I, too, am re-reading the Harry Potter series. I discovered the series after the third book had been published, but before book 4. I was house sitting for a work friend and she had left the books on the kitchen table with a note that I might enjoy them. I read all three over 2 days. I remember going to my local Barnes & Noble and being devastated that the 4th book hadn’t been published. I remember reading the last book in the Toronto airport the day it was released (I had gotten it a day early, thanks Amazon) and worrying that I was going to have to beat back a crowd of people who thought they’d be able to buy it at the airport. I’ve re-read the series many times and listened to the Jim Dale narration of the series for a couple of years during the Bush administration. Now that we have the dumbest Death-Eaters in the White House and Congress, it seems like a good time to read a subversive series about the importance of personal choices, standing up to bullies, standing up to your friends when they are wrong, and treating everyone with compassion and kindness.
One of the themes Rowling explores during the whole series starts early in the first book. Bullying is a big theme in the series, but within that is the idea that those who bully us give us the power to overcome them. The Dursleys abused and neglected Harry for being different. Their bullying allows Harry to recognize Draco as a bully and to reject his offer of friendship. Harry stands up to Draco when Draco targets Neville, and this in turn reveals Harry’s talent for flying.
Harry’s talents for flying and Quiddich give Harry his boost of confidence. That confidence is what allowed Harry to pursue stopping the theft of the Sorcerer’s stone. Rowling puts a lot of subversive ideas in the Harry Potter series. Standing up to bullies is not subversive, but the idea that being bullied can make you stronger is a subversive twist on this. I’m not really going anywhere with this yet.
I’m not crazy about the movies. I think that for the most part they sell the books short. The books are wonderfully subversive. The movies though, did give us Alan Rickman as Severus Snape.