Halloween marks the occasion of the death of Nearly Headless Nick (a.k.a. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington), which was caused by having been “hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe” (CoS p. 123).
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We find out in Chapter 12 of Chamber of Secrets that October 31, 1992 is Nick’s five hundredth deathday. Hoping that Harry will attest to Nick’s being impressively frightening so that he might be allowed to join the Headless Hunt, Nick invites Harry and his friends to his Deathday Party. Ron skeptically asks a good question: “Why would anyone want to celebrate the day they died?” And Hermione characteristically looks forward to what she can learn from the experience: “A deathday party? . . . I bet there aren’t many living people who can say they’ve been to one of those—it’ll be fascinating!” (CoS p. 130).
With Hermione’s inquisitive spirit, let’s have a go at wrestling with Ron’s question. Is there something more going on here than a chillingly gothic setting for the horrors to be unleashed by the re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets?
Note: Hogwarts Professor John Granger explains the Epilogue’s context, alchemy, symbolism, and themes, in his book The Deathly Hallows Lectures, and also in a great wrap-up essay that’s a must-read. This post concludes our Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows readthrough.
“All was well.”
When the story ended with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, triumphant, exhausted, filthy, and grieving with their loved ones in the rubble at Hogwarts, I had questions.
Were they ultimately okay? Did they just survive or did they thrive?
When we first meet Harry Potter, he’s a friendless, abused orphan forced to live on the periphery of the only family he knows, and his only experience of love is seeing what passes for it demonstrated in excessive and harmful ways in the spoiling of his cousin. His heritage is kept from him, and his emerging and mysterious abilities mystify him and enrage his aunt and uncle. No one cares for Harry, influences him for good, or shows him how to negotiate his way in the world in a positive or healthy manner.
Note: I apologize for the very long wait for this chapter read-through.
The final chapter starts off with Harry “lying facedown on the ground again” (724). The word “again” here relates to the start of the previous chapter where Harry “lay facedown, listening to the silence” (705). There is commotion around Voldemort because he seems to have passed out. What happened to the Dark Lord? This question relates to what exactly was that thing at King’s Cross that “had the form of a small, naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed-looking…” (706)? One theory is that it was the piece of Voldemort’s soul that was in Harry. This would make sense if not for the fact that Voldemort destroyed the Horcrux by using Avada Kedavra on Harry. Why would the soul fragment be at King’s Cross when it was destroyed? The other theory, one that is supported by the novel, is that it is actually Voldemort himself, de-souled and grotesque because of his dabbling in that dark, macabre magic of making Horcruxes. Continue reading
I’ve got several items of Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows 2 news for you to check out:
1) Big news: the DH 2 Epilogue has been reshot, ditching the heavy “aging” makeup of our protagonists, thank heavens.
2) This contains spoilers of the DH 2 film.
3) The DH 2 poster, which I think is awesome. And another from the final battle.
4) The Harry Potter set tour in London:
This chapter is the crux of the entire series, answering the most important questions that remain, summing up a lot of what the series is about, and packing just about as much symbolism as Rowling could possibly fit into so many pages. It all starts with the title.
King’s Cross: The Name and Place
From Rowling’s Bloomsbury chat post-DH release:
[Read reviews 1-6 here.]
Perhaps there’s a bit of regional bias going on in reviews of DH1? Did reviewers on the East Coast of the States, for instance, have a different take on the film than reviewers on the West Coast?
To take a completely uncontrolled sample, I glanced at the review for The New York Times. DH1 was NYT Critic’s Pick, whatever that means, and A. O. Scott was reasonably favourable, in an NYT sort of way. Scott commends the franchise for its durability, noting that success as a children’s book does not equal success as a film (yes, we’re looking you, Mr Snickett). Scott, like several other reviewers, sees the film as a showcase not for the Greats of the Modern British Screen, but for the trio the stories are really about.
The Harry Potter franchise has always generated wildly divergent opinions. The new movie is no exception.
For those of you, like me, who are amateur movie geeks, you might like to see what the various critics are saying–those who have to watch and write about films for a living, and find themselves experiencing Harry Potter, and those Harry Potter devotees who find themselves reviewing movies. So I’ve pulled together a transatlantic jury of twelve good reviewers and true to bring the critical verdict on the movie.
It’s predictably hung.
As I read the review in preparation for the piece, I found a line from the film being strikingly appropriate: ‘One hears many things, my lord. Whether the truth is among them is not clear.’
Spoiler alert: If you have not seen the movie and you don’t want to read detailed discussion, stop reading now.