3 Things I'd Change - Harry Potter Edition


Occasionally I get a hankering to try something new here on the old blog, and today is one of those occasions.  I've been trying to read more critically of late, hoping that some of my observation of other writers will rub off on my own writing.  Consequently, I started thinking about my favorite stories and what changes I might have made had they been mine.

For some, it's really a challenge to find anything that could make the story better, the writing tighter, etc.  In the end, this is all just fanciful jealousy aimed at having some fun.  I'm by no means seriously critiquing any  of the stories I feature.  It's just a way to stimulate some debate and thought.

So if it's for fun, why not start with the Holy Grail?  It's the story and author that I have placed on the highest pedestal in terms of YA.  For the sake of our examination, I'll be looking at the series as a whole.

3 Things I'd Change - Harry Potter (There may be spoilers, but let's face it, if you haven't read them by now I'm not sure I can care about you.)

3. Headmaster Snape?  Dumbledore was the ultimate headmaster of Hogwarts.  He was fair, even-tempered, brilliant, and beyond wise.  He was perfect.  Too perfect.

I know, I know.  He didn't always make the best decisions when it came to Harry, but his heart was always in the right place.  Furthermore, the Dumbledore we get to know in book 7 was a very flawed person.  However, that was all after the fact.  When he was alive and kicking he was a goody-goody.

Great conflict = great fiction.  Consequently, I'd have loved to see the potions prof we love to hate, Severus Snape, take over the head spot in book 3 (or so).  Here's my thinking: Why not have Dumbledore run afoul of the Ministry way earlier and leave Snape in charge?  He (Snape) is still obliged to protect/hate Harry, but has much more power.  Dumbledore was at his most badass when he was making the Ministry look like fools and operating outside the "law".  In the end, I think it would have added some depth to both characters.

2. More Ginny?  Yes, please!  Okay, I'm of the camp that kind of thought Harry and Hermione should've become an item.  There was just too much that made sense.  Yet, I do understand the sort of sibling love they had for each other, and frankly Ron and Hermione hooking up was one of the more humorous side plots in the series.  All that being said, I LOVE Ginny Weasley.  She is spunky, powerful, and all the things Ron isn't.  She also revealed (by about the 6th book) that she and Harry fit together quite nicely.  SO WHY THE HECK DIDN'T WE GET TO KNOW HER BETTER?

It took a major character biting the dust 6 books in for the bond between Harry and Ginny to fully manifest.  Sure, he saved her life way back in book 2, but I think the main squeeze of the Boy That Freaking Lived deserves a bit more spotlight.  Having her 'sit out' most of the adventures of the 7th book due to Harry's fear of her getting hurt felt a little like a copout for an underused character that suddenly found herself in the spotlight.  JK is a masterful writer, and she could have easily made the Fabulous 3 (Ron, Harry, & Hermione) a foursome from book 2 on.

1. R.I.P. Harry Potter  This is a story setup for martyrdom from the beginning.  In large part, Harry Potter is an allegory for the cycle of life.  Harry's life/destiny really begins with the death of his parents, and in the end only the sacrifice of his life can allow life for everyone else.  BUT, through the magic of words, Harry finds a way around all that.  He dies, but not really.

Not killing him off was fan/author service.  I realize that.  However, I felt it weakened the overall impact of the story.  JK did such an expert job of weaving themes into her work, and by not killing Harry, I think one of the major themes was left a little tarnished.  Harry made so many sacrifices to defeat Voldemort, but never the ultimate one.  If it were mine, I'd have killed Harry and left Dumbledore alive.    

***

So tell me I'm crazy!  What do you all think?  Would you have made any changes to the most popular books of our time?  We can all debate this while JK swims in her money bin ...

