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  1. 1. http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Will+Harry+Potter+magic+last+literary+circles/5104416/story.html?cid=megadrop_storyWill Harry Potter’s magic last in literarycircles?By Eric Volmers July 14, 2011It may be the ultimate test of Harry Potter‟s immortality.As many have proclaimed these past few weeks, J.K. Rowling‟s beloved creation will no doubt “live on” in the hearts of fans.New generations of young readers will discover his adventures. In 20 years, the movies may even be remade by aHollywood that seems permanently bankrupt of new ideas.But will the bespectacled boy wizard find a permanent place in the hallowed halls of academia? Diana Patterson, anassociate professor of English at Calgary‟s Mount Royal University, is certainly trying her best to find him a home, but admitsshe has met with significant resistance in the insular world of scholarly pursuits.She proposed an entire course on the work of J.K. Rowling at Mount Royal, but it was turned down. A few years back, sheorganized a Potter conference in the U.K. and faced snobbery from some scholars who didn‟t feel the work was worthy ofacademic scrutiny.“I was trying to get the University of Reading, which has a children‟s literature department, to contribute some people,” saysPatterson.“I was on the program committee and people wouldn‟t even grace me with a response. But they were willing to do LemonySnicket. Why Lemony Snicket and not Harry Potter? Part of it is that they are too popular and that a woman makes too muchmoney.”As the cinematic side of Rowling‟s epic comes to a close today with the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2, there has beenendless speculation about whether her work will have a “lasting spell” on the popular consciousness.Certainly, the infrastructure is there.There‟s the $250-million theme park and a interactive website launching this fall to keep Harry alive. The fact that early fansof the books will soon start having children of their own seems to guarantee the books will have a built-in, second-generationfan base, at least for awhile.But the question remains as to whether Rowling‟s work will be studied by future academics, not just as a pop-culturephenomenon, but as literature. The books have their detractors. American literary critic Harold Bloom famously sniffed at thenotion that Rowling was a writer worthy of serious study in a 2000 essay he wrote for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Can35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong? Yes.” Sure, as many of the early fans enter university, there may be a temporary glut ofscholarly papers covering all things Potter. But will it last, or is it just an academic fad?“It‟s probably in the same way that some of us tried to write papers on Star Wars,” says Calgary teacher and writer JamesDavidge, whose Driftwood series of young adult novels have a distinct Potter-esque vibe. “Looking at Star Wars and seeinghow it was creating a mythology was a big one. And I think Harry Potter definitely succeeded in that. So I think it will surviveas a strong piece of pop culture. But it‟s so hard to judge in this day and age. You would have thought Star Wars wouldsurvive. But already, if you ask a 14-year-old about Star Wars they‟d say „That‟s something my dad is into.‟”Still, Davidge says he could see the Potter series have a continued life in the same way the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis orJ.R. Tolkien‟s Lord of the Rings series have.Patterson agrees. She sees the Potter series as following a strong thread in western storytelling, which will make it worthreturning to as literature long after Potter-mania has faded.
