"All Was Well" : Why I, Unlike So Many Others, Liked the Harry Potter Epilogue
I am an avid Harry Potter fan. And I'm not using the word "avid" lightly. I've been to midnight book releases, I've seen the band Harry and the Potters six times, I've dressed up as Crookshanks more times than I'd care to mention, I've lost count of how many times I've read the books, I have a lightning bolt tattoo...it's scary how much I love Harry. (And, just for the record, I didn't mean for that to rhyme, it just kind of worked out that way.)
When the seventh and final book came out last year, I was...god. So many emotions. Anyway, I cried more reading that book than any other book I've ever read before. Jo Rowling is a genius. Ah! Such a good book!
Anyway, the point of writing this isn't to prove how much of a fan I am; I could go on for days and I don't want to bore you. But I wanted to address something more specific...something that is the cause of much discussion and sometimes even debate among the Harry Potter community: the epilogue.
The few of my friends who are diehard Harry fans like myself both disliked the epilogue for different reasons:
1) It was cheesy.
2) The writing wasn't nearly as good as the rest of the series.
3) It was unecessary.
As for me, I liked the epilogue. I didn't LOVE it, but I did like it. And I feel compelled to defend why I liked it, since so many don't.
Yes, I guess it was cheesy. Harry and Ginny are married and have kids, all named after other significant characters in the series, Ron and Hermione are married and have kids, Neville is the Herbology professor, Teddy Tonks is living a happy, normal life, dot dot dot. Everything's just peachy. I'm here to argue that cheesiness is not always a bad thing. Sometimes you can't avoid it. One of my English professors told me that writing about happiness is a lot harder than writing about pain. This is true. It's very hard to write about happiness because writing about happiness always teeters on the edge of being cheesy and/or cliché and and/or dull. I think Jo wrote about happiness successfully, and even if you didn't think so, you have to at least give her credit for trying. I don't see how she could have written it differently; furthermore, no matter how she wrote it -- if she "revised" the epilogue or whatever -- it would still be criticized for being cheesy. People are harsh critics. It's been said that it's easy to be a critic because you're tearing apart other peoples' creations rather than creating something yourself. All I'm saying is to try to be open-minded when critiquing anything, specifically this epilogue, and put yourself in the shoes of the person writing it. Could YOU write it better than the person who created this world and these characters and knows more about them than anybody else?? No. Which brings me to my second point:
This series is Jo's, entirely. She's the mastermind behind it all. She created this colorful and exciting world, she created the many vivid and complex characters in it (which gives her the right to kill said characters if she wants to, so don't go bitching about that either), and she can end the series however the hell she wants to. It's her right. She gave Harry a happy ending, and really, doesn't Harry DESERVE a happy ending? I hate that people whine about the epilogue being cheesy because all the big loose ends were tied up nice and neat; what, would you rather Harry be miserable for the rest of his fictional life?
Furthermore, besides Jo wanting to end the series the way she wanted to end it, one of the reasons she included the epilogue was to ensure that nobody would try to continue the series later on. She was worried that after she died, someone might try to write about Harry after Hogwarts; she didn't want that to happen, and understandably so. It is possible that, after she dies, hopefully a long long time from now, somebody still could try to continue the series and simply include and/or write around what Jo wrote about what happens the characters. But at least, if that does happen, Jo was the one to choose the major things that happened to her characters, (marriages, children, names, etc). However I would HOPE that, if anybody ever tried to continue the series, Harry fans would speak up and not allow for that.
Also, fyi, Jo wrote the epilogue years before she even started writing the seventh book. How long before? I'm not positive. It was at least two or three years, possibly much longer. This explains why the writing in the epilogue wasn't as "good" or as developed as the writing in the books, (or, the later books, at least). Because she definitely develops as a writer throughout the series; the writing in the first book isn't as complex or developed as the later books, at least in my opinion. And I believe she must've edited the already-written epilogue for the publication of Book Seven at least a little bit, because the last word was supposed to be "scar," but she changed her mind and wanted to end on a happier note, ultimately deciding on "All was well."
These are all the technical reasons for why I liked the epilogue, but now let's get into the more personal reasons. My one friend's main issue with the epilogue is that she thinks it is unecessary. Pertaining to the plot of the series, that's definitely a reasonable opinion. But you still have to realize the importance of the epilogue and why it IS necessary (the reasons I already discussed). As long as you realize that, I don't have a problem with you not wanting to read it. (My friend just reads the seventh book to the last chapter and doesn't read the epilogue.)
In respect to the plot, I liked the epilogue in that 1) Harry got the happy ending he deserved, 2) We learn that Teddy Tonks, even without ever knowing his parents, still grew up to live a happy life and that Harry is greatly involved in his life, and 3) Snape is vindicated. I know Albus Severus isn't the best name a kid could have, but I thought it very, very important that Harry had forgiven Snape for being cruel to him and that, by naming his son after him, he had finally given Snape credit for everything he did. Also the "he was probably the bravest man I ever knew," line really choked me up. I, personally, thought the epilogue was necessary, if only for these reasons.
I'm not saying you have to like the epilogue, but at least appreciate it, and don't insult Jo for what she wrote or the way she wrote it; after all, it is her series and her own creation, and god knows all us Harry fans owe her a lot for all the happiness she's brought to us through these amazing books.