Saturday, June 16, 2007

Flying

The Deluxe Scholastic Edition cover art of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shows the trio riding a dragon!

We've seen a lot of flying in the various Harry Potter books, as they pointed on on the most recent episode of Pottercast. Here is the list I came up with:

  • Harry flies on a broomstick in Book One. Many of the other students do so, too, though Harry does it somewhat better than the rest. Harry gets a Nimbus Two Thousand, a very fast racing broom.
  • Ron, Fred and George rescue Harry from the Dursleys in a flying Ford Anglia in Book Two. Harry and Ron arrive at Hogwarts in the same flying car. Snape thinks it's there way of showing off. In the same book, Harry, Ron, Ginny and Professor Lockhart all fly out of the Chamber of Secrets by hanging onto the tail of Fawkes the Phoenix.
  • Harry, Hermione and Sirius fly on Buckbeak the Hippogriff in Book Three. Harry's Nimbus is destroyed and replaced by a Firebolt, an international standard broom that seems much faster and better even than the Nimbus.
  • Book Four shows us that Harry on his Firebolt is able to confuse a dragon. I guess, in the book, the dragon doesn't fly around like it does in the movie. Viktor Krum, who is a famous and talented Seeker, admires Harry's flying ability. Another wizarding method of flying is mentioned, but we learn that, in Britian at least, flying carpets are banned at present. They didn't used to be, though, and were useful for family transportation, apparently.
  • Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna all fly on Thestrals in Book Five. Only Harry, Neville and Luna can see them, making the trip even more unnerving for the rest. We learn that Dumbledore sometimes uses this method of transportation.
  • I can't think of anything new Harry flies on in Book Six.

So what am I getting at? I'm wondering if there's some symbolism to flying in the Harry Potter books. In many of the books, Harry's figurative death (which happens in each book) occurs underground, or he goes underground right before it. So is flying a symbol of resurrection or something similar?

  • In Book One, the flying precedes the figurative death, coming much earlier in the book. However, it does seem to highlight Harry's feelings of belonging in the Wizarding World and freedom from the oppression he felt with the Dursleys.
  • In Book Two, again, the flying car rescues him from virtual imprisonment at the Dursleys, and it enables them to get to Hogwarts when the barrier has mysteriously shut itself against them. At the end of the book, Fawkes could certainly be seen as a resurrection symbol.
  • In Book Three, Buckbeak saves the life of the innocent Sirius. This occurs after Harry and Sirius, as well as Hermione, almost lose their souls to the soul-sucking Dementors.
  • In Book Four, Harry uses his broom to keep from being killed by the dragon, and in addition he scores fairly well in the first task and manages to convince Ron he never planned to enter the tournament himself, thus healing the rift in their friendship.
  • In Book Five, the Thestrals can only be seen by those who have seen someone die. Regardless, they are able to bring all six students to the Ministry, where they again go underground and Harry almost dies. I'm not sure I see much symbolism here.
So, often in the Harry Potter novels, flying brings freedom and a sense of belonging, if not actually saving a life. Harry seems unusually adept at flying, even for a Wizard.

That's all I can come up with. I'd love to hear comments about this, I'm sure I've missed something.

1 comment:

korg20000bc said...

Hello Mrs. Lovegood.

There certainly is a lot of flight in the stories.

I wonder if the flying in book 6 is Harrys watching Dumbledore's uncontrolled "flight" off the tower top?

Harry also seems to do more apparating in book 6.

To me flight is symbolic of freedom, release and being unfettered. Harry always seems to gain clarity from his problems when he is on his broom and feels at home in the air. Like Krum, who is pigeon-toed and knock-kneed on the ground but is a prodigous flyer so Harry seems to reach his potential in the air.

Should he have been in Ravenclaw?

Matthew