  2. 2. “It‟s an epic, in the same way that the Tolkien stories are an epic story,” says Patterson, who edited a book of academicessays called Harry Potter‟s World Wide Influence. “They are about the refounding of a nation. That‟s why people are soattracted to them. The Gormenghast trilogy, Dune — they are big stories and continue to have an interest. They are notpaperbacks that disappear. I really think Harry Potter will go on like that. Whether the average kid notices is anotherquestion. But I think they‟ll be a genuine academic interest.”And it‟s not just Harry‟s adventures in magic and young love that will keep him relevant. Beyond the plot lines, the books aresnapshots of a time and place, says Derek Beaulieu, an avant-garde poet and creative writing teacher who has read all thePotter books aloud to his daughter.“They will no doubt be studied,” he says. “Not only for their characterization but also how they reflect British society, classdifferences, worries about culture difference and so much more.”A key piece of evidence that Harry will last is the fact that so many readers who were introduced to him as young childrencontinue to be fans. In 2003, the Calgary Herald ran a photo of the eight-year-old Alex Guebert, dressed as HermioneGranger for the launch of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Now 16, she said she was eager to stand in line for themidnight showing of Deathly Hallows Part 2 Thursday night. While she plans to study science at university, she says shewould gladly take a course that looked at the Potter series in an academic manner.Harry is not a fad you outgrow, she says.“I don‟t consider them to be kids books,” Alex says. “There‟s so much depth in them. There‟s so much to figure out, so manylittle details.”Patterson includes the study of Rowling in a course that covers material from the 18th Century to the present at MountRoyal. She says her students are initially delighted that Potter will be studied, but admits many are taken aback whenrequired to think of the boy wizard in scholarly terms.“Some of them, of course, have read the books before,” she says. “They think: „Oh good, it‟s the last thing we do in thecourse, it‟s very modern and, by the way, I‟ve read it already.‟ But then I ask them some probing questions. And we starttalking about what we‟ve read earlier in the course. How does this relate to Ulysses by James Joyce? And suddenly theythink „Oh, this is hard.‟”Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Will+Harry+Potter+magic+last+literary+circles/5104416/story.html#ixzz1ZedMNW3Dhttp://www.catholicireland.net/books/arts-a-architecture/2089-one-fine-potion-the-literary-magic-of-harry-potter ONE FINE POTION: THE LITERARY MAGIC OF HARRY POTTER CONTENTSAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: The Harry Potter Phenomenon 1. Platform 9 3/4 Magic, Power, and the Fantastic 2. The Order of the Phoenix Community, Diversity, and Formation
  3. 3. 3. Doing What Is Right Heroism, Good, and Evil 4. All Was Well Faith, Hope, and the World to ComeNotes"If [a myth] works, that is, if it forces us to change our minds and hearts, gives us new hope, andcompels us to live more fully, then it is a valid myth."—Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth"True art is moral: it seeks to improve life, not debase it. It seeks to hold off, at least for a while, thetwilight of the gods and us.... Art is essentially serious and beneficial, a game played against chaosand death, against entropy."—John Gardner, On Moral Fiction INTRODUCTION THE HARRY POTTER PHENOMENON "What do you see when you look in the Mirror?" — Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (1)Tracking the Boy Who LivedIt was Friday night, July 21, 2007, a hot summer night in Austin, Texas, and my girlfriend Martha andI were sweating, even after the sun went down. Still, I thought as I wiped sweat from my forehead forthe fiftieth time, our discomfort couldnt have been much compared to that of my nine-year-old sonChandler, who was clad in a long robe, or, for that matter, to that of any of the others around uswearing robes, cloaks, tall wizards hats, wigs and false facial hair, and other unseasonal — andunusual — garb. All five thousand of us overheated human beings were milling about in the parking lotof BookPeople, Austins fine independent bookstore, waiting for midnight, when 1,500 lucky peoplewith book vouchers (including Chandler) were going to take home Harry Potter and the DeathlyHallows, the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series.As we waited, we were treated to rock music from the Remus Lupins and the Mudbloods, talked to acentaur, watched Chandler participate in a wizards duel, played wizard games. I was sorted into aHogwarts house by the Sorting Hat (Gryffindor!). And as we waited, we talked to each other aboutwhat we had been waiting for two years to know: Would Harry Potter live? Would he die? Was Snape avillain or a hero? What other beloved characters might be killed in this finale?These questions were being asked and this scene was being played out, often on a comparably grandscale, across the country—and the sea. My son Jake, who worked at a Barnes & Noble across town,said they were selling 1,000 copies of Deathly Hallows at their party. "Its a madhouse," he had toldme, which not only mirrored our situation but the situation at bookstores across the U.K. and U.S. onJuly 21, where 11 million copies of the book would sell within in the first 24 hours of release. Similarhysteria would follow around the world as fans of Harry Potter everywhere from Norway to Chinasought to get their hands on copies of the book; some would even buy fake versions of DeathlyHallows — or badly translated pirate versions — they wanted the book so badly.
