1. I recall J.R. Rowling has stated that the Dementors are incarnations and personification of depression. The only way to repel such things is to conjure a powerful Patronus. To do so, one must concentrate on a happy memory to create a powerful enough Patronus to fend off the Dementors. Several times Harry attempts to produce a Patronus to no avail, using various happy memories from his past such as riding a broom for the first time, winning the House Cup, etc. However, the final memory that gives life to his Patronus, which he successfully conjures as he travels back in time to save Sirius, originates from his memory of his father, James. Naturally, his Patronus is a stag. Through meeting Sirius and uncovering the truth, as well as meeting James’ friends at Hogwards (except for Peter Pettigrew, I suppose, who has betrayed Harry’s parents)–Harry has found his father’s presence within him. From this discovery, reunion and love, Harry conjures his Patronus–driving the Dementors into retreat. Only love is powerful enough to drive back the Dementors, that represent depression, despair, horror and decay.
2. Love is an important theme in the Harry Potter series, and it’s something Rowling repeatedly returns to. In the first book, Harry is protected by a powerful, ancient magic being cast upon him through the sacrifice of his mother, thus Harry is unharmed from Voldemort’s advances. In the fifth book, it is because of Harry’s love for Sirius that Voldemort is able to lure him to the Ministry of Magic. Of course, as Harry matures, so does the subsequent books. This suggests that as powerful as love can be, it can also be misused. The final book of Harry Potter (which I desperately need to reread), of course, involves Harry’s final “face-down” with Voldemort. The emotional complexity behind Harry’s decision to sacrifice himself to destroy Voldemort’s Hocruxes somewhat parallels his mother’s sacrifice that saved his life several times. Is it perhaps his love and nobility to save the magical world that has kept his life? Anyway. That will have to be answered after I reread the seventh book.
3. Fear is also something that reoccurs within the third book, represented by the Boggart, a creature that will resume the shape of our worst fears. To repel this creature, then, one must produce laughter. At this point, Rowling seems to be creating a dichotomy between despair/love, fear/laughter, and the two pairings are more or less interwoven. Lupin tells Harry that he is very wise for fearing the Dementor, which indicates that Harry’s fear is fear itself. Indeed, several times Harry reproaches himself for being too weak. Perhaps it frustrates him to know that he is incapable of withstanding a Dementor while his friends never seem as affected as he is; ever since the first book Harry has constantly wanted to prove himself to others. Isn’t that what the Sorting Hat says to him? “An eagerness to prove himself”…I forget the exact quote. Is it possible that he feels the need to uphold his image as Harry Potter, as well? Maybe he does have a hero-complex, which may have been attributed to his status as an orphan. After all, throughout the eleven years in which he has lived with the Dursleys, he always has to fend for himself–being picked on by his cousin, abused by his aunt and uncle, mistreated, misunderstood by almost everyone in his immediate society–it is understandable that he refuses to fall victim again. He’s been passive all his life, after all, and now–with a wand in his hand, he has obtained an identity that gives him agency, self-confidence and purpose. Perhaps he is merely trying to hold on to that, in the depth of his psyche.
Of course, returning to the question…”Harry’s fear is fear itself.” Or rather, what fear can accomplish? It certainly leaves him quite undone, but that is because he is marked by a grave horror from his past–the death of his parents, slaughtered before his infant eyes. What does it mean then, to fear fear? The state of fear and passivity? Or he simply refuses to admit that he is afraid?
4. Hermione’s time-turner puzzles me. First of all, I do not think it logical for her to acquire such a thing, even in a world of magic. Of course, the item itself makes sense since it’s a fantasy world, but given the severe regulations surrounding that thing…how can the Ministry of Magic issue such a powerful item to a mere thirteen-year-old who’s bitten off more than she could chew? Wouldn’t they simply advice her to reconsider her time table? If time travelling has such profoundly dire consequences, it doesn’t seem reasonable at all to bestow one to Hermione, simply because Professor McGonagall wrote a few letters.
I think that’s all I have to say for now. And oh, I also need to say this: I have a Sirius crush.