“It is our choices, Harry, that show what
we truly are, far more than our abilities.” 1
Says Albus Dumbledore to Harry , in ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ , the second book of arguably the modern world’s most popular series. Perhaps this was the mantra which the author , J.K. Rowling , borne in mind while penning down her classics , or else what are the attributes which made the series stand out (and how!!) amidst a cluster of magic and fiction stories being churned out!
Despite being an out and out magical story set in a fictional world of wizards and witches , the author never chooses to emphasize on ‘magic’ as a do-it-all means or solution to all the chaos and problems. The beauty and richness of the tale lies in the fact that it describes the magical world as just another world , like us , filled with their own problems , some of them being same as ours. Magic is also bounded by certain constraints (which, incidentally are regulated by the Ministry of Magic, just like ours ). Not at a single point the story chooses to imbibe in the mind of readers that ‘Oh..wish I was a wizard..then I would have everything ’ ! and that , can easily be recognized as a great achievement for a story so deeply rooted in the realms of witchcraft and wizardry. This attribute strikingly comes across in the sixth book ‘The Half Blood Prince’(Chapter 1) , in the meeting of the Minister of Magic and the Muggle(non-wizard) Prime minister , when the later says-
‘ You are wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out –well-anything!’ 2
To which , the Minister of Magic replies –
‘The trouble is ,the other side can do magic too,Prime Minister’, 3
Infact , since in such a world she describes , everyone is equipped with the magical powers ,so ultimately , the attributes emerging as the sole factors leading to a victory or defeat are just the same as in a non-magical world i.e. honesty , valor , nobility , love etc. and hence the validity , relevance and acceptance of the unparalleled literary skill of Ms. Rowling.
However , there is no denying the fact that the amazing and enchanting world she weaves from the word ‘go’ in the first book itself is the major base on which the entire story of the wizard-kid lies upon , and arguably it is the major draw for the readers. Her ability of attention to detail is uncanny. Right from the minutest detail of the Privet Drive-residence of the Durseley’s, to the floor to ceiling-accurate description of the mysterious,grand and huge Hogwarts castle , she excels everywhere. Infact , just after reading the first book , you can almost visualize the setups of the book.
The characterization of people is also done to such a depth that after a book or two , you can sometimes even predict the reaction of a particular character to an instance.
She has sketched Harry as a boy ,who being used to pain and misery from birth, is unperturbed by little hiccups on his way , and though he himself doesn’t realize this, extraordinarily brave. He didn’t had anyone who cared for him (or vice versa) until he reaches Hogwarts , so he is always extremely wary of his friends and never wants anyone to suffer because of him. In the penultimate book (Half Blood Prince) , he breaks up with Ginny Weasley , whom he loved dearly just because he did not want her to be in danger because of her association with him.
Ronald Weasley or Ron , Harry’s best friend is an image of a typical wizard boy. His entire family consists of wizards and witches and so he is the most familiar of the wizarding world out of the three friends. However , under the pressure of living upto the expectations setup by his elder brothers he is mostly nervous and sheepish.
Hermoine Granger , the most intelligent witch and student of Hogwarts. Initially she is very bookish and unadventurous , but courtesy Harry’s and Ron’s company , she soons transforms into a studious yet fun loving and brave girl.
Besides . all the characters have been explored to death , and even in the deepest stratum of the extremist characters like Lord Voldemart , one finds the basic human attributes leading to such a growth. Lord Voldemart or Tom Marvolo Riddle , might be infamous as the gruesome and ruthless dark wizard (and rightly so!) , but the roots lie in the troubled childhood he had. Never having witnessed any love or tenderness , he turned into the Dark Lord. Living in an asylum , with his muggle dad leaving his helpless mother(a witch) to die , he unassumingly sprouted a hatred for people in general and muggles in particular.