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one of the most important things to me about harry potter is its portrayal of happiness. in the harry potter world, happiness isn’t just a feeling—it’s a weapon. look at how harry and his friends fight: with riddikulus, laughter stymies a creature made of fear; with expecto patronum, the very memory of happiness beats back the grim forces of depression.

the weaponization of positivity stretches beyond that. fred and george weasley’s inventions, meant for laughter, turn into arms against umbridge’s regime. and after their departure from hogwarts, their joke shop becomes not only the single bright spot in diagon alley (literally & figuratively) but a hub of defensive magic. the whole weasleys’ wizard wheezes narrative serves as maybe the clearest example in the series that happiness can act as both shield and sword.

there is something deeply empowering in a depiction of happiness as something so tangible and usable. as a profoundly depressed person, i often feel myself scrounging for happy memories and clutching them close; i find myself grasping for laughter in the dark. the physicalization of expecto patronum is not a quantum leap from reality. the boggart’s laughter as combat fuel, the weasleys’ levity as not just a choice but a difficult and defiant one—it’s all familiar.

the series has its share of darkness, but it revels most in the light. it lets us believe that the act of joy is not small, trivial, or inconsequential. happiness is something not just to be lived—it is to be wielded, on your own behalf and the behalves of the people around you, to battle against the world’s heavier elements. harry potter teaches us this.

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