Harry Potter and the Revolution

Capture

On Tumblr the other day and came across this:

“The basic plot, which cannot be ignored even in the films, is that Harry, Hermione and Ron give up everything for their political struggle. They drop out of high school, they go illegal, defy the government, belong to an underground organization [The Order of the Phoenix], operate out of safe houses and forests and even raid offices of the government and banking offices. This is all done in principled opposition to the Dark Wizard Voldemort and a corrupt bureaucratized government that has been heavily infiltrated with his evil minions. This is revolutionary activity. But the movie version does not present it as such or emphasize these radical aspects of the plot, thereby entirely missing the dramatic sweep and action present in the first half of the last novel.

The novels recognize the importance of alternative media for political struggle. The mainstream press [The Daily Prophet] is shown as unreliable and unprincipled, eventually deteriorating into a fear-mongering propaganda machine for the Voldemort-controlled bureaucracy. For a while the alternative but above ground media [The Quibbler] publishes the real news, but it ceases to print after the daughter of the publisher is kidnapped. In the book, friends of Harry [Lee Jordan, with Fred and George Weasley as frequent guests] start broadcasting the real news from an underground radio station, encrypted with a password. This radio station becomes a critical link for the resistance, which is scattered and weak. Although we are treated to some radio broadcast updates in the movie, they are delivered by a disembodied and professional sounding voice, not our friends the Weasleys. This undermines the important message – a guiding principle behind the media coop – that in a serious situation it becomes necessary to produce your own media and not to rely on ‘professionals’.

The novel makes it clear that in this phase of the struggle the characters romantic lives take a backseat to their political activity, as Harry breaks up with the love of his life [Ginny Weasley] so as to avoid making her a target for Voldemort’s forces, who are known to use torture and kidnapping as tactics. The ‘love triangle’ that becomes the focus of the movie isn’t even really present in the books. In the books, the relationship between Harry and Hermione is totally platonic – Ron is shown as jealous, but the feeling is entirely without foundation. In the book Harry says to Ron: “I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It’s always been like that. I thought you knew” (pg 378, DH US Hardback). This conveys that men and women can be close comrades and friends without being involved romantically. But in the film, Harry and Hermione are shown dancing romantically, and Harry’s line to Ron about his brotherly feeling towards Hermione does not even make it into the film. This completely undermines the important message that jealousy is counter-productive and has toxic effects, which is an important feminist message for young people.”

Love it. I can’t seem to find the original source but it originally appeared on Mugglenet and then was shared around (if anyone can find me a source to credit that would be awesome). Reading this after living in Turkey during the unrest of last summer made it really resonate with me as I saw then the mainstream media feed lies to the people, and saw the young people of Turkey gradually lose faith in their leaders and take to the streets night after night in an effort to take back control of their country.  It was a reading of the books that had gone over my head and really changed the tone of those final books for me. And changed them for the better.

What do you think? Should Rowling be teaching our children about revolution? Is this a mis-reading of a fun fantasy story?

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Marrying the Animal

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One thought on “Harry Potter and the Revolution

  1. Oh, I absolutely see how the seventh book can be read as a revolution. I would argue that the fifth book is more about revolution than the seventh book, though. It’s really in the fifth book that we start to see how corrupt the Ministry really is, and Harry makes the conscious decision to start defying them. The seventh book is definitely Harry going the full nine yards and taking off to live as a rebel, but by that point the Ministry is basically being run by Voldemort anyway, so I find by that point it’s less about revolution against the government, and more about stopping Voldemort and destroying his power base (part of which being the Ministry).

    Like

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