Bank holiday Monday was a bloody difficult day and I certainly haven’t been the happiest bunny in the herd. So I could have plenty of stuff to rant about here but this isn’t the place for my professional frustrations. For one thing, I don’t really enjoy ranting about silly work things and, for another, nobody else wants to hear about it. It’s also not incredibly good practice to anonymously moan about my employer on the internet. So, I’m returning to an old favourite. Something I’ve ranted about many a time but not for a good while.
Today marks the fictional anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts and, to mark the occasion, JK Rowling continued her new tradition of apologising for the death of one of her characters. Last year she said sorry to fans of Fred Weasley for killing him off. I’m not against this in general as the idea is kind of sweet and the death of one of the twins has always been a sore point for fans. This year, Rowling expressed regret for killing off everyone’s favourite DADA teacher, Remus Lupin. Rowling openly admitted that it wasn’t her plan to kill him off and it only happened once she had decided to spare Arthur Weasley.
Now I’m not saying that I’d have preferred to live in an world where Arthur had died in the Department of mysteries but Lupin’s death was always one of the most difficult deaths to deal with in the books. Partly because he is such a fantastic character and one of the few genuinely decent people in the books. Aside from Luna, he’s probably one of the few totally “good” guys. He’s always been one of my top characters and is one of the main reasons I have such a soft spot for both book and film number 3. His death actually devastated me when I first read The Deathly Hallows because he was such a huge loss.
Although, the other reason for the death being so hard to cope with, and the reason behind this rant, it because it was done for a such a fucking stupid reason. Not the saving of Arthur Weasley, of course. I’m talking about the shitty mirroring of Harry. Rowling decided she needed to show the death of a parent or parents because she wanted to showcase the effect war has on the children that are left behind. I get that. The whole orphaned child of war is a pretty dramatic and emotional literary device. However, there were plenty of ways to get this idea into the story.
The only reason that she specifically chose Tonks and Lupin to die was so that we could have another Harry figure. The story opens with newborn Harry’s parents dying in the fight against Voldemort and the story ends with newborn Teddy’s parents doing the same. The mirroring argument was spouted by a lot of people who wanted to defend the book against my annoyed rants about these senseless deaths but it’s really just a load of shit. The use of mirroring in this case is just lazy and uninspiring. It didn’t need to happen because Teddy is such a non-character.
The death of Harry’s parents started a whole chain of events that allowed the Boy Who Lived to help destroy the Dark Wizard who killed them. The death of Teddy’s parents started a story that was never going anywhere. Yes, Teddy is mentioned in the shitty epilogue but, in response to the issue of orphans of war, the text does nothing to address the consequences of the loss of his parents. If Rowling really wanted to use Teddy to show the true horrors of war then she does a pretty shitty job. After Lupin’s death there is one brief mention of Teddy where he says he’s sorry he won’t get to see him grow up.
I’m all for writers making difficult decisions about killing off key characters. I have immense respect for George RR Martin for killing Ned despite the fact he was the only decent person in the whole of Westeros. It’s not realistic if good people don’t die in stories. However, I think it should only be done for decent reasons. Ned died because he had to. Any other outcome for him would have weakened his standing in the books. Had he gone to the Wall and had his happy ending with Jon he would have dissolved into a non-entity. Instead he died a hero who we all want to see vengeance for. Remus Lupin died for purpose of symmetry. It’s not right.