I really like Harry Potter. So much so that I even wrote an essay on the series for my Children’s Literature Class at uni — I got a good mark for it, too! I always joke that Harry and Ron even attended my graduation in Glasgow (see picture). So being the enthusiastic reader of the books that I was, I introduced some other people to the franchise — including my father. Not a great recommendation as it turned out because, by the time he’d finished reading the first two books, he decided that he really didn’t like them. That’s a fair enough statement in and of itself because each their own, and not everyone is going to have the same taste, right? Well, it was not as simple as “It’s just not my cup of tea” in my father’s case.
Why did he dislike Harry Potter? Was it because of the storytelling? No.
Was it because of the writing style? No.
It was because Harry gets everything handed to him, and he didn’t think it was right. He thought it wasn’t right that Harry keeps surviving; that he only ever gets out of sticky situations because others come to his aid. As though a victory doesn’t count when help is received — as if Harry getting it easy was unfair to the rest of us. Not petty at all!
It got me thinking about how my father must have felt: trapped in an unhappy marriage with an emotional abuser. Did he feel so desperately isolated that the mere thought of other people — fictional or otherwise — receiving help to escape their personal nightmare felt like a personal attack?
I felt that level of desperation once. The difference between how the two of us reacted may have been that — where my father felt envy of such help — I had hope that I would find unexpected, supportive connections like Harry did. It turns out that I did find people and circumstances that allowed me to escape the emotional trap of my family of origins.