And so I’ve reached the end. I’ve been so fully immersed in this project that Harry Potter has literally been all I think, talk, or write about. Even when I’m thinking about other things—classes, friends, my relationship, anything—the books and this project were sitting in wait, taking up a large portion of my brain, distracting the hell out of me. It’s very lucky that so many of my classes so far have been pretty low-stress and I haven’t been totally bombarded with homework. I started rereading in late August and it was like tumbling into the rabbit hole all over again: despite the fact that I’ve read these books countless times before and I was very consciously looking for flaws and plot holes and was concentrating so hard on the things that make me angry in this series (which is a lot), I still felt like I was 12 years old again. At that age, Harry Potter was my world, it was my main creative outlet, it saved me from a fucked-up family and distracted me when I wanted to hurt myself. Harry Potter, for all of the many, many, many problems I have with the series and its creator, is and always will be something I love entirely. Some people are afraid to think critically about the things that are dear to them, afraid that they’ll have to disown it or start disliking it. This is not true; never stop thinking critically about the media you take in, ever. I am a Potterhead. The fact that I can question JKR and say “Hey, this is fucked up or wrong or infuriating” does not take away from how much I love the series. With that said, I’m (obscenely) excited to rip this goddamn epilogue to shreds.
1. I think one of the reasons so many people hate this epilogue is because it’s so far removed from everything we know. I don’t fucking know 36-year-old Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We know the characters we’ve seen grow up from ages 11-17. It’s a lot to ask of the readers, just jumping 19 years into the future and expecting us to be all cool with it. You don’t stay the same from when you’re 17 to the time you’re in your mid-thirties. We, the readers, went through trauma in this goddamn book: we lost characters who meant something to us, characters who felt like friends and family, characters that we had known and loved for upwards of 10 years. Voldemort dies and then we just cut to this happy ending. It just doesn’t jibe with me, man. I feel like it would’ve been so much better to have a “1 year later” epilogue (if there had to be an epilogue at all); that way we wouldn’t have been so completely displaced from everything we just went through. We still could’ve seen them moving on with their lives and in their stupid little predictable relationships, but also seen them healing and grieving. This epilogue…it’s like none of what we went through matters anymore! Because the characters have had nearly 20 fucking years to cope and heal and move on. I had 2 fucking pages to cope and heal. And then BAM, we’re hit with these adult versions of the characters we know and they all have little carbon copy children heading off to Hogwarts.
2. The last few chapters of Book 7 are some of the best writing JKR does in the whole series. Mostly because it’s full of the action stuff she’s so good at writing, but she even outdoes herself with the emotional stuff with “The Forest Again.” The epilogue is just…weak. It’s so sophomoric. It feels like I’m reading Book 1 all over again, and not just because she has all these parallels to the first time Harry was on Platform 9 ¾.
3. Speaking of those parallels, OMG IS THIS REALLY NECESSARY. Do we really need to see Harry and Ginny’s little redhead daughter crying about how she wants to go to Hogwarts like her brothers, just like Ginny did in the first book? It’s bad enough that Harry and Ginny are practically copies of Lily and James but then they have children who are carbon copies of them! And their fucking names are Lily and James! And Albus Severus.
4. These names, man. These fucking names. JKR is trolling us hard. You do realize that, right? Like…did Ginny not get any fucking say over her kids’ names? Like, every single time she was like “Harry, darling, I have an idea for our daughter’s name!” Harry was just like “UH STFU NO 1 CURR”. And it’s not just them—fucking Rose and Hugo? HUGO?! WHAT IS THIS WHAT IS LIFE I DON’T UNDERSTAND. SCORPIUS? SCORPIUS HYPERION MALFOY?! WHAT IS THIS!? FUCK YOU. OH MY GOD I WANNA BREAK SHIT.
5. The name I find most mind-numbingly horrible and extremely offensive to the readers is Harry and Ginny’s youngest child, Albus Severus. Not just because that kid is totally gonna get picked on for having the dumbest name I’ve ever heard in my LIFE but because why the fuck would you fucking name your kid after Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape?! Who are you, Harry? I don’t even know you anymore. Why? What logic is this? Oh, yeah, Dumbledore, who asked you to risk your life over and over and over and who raised you like a pig to be sacrificed at the altar. And Severus Snape, a man who bullied and tormented you for 6 years, hated your father completely and was obsessed—frighteningly, all-consumingly obsessed—with your mother for his entire adolescent and adult life. Yeah, TOTES NAME YOUR SON AFTER THOSE TWO GUYS.
6. For someone like me, the epilogue is especially unsatisfying because my idea of fulfilling, lifelong happiness does not involve marriage and children. It bothers me that we’re served this lackluster, uber-conventional, Babies Ever After ending and then we learn (in bits and pieces) the really interesting stuff—like careers and what happened to other, more interesting characters—after the goddamn book is out. Why couldn’t some of that shit have been the epilogue? It’s just so annoying that she’s presenting this—being happily married to people you met when you were fucking 11—as the way ALL her characters find lifelong happiness. That is not how life typically works out. Often times you don’t marry someone you met when you were 11. And if you do, you probably aren’t going to stay happy or married. Because like I said before, you change a lot from the time you’re 17 to the time you’re nearly fucking 40. And I know some people are all like “OMG, it’s a fantasy book!” Yeah, a fantasy book that is all about death and war and grief and fucking Nazism and totalitarianism. This fucking epilogue is such mood dissonance. It’s jarring and unpleasant because it’s so overwhelmingly—almost cartoonishly—happy and cutesy.
7. The main characters’ relationships feel a little…incestuous, don’t they? Like, okay here go their little carbon copies—who look just like them and are basically hollow extensions of their parents—off to Hogwarts to have their own adventures! But the core group—Harry (Al or James), Ron (Hugo, maybe), Hermione (Rose) and Ginny (Lily)—are all fucking related. They’ve known each other all their lives. Since we’re basically forced to think of these kids as extensions of their parents it gets creepy because an important dynamic of all the relationships involved the will-they-won’t-they aspect and even unresolved sexual tension. But all these kids are related. And that’s icky, yo.
8. This is a huge problem I have with the whole series: IT’S SO GODDAMN HETERONORMATIVE. There are SO many characters in this series; it is statistically implausible that they are all straight. And what makes it worse is this is a series that is supposed to be all about tolerance. But the only LGBT canon sort-of couple (Dumbledore and Grindewald) nearly fucking leads to another Holocaust. Uhm. Wow. Unfortunate Implications. Her revealing Dumbledore’s sexual orientation after the fact has always seemed tacked on to me; yeah, there are extremely vague hints about their relationship in the book but nothing explicitly stating “They were a couple”. This is something that I have a serious problem with. This is the reason most of my OTPs are queer. I want to see my own sexuality reflected in these characters that I grew up with and love. I don’t want to feel condescended to after the fact when you say that one of your most important characters is gay. That’s a bullshit move, in my opinion. Taking the coward’s route and waiting until it was safe enough to come out with it does nothing—fucking nothing—for the LGBT community.
So there we have it! This was such a fun if time-consuming project. As always, please leave any comments you may have. Thanks for sticking with me through this! I’m def not going to be reading anymore Harry Potter for a while.