Sunday, April 14, 2019


Dumbledore is dead by the hand of Severus Snape!

The Wizarding World is tearing itself apart. Voldemort and his Death Eaters are on the ascendant; the Order of the Phoenix is in disarray and Harry is emotionally lost.

The seventh and final book in the series, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows brings everything to a close.

But is this the end?

Is there ever an end?

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love. By returning, you may ensure that fewer souls are maimed, fewer families are torn apart. If that seems to you a worthy goal, then we say good-bye for the present.” 
Harry nodded and sighed. Leaving this place would not be nearly as hard as walking into the forest had been, but it was warm and light and peaceful here, and he knew that he was heading back to pain and the fear of more loss. He stood up, and Dumbledore did the same, and they looked for a long moment into each other’s faces. 
“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure. 
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Extract from page 722-723

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007 by Scholastic Press and was the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series.

The Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1), 1997. Page count 309.

The Chamber of Secrets (Book 2), 1999. Page count 341.

The Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3), 1999. Page count 435.

The Goblet of Fire (Book 4), 2000. Page count 734.

The Order of the Phoenix (Book 5), 2003. Page count 870.

The Half-Blood Prince (Book 6), 2005. Page count 652.

The Deathly Hallows (Book 7), 2007. Page count 759.

This post was far more of a challenge to write than I would have thought. In part, because it was a challenge for me to bring all my thoughts and feelings to a culmination . . . And, also to try to say something intelligent and interesting at the same time.

In my previous Harry Potter-related posts, the timelines presented have been relatively simple and short. However, in this story, with long periods of time passing without any distinction, the flow of time is muddied. The increasing complexity of the multiple plotlines in this book makes the following chronological extract from The Harry Potter Lexicon website a highly useful aid to comprehension and to provide context to the reader. And, the following calendar of events in the narrative is essential for the reader.

This day-to-day calendar [] is only a draft and subject to change according to the source website. In the description for this calendar on The Harry Potter Lexicon website, no explanation was given for the colored dates.


The Expanded World
In The Deathly Hallows, the Wizarding World is further detailed and expanded. The reader (through the trio) visits the Lovegood’s home and barely escapes a trap there. Along with the trio, the reader is also brought to Malfoy Manor; spends time in their dungeon and battles their way out. Fleeing, the trio ends up at Bill and Fleur’s Shell Cottage. Sometime later, the trio encounters the . . . unusual proprietor of the Hog’s Head Inn, Aberforth Dumbledore—Albus’ younger brother. The trio learns more about the Dumbledore family and which lays the groundwork for future prequels.

The expanding page count of the Harry Potter books reflects the expanding world views of Harry Potter. In this, I am indebted to the YouTube video “5 Harry Potter Theories Too Good Not To Be True” by The Why, published on 19 January 2017. In this video, beginning at the 2:17 mark, the point is made that as Harry ages, his understanding and outlook grow more complex, more nuanced. Thus necessitating more ink to be adequately expressed. The video’s creator laid this treatment at the feet of J. K. Rowling herself:
As the series progressed, the plots and characters became increasingly complex; not because Rowling wanted deeper stories, but because the characters grow older as the saga moves forward. And thus are able to grasp the complexities and details of what is going on around them.  
For example, when Snape is first introduced, he is seen as a glaringly dreadful teacher who seems to hate Harry for almost no reason. But later on, Snape is shown to be much more than that. He is a deeply haunted, complex individual who had lost the person he loved most in the word. Another great example that supports this theory is Dumbledore. When we first meet Dumbledore, he ia portrayed as a wise, old wizard who could do no wrong. But later books show him to be a man consumed by doubt and regret.  
Another thing to note is that the stories are generally told through Harry’s point-of-view. Which means that in The Sorcerer’s Stone, he was completely in awe of his surroundings due to both his young age and the culture shock he experienced entering a new world. But by the later books, he has adjusted to his life at Hogwarts and is better able to clearly analyze his environment and make connections that would have otherwise gone over his head.  
Following this theory, it also makes a lot of sense that The Order of the Phoenix was the longest book. I believe it’s accurate to say that Harry, in the fifth book, reaches the height of puberty, as he is about 15 or 16 years old. And therefore is more confused, scared, and lonely than at any other time in the series. And the length of the book reflects that.  
Where there was once the security of Hogwarts, there is now the corruption of the Ministry.  
Where there was once a magical talking hat, there is now a killing curse.  
If anything, I really just think this shows the true genius of J. K. Rowling as an author. She wrote each book for a target audience as they aged alongside with the characters. I really can’t think of any other author who’s been able to achieve the same effect to such perfection really. But then again, that’s why she’s worth a billion dollars. [Beginning at the 3:01 mark] 

A True Understanding of the Past Heals
For this post, I have combined my previous topics “The Past Instructs” and “Understanding Heals Past Hurts” as these topics were so deeply intertwined in this final volume; more so than in any of the previous volumes. These words from my previous blog post “Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” hold true. If anything, they gain in significance.

