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Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Deathly Hallows, Part 1: My Very Opinionated Piece

(Spoiler alert: If you have not seen the movie, or read the book, you may wish to skip this.)

Friday’s Forecast: More Christian Allegory in Harry Potter

This is not a review but more a continuation of my thesis that the Harry Potter books can be considered Christian allegory. As far as I know, J.K. Rowling has not indicated they are and so let me reiterate that this is conjecture on my part—but conjecture that makes sense to me. Rowling may not have been aiming for Christian allegory, but it’s amazing how well things Biblical fit in with the story of Harry.

017Let’s look at the latest movie, The Deathly Hallows, Part 1. First, the title itself. “Hallow” is usually used as a verb and it means “to make holy.” We find that the hallows are the sorcerer’s stone, the invisibility cloak, and the wand used by Dumbledore.

What power does each of these possess? The sorcerer’s stone has the ability to raise the dead. Resurrection of the dead. Obviously we associate that with Jesus.

The invisibility cloak offers protection to the wearer. It has aided Harry throughout each of the books. Would it be too farfetched to associate this with the Holy Spirit?

And the last hallow is the wand. The wand confers great power to its possessor. Great power is certainly an attribute of God.

Three hallows. And three comprising the Godhead. Simple coincidence or did Rowling choose this number and these particular attributes on purpose?

Some critics have given the movie less than glowing reviews. But to me, the movie captures the effect Rowling was going for, if indeed my premise is correct. If the books are Christian symbolism, this movie gives us many parallels, as we have already seen by consideration of the hallows. Let’s delve a little further.

For most of the movie, Harry is cut off from others, except for Hermione and Ron, and even Ron abandons him for a while. He wanders from place to place, in the wilderness, searching for answers, questioning why Dumbledore did not tell him more, beginning to doubt if Dumbledore is good, doubting that he can fulfill the role thrust upon him, and simply wishing he could escape.

Parallels to this in the Bible include the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years, a period of hardship and trials. The people constantly doubt God, just as Harry doubts Dumbledore in the movie. This movie shows powerfully how alone and hopeless Harry feels.

Another example from the Bible is Jesus fasting for forty days and then being tempted by the devil. When the locket is destroyed, who can deny the similarity between Voldemort’s lies and the lies of the devil? And the horcrux is destroyed by a sword. What does a sword in the Bible represent? God’s word. God’s truth.

Also in the Bible we find Jesus praying for the cup to pass from him. His friends slept while he prayed in the garden, totally alone. When he hung on the cross, he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In the same way, Harry feels Dumbledore has forsaken him. This is the time of greatest darkness; this is the time before the greatest victory.

When the early Christians committed to Christianity, they often paid with their lives. In Part 1 of The Deathly Hallows, we see the commitment to Harry also results in this ultimate sacrifice.

And yet Harry endures. He even endures the abandonment of Ron, just as Jesus had to endure the abandonment of Peter. Yet both Ron and Peter return with a new zeal. After passing through this period of darkness, Harry and his followers emerge with a new determination. And we’ll see where that leads in The Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

Enduing the hallows with the attributes of the Godhead; the wandering of Harry in the wilderness; the doubting of Dumbledore, as many doubt God; spewing of lies by Voldemort, sounding much like the devil; destroying the locket, Voldemort’s lies, with a sword, just as Satan’s lies are destroyed with the sword of God; Ron’s abandoning Harry, just as Peter abandoned Jesus; and dying for a commitment, all seem to indicate Biblical themes interwoven throughout The Deathly Hallows.

Did Rowling deliberately set out to make this a Christian allegory, or did these Biblical parallels slip in subconsciously?

Or, am I simply reading something into the story that’s not there?

As always, your opinions are greatly appreciated!

Next Week’s Theme:

Dying to Self; Living for God

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