It all comes to an end on July 15, the Harry Potter saga that is. Sure, we’ve known the fate of our beloved Hogwarts students and faculty, of the Death Eaters and the members of the Order of the Phoenix since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007. But come the 15th of July, we’ll see the dramatization of J.K. Rowling’s sad, dramatic and inspiring tale about The Boy Who Lived take to the silver screen one last time.
And then it will be over.
I’ve been absolutely riveted by the series since my 12-year-old twins got sucked into it when they were in second grade and began gobbling up the books, then the films. Their passion begat my passion. I was soon hooked (hence our recent pilgrimage to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida). Now my 9-year-old is likewise hooked as my husband and I have been reading the series aloud to him over the course of the past few years. (We’re currently on book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.)
And though this was a haunting tale about an orphan who struggles throughout his life with the knowledge that his mother died protecting him and that he was condemned to either kill or be killed by the most sinister wizard of his age without any parents around to provide him guidance or shelter, I think what moved me most about this world of dark and light, of magic and mystery which emerged from Rowling’s rich imagination was Harry’s persistent ache for his parents. Despite their absence, Harry was shaped by his parents who died when he was a baby. The pain of not having them around to rear him was exacerbated by the fact that this smart, sometimes precocious young man was forced to live with an emotionally and at times physically abusive aunt and uncle who openly said he was no good and treated him like an indentured servant. When the series opened, his bedroom was little more than the size of a closet and located beneath a stairwell. In his early years, his craving for love and affection was deep.
To grab you even more by the heart, nearly every time young Harry grew extremely attached to a parent-like figure, that person was violently taken away from him, just like his parents were, leaving him feeling freshly vulnerable all over again. There was the Hogwarts headmaster who took Harry under his wing and imperfectly tried to prepare him and provide him with what he needed to succeed at Harry’s most important task: Defeating the evil wizard Voldemort. Before Dumbledore’s death, Harry discovered that he had a living godfather who’d been his father James’ best friend. This knowledge allowed Harry to fantasize about leaving his abusive aunt and uncle’s home and living someplace where he was loved and wanted . . . only to have Sirius brutally struck down right in front of his eyes.
But there was at least one other person who was always there for Harry from almost the moment he realized he was a wizard: His best friend’s mother Molly Weasley, a woman who already had seven children of her own but took Harry under her care. A fearless defender of her children, the family disciplinarian (consider the Howler she sent to Ron in the second book), an intelligent witch (smarter than her absent-minded professor-like, Ministry of Magic husband Arthur) and member of the organization bent on defeating Voldemort and his disciples, Molly was the only mother figure Harry ever got to enjoy. She showered Harry with physical affection and with Christmas gifts, welcomed him into her home even when his presence brought potential danger to her family. She tried to shield him from information for which she thought he was too young to hear (like the prophecy about Harry and Voldemort in book five). In other words, Molly mothered him. And, unlike other children’s fare where young characters have virtually no positive maternal guidance (I’m thinking of all of Disney’s dead mothers here), at least Molly lasted and heroically thrived through the end of the series. At least Harry didn’t lose her too.
When I recently asked my daughter to name one scene in the entire seven-book series that she found most compelling, she said the one when 11-year-old Harry became obsessed with the Mirror of Erised, before which a person would see a reflection of his or her heart’s desire, was it. What Harry saw was not riches or fame; it was a simple image many take for granted. He saw his mother and father standing on either side of him, smiling and putting their hands on his shoulders. It makes your heart melt, imagining a young child pining away for a fleeting chance to gaze upon the living faces of his parents.
Harry’s parents have sporadically appeared throughout the series, particularly in a poignant scene in the latter half of the final book - and, I imagine, in the final film -- once again, tugging at the heartstrings as Harry outwardly expressed his desire for his mother, even in ghost form, to remain close to him. It drove home the point that for Harry, love and family were and would always matter most. And for my Potter-obsessed kids, that’s a wonderful message indeed.
Originally posted on ModernMom.com