I wrote this for Advanced Academic Writing and won my class over. I posted this here before the book came out, but I'll keep it. Not to brag.... but yes, to brag!
A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author has quite probably never heard). It is a classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.
Harry Potter Will Not Die! (In the
As the end of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series draws near, both diehard fans and those who have never read the books are intrigued by the same question: “Will Harry Potter survive the final battle with Lord Voldemort?” This outcome is influenced by a complex set of factors, both those within the books and real-world issues relating to Rowling and the series itself. Rowling has tried to maintain that Harry does stand a chance of perishing in the final novel, and there are other indications that this could be his fate; nonetheless, and in depth analysis of Rowling and her canon provide overwhelming evidence that she has not chosen this path for her character. Although it is almost impossible to imagine the numerous situations that Harry may find himself in during Deathly Hallows, fans can be confident that Harry will survive to live in a world free of Voldemort.
The first detail operating in Harry’s favor is the fact that Voldemort will be vanquished. J.K. Rowling could not continue to take pride in her story as being moral one if, in the end, true evil conquered love. The analysts at MuggleNet.com, the leading Harry Potter fan site, clearly agree; they cite Voldemort’s odds of dying in book 7 as 100 to 1. Other experts refer to Voldemort’s death as an imminent fact in the same way that they refer to things that Rowling has said will definitively happen in the last book. One of these experts went so far as to suggest that, if Voldemort was triumphant, the end result would be the destruction of the human race – certainly something too far-fetched for Rowling to consider. So it is easy to rule out Harry simply dying because Voldemort wins.
Harry’s chances of dying are further diminished by the fact that he has many people willing to save his life. Harry has powerful allies in the Order of the
Even if Harry does die at some point in the book, Rowling provides many clues that he would later be resurrected. A key clue to this is Rowling’s focus on phoenixes. Harry and Voldemort’s wands both contain phoenix feathers, Ginny’s Patronus is a phoenix, and Dumbledore has a phoenix as a pet and started the Order of the
Harry is often viewed as a tragic hero who is destined to make the ultimate sacrifice, his life, to defeat Voldemort; however, there is no way to argue that Harry has not sacrificed enough already. He has lost many people close to him and suffers immense physical and emotional pain in every book of the series. Another key idea in the books is that there are things worse than death; therefore, for Harry to die would not be the ultimate sacrifice. Harry’s life has been so filled with tragedy that, at this point, for Rowling to add onto this his death would really just be unnecessary and hyperbolic.
Harry’s survival was ensured beyond doubt this summer through a discovery by MuggleNet’s Emerson Spartz. While on a podcasting tour, Spartz spoke with the owner of a bookstore in Naperville, Illinois – a bookstore which had been visited by Rowling several years ago, before the books were hugely popular and before her every word was documented. The bookstore owner alleged that one of the small number of fans present at the event had asked Rowling if Harry, Ron, and Hermione would live through the series and she had said yes. Although there is no record of this, the bookstore owner would have had to be an idiot to make us something like this. Clearly, she knew she was speaking to Emerson Spartz, and that anything she said would be subject to quick and quite public circulation, and Rowling or her “people” could have easily found out. She must have known that she would create huge risks for herself and for MuggleNet by falsifying Rowling’s comments. So, clearly this statement did occur, but it still true? Rowling has told fans that the final chapter of book 7 – which clearly would have been written with the knowledge of Harry fate – has been finished for over a decade. She did say on the Richard and Judy show this summer that she went back and changed that chapter recently, including killing two additional characters and giving one a reprieve. These characters, however, could definitely not include Harry. She could not, by any means, have made such a pivotal change “so late in the game,” because knowing Rowling, such a crucial truth would have to have been reflected throughout the entire series. More so than any other character, Harry’s survival is interwoven with all of the huge magical concepts in the book. If Rowling wanted Harry to die, she would have to make it magically feasible, and would run into problems with the concepts she had placed in previous books and the hints she personally made about the end of the series.
Advocates of Harry’s death often say that Harry would be happy in the afterlife because he would be reunited with his parents and godfather. While the Mirror of Erised did show that Harry wanted to be with his family, he clearly longed for them to be alive, not to join them in death. Since Harry saw his parents in the Mirror, six years ago, he has formed close bonds of friendship with many in the wizarding world. Now he certainly considers many of these people, most notably Hermione and the Weasleys, to be family and he would not substitute the afterlife with his parents for life with these people. Anyone who died before Harry would still be there to accompany him in the afterlife whenever he died. Almost everyone ends up in Harry’s situation eventually; Harry is exceptional only in that his parents died when he was very young. Whether a person is 17 or 67, no one would ever consider suggesting that they should want to de prematurely just to be reunited with deceased parents.
Rowling will not kill Harry because of her own deep emotional attachment to him. Rowling tells fans that, when writing the first drafts of Sorcerer’s Stone, she had disposed of Harry’s parents rather offhandedly; however, after the death of her own mother, she was so powerfully affected that it forever changed her books’ portrayal of death and caused her to rewrite this section. Rowling also tells fans that Harry Potter, the character, came to her and then she subsequently formed the rest of the story around him. Her attachment to the story is profound, and her attachment to Harry, the centerpiece of the whole thing, is undoubtedly not unlike a mother-son connection. J.K. Rowling has not good reason to kill Harry, and many ways to see that he survive the books. Certainly, with such reverence for death and no need to kill Harry, Rowling will not be able to bring herself to do it.
Outside of their plots, other aspects of the books indicate that Harry will not die. A large portion of Rowling’s many, many fans share her deep love for Harry and would certainly be traumatized by his death. For fans of all ages, Harry Potter is the ultimate emotional departure, and to kill Harry in the end would taint the relief they find from this books, if not send them in search of a new form of release. If Harry dies, people will be less inclined to reread the books and less likely to share them as openly as they do now.
J.K. Rowling has filled her books with an elaborate magical “safety net” to keep Harry from dying. An analysis of the author, furthermore, shows us that she could not, and will not kill her main character. Harry has not yet had a chance to live a life of peace and joy and certainly no one deserves this opportunity more than Harry. Along the same lines, James and Lily never had the opportunity to live “happily ever after,” so it is only right that Harry and Ginny should. Lily sacrificed her life for Harry, but this sacrifice would have little meaning if all it allowed Harry was seventeen years of pain, suffering, and unhappiness before a tragic death. Lily’s selfless act surely deserves a greater reward – a long and happy life for her son. Rowling, as a mother herself, would most certainly agree that Harry should live. And this is why Harry will live through his final battle with Voldemort.