Vermeer’s Woman in Blue

October 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Pearls tossed on the table from the night before

He had torn them off her small neck

In an act of disgust, anger, confusion

She had been fighting for so long

That she no longer cared.

He had spat in her face

Disgusted at her disfigured body

Her stretchmarks tearing apart

At her ivory skin.

The fat adding to her thighs

Her beauty was fading

She was getting old.

Was the baby even his?

As she read the letter she remained

calm. She knew the time was coming

And a sense of relief washed over her

Indifferent toward the note

Confident of herself

No longer needing a man by her side.

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AFI Inspired Dialog

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

AFI is my favourite band of all time. They always will be. Everyone else comes and goes, but they remain at the top.

Dialog can be a difficult thing to implement into a story. When faced with a dialog assignment in my university Creative Writing course, I looked to AFI lyrics for inspiration. And voila, the dialog spilled out.

 

Were you sent to save me?” he asked.

I came to help you find who you are. So I can help you fight the darkness.”

There’s no hope. I’m forever lost.”

Don’t listen to the radio; it’s only playing suicide,” she rolled her eyes.

But I remain alone. The darkness is inside. And the light is out.”

Then light a match,” she voiced, annoyed.

No… Despite what you say, it will never be alright.”

Then there is no hope. You’re just another pathetic soul,” she said with a look of disgust.

The words kept cutting me up. Their hatred is so alive.”

Their…?”

Cut, cut, cut…” he mumbled lost in misery.

If you’re too good for life and long for death, I won’t let suicide have the pleasure of gaining another soul. You’re mine.”

Oh, hello Miss Murder. Just in case, I wore my best, so I will look the best when I make the covers. I guess it’s your killing time again.”

Ha!” She laughed. Finally, his attention.

Can you tell me how it feels?”

It’s amazing how such a joyful thought of death has brought you out of your stupor.”

It is only that I’m bored with mortality. The ashes of each day lay before my eyes.”

Then your time has come.”

But can you tell me how it feels?”

How do you want it to feel? Shall it be slow… or quick?”

Surprise me.”

Fine,” she smirked.

But please…. At least kiss my eyes after you lay me to eternal sleep.”

Oh dear, such a romantic.”

Fine, then burn my corpse and leave.”

That will do.”

Thank you,” he stated, shaking her hand.

After, it’s done the stars can weep for you. And I will walk away.”

And as I decay, the cracks will begin to crawl through me and let in the light.”

And he closed his eyes for the last time.

A Short Story

October 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Trapped in the dark cave, it had begun to snow again and the wind howled through the trees as the fire began to die. In the far corner, the orange light flickered against the low ceiling and slanting walls. As the figures huddled around, absorbing the warmth, their heavy winter jacks glowed. They looked tired, hungry and worried. Every so often a bitter breeze penetrated through the makeshift door of branches and could be seen ruffling stray hairs sticking out of wool hats.

Sitting in the circle were three friends – two female and one male. Their shoulders were hunched together in a vain attempt to trap the heat between them. As they spoke in whispers, their voices bounced off the walls and there was a slight echo in the depth of the cave. Conversation was a simple way of avoiding the situation at hand. No one wanted to give up, and by ignoring reality they thought that somehow they could lengthen their chances of survival. After all, ignorance is bliss. But someone had to say it.

“How are we going to get out?” Jacqui finally broke the ice.

The question echoed in the silence. It was the one question no one had an answer to, and uncertainty hung in the air around them. But it wasn’t getting out of the cave that was the problem. It was finding their way after they stepped out of the cave that was the issue. Their tracks were covered in snow and they had no map. Luckily, there was no shortage of water with all of the snow. Shivering, they huddled closer and another frigid breeze ruffled their hair.

A ruffling noise in the deeper corner of the cave was followed by footsteps, and another figure appeared out of the shadows. Adreana walked past the fire and to the opening of the cave. The three by the fire ignored her movements, as she ignored them. The cave was large enough for the four of them – about 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep. She stood next to the opening, peering through the door of branches. Snow was piled against the entrance, fresh from the snowfall and blown down the mountain. Through a gap in the branches she could see the adjacent mountain, and the mountain range continuing beyond – mountain after mountain. Across the valley, the last rays of the sun hit the top of the mountain as the sun set behind their cave. A long night was ahead of them; the last rays of sun slowly crept up the snowy peak and the sky slowly turned a dark shade of blue. Time passed as the stars began to pop out, twinkling on and off, a flirtatious dance across the sky. The wind began to blow harder and she watched as the powdered snow lifted into the air, dancing in a swirling twirl or sparkles. It was beautiful.

