An ode to Harry Potter
Editor’s note: This column contains spoilers
Quidditch, hippogriff, Weasley, firebolt, Voldemort and Hogwarts. Although they may sound like nonsense words, we all know the Harry Potter phenomenon is definitely not nonsense.
Although I am a muggle, I can still relate to the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter and friends. I know some people think it may be nerdy, but I don’t think there is anything nerdy about enjoying great literature, as long as you don’t paint a lightning bolt on your head every day.
When I first began reading the books 10 years ago, I was immediately enthralled. I finished the first three books within a couple weeks, and then had to wait for the fourth book – which turned out to be even better. Then I had to wait again. And again. And again.
That was the worst part about the release of each book – the waiting and the withdrawal. Harry Potter is like a drug. I have never been addicted to drugs or cigarettes, but I know when I finished “Deathly Hallows” in July and had to quit Harry Potter cold turkey, it felt like I had just stopped doing drugs. I even experienced the symptoms – mild depression, anxiety, emptiness. It was a traumatic few days. There was no Harry Potter patch to calm my cravings.
I know I am not alone in my Harry Potter addiction. A study by the Journal of General Psychology found characteristics of addiction in at least 10 percent of 4,000 Potter fans polled online. The study used craving scales, normally used for smoking. Fans were surveyed before the release of the final Harry Potter book, after they completed the book and again six months later.
According to the study, addicted fans spent more than four hours a day on Potter-related activities, experienced interference with appetite and sleep patterns, engaged in less physical activity, had a lower sense of well-being and were more irritable after completing the series.
I definitely don’t spend four hours a day doing “Potter-related” activities, but I can see how it’s possible. There are numerous fan sites, blogs and even J.K. Rowling’s own Web site out in cyberspace to occupy hours of time. I guess “Potter-related activities” could also include drawing fan-fiction anime art and reenacting favorite scenes. Nerds.
I guess if Rupert Grint were willing to reenact the various snogging scenes he has with Lavender Brown with me, I might be up for it.
I am a true Harry Potter addict and there must be something J.K. Rowling did to cause this besides sprinkling the books with traces of nicotine.
One source of addiction is Ron Weasley, Harry’s best mate. Ron is the bombshell funnyman of the wizarding world and one of my favorite fictional crushes. He adds classically hilarious moments to the books and always seems to relieve tension during serious moments – such as when he gets tangled up in brains during a dramatic scene in the department of mysteries in “Order of the Phoenix.”
Ron’s relationship with Hermione, another of Harry’s BFFs, is another cause of addiction. They clearly have something going on from the get-go, which makes for many funny, awkward and frustrating moments. In the seventh book they finally make it work during an epic, battle-type scene, and Harry responds with one of my favorite lines, “Is this the moment?”
The unpredictability of these books is another addictive quality. You never know what’s going to happen or who’s going to die. It seems no one is safe. Rowling even knocked off Harry’s owl Hedwig! The element of the unknown makes you keep flipping, page after page, until suddenly it’s five in the morning and you are getting a little delirious and start sobbing because Dobby the house elf just died. Maybe that’s just me.
Another captivating element of the books is the thoughtfulness and creativity with which Rowling writes. Rowling planned every element of the books from the beginning. With the conclusion of the seventh book everything fits into place and we can see themes and clues she gave from the first book on.
Rowling’s ideas and writing style are what ultimately trigger the addiction for fans. Her work spawns thousands of theories and message board discussions. She draws us in because the words flow on the page like water.
Who knew when Rowling started writing the series on napkins she would turnout to be one of the biggest drug dealers of all time, luring children of all ages, young and full-grown? She entices us with the intrigue and excitement of what is to come. When we seem to have kicked the Potter habit, she offers us another fix.
Rowling is like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, only her pipe is her pen.
Petersen is a senior print journalism and Spanish major and showcase editor of The Spectator.