I wasn’t always a Harry Potter fan. There was this time when I actually vowed never to read the books because the craze and hype surrounding the series was astounding to the point of being irritating. My dad not knowing about said vow taken, bought me the first four HP books for my birthday (only 4 were out at that time) and I was mad at him (It’s laughable now). Before going to school, I had this habit of reading a few pages of any book while waiting for the school bus to arrive. On one such day my Dad found me and asked me if I had started reading any of the HP books. I said I hadn’t. He shoved Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone into my hands and said “Give it a chance!” I started turning a page. Two pages. Three pages. And I never looked back. My nickname in school became Potter.
The end of the Harry Potter series instilled in me a sudden craving for all books fantasy. It’s true when critics stated that when Harry Potter ended it created a void that couldn’t be replaced. Off-course replace it we did as best as we could with other fantasy books. But that is besides the point. To anyone who is a Potterhead, Harry will never be the boy who lived but the boy who lives on.
Choices that make us
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
No truer words have ever been spoken. Both Harry and Voldemort shared similarities by default. Both were half bloods, Parselmouths, orphaned, raised in a Muggle environment, brought up by people who never understood them, accepted Hogwarts as their true home, showed great potential for the Dark Arts, were born leaders and showed curiosity for things they weren’t supposed to know. At a certain point in their lives they even bore a slight physical resemblance to each other. Lastly both were marked for death.
Based on their shared similarities, let us look at the choices they made that set them apart from each other.
Voldemort shared a deep hatred towards half-bloods and Muggles and slaughtered them by millions in his attempt to convert the Wizarding society into a pure-blood one. Harry on the other hand embraced his half-blood status as it was his last link to his parents and learned to love both worlds- the one that he was brought up in and the one that he was really born for. Voldemort destroyed or hurt the people who raised him whereas Harry strove to mend connections with the Dursleys and forgave them for not understanding him.
Both loved Hogwarts but while Voldemort wanted to use the school as a base for propagating his pure-blood agenda, Harry wanted to preserve the ideals that Hogwarts held that made him accept it as his home in the first place. Voldemort used the Dark Arts for malicious purposes. Harry very early on strives to better his potential for Defence Against the Dark Arts to maintain peace in the Wizarding World. As a leader, Voldemort used fear as a tool to get people to follow him People always followed Harry not out of fear but love and respect. Curiosity is a natural state for most but it is justified by what we do with what we learn. Voldemort used his curiosity with malevolent intent, to gain power, hurt others and create Horcruxes to defeat death. Harry on the other hand used his curiosity to save others and defeat Voldemort. Voldemort and Harry’s physical resemblance to each other is mere coincidence. Both derive their looks from their respective fathers, although Voldemort alters his physical appearance removing any trace of his Muggle born father whom he despised.
Horcruxes and Soul-Searching
“There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!” snarled Voldemort.
“You are quite wrong,” said Dumbledore, speaking as lightly as though they were discussing the matter over drinks. “Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness.”
Although both Harry and Voldemort were marked for death, Voldemort feared death which led him to create the Horcuxes and destroy his soul in the process. He equated death with defeat and conquering death as the act that gave one the ultimate power. Harry on the other hand embraced death and was not afraid of dying and this gave him the ultimate power to actually overcome death and defeat Voldemort.
After he dies, Voldemort soon learns that the only thing worse than death was a soul beyond redemption forced to exist in a state of limbo. He could have done with a bit of soul-searching.
Ironically Harry actually did some “soul-searching” on account of Voldemort.
Love transcending Death
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.
My last section is reserved for Severus Snape, the only character that left everyone unsettled right from the beginning. Every reader loves not only a character they understand or relate to but a character they have failed to understand. No character is more misunderstood than Severus Snape. Severus Snape is the one who teaches us what it means to really really love, to be so steadfast in that love that it even transcends death (He was the living example. Lily proved it too when she died to save Harry). We only get snippets of the instances between him and Lily but it is enough to make us realize that he is always going to love her in an unconditional manner. Even when that love became unrequited when Lily married James.
It also speaks volumes about love having the powerful ability to change us. We know that Snape loses Lily because of his choice to become a Death-Eater but he renounces his ways when he learns that Voldemort is planning to kill Lily. Although his attempt to save Lily fails and she dies, because his love for her still prevails, he takes it upon himself to look after her son because it is the last surviving link to her. He makes Harry and everybody else hate him to keep his self-made promise to Lily that he would do whatever it took to save Harry. To the extent of playing the villain and sacrificing himself in the process. (It helped that he was accomplished at Occlumency and Legilimency). That is True Love defined.
Harry Potter, Lord Voldemort and Severus Snape teach us that people come in different shades. Shades of good (Harry), shades of evil (Voldemort) and shades of grey (Snape).
In the end it is our choices that define us and love that binds us.
Leaving death to be nothing but the next great adventure to the well-organized mind.