All posts by Deborah Chan/Arabella

About Deborah Chan/Arabella

Deborah Chan, previously “Arabella Figg” I read the first three Harry Potter books in 1999 to see what the fuss was about and was hooked. After participating at HogwartsProfessor.com for several years, and then here at the pub, I joined the Blogengamot in 2009. I enjoy discussing and writing about the books I love, and particularly enjoy looking into characters' psychological and emotional motivations. My husband Rick and I live in Spokane, WA, where I’m a columnist for our newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. Our cat Casey Rose is my gravatar. Butterbeers all around!

JKR loses faith in Ron & Hermione as couple

by Deborah Chan/Arabella

Yes, the pub is still in operation. We’re just in that kind of post-New Year’s, snoozy, shut-in-the-house-by-the-massive-winter-storm-and-subzero temps apocalypse.

However, whilst we’ve been busy shoveling snow in the U.S., J.K. Rowling has been shoveling Ron and Hermione out of marital happiness. And right before Valentine’s Day, no less.

Heartless.

She has decided that Ron and Hermione really don’t work as a couple.

In an interview with Emma Watson, guest editor for Wonderland magazine, she says:

“If I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

Watson responded,

“I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.”

A huge controversy, while the books were being published, was over the Shipping Wars—who would end up with whom. Some hated the Ron and Hermione pairing, feeling that Harry and Hermione made the better pair. Others liked Hermirone in an opposites-attract-kind-of-way. We had some pretty heated arguments in the pub on the subject.

John Granger has written a post at HogPro on Rowling’s reverse, which you can check out here.

But here are some questions I have for you:

  1. Given the saga’s alchemical nature, did Rowling make a mistake? What do you think she meant by “reasons, but not for reasons of credibility,” “wish fulfillment” and “clinging to the plot”? Did she write her characters into a romantic corner because of her alchemical scaffold? In other words, did she fail to make character sense in order to make alchemical sense?
  2. What do you think of an author who rejects their own storyline and characters as written? Does this make the author wrong at the time but now correct? Can an author reverse herself and not damage her story?
  3. How does this affect your feelings about the original story? Do you feel let down by Rowlings musings?.
  4. Do you ever feel that Rowling, much as we appreciate her for giving us such a splendid story, would do better to stop tinkering with the story post-saga?

Rowling writes Harry Potter prequel play

Are we ready for a play about Harry’s years before Hogwarts?

According to ew.com:

J.K. Rowling says she is working on a play about the boy wizard’s life before he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Rowling said in a statement Friday that the play will “explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast. “

Rowling will be a co-producer on the show, along with veteran theater producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender. The statement said Rowling will collaborate with a writer but will not write the script herself.

Here is more:

The focus here seems to be on Harry’s more Dickensian life with the Dursley clan and his interior life—and certainly that life was more closely tied to the Wizarding World than Harry realizes in his first few years at Hogwarts….

Rowling says:

“Over the years I have received countless approaches about turning Harry Potter into a theatrical production, but Sonia and Colin’s vision was the only one that really made sense to me, and which had the sensitivity, intensity and intimacy I thought appropriate for bringing Harry’s story to the stage. After a year in gestation it is exciting to see this project moving on to the next phase.”

I expect we’ll see where the magical community intersected with his life, including Arabella Figg and Daedelus Diggle.

What do you think?

The Best YA novel

At EW.com, book editor Tina Jordan asks, What’s the best YA novel of all time?

She writes:

As the book editor for EW, I read a lot. I mean, a lot—at least a book a day. (It helps that I have a long commute—at least an hour each way on the train.) And what I’ve been finding of late is that I read more YA than anything else. Not because the books’ plot-propelled arcs make them satisfyingly swift reads (though I find that’s true), or because I don’t have the attention span or chops for “adult” books (please: can we dispense with the belief, once and for all, that YA is meant just for the under-21 set?). No, I’m reading a lot of YUA because I’m finding that some of the best, most innovative work in fiction these days is being done in the genre: gutsy topics, imaginative storylines, utterly fearless writing styoles (like blank verse).

Then Jordan goes on to say how flustered she became when someone asked her what was the best YA novel of all time. I find this question challenging too, because there are books that are great, that are considered great, and those that are no t necessarily “great,” but favorites. Especially because YA has become such a huge category spanning such a long period of time—from L.M. Montgomery to Madeleine L’Engle to Judy Blume to J.K. Rowling to John Green—and now includes the new NA (New Adult) category.

I do think the Harry Potter series is the best because of its many layers, its depth, its characterization and themes, its literary and alchemical scaffolding, its symbolism, and for all the reasons we here love it.

Starting tomorrow, EW is running a bracket game that asks this very question.

You might want to participate, but let’s discuss it here, too. Instead of just the best, let’s have categories.

1)      What do you think are the all time five best YA novels (and include a best, if you wish) and why?

2)      What do you feel are the most influential YA novels and why?

3)      What are your favorites and why?

4)      If you could only have ten YA novels (this includes series) to keep, what would they be?

 

 

Family Ties in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—Part 5: The Grangers and the Lovegoods

This continues a series begun last spring. If you’re new to this series, or wish a refresher, see Part 1–The Magical World, Part 2—Institutions and Groups, Part 3—The Trio, and Part 4—The Evanses and Dursleys for this series’ introduction and context.

