Why Harry Potter Is A Timeless Series
By Farrha Khan
A series that has inspired movies, encyclopedias, board games, video games, and even a theme park, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter is now inevitably a timeless piece.
Some may argue that it isn’t a timeless piece and that it can not stand up against other timeless pieces such as Moby Dick or Lord of the Rings.
It’s been more than a decade since the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published and about 2 years since the last of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released. The series has inspired thousands of fan fiction stories, fan art and fan made websites, games and even a Quidditch competition in England. But more importantly, the readers of the Harry Potter series are not only children of all ages but adults too.
Many, considering the fact that the first of the series was released in 1997, have either grown up with the series, eagerly awaiting each installment’s release, or have just now discovered it and read them all in one hit. I personally started reading the series by the persuasion of a close friend. While I enjoyed learning about this whole new magical world, I couldn’t quite understand the hype surrounding the series until I reached book number three. Of course, this is different for everyone, as some people love it 5 pages in to the first book. But for me, the storyline of the friendship and treachery shared between Sirius, Remus and Peter fascinated me and drew me further into the whole series. This I believe is the main draw of the series.
The fact that there are 7 books, the fact that within the story line there are so many different generations of people facing differing issues, the fact that there is so many sub-plots and relationships, sociological issues and questions explored within, the series lends itself to be very easily related to by any number of people from all over the world (and it has been translated into more than 67 official languages already).
To put it simply, there are many reasons this series should be considered a timeless piece. Some of these include:
Story structure: The heroic quest of little Harry Potter against the evil Lord Voldemort generally follows the traditional structure of any fantasy epic, albeit drawn out over 7 books. The fact that there is seven books allowed JK Rowling to really dig deep and flesh out the plot, sub plot and explain the main workings of the magical world. White each novel holds its own adventures and own main problem, climaxing and drawing to a conclusion to the end of the novel, the over-all plot holds it all together and builds an inevitable climax in book 7. Because of its typical fantasy structure, one could almost guess the outcome of the main plot line, but what keeps the story strong are the sub-plots and the minor characters and their storylines that the reader can follow just as easily.
Good vs. Evil: This is the most important theme of the series. The triumph over good, the want for our hero to defeat evil. Or in Harry Potter’s case, the power of love to do good over evil. It’s epic, timeless and the theme most people relate to.
Motifs and Symbolism: There are many motifs, themes and symbolisms in the series and each lend the reader to draw out whatever meaning they have, relate it to their own lives, their own relationships. Although this is a story mostly set in a magical world, it is also a story based in contemporary society – a society we can all relate to, whether it is family structure and relationships, political and governmental issues, school environment, bullies and friendship, sport, etc. These are just a few of the things I could draw meaning from and relate back to my own life and society. These aspects that will remain a part of society, cultures and communities well into the future. The fact that the magical world is just a hidden part of today’s society makes it more meaningful than say Moby Dick’s society or a completely fantastical world like Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
Racism and Prejudice: The political undercurrent that flows through all the novels in the Harry Potter series is one that I find striking with a humorous irony. It may not be obvious or even intentional but it is there. Oppression, inequality, poverty, racism is all very evident in the main three character’s. Harry is oppressed and almost slave like in the home of the Dursley’s, Ron and his family is stricken with poverty, and Hermione is a “Mudblood’ – not a pure blood wizard with a wizarding heritage, as her parents are both non-magical. Voldemort’s main prejudiced cause is to rid the world of Muggles (non-magical folk). The Dursley’s are frightened of magic, and oppress Harry because of his wizarding heritage. The prejudice in Harry Potter exists on both sides. Can you make a comparison to our society today?
The role in education: Another reason why Harry Potter is a timeless piece is because of the very prominent role it is playing in our education system. Many schools around the world have Harry Potter firmly in their syllabus as a teaching tool. The popularity of the series has made it became a novel that teachers are eagerly using to promote reading, writing and understanding prose. I personally would have loved to have Harry Potter as homework reading, though I was lucky to have Roald Dahl as well.
Death: This is something that is entrenched throughout the whole series. The death of a loved one, the death of a parent or both, the death of a friend, the guilt felt by death and fear of death, the want of immortality. This is something faced by all, the horrors, the nightmares and the truth of finality of it. The wonderful thing about this theme and the others that I have mentioned, as well as the motifs and symbols, is that many of them transcends culture, race, religion, language and even time. Making themes like ‘Death’ play an important role in making this series timeless.
The Magical World of Harry Potter: I want to be magical. I want to be a part of this world. I want to be able to go to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. More importantly, I can do all of this apparently whilst still living in everyday non-magical life. Or so it would be if I was a part of the Harry Potter world. And seeing as I’m not… I can dream and play dress up and it can be a whole lot more real than if I were to dress up in, say, Star Wars regalia. Yes, I could watch the Quidditch World Cup played by the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association in America, I can try to cook up some Butterbeer from recipes online, I can participate in a magical duel on my Wii console at home and soon enough I can walk into a virtual Hogwart’s castle in Orland, Florida. This is all real. That has been the power of the Harry Potter series. Tell me it’s not timeless.
Hogwarts: Well, I’ve added this to my list because I think I would have enjoyed high school so much more had I been able to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Quidditch, the classes, the house pride… I am so jealous of a mythical and non-existent school! More importantly, I think I would have been either a Slytherin or Gryffindor and on the Quidditch team! Yes… that is my most important point here.
These are only but a few reasons why Harry Potter shall undoubtedly be a timeless piece, remembered, read and loved for many years on. I could continue, but we’d be here for a very long time (perhaps this article would end up being more than the Harry Potter books combined).
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter isn’t the most ground-breaking, earth-shattering piece of writing ever written or to be written, and I don’t claim it to be the best series in the world. But it is a story that will endure on for many years, and will be read by many generations to come. Especially if they visit the Harry Potter theme park! JK Rowling’s series is a timeless piece.
For me though, I just want to be able to go to Hogwart’s, own a pet Pygmy Puff, eat a chocolate frog, drink some Butterbeer and play a round of Quidditch while laughing along with the Weasley twins.