She thought that the saying must be true; Ignorance truly is bliss. The life or death situation had strayed away from her thoughts as she lost herself in the beauty of nature.

Her mind back in reality, she felt her fingers cold and mostly numb sitting in her pockets. Not again… She panicked, rubbing her hands together in a desperate attempt to generate heat between her fingers. But her fingers felt like thick, lifeless logs – almost numb from the cold. The circulation in her hands was getting worse; her feet were beginning to feel the effect. Holding her fingers up against her warm cheeks, they felt like icicles stinging her face. A tingle ran through her fingers. She needed warmth.

There were a few branches left near the entrance, so she picked it up and brought it back to the dying fire. It was still silent, but now an awkwardness hung in the air. It was so tense that if anyone spoke, the combination with cold would have caused the air to shatter into solid pieces of ice. Still without a word, James and Jacqui squeezed closer to leave room for Adreana to sit in next to the fire. Squatting down, she placed the branch into the fire and held her fingers close, a faint feeling of warmth at the very tips. As she waited for her fingers to melt away the cold and begin to tingle, she thought back to the last two days.

Jacqui and Veronica had asked Adreana to come on an adventure with them; it would be one of the last before they went their separate ways after college. Winter break had come and they wanted to go skiing in the back country. They would ski for a few days, finding shelter at night and enjoying being out and about in the wilderness. As James and Jacqui were nauseatingly inseparable, of course he would be coming along as well. But the more the merrier was Veronica’s view of an adventure like this.

“Besides,” she had said, “He’ll be there to protect us.” Adreana finally had agreed to come along, despite all of her feelings against joining the trip. She would have been more open to the idea if there would be bonding time between the girls; but with James glued to Jacqui, it would never happen.

“What if we just ski for the full day and find a hotel after each night?” Adreana had always been the more intellectual and cautious friend. She always had to question, “What if…?” There would be no hotels, they had told her. They would be living on the edge for those few days. So a few days passed and she was loaded into the car with the three friends, food, water and equipment. Upon arrival to the mountain, they had had a wonderful first day skiing and hiking. Even the night was decent.

The next day was good too; that is, until it began to get dark and James had the idea to keep going through the dark. Adreana, the smartest of the group, said no, that they would get lost. Unfortunately, her intelligence is sometimes lost behind how reserved she can be. This was one of those times when the three friends took her warning as irrational fear instead of an intelligent thought process.

Still thinking of the moment she had said “No,” and how it had led to their current situation, she blamed her friends for being trapped here in the cave. If only they would have listened! Perhaps they weren’t the good friends she had thought they were. She had been the third wheel on this trip – or, the fourth wheel on what was meant to be a tricycle. Although, she wondered why they would have bothered to bring the “smart” friend if they weren’t going to listen to her anyway.

They were lost and running out of food. Her fingers were warming up. She could feel them now. She wanted to wrap them firmly around James’ throat and kill him right then and there for getting them in this mess. If he hadn’t come… Well, that wouldn’t change and they would be in a bigger mess than now. Her thoughts back in the cave, she realized that the three were talking in whispers again. The ghostly echoes sent shivers down her spine.

Yes, they thought they should stay here another day. Yes, they thought maybe they should stay another night. Yes, someone would come looking for them. Yes, someday someone will come. No, they won’t try to help themselves. Tomorrow, they will look for firewood. Tomorrow, they will do this. Tomorrow, they will do that. It’s always tomorrow and never today.

Adreana’s head throbbed. Her fury at being dragged into this situation beat at her skull and she felt ill. She thought of her family, her friends, her beloved dog. They were all at home, expecting her to return soon. She wasn’t going to lie to herself; no one knew where she was. She didn’t think anyone actually knew where any of them were. It was a spontaneous adventure. Nauseous, she stood up, light-headed.

A tear began to slip down her cheek, freezing almost immediately. She brushed the salty ice off her face.

