I’m finally at the point where the books and films begin to diverge—quite a bit actually—and the discussion of intertextuality and film adaptation is a topic that I’ll save for a later time. With that said, I’d still like to share some of my thoughts.
Mentioned in part one of this series, the films are Harry-centric, i.e. the films operate in a way that if it doesn’t directly involve Harry, sub-plots go by the wayside. Thankfully the books are not like this. Azkaban happily includes the other characters. Yes, those people Harry calls his friends who apparently have lives of their own. Go figure.
Admittedly I prefer some of the other characters over Harry, not that I dislike the character, but I have a hard time relating to him. He’s ostensibly popular with everyone he meets, famous for no other reason than surviving Voldemort’s attack, and he’s the equivalence of a jock with being a Seeker on his Quidditch team. For me, I’m the polar opposite, although charming. I gravitate towards characters like Ron and Percy, but especially can relate to Hermione, singled out mostly for her interests, her intellect and book appetite. She’s misunderstood more often than not and tends to work herself too hard (punctuated heavily in this book.) Needless to say, Azkaban, so far, is one of my favorites for the series shifting from away from its Harry focus plot and elevating the roles of its supporting characters.
Harry and the Dursley:
I. Don’t. Understand. This!
I’m just confounded that at the end of each book, Hogwarts, Dumbledore, the Weasley Family, McGonagall, and even Hagrid do not call child services!
Everyone seems aware of Harry’s situation, that he’s being horribly mistreated, yet every time the topic is brought up, everyone acts as if the treatment from Harry’s Muggle family is benign, appropriate, even funny (because it’s SO hilarious having an Aunt and Uncle who treat you like an air-borne virus and who lavishly shower their obnoxious nephew.) I reach the end, tricking myself that all’s well that ends well, until just like Harry, you remember the Dursley.
James, Sirius, Lupin, Pettigrew:
I know there are several characters’ stories that could easily be a novel in itself, but am I wrong to think that these four characters would be a really interesting read?
Azkaban extrapolated more of the past of Harry Potter’s parents and their friends, and, for me, there is something about this group that piqued my interest immensely. Part of it has to do with their shenanigans, but I also think it would be fascinating to read these men’s friendships form and develop. I mean, what happens post Hogwarts? Only Lev Grossman’s The Magicians comes to mind, but even still, it doesn’t quite satisfy my curiosity.
Snape’s Tormented High School Days:
To someone who was bullied during middle school through high school, I get it. I do. But Snape is the personified version of what happens when you hold onto those grudges.
There is certainly a part of me that feels bad for Snape—but this is mostly canceled out by his tenacity to believe anything Harry Potter does is insidious and wrong, albeit Snape does tend to be 85% right in his assumptions. Harry is usually up to something, but this doesn’t give Snape the right to threaten Harry with expulsion from Hogwarts, his haven away from his verbally abusive family.
I’d like to think as time ages us, we would learn to let go of the past and be better people overall (optimistic, I know.) Snape is the antithesis of this. He’s just not a good person. At all. I say this even knowing his friendship with Harry Potter’s mother. None of what he does should be considered acceptable, even if it’s for a noble cause.
The Hormones are Coming!
It was subtly hinted during the final Quidditch match with Harry and the other Seeker that the feelings are coming. I am hoping that the books handle the emergence of young adulthood and fair better than the films did. I don’t suspect it to be a seamless transition. I expect it to be just as jarring as your first flat tire, bumpy and abrupt. But what I would like to see is a genuine interpretation that doesn’t tantamount to emo-nesque and boy lulled eyes. After all, it’s Harry Potter, and there’s certainly more going on than teenage romance.