I’m definitely feeling mixed about the end of Harry Potter.
It didn’t go the way I wanted it to, and hoped it would. But is it still something I can love? Can I forgive it, or explain it away, or just learn to see things a different way?
I wanted Voldemort to have redemption. I felt pity for him. I suppose I believe- though Rowling says it’s Harry’s choices that differentiate him from Voldemort- that Voldemort never really had a choice. Or if he did, it was rather a choice between:
a- Stop expecting any kind of attention, love, or respect, and just accept that you were born into a world that doesn’t care and doesn’t want you, and won’t give a crap when you die, and perhaps will cause that death itself.
or b- Get out there and DEMAND something, if not love, then at least FEAR and RESPECT.
I was feeling that Rowling’s series was set up to teach us the value of love, and how to raise children. The bad people and kids in HP were ALL victims of some messed up childhood. Dudley was spoiled and shown no guidance. Malfoy was shown guidance in the wrong direction. Snape was abused and disparaged. Voldemort was ignored.
Of all of them, Harry had it the best. Yes he was alone, and lived with a family that didn’t ‘love’ him. But at least they didn’t abandon him. Whatever they did to him, it wasn’t enough to ‘break’ him- after he’d been imbued with the SERIOUS love that his mother and father gave him right from his birth. Whether he could consciously remember that love or not- his subconscious would remember what it was like- and I feel- give him strength.
And then his mother died for him. That would not only give him mental strength he didn’t know about, it also saved his life numerous times.
So he had it pretty good. Then when he came of age, he plunged into the biggest most accepting family ever, Hogwarts, with the steady hand of Dumbledore watching over him, with Quidditch on the side, with best friends and a following of fans- that was pretty sweet for him.
Sure he had had some bad luck in his life. The Dursely’s. His parents died. But compare that to Voldemort.
Nobody cared about Voldemort from the start. Nobody loved him. Nobody would have died to save him. Nobody could raise him, because there was nobody who could give him guidance, because nobody around when he was a boy understood his gifts. Nobody was stronger or smarter than him. No punishment on him would ever stick. He would never come to understand that hurting another was bad, because until Harry came along, no-one could ever physically hurt him due to his magic.
Of course they could hurt him mentally though. By ignoring him. Isn’t that about the worst thing we can do to someone? In tribal societies, even worse than death or some other punishment would be exile. You fall off the edge of the world. What kind of life would it be with NO connection to everything that had ever mattered?
Voldemort came into a world where he was already an exile, with no roots, and that didn’t understand him and couldn’t give him any guidance. Presumably he was moved from place to place, a problem child no-one had the means to deal with.
So is it any wonder, when Dumbledore happened upon him and tried to take responsibility, that he wasn’t interested? Why should he trust Dumbledore, when no-one had ever stuck by him before?
I have complete sympathy with Voldemort through every stage of his life. And I do not think he deserves to spend the rest of eternity agonized with a fraction of a soul, suffering for mistakes he never knew any better about.
Even Harry himself looks at the despicable baby Voldemort in the white space after he’s been Kedavra’d, and feels like a coward for doing nothing. And so he should. If it’s anyone’s responsibility to step up to the plate and make things right for Voldemort, it was him. He who had so much more than Voldemort had ever had. And by more- I mean of genuine love, and friendship. Voldemort never had that.
Harry should have died to save Voldemort’s soul. Because Voldemort’s soul was not evil, and did not deserve to be punished forever. Of course Voldemort’s body had to die, as we would kill a cancer in our body, but not his soul.
Because is a cancer a root cause, or a symptom? Surely it’s a symptom of something else. Something at large in the world, or in the body, or in our genes. Is it Voldemort’s fault then that HE was the one that was turned, by the world, by the body, by his environment, into a cancer? How could it be?
So how does punishing for eternity the cancer help the body at large? It doesn’t. It’s like blaming all the ills of the world on one person, and making him pay, when he was only ever just a focus point for the disease. Was everyone sweetness and light before he came along? Were there no anti-muggle feelings before he came along?
Of course there were. He just corralled them into one unit. One family.
Harry should have died trying to delve into Voldemort’s past, into his soul, trying to find one spark that was still salvageable- and asking that spark- ‘are you happy with what you’ve done?’
Then the spark- in the image of a child Voldemort, perhaps before he goes into the cave to permanently damage those children for the first time- would look at the spread of his life, and say- no. I’m sorry for all of that.
Then Harry would hug the spark, the first human warmth Voldemort ever receives, and the remorse would begin, and all the soul fragments would come rushing back into him, and the pain would be enormous and cleansing and the world would feel it, and after, he’d be gone.
And Harry’s work would be done.
I wanted to see that so bad.
Instead we get Harry’s happy life in the epilogue. Seems selfish. Is he out there- trying to prevent another Voldemort from being ignored and abused as a child? Perhaps, but we get no image of that. We should have. Where is the effort to make sure this kind of thing never happens again? Not just for the sake of the people the next Voldemort would kill/hurt, but also for the sake of the next Voldemort itself.
Find the root cause in society and stub it out, rather than wait for the cancers to come roaring out. Or at least try.
I could talk about this at length.
Other small points-
Harry beat Voldemort on a technicality. He had completely by chance happened to disarm Malfoy earlier. And this meant- through weird and new wand mechanics- that he was the true owner of the Elder wand. So that’s how he beat Voldemort? That random chance? Makes me pity Voldemort even more- he tries and tries and does everything he can think of, and Harry just lucks out again and manages to win through sheer chance. Again. One reason I never liked the first book too- Harry beats Voldemort by doing nothing more than just exisiting, and having once been loved. Makes it seem like there is NOTHING Voldemort can do to beat him.
The sword of Gryffyndor- why was it in the sorting hat? Didn’t that goblin make off with it? Did he return it? I doubt that. Was it the ‘ghost’ of the Gryffyndor sword? I’m not a fan of that either.
I did enjoy this book though. I’ve tried to talk myself round to think- well- if Voldemort was utterly destroyed by the final duel- then maybe it’s OK. After all, every one of his 7 parts of soul were destroyed- doesn’t that mean that his soul also was dead? So there would be no snivelly disgusting baby in the white space- there would just be nothing. No Voldemort soul left.
That would be OK. I can understand that. He was so far gone there was nothing for it but total annihilation. We’d like to redeem him but it’s not possible- that kind of vibe. But seems to be precluded by Dumbledore suggesting Voldemort will return to the white space, and that it will go badly for him there. I’d like to have seen even Dumbledore stepping up then, saying- ‘I’ll take care of it, Harry’. Or someone, someone!, at least TRYING to heal the sickness that was Voldemort, rather than just coming together to wipe him out.
I think I’ll just have to believe that Voldemort was completely destroyed for me to feel like I really like the books.