Harry Potter Explained

by Ken Eckert

Ken's Guide to the Characters and Events of The Popular Book Series

The Harry Potter children's books are a series of seven books and five movie adaptations by British author J.K. Rowling. Beginning with Harry Potter and the Stoned Philosophers, through Harry Potter and the Disco Inferno, and ending with the conclusion to the series, Harry Potter versus Godzilla, this wonderfully inventive series has not only reinvigorated literature but is also highly popular with children and with young adults who live at home with their parents and can't get a date to save their lives, as well as with older, single women who would have nothing to do otherwise but talk endlessly about their cats. For those unfamiliar with the Harry Potter universe, here's a brief introduction to the world of Hogwart's.

Harry Potter is a young boy orphaned at birth, who discovers that he has magical powers and is to be trained at a witch's and wizard's school named Hogwart's, named for a bunch of hogs with warts on them.

The book series has been controversial for a few small but vocal conservative movements who oppose the secular, magical influence of Harry Potter on children.

Harry is fortunate to have a loving, supportive stepfamily which has dutifully raised him before his entrance into the world of magic.

...Just kidding! Wouldn't it be nice for once to see step-parents who aren't selfish, cruel sadists? It was too much to ask for, I guess.

Harry enters a different world at Hogwart's, where he makes friends and experiences joy and respect for the first time in his life. Of course, it's still always cold and rainy and the food is awful; it is England. One can't have everything.

Harry's training involves learning to cast spells and to master his magical powers, but he also has to learn to navigate the social world of witchcraft and being ostracized by the "purer"-blooded wizards at the school.

The school is run by Professor Dumbledore, which is a pretty apt name. In every movie, the school hires new teachers who turn out to be monsters, criminals, or some sort of evil influence. Is it that tough to get good help in the wizarding world? Does no one ever do a background check on anyone?

Professor Snapes' allegiances are suspect, and he is like oil and water with Harry. Snapes, uh, isn't married and he works in a school with very few women, and there's his fondness for Barbara Streisand... Look, I'm not saying anything, just laying out the case.

The absolute arch-enemy of everything good in the Hogwart's world is the diabolically evil Voldemort, who carries out an over-elaborate attack in every book/movie, and has the necessary slightly-constipated Victorian accent for the part.

As Harry and his friends Ron and Hemione grow up, they face all the normal adolescent issues and problems that all teenagers face, whether magic or not.

One way to have fun at Hogwart's is the game of Quidditch, which is sort of like a flying version of basketball, with the exception of having 8,000 as many rules.

Rowling and her publishers took great security measures to keep the last book's ending a secret, and so in fairness I won't spoil the ending of the series, even the part where Harry tells the teachers at Hogwart's to get a life and drops out to join the reformed Spice Girls. The last scene where everyone dies in anguish in a giant fireball after the airplane crash is also a plot detail I think is best left for the magical innocence of childhood to discover.

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