“Here lies Dobby, a free elf”

– Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

2017 marked 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I’ve always enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books. But what has also struck me were its themes of freedom, equality, class, and power, among others.

The house-elves, slavery, and freedom:

“You know, house-elves get a very raw deal! It’s slavery, that’s what it is! That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he’s got her bewitched so she can’t even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?”

– Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry’s comment is light-hearted, yet at the same time carries a strong feminist message,

“Listen, Hermione, I can tell it’s not a girl. I can just tell.”

“The truth is that you don’t think a girl would have been clever enough,” said Hermione angrily.

“How can I have hung round with you for five years and not think girls are clever?” said Harry, stung by this.”

– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry, upon discovering an old portions book that belonged to the ‘Half-Blood Prince’ assumes that the author must be male)

These words are hauntingly true in today’s context,

“There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it” – Professor Quirrel,

– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

And finally, this is not from Harry Potter, rather a quote by the author J. K. Rowling, and one of my favourite,

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better”

I used this statement in a speech once on the power of imagination. Fiction makes way for that power of imagination, and through that, to create a sense of empathy for the other. Something we so often lack.