“Harry Potter” after “Deathly Hallows”

On July 15, 2011 many thought the end of Harry Potter had finally come, the movie posters with “it all ends” written over them certainly made it sound like it. However, many fans went beyond staying with Harry “until the very end” of the book series and the film adaptation, continuing to revisit the Wizarding World through attractions, fan fiction, or by simply going back to the books and movies. Then Pottermore opened, Rowling continued writing and everyone went crazy when the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them film adaptation was announced. It didn’t stop there. Rowling continued publishing small snippets of Harry’s world through Pottermore and she recently decided to give her fans a glimpse into their heroes’ lives 17 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, 2 years before the epilogue she wrote then. It seems the movie posters were wrong, Harry Potter doesn’t end.

Harry didn’t stop existing when he defeated Voldemort. To us, he’s a 33 year old wizard who’s still fighting crime. We see him in this way because both Rowling and her fans blatantly refuse to forget him. Rowling kept him alive in many ways, one of them being the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, which has received both critiques and praises. It isn’t difficult to understand why she wrote it. Letting go of a world you’ve been writing about for 10 years is not easy. She probably wanted a “proper” closure and an opportunity to let her fans know that Teddy Lupin was doing all right. But even though I understand the reasons behind the epilogue and was glad to get to know how the Golden Trio’s lives turned out, I sometimes feel I should dislike this way of keeping our hero alive in the same way I both love and dislike the extra material published in Pottermore.

Why I dislike it

I’m a firm believer in the idea that a good story is a collaboration between the author and the reader. The author creates a world, provides the readers with characters, descriptions and a storyline, as well as situations, ideas and settings designed to create certain emotions. The reader is the one to imagine the world with the materials provided by the author. Rowling gives you a description of Rita Skeeter and you are free to imagine her in whatever way you want to within the given limits. Her clothes, her tone of voice, the things she does whenever she’s not bugging Harry, and her backstory are entirely up to you. Some think the way she was portrayed in the films was perfect, some don’t. The same thing goes for all the settings, the shops, magical objects, side characters, etc. The reader fills in the blanks the author leaves using their imagination. We are free to interpret any symbols and things left with no explanations. When the author sets scenes with a certain emotional charge we are the ones to cry or not, laugh or not, feel or not. The author gives you the material, you make it yours.

The reason I sometimes feel I should dislike Rowling’s epilogue and her extra material is that she’s filling some of the blanks usually filled by the reader. She’s somehow closing the story to one possible line among the thousands it could take and we accept it, because even though we made Harry’s story ours, it was hers first. She’s the one with the right to say “that did happen” or “that didn’t happen”.

Why I love it

While I dislike that Rowling is doing the job for the reader to some degree, she’s in her absolute right to do so and I can’t pretend I don’t like to have more information about her characters and the world she created. I enjoy imagining characters back stories and their futures, but it’s nice to hear what characters you grew up with are doing years after you met them from the author herself. Knowing some of my favorite characters are still alive and doing well somewhere in their fictional world makes me smile, it’s like hearing about an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s also interesting to get to know more about side characters. Reading about the things characters as McGonagall had to go through when they were young make you feel more attached to them and make it easier to understand the way Rowling wrote them. And well, reading anything new she writes is both fun and exciting, especially if it has anything to do with Harry Potter.

The extra material gives you a wider perspective on the world Rowling created. When you read a book, you enter a world created by someone else with different beliefs, ideas and experiences from yours which influence said world. You could say you’re taking a glimpse into a section of the author’s mind through their creation. However, the glimpse is quite limited, since you only get to see the finished product, one story in a universe of possible stories. Rowling decided to tell Harry’s story, but she could have chosen to tell Voldemort’s or Dumbledore’s or Snape’s or Lily’s. By providing her readers with epilogues and extra material through Pottermore, Rowling is giving us a chance to take a wider look into her mind and the world she created. Which, of course, I find incredibly amazing.

What do you think about the epilogue and the extra material? Do you hate it? Do you love it? Comment below!