I wasn’t going to reread the Harry Potter series this year. I really wasn’t. Unfortunately, at the end of May, I realized I’d be very disappointed in myself come July 31st if I didn’t, at least, try to get through the series before the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Now, I wish I had started sooner, but I think I *might* just be able to get the books done in time–with a little binge-reading here and there.
Since the Harry Potter Alliance is doing a Remembrall Readathon, I decided to join in (so my reread would have an official name). It’s comforting to know that according to their reread schedule, I’m not terribly behind yet. I do want to read other books in-between Harry Potter novels (No A Song of Ice and Fire. I don’t completely hate myself), but we’ll see how feasible that is as I go along. I’ve already finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and started Chamber of Secrets so I’m on a confidence high right now that might not last until the end of June.
Maybe, I’ll just have to bribe myself with a Neville Longbottom Funko Pop to keep on schedule.
From here on out, there will be spoilers. If you haven’t read the entire series, steer clear!
I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in ninth grade. I was late to the series thanks to being a hipster about popular book series as a preteen. As a twelve year old, I was reading The Lord of the Rings, Time Quartet, and The Dark is Rising series and snubbing my nose at Harry Potter. Of course (surprising no one) once I started Rowling’s series, I fell in love. It didn’t even take me terribly long to catch up on the four books and one film out then.
I’ve reread the first novels repeatedly since then. In 10th grade alone, I probably reread The Order of the Phoenix four times (it was a comfort read during a particularly bad time). The only book I have never reread is The Deathly Hallows. I’m telling you now that I’m both anticipating and dreading that one. (Hedwig!!)
Because it’s been so long since I’ve read the entire series, I figured I’d do little write-ups on the blog after I finish each book. I want to chronicle my thoughts, changes of opinions, and questions as I go along.
And, so far, Dear Readers, I have Thoughts.
In The Sorcerer’s Stone, all the children see Dumbledore as the Great Hero, the only one who Voldemort was ever frightened of, and the one who keeps Hogwarts safe. Before finishing the series, I completely shared their faith. I thought Dumbledore was amazing! He was even one of my favorite adult characters.
Now, I’m surprised to find that I don’t think that quite so much. Of course, Dumbledore is wise and says deep things, but it’s obvious from the start that he isn’t infallible.
The real struggle of rereading Harry Potter as an adult is coming to terms with how flawed characters like Dumbledore and even Hagrid are. Hagrid’s behavior with Norbert bothered me to no end this time around. He allowed two children to smuggle an illegal dragon out of Hogwarts! That doesn’t seem like something a responsible adult should do. Above and beyond that, he doesn’t step forward when they are caught or even say he is sorry for getting them detention. It’s his fault all the other Gryffindor students loath Harry and Hermione and he doesn’t say a word! It doesn’t seem right.
Dumbledore, in the same vein, comes across as almost criminally negligent in his treatment of Harry. He knows the prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort at this point, and while I understand why he doesn’t forbid Harry to go after the Stone, I don’t get why he just gives Harry the invisibility cloak and stands back. It might be Harry’s right to fight Voldemort, but really! If Harry is going to go up against one of the greatest dark wizards of all time, shouldn’t he have a tiny bit of specialized training? Harry could have died in the first book if Dumbledore had arrived seconds later. That doesn’t seem like the behavior of a good mentor.
It’s also worth saying that I still can’t forgive Dumbledore for keeping the prophecy secret for so long. Harry would have been much better prepared come the end if he had been trained all along. It was selfish of Dumbledore to keep quiet, and I can’t think so positively of him any more because of his decisions.
With all that off my chest (phew), I can tell you that I really look forward to seeing how my feelings about the other adult characters change as the books go along. I know some people have serious problems with Sirius, and I’m sort of suspecting that I will too after my issues with Dumbledore and Hagrid in this book.
The Brave Little Toaster
Another character who I feel very different about now is Neville Longbottom–only, unlike Dumbledore and Hagrid, my opinion on him has changed in a positive way.
Neville was never my favorite character. I liked him well enough by the end of the series, but at the beginning, I found him sort of annoying and babyish. Admittedly, he can be a little immature, but now, I realize that he’s also very brave and noble. I appreciate so much now how he stands up to Malfoy and the trio in the first book. He isn’t combative like Ron or confident like Harry and that’s why it’s wonderful when he steps up.
It’s weird to admit, but it’s only recently that I realized Neville’s life was just as rough as Harry’s before Hogwarts. His parents were both essentially gone and his extended family bullied him. Unfortunately, his bad childhood shows its effects more visibly on him than Harry–which makes him easy pickings for people like Malfoy. Still, he is in Gryffindor for a reason and he proves himself when someone disrespects his family or puts others in jeopardy. He might still shake when he’s doing something brave, but that doesn’t make his actions any less impressive.
Knowing already how he develops over the course of the books, I so want to see if I grow more and more fond of him. While some characters (ahem, like Ron) are getting more on my nerves now, it’s nice to find a different character that I just want to hug and encourage.
I still adore Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as much as ever. It’s nice to realize that I’m still in love with this series after all these years. Sometimes, I do worry that I’m going to outgrow Rowling’s books, but it’s nice to know that, so far, this isn’t a series that I outgrow so much as one I learn to appreciate in different ways.
Curiosities and Quandaries for Further Investigation
- What happens to Oliver Wood?
- Do we ever learn the Bloody Baron’s backstory?
- Very personal, but what DOES Dumbledore see in the Mirror of Erised?
- How does one tell Fred and George apart exactly?
- What are other countries’ wizard banks like?
- Need to find out what my want would be made of!
- When does Dumbledore learn about the Horcruxes exactly?
Who is your favorite Harry Potter character now vs. when you first read the series?
Image Source: Home of the Nutty