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10 Life Questions to Consider After Reading the Harry Potter Books

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Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. Ced's favorite shows and adventures are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.

10 important life questions to consider after reading the Harry Potter books

10 important life questions to consider after reading the Harry Potter books

The most wonderful thing about the Harry Potter books is that it’s not simply a young adult's magic-adventure saga.

Beneath the action, there is a whole level of subtle sophistication intended for older readers. For example, the intricate politics between the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Or the extreme discrimination of “muggle-born” wizards by the Death Eaters, which parallels real-life social conflicts.

There are also many important life questions hidden within the stories, some of which are introspective, while others are downright disturbing to even consider.

Regardless of nature, if you find the answers to any of these questions, a little bit of magic will be returned to your life. With more thought, you might even be able to completely transform your life in a truly enchanting way.

1. Which Hogwarts House Do You Belong to?

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Respectively, their key values are courage, perseverance, wit, and ambition.

The question of “Which Hogwarts House You Belong to” is, therefore, an examination of what you believe to be your greatest strength. Or what you aspire to be. To know the answers are, in turn, highly useful for a myriad of life situations.

For example, what sort of career would best suit you? A front-line kind of job? Or a back-end administrative one? In any group, what role would you be most comfortable in? A leading one, or a supportive position?

Conversely, knowing which House you rather die than step into indicates the sort of people you are most likely to enter into conflict with. Whether to subsequently start avoiding such characters or to devise some way to co-exist with them then becomes the next life question to reflect on.

2. Do You Avoid Talking About Things You Fear?

This began as humor in the earlier Harry Potter books. The Wizarding World insisted on referring to villain Voldemort as “You-Know-Who” instead of using his name. It was only in the final books that it was implied that speaking Voldemort’s name risked informing him about your whereabouts.

Whatever the actual consequences of using the Dark Lord’s name, an important question lies here. Do you believe that you would be unaffected by a threat, as long as you do not speak of it or think about it?

If you do, it is high time for you to reassess your beliefs. Problems never go away because you keep quiet about them or blind yourself to them. Instead, they worsen simply because you neglect them.

To quote Professor McGonagall from the final movie, “You might as well use it. He’s going to try to kill you either way.” "It," here, referring to Voldemort’s name.

The same goes for all threats. Acknowledge them. Attend to them. Never pretend they do not exist or are unable to affect you. A threat will always be a threat 'til you recognize it as one.

3. What Would You See in the Mirror of Erised?

The Mirror of Erised (desire spelled backward) is an amazing artifact featured in The Sorcerer’s Stone. A person gazing into it would see his deepest desire vividly manifested. Albus Dumbledore himself also cautioned that “Men have wasted away before it, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible."

Note Dumbledore’s words “or even possible.” This strongly suggests that the mirror almost always shows things that can never happen. In other words, meaningless fantasies.

Was this author J.K. Rowling’s way of stating that too many people are obsessed with things they can never have or change?

In your case, what would you see if you stand before the Mirror of Erised? Would it be an aspiration you’re still striving for or a fantasy you have wasted years obsessing over?

If the latter, would the fantasy someday morph into a lifelong grudge, a regret that’d utterly destroy you?

These are depressing questions to consider. But to honestly answer them is also to spare yourself tragedy.

Harry Potter beguiled by the Mirror of Erised in the first movie.

Harry Potter beguiled by the Mirror of Erised in the first movie.

4. How Would a Boggart Torment You?

In the third book, Boggarts are described as shape-shifting entities capable of one horrid trick. When encountered, they take the form of whatever terrifies you most.

This awful power is, in turn, an important plot device for other events, but the crucial life question to consider here is, what form would a Boggart assume before you?

Whatever your answer, know that it is your first step in acknowledging and confronting your worst fear. What you subsequently do to overcome your fear is another discussion altogether, but at least you’ve taken the first positive step.

Do take note too. To overcome any phobia requires courage and honesty. There’s no point if you substitute your worst fear with something else. When you do that, you are not healing. You’re evading.

You would also accomplish no more than to give a Boggart a worse way to torment you. Your trauma will be worse the next time one pops up before you.

5. How Would You Summon Your Patronus?

The Patronus Charm is my favorite spell from the entire Harry Potter book series. I love it so much, I’ve given extensive thought to it—from what my Patronus would resemble to how I would be casting the spell.

I strongly encourage you to do so, too, because this is a guaranteed cheer-you-up for any terrible day. To summon a Patronus, a wizard must intensely focus on his happiest memory. By doing this, wouldn’t any bad day instantly feel more bearable? Wouldn’t it also remind you that life isn’t that terrible after all? That there were moments when you were genuinely happy?

Incidentally, this Patronus Charm question is also the most uplifting question on this list. One that I strongly recommend anyone to train for.

Train, as in repeat the same question again and again in your mind. Other than giving you a laugh, you will find yourself permanently feeling more positive about life.

