Five Tough Lessons That “Harry Potter” Taught Me

Harry Potter is a book full of wisdom in all shapes and sizes. As a story that spans across Harry’s teen years, it contains so many life lessons that are invaluable to both characters and readers. It’s not all smooth sailing, however, and many of these lessons are hard to come to terms with. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as important or valuable as the more pleasant ones. Here are the lessons we need, if not the ones we wanted.

 

1. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” (SS 214).  – Albus Dumbledore

As an avid Potter fan, this is one that I personally still struggle with – how do you tear yourself away from a magical world? From any world that a good book presents you with, for that matter? But even for bookworms, real life is still important. It is a fine line you have to walk; books give us a portal to another world, but we can’t simply live vicariously through our favorite characters. We have to take them with us into our own lives.

 

 

 

2. Death is indiscriminate.

It could be argued that Harry Potter sees as much death of beloved characters to be on par with Game of Thrones – which is saying something. The whole series is centered and bounded by the death of Harry’s parents at the hands of Voldemort. And it’s not just Harry’s life that is irreversibly affected; death indiscriminately picks and chooses throughout the series: Hedwig, Dobby, Cedric, Remus and Tonks, Sirius… There are people that get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time or happy endings that are ruined by a blast of reality. Because death is indiscriminate, and it strikes at families and friends as randomly as a roll of the dice.

 

Caption Contest, week of August 11, 2013

 

 

3. Life isn’t fair.

Death may be a cruel fiend, but it doesn’t mean that life is any easier. One of the toughest lessons is that life isn’t fair, and nobody is going to have a smooth-sailing life. Harry grows up with a rotten childhood. Hermione sacrifices herself in her parents’ memories just to assure their safety. Ron’s large, happy family is torn apart by injury and death. Remus lives a life afflicted by a condition he never deserved. Neville’s parents face a fate worse than death. Sirius spends 12 YEARS IN AZKABAN! The list goes on. Accepting that life isn’t fair is one of the hardest things to do. Realizing that hope and our loved ones are the most powerful tools against life’s unfairness is the next lesson.

 

Caption Contest, week of November 3, 2013

 

 

4. “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us” (OotP).  – Sirius Black

There is no good and evil… only power…. (SS 214).” No, don’t worry, I didn’t actually take Voldemort’s whole power speech to heart. No Quirrell in the making over here, thank you. What I have taken from Harry Potter is that “good” and “evil” are never so clear cut. People are complicated, with inner reasoning that outsiders might never understand. And the majority of J.K. Rowling’s characters reflect this: Severus Snape, Narcissa Malfoy, Albus Dumbledore, and James Potter, for a start. It’s not all about coming to “understand” your villains either. It’s about realizing that your heroes are not virtuous angels with no flaws. That can be a harder lesson.

 

Sirius Black encourages Harry Potter

 

 

5. Chocolate is only partly the answer.

Noooooo! Are you telling me that chocolate only soothes the effects of Dementors? It won’t get rid of my sadness altogether? Lupin’s lesson tells us that defeating your demons takes much more than a slab of dark chocolatey goodness; it takes a lot of power of belief in your happier moments to triumph over your dark ones. Chocolate may make you “feel better,” but it won’t vanquish Dementors – that’s up to you.

 

Emily Lawrence

I was first handed my mum’s copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on my eighth birthday, and I’ve never looked back. As a proud Hufflepuff and part of the Australian-Weasley branch, I hope to one-day walk in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling and write my own magical stories. No matter where life takes me, Harry Potter will always be home.

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