There are numerous reasons as to why Harry Potter has made such an impact on my life. It could be attributed to my childhood, as my dad read each and every one of the books out loud to my brother and I; from the time I was a little girl all the way until I was in 8th grade (and he had to hide Deathly Hallows so he could read it out loud without me skipping ahead). Even now he will say, in his best impression of Richard Harris, “Alas! Earwax!” Or when I am angry about something he said, he will break into his best Hagrid impersonation and mumble “shouldn’t o’ said that!” Reading them together was a ten-year commitment of love and bonding that we still share today.
It could be attributed to my overactive imagination and my love of anything fantasy or childlike; reminding me that there is something wonderful and magical in everyday, and reiterating the truth that the world is not painted in black and white, but rather everyone is a complex mixture of good and bad. As Sirius, our favorite Dogfather, says, “we’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
It could also be attributed to my teenage crushes on Tom Felton and Matthew Lewis, aka Draco and Neville (come on, you all adored them too).
But for whatever reasons, Harry Potter is never far from my mind or my heart. Call it childish dreaming, pitiful naiveté, or just being nerdy, but Harry Potter has shaped my life, and I know it has shaped many others who grew up with the lovable wizard-kids from Hogwarts. The relatable aspects are abundant in the world-renown series, and I decided to pin point a few of the most important.
1. Privet Drive.
Everyone has one; the school cafeteria in 7th grade where you had no friends, the class with the teacher that makes you feel idiotic, or even, unfortunately, maybe your own home. But wherever it is, isn’t it uplifting to think that a giant like Hagrid will come to rescue you from your awkward and desolate situations? It most certainly is. I am still waiting for my Hogwarts letter.
2. Mirror of Erised.
What is your deepest desire? I appreciate that Harry sees his parents, while Ron sees himself rising above his station as the youngest brother to receive more attention from his family. Both have their merit. Whatever our deepest desires are, they are not pointless, but as Dumbledore reminds us, “it does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.”
3. Severus Snape reminds us that ALL people are redeemable.
Yes, I am obsessed with Alan Rickman. Yes, Snape is my favorite character. And yes, I even esteemed him before all the truth was released about him in the final book. When I was in 7th grade, and the Half-Blood Prince was released, I remember becoming more perplexed than angered at Snape’s actions. Why? Then, lo and behold, we find out that he has been protecting Harry all along due to his unrequited love for Lily, his doe. This reminds us that people who have been gravely hurt put up fronts to protect themselves. Severus Snape was worthy of a second chance when he called Lily the M-word (yes, I won’t say it, as it is a bad word people!) Everyone is worthy of the benefit of the doubt. So maybe, when you meet a person who is Snape-esque, give them a break and try to understand their perspective and their trials in life.
4. The Four Houses.
I am not sure about all of you, but I immediately try and sort people that I meet into Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slythern, or Gryffindor as soon as I meet them, but there is something to be said about having traits from all of the houses. For example, I am a Gryffindor with slightly Hufflepuff leanings (such as my extreme loyalty and friendship qualities). There is no bad house, not even Slytherin. What is wrong with ambitious tendencies? We need the people who are going to enact change and be the leaders, and I am sorry, but a Hufflepuff who worries about everyone feeling included just won’t cut it. We should appreciate people from all walks of life, Slytherin and Gryffindor alike.
5. J.K. Rowling.
What an inspiration. Everyone, stop reading this article and go on Netflix to watch Magic Beyond Worlds, which is a movie based on her life. A single mother who was living on welfare before becoming one of the highest paid and most successful authors in the world. J.K. Rowling once said, “and so rock bottom became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” She is an inspiration to us all that magic can come true in our daily lives, muggles or not.
6. Ronald Weasley.
Yes, Hermoine and Harry are the natural leaders, the underdogs who rose above what people expected from them and saved the day, but rarely do people talk about our favorite, arachnophobia ridden red-head. Ronald Weasley is the youngest of five brothers, with a cute little sister to boot. He is the ignored child, stuck in the middle of hilarious twins and the only daughter.
Ronald Bilius Weasley displays the weakness in us all, that we all have wavering courage (even us Gryffindor’s) and we make mistakes. But Ron always came back, apologized, and tried his hardest to be the “best mate” that Harry deserved. He shows the complexity of friendship, and I applaud his relatable human flaws… Specifically the fear of spiders. “Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be ‘follow the butterflies’ or something.” Ah Ron, why indeed.
Yes, folks, it is time to talk about Dumbledore’s self pronounced best magic of all. Love. In perhaps one of my favorite scenes, the infirmary scene in the Sorcerer’s Stone, Dumbledore explains to little firstie Harry that Lily saved her only son due to her inexorable love for him… I am actually tearing up as I write this. Harry Potter shows that love for our friends and family will help us rise above the dark, but what about loving our enemies?
In Order of the Phoenix, when Voldemort is trying to possess Harry’s mind, Harry throws him out, not by using Occlumency (cause, you know, those lessons with Snape were a bust), but rather by explaining that he felt sorry for Voldemort because he will “never know love. Or friendship.” Harry’s mother’s love protected him, and Harry protects the inhabitants of Hogwarts in the final battle due to his loyalty and love: “they’re protected from you. Haven’t you noticed how none of the spells you put on them aren’t binding? You can’t torture them. You can’t touch them.” Love, above all else, is the greatest magic.
There you have it, 7 reasons why Harry Potter is relatable. Harry Potter taught me how to be a caring friend, an independent woman, a diligent (but still fun-loving) student, and how to revere love above all. Snape’s love for Lily, Lily’s love for Harry, and Harry’s love for his friends and the Wizarding World was a chain reaction that us lowly muggles should respect and attempt to spread. After all, “those that love us never really leave us.” They are with us “always.”
So raise your glasses of butterbeer (or firewhisley to those of you 21 and over) to J.K. Rowling and her rag-tag group of misfits, centars, professors, and giants; may her creative genius never die and may the world of Harry Potter continue to flourish and capture the hearts of children and adults everywhere who believe in magic.