  4. 4. But for many of us, wherever we were, although it was rarely spoken as we laughed, played, listened,and waited, we secretly felt anxiety underneath all the excitement and anticipation: Would author J. K.Rowling be able to close her series of books about boy wizard Harry Potter and his friends — the mostpopular fiction in the history of the planet — in a way that would satisfy us, whether we thought ofourselves as rabid fans, enchanted readers, or grateful teachers and parents? Could she conjure upenough literary magic not only to close the books on Harry, but to write a satisfying coda to anarrative that had entertained, inspired, encouraged, and enlightened fans around the world?Just before midnight, a bookseller took the stage to announce that we could form into a queue bygroups. We were several groups back from the front of the line, and it was around 1 a.m. when wepicked up our book. As we tramped back to our car, we had to step over dozens of children and adultswho had gotten their books before us and had literally dropped to a convenient spot on the groundand begun reading, often shouting out to each other in excitement or anguish -"The Death Eaters are going to get him!""No they havent. Keep reading!"Although it was hours past Chandlers bedtime, I did not force him to go to sleep. He read until 3a.m., when he nodded off; then I marked his place, took the book from him, and read it myself until Ifell asleep.Over the next few days, many of the people I know asked if I was reading the book."Finished," I said, trying not to seem smug. I was too exhausted to be smug."Dont tell me," they said, although often they edged a little closer and looked at me with a look youmight describe as longing. They wanted to know something, although they also were afraid to know.I always took pity on these folks, because I would have been exactly in their shoes. So I told themenough: "Youll love it," I said. "Its beautiful. The ending. Perfect. I was blown away. I think you willbe too."Now, we might ask, what makes this anecdote anything more than a readers memory of a belovedbook? Why do so many people have stories about reading Harry, anyway?These questions matter because J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter series is one of the three most popularliterary works in history, outsold to date only by the Bible and Maos Little Red Book. According toRowlings literary representative, the Christopher Little Literary Agency, as of June 2009, "Well over400 million copies of the Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide, in over 200 territories and in67 languages" (2). An entire generation has been raised reading the books, but as Time reports, thePotter influence hardly stops with those kids who have grown up reading about Harry. There are alsothe 40-somethings, including the President of the United States, who read the books to their children;the 20-somethings whose professors used the case of the Hogwarts House Elves to explicate contractlaw; the teenagers . . . who were just learning to read when the first novels appears and can nowdrive themselves to the theater. . . . And then theres the new generation of fans who, rather thanhaving to wait years to find out what happens next, can lock themselves in their rooms for magicalmarathons and read all 4,100 pages at once or host their own Wizard Film Festival (3).In 2000, the editors of the venerable New York Times bestseller list, long the gold standard forpopularity, decided that they needed to create a childrens bestseller list where they could move thePotter books, since the first three were clogging up the main bestseller list and the fourth promised tovault there as well. "The time has come when we need to clear some room," said editor CharlesMcGrath, justifying the decision. In all, the Potter books spent a decade on the New York Times list,
  5. 5. one marker of their great popularity. There were, of course, many others: as the Harry Potterphenomenon grew, the release of each book constituted a cultural event marked by (as we have seen)parties, huge crowds, and amazing first-day figures more akin to movie grosses than literarysales: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows sold 15 million copies worldwide on its first day ofrelease. Indeed, no writer in history has ever enjoyed this sort of success; Rowling is reported byForbes to be the first writer in history to become a billionaire solely through book sales (5).They matter as well because English schoolchildren now study Harry Potter and the PhilosophersStone (as the first Potter book was originally published in England and is still known in most of theworld) for their A-level exams, and because the books are credited with bringing a generation ofAmerican children back to reading. Scholastic, the American publisher of the Potter books, was onceperhaps best known for putting on book fairs in schools, but these books made the childrens publishera power in the American market, and the grade school, middle school, and high school students theyintroduced to reading have continued to look for their next great adventure, perhaps helping to makebestsellers of recent fantasy series by authors such as Rick Riordan