What can I say about my love for these books that hasn't already been said by millions of other readers? Well, naturally, I am (almost unhealthily) obsessed with the books and have managed to get my skeptical 27-year-old boyfriend hooked on them as well. I moved to Ottawa, Canada for the sole purpose of doing my Master of Arts degree in children's literature and fantasy and so that I could do my thesis on Harry Potter. I wouldn't have settled for anything less.
Potter Profile - Laurie
October 26, 2003
How and when did you get in to Harry Potter?
Quite frankly, I had been hearing so much about the books from the media and my professors that I asked for them for Christmas a couple of years ago. I haven't looked back since.
Which Harry Potter book is your favorite?
My favourite book is Order of the Phoenix by far. As Rowling writes her style is developing and maturing. She is truly growing into a wonderfully accomplished writer. Also, this last book was exceedingly dark and she pulled it off gloriously. I can't wait to read more!
What character can you relate to most?
I think I relate to Lupin's character the most. He just wants to enjoy his friends in an environment where people accept him for who he is. I live for my friends and for those whom I love. Lupin is the same way.
Are you satisfied with the handling of the "boy/girl stuff" in book 5?
Yes I am because there is still plenty of time for couples to pair off. Besides, the focus of book five was not supposed to be the "who's dating who" of Hogwarts. It was all about emotion and passion and issues of fate vs. free-will. The point was to explore the difference between active
and inactive choice as well as the love we have for each other as human beings, not just for one particular individual. Too much detail about Ron/Hermione, etc. would have only clouded the important themes.
What did you think was the most exciting thing that happened in book 5? What was the most disturbing? What left the biggest impression on you?
The most exciting event in book five, for me, was to see the Order in action. That final battle scene where everyone is fighting the death eaters, wand fire bouncing off of everything, is fantastic and really rather compelling to read. I also got rather excited about the notion of
Dumbledore's Army and Harry's DADA classes. To me, this was a natural step because Harry, though he has had some unusual experience and extra lessons to help his prowess, is really rather skilled in that area. I was glad to see that finally acknowledged not just by Rowling and her readers, but also by the other students at Hogwarts.
I thought the most disturbing thing in book 5 was Harry's anger, but in a good way. Rowling captured a tortured adolescent's emotional angst with incredible authenticity. I was very impressed and it rounded out Harry's character into something more rich and substantial. He is no longer the conventional hero of fantasy with his tell-tale wound and his impossible quest; there is something more to him now and I love that we get to delve into that special place as readers.
The aspect which left the biggest impression on me was when Dumbledore had Harry in his office towards the end. Here Dumbledore is telling Harry about his own plan and how he, too, can make mistakes. What in all honesty had me in tears for 2 days, was the single tear that escaped down Dumbledore's face at the end of his confession. Not only are we privy to how Dumbledore's mind
might be working, but the tear signified Dumbledore's fallibility. Yes, he is fallible and it was heart-breaking to see that even the greatest wizard (on the side of good) could be at a loss. It showed Dumbledore's humanity, whereas to date the text almost encourages us to see him as invincible and arguably, as a deity of sorts. As I said, it really tore me up for a while.
Was the character that died the one you thought it would be? (Be honest now!)
Oh no, I was completely surprised. I was convinced it was going to be Hagrid until about 250 pages into the book. Then during the climatic scene at the Ministry, I was terrified that it was going to be Neville (he is, by far, my favourite character).
Which house would you like to be in and why? Do you think the Sorting Hat would place you in that house?
I would love to be a member of Ravenclaw so that I could boast about my cleverness. :) In actuality, I would probably be placed in Hufflepuff. :)
Do you have any interesting HP stories to share?
Back in May, I taught a Harry Potter class for one week, 9:00-3:00 for a group of twenty grade 8-11 students. It was a blast. However, due to time restraints we only had time to do the first book and film. I wish we could have done more and had another three weeks, but what can you do? The students in my class really enjoyed the opportunity to critically analyse books that they love so much. I would do it again in a heartbeart and eventually hope to teach Harry Potter at the high school level.
Do you have anything else you'd like to add? Maybe a theory you've concocted, a shout-out?
Seeing how I have just completed my MA thesis on Harry Potter, I have many theories; however, I will only bother you with a couple.
First: I firmly believe that the house-elves enslavement was brought about due to their superior magical ability. Think about it. They can perform complex magic without the aid of a wand (something wizards must have in order to do powerful and intricate spells) and they can apparate at will (something wizards need a license for because it is so dangerous). Also, consider the incident with Barty Crouch, Jr. and Winky. He explicitly says that she bonds him to her, using her "special brand of magic" and that he was powerless to resist her spell. It's only when the Ministry officials send the barrage of stunning charms into the woods that is the spell broken.
Naturally, due to the tendency (as Hermione points out in book 5) for wizards to generally believe that they are superior to other creatures, it is conceivable that they enslaved the house-elves in order to control them and maintain their position of dominance. After all, if you notice, the entirety of Harry and the gang's History of Magic lessons seem to revolve around civil unrest (giant wars, goblin rebellions). Clearly, the wizarding race believes they are superior to all other creatues and do not appreciate anything that upsets that delicate balance. Of course, this is all represented by the Fountain of Magical Brethren. But don't get me started on that! We're treading into graduate thesis waters.....
Secondly, I believe (as do others) that Dumbledore is an animagus. We know that he was the old Transfiguration teacher before he became Headmaster; therefore, it is logical to assume that since he was a master at transfiguration that he can also change his form. Due to Rowling's
information about the origin of Dumbledore's name, I think that he can transform/figure into a bumblebee. This would explain how he seems to know almost everything that happens at the school, while also dispelling the myth that he is omniscient (because there have been several instances that have proven him in error).