control. We use the name of Neville Longbottom to stand up when it seems difficult like Neville did time and time again. We give girls the tools to be just like Hermione and Ginny and Luna.

Harry Potter is more than a series of books. I doubt there will ever be anything else that has such an effect on culture the way that Harry Potter has. It’s a movement, it’s a feeling, it a way of life. There has never been anything like it before. Harry Potter sparked a revolution. Harry Potter changed a generation of people and will have an impact on the one coming up behind us– our children.

Nothing will ever be what Harry Potter is.

How has Harry Potter changed you?

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

 

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text- a Podcast

I, like I’m sure many readers of this blog, LOVE Harry Potter. I have read these books at least six times, and every time I read them I find little things that I didn’t see before.

I feel it’s important to tell a little bit of my Harry Potter origin story before I start raving about this amazing podcast. In 6th grade, we had a book day. Everyone brought in their favorite book to talk about it for five minutes during class. I talked about the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House stories, and a friend of mine discussed a silly book about a boy wizard.

Over that summer I bugged my mom to buy it for me because I was 11 and could not buy things. Then I spent the summer reading it. I finished reading The Sorcerer’s Stone on the Fourth of July during a cookout alone in my parent’s friends house, laying across her living room floor while everyone else was outside. I remember my best friend making fun of me for it, as he would many times over the years, for being wrapped up in Harry Potter. I remember my grandmother visiting from out of state buying me the fourth book and joking that it would take me a year to read it and finishing the book before her trip ended. I sat on the floor of the supermarket I worked at behind the fast line register to read parts Half Blood Prince, so I didn’t lose any time walking to the break room on my break. I remember the deep numb feeling about reading about Fred Weasley and having the feeling replicated only one other time in my life since. And in that time, to try to feel better, I reread Harry Potter.

I found the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text during NerdCon: Nerdfighteria. The wonderfully adorable hosts Vaness and Casper, held a panel where they did a discussion about the first line of the first book “Mr. and Mrs. Veron Dursley of number four Privet Drive were happy to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” As a group, we discussed what the line means spiritually, literally, and emotionally. We discussed what we learn from this line and how it sets up future events.

At first, I thought “This is a little silly” However, I still subscribed to the Podcast and started to listen. I still thought it was a little silly as I listened to the first couple chapters of Book One, but as I listened to it more and realized that these two people were 100% serious about what they were doing and discussing these books in different themes and really shedding light on different parts of the books and really digging in.

At the time I am writing this, I am listening to Book 2 Chapter 15 Aragog. And the Podcast itself is in the middle of Prison of Azkaban.  I’m not too far behind being able to catch up with it so that I have to listen to it once a week instead of once a day.

So far this Podcast is just, brilliant. Vanessa and Casper do a deep dive into each chapter with a theme. With Aragog they are reading with the theme of sanctuary. They find parts of the text that show examples of these themes and how we can take what Harry Potter gives us and use it in the “real world.” It’s such a deep, thoughtful, relook at these books that I’ve read multiple times. There is always new ways to see parts of this text.

One of my favorite part of the podcast is toward the end of each episode, they do a religious practice about the text. They are using different practices from different religions. I honestly don’t know all that much about religion, but I do really enjoy learning about it, and I find this practice fascinating.

If you love Harry Potter and are interested in seeing the text in a different light, I highly suggest checking this out. I linked to the website above, and it can be found on all the podcast directories.

Have you listened to this podcast? Are you in love with it? Do you have any podcast suggestions? Let me know!

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

 

Blackmailed Cousin Marriage for Revenge and Other Things.

Let me begin by saying I enjoyed listening to this Wuthering Heights. I found it frustrating and weird as all heck, but I enjoyed it. Also, this book is 170 years old so spoilers. There are also some Harry Potter spoilers within.

One of the thoughts I had most often listening to this book was “Why is everyone so terrible.” Maybe all people with money were just terrible people in Victorian England because I thought the same of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, I don’t know. My second most common thought was “I wonder if JK Rowling based Snape of Heathcliff because they are basically the same human being.”

