Harry Potter and Memento Mori

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If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter books or movies like I am, you probably remember the Tale of the Three Brothers from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

 

Most Potterheads know that this fairy tale foretold the Deathly Hallows, which served as the MacGuffins in the book. I’m not sure if this was JK Rowling’s intention, but the fairy tale is more than just a plot device. It actually teaches a moral, as all fairy tales do. The moral of this particular tale is that we don’t have to be afraid of death, but we should still acknowledge that it exists. In other words, it’s a tale of memento mori.

In the context of the Potter-verse, the Elder Wand was created by Antioch Peverell, who used the wand to kill a rival wizard, boasted of the wand’s powers after winning the duel, and was murdered in his sleep shortly afterwards. To me, this represents people who act without thinking of the consequences. The people who live and breathe by YOLO, entitled and presumptuous.

The second brother, Cadmus Peverell, was described as an arrogant man who used the Resurrection Stone to recall the woman he hoped to marry back from the dead. The problem was that she suffered, living an incomplete life because she truly belong in the mortal world. This inability to connect with his love drove Cadmus mad with hopeless longing and he killed himself. There are many people who see death as a permanent end, unable to properly grieve their losses.

The third brother, Ignotus Peverell, was described as a humble and wise man. In the fairy tale, Death searched for Ignotus for many years, unable to find him. The Invisibility Cloak was handed down to his son when Ignotus reached old age. I love the way that the story ends: “He greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”

Not much is known about Ignotus Peverell aside from the fact that he created the Invisibility Cloak. However, his approach to death is a wise and sobering one. He did not see himself as more powerful than death nor was he consumed by past losses. Instead, death became a friend, an equal. Because death isn’t the end.

TV Tropes summarized the moral of this story best: “If you are unable to accept the futility of escaping death or are unable to accept the death of a loved one, death will be your greatest enemy. However, if you instead accept death as the inevitable and move on with your life, he will greet you as an old friend.”

#mementomori

 

Lent Day 31: What is Love?

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflection talked about how compassion and forgiveness became God’s weapons as Jesus hung upon the cross. The reflection is titled “The Weapons of Love.”

I’ve written about love on this blog before. But there’s always two questions that I keep asking when it comes to people who write stories of love: Do they portray a healthy, wonderful, loving relationship accurately? And if they didn’t, why?

Take JK Rowling for example. She created relationships in her books, but recently had second thoughts about one of the relationships she created. Also, in my very biased but hopefully honest opinion, I don’t think she convinced her readers that James and Lily were truly, happily married to each other given that we are given little about them aside from stuff other characters said about James and Lily and Snape’s flashbacks, which show that James was a bully. In my opinion, I don’t think that Rowling is a romantic. She was divorced at the time she started writing Harry Potter and by the time she married again, she was world-famous and writing Book 5. It’s hard to find a normal relationship in between then, but that’s just my speculation.

On the other extreme, we have the author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight series is entertaining, but many critics have pointed out that the relationship between Bella and Edward isn’t a healthy one. And yet, Meyer’s stories became a household name for a while, leading to the creation of Fifty Shades of Grey and other stories revolving around relationships with one partner being dominant and another partner being submissive.

It doesn’t help that television doesn’t portray relationships accurately, either. Just ask the fans of How I Met Your Mother about how they felt about the series finale. (I’m still hurting from it, by the way.) So often, in television and film, characters get caught up in the sweeping ideas on what a relationship should be like, caught up in the drama or the idea of a person or objectifying a person rather than actually loving the person for who he or she is.

Going-to-be-a-Saint-Soon Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body provides a middle ground between a detached viewpoint of romance and the overly dramatic portrayal of love we see in films and television. Click on the link to read the whole series. But if you’re like me and you don’t see yourself as someone who really understands theology, there’s a book by Christopher West that introduces Theology of the Body in ways that the everyman can understand. West’s book was actually the first book I read this year.

What do you think makes a relationship healthy and loving?