C.S. Lewis wrote that sometimes fairy stories may say best what’s to be said; if only J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter novels) had listened, she’d have learned something. The second-biggest flaw of the Potter series is how she swaps genres middle-way through, from fairy-tale to something else. Teen soap-opera maybe?
Images bubble into the author’s mind (says Lewis), at which point they acclimate themselves to some form of expression or other. Maybe a play? Maybe a poem? Maybe an essay? In his case, images of fawns and lions best fit the “fairy tale” genre…and so the legend of Narnia was born.
I enjoyed the first three of Rowling’s Potter novels the most. In my view, they were self-consciously “fairy” in their scope. But with book 4 (Goblet of Fire), we have petty teen romances introduced into the plot, along with the first narrative death in the series. Rowling, in my view, was pressured by her own rising fame, and thinking to feed the masses, she blurred the genre lines and moved her franchise into more of a drama, struggling to be “literature”.
Better for the art had she ended after four books instead of seven. Potter, relying on the deep magic of a mother’s love, could have conquered the evil Voldemort in a flashy ending worthy of a Grimm. Instead, we suffer through all seven years of Hogwarts, watching Harry struggle to maintain shallow relationships with even shallower characters. There isn’t much character development in a fairy tale, after all. Imagine following Hansel and Gretel into their highschool years, watching them struggle with love and acceptance? Absurd! Developing them as characters would run counter to the purpose of the genre!
Anyway – if Rowling wanted to take the plunge, she should have gone in entirely. What we get instead, is an in-between story, with the best of the fairy tale genre getting lost in attempts at drama; unsuccessful attempts, because they’re restrained by the fairy tale elements.
Once the shift to teen-drama had been made, the most interesting relationship (by far) was that between Professor Snape and Harry, but due to the half-hearted effort, we never see genuine human emotion from either character. Snape (probably the real hero of the entire series) is never tempted by genuine love for Harry – instead, he maintains a steadfast, inhuman, hatred towards him.
Anyway – all this is the second biggest flaw with Potter.
What’s the first?
Well, Rowling lets her neo-babelist religion shape the entire series. What’s evil to a modernist? Racism! That’s what! Or, at the very least, some form of adamant anti-egalitarian sentiment. Voldemort’s regime of “Death Eaters” are evil because they want wizarding blood lines to remain pure instead of being tainted by “half-bloods” (wizards who marry non-wizards and copulate).
Worse still, Rowling, like all modernists who get their idea of history from government school and the Discovery Channel, tries to re-create a Nazi-like era of oppression when Voldemort finally takes over – achieving instead, a laughable (not to mention, implausible) situation that robs from whatever genuine appeal the novels had to begin with.
What’s sad is that when Harry Potter first hit the news, he was protested by fundamentalist Christians because, of all things, he uses a wand, does magic, and went to a school of “Witchcraft and Wizardry”.
What the Christians should have been more worried about is the way “Muggles” (a morbid caricature of fundamentalist / puritanical Christians) had an irrational and cartoonish fear of witches, ending with this from the mouths of Potter fans: “Oh dad, stop being a silly muggle! You need to accept flagrant and immoral lifestyles else you’re a square!”
On top of it all, evil incarnate is a “racist” who simply wants to keep wizarding blood pure.
This is the sort of tripe the neo-babelist churn out. They have accepted evil as good and good as evil, so in effect, they’ve lost all notion of what real evil is like.
Only after accepting the existence of real evil can a fairy tale be written with force. In the same way, a good drama must also accept real evil. The author can’t get at real tragedy otherwise; and without a real sense of the tragic, there cannot be what Tolkien called a “Eucatastrophe” – a climax of emotion leading to an explosion of positive sentiment (the ultimate eucatastrophe, says Tolkien, was the resurrection of Christ. All stories, to be truly good, must imitate that Great Story).
Unfortunately, the “teen-fiction” shelves at Barnes & Noble are chocked full of similar such neo-Babelist writings, all of them biased; all of them lacking.