“Be right back,” she muttered, but no one noticed her. They continued talking and calculating their rations.

As she walked toward the entrance, her footsteps echoed, vibrating against the walls. The dancing flames flickered against the walls. It seemed so primitive, so beautiful. But she had to get out, she had to do something to fight for her survival. She couldn’t just sit here anymore. She was a fighter.

Pushing aside a few branches, she stepped through the entrance and into the snow. It crunched beneath her boot. Crunch, crunch, crunch, as she walked away from the cave. The temperature had dropped drastically, but the wind had died down. The air was crisp, fresh and still. The snow around her was illuminated, almost as bright as day, as the full moon reflected against the snow.

She breathed in the fresh air, letting it fill her lungs and freezing the inside of her nose. Excited to be doing something, she licked her lips and felt the cold dry them instantly. The cave was behind her now and she wasn’t going back. Shadows cast across the bright white snow. The moon hovered in the sky, mocking the brightness of the sun. Everything was illuminated. Adreana flung out her arms, spinning around. Wolves howled in the distance, a singalong to her dance.

If she got lost, well… she was already lost anyway. At least she would die trying instead of die just sitting and waiting. Besides, it was such a beautiful place to die. She knew that if she had to give up, she would just have to find the perfect pine tree. It would be her last Christmas present to herself, as she laid down underneath its long branches. She would laugh as she made her last snow angel, brushing her arms and legs back and forth. She would laugh and she would lay there and she would be at peace. If she had to give up, in the end she would be in Mother Nature’s arms.

The Mystery of the Crazy Psychic Author

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

A shattered mug gleams on the floor – white porcelain, a very fine china. The floor shines, illuminating the flattering glow of the Italian imported tiles. A fine place, indeed. But of course, this isn’t a story about a broken cup. This is a story about love, murder and a broken heart. Around the broken cup lies a sticky residue. It appears to be chai, or possibly a tea latte. Beyond the small mess lies a body – frozen by the hands of death. Well, from this point of view it is only a partial body. A hand strewn across the tiles, an arm extending to the shoulder blade in front of the corner of the counter. The curve of a breast is just visible before the body disappears behind the counter. Then, a pool of blood puddled a little further back. My name is Jelena Shore, and I will be the detective on this case.

I pour over my notes back at the office. So far, there are no suspects – or everyone at the party is a suspect. Take it how you wish. My brow furrowed, I struggle to come up with a solution. The deceased is Linda Allen, the hostess. Not only was she the hostess, but the entertainment as well. She was holding a private “class” at her home for her close friends. Linda was a psychic and would regularly hold classes where she would share some of her otherworld experiences with people and give them a little bit of insight into their life. Group classes were a mere $15, whereas an hour session cost around $60. This night, however, seemed to be free of charge with it being only her and her close friends.

The party consisted of about 20 people. They all seemed to have known Linda for quite some time, or knew her shortly through someone who had known her for a long time. Over half of them claimed to have some sort of psychic abilities. Strange… a house full of psychics and a murder happens. Surely, they would have seen this coming. That is, if their skills were really credible. But maybe someone knew, and perhaps the darkness clouded the future – like the force, in Star Wars. Who knows.

The main suspects so far consist of Bruce, her husband and Petra, her assistant. Of course, both showed signs of emotional shock and surprise at the discovery of her body. Anyone can act, though. Especially a group of supposed psychics – whether legitimate or not. If they aren’t legitimate, then they obviously do a decent job at acting out their job. If they are indeed legitimate, then they would be able to act out a role based on what they could see coming for them in the future.

Three knocks, and after a few moments, a chiseled face appears at the door. He’s slender and tall – around six foot. Salt and peppered, his greying hair shines in the mid-morning sun, and the trace of shadows from his wrinkles decorate his face. It is a sad face which has seen many years. “Come in,” he gestures inside. Obediently, I follow him through a smooth, polished hallway and into a magnificent sitting room. The scene of the crime is just around the corner.

“So,” I begin. “How long have you and Linda been together?” It’s always important to begin with the basics.

He looks down at his hands. “Nearly eight years. But we only just were married two years ago.” I study his face. He must be in his late 50s or 60s. Odd, but irrelevant for the time being. I can see the recent traces of sorrow lingering in his eyes. I ask him if Linda had any known enemies… if she knew everyone at the party… if there were any strangers at the party… her recent business with newer clientele. Discussing the individual guests and looking over the guest list, I see no names that stick out to me, and neither, to him.

