I have a confession to make.
I have never read or watched Harry Potter.
Prior to last week anyway.
I must confess I was raised in a strong Catholic home where my mother had a borderline obsession with spiritual warfare and had been warned to stay far away from Harry Potter. While I shared her belief for a long time and still do to a certain extent, I say to hell with caution. My friend invited me to watch the series with her and so I sat down to watch the first two movies and got hooked immediately after.
As I said, I do still have some reservations about the series related to my Catholic upbringing and also from a standpoint of good art (Just call me a critic). But there is a recurring theme or two that I find particularly beautiful and masterfully written.
As of right now, I have not read the books yet, just watched all eight movies. I did however accidentally buy a digital copy of the series. Don’t ask how I accidentally did it. I meant to buy a paperback set of the books and got duped into a bargain deal without realizing it was a digital copy.
I plan on sitting down with my tablet at some point and reading the digital copies until I have the chance to buy the paperbacks (Rather the money).
Before I get into the themes I wanted to talk about, let me give a slight review of the movies.
The first couple were trash in my opinion. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me in that, and that’s fine, we’re all entitled to our own opinions. Artistic wise in my opinion, I find them to be sorely lacking, saved only by the experienced and elder actors they contained.
The plot was thin and slow at times. Perhaps after having seen the whole series, if I went back and rewatched them I might appreciate them better, but my opinion is pretty low currently.
As child actors, plainly put, I was not impressed by the acting ability. I’ve seen child actors younger than that act better. The lines were either poorly written or poorly delivered, and not just by the children, which leads me to believe the bad acting was more of a problem with the scriptwriting than the actors.
The farther you get into the series and the darker it gets, the better it gets in my opinion. Again, this is just my opinion, if you haven’t seen the series but want to, don’t take my words to heart or form your own opinion without seeing the movies or reading the books.
Bob: *munchin popcorn* Wasn’t planning on it.
Me: Wasn’t planning on what you numnut? Watching the movies or listening to my opinion?
Bob: *shrugs before tossing popcorn and scrambling away like a giant volleyball*
Me: Come back here you coward!
Are you quite finished interrupting?
Me: Um, yeah. . . Sorry.
I think it was around the fourth movie that the plot finally started picking up and the childhood fun and games came to an end. At that moment, I finally became enthralled.
My favorite movies were definitely the last three, with the last one coming in first in my mind.
While the plot did progressively get better and the acting improved to where the main three could actually carry the movie without it falling flat, I still found the writing to be lacking to a certain extent.
Don’t get me wrong, the final war with Voldemort and that arc, in general, was both creative and enthralling. The acting of all characters added in the last four movies was impressive and Ralph Fiennes did an excellent job playing the repulsive and deathly Voldemort. But the real highlight of the last movie had to do with the themes that ran through it that I enjoyed the most and have to give Rowling the most credit for. Their importance peaked the highest with the Deathly Hollows.
But first, before I go on, I have to squirrel for a moment and talk about something else real quick.
Bob: Geez, you really are a squirrel. *sprints away*
Me: GET BACK HERE YOU INSOLENT CREATURE
You two are getting worse than the f***ing real-life distractions I have. I suggest you shut it before I lock you into a closet and toss the key.
I love soundtracks.
But what I love more is good writing music.
And Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is quite possibly the best writing and world-building music I’ve discovered. I’ve gotten mad work done with my world-building New Year’s project thanks to the haunting soundtrack. Some of my favorite parts are Obliviate, Lily’s Theme, Statues, and Courtyard Apocalypse. The Resurrection Stone is also a pretty track and Procession is haunting.
Don’t believe me? Have a listen.
The soundtrack is genuinely calming and stimulating at the same time. Granted, the parts in the movie that contain my favorite pieces of music probably correlate as to why I am so inspired to write while listening to them.
On to my next subject, I’m leaving the theme pertaining to my favorite character for last. 🙂
I honestly don’t know how to introduce this topic and probably won’t talk about it much because there isn’t much for me to say.
Rowlings nailed the theme of friendship.
The dedication and loyalty between Harry, Ron, and Hermione is displayed in a complex and believable manner in correlation with the story. Their acts of heroism to each other and Harry’s mission is what true friendship should look like. There is a manner of unconditional love between the three that you would be hard pressed to find in real life.
To me, their friendship joins the ranks of such like Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings, Jon and Samwell in Game of Thrones, and Sherlock and John in Sherlock Holmes.
Granted, this theme of unconditional friendship doesn’t just extend to the three main characters, but to other side characters as well. Neville, Seamus, and Luna coming to join this group in their escapades at times. In fact, there is a constant give and take between all the characters of Harry Potter; the give and take of friendship.
