My just-published book Values of Harry Potter discusses the themes of courage, independence, and free will in Rowling’s novels. As this blog focuses on religion, here I’ll summarize my treatment of the subject in the book.
The first three chapters are not about religion. Instead, the first chapter describes the heroic fight for values in the Harry Potter novels. As I review, Harry and his allies fight for for their lives, their futures, their friends, and their liberty. They do so against the viciously evil Lord Voldemort. In the second chapter I discuss the virtue of independence that the heroes display; in the third I review the themes of free will in the books.
Chapter Four explicitly takes up the religious theme of sacrifice. I contrast the heroic fight for life-promoting values with self-sacrifice. I briefly discuss Ayn Rand’s view of sacrifice and spend several pages going through Aristotle’s views of friendship and self-love. I point out that sacrifice does not mean abusing others; it means surrendering a higher value for a lower one (as Rand says). Friends are crucially important to our lives, so it’s not sacrificial to fight for our friends; doing so promotes our values. I review numerous cases from the Potter books in this light.
Chapter Five is titled, “Materialism and Immortality.” “Voldmort,” others have noted, means “flight from death.” Mortality and life after death are large and explicit themes in Rowling’s books. I explain how the Horcrux relates to a crass sort of materialism and a pathological fear of death (as well as the abuse of others). I also discuss how these themes relate to the themes values, independence, and sacrifice.
Obviously my book is intended for readers of the Harry Potter novels. So if you haven’t finished them yet, get going! You can read the introduction to my book on its web page.