Pretty much everyone has read the Harry Potter books. Although a small percentage of the population hate them, the majority of us love them and everything about them. I know I’m not the only one that sat waiting for my Hogwarts letter to arrive by owl. So, when my university added Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to the reading list, I was ecstatic. Finally, a book I loved, a book I’d read multiple times, a book that I had a genuine passion for. Six months later, this dream became a reality.
The Sorting Hat
Things started going downhill during my first seminar on the novel. I turned up early, with the book open on my desk, ready to dish out all sorts of opinions and facts on Rowling’s magical world. However, ten minutes later, I realised this wasn’t how it was going to be. We started off discussing the role of the Sorting Hat, which I enjoyed at first, until we were told that by next week’s seminar, we had to have counted each time it was mentioned in the novel. And we had to analyse it, every time it was mentioned! As if this wasn’t painful enough, we had to count each time a wand was mentioned, and then how many times a spell was mentioned. It was ridiculous, and completely took away the pleasure of reading the book, of imagining using all the spells myself, and of imagining myself walking down the middle of the Great Hall to be sorted into Gryffindor (of course!)[video:https://youtu.be/VyHV0BRtdxo]
Then the lectures started. The first was an attempt to convince us that Harry was homosexual. Now, everyone who’s a true Harry Potter fan knows it’s Dumbledore who’s gay, not Harry! So why was this being suggested to us? Because he lived in a cupboard under the stairs. And his coming out of the cupboard was a symbol of Harry coming out of the closet. As I sat in this lecture, making notes, I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. Harry dated Cho Chang! He dated Ginny! He even married her! I don’t think Rowling allowed this to happen just to cover up Harry’s sexuality.
Harry and Malfoy
On the other hand, it was awesome to find out about the history of the character’s names. For example, ‘Harry’ means ‘ruler’, and everyone knows that Harry is a hero in the wizarding world. ‘Malfoy’ means ‘bad faith’; also accurate, seeing as the Malfoys aren’t exactly a well-loved family (like the Weasleys) in the wizarding world.
However, apart from gaining an understanding as to why Rowling picked the names that she did for her characters, reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as part of my degree course simply ruined it for me. It seemed to take everything I found so effortless and magical and make it complex and ridiculous. I think that next time I’ll persevere with a classic novel. That way, my favourite book series won’t be ruined.
Have you had to read one of your favourite books for university? Let us know in the comments below!