Let’s begin what I’m sure will be a long winded journey with why I dislike Snape really quick before I move into a discussion of Heathcliff. Snape’s motives throughout the whole 7 books of Harry Potter is his “love” of Lily Potter. Because he “loves” Lily so much, he has to be a jerk to Harry. If Snape had stayed the same way he was in the first book, cold, but still moderately helpful, I think he would have been fine. However, as Harry gets older and –to Snape– became more like James, Snape becomes crueler and crueler to this teenage boy because he felt wrong by the boy’s mother over 20 years earlier. Listen, Snape, you called your best friend a racial slur in front of a bunch of people and then got mad that she didn’t want to hang out with you anymore. Chill. On top of this, his treatment to Neville –and Gryffindors in general– is petty high school crap that a 31-year-old man (as he was in the first book) is still be hung up on. It’s time to move on. Snape is an interesting character, a well-written, great character, but he was a terrible human being.

And now Heathcliff, who got mad that his adopted sister didn’t wait for him after he ran away and instead married a man of means that I think she loved– in her own way– so he was manipulated every situation possible to steal land and make the heirs of his adopted family miserable.

From what I got out of the book, Heathcliff was a street orphan in Liverpool, so Mr. Earnshaw saved him from being Oliver Twist (or possibly kidnapped him) and brought him home to live with his family which has two children approximately his age.

As he grows up he falls in love with is adopted sister Cathrine, and she falls for him. However, this is Victorian England and marrying into a good (read: rich) family is important. As Heathcliff realizes that he will never marry her, he runs away to do who knows what, perhaps join the army, and when he returns Catherine is married to the neighbor boy Edgar Lindon. Heathcliff is so angry about this that he moves into his childhood home where his adopted brother, Hindley, lives and through some means gets his brother to mortgage his house through Heathcliff so that when Hinley dies a short time later, he gets the house. Heathcliff then decides that he will treat Hinley’s son, Hareton, like a servant kind of– a farm hand, which from what I understand is how Heathcliff grew up for the most part. He deprives this young man of growing up to be a gentleman like his father and grandfather, as his family name should allow him to be. Because of Heathcliff, Hareton doesn’t learn to read or write and never gets any kind of schooling.

Heathcliff was never particularly pleasant, but the way he treated Hareton really started to turn me against him.

Out of spite (?) or possibly hatred, Heathcliff married Cathrine’s sister-in-law. In his mind, he is formulating a plan to get the house that the Lindon’s live in. I cannot for the life of me figure out why he wants it so much. He does discuss wanting to get rid of it, and all thoughts of the Lindon family along with it, but I don’t understand.

After Cathrine dies in childbirth with her daughter, Cathy, Heathcliff’s wife realizes that his is not just a misunderstood misanthrope but a terrible human being, and leaves him, several months later giving birth to Heathcliff’s child that she (not confusingly) named Lindon.

It should be mentioned that Cathy is described as looking much more like her father than her mother, except for her eyes, she has Cathrine’s eyes. (This will be important later)

Mrs. Heathcliff dies, and Lindon is sent to live with his uncle, Edgar, and his cousin Cathy. However, Heathcliff discovers that his has a son and decides to take him, even though Lindon had never known his father and knew his uncle and Heathcliff didn’t like children. Because to Heathcliff, Lindon is his property and Heathcliff is obsessed with wanting what is his.

Some time passes, and for whatever reason, young Cathy falls in love with her first cousin Lindon, and Cathy’s father forbids her to see him, but Heathcliff manipulates everything until Heathcliff basically kidnaps and imprisons Cathy while her father is on his deathbed until she agrees to, and then formally marries Lindon her terminally ill cousin. Heathcliff does this because he knows Cathy’s father is dying and that in his will he would pass down the house and lands to Cathy. If Cathy is married it will go directly to her husband.  THEN Heathcliff locks her in a room so she can’t go see her dying father so she can’t tell him that she’s married to Lindon so that he doesn’t have time before dying to change his will.

