Monday, June 7, 2010

Epilogues … To Be or Not to Be

As it turns out, there are two really important things to know about me (hopefully there are more, but for this Blog we’ll limit it to two). I strongly dislike the word “hate” and I hate epilogues.

I think of epilogues as a lazy way out. When I’ve read a really great book I truly enjoy thinking about what is continuing to happen within the story. For me the story lives on. One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to run various versions past him and see which one he likes best. (I freely admit that I’m not sure this is one of my husband’s favorite pastimes!!) However, isn’t what makes a great book great is that people continue to think about it?

Going out on a limb I will declare, for myself, the worst written epilogue to date is by JK Rowling in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If you haven’t read the series and plan to someday, now may be the time to quit reading, perhaps.

While I can appreciate that the author wanted to wrap it up all neat and tidy, I think the epilogue deserved more than fifteen minutes of her time. Predictably Harry names his children after key characters, couples are formed, alliances maintained, and all is well – Harry’s scar hadn’t pained him in nineteen years. We find little out about the backbone characters and a little shake up might be nice, even if JK Rowling is completely and utterly finished with the storyline.

Taking fifteen minutes, I will browse through the epilogue and see what really makes my teeth clench, starting now 1:43pm 6/7/10.

Leaving Harry married to Ginny, I question many issues:

1) They are dropping off their children, James and Albus, at the station to take the train to Hogwarts. Instead of having written the oldest child as a son (utterly predictable AND their daughter is named Lily too), wouldn’t it be more interesting to have their eldest a daughter named Tonks (a.k.a. Nymphodora)? After all, Tonks was a pivotal character when Harry, Ron and Hermione, as teenagers, were trying to decide how to take a stand against Voldemort! She was powerful and unique. In the end she charged into battle against Voldemort, knowing that she was risking death and re-creating Harry’s lifelong sorrow of being left alone. Her son Teddy would also have to live with the pain of having his mother die as a result of Voldemorts evilness. While Lily Potter’s death occurred defending her son, Tonks died defending humankind!! Owing any credibility to her sentimentality, what could be a more beautiful tribute to both mother’s love by the author than to name Harry’s daughter Nymphodora Lily Potter?

2) Much was made of the relationship between Sirius Black and Harry as they were Godfather/Godson. Harry is Teddy’s Godfather. In the epilogue we find out that Teddy has been raised by someone other than Harry and Ginny. We don’t even get to find out whom. This is so disingenuous to the original storyline. In fact, Lily suggests to her parents that Teddy comes to live with them and Harry rebuffs her with comments of having enough to worry about with his own children. Personally, I think it was Hagrid, he's always taking in strays.

3) Sure enough Ron and Hermione get married and have children predictably named Hugo and Rose! Sorry? Who are Hugo and Rose? I searched a website that lists every character in the Harry Potter Series and they aren’t named after anyone! Why not? A very strange dichotomy from the predictability of Harry and Ginny’s lives which should be anything but predictable.

4) The younger children are bickering over which House they’ll belong to at Hogwarts. Wouldn’t an epic battle against Voldemort unify the Houses? The argument ensues after the Potter and Weasley kids see Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius. Why such a sinister name? Is he looking for another thrashing? Could Draco possibly be a pawn of Voldemort? Or even Lucius Malfoy?

5) All we read over and over is how intelligent Hermione is, but as the children board the train the Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione send their love to Professor Longbottom! Not in the entire epilogue do we find out what Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Draco, or Luna evolve into being. Aurors? Professors? Employees of the Ministry of Magic? Quidditch Players? Magic Shop Owners? Journalists? Wandmakers? Where is Hagrid? The Dursleys? George Weasley?

6) The best character continuity is Ron Weasley who still uses magic to get his muggle driver’s license and humor to get himself through rough spots! Perhaps JK Rowling liked his character the best? Or was he the simplest to write?

I found this on
Surprising Secrets Finally Revealed
The most surprising—and welcome—element of the book is the way it enlightens readers on the personal history of two of the series' most pivotal characters: Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. Through Rowling's portrayals of the two characters, we see that our assumptions, even if they are built upon six previous books, aren't always correct, and evil, as well as good, can be found inside just about every character. Deathly Hallows serves as a fitting end to one of the world's most popular literary series. Harry Potter is destined to join the ranks of the most beloved fictional characters of all time, and he will live on as future generations continue to discover the series and enjoy it as so many millions already have.

If the intention of the author was to have Harry Potter remain a loveable fictional character who forever lives in limbo at the age of twelve or even seventeen, she shouldn’t have written the epilogue! Epilogues are the future. My imagination wants and needs more.

Couldn’t the epilogue have Hermione as an Auror, her hair all wild and wacky, popping into the train station just after dropping off a criminal at Azkaban? Harry teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts and instructing students how to conjure a Patronus. I can imagine Ron the Proprietor of a Pub on Diagon Alley, having a Butter Beer with Fred. Ginny's character could have been left alone, to be much like her mother, the calm in the storm. Instead of Harry’s head being painfree, couldn’t he have a minor ache after many years of quiet? We don’t know where all the Death Eaters got to after all!

Okay, this did take me slightly longer than fifteen minutes. However, I think I have made a strong case on how poorly the epilogue was written. It isn’t that I want a “Happily Ever After.” I want JK Rowling to withdraw her epilogue, initiate a writing contest and allow someone who wasn’t mired down by outside forces to create an unexpected spin, give it the same breath of fresh air that Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone blew into our lives.

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