British Literature Expert Predicts Harry Potter Will Survive July 21
By Lori Wright, Media Relations
February 7, 2007
Harry Potter will survive past July 21, 2007, the publication
date of J.K. Rowling's final Potter book, predicts a British
literature expert at UNH, because in the end, good has to win
According to professor James Krasner, Rowling’s threat
to kill at least two main characters in her final book, “Harry
Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” is her way of taking
control and is not unlike actions taken by other authors whose
books have become extremely popular with readers.
In the end, however, Harry will survive. “There's no
way Harry will die,” he says. “Harry won't die
largely because these are comic stories, like Dickens' novels,
in which good has to win.”
“Whenever an author's books become very popular in his
or her lifetime, as is the case with Rowling, a tug of war
starts between the author and the fans about who the characters
really belong to. Rowling, like Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock
Holmes), is trying to assert her control. She’s reminding
us that Harry is her character, not ours; she can kill him
if she wants to. Doyle actually did kill off Sherlock Holmes,
but Rowling won’t go that far because she cares about
Harry. Conan Doyle was really sick of Holmes,” Krasner
And it’s not the first time Rowling, who is adept at
promoting her books, has threatened to kill off a major character.
According to Krasner, Rowling caused a media sensation when
she said a “major character” would die in Harry
Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Rumors targeted Harry’s
best friend, Ron Weasley, but in the end, it was Sirius Black,
who Krasner says “was an important supporting character,
but not really a major character like Ron.”
“Harry won't die because Rowling's too good of a storyteller
to completely undercut her genre. She's an extraordinarily
careful plotter, not unlike Dickens, and she has worked very
hard to make all the books emotionally satisfying. Having Harry
die would be a miserable plotting failure,” Krasner says.
Rowling employs the genre of British Private Boy School novels,
a popular writing style of 19th century Britain but one that
may be unfamiliar to most Americans. The classic novel of this
genre is Tom Brown's Schooldays, set in the Rugby School for
Boys. “The stock characters in these stories are very
similar to those in Harry Potter. There's the serious, good-hearted
hero from a modest background, the obnoxious aristocratic kid
who lords it over everyone, and the nebishy friend to the hero.
The stories tend to focus on rugby games (Quidditch games in
Harry Potter) and pranks that take place in the dorms after
the lights go out,” Krasner says.
“Rowling's books are very well written, and we're lucky
to be around to see them created. Her particular talent is
plotting and comic characterization. She's a lot like Dickens
in that she does such a good job with comedy, and with predictable
plotlines, that she can move into tragedy, and complexity,
rather than starting with a tragic mode,” Krasner says.
So if Harry Potter doesn’t die in the final book, who
According to Krasner, “Lord Voldemort has to die. And
Snape, who is really fighting for good despite all appearances,
will likely die. Neville Longbottom is really the chosen one,
so I suspect he'll die,” he says.
And readers shouldn’t be surprised if the much-loved
Professor Dumbledore, who died in the last book, returns. “Obi-Wan
Kenobi, Gandalf-type paternal wise man mentor characters always
die. This is a multi-genre convention, turning up in war stories,
medieval romances, fantasy, adventure, cop movies, martial
arts films. They come back as ghosts,” Krasner says.
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