The Harry Potter books express a variety of different themes and motifs such as the importance of friendship and loyalty, duplicity, discovering individuality and true identity, learning to trust others, and the ultimate battle between good and evil. The series follows a young wizard, named Harry and his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger through their experiences and adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The primary story line involves Harry’s mission to defeat the ultimate Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort whose objectives entail gaining immortality, mastering the wizard world, conquering the muggles, and destroying everyone who tries to deter him, particularly Harry Potter. During the course of the adventures, battles, wins and losses that Harry and his friends encounter throughout the Harry Potter series, we learn about the importance of living and dying well.
In the novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hagrid comments, “No good sittin’ worryin’ abou’ it,” he said. “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does” (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire ). This mantra and motto reflects living well. A person cannot dwell on what might be and what could have been and truly live a happy and fulfilled existence. Instead of dwelling on Voldemort and evil works, Harry and his friends embrace a mature perspective on living life to the fullest and living life well.
Without dwelling on evil, Harry and his friends do in fact encounter and battle evil throughout the novels. Harry battles coming to terms with Voldemort, what Voldemort did to his parents, and what his ultimate fate will eventually come to be. Harry experiences flashbacks of Voldemort killing his parents, which ultimately drives him to live selflessly and sacrificially. In chapter 12 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Rowling writes, “A wave of piercing cold broke over him— ‘Expecto patromun!’ Harry yelled. ‘Expecto patronum! Expecto—‘ But the classroom and the dementor were dissolving…Harry was falling again through thick white fog, and his mother’s voice was louder than ever, echoing inside his head—‘Not Harry! Not Harry! Please—I’ll do anything—-” (J. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ). Harry later becomes like his mother, selfless and self-sacrificing in an attempt to defeat evil. Honorably living for others transpires into living well.
At the end of chapter 23 in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Dumbledore reminds Harry, “By attempting to kill you, Voldemort himself singled out the remarkable person who sits here in front of me, and gave him the tools for the job” (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince). Through this statement, Dumbledore reminds Harry that the significant difference between him and Voldemort is his ability to love. This symbolizes the key to living well. Harry contains the ability to care, empathize, and love others. Without these qualities, a person cannot live well.
Throughout the series Harry constantly finds himself in the position of self-sacrifice. Once he discovers his role in defeating the “One Whose Name You do not Mention”, Harry lays his happiness, safety, and life on the line for all of wizard and mankind. As an example, in the novel Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore find themselves surrendering their own joy and peace for the grander good. Of course Harry longs to adopt the life of a typical Hogwarts student; however, he recognizes that his destiny is to combat and terminate Voldemort. The young wizard is prepared to risk his own life in order to ensure the security and protection of his friends and all of mankind. There is no greater honor than to lay one’s own life down for his friends. Self-sacrifice encompasses the ultimate meaning of living and dying well.
A specific example of self-sacrifice involves Harry’s excursion with Dumbledore to gather what they ponder is a Horcrux. Harry leaves his ampoule of Felix Felicis amongst his group of friends in order to protect them if misfortune and distress should arise. Additionally, Dumbledore is consistently determined to lay his own life down in order to safeguard Harry and his friends at Hogwarts. For example, when Harry and Dumbledore finally reach the area encompassing the locket, Dumbledore consumes numerous goblets of a poisonous potion, contending that Harry carry on pouring the potion into his disputing mouth, in order to obtain and abolish the Horcrux and in turn a piece of The Dark Lord’s soul.
Although living sacrificially, Harry and his friends have a difficult time mourning the death and the loss of loved ones. In chapter 38 of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix Harry mourns the loss of his mentor, searching for answers regarding the afterlife. Rowling writes, “So you came back, didn’t you?’ said Harry urgently. ‘People can come back, right? As ghosts. They don’t have to disappear completely” (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix ). Grappling with thoughts and the reality of death are daunting and sometimes confusing. However, Harry and his friends grasp the notion of living and dying well.
In the first Harry Potter book entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Rowling writes, “After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure” (J. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). Neglecting to allow death to defeat life is the ultimate principle of living well. The characters throughout the Harry Potter series teach readers the importance of living and dying well. In order to live and die well, a person must not allow death to defeat life and they must be willing to die honorably laying one’s life down for others. Living a fulfilled and honorable life and dying and honorable death encompass living and dying well. During the course of the adventures, battles, wins and losses that Harry and his friends encounter throughout the Harry Potter series, we learn about the importance of living and dying well.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire . U.S. : Scholastic Books, 2002. Print.
—. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. U.S. : Scholastic Books, 2006. Print.
—. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix . U.S. : Scholastic Books, 2004. Print.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban . U.S.: Scholastic Books, 2001. Print.
—. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. U.S.: Scholastic Books, 1999. Print.