Then Lindon dies of tuberculosis, and Heathcliff gets the Grange!

This is the part where the Snape stuff really started to hit me.

Heathcliff arrives at his new property, The Grange, and dismisses the servants and decides what he wants and what he doesn’t want to keep. One thing that Heathcliff personally takes is a portrait of Cathrine that was part of a pair with her husband that hung in the parlor. Listening to that part, reminded me so much of Snape ripping apart the photo of the Potter Family and the piece of the letter he found with Lily’s signature from the house in Godric’s Hallow. Heathcliff is forcibly removing Cathrine from her family. Heathcliff also does this super creepy thing where he breaks into her coffin and breaks the side of it so that when he dies, he can have his coffin fitted to it. Which reminds me of the scene in the Deathly Hallows movie where Snape cuddles the dead body of Lily while baby Harry cries in the crib behind him.

Hareton, Hindley’s son that became Heathcliff’s ward, still lives at Wuthering Heights working as a farm hand at this point in the story. Hareton and Cathy now both live there living under Heathcliff’s thumb as he sometimes violently attacks and berated them for existing in his presence. Much like Snape does to Harry. I equate Cathy with Harry and Hareton with Neville a lot in this part of the story. Hindley was never kind to Heathcliff, but I never felt that he was cruel to him. They were just guys that didn’t like each other. Hindley was jealous that his father favored Heathcliff when they were children, but they are now adults. However, after Hindley dies, Heathcliff makes sure that Hareton will have nothing. That he is nothing, the same way that Snape, time and time again, cuts Neville Longbottom off at the knees as he tries his hardest to do everything his teacher says. Like Harry and Neville, both Cathy and Hareton have the power to change the course of things in the book, and in the end, they both, in their own way do.

There comes a moment late in the book where (first cousins) Hareton and Cathy (who are now secretly courting) are reading by the fire, and they look up at Heathcliff. Heathcliff is struck by the fact that they have the same eyes. Cathrine’s eyes, because they are first cousins and these are apparently the family eyes. I’m sure that along with the extra arms their children will have also have the same eyes. STOP MARRYING YOUR COUSIN! Cathy marries all of her cousins. Like go into town and meet someone you are not related to.

Sorry, anyway, Heathcliff looks into these four eyes and sees Cathrine’s eyes and it changes him and then he, like, starves to death because of the ghost of Cathrine. That’s how I understood it.

Snape and Heathcliff both feel that this incredible wrong was done to them by the women they love. I do feel like Heathcliff has an actual argument for this one because Cathrine did say that she would marry him and then changed her mind when she realized they wouldn’t have any money. But to hold onto that for over 20 years and then take it out on children who had nothing to do with it because you can’t take it out on the actual person because they are dead is gross inexcusable behavior. Snape, as I mentioned above, does the same thing. He takes out his grievances with his former classmates and former members of the Orginal Order of the Phoenix out on the second generation, his students who he is responsible for. It’s not cool, and I don’t understand why people excuse abusive, manipulative behavior because of “love.” It’s not love anymore, it’s creepy obsession.

Hareton was very young when is parents died, and unlike Neville, never knew much about them until he was in his early twenties when Cathy tells him that the house he lives in what his father’s family house. Heathcliff, from the time Hareton was around 5, systematically strips away everything about Hareton’s heritage.

Heathcliff manipulates everything around him to get petty revenge that in the end doesn’t matter. At the very least, Snape tried to protect Harry as a part of Lily. He did a terrible job except for the one time that he saves Harry from falling off his broom in the first book, but Snape and Heathcliff are focused on childish revenge fantasies that in the end don’t matter. The “wrong” in both cases were over 20 years prior. Nothing good comes of holding on to these kinds of things. It turns you into a bitter, angry person. That accomplishes nothing in the end.

Have you read Wuthering Heights? What did you think of it? Did you pull any parallels to a modern story?

Until next time Internet,

Deanna