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Rewriting ‘Harry Potter’: Resurrecting dearly missed dead characters

| Friday, April 17, 2020

Jackie Junco | The Observer

I hope you all are doing well in quarantine, and for all you Potterheads out there, now is the chance. I hope you take advantage of this downtime to refresh your memory of the beloved wizarding world with a well-deserved movie marathon — or, even better — a complete reread of the entire series J.K. Rowling gifted to the world.

I myself have gotten to watch the latter half of the series (out of order), meaning “The Order of the Phoenix,” “The Half-Blood Prince,” “Deathly Hallows – Part 1” and “Deathly Hallows – Part 2.” While I always hesitate to rewatch films five and six due to their hints at the dark things to come, I will always sit down to watch film seven in its entirety because, despite all of the heartbreaking deaths of some of the best characters, we get some closure with the 19 years later conclusion.

While jumping from “Order of the Phoenix” to “Deathly Hallows,” I was reminded of the bittersweet loss of Rowling’s amazing characters, and while I silently curse her from taking away some of her strongest creations, I realize that a good series would not be the same without some deaths, especially deaths of the most-loved characters.

But here I have the chance to muse upon what would happen if certain characters lived, and I will also attempt to determine who should have lived and who can still die in a sort of ranking system along with discussion of the hierarchy. With the help of a recent interactive poll that I made on Instagram, I will argue both sides of a character living or dying.

Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks

Lupin and Tonks received the most votes in my survey, and with good reason. Not only did they leave behind their baby boy, Teddy, but these two were such a strong couple as well as powerhouses by themselves. Lupin — after Sirius — was Harry’s last tie to his father, at least through close friendship, and his success in teaching Harry the Patronus charm puts him high in the rankings in my book. He seemed to balance out the Marauders with his level-headed thinking and easygoing personality  — except under a full moon of course. One of my followers would have him live on so that “a Marauder could raise a child” — shoutout to Ally Rudin (‘20). Tonks provided some comic relief and finally a companion for Lupin. She was one of the badass women in the story. Another of my followers, my high school history teacher, said they should get to live because “sometimes people deserve happy endings.”

Fred Weasley

Fred was the second most popular option of who should live when I asked my Instagram followers. Fred and George Weasley carry a lot of the comic relief in the books, and Rowling’s decision to reduce them to half their capacity is heart wrenching. Especially because George lost his ear at the beginning of Book seven, and then Fred had to be the one to die. Rowling really knows how to push our buttons. A favorite reason from one of my followers was ”imagine Fred and George getting old and still being goofballs” — shoutout Phil Lally (‘21).

Sirius Black

Sirius began the thread of all these deaths in book five, although I would argue for Cedric Diggory but nobody shouted him out. Sirius’s ending was set apart from most of the others, coming along at the conclusion of one of the darker installments in the series. He would have been such a good godfather to Harry, and he was innocent of all the convictions shoved onto him by the Ministry of Magic. His death definitely gave Harry more motivation to defeat Voldemort.

Dobby the House Elf

My first thought when considering my own question was Dobby. He consistently showed up for Harry throughout the series, basically dedicating the later half of his life in devotion to Harry and his friends. Not only would I have loved to see how Dobby spent his free life, especially after the defeat of Voldemort, but his loyalty truly made Dobby one of my favorite characters. Again, Rowling must have killed him off to establish how good he really was, and maybe to give Harry an extra boost that he probably didn’t need.

Dumbledore

This one is controversial for me. Dumbledore was one of a kind for sure, but I think he needed to die in order to pass on the torch to Harry. He had his time in the spotlight when he defeated Grindelwald, as well as while headmaster of Hogwarts. If Dumbledore had survived up until the final battle, things may not have been as suspenseful, and he might have been expected to help Harry defeat Voldemort. Thus, he needed to be gone so that Harry could step up and have his moment. 

Hedwig

This one was just sad. Her final act was, like Dobby’s, one of protecting Harry. She was a steadfast companion the whole way through his adolescence, and her opening the series of book seven deaths really set a tragic precedent.

Severus Snape

At first I found this one controversial, but after realizing just how complex Snape’s character really is, I’ll give it to him. His death did bring about a redemptive quality to his character, as we were taken into his double agent memories, and learned about his love for Lily which transferred somewhat to Harry. 

Harry’s Parents

My kindergartner teacher mentioned this to me, and while a very good point, without their deaths, there would be almost no story, so I feel like this one isn’t very arguable. We also did get to know them in a cool way, through fragmented stories and memories of those who were close to them, as well as Harry’s associations with their ghosts.

Honorable Mentions:

I had one follower bring up the Creevey brothers, who were definitely pure and innocent. Also Cedric Diggory is a big one, and R.I.P. to an epic “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” crossover with Robert Pattinson and Daniel Radcliffe. If you feel another character deserves recognition, let me know!

All of these deaths stung in their own ways, and I will reiterate that I think this is the sign of a truly talented author who creates characters to which we get attached and are marked by their absence when they no longer live on her pages.

 

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