Earlier this year I found myself watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time since its cinematic debut back in 2001. It was a fun, light hearted adventure that featured Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as the main protagonists. Soon afterwards my fiancé and I sat down to watch The Chamber of Secrets and it was at that moment that I decided I wanted to read the books.
Harry Potter, an orphan, is raised by his emotionally abusive relatives until he discovers that he’s a wizard. This is a startling revelation, but then he also learns that he’s famous – in fact, he’s the most famous wizard in the world because he survived an attack by Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who’s responsible for killing his parents. Interesting? Absolutely! Of course, nineteen years after the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published, Harry’s origin story is well known. Everyone knows it. Just like everyone knows that Frodo Baggins was destined to be the ring keeper and travel to Mount Doom in order to destroy the ring of power. These characters and their exploits are part of pop culture and will therefore continue to be referenced for years to come.
So why does Harry Potter still matter?
We all know that the series follows the adventures of Harry and his best friends Ron and Hermione, as they learn the art of wizardry and the world that surrounds them. Throughout the series we see the progression of these characters as they mature from children into young adults. As their relationships blossom into something more, we see the difficulties that arise when friendships changes into romantic relationships. J.K. Rowling excels at describing these painful experiences. I find that when discussing the series it’s seldom mentioned but never forgotten. When Harry and Cho kiss for the first time? It was awkward, to say the least. But I’m convinced that this awkward kiss makes it relatable to many of us.
Hermione Granger is a powerful protagonist who deserves to be mentioned. When Harry and Ron often struggle to complete their homework or work out their own problems, it’s often Hermione that has the solution. Although she’s mocked, sometimes by her own friends, Hermione’s dedication to her studies gives her an advantage over the rest of her classmates. Despite Professor Snape’s dislike of her, she always raises her hand, waiting patiently (mostly), to answer his questions.
When Harry and Ron struggle to discover who’s attacking their fellow classmates (in Chamber of Secrets), it’s Hermione who figures it out. After her encounter with the monstrous creature results in her being petrified, it’s up to the boys to connect the dots and save the day. While Hermione often takes the high road she is not a pushover, which we learn in Prisoner of Azkaban. After mocking his Gryffindor rivals, Draco Malfoy learns that he has pushed his luck too far, when Hermione punches him in the nose.
The importance of Harry Potter isn’t the main character, it’s the journey he undertakes with his friends, notably Hermione. Throughout the series we see the characters mature as they embark upon adventures and battle dangerous adversaries. Although we encounter many characters, it’s my opinion that Hermione is the most important. With the upcoming release of the new movie, it’s a great time to re-read the whole series.