If I tell you that McGonagall fulfills a powerful need in me, will you have any idea what I’m saying? I’ve always read Hermione Granger as the child Rowling, and McGonagall as the old woman Rowling. The tough, fierce, clever women who understand all too well, are keenly loyal and super fucking dangerous. With McGonagall you get it all. The professor, the reluctant mother figure, the unnerving ally. I read the Order of the Phoenix soon after Gavin was born, and found myself, when McGonagall is stunned without warning by multiple assailants, sobbing my head off. I sob every time I read that scene.
Of course we went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter. I think I cried for half the movie. How you could describe the books, or the movies, as a child’s tale of good and evil is beyond me. It isn’t about good and evil. It’s about redemption and sacrifice. It’s about humanism. It’s about a boy who must walk toward everything he is afraid of. It’s an allegory of the soul.
How do we meet the dark inside us? How do we meet the places we don’t even want to examine? Everything gets stripped away, houses and cars and jobs and bank accounts, health and beauty and family. In the end, it’s just us and our choices. So there, on the giant screen, is the boy I have watched for ten years, facing down a man who has agreed to be pitiless, in a school recently remodeled in the fashion of Jane Eyre. And then the camera pulls back and McGonagall is beside him. See, I’m crying just telling you. This is how the story began. The boy in front of the dangerous wizard. The witch stepping between them. Only this witch is in her seventies. And this boy is not a baby. And this dangerous wizard hesitates.
Because this is not a story of good and evil. This is a story of bravery. Of how much strength kindness requires. This is a story about love.