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Magic Is Might: Christianity in a world of magic: A religious reading of J.K. Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Theoretical approaches can modify the way texts are interpreted both in accordance and opposition. As a conventional narrative, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, written by J. K. Rowling, is an archetype of this statement, as well as a text “worthy of literary greatness”.1 The novel is perceived as an anecdote involving the battle between good and evil, concentrating on the efforts of three friends against seemingly dark and spectral forces. While many critics claim that the novel advocates witchcraft and the occult, few consider the representation of Christianity and the figurative nature of the text. This paper intends to analyse these figurative Christian facets and the exhibitive reader’s response to the text, including the elements of witchcraft and the occult.

Rowling’s au courant literature piece is considered by critics to be “a postmodern apocalyptic work of fiction”.2 Concomitant with the previous six novels, the finale to the paragon series again focuses on the protagonist Harry Potter, and the struggles he faces against antagonist Lord Voldemort, and the ostensibly dark forces at his disposal. Rowling also ameliorates the series by developing the characters of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, who experienced minimal progression as characters in previous novels. The friendship between the trio is explored significantly by Rowling, and put under immense strain as the trio seeks to end the dark power of Lord Voldemort through the destruction of his Horcruxes, pieces of a wizard’s soul embodied in objects of significance, enabling immortality and indestructibility.3 Even before a close reading of the novel, this description shows that two prominent themes of the novel will be the occult and witchcraft.

However, in order to analyze Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from a religious perspective, the text must first be deconstructed. Deconstruction is a poststructuralist theory based on the assertion “every reading has a deconstructive as well as an obvious reading” (Miller, 1976). In relation to the text, this assertion is excessively accurate, due to the various different responses to the text. Deconstructive theorists maintain that all words have their origins in ‘différance’, a process of difference and extension which means that words never achieve ‘closure’ (Derrida, 1981, p. 28). Deconstruction therefore is the basis for the exposure of underlying subtexts and binary opposites.

From an initial examination, it is evident that Rowling’s novel features the battle between the opposing forces of good and evil. Rowling establishes a good/evil binary with the force of good developed as a morally greater affiliation. This representation of the opposing forces consolidates Christian opinions on morality. Throughout the series, Voldemort is portrayed as “a raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to other people's suffering…”4 These evil characteristics are exhibited by Rowling to be significantly untenable in comparison with the power of good when Dumbledore professes:

‘And his knowledge remained woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.’ (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 568)

Rowling uses characters like Dumbledore to communicate to the reader that although Voldemort himself holds significant power and influence in the magical world, he will never be able to experience the things that the people affiliated with good will. This assertion conveys Christian ideologies that to get to heaven and experience the rewards of heaven, a person needs to...
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