This will be my final post in my series on Harry Potter. Book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was published just a few weeks ago. It broke pretty much every publishing record for a new release and was in the media headlines for days. I won’t go into the plot too much in case some of you decide to read the series. I hate it when I’m reading an article on a book (particularly fiction) and it spoils the story for me. I will try to refrain from doing that.
Book six is a very interesting read and it is shorter than Book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Like previous Potter books, Rowling includes a wide variety of characters in a wide variety of situations. The plot moves fairly quickly and the ending surprised some people. Like most fiction writers, Rowling provides some information and subplots that are somewhat interesting, but not critical to the story. The subplots about Harry and Ginny Weasley and pretty much dating in general do little to further the story. In my opinion this whole subplot could be removed without really hurting the story. What’s more, this particular subplot inserts some questions about morality and objectionable elements.
A large portion of the book is given to discussing the history of the recent wizarding world, particularly the background and rise of Tom Riddle Jr. a.k.a. Lord Voldemort. I found this information interesting and enjoyed seeing how Rowling began to tie some of the stories loose threads together. Other people that I have talked to did not care for this material as much I do. Oh well, maybe it’s because I’m a history person. The book contains the usual smattering of objectionable elements including expletives, somewhat suggestive, language, and most importantly moral ambiguity.
This last point is what I want to discuss for the remainder of this post. My biggest objection to the whole Harry Potter series is Rowling’s ambiguous presentation of morality and ethics. A distorted worldview is probably the most common and subtle of all objectionable elements. An author’s beliefs shape the way he presents his story and the message he is trying to convey. On this point I disagree with the great writer and critic Edgar Allen Poe because I believe all writing is didactic (I mean by that that all writing is meant to convey some message or view).
As humans, our worldviews and perspectives are shaped by what we observe and study. Everything we see or do contributes to how we perceive the world. As a conservative Christian I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and is trustworthy in all of its statements and is the single rule of life and the standard by which all mankind is to be held accountable. My close study of the Bible affects the way I view the world. The worldview and perspective of the Biblical writers influences my world view and perspective. This concept is so basic, I almost feel like I’m insulting your intelligence by discussing this. Forgive me, but I thought it would be good to lay this foundation before I move on in my larger discussion.
People who read Harry Potter are influenced by what they read. The only two options are that they are influenced either positively or negatively. How you determine whether the influence is negative or positive depends on the presuppositions that you bring with you as you read the book. The Harry Potter books present truth as relative and promote a form of situational ethics. Rowling fails to make a clear distinction between those who are good and those who are evil. Throughout all of the books good characters are presented as breaking rules, cheating, lying, and directly disobeying authority. Instead of their receiving punishment for these transgressions, the characters are often rewarded or end up as heroes because they broke the rules. I will say that at least the evil characters are presented as such and are never really made out to be positive or good. It’s just the “good” characters that can’t make up their minds.
I could cite countless examples from the books, but I’ll spare you in this present work. Basically, my problem with Harry Potter is that the world view promotes relative morality and situational ethics. As a Christian this flies in the face of some of my most foundational beliefs and presuppositions. I have enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books, though I would caution others who would like to read them to exert discretion and understanding in their reading. I would definitely not recommend them to be read by children due to their many objectionable elements (especially the false worldview which could harm their developing beliefs). Ironically the books are marketed and supposedly written as children’s books.
Thanks for reading my final post in this series. Thank you for your patience as I wrote this final article. I wish I could spend more time developing this series, but time will not permit me. As always, please share any comments or criticisms that you might have.