“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, December 6, 2009

“Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas.”

For Harry, death is very real – his parents, Dumbledore, his godfather Sirius Black, and several other close friends are taken away from him by death. His deep love for his friends causes him to be mysteriously drawn to death – he longs to be with them again, to follow them through death. (Voldemort, on the other hand, refuses friendship, valuing only his own life, to which he clings.) Strangely enough, Harry discovers that Dumbledore’s journey was similar – his mother and younger sister died when he was young, and when faced with the chance to bring them back with the resurrection stone, Dumbledore is sorely tempted.

Again and again in Harry Potter, we encounter the theme that love endures even death and draws us on through death. At the end of The Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends encounter the Death Chamber, at the center of which is a stone archway “hung with a tattered black curtain or veil” (OotP 773). Harry hears voices from behind this strange door, and later he finds that Luna (who, like Harry, lost her mother) did as well. “It’s not as though I’ll never see Mum again, is it?...You heard them, just beyond the veil, didn’t you?” (OotP 863). Luna holds out hope that not even death can separate her from her mother. J. K. Rowling clearly thought this idea was essential to her story, considering the epigraph to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

“Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in what is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.” – William Penn, More Fruits of Solitude
This theme of love enduring death is the central theme of Harry Potter. As we look further into Harry’s journey and his growing knowledge of death, we will see that this idea can be stated more strongly. Love does not merely survive. Love overcomes death. If Rowling’s septology can be put in three words, this is it.

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