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:
1 Roman, J 2007, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Book Review!, viewed 7th September,
2Tobias, A 2011, Harry Potter as postmodern apocalyptic fiction, viewed 7th September,
3 Author Unknown, 2006, Horcrux, viewed 7th September, <http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Horcrux>
4 Jensen, J 2000, Fire Storm, viewed 15th September, <http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/0900-ew-jensen.htm>