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The True Magic of Harry Potter

The True Magic of Harry Potter

It's character, not wizardry, that counts.


The story of Harry Potter, whether in written or movie form, has captured – and held – the imaginations of millions throughout the world.  Although J.K. Rowling is certainly a talented and creative author, that is not the real secret of her appeal.  Ironically, one of the keys to success in popular culture is to play to old, classic themes – in a fresh and innovative manner.  Stories like Harry Potter’s resonate with so many of us because they touch on universal themes and values. 

The overarching principle that runs through each installment of the series is that character counts.  This lesson is illustrated at many different points along Harry’s journey. 

As Snape remarked disdainfully, Harry is, in fact, a “mediocre magician”.  His only truly unique magic is his ability to create a “Patronus”.  And even that is based on his character, on his ability to take pleasure and think positive, happy thoughts.   

What really sets Harry apart is not his wizardry.  He consistently demonstrates the virtues of courage, loyalty and love. 

Nowhere is this more evident (spoiler alert) than in his final showdown with Voldemort where Harry is willing to risk it all – his life included – to destroy the evil that his enemy represents.   Harry knows that being good and doing what’s right is even more precious than life itself. 

But he doesn’t just demonstrate his adherence to this truth in the major dramatic moments.  It is a reality he lives with.  Dumbledore lauds Harry for his “humility” while rebuking himself for the mistake of pride in intellect. He praises his “infinitely more admirable brother” for his simplicity in just doing what’s right and recognizes in Harry the same qualities and abilities.  Dumbledore finally sees clearly that goodness is the ultimate triumph, even over intellect (the university degrees of the SS are a constant, eloquent reminder of this fact).  

Ultimately Dumbledore dies and Harry has to stand on his own and fight his own battles, the most difficult one of course not being the one with He Who Shall Not Be Named, but with himself.  He has to find the inner strength to act with independence and conviction.  “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”  

And finally, Harry recognizes the value of friendship.  Right down to the “happily ever after” ending, the bonds of loyalty and commitment to Ron and Hermione remain unbreakable. 

Not only are the lessons from Harry Potter timeless and invaluable but it’s hard to think of a more entertaining way to learn them!

December 18, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 14

(14) Leah, January 5, 2011 11:12 PM

Harry Potter: the UNIVERSAL message of LOVE over POWER

What I've taken from the story of Harry Potter is that the greatest magical power is really "love." It was his mother's love that saved him from the killing curse and left a mark of power on him forever. In the end, when all nations come together, I believe it will be the choice of "love over power" that will unite the world under one law. Years ago, before I started the baal teshuva journey, it was this very story and theme that sparked my journey towards finding HaShem and discovering my divine heritage. Baruch HaShem and thank you Harry Potter!!!! Another great movie message: AVATAR

(13) leah, December 26, 2010 4:19 AM

the hoax

i never heard of the hoax thing. a jewish boy in the 1700s wrote about a yeshiva where majic is taught? and jk found a copy? could be. but maybe someone recently took jk's idea and made it sound jewish as a joke.

(12) , December 24, 2010 8:04 AM

The Harry Potter/Hirshy Porter Hoax needs to know that J K Rowling plagiarised her material from the writings of a 19th Century Yeshiva student. For example, Hogwarts Schools was originally the Chazerwurst Beis Midrash under Rosh Yeshiva Hagaon HaRav Trumpeldore, and the first book in the series was 'Hirshy Porter and the Half-baked Blince'. How did Rowling get away with it all?!

(11) Nechamah, December 22, 2010 1:12 AM

did not die

I don't think of it as a christian theme, but rather very Jewish. How many Jewish parents gave up everything, even their own lives, so their children could survive? How many Jews sacrificed themselves so the rest of us could live? (Remember Rabbi Yehuda bagbag, blocking the way so that Romans could not get the rabbis?) And how many times were we as a people on the brink of death, destruction? How many times would it have been easier to give up? Yet we fought to survive, to get back to life, to give life, to live. Harry didn't actually die, but he did make a choice. As our ancestors did, as many of us had in every generation.

(10) Den, December 21, 2010 11:48 PM

Quotable ideas

There have been a few quotable ideas in the Harry Potter series, one that comes to mind is from the first book/film where the Prof says, "It is easy to stand up to your enemies but much harder to stand up to your friends." A good concept when we are teaching the young not to bow to peer pressure.

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