Now on the my real love of Harry Potter.
In no way can my strong liking of this character be connected to revering his actor. While Alan Rickman is a highly respected actor and I have come to acknowledge and respect his abilities, I must confess I had a strong disliking of him as a child. While the rest of my family revered him and his gorgeous voice, I could only relate to my strong abhorrence in respect to what I considered to be a nasally and bizarre pitch.
I know, I know. Sue me.
Me: F*** off
Over the years I’ve heard plenty from my family in respect to my misguided perceptions of the great Alan Rickman. I was however prejudiced. The only movie I had seen Rickman in growing up was Sense and Sensibility. And I was certainly not fond of his character or perhaps portrayal. He seemed out of place in the light-hearted romance. Granted, I also had a strong dislike of the movie and perhaps needed a scapegoat to release my frustrations on.
Point in fact, I was not a fan of Rickman.
Prior to having seen Harry Potter, I knew a bit about the cold and cunning professor that Rickman played. I knew he died, I think I knew he was a spy and part of a greater ploy, and I think I knew he was in love with Harry’s mother. The extent of my actual knowledge has become hazy between pre and post Potter.
After watching the first few minutes of the first movie, Snape easily became my favorite or most interested in character, though I must confess I am smitten with Lucius Malfoy’s character design (though I do have an ongoing fascination with Jason Isaacs).
I found Rickman to be the most in character and best-acted character in the first few movies. A pity that he didn’t possess a bigger role as he could have perhaps saved the trainwreck they were. And I perhaps found him to become most endearing in Prisoner of Azkaban when he threw himself in front of the children after Remus’ transformation.
His cunning, intelligence, coldness, and secrecy makes him an instant mystery and boy do I love a mystery. Perhaps even more so is his motivations. He is the most difficult character to read, even after having seen the whole series. What is he thinking? What’s going through his head? He is perhaps the most tragic as well.
“Sentimental Children, forever whining how bitterly unfair your lives have been. Well it may have escaped your notice but, life isn’t fair.” – Severus SnapeTweet
And that brings me to my post title.
Out of all the characters in the movies, the last one you would expect to exhibit true love is Snape. The cold, barbery professor who shows indifference at best and dismissive anger at worst. And yet I’m telling you it’s this man who best displays the characteristic of true love?
Yup. You heard me right.
Snape goes to great lengths to keep the only woman he’s ever loved safe. And even after she dies, he does everything to keep her son safe, not just because Harry is their only hope, but because he still loves and honors the memory of Lily.
Name another complex character in literature who possesses the ability to love someone beyond the grave to the extent of giving their life to the one they loved. I certainly can’t think of someone else.
I think the most beautiful part of Snape’s love is the fact that Lily was his only friend growing up. She was everything to him, his only motivation, the only woman he loved, the only person he treasured. Even though he lost her friendship, even if the man that bullied and belittled him as a child won her heart, still Snape loved the gentle woman.
Snape ultimately turns back to the side of the light because of a prophecy he passed on to Voldemort who in turn decided to kill Lily’s son. Unwilling to see Lily be harmed, Snape bargains with Dumbledore to save her and her family, offering to do anything in return, even to become a spy. In the end though, it isn’t enough.
Lily and her husband die and Harry is the sole survivor.
Seventeen years later, at Dumbledore’s flabbergasted question of his surviving love of Lily, Snape answers with one word:
He never stopped loving her for 17 years. He was willing to sacrifice his life and sanity to keep her son safe. He made the ultimate sacrifice so Harry could win the war. And he expected nothing in return. She was dead, there was no reward waiting for him at the end of his long years of toil.
That’s unconditional love.
Was he perfect? Did he perfectly love the woman? No, he most certainly wasn’t and he most certainly did not. And therein lies another masterfully done piece of writing done by Rowlings. Snape is flawed, not a hero, but not a villain. He is a grey character; a human. Someone that we can see ourselves in, even if we don’t especially want to see ourselves in him.
The world needs more men like Severus Snape. More men who are willing to get their hands dirty for the greater good. Who are willing to sacrifice their lives in the memory of someone they love unconditionally.
In the words of Sherlock, “Bitterness is a paralytic, love is a much more vicious motivator”.
I hope someday I am able to write a character and character arc as good as JK Rowlings did. The woman deserves respect for her mastery of human motivations and emotions.
But until then, dear readers, happy reading and have a great day!
Do you agree with my assessment of true love? Lets start a conversation! Leave a comment below and we can discuss it.
P.S. For anyone who is interested, I’m a Slytherin. ;D