The Grangers

The Grangers are Muggles, and Hermione is the only Muggle-born character we see who struggles between her love for and loyalty to both her blood family and wizarding family. Hermione is lucky—her parents are enthusiastic about their daughter’s magical abilities, embrace the magical world and her school, and are proud of her accomplishments.

Muggle parents are fascinating to contemplate. What do they think when they learn the source of their child’s strange, unfocused and troubling abilities? When their 11-year olds get a letter from complete strangers inviting them to a school the family has never heard of, to be taught to use their strange abilities? Who would believe it? We never hear of a Parent’s Day at Hogwarts, so do the parents ever even visit the school where their children spend seven years? Also, once the child enters the magical world, he or she is also leaving the Muggle world and its interests, most likely for good. Do the parents mourn? Worry? Feel conflicted over divided loyalties? Do they have the urge to pull their child out of the Wizarding World, and what happens to a magical Muggle child denied a wizarding education?

Unfortunately, we never get a glimpse into these quandaries beyond Hermione’s parents, and we get very little there.

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Family Ties in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—Part 4: The Evanses and the Dursleys

See Part 1–The Magical World, Part 2—Institutions and Groups, and Part 3—The Trio for this series’ introduction and context.

The Evanses

To understand the Dursley family dynamic, we need to look back and examine Petunia and Lily’s Evans’ family.

According to The Prince’s Tale (Chapter 23, DH), Petunia and her younger sister Lily had a normal sibling relationship until Lily’s magical future came between them. Petunia was protective toward Lily, fearing exposure of her sister’s frightening special abilities could be dangerous. But suddenly, with a revelation from “that awful boy” Severus Snape, these abilities gave Lily a bright future Petunia couldn’t share. In addition, now Severus was Lily’s best friend and confidante instead of big sister Petunia. Naturally Petunia was hurt and jealous.

Petunia so longed to be magical too that she wrote a desperate letter begging to be allowed to go to Hogwarts. When she received a kindly letter from the headmaster telling her this was impossible, Petunia was crushed and then humiliated when Lily and Severus read the letter.

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Family Ties in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—Part 3

After exploring family dynamics in Part 1—The Magical World and Part 2–Institutions and Groups, we move on to individual British wizarding families. The posts on these families will be shorter than Parts 1 and 2.

To clarify the term “family,” I use it interchangeably in both the exact sense—family through blood and adoption—and broader sense—“found families” who regard each other as if they were biological family, through love, propinquity, and/or shared values uniting them in a family-type unit.

In OotP we see familial connection and disconnection in conventional and unconventional families suffering painful estrangements, death, division, insanity, emotional injury, imprisonment, and absence. Rowling’s imperfect families echo our own and their familiar struggles raise familiar questions. Is the family structure nurturing or chaotic? How are family members supported or shut out? When do parental expectations go too far? How does abuse impact children’s lives into adulthood and are they doomed to repeat unhealthy behaviors? Does the family allow individuality or dominate with the family narrative? How is unity usurped from within and without? What is the breaking point of family relationship and what is the fallout? Can deep wounds and rifts heal?

In OotP we learn more about families with whom we’re already familiar and are given for the first time critical information about others. I’ll examine one or more at a time. (All page references are from the Scholastic editions.)

The Trio

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are not merely a soul triptych of body/mind/spirit, alchemical trio, or even just friends. They are the primary unconventional family in the series, safety net and family to each other in every way. Continue reading

Were You Formed By A Fictional Character?

According to a new study (now unavailable to view) from researchers at Ohio State University, “

when you ‘lose yourself’ inside the world of a fictional character while reading a story, you may actually end up changing your own behaviour and thoughts to match that of the character”.

As an article in The Guardian reporting on this says,

Good lord above! If this is really true then I dread to think what havoc is wreaked by people who’ve just finished reading A Clockwork Orange; what unrealistic expectations of romance are held by fans of Jane Austen; what heights of passion are reached by Wuthering Heights aficionados on a daily basis.

It goes on to say,

But I’m not sure this is hugely earth-shattering news to anyone who loves reading. I’ve known I tend towards “experience-taking” when I read for ages; when I was younger I even tried to adopt the speech patterns of characters I admired – embarrassingly enough, when it was epic fantasy.

Have you ever found yourself emulating a literary character? How did you do it and how did others react to it?

Family Ties in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—Part 2

This is the second in a series on the theme of family in OotP. Part 1 gives an introduction to this series and explores the global backdrop of the magical world’s racial/family divisions and interrelationship.

A Note on Beings

As we don’t encounter veelas in OotP and learn very little about them, I don’t include them but will reference them under the Weasleys. I also didn’t include werewolves, being/beast hybrids, “shunted between the Being and Beast divisions for many years,” according to Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them (xiii). As they are a danger to others (as well as themselves), they lack family structure and don’t usually breed (which is why Remus Lupin fears for his unborn child). Although they share anger against wizard oppression, they seem to be loners who unite under Fenrir Greyback under Voldemort only to achieve power over wizards through infecting others, especially children.

What Is Family?

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says “Friends are family you choose for yourself.” For the purposes of this essay series, the terms “family” and “community” may be interchangeable in both the exact sense—those related by blood or adoption (such as Harry, Hermione, and Remus being absorbed into the Weasley family)—and the broader sense—those who regard each other as if they were biological family, through love and shared values. A family community may also be a workplace, school environment or ideal-driven brotherhood.

Of course, not every family or community operates smoothly, or treats its members well.

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