Captain's bLog 072020.5 : Mothers and Women in Harry Potter
Joanne Rowling began writing Harry Potter when she was at her lowest point, struggling as a single mother on welfare and just trying to make ends meet. She used Harry Potter and the Wizarding World as an escape from her everyday life - which is something that I have always been able to connect with. To get her novel published, to be able to share her ideas with the world, she was forced to use only her initials making, J.K. Rowling, because her publisher did not believe that boys would want to read a fantasy book written by a woman. Which is terribly ironic considering that without women Harry Potter would have died before a series could take place around him.
The women of the Harry Potter series are the lifeblood and backbone of the story - without his mother’s love there would be no Boy Who Lived. Without Hermione Granger he never would have made it through the potion antechamber in Sorcerer’s Stone to defeat Quirrel with a turban-covered Voldemort. Without Narcissa Malfoy’s love for her own son, concern that Draco was still alive in the castle, Voldemort would have successfully murdered Harry Potter in the Forbidden Forest early in the morning on May 2nd, 1998.
Because of a mother’s love, her love of her child and wanting to make a better life for her, J.K. Rowling published the first book in her series - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on September 1st, 1998. I was almost 6 - well, I was 5 and going to be 6 in four months and at that age you couldn’t pry those four months from my sticky kid fingers - when I was first introduced to Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. My mom would read me a chapter a night from the first Harry Potter book, tucking me in after the one chapter and promising me that we would visit them again the next night.
But, if anyone knows me, they know that I am very stubborn and impatient - my girlfriend thinks it’s adorable - and having to go one chapter at a time was just not going to fly with me. I taught myself how to read chapter books before the age of 6 because I needed to know what happened to Harry Potter and his friends and my mom just wasn’t going fast enough.
To this day I’m pretty sure my mom hasn’t actually finished reading the first Harry Potter book.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone sparked something in me and I can tell you that Hermione Granger became my idol in the first few months that I had to read and re-read the first book before the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I was already a quiet kid, didn’t have too many friends and didn’t really like cartoons, and I was terrible at video games (which I still am), so reading about someone in a book that was not only older than me but enjoyed reading, enjoyed doing things that the other kids that I knew stuck up their noses at, made me realize that maybe I didn’t have to sit in front of the TV on Saturday mornings with my dad, watching cartoons, to be a normal kid.
Hermione Granger was my introduction to that feeling of connecting with a character on a level deeper than just reading about them. She was everything to me in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, bookish and quiet and just like me in a way that I hadn’t known a book character could be, and because of that, she holds a special place in my heart. Hermione Granger was everything that I was, and Ginny Weasley was everything that I wanted to be.
Ginny Weasley was outgoing and ever willing to take a leap of faith - like having one of the singing Cupids in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets recite to Harry Potter himself that ‘His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad, His hair is as dark as a blackboard. I wish he was mine, he's really divine, The hero who conquered the Dark Lord’ - even if she ended up taking a tumble. She was strong, strong enough to keep the fact that she was being possessed by Tom Riddle’s Diary, a secret until she couldn’t anymore, weakened and almost dead and all because she kept what was happening to herself in an effort to protect her friends and family.
It was something that I understood, hiding that darkness in yourself to protect those around you because you don’t want to be seen as a burden or as a silly little girl. I’ve never been possessed by Tom Riddle but I have struggled with depression for most of my life, battling my own demons and fighting through that Dementor-like darkness that J.K. Rowling used as basis for the Guards of Azkaban.
Women have continually shaped the Harry Potter series, starting with the bookish and kind Hermione Granger and leading up to Nymphadora (“Don’t call me Nymphadora”) Tonks, the strong Metamorphmagus Auror that taught me that it’s okay to be weird and strong and not to take anyone’s shit while also being soft and loving someone that needs loved more than you need to be strong.
The movies will never do the women of the series justice, you’ll never see the strength of Ginny Weasley and the pure love that Luna Lovegood has for her friends or the fight that Tonks put up to get Remus Lupin to understand how he deserved to be loved, portrayed as well on screen as you do between the pages of the books and that’s a shame. It’s a shame because I want to scream from the very top spires of Hogwarts about the strength and love that these women, all of the women in the series, have for each other and for their friends and family.
The women of Harry Potter have taught me to love with my whole heart and to fight for what I believe is right and because of them I am a strong, fierce, woman. The women of Harry Potter have helped shape a generation of people to be better than they ever believed they could be, leading by example and teaching us to fight for what we believe in.
“Happy Mother’s Day”