Harry Potter’s London // Letters to October (9)

Dear October,

A day before I left home again, I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s a battered copy with my name written in it in sparkly gel pen — three times. As I packed, I snuck it into my bag, leaving new, unread books behind. It’s not a coincidence that this slightly melancholy moment in my life unfolded between the pages of a Harry Potter book. When I first started university, I took Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with me to deal with homesickness. And the more MA coursework I got stuck into this year, the more re-reads of the series I did.

Over the years, Harry Potter has become a source of comfort. Last January was such an occasion. The New Year’s festivities were behind us, leaving the world slightly deflated of energy, as if everyone were thinking, ‘What now?’. The days seemed comprised of darkness and frost. My friends and I decided to bring a bit of magical cheer into one dismal winter day by planning a Harry Potter tour of London. Here are the locations we risked frostbite to visit:

1. Platform 9 3/4

We started the day at none other than the iconic platform 9 3/4. Here, you can take a picture with the trolley, take a look around the shop and if you’re lucky, go through the barrier and spend the rest of the day in the wizarding world.

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5 Reasons Harry Potter is a Great Character

Harry Potter is one of the most underrated characters in his own series.

I have never heard anyone say that Harry is their favourite, and a quick Google search of ‘Harry Potter is a bad character’ (or something similar) shows no shortage of people who think he’s the worstWhile I must admit that he isn’t my favourite (Ron has that spot reserved — another underrated character I might rant about sometime), here are five reasons Harry is a great character, inspired largely by the unjustified hate he gets from others. Warning: spoilers ahead.

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Sympathy

I used to think that things were quite simple in a story: you sympathise with one character, despise (or at least slightly dislike) another and root for the one you feel sympathy for. Although ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters may not always be entirely discernible all the time, and even though characters may well be a mix of both, there is generally a character the reader favours more than another (I am guessing that most people would feel more sympathy for, say, Harry Potter than Voldemort).

But in some cases, this simple principle seems more difficult to apply.

In English class, I recently read Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Throughout the play, I felt sympathy for the protagonist, Willy Loman, whereas some people in my class commented that he seemed annoying. I felt bad about his need to control the direction his life is moving in and his failure to do so, about his shattered hopes and dreams. Moreover, I disliked his older son, Biff, for being so hostile towards his father.

However, a twist in the plot revealed near the end of the story turned my whole viewpoint topsy-turvy.

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