The primary concept lurking behind this section is concerned with the power that Voldemort knows not. Voldemort cannot comprehend love and just how powerful a force it can be. Furthermore, Voldemort’s arrogance leads to his inability to even conceive of his followers betraying him.

Snape’s depth as a character is further explored and even enhanced. Snape’s love for Lily and Voldemort’s role in her death leads to Snape’s becoming Dumbledore’s man. Until the very end of the series, the reader is unsure whether Snape is repentant or not. Is Snape really Dumbledore’s man or as Draco mockingly states: is Dumbledore just a stupid old man who is losing his grip?

This last question regarding Snape’s true allegiance is answered finally and absolutely in the closing chapters of The Deathly Hallows. Chapter 33 entitled “The Prince’s Tale” relates “The Prince’s Tale” to Harry by pensieve via Snape’s dying tears. By this means, Snape, as a character, gains depth and strength. The question whether Snape was truly repentant or not is answered by a single word—“Always.”

Discovering these facts about Snape’s motivations, Harry at last understands why Dumbledore trusted Snape (even unto his own death). This understanding would provide Harry with the strength to go into the Forest of Dean to face his ultimate destiny.

In a like vein, the scene in King’s Cross Station between Harry and Dumbledore revealed truths hidden for the entire book series. True understanding of apparent betrayal and loss unearth the actual intention beneath the deeds. Truly, all is rarely ever as it seems. The episode in King’s Cross Station reaffirms this


The Symbol of the Deathly Hallows
Formally introduced in Chapter 21 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” the symbol of The Deathly Hallows is absolutely essential to understanding the back-story as well as the furtherance of the storyline.

Recall what the symbol is and what it represents. It is made up of three parts as Xenophilius Lovegood explains:
“The Elder Wand,” he said, and he drew a straight vertical line upon the parchment. “The Resurrection Stone,” he said, and he added a circle on top of the line. “The Cloak of Invisibility,” he finished, enclosing both line and circle in a triangle, to make the symbol that so intrigued Hermione. “Together,” he said, “the Deathly Hallows.” [page 409]
In the concluding minutes of the excellent BBC documentary, Harry Potter: A History of Magic (2017), J. K. Rowling detailed the source of and meaning behind the idea of The Deathly Hallows symbol.

The relevant part of the documentary (beginning at the 53:17 mark) is transcribed below. The images presented in this long quote (with one exception) are screen captures from the relevant part of the documentary. I have placed them within the quotation to enhance comprehension and the narrative flow.

In Rowling’s own words:
Professor Sprout is the herbologist. A very lovable character; I would say she’s the most maternal, actually, or parental of the four heads of house at Hogwarts.
So I drew this picture on December 30, 1990. And I can be very precise about when I drew this picture, because I was staying at a friend’s house. I’d been writing Potter for six months, and I stayed up when everyone else had gone to bed because I was watching the movie The Man Who Would Be King.
Image  from IMDB
And the reason I can be incredibly precise about when I drew this is because at some point during the time I was watching that movie and drawing this picture, my mother died 250 miles away. And I got the phone call the next day to say that she had died. 
So this obviously means a great deal to me, this picture. But there was something quite extraordinary that I only realized about 20 years later. So it seems very appropriate to say it now, in the context of this exhibit. The Man Who Would Be King, for those who don’t know, is a story with Sean Connery and Michael Caine in it and it’s from an old Rudyard Kipling story. And the Masonic symbol is very important in that movie.
And it was literally twenty years later that I looked at the sign of The Deathly Hallows and realized how similar they were. When I saw the movie again and I saw the Masonic symbol I sort of went cold all over and I thought, “Is that why the Hallows symbol is what it is?” And I’ve got a feeling that on some deep, subconscious level, they are connected.
So, I feel as though I sort of worked my way back over twenty years to that night, because the Potter series is hugely about loss and,—I’ve said this before—if my mother hadn’t died, I think the stories would be utterly different and not what they are. 
So yeah, so this picture is very meaningful to me on a lot of different levels.

This lengthy quotation is significant for a number of reasons. Not least is that it describes how a vital plot element came into being. Furthermore, as Rowling relates, it was 20 years after 1990 that she made the connection concerning the origins of The Deathly Hallows’ symbol. Twenty years later means 2010! 2010! Several years after the 2007 publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; and the year before the final Harry Potter movie— Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2—was released!

It was then Rowling finally realized, not only the link between the Hallows and the Masonic symbol but, why the link was made. And, why it burned itself into her mind, only to resurface 20 years later. However, even with this profound realization, Rowling doesn’t know just how deep the connection runs. As she stated above:
So, I feel as though I sort of worked my way back over twenty years to that night, because the Potter series is hugely about loss and,—I’ve said this before—if my mother hadn’t died, I think the stories would be utterly different and not what they are.
Once again, “. . . the Potter series is hugely about loss . . .” Whether personal, familial, or otherwise, loss—as represented by death—opens the Harry Potter books, and comprises the resolution of the final work. Similarly, Freemasonry, at its core, is also about great loss; and, how those who remain face life in the wake of that loss.

