Archive for April 26, 2007

Everyone Loves a Good Story, Part 3

April 26, 2007


Sorry for the delay. Life got busy.

Anyway, back to the point. Here are some reasons I like the Harry Potter stories.

Before I begin I think I should just acknowledge that there are some folks who have problems with these stories. I applaude the notion that we should judge literature and moral content is part of that. But I think some folks have taken some elements in these stories a little too seriously while completely missing other things.

Some of what they miss isn’t so good (from my earlier posts you can see that I think J.K. Rowling is a little unrealistic about human nature in some areas and the true nature of magic) — but other things are very praise worthy. Over all I’d say the underlying morality of the Harry Potter stories is excellent.

Now, to the point.

1. The stories are well crafted. Rowling is a good story teller, she particularly is good at weaving character, plot and subplot together into a coherent whole. This takes a great deal of work and is accomplished largely by feel.

2. The larger moral vision of the stories is wonderful — it is the power of self sacrificial love to protect and preserve. This is what I think most negative critics miss. Harry is The Boy Who Lived because his parents died for him — especially his mother. (Others die too — i.e. Dumbledore. I’ll give away who I think will die in the last book — Snape will die for Harry.)

3. Rowling actually seems to like and admire good men — not only as human beings, but as men. I find this refreshing in our world of man-hating. She shows in Dumbledore what a true father looks like — a true patriarch. I think she knows that one of the problems with our world is not that there is too much patriarchy — the real problem is there is not enough.

4. Finally, I could say a lot more, she correctly sees the connections between fear and evil. Voldemort is a coward — his fear of death is the reason he dominates and crushes others.

These are some of the elements that make the Harry Potter stories good stories. They are well-crafted and edifying.