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Society and the Love of Harry Potter

by RaeChel Gillis

It’s odd how just one boy can affect the lives of so many people around the world.

We see Scholastic and Hollywood heroes everywhere today. Each new story I read or movie I see has someone idolized or put on a pedestal for something that they have done. However, have any done so much as Mr. Harry Potter? I’m not sure if he is the most courageously bold and intelligent person in fiction ever, but he is easily and honestly the most influential. Staying up with the posts and comments through MuggleNet and seeing all the hype and energy and excitement about a book are amazing. I’m not understating the power of words, but to quote my creative writing teacher, Mr. Klein, “Kids read less these days. It’s just a fact of life we have to deal with, as educators and as semi-intelligent human beings with just a hint of common sense.”

In fact, students read fewer books in count and read fewer pages, since the few books they do pick are smaller and smaller in word count. This is truly sad; for a society to place importance on how large a book is in pages is just disgusting. The quality of the book should matter, not just the quantity.

Harry Potter has been the breaker of this rule though; J. K. Rowling’s books’ steady increase in size is miraculously heightening their sales as well.

I can still remember the day I bought the first book. I went to the bookstore looking for anything on sale and saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the shelf, surrounded by its two companions, …the Prisoner of Azkaban and …the Chamber of Secrets. Along with those treasures was a plethora of other gems, including stuffed animals, bookmarks, notices on the upcoming book, party plan pages, and what seemed like thousands of related books. This devotion to a book intrigued me, and the next thing I knew, I found myself at the counter buying the book. I bought the paperback though, because I felt that the hardcover was too expensive, just in case I didn’t like it…

I have thought many times since then how I need to purchase a hardcover of the first book. But then, some corny sense of nostalgia comes over me, and I remember that day, deciding to appreciate that I have something so wonderful, so beautiful. I think of all the children who are not privileged to know Harry Potter like we do. I feel some sense of anger that they can’t share in his life and his adventures.

But, do we feel this way about any other book? Maybe. I know I do. Then again, I am an avid reader who can find something enjoyable in all books, not just ones about The Boy Who Lived. Sadly, though, society is not like this; they choose their books carefully. It’s just amazing that they chose someone to read about like Harry Potter. He exhibits many of the features of the typical hero, but J. K. Rowling made him a wizard, and this is the catch.

I’m 17 now, and I do not play with dolls, play dress-up, or have to beg my parents to let me stay out past 9 p.m.; however, I can honestly say that I have had fond daydreams and visions of myself in Harry Potter’s, or even more appropriately, Hermione Granger’s place. J. K. Rowling took a seemingly childish theme of dragons, giants, wizards and unicorns and turned it into something that every age can enjoy. I do not know one person that has had an unenjoyable childhood flashback when it comes to reading. Yet, so many of today’s youth (mind you, this is coming from a 17-year-old) do not, cannot, or do not want to experience this kind of feeling. This is what upsets me. We need to encourage society to place more emphasis on creativity, imagination, and the power of books.

For anyone who has played videogames such as “EarthBound,” “Pharaoh,” “Zeus,” “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” “Final Fantasy,” “Morrowind,” or “Heroes of Might and Magic;” for those who have seen movies like The Matrix, Willow, Lord of the Rings, The Thirteenth Floor, or Merlin; or for those who have read books like The Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings series, the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, anything by Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett, or Frank Herbert, we know what this feeling is like. This is a sensation unbeknown to a majority of society today. No one encourages this anymore; no one realizes the kind of emotion it brings. How many of us who idolize Harry Potter can honestly say that we have not found ourselves dreaming of being in his place? Even with the homework, the battles with friends and fiends, and the intense struggle between good and evil, we are hooked. We want to know him, be him, just talk to him. This empty desire is one that we all share. Yet, Harry Potter is merely a character in a book.

Book: that dreaded word. But, does it have to be? Reconsider your hobbies and interests. For any readers who do not regularly have a book on their nightstand, the cover bent and destroyed from lugging it everywhere, the bookmark tassels dirty and falling out of the knot, and your fingers black with the ink from the pages, which are now smeared and nearly illegible, try to do so. Try reading something besides Harry Potter. Something else like it. Anything. Just don’t let yourself fall into the cracks, where reading has next to no importance.

My father read to me even before I was born, and I thank him to this day. That shows dedication, just like what we show to Harry Potter today. Yet, we can show this immense dedication and interest to more than just one series. We can show it to so many more.

As long as we can remember Harry Potter and thank him for the initial interest he and J. K. Rowling brought us, then I think the only thing that a venture into the realms of another book or game would bring us is complete enjoyment and satisfaction. Just remember this when you’re counting down the days to the next Harry Potter books.

Just a note: For this analysis I would like to thank the staff of MuggleNet for encouraging my love and not letting my shy attitude of Harry Potter (since I’m technically not supposed to like it) get the better of me. Also, anyone who owns any of the Harry Potter Trading Card Game, I would like to personally thank you all for sharing in my extremely geeky passion!