I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.
— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned how I am a pretty big Harry Potter fan.
I grew up reading all the books and watching the films, and when a new film came out I re-read the entire series up to the point the films were at. As in, when the third movie came out, I re-read all of the first three, and when the fourth came out, I re-read all of the first four… and I continued to do that until the seventh and eighth movies.
Yes. I really did.
I was in love with all the characters. I wanted to be Hermione growing up, and I still love her. (I loved Ginny, too, and was thoroughly disappointed by movie her.) I loved the world, I loved the story, I loved everything, and I still do.
Years later, I go to the annual Yule Ball charity event in my city, I registered for Pottermore early, I’ve played the PS3 LEGO Harry Potter game, computer Harry Potter games, a Nintendo DS Harry Potter game, and I own a LEGO Harry Potter board game now.
One of my close friends made Harry Potter pillows for her apartment, and when she left the country… she gave them to me.
I gave her a chocolate frog for her birthday once. When she returned from summer vacation, she upped me and gave me a chocolate frog from the UK studio.
It was the best chocolate I’ve ever had, I swear, even if it didn’t jump everywhere.
I also dressed up as a Harry Potter character for Halloween a couple times when I was younger, and it’s not going to stop — when I go Harry Potter World in Florida or the studio in the UK, I am definitely buying all the things that I didn’t have as a kid.
I blame the Canadian winter for my lack of a letter.
So yes, I love Harry Potter.
Perhaps you’d like to know more about why.
Well, besides loving the characters and the world, and how it lends itself to being part of our world, many of the books contain lovely insights about the world and the people in it. It’s these things that have made such an impact on me.
Here are my favourite quotes, and why you should love them too.
If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I had never thought of it this way before reading it in the Goblet of Fire. I was always taught to treat others the way I want to be treated, but that is kind of a way of selfishly thinking about yourself still. It’s thinking about whether or not people are your equals — not just treating humans like humans, like suggested in this quote.
In the Chamber of Secrets, Dobby the house elf is treated like absolute crap, as are many house elves in the world of Harry Potter. They’re an inherently “inferior” race, despite their epically superior magical capabilities. Lucius Malfoy is the worst for it, and he’s a pretty terrible human. And as is implied by the quote, you can tell just from the way he treats Dobby that he’s a shitty person.
But really, you didn’t need an example. It’s pretty clear that a person sucks if they treat anyone badly. But if they treat their “inferiors” well, it’s definitely pretty telling.
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
If you’ve been following my posts lately, you’d know that I’ve been going through a tough time, with my family and just with myself. As a teenager, and even just between ten and twelve, this quote meant a lot — everything is awful in adolescence, and the reminder that happiness comes from ourselves was so important. In the novel, it’s quite literal: the Dementors are very present in the school, and being the magical “creature” that sucks happiness out of its surroundings, it would rest on the students to remember to find the light.
It’s also a reminder to remember. We get very caught up in our lives, and when things get hard, whether emotional trauma or simple stress of having too much to do, not enough money, not enough time — we forget to stop and look around. Take a deep breath, enjoy the moment… and turn on the light. I think this quote in particular is very relatable to everyone.
It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.
― J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
In the movie, the line is a little different: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to our friends.” I would argue that it does takes more courage to stand up to friends, but to acknowledge standing up to friends at all is a nice change. As as child, everyone tells you to to stand up to bullies, but not much is said about friends.
Recently, one of G’s friends used the “c” word a lot and I was pretty offended. Previously, I’d had a discussion with another friend about why I think it’s an offensive word (a discussion for another post — it’s coming!) and I was ready to point it out if it came up again. I did, but I was out of my comfort zone and I knew it would affect how G’s friend saw me. I’ve always gotten along with him quite well. In fact, I knew him before I even met G. But I decided I needed to discuss it and get over the fear of being rejected.
This is the same when discussing anything controversial, any opinion or statement that might put you out of your comfort zone. But if it had been a stranger, I wouldn’t have been afraid to say something, because I wouldn’t have cared what the person thought of me. That’s a big reason why I think this quote is true — it does take courage to stand up to someone who opposes you, but also someone you know as a friend. When it’s a friend, we worry about offending them or hurting their feelings, coming off as too angry. When it’s a stranger, it’s much less of a concern. Not that it’s fine to just go off and not care about how a stranger feels, but we are friends with our friends because we have something in common, and it can be scary to possibly cause conflict.
These are just three of the many insightful quotes from the Harry Potter books, and I remember each of them from the first time I read them. They’ve affected how I see the world, and made me think even at the young age I was at when I read them.
So thank you, J. K. Rowling, for teaching me all these lessons as I grew up. I’m still learning from you, and all your lessons from when you raised me are still with me now.