While the Harry Potter series enthralled us all with it’s charm, creativity and spirit of adventure,it also offers many philosophical points to ponder. Indeed, there is a whole book that has been published to this effect! There are also articles published in literary journals on the topic – which present deep analyses on the characters and events appearing in the series.
I recently watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – my personal favorite in the series. Though this was not the first time I was watching it, I was particularly intrigued by the concept of Dementors and the means to fight them – the Patronus charm and began to look at the concept from a different angle.
Dementors are portrayed as dark creatures, which prey on human happiness. To quote J.K. Rowling –
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself… soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
After thinking over this rather elaborate description, I asked myself whether dementors are merely mythical creatures – a creation of fantasy fiction. The answer was a big NO. I personally encounter dementors quite often – when I’m in the lowest of moods, when something I have eagerly waited for doesn’t happen, when I have little or no hopes left on one of my many “projects” or when I’m wallowing in self pity due to something over which I have little or no control. In all of these situations, everything around me turns dull, gloomy and frosty – irrespective of the actual weather outside. The more I give into these negative thoughts, the more I feel sucked into a bottomless pit of worry and despair. I thus harbor many dementors within myself – they lie dormant and are waiting to be awakened, at the slightest provocation!
Moving onto the charm that defends a witch or a wizard against dementors – The Patronus charm (Expecto Patronum). The charm produces a silvery “Patronus” that is, to quote J.K. Rowling again, “a magical guardian, a projection of all your most positive feelings“. In order to successfully conjure up a patronus, which incidently, takes the shape of a favorite animal, a witch or wizard must think of and focus hard on a particularly happy memory. It has also been reiterated that the charm is exceedingly difficult and that few witches and wizards can produce a full Patronus. Also, in the story of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban“, Harry initially produces a very feeble patronus and is unable to produce a full-blown one until the very end. Indeed, it takes him many practice sessions to even conjure up the feebler ones.
Coming to my very own dementors – can I conjure up my own Patronus to fight them? Yes. Taking a cue from the story, I must focus on a particularly happy memory, essentially diverting my mind from all the shroud of negativity,imposed by the beasts. Is this easy to do? Well, obviously not. How many of us are able to stay positive all the time – focusing on all the good things we’ve had and still got? Very few, to the best of my knowledge. Can we get better at it? Yes, of course. It isn’t easy – it requires immense self control, a kind of mastery over our thoughts and lots and lots of practice and patience.
And so, the Dementors and the Patronuses from the series have shown me a way to fight the nets of self-doubt and negativity that I get entrapped in, when in my lowest spirits. And I’ve just started practising the Patronus charm. I sure hope to produce a better Patronus the next time round!
(Images courtesy – Internet)