“Are you a psychic, yourself?” I question.

“No, no, I wouldn’t say so. Sometimes I hear spirits, but that’s as far as it goes.” I wonder aloud if anything strange was being discussed that night, or heard or predicted by anyone. So far, nothing.

A sigh, and I get up to leave. We shake hands. “Well, thank you Bruce. At least it’s a start.”

His eyes glisten and he asks me one last time, “Please, please find Linda’s killer. She would have seen this coming – should have. Someone very clever would have had to have done this without triggering Linda’s knowing.” Nodding, I trod down the stairs.

“One last thing, Bruce.” I turn around. “What do you think of Petra?”

“Petra? Linda and her were basically best friends. Petra was so loyal to her, I can’t see her ever doing her harm. Why? There isn’t evidence against her, is there?”

“No, not yet. I will keep you updated, Bruce.”

It is only 10 am and I still have a day full of interviews ahead of me. All of the guests from the party, and I will be saving Petra for last. I’ve got a long day ahead of me.

Now 5 o’clock and one more interview is left. There were a lot of rumors spreading through the party members, and not many seemed to favor Petra very much. There was one interview that stuck with me. “Petra is always trying to show off. Always bragging about her powers and everything she feels, imitating everything Linda says and does.” Motive? It’s a possibility. Starving for the attention, when everyone knows she’s trying too hard. Perhaps she would go so far as to murder her idol in order to become the center of the audience.

Her apartment’s in a nice part of town. I knock a few times and the door swings open revealing a puffy face hidden behind a box of tissues. “Oh!” she gasps, “Thank goodness you’re finally here!” Her face red and raw from crying all day (or what I assume to be all day, based on the tissues scattered around her house), she leads me into the living room. There are tissues everywhere. She offers me a tissue and I politely decline. I can tell this is going to be a difficult interview. Her continuous sobs break through her hands, ringing in my ears. Not for a second do I believe it.

“Petra, I understand you’re upset, but we’re going to have to get through this interview. If we don’t finish today, I’m just going to have to come back tomorrow.” She nods, a silent agreement. The basic questions first: how long have you known her, suspicious behavior recently, any known enemies, strange clients, etc. I come up with nothing. “Are you aware that a lot of the suspicion is on you, for killing Linda?” Maybe this will strike a nerve.

A pause, she looks up from her tissues. A twitch. “Of course I am aware. I can see into the future and know what’s going on in the present, after all.”

I see what they mean by showing off. “I have heard that you like to chime in at classes often, repeating a lot of what Linda says and exaggerating it through yourself.”

“I don’t repeat what she says. I elaborate on my own feelings, which are entirely separate from her feelings and experiences. I am not copying her, if that’s what you’re implying.”

“It’s only been a suggestion so far,” I say smoothly. She seems agitated. “However, this is the only motive that we can build upon so far. We have nothing, besides the idea that you may have wanted to replace Linda in her career.”

“Nonsense!” She stands up from the couch. “I would never do anything to harm Linda. I can’t believe that people are accusing me of such a thing. That is absolutely preposterous!”

“I understand your feelings, Petra. I’m going to have to come back again tomorrow to try to figure things out, and in the mean time I’ll continue to interview the rest of the party guests.”

Leaving the apartment, I wonder what to think. It seemed like an act to me, but some people do get very emotional. With the fury in her eyes, however, I can’t help to hope that there isn’t another dead body in the morning. The only thing it would prove is that Petra more than likely killed Linda, and that can be determined in better, less violent ways.

For now, it is merely a theory.