and Stephanie Meyer.They matter because the film series adapted from the books is more popular than either the long-running James Bond films or the Star Wars saga. They have helped bring Harrys story, adapted,admittedly, but still largely whole, to millions more who have not read the books. The films too havebeen media events, with crowds standing in line in costume, and first-day grosses among the highestof all time. Order of the Phoenix had an opening day box office of $44.2 million, although Half-Blood Prince easily exceeded that, selling over 58 million dollars worth of tickets in the U.S. andCanada on its opening day (and an almost equal amount overseas on that same day), making it thefourth-biggest opening day ever in North America, as well as the top midnight opening in history (6).As of fall 2009, with Half-Blood Prince just gone from theaters and two more films remaining in theseries, the films had grossed almost $5 billion worldwide, and Variety, the bible of show business, waspredicting that the eight-film series could top $7 billion in box office, making it, by some billions, thehighest-earning movie series ever (7).They matter because the Potter story has spawned a commercial empire, an incredible number ofofficial (and unofficial) products for those fans to consume: board games, Lego building sets,Voldemort replica wands, Gryffindor ties, film calendars, Harry Potter action figures, video games, allelements of a brand estimated by Forbes to be worth one billion dollars (8). In 2010 these Potterproducts will be joined by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an Orlando, Florida, Universal Studiostheme park which will recreate a fifteen-story-tall Hogwarts School, the pubs and shops of the Villageof Hogsmeade, and the Forbidden Forest at a cost of more than $200 million dollars — and willcertainly draw fans from all over the globe.They matter because literary critics, who normally disdain both childrens books and popular fiction —let alone popular childrens fiction — have acclaimed the Potter series to a degree that approaches theridiculous. Not only did the first Potter books (Philosophers Stone and Chamber of Secrets) winmultiple awards, including the British Book Awards childrens book honors, but Publishers Weekly, thebible of the publishing industry, named Philosophers Stone their Book of the Year. Later books wonthe Hugo (science fictions greatest honor), the British Book Awards Book of the Year,and Newsweeks Best Book of the Year. While some critics (including Harold Bloom) and authors(including Ursula LeGuin and A.S. Byatt) complain that the books are derivative or somehow dontmeasure up as literary works, other writers, including Stephen King, Salman Rushdie, and me (in mynovelists guise), have extolled them.They matter because no other contemporary story has been more read, watched, discussed, and livedthan this narrative. A huge international fan community has grown up around the books: top Websites like Muggle Net and The Leaky Cauldron have invested thousands of human-hours into gatheringinfo and news on the Potter books and films, and are visited by tens of millions of people from all overthe world; Harrypotterfanfiction.com, for example, contains over 50,000 fan-written narratives set inJ. K. Rowlings universe and claims over 40 million hits per month, and other sites boast even morePotter fan fiction. In the intervals between books — and since all the books have appeared — fansjoined online and in person at conferences like Leaky Con in Boston, Terminus in Chicago, and
  6. 6. Azkatraz in San Francisco to celebrate, talk about, and act out the books that have so entertained andshaped them. (Oh, yes—and to dance. As reported in Time, "wizard rock" or "wrock" bands playingsongs derived from the Potter novels and sporting names like Harry and the Potters, the RemusLupins, the Whomping Willows, and DJ Luna Lovegood have become an international phenomenon,"playing at conventions and clubs and wizard-rock festivals," and demonstrating yet more examples ofa passionate Potter fan community that seems to have taken on a life of its own as a full-fledgedcultural movement (10). The books have now all been released; the movie story is almost done; butthe community that has grown up around Harry Potter seems to be going strong, thanks for asking.Clearly these novels have involved people like few stories in history. From a literary standpoint, wemight explain that Rowling creates compelling characters and a world where magic is possible,dragons breathe flame, and giants stomp, but she is hardly the first to do this, or even to do it well;she does, however, join the elite club of writers of powerful fantasy or "childrens" tales such as C. S.Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien whose works are read by children and teens, and then reread by them,often throughout their lives. As Lewis noted in his role as literary critic, when a book is powerfulenough to not only be read but reread, then those who return to it must be gaining something morethan mere excitement; since rereaders already know what is going to happen to Harry, whether or notHagrid or Hermione will survive, clearly rereaders come back to Potter for compelling reasons besidesa compelling story (11).Lewis, writer, literary critic, and friend to other writers, gave the experience of reading a great deal ofthought. He concluded that in truly great stories, while we might be engaged by the events of thestory, the plot was merely a net to catch something else, and that what winds up entangled in the net— even if only for the space of several chapters — represents our real reasons for reading (12). Whatis in the net? Well, just as Dumbledore left (admittedly, with some ulterior motives) Hermione Grangerhis copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard "in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive,"Lewis tells us that we read tales to "see with other eyes ... imagine with other imaginations ... feelwith other hearts, as well as our own" (13). In great stories we are both entertained and edified, andwe learn things about ourselves, others, and the world that we might not otherwise have known.Great stories, like Harry Potters, teach us as well as entertain us, and this enlightenment may alsoencourage us to become people more like those we behold in the stories we read.So finally, we might say that the Harry Potter books matter because of their artful telling — andretelling — of powerful and potent stories about human life. In the pages of Rowlings books, we learnabout the use and misuse of power, about the necessity of community, about heroism and villainy,and about hope for a brighter future. By walking alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione, we are able toparticipate in an adventure that sheds light on our own adventure, if we have eyes to see and ears tohear.To explore those stories, we will be employing an ancient method of reading used in the Middle Agesto read the Bible, and suggested by the poet Dante as a useful way to read all great books: the four-fold method of Thomas Aquinas and other great medieval scholars. While many good readers areaware that they are seeking something in addition to an engaging story when they approach anarrative, not many readers could explain how their reading leads them to consider deeper questionsinspired by the story; so youll understand precisely how Im arriving at the conclusions I reach, Iwant to explain the four-fold method, a time-tested approach to consider all that a good book has tooffer us. When we read a book, we begin, of course, at the literal level of story, the words andnarrative that must be understood as literature and in the context of their culture. We read also onan allegorical level, seeking the deeper philosophical and spiritual themes embodied in the work. Weread on a tropological level as well, paying attention to the themes that might impel us to greaterinsight and action, making a work a part of ourselves. And finally, we read on the anagogical level, areading that pays attention to themes of transcendence and hope for the future. The goal of all of thisreading — which doesnt have to occur in this exact sequence or even with this degree of formality —is to bring the work to life within you, which Lewis and fellow literary critic Northrop Frye would agreeis the purpose of a good reading of any great book, opening up possibilities for us to gain wisdom,insight, and even transformation (14). In this book we will focus on one primary way of reading in
  7. 7. each chapter, moving from a literal understanding of the place of magic in the Potter novels in chapter1, then to a consideration of the theme of community in chapter 2, then to the call to action issued bythe books in chapter 3, and finally to a spiritual and even religious understanding of the future givenus by the books and by Rowlings own beliefs in the final chapter. You need not share those beliefs (orread the final chapter, for that matter) to observe how the Harry Potter tale shares manyresemblances to Christian faith and practice, but I think our reading of the books would be incompletewithout that observance.Since J. K. Rowling is a classicist who has sprinkled the Potter novels with Latin, clad her characters inmedieval robes, and educated them in castles, a medieval way of reading not only seems fitting but —as I hope this work demonstrates — is a terrific method for discerning C. S. Lewis "something more"in the story of The Boy Who Lived. Rowling has created a world where we can be entertained,inspired, and enlightened. In an exciting tale of magic, heroes, and villains, she has also sharedwisdom about power, and suggested that everything in the world she has created is under-girded by adeeper magic. In the pages that follow, we shall see how the reaction of characters to that deepermagic, their choices to draw closer to it or flee from it (for choice, as Dumbledore knew and oftensaid, is at the heart of who we are and what we become) map out the borders of J. K. Rowlings epic.In the hands of the gifted author who has created this living world, we can experience again (or forthe first time) truths and insights about human life — who we are, why we are here, where we shouldbe going—that offer us a glimpse of joy.And the gleam of something beyond. PLATFORM 9 3/4 MAGIC POWER AND THE FANTASTIC "Harry Potter was a