J.K. Rowling’s utilization of death throughout her series serves as an introduction to young readers the ideas of death and grief. The Harry Potter series is cluttered with death. Readers are time and time again given the opportunity to relate to the anger, sadness, and confusion felt by the characters in the books. Six months after starting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling was faced with the death of her mother. Just as J.K. Rowling herself used Harry Potter as an escape after the death of her mother, many young readers have turned to Harry Potter in trying times. Her experience went on to shape not only one of the major themes of the first book, but the entire series as well. The most profound theme throughout the Harry Potter series is death. J.K. Rowling introduced us to the wizarding world with the biggest and arguably most profound death of the entire series; the death of James and Lily Potter. While Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone may have not been explicitly about death, it introduced the reader to the processes of coming to terms with death; a theme the reader would have to face far too many times over the next seven books. It is here, that J.K. Rowling laid the foundation for the series about life, death, and grief. In addition, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone introduces another prominent theme of cheating death. Voldemort spent nearly two decades obsessing about conquering death and seeking immortality for fear of death. He was ultimately afraid of death; as many in the Muggle and Wizarding world are. It is this terror that motivated Voldemort to create the Horcruxes and chase the Sorcerer’s Stone. However, throughout the first book, we learn that death is not to be cheated, and it can carry many undesirable consequences.
One cannot talk about death within the Harry Potter series without also talking about love. Love and death are so tightly intertwined throughout the series. It is because of the love Lily has for Harry that he was saved at her expense. Harry was always Voldemort’s intended victim. James was killed when he came face-to-face with Voldemort in an attempt to give Lily a chance to escape with Harry. Lily was given the chance to be spared, but she gave her life to protect him. It ultimately was the strength of Lily’s love that gave Harry the protection from Voldemort. Love is the most important tool Harry has to defeat Voldemort because it’s the one thing Harry possess that Voldemort does not. Voldemort’s greatest demise is not understanding the importance of love. He has never loved, or been loved. He can never comprehend the value that love possess. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it
becomes clear that the Lily’s protection of Harry goes beyond the grave; it lives within Harry’s blood, rendering him untouchable by Voldemort. Voldemort, however, doesn’t take this protection seriously, because he doesn’t understand. Love is arguably the most powerful form of magic.