 

To be continued…

Trapped

September 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Thick fog

dense

Nothing penetrates

 

A smile flitters past

hanging within reach –

Paused, suspended

But only for a second

 

You reach out

It’s too late

 

Then

A fit of giggles

Desperate,

 

You reach out

again

It brushes your fingers

But you miss

So close

 

The fog thickens

a wall around your heart

Smiles, laughter, joy

They beat at the door

But it’s locked

 

You shut out the world

They can’t get in

You lay on the floor

 

Crying in agony

 

If only you could reach the handle

let the warmth in

But it’s cold

You don’t have the energy

 

Ice hardens

You are trapped

Light fades into darkness

Motionless on the floor

Blackness surrounds you

 

but you march on

not feeling

A trapped voice screaming for help

but the cry fades

 

Hopeless

ignored

Trapped in a

lifeless

emotionless

robot

Nature – A Poem

September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

A large meadow looks down at a dense forest

Sun has set behind the trees

And the wind begins

to blow

As the temperature

drops

A flash of orange darts

across the meadow

disappearing into the

shadows

The open sky

a dark

romantic shade of

lavender

Dried leaves from the

naked trees lift into the

air. They dance

suspended by invisible hands

of Mother Nature

The music, the howl of

wind blowing through the

trees. A low hum,

hollow

whistle

Branches crash against branch

a harmonious echo

like the soft tone of

wooden wind chines

An owl –

it swoops

down

A cry pierces the night

Darker, darker

The clouds. Pregnant and bursting

suspended. Wind

howls and a shrill whistle

sounds as the air screams

Twisted between bare branches

Scratched,

Thrashed

through the rough

bark.

Dark grey and light twist

Moving together as if

a hand drags her brush

across the blank

canvas high above. Interwoven

shades swirl and

suddenly

the trees stop

swaying

shaking

shivering

A silent harmony begins

and the dance of the leaves end.

The last crackling leaf floating

to the ground

landing with a soft thud

as dust jumps around it.

Pause –

The world waits.

Silent. Calm,

cold.

The dance of winter begins

as the first snowflake falls

A tiny speckle in the air

suspended between clouds

floating

flipping

fluttering

It reaches the ground, followed

by a thousand of brothers,

sisters

A whispered splash

as they embrace the ground. 

A Witch’s Analysis of the Harry Potter Series

August 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Just something fun from university… 🙂

 

The Harry Potter books are the most successful franchise of all time, with seven successful novels and eight very successful movies. A huge success in both print and movies, the series is a crucial item of popular culture. With the final movie still in theatres, the final chapter alone has broken several box office records worldwide – best opening weekend with $168.6 million (beating The Dark Knight), grossing $307 million internationally (beating Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), biggest three-day opening in the U.K. with $36.6 million, and the biggest one-day opening in North America with $92 million (beating The Twilight Sage: New Moon – thank Godric Gryffindor!). There is no question about how enormous the impact of these books have been on the current generation of both children and adults all across the globe. In fact, it is almost impossible to overstate how successful the series has been in both the movie and book mediums. Of course, with such a successful story there also arise questions ranging from why it has become so successful, how her writing has influenced the readers, and what symbolism and themes the author uses – whether unknowingly or knowingly. With some of these questions in mind, many people with specific beliefs question and analyze, and sometimes criticize this series. Some of these analysis’ are based on feminist, marxist, visual rhetorical, psychoanalytical, dramatistic and narrative, media, and culture-centered views.

From a feminist perspective, the readers can see that the Harry Potter books support females in a very positive manner. The female characters of the books couldn’t have been portrayed in a more positive and equal way. They are not second-class citizens; nor are they held higher than their male peers. They are simply equal. The story is told in a way in which the average reader doesn’t question gender roles. When reading, the question of gender never crossed my mind. Somehow, Jo Rowling has accurately portrayed our magical world, where everyone is entirely equal based on the kind of person they are, what choices they make, and each character’s equal opportunity to choose between good and evil.

In the Muggle world, a professional sports team is ideally male dominant without any female athletes. Sports that include professional female teams aren’t mixed with males and are of lesser interest to the general population. Here in the Wizarding World, there is equal opportunity when it comes to the international sport of Quidditch. Our teams consist of both females and males, and the sexes are not even separated!

For every female character, there is an equal male counterpart. There are both female and male Professors, Death Eaters, evil-doers, flaky characters, intelligent characters, and athletes. When it comes to Professors, equality between teachers is immediately evident with the usage of “Professor.” The term is unisex as opposed to “Miss” and “Mister” or “Madam” and “Sir.” In the case of top-notch Professors, Professor McGonagall is the most prominent female character. The male character equal to her is Albus Dumbledore. The two are the most respectable teachers at Hogwarts and it has nothing to do with their gender. In fact, the typical gender stereotypes seem to be reversed in this situation. While McGonagall is described as an incredibly serious and strict person, as Harry notices from his first impression. The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Harry’s first thought was that she was not someone to cross.” Dumbledore, on the other hand, comes off as a cheery, joyous man. From his beginning school years at Hogwarts, to his title as Headmaster, he has been known for his kindness and uncommon willingness to find inner beauty in everyone. In contrast to the impression McGonagall gives, a more feminine description of Dumbledore describes his eyes as being a soul-piercing and brilliant shade of blue, and to twinkle with kindness. Traditionally, a male would be more stern and much less of a ‘softy.’ However, Professor McGonagall upholds the stern characteristics of a serious Professor. There is no description of her feminine characteristics – physical curves or even a male character’s attraction to her. She is not an object of someone’s desires. Simply, she is an empowering female figure in the world of Professors. In the Muggle world, many female teachers are thought to be ditzy girls who couldn’t think of a career choice when it came to choosing a degree in college. In high school, even the male students may notice this and hit on their more attractive teachers. More recently, a ditzy and blonde Muggle singer Britney Spears admitted that she would have chosen to be a teacher if it weren’t for her singing career. With this image in the media, it encourages the stereotypical dumb-blonde teacher. Fortunately, the Wizards and Witches live in a much more equal society where these stereotypes have not developed. Professor McGonagall represents an intelligent group of educators in the real world who deserve recognition of their abilities rather than an incorrect image driven by media. While McGonagall is such a strong character, she is still not above her equal character, Dumbledore. As Headmaster, he is slightly above her when it comes to leading the school. However, she is second in command to him as Deputy Headmistress and takes over as Headmistress following Dumbledore’s death. Both Dumbledore and McGonagall also share a strong trait of bravery, having been members of the Gryffindor House while attending the school as students: “You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart; Their daring, nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart.” In addition, she is Head of Gryffindor House. Another characteristic separating McGonagall is her first name – Minerva. Her name is shared with the Roman goddess of Wisdom, which is generally a trait found in the house of Ravenclaw. A strong supporting character of the novels, Hermione Granger is the main representation of female equality as one of the three main characters.

The strongest female character is Hermione Granger, who is equally as important as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. The trio exemplifies the importance of a female friend amongst two boys. Traditionally, main characters who consist of two people or have a sidekick are boys. For instance, The Hardy Boys are teenage stars in a series of detective novels. There are also superheroes such has Batman and Robin, who again are both male characters. In a traditional story, the male hero saves the helpless and timid damsel in distress. Hermione is anything but helpless or timid. It would be unfair to judge Hermione based on only one of the books, because each character grows so much throughout their seven years at Hogwarts. Throughout the series, we see her intelligence, wisdom, logic, morals, and maturity grow as she progresses through the challenges of school and life. In the first couple of books, Hermione is seen as being a bossy know-it-all. Harry and Ron’s first impression on the train to Hogwarts in their first year is that she is obnoxious and self-centered. Being made fun of by Harry and Ron, she isn’t yet seen as belonging to the trio. She doesn’t help how the two boys see her, as she bests them in every class. However, when Harry and Ron save her from a troll in the girl’s bathroom, their bond begins to strengthen. When the three of them get into trouble, she takes the blame for everyone. Throughout the books she is always studying, excelling in her assignments, assisting Harry and Ron with their assignments, and earning points for Gryffindor because she knows the answers in class or is able to be first to perform spells perfectly. In some ways, she seems to be better than Harry; but in other ways, Harry excels where she cannot. For instance, things that Harry is good at come naturally for him. Because of this, much of the time he is extremely humble, but also fights himself because he doesn’t feel as if he has earned his skills and expertise. On the other hand, Hermione has earned everything she is good at because of her endless studying and application of what she learns. One obvious difference between the two characters is Harry’s skill at Quidditch and handling a broomstick. Hermione seems to be afraid of flying and also isn’t very good with Divination. These appear to be her only challenges, as she is constantly assisting Harry and Ron with their schoolwork. Finishing her homework ahead of time and usually overachieving, her two friends often ask for her help at the very least, or even ask for her to do her homework for them. Sometimes she is nice enough to write a couple of paragraphs for them! Even though she is incredibly smart and sometimes a know-it-all, she doesn’t stick her nose in the air about it. She wants Harry and Ron to do well and makes that clear when urging them to study and helping them when they need a kick to get started. A strong female, she is the more logical of the three. She understands girls and why they’re emotional, but doesn’t show that emotion often. More often than not, Ron or Harry are the ones to get emotional – whether with anger, jealousy, or romance. Hermione is there to pull things together. When Ron is so jealous of Harry’s successes that they aren’t talking to each other, Hermione is the messenger between the two and must explain to each of them why the other feels the way they do. Explaining Ron’s jealousy to Harry, she tells him that he is always praised for everything and gets all sorts of attention for everything that he does. When Harry wants to send back a message to Ron, she tells him to tell him on his own; that’s the only way anything will be solved between the two of them. Hermione is also more logical than Harry when he learns that he can see into Voldemort’s mind and vice-versa. Wanting to take advantage of this for personal and emotional reasons, Harry doesn’t always fight accessing what Voldemort is doing. However, Hermione knows better and is constantly urging Harry to fight it and not let him into his head. In the end, her logic wins when Voldemort learns of this connection and uses it to his advantage. Including a female heroin among two male heroes of the story is an essential part of this story. She is everything positive that a female could be. Girls are stereotyped to be illogical, emotional and timid. Hermione counters these stereotypes by studying extremely hard in school, simply understanding common sense and logic, keeping her emotions in check, and kicking butt when she needs to stand up for herself. There is never a point in the story when she is the helpless damsel in distress.

The female characters are justly presented in these stories from the very beginning. Equality seems to be established with the very first chapter of the very first book. Harry’s aunt and uncle are both shown to be equally as cruel and disapproving of Harry. Generally, a mother figure is shown in a positive light, even if the father figure is not. However, since she is shown to be equally as vile toward Harry as his uncle and cousin, the equality between genders is set and never questioned again. Another important observation is that there are evil characters portrayed as men and women. Lord Voldemort is no doubt the main villain and meant to be the most feared of them all (You-Know-Who, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). However, two additional female characters stick out. Bellatrix Lestrange may be even more terrifying than Voldemort, as she was voted most terrifying in an online poll. Obsessed with torture and thought by some to be in love with Voldemort, she is his most loyal follower. Unlike most Death Eaters who went back to their normal lives when Voldemort vanished, Lestrange remained loyal to Voldemort and spent the years in Azkaban because of her allegiance. When Dolores Umbridge is introduced in the fifth book, she is almost equally terrifying, even according to the Muggle author, Stephen King: “The gently smiling Dolores Umbridge, with her girlish voice, toadlike face, and clutching, stubby fingers, is the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter.” Even though she is not a known Death Eater or follower of Voldemort, Umbridge has a similar fascination with torture. When teaching at Hogwarts, her form of detention is torturous and in the form of cutting sentences into students’ hands. Further along in the year she is even prepared to perform the Cruciatus Curse on Harry, which is an illegal torturing spell (one of the Unforgivable Curses). The mix of female and male characters sharing important parts of the story is key to creating a perfect world of equality.

Another way to look at the writing of Rowling is through a Marxist interpretation of her work. The series is most definitely about power – who has it and who doesn’t. Being in a magical world, Muggles assume that magic should fix all problems that we wizards have. Unfortunately, it does not. Power depends on how one uses their magic – the choices they make when it comes to confrontation. In the modern Muggle world, power tends to come from money and who you know. In the Harry Potter novels, however, power is based on fear. Many wizards and witches are wealthy, both on the good and the evil sides. The most powerful and feared wizard of them all has no money and nothing more than a spirit until the end of the fourth book.

