This is the second to last Harry Potter post, in case you’re wondering. And the next one actually has to do with China.
In 2001, after only four of the seven Harry Potter books had been released, two authors wrote “Character, Choice, and Harry Potter” (pdf file). Now that the series is concluded, we can see that they pretty much nailed some of the biggest themes. And the enthusiastic avalanche of people interpreting the series as various sorts of intentional Christian allegory/metaphor/etc. is probably still only just beginning.
Of course there’s much to say about the stories and what author Joanne Rowling might be saying and doing through the series. Those who delve into historical Christian symbolism (and Latin) note rather curious passages, and as if adding quotes from Rowling interviews to all this weren’t more than enough, she includes some more obvious, surface clues in the final book, like by quoting the Bible – twice – never mind the whole Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Stone Table/submissive substitutionary death/baddie-defeating Deeper Magic flashback-inducing climax. Although people could have and maybe should have seen it coming, having the full arc of the story in view shows the writing of (gleefully?) secular NYTimes columnists and (high-strung?) religious people to be more than a little embarrassing.
I don’t think the Harry Potter series is another one-to-one Narnian-type allegory. There are lots of juicy parallels to draw, but they mostly seem relatively superficial; Joanne Rowling seems closer to Tolkien than Lewis when it comes to how she gets her points across, but I assume no one puts her in the same literary league as Tolkien. But I also assume she isn’t necessarily attempting to do the exact same thing, in the same way, as those authors. Either way, the underlying themes of the series (family, self-sacrificial love vs. power, choices, self-determination and character, personal agency and responsibility, death, etc.) are great, especially considering the times in which she writes and in which we live. One might even call them Christian.
For those inclined to analyze Harry Potter, HogwartsProfessor.com seems like a good place to geek out.