Lastly (and also as Rowling stated), the death of her mother that night in 1990 affected her deeply. It marked her subconscious mind with the design of The Deathly Hallows that would only manifest years later. Though Rowling, I think, only began to fathom the depth of that impact with the re-watch of The Man Who Would Be King. I like to believe that this newfound (as of 2010) understanding concerning her mother’s death brought Rowling a deeper peace.


The Ending Begins. Or, is it the End of the Beginning
The section-previous explored the nature of death in regards to how it impacted the development of the storyline of the Harry Potter books, as well as the story itself. From the early stages of initial writing till the close of the final book, death is always with the reader.

For our protagonist, Harry, death is ever present. From his parents to Sirius, through Dumbledore, Dobby, Lupin and myriad others, death is a constant presence in Harry’s mind . . . up to and including his own death. Throughout the entire series, but in particular Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry is shown that death is not the end . . . of life or love. It is merely a transition.

This preoccupation with death of loved ones is directly attributable to the impact of the death of Rowling’s mother at the end of 1990. Initially in the series, death is seen as tragic and to be avoided. However, by the end of the series, death is seen as an old friend, not to be feared but welcomed. For the reader (and indeed even for the writer), this evolving attitude toward death is a comforting thought for those of us left behind.

Just as life goes on, the lives of the characters in this tale go on as well. Though the adventure itself may be over, the story does not end. The epilogue is Rowling’s nod to this. Boys and girls grow into men and women, becoming in turn fathers and mothers. These once-children face the trials, dangers and demons of adulthood, while their children go off and begin their own adventures, starting the cycle all over again.


Binge Mode: Harry Potter
There are several podcasts dedicated to exploring the Potterverse. Though to my taste, the most enjoyable and thought-provoking is Binge Mode: Harry Potter, part of The Ringer ( family of programs. Hosted by Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, their deep-dives offer the listeners a more nuanced relationship with the texts. As I heard the multiple episodes that cover each text, I became more and more impressed with their analysis. By Book 7, Binge Mode: Harry Potter had devoted 25+ hours spread over fourteen episodes discussing various aspects of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And the in-depth commentary was reproduced for each of the previous books as well.

I must confess something. After listening to Binge Mode: Harry Potter’s superb commentary covering The Deathly Hallows, I was so impressed and emotionally moved that I seriously considered not even bothering to complete this post. In particular, Mallory and Jason’s thoughts on “The Prince’s Tale” were incredible. Just WOW! Nothing I say can improve upon their words. To any fan of the Potter series, I heartily and without reservation recommend Binge Mode: Harry Potter.


Building upon my previous post covering Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it is startling and yet absolutely essential to remember (and should always be kept in mind), that at the ultimate defeat of Voldemort, our trio is only 17 years old; considered adults in Wizarding society, but still minors in the Muggle world.

•they endure war and its terrible consequences

•they face death and torment repeatedly

•they fight and, in fighting, they kill

And yet, despite all this, they are able to hold on to their basic go0dness and humanity.

With the epilogue jumping forward 19 years, it is revealed that the trio has carried on with living life. Now with families and children of their own, the trio sends their children off to begin their own adventures at Hogwarts. The implication is that the original trio’s story-arc is over. But, does a story ever really end?

Or does the epilogue of one story simply become the prologue for the next.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an affirmation of the inherent power of love at it s most basic. The love between friends or romantic love, it is the same; putting the needs of another before oneself—even unto death. This is the power that evil knows not. Evil can not.

Rowling, in her septology but especially in this final novel, allowed herself to shine through in the writing. I firmly believe that those reflections of her feelings and beliefs are, in large part, what made Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and indeed the entire series a literary classic.

Good Evening.


Print Resources
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Scholastic Press, 2007. Print

Digital Resources
“Binge Mode.” The Ringer. Web. <>

Online Resources
“Day-to-Day Calendar of Deathly Hallows.” The Harry Potter Lexicon. Web. 17 March 2019. <>

Grieg, Geordie. “There would be so much to tell her. . .” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 10 January 2006. Web. 05 March 2019. <>

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” The Harry Potter Lexicon. Web. 17 March 2019. <>

“JK Rowling reveals the inspiration for the Deathly Hallows symbol.” BBC Newsbeat. BBC. 29 October. 2017. Web. 04 March 2019. <>

Leatham, Xantha. “JK Rowling picks favourite Harry Potter quote.” Deadline News. 17 December 2014. Web. 12 March 2019. <>

Shepard, Jack. “JK Rowling reveals the heartbreaking inspiration for the Deathly Hallows symbol in Harry Potter.” Independent. 29 October 2017. Web. 03 March 2019. <>

“The Man Who Would Be King,” IMDB. Web. 03 April 2019. <>

Wikipedia contributors. " Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 02 March 2019. Web. 14 March 2019. <>