Which Cursed Child?

Wizards and the Fathers they Wish They Knew

Juliette Alvey / 2.15.23

When my son received the playscript called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from my mother-in-law, which she found at a used bookstore, I was skeptical. Being a Harry Potter fan, I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t heard of it before. I think this has more to do with my being oblivious than anything, considering it has received numerous awards since its premiere performance in 2016. After my son finished reading it, he placed it on my bed stand and said, “You definitely need to read this book.” So I put my other books to the side and, for his sake, read it, and honestly, I couldn’t put it down.

This play, an original story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, takes place nineteen years after The Deathly Hallows, when Harry Potter is an adult and has children of his own with his wife Ginny (of course!). All of the other favorites are there too: Hermione, Ron, Draco Malfoy, etc. along with their children.

This story centers around Harry’s son, Albus Severus Potter (named after the famous Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape). Not surprisingly, this child struggles to live up to his given name and father’s legacy. He feels like he is a disappointment to everyone, but especially to his Dad. Nothing seems to go his way. He is not particularly great at anything: mediocre at flying, okay grades, in the House of Slytherin (not the favored Gryffindor), and best friends with Draco Malfoy’s son. Needless to say, he and Harry do not see eye to eye. They love each other and want a close father/son relationship, but they both feel they are not living up to what the other expects.

So Albus must be “the cursed child,” right? This seems obvious at first since he is the main character and is cursed to live in the shadow of the famous Harry Potter. That could be, but after finishing the book, I am not so sure.

The cursed child could be Harry. He is literally cursed as a baby by Voldemort. He never understands why he survives that awful day when others have to die, and he lives with that guilt everyday. He expresses this feeling of guilt to Ginny saying, “The Boy Who Lived. How many people have to die for the Boy Who Lived?” (p. 265). Because of that dreadful day, he is cursed to be an orphan. He is also cursed with fame before he knows who he is and is assigned all sorts of weighty expectations before he even arrives for his first year at Hogwarts. And the worst curse of all is to be raised by those terrible Dursleys!

Or “the cursed child” could refer to Voldemort’s daughter. That’s right, Voldemort has a child. Creepy right? She is cursed to be a child of the most evil being to ever live. And unfortunately, she is cursed to be following in his evil footsteps.

All three of these characters clearly have their problems. But really what it boils down to is that their deepest curse of all is not knowing their fathers. Whether it is because of death (Harry), sin (Voldemort’s daughter), or emotional absence (Albus), they are missing that important relationship. All of their faults and all of their secret motivations stem from this missing piece in their lives. And they all want to know and be known by their respective fathers.

Without giving away too much, Voldemort’s daughter tricks Albus into getting her back in time to when Voldemort was powerful … during the time when Harry’s parents lived. Her plan is to somehow stop him from losing his power so that she can rewrite history — one where her father reigns. When Harry and his pals restrain her, she surprises Harry with the words, “I only wanted to know my father.” This seems to resonate with Harry because that is the only thing he wants as well, but he replies, “You can’t remake your life. You’ll always be an orphan. That never leaves you” (p. 288).

And Harry practices what he preaches.

Harry has lived a charmed life in the eyes of some, including his son Albus. Everything seems to be handed to him on a silver platter. But what Albus and others do not realize is that no matter how brilliant he is at Quidditch or magic, or how much courage he has to face evil and darkness, he is still powerless to bring about his deepest desire — to bring his parents back. We see this from the very start of the Harry Potter series in The Sorcerer’s Stone when the Mirror of Erised (desire spelled backwards) reveals his parents smiling down at him. 

In the play Harry is given a rare opportunity to actually save his parents from death. Imagine if you had the chance to undo the most difficult part of your life. How tempting it would be to make what you have desired most your entire life come true. Harry is in a position of power, but he realizes that just because something is possible does not make it beneficial. Yes he would have what he desires most, but at what cost? The cost would be a completely different world, one where Voldemort reigns and where the children born after the changed moment will never exist. This would mean no Albus. No matter how strained the relationship, this is not a consequence he is willing to live with. Through this experience, his “cursed child” sees first hand the “curse” that he has lived under and gains a new understanding of his father.

By allowing the curse to come down on himself, Harry proves to be a very worthy father, one who gives up everything for his child, even one who is cursed.

subscribe to the Mockingbird newsletter


One response to “Which Cursed Child?”

  1. Pam Alvey says:

    Again, your insight and discernment in your writing allows your readers the opportunity to share this with you. Those of us who are not immersed in HP can still feel the heart impacts and the connections you have made to God and His church!
    Well done good and faithful servant!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *