Harry Potter and Social Re-birth: Resurrection and Redemption part 1

*Warning* S.A.Sheikh felt like having an Essay Shake. Worst joke. Please tell me you got it.

Apologies for the slowness in blog posting; I have been busy with Other Things lately. Sooooo...to make up for it, I have decided to publish this extra long one to make up for lost time. And just in time and the whole 'Resurrection' theme for New Years :) I admit, it's actually been edited from my final year dissertation essay, but I've left out The Parts You Use To Pad Out The Word Count. To everyone who scoffs at English Lit graduates... I bite thine thumb at thee. (Which is a really big Shakespearean 'in your face' gesture actually.) I got to write 5000 words on Harry Potter *smug face*

Having been translated into 72 languages and sold approximately 450 million copies wordlwide, Harry Potter, published over a span of 10 years, has been a global success. But it has also been met with suspicion. The UAE removed the books as they felt it 'contravene[d] Islamic values. The American Library Association said that the novels were 'frequently challenged in 2001, 2002, and 2003 for occult/Satanic content. And an online article for the Baptist Press stated 'children rebel by delving into the occult', as Christianity is considered 'a fanatical part of' their parent's world.

However, HP is not 'real' magic; black, white, or any other colour in the rainbow for that matter. It is 'high fantasy.' High fantasy is a genre which accomodates creatures such as witches, wizards, water sprites, ghosts, dragons and ogres. HP illustrates this genre perfectly. Moreover, the convention of Harry's journey from the Dursley's home to Hogwarts matches the structured natures of high fantasy, and the 'authority figure' can be seen in the way Dumbledore governs Hogwarts. My contention is that J.K. Rowling has used the magical world as a platform to satirise the faults existent in the real world. Also, the link between Resurrection and Redemption (ironically rather Religious themes don't you think?) is unbreakable; the morals (Redemption) of the characters are the deciding factor behind this secular Resurrection.

My House :)
The imagery surrounding the Resurrection scenes and general theme is symbolised by Dumbledore's pet bird, Fawkes the Phoenix, who is 'reborn from his ashes.' In Christianity, the phoenix is a symbol of Christ's Resurrection. Fawkes provided a tail to both Harry and Voldemort's wands, and this fact is significant as both are the subjects of  the said Resurrection scenes.

Voldemort's Resurrection is surrounded with dread; his evil minions exude a 'stench of guilt' at his return. Voldemort regains a bodily form through incantations. The synonyms 'renew', 'revive' and 'resurrect' with the anaphoric 'You will' are invocatory, and the semantics 'bone', 'flesh', and 'blood' connote the base state of human bodies. This is overloaded with a ritualistic essence, and leads us to thoughts of the occult. Moreover, Voldemort's regeneration is only achieved at the expense of bodily injury; he steals blood from Harry and cuts off Wormtail's arm. Note how this is non-consensual participation.

In contrast, Harry's 'Resurrection' is his return from 'King's Cross' to overthrow Voldemort after having already chosen to die in order to stop the Battle of Hogwarts, just as Christ sacrificed himself to save Mankind. The 'King' is Christ, thus the 'King's Cross' signifies the crucifix, whilst also indicating the portal to another dimension. Christ travelled to Heaven, Harry uses King's Cross to travel from the ordinary world to a magical world and so forth. However, the motivations behind Harry's resurrection opposes Voldemort's: Harry returns to save others, but Voldemort returns in order to selfishly kill Harry and to save only himself as he fears Death. Vol De Mort: Flight from Death.

'King's Cross' station.
What Harry is purged of. I have never looked at
skinless chicken the same way again.  
The resurrection settings are fashioned as binary oppositions. Voldemort's resurrection is in a 'dark and overgrown graveyard.' But Harry is sent to a silent place where 'the cloudy vapour had not yet formed into surroundings', where the floor was 'white, neither warm nor cold' and a 'great, domed glass roof glittered high above him in sunlight.' The setting is peaceful and pristine, much in the same way a popular image of heaven would be portrayed. It could be interpreted as a purgatory state, for Harry is cleansed of Voldemort's 'indecent' and 'shameful' soul, something which 'repulsed' him. the concept of freewill is also displayed here in the way Voldemort's regeneration involved the forced participlation of others. On the other hand, Harry is a Man. A Man who makes his own noble choices and returns to Hogwarts of his own accord. The theme of Freewill here is intensified where the idea of the Downfall of Adam and Eve is intertwined. The principle of making a choice is given to Harry. The act of actually giving in to Temptation is attached to Voldemort, because boundaries of mortality are not obeyed. It is no coincidence that the Slytherin symbol is a serpent, when it was in fact the Serpent which lured Adam and Eve (Islamic)/ Eve (Christian) to be cast out of Paradise/Heaven respectively.
The Order of Phoenix
Having discussed Fawkes' significance in relation to rebirth, I will enlarge his as a metaphor for the revolution in the magical society. Like the old ashes become new, Fawke's roots in Egyptian and classical antiquity is updated as the image of Agency. Again, the concept of Agency and Freewill is tied. He lends his name to 'The Order of the Phoenix', where its members, initially revitalise Grimmauld (Grim Old) Place to 'be fit to live in', both literally to cook, clean, and sleep in, but as a more psychological sphere where the inhabitants flourish and thrive in their mission. Therefore, this renewal is established on a much grander scale as they work toward a recovery of their community. Since the phoenix symbolises immortality, to say that the upcoming Order of Phoenix is Dumbledore's Army would be plausible as the activity of the older generations inspires and continues with the younger generation. Immortality is of two types. Firstly, it can be endless life. Secondly, it can also mean when one is remembered and celebrated through all of time, when it's representation is subjective to different wizarding groups, which again, weaves in the idea of Freewill. Harry and his friends consider immortality as a legacy in the shape of a just society. The ghost Lupin explains: 'I was trying to make a world in which [Teddy], (his son), could live a happier life.' The orphaned Teddy Lupin echoes Harry's condition, whose parents also sacrificed themselves to protect their son.

The concept of immortality then functions as a twofold: Voldemort's mission to achieve this by creating Horcruxes to maintain earthly life catalyses what the good wizards define as immortality; they wish to work away from social (dis)order and toward social justice. We know that the protagonist, Harry, is crucial to this movement, and the traits needed for this are reflected in the two figures he is linked to: Fawkes and Gryffindor. Fawkes embodies Gryffindor; his 'red and gold plumage' matches the house colours. The Gryffindors are "brave at heart", symbolised by their lion mascot, and their "daring, nerve, and chivalry" actually propels and acheives the justice they believe in.

To reiterate the point about the cyclical nature of life, and the young wizards (Dumbledore's Army) filling the shoes of their parents (Order of the Phoenix), we later learn that the Potters owned a cat; a metaphor for the child-like nature of our young Potter when living with his parents, and then developing into the 'big cat' when he is independent. Harry conciously chooses to be a Gryffindor, in other words, a Lion, when he arrives at Hogwarts, where over his five years of studies, he swiftly develops and matures from the vulnerable kitten-like state, safe in the bosom of his family, to the masculine, strong, bold Lion whose 'roars' are arguably his rebellion against injustice.

The Lion and Lioness. The Lion is also a symbol for Christ.

 The Sword of Gryffindor represents 'King's Cross' because the hilt intersecting the blade forms a 'great silver cross.' Its handle '[glitters] with rubies the size of eggs', where 'eggs' connote Fawkes' being a bird, and also birth. Also, the 'rubies' echo Fawkes' red feathers. In fact, when Harry first uses this sword, Fawkes arrives with it in order to combat the Basilisk and revive Ginny Weasley; by this point we all know that she is rather taken by Harry, so the principle of the Gryffindorian chivalry, along with resurrection is interlinked. In retrospect then, the Lion (Harry) has come to save his Lioness (Ginny); her being strong-willed is constantly referred to throughout the series, in addition to her red locks metaphorising her 'fiery' nature. This emphasies that the Phoenix stands as an image of Agency and Autonomy, and does not merely have the surface duty of filling the role as a fantastical creature. Gryffindor may be a part of a magical school, but it also represents certain beliefs and values in the individuals. Does the presence of magic overshadow our judgements to such an extent that we remain ignorant of more vital themes, such as the personalities and principles that the individuals fight for and display?

I hope you enjoyed this :) Redemption half coming soon :)
:O Voldemort!!!


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