quarta-feira, 2 de julho de 2008

The Spiritual Issue in Harry Potter

Wizardry, adventure and junky fantasy? No. Harry Potter is far more than that. Beyond the appearances, the most successful written series of the last years is a story about death. Fear, pain, fight and overcoming of death are the argument of a “children’s plot” that mesmerizes millions of adults throughout the world.

Who says it is the very author of the books, J.K. Rowling: “It's a strong central theme - dealing with death, yeah, and facing up to death!", stated her on an interview to CBC Newsworld. "My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry's parents. There is Voldemort's obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality at any price (...) I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We're all frightened of it".

But she didn’t need to explain herself. An attentive reading would be enough to realise that wizardry is nothing but a background for the plot. That the difficulty of dealing with death is the real argument of Potter’s storyline. And that the narrative presents several hints for drafting a spiritualist theory appropriate for that universe.

If death is on the root of the whole thing, the immortality of the soul is certain in the magic world. “To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure”, would say Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of the last centuries, in the first book. And the relationship between who goes and who stays isn’t broken by death. Neither fully, nor necessarily.

The pioneer Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone introduces the reader to photographs with moving subjects, speaking portraits and ghosts who hang around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Alive registers of who is gone, which somehow remain among us.

Magical photographs are very similar to our modern digital frames, although they don’t need electricity to work. People on it can move, smile and wave, for instance, but they could hardly do anything else. Portraits are more complex, allowing the dead, or at least an imprint of it, to freely communicate with living people. The portrayed person is able to move amongst all the portraits placed at the same building as his. Besides, it can take a walk among all his own portraits wherever they are in the world. Although in most of time wizard portraits only “give advice or repeat catchphrases”, as stated by Rowling, there are many examples of more complex behaviors of them along the narrative.

At last, the ghosts. Only at Hogwarts, there are more than 20, "imprints of departed souls left upon the Earth", according to professor Severus Snape, in the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. They move just like anyone else inside the Castle (actually better, since they can cross the walls…) and are able to think, speak, feel and interact. However, their condition doesn’t represent the natural destiny of deceased people: “Only wizards”, says the ghost called Nearly Headless Nick in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. "Wizards can leave an imprint of themselves upon the earth, to walk palely where their living selves once trod, but very few wizards choose that path".

Why? – ask both we and Harry before Nick’s statement. An essential question for understanding the potterian spiritualism, which we chose to introduce our second article about The Spiritual Issue in Harry Potter

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