Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
This is a half-humorous look at why Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had to be the way it was. Let’s get this straight: I read the book in one night. I enjoyed it. It was fast paced, easy to read, required no deep thinking and revisited all the characters I had grown to love from the original series. In other words, it read very much like fanfiction. Which essentially (not being written by J. K. Rowling), it was.
Now before we all jump on the bandwagon of denouncing fanfiction as being unliterary, let me say a few words in defence of the genre.
A defence of Fan Fiction
Firstly, fanfiction cannot be compared with original fiction. It’s different. It has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. When we read fanfiction we wonder how it’s going to incorporate the various facets of the original novel alongside whatever the new author has changed. We marvel at the clever ways the plot or characters are subverted, challenged, strengthened and explored. Fanfiction has to be derivative, by nature, but (good) fanfiction must also be clever.
Secondly, it always consists in conjunction with its canon. Even without knowing it, we read fanfiction in light of the initial novel, and judge it accordingly (this is not necessarily a negative thing. Often fanfiction ‘fixes’ or strengthens the original – or at least attempts to, according to the second author’s understanding).
Thirdly, fanfiction is pleasing. That’s the point of it. It’s supposed to draw on all the good elements of the original and ignore or bolster the weak parts. By its very nature it’s supposed to explore fans’ fantasies – whether they are dark or light-hearted, whether they seek romance or suffering.
I rest my case. Now, on to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
It was to be expected
While I enjoyed it, I also thought it was very… expected. It’s the result of the culture that has been created from Rowling’s original series. We were left in the wake, and produced…. This. A book where plot is merely used to explore the characters, where modern day, ‘realist’ angsts are addressed and every single celebrated part of the initial series is referenced at least once.
So without further to do, here is the list.
5 Reasons we are to blame
1) The villain had to be a girl – we’re all for gender equality, and the male super villain is done and dusted
2) The main characters had to be Slytherin – after all we love the outcast and enjoy the idea of a misunderstood faction
3) Snape had to have his moment of redemption all over again – because despite Rowling’s insistence that Snape was not a nice person, he’s become the beloved bad boy
4) Ron & Hermione’s relationship needed to be cemented – because of the outrage from fans over Rowling’s admittance that perhaps they’re not actually that suited and it was wish fulfilment on her half
5) It had to deal with character (rather than world-based) issues – because we have, for better or for worst, made these characters human. We have grown up with them. They live now, and can never die.