One of the over-arching meta-themes of the Harry Potter books is, without a doubt, choice. From early on the books the theme of choice is empasised, when the Sorting Hat defers to Harry’s wish to be in Gryffindor, or when Dumbledore makes it clear to Harry that it is his choices, far more than abilities that make him the wizard that he is. It’s clear that J.K. Rowling is a proponent of the idea that we make ourselves who we are and are ultimately responsible for who we become.
Putting aside a scientific discussion of free will and determinism, a greater question, from within the stories themselves, comes to light. With the conclusion of Book 7, and the revelation of Dumbledore’s less than altruistic motives, does J.K. Rowling’s position on free will and choice change? Did Harry, in fact, make all those choices of his own free will, or, perhaps, was he influenced by forces beyond his control? Despite Dumbledore’s protestations to the contrary, could Harry ever have avoided the final showdown with the Dark Lord, had he simply chosen to walk away?
In this week’s episode, we examine the nature of free will and choice as presented in the books after Book 7, and what J.K. Rowling might be saying about what it means to be free.
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Check out some of the books we talked about on this week’s episode.
Make sure to check out Penny’s post Deathly Hallows: One Year Later for a rundown on all that’s happened since Book 7 was released.
You can listen to this episode using the player below, or download it directly as an mp3.