Let me know what you think about the 3 things.  Should I continue to nitpick timeless works or let them be?  Maybe next week I'll tackle the Bible or some other hack-job like To Kill a Mockingbird.  :)

-EJW-

12 comments:

  1. I happen to be a huge fan of Snape - thought he was a great antagonist, and one of the most interesting characters in the whole series. Love the idea! Also agree with you on Dumbledore - of course, we needed the wise mentor, but, you're right, he was too goody.

    I was actually surprised when HP didn't die at the end - I was totally expecting it for the same reason you mentioned: this is a story set up for martyrdom, and that would have been a great way to end the series. But I'm still satisfied. Either way, good ending. :)

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  2. I agree, K. The ending was as good as it could have been. (Lord help any writer that has to wrap up so many plot threads!) Above all things, I was a fan of Harry. Truth be told, I think I'd have hated it if she would have killed him. I think JK tried to keep it real by killing off so many of the other characters.

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  3. You know, I totally agree with you on killing Harry! As much as I love Harry and the whole series, I thought he would have to die since he had part of Voldemort's soul attached to him.

    I felt the ending of the series was a bit weak, as if J.K. Rowling didn't have the heart to kill more of Harry's loved ones. Still, I did enjoy the book and I cannot wait for the movie!

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  4. I hate to say this, but I kind of agree with you on all three points.

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  5. I totally agree with the first two. I don't think I could stand the idea of Harry biting the dust though. The only thing I would have changed besides what you mentioned was the epilogue in the last book. It was just...not.

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  6. I'm with you on #1 and 2. It would've been great to see more Ginny, and by moving Snape into the position of power, we'd see more of him too. But Harry dying? Surely you jest! :)

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  7. @ CCG: I think the epilogue was good for what it was: a bold attempt to resolve a decade and 7 books worth of 'stuff' into something that wouldn't inspire crazy fans to burn down the author's house.

    @ Elana: Oh, I'm not jesting. Ask any of my beta/crit group partners, I'm heartless. I'd off my own uncle if it would add a little drama to a story! :)

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  8. Okay, I'm going to tell the truth. I own all of the Harry Potter books, but I haven't read beyond the first one yet. There. I feel better now that the truth is out. But since I do intend to read all of them one of these days, I try to skip the spoilers. I'll come back another day for another post. :)

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  9. I always loved Snape, and the movies just made me love him more.

    I think from a literary pov, most people agree harry should have stayed dead. I do remmeber JK revealing that a major charactor was going to die, and ppl sobbing about it. I wonder if she had originally planned to leave him dead...

    Random aside: We watched 5 and 6 last night, and Beatrix is the craziest thing. I love her and Helena Bonham Carter (the actress).

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  10. Interesting post, I definitely agree with you on the last one. I was actually really angry she hadn't killed him and tried to make her explanation of why he didn't make sense.

    I don't know about #1 tho. I was about Harry's age when I first picked up the books and Dumbledore really is seen through Harry's eyes, which may have something to do with her leaving out any of the bad info until Harry was older. When the world he'd come to love and feel safe in began to crumble around him.

    And #2 I had the couples picked out by book one. The idea of Harry and Hermoine never even crossed my mind. I didn't even know people thought they should have been an item until a few years ago when I ran across some fans of the pairing. And frankly I didn't really care for Ginny, so I'm glad she wasn't in it more, even though I agree that it's weird she didn't get a bigger role to play after her and Harry became an item.

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  11. 1. We needed Dumbledore at the beging. But switching to headmaster snape earlier would have been interesting.

    2. Yes definetly. Ginny deserved way more time in the spotlight. by book 7 she should have been well and truly part of the team.

    3. No thank you. I want a fantansy adventure, not a tradgedy.

    My One big changes would be to ake teleportation somthing that Normal Wizards can't do. Its existence really makes all the other forms of magical transportation seem superflouis. Make it something that the big bad developed so that only thouse who have received the dark mark can do it, and even then it should have consequences. Perhapse house elves can do it, but keep the ability secret, otherwise why would anyone send something by Owl, when a house elf could get it their faster and with less chance of it being intercepted?

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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