6. How Would You Use the Polyjuice Potion?

Polyjuice is a foul-tasting concoction that allows any wizard or witch to transform into another person. It is arguably the most fascinating potion in the Harry Potter series. After all, who among us has never fantasized about being somebody else?

In other words, “how you would use Polyjuice” is a combination of Questions 1 and 3. Your answer reveals who you dream of becoming and who you crave to be. Naturally, your answer shines a harsh light on your dissatisfaction and insecurities about yourself too.

And if you find this question to be too upsetting, modify it and consider who would use Polyjuice to impersonate you. If you can think of a few names, don’t be creeped out. Take it that there are people in the world who see you as being in a better, more desirable place.

7. How Would You React If Your Pure-blood Child Marries a Muggle-born?

This is the thorniest question on this list. Without going into the definitions for “pure-blood” and “muggle-born,” it simply means, would you accept interracial marriages in your family?

It is a life question that’s especially relevant to our times, thanks to globalization. Beyond politically and socially correct responses, would you truly welcome a person from another community or race into your inner life? What are your concerns, if any, and are these at all valid?

Take note, considering these questions doesn’t make you a racist or bigot; it’s the first real step to understanding prejudice—the first step to acknowledging the difference between tolerance and acceptance too.

Hopefully, the exercise will enlighten you as well. Of note, I’m neither pressing for or against your existing views. I am encouraging you to at least be able to explain your opinions rationally.

What are your real opinions about interracial marriages?

What are your real opinions about interracial marriages?

8. Why Did Albus Dumbledore Tolerate Slytherin House?

This is one of the most debated questions among Harry Potter fans. Why did wise Albus Dumbledore tolerate Slytherin House when it was a fact that Slytherin produces the darkest wizards?

Was it blind respect towards tradition? Towards the status quo?

Or did he do so to keep tabs on those with the greatest propensity for evil?

Applied to our real world, the question is similarly, should we go all out to destroy evil at any cost? Or should we strive for a system that can monitor, restrain, and limit evil?

Easily the most contentious question on this list, the debate involved is one that will not end anytime soon. But make no mistake, to think about it is not a fruitless exercise. At a personal level, doing so is a reevaluation of how you should deal with the ills in your life—whether you should strive to coexist or to fight on.

On another note, some fans see Hogwarts as a microcosm of the real world. One in which people with starkly opposing views coexist.

On another note, some fans see Hogwarts as a microcosm of the real world. One in which people with starkly opposing views coexist.

9. If You Had a Time-turner and Could Only Use It Once, What Would You Change?

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione Granger used the miraculous Time-Turner to manage an impossible timetable. In summary, it allowed her to travel back in time to attend multiple lessons in the same time slot.

For you, the question is, if you could time travel with such a gadget, what is that one thing you would definitely change to better your life?

To be clear, asking such a question is also not about wallowing in regret or daydreaming; it’s about facing your past so that you would never long for a Time-Turner.

It’s also about accepting limitations and moving on. About embracing the hard fact that there’s only so much anyone can do, even with the best of foresight.

To highlight, this theme of moving on is prevalent in the Harry Potter series. (Erised. Letting your decisions, not your lineage, define you, etc.). Perhaps this was J.K. Rowling’s way of sharing her real-life experiences.

Had she wallowed in self-pity during her darkest times, she never would have completed the series. Today, she would still be a struggling, unknown writer. Not the celebrated maestro she became.

The miraculous Time-Turner, featured in Book 3: The Prisoner of Azkaban.

The miraculous Time-Turner, featured in Book 3: The Prisoner of Azkaban.

10. What Objects Would You Use for Your Horcruxes?

We are venturing into nefarious areas with this question. In the final books, Horcruxes are dark artifacts that Voldemort used to achieve immortality. Importantly, they are made using the most violent act possible. That of murder.

I’m not encouraging you to contemplate murder, of course. Instead, I’m inviting you to consider what you would use if you were to make Horcruxes.

Within the books, three of Voldemort’s Horcruxes were made from famed relics. Another was made using his Pure-blood grandfather’s ring, and yet another from his teenage diary.

Do you not agree that his choices overtly point to the Dark Lord’s pride in the pure-blood lineage? Were his decisions not telltale signs of Voldemort's belief in his own greatness, as well as his extreme arrogance in what he achieved during adolescence?

For you, what would your Horcruxes be? What are the objects that you feel best define you?

The dark nature of Horcruxes aside, knowing the answer makes you a better person because these objects inevitably point at your worst flaws. All that remains thereafter is whether you choose to change yourself.

© 2016 Ced Yong

Comments

Ced Yong (author) from Asia on August 05, 2016:

Hey AliciaC, glad you enjoyed it!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 04, 2016:

I love this article! It's creative, interesting and thought provoking.

Ced Yong (author) from Asia on August 03, 2016:

Thanks Kyriaki. :) May there be magic in your life. :)

Kyriaki Chatzi on August 03, 2016:

Brilliant Hub!! I really enjoyed reading it since it's unique and funny! Great job!

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