The Many Faces of the Harry Potter Epic

There are over nine Facebook groups at FAU that are Potter related, with over seven hundred members combined. It doesn’t take much to realize that excitement is building over the release of Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series. The last edition is set to hit stores July 21. But since so much time has gone by, why not take the time to brush up on the complicated plot and intricate foreshadowing that Potter series author J.K Rowling has sewn into the last six books.

Book Number 1: The Sorcerer’s Stone

Keep in mind that the The Sorcerer’s Stone isn’t just an introductory book. Make no mistake, what may seem like ordinary introductions are actually mega clues given by author J.K Rowling. One of the most important tips while reading this book is to always have a dictionary. Every single name in the Harry Potter epic has meaning, meanings which give us clues. Take for instance Severus Snape, the name says it all. Snape alludes to his ties to the dark side but at the same time, the name Severus implies that Snape himself may in the end be directly responsible for bringing down the dark lord by severing the snake. Also consider the names of Lilly and Petunia. They’re sisters and both are named after flowers. Lilies are known as beautiful flowers that die quickly, what about Petunias? This book jumps right into the biggest theme among the Harry Potter epic which is death. The sorcer’s stone, which can keep the one who is in possession of the stone alive forever, in the end, was destroyed. The message here would seem to be that death must always come, and those who try and outsmart it are foolish.

Book Number 2: The Chamber of Secrets

Again we see a pattern with names. The new defense against the dark arts professor is named Gilderoy Lockhart. Gilded gold is a type of fake gold used to make furniture. It looks great on the outside but if the first layer fades the furniture is ruined, much like Lockhart, he looks and sounds competent but by the end of the book we come to realize that he is a fraud.

The Chamber of Secrets is really the kicking off point for one of the main themes of Harry Potter, which is the internal struggle between good and evil. Harry notices several personality traits in the book – like being able to talk to snakes, which are similar to that of the dark lord. Dumbledore insures Harry that he is only what he chooses to be. He is in Gryffindor because he asked the sorting hat to place him into the Gryffindor house. Harry had the power to choose to be a Gryffindor just as he can choose to be good.

This theme of good vs. evil continues throughout the epic, especially in book five. The little conversation between Dumbledore and Harry raises an important question, how exactly did Dumbledore know Harry had asked the sorting hat to place him in Gryffindor house? In fact, Dumbledore seems to know many things that the other characters don’t. In the second book Harry and Ron are hiding under the invisibility cloak in Hagrid’s house when Dumbledore walks in with Fudge. Although Harry and Ron were silent, somehow it seemed as though Dumbledore knew they were there.

There are many crazy theories about how Dumbledore seems to know everything, one theory even suggests that Dumbledore is an animagus and can change into a bumblebee. Dumbledore, bumblebee, I don’t know. Either way, it makes it hard for readers to believe that Dumbledore wouldn’t have suspected an attack from Professor Snape in the sixth book. Again, let’s not forget Severus Snape. Rowling is leaving us clues, and soon all of these questions will be answered.

Book Number 3: The Prisoner of Azkataban

The third book is the first we hear about James Potter’s old school buddy and Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black. The book’s central theme is revenge with Harry trying to think of ways to kill his innocent godfather, while the rest of the school tries to think of ways to keep our hero safe. Ron and Hermione don’t speak to Harry for most of the book. It is also in the third book that we meet Hermonie’s cat Crookshankes, and there are many clues that lead to the conclusion that Crookshanks is no ordinary cat.

Lupin is the doomed Defense against the Dark Arts teacher – just in case your keeping track -making him third in three books. Don’t underestimate Lupin, his character is very important. There is a theory that Lupin is in fact James Potter and that James and Lupin switched identities right before Voldemort killed Lily and James. Again, this is just a theory. The climactic ending, which takes place in the Shrieking Shack, is where we meet this novel’s bad guy: a rat, Ron’s rat to be exact. Bad Scabbers. If a rat could end up being Voldemort’s main guy, there are endless possibilities for Crookshankes.

Book Number 4: The Goblet of Fire

In The Goblet of Fire, the easy plots disappear and the story gets more complicated. Again Professor Snape, despite overwhelming evidence, proves himself to be good natured. In this book nothing is as it seems. In book four, we finally get insight into Tom Riddle, a.k.a Lord Voldamort. Readers get to enter the Riddle household and Riddles history begins to unfold. Lord Voldemort is no longer a raging greedy irrational monster, but a powerful creature with emotions and a complicated history.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of book four is learning about the unforgivable curses; Imperius, Cruciatus and Avada Kedavra. These curses end up playing important roles in later books. Finally, we get to see Harry shed his prepubescent skin, although nothing too interesting happens. Harry has an actual crush on Cho Chang, Hermonie hooks up with Krum, and Ron’s emotions for Hermonie are no longer deniable. Another interesting hint is Harry’s ability to ignore the power of veelas. Veelas, who have special power over men, seem to completely engulf Ron but Harry seems immune to them. Could Harry have defensive powers that we don’t know about?

Book Number 5: The Order of the Phoenix

The line has been drawn. Book five spells out exactly who is good and who is evil. The character who really starts to shine in this installment is Neville Longbottem. If you’ve been ignoring him throughout the other books, you’ve made a great mistake. The prophecy, which lays out Harry Potter’s fate, could have been about Neville. We also learn about Longbottem’s parents. They were part of the Order just like Lily and James Potter, but sadly they went crazy.

Throughout the epic Rowling’s drops several hints that Neville’s memory is well below average. But in book five we begin to see that his wizarding skills are fair. Perhaps his memory is being affected by outside influences. Book five also encourages readers to ask, what’s the deal with Aunt Petunia? When Harry got a howler after protecting himself from the dementors, Petunia seemed to know what was going on. Petunia even knew about Azkaban. What else does she know about? Professor Snape’s history also comes into focus in the fifth book. We get to look into his past, when he was a troubled student at Hogwarts. Professor Snape was ridiculed by James Potter and his posse. This is most likely the reason for Snape’s harsh treatment of Harry.

My favorite new character in book five is Luna Lovegood. She seems like she always knows more than everyone else and she has proven herself to be an outstanding witch. She is also very loyal to Harry and helps combat his bad reputation.

Book Number 6: The Half Blood Prince

In the book six the wizard world gets a new Minister of Magic, perhaps one with more of a backbone than Fudge. Again, Rowling’s clues with names prove true in the case of Fudge. The name Fudge represents something that is sweet, but can be molded very easily, just like the Minister.

If you thought book five was a little too dark, book six might not be for you. Horcruxes are the biggest part of the plot. Horcruxes give Voldemort the power to slice his soul into different pieces and place them into material items, such as the journal and the ring, in order to preserve his life and continue in his quest for immoritality. Snape finally gets his wish and becomes the new Defense against the Dark Arts professor, but don’t assume for one second that this is a coincidence. Dumbledore put him into the position for a very distinct reason.

One big question left unanswered in book six is who is R.A.B – the person who stole the charm from Dumbledore’s neck and replaced it with a fake one. Also is Snape really evil? Is he the one who actually caused the demise of Dumbledore, or as many people believe, was he a part of some elaborate plot to defeat the dark side? Throughout the epic Dumbledore has consistently stuck up for Snape, and as we have seen in the past, Dumbledore always seems to know more than the other characters. Soon all of these questions will be answered and the epic will be over.