At the very beginning of book one, the readers learn of a powerful wizard who has suddenly lost all power and vanished without a trace. By the ecstatic celebrations happening around Britain following his disappearance, it is assumed that the evil wizard has been in control of the Wizarding World for quite a while. When Harry turns eleven and goes to Hogwarts, the reader sees the beginning of Voldemort’s struggle back to power, progressing through the entire series. What has kept him powerful, even when he is unable to take human form, no more than a lingering spirit? The loyalty of his followers (Death Eaters) is what has kept him strong throughout the years. When wizards and witches are faced with the choice to join him or die, the cowardly and unworthy choose to serve him and expand his loyal band of followers. Only after Voldemort’s disappearance resulting from attempting to kill Harry does the true loyalty show. Many Death Eaters returned to their normal lives and forgot about their former Lord, but the true followers of Voldemort continued to wreak havoc in his name and search for him (or end up in Azkaban). Before Voldemort regains his physical body in book four, he feeds off other wizards and witches in order to continue causing fear in his name. In some ways, it is because his victim is a selfish coward, scared and hoping to be rewarded in the end (Professor Quirrel). Other times, it is because he has tricked an innocent girl into trusting his spirit (Ginny Weasley). What is almost more fearful than Voldemort himself, is his ability to take control of even the most innocent girl and make her act in his name without knowing it.

Even though Voldemort is the most feared wizard in the novels, he is not the only one with power. On the good side, there is power as well. The most power lies in Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts. His wisdom, honesty and charm hold him above others and he easily keeps the respect of the professors and students. His name, magical powers, and reputation (Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Grand Sorcerer, Order of Merlin – First Class) are essential when it comes to maintaining his power. At one point Dumbledore so humbly states that he doesn’t have the power that Voldemort has; Professor McGonagall points out that he would have the power if he chose to use it in such a dark way as Voldemort has. As the greatest wizard of his time, his character is very successful because of his humble traits. Without them, he would be a horrible Headmaster tangled in his vanity. A very talented man, ha can cast spells without a wand, become invisible without a cloak, send messages via Patronus, and speak Mermish. He was also Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. In addition, he is also famous for discovering the 12 uses for dragon blood and defeating Grindelwald, a dark wizard, in 1945. Of course if all this went to his head, he would be an entirely different person and be less respected by others.

Below Dumbledore, some students have more power than their peers. Harry has the most power, with Hermione and Ron close behind him. Even though Harry is not always liked by everyone and sometimes hated by most, he has remained the most looked up to in the novels. Having grown up with absolutely nothing, he is humble, trustworthy and grateful. He holds good qualities, and is relatively average at his schoolwork and excellent at other things. Being mediocre with his schoolwork, he is still able to relate to his fellow classmates better than someone like Hermione is able to. He is at a similar skill level of students, unless it comes to Defense of the Dark Arts or Quidditch, where he excels. He is able to use this to his advantage and help teach students how to use spells that are useful in battle. Having a powerful leader on both sides and at different levels of the good and evil sides is important, but it is easy to see that they get their power very differently. The good people generally are more able of sharing power amongst others, whereas there is one dominant force of evil on the other side.

Now, when it comes to an extreme analysis of Harry Potter, Rowling’s writings can be interpreted in a very different way. Looking at it from this extreme, the Wizarding World may be seen as a land of Communism. Slytherins are the Pure-Bred of the characters, believing that only the privileged and perfect should have magical powers. This makes them the aristocrats of society – the elite. The intelligent, clever Ravenclaws would represent the bourgeois. They’re the middle class who would collaborate with the aristocrats to suppress the petty-bourgeois Hufflepuffs – the lower middle social classes. The Hufflepuffs then are at the same level as the proletariat House Elves, who are the working class below all the wizards. When it comes to Gryffindor, it represents the Red Army – partly resembled by the gold and red colours. Dumbledore’s Army is an addition to the Red Army, the army of the proletariats. Separate from symbolism, there are also physical similarities between the magical characters and Muggles in history. Dumbledore has a long, white beard so he could be a resemblance of Karl Marx himself. Lord Voldemort would represent Tsar Nicholas II, so Lucious Malfoy would be a representation of Rasputin. On the good side of characters, Harry Potter would resemble Leon Trotsky (with glasses and black hair). Of course, these are only the most extreme resemblances between Marxism and the Harry Potter books. Looking at most books, anyone could find a way to relate the book to a historical event in world history.

There are many different ways to analyze Rowling’s writing – philosophically, psychologically, psychoanalytically, etc. Many questions remain about Rowling’s intentions for her writings, and one will only know if their analysis holds any truth if they were to ask her. For instance, how much of Hermione is based on Rowling herself? Do Feminism or Marxism actually play a part in the books or her perceptions of life in general? As a pop culture piece of today, many questions have developed based on analysis and few will be answered – giving great writers room for exploration in these topics.