wizard." - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets "Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it." — Professor Quirrell, Harry Potter and the Philosophers StoneHarry Potter, Gateway to EvilJ. K. Rowling tells a story about an encounter she had in the early years of Harry Potter in New YorkCity; she was in the FAO Schwarz toy store buying gifts for her daughter, when a particular kind ofreligious man leaned in close to her and spoke. "He said, Im praying for you," she remembered, "intones that were more appropriate to saying Burn in hell" (1). While this anonymous man neverexplained his grievance to her, theres little doubt what that grievance was — like many othersobjecting to the Potter books, he was most probably concerned about the presence of magic in thestories, since in his worldview magic was necessarily dark, a thing of evil.From the beginning, Harry Potter could not step out of 4 Privet Drive without being accompanied bycontroversy; for a decade now, the Harry Potter books have been attacked by conservative culturaland religious figures as works promoting witchcraft, Satanism, and antisocial behavior. In 2000 awidely circulated email message spread across the Internet, claiming the book was itself a gateway toblack magic:
  8. 8. Harry Potter is the creation of a former UK English teacher who promotes witchcraft and Satanism.Harry is a 13 year old "wizard." Her creation openly blasphemes Jesus and God and promotes sorcery,seeking revenge upon anyone who upsets them by giving you examples (even the sources withauthors and titles!) of spells, rituals, and demonic powers. It is the doorway for children to enter theDark Side of evil....To support these contentions, the "author" of the email had collected several stories of children whohad read and been led astray by the books, among them the case of "dear Ashley," a 9-year-old, thetypical average age reader of Harry Potter: "I used to believe in what they taught us at SundaySchool," said Ashley, conjuring up an ancient spell to summon Cerebus, the three-headed hound ofhell. "But the Harry Potter books showed me that magic is real, something I can learn and use rightnow, and that the Bible is nothing but boring lies (2)."This e-mail, as has been widely noted in print and Web urban legend publications, actually drew its"facts" from an article in the humor publication The Onion (facts such as "dear Ashley," the childinspired and somehow enabled to summon Cerberus the three-headed dog by reading Harry Potterand the Sorcerers Stone), but even after discovering that they had mistakenly quoted a satirical newssource that was itself poking fun at Harry Potter hysteria, many opponents of the Potter books saidthat although that particular source might be bogus, their claims were nonetheless true (3).Although Harry has gotten on the wrong side of all sorts of religious and cultural battles, much of thenegative has come from conservative Christians. These believers argue that the Harry Potter saga isbad for children because it contains and promotes witchcraft, and the Bible is explicit in itscondemnation of witchcraft. To evangelical Christians and others encouraged to read the Bible literallyas a record of Gods unchanging message to humanity, there seems to be little wiggle room in the waythe Bible, particularly the Old Testament, talks about sorcery. Leviticus commands, "You will notpractise divination or magic" (Lev 19:23b, NJB). The book of Deuteronomy goes into more detail in itscommand to eschew magic:When you have entered the country given you by Yahweh your God, you must not learn to imitate thedetestable practices of the nations there already.There must never be anyone among you who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire ofsacrifice, who practises divination, who is soothsayer, augur or sorcerer, weaver of spells, consulter ofghosts or mediums, or necromancer.For anyone who does these things is detestable to Yahweh your God; it is because of these detestablepractices that Yahweh your God is driving out these nations before you. (18:9-12, NJB)The rejection of sorcery remains a dogma in the Christian church today, particularly observed amongCatholics and evangelicals, and it is from these quarters that many of the strongest condemnations ofHarry Potter have emerged. An exorcist at the Vatican recently attacked the Potter novels for their useof magic, calling "fictional wizard-in-training Harry Potter the king of darkness, the devil" (4).Pope Benedict himself has spoken out against the Potter novels on several occasions. Most recently, inJanuary 2008, the pope argued that Harrys stories were a dark mirror image of the Lord of theRings and Narnia stories, often celebrated by Christians. Like other critics, Pope Benedict argues thatthe Potter books lead children to an "unhealthy interest" in Satanism, and concludes that "despiteseveral positive values that can be found in the story, at the foundations of this tale is the proposalthat of witchcraft as positive, the violent manipulation of things and people thanks to the knowledge ofthe occult, an advantage of a select few" (5).Similar criticisms of the Potter novels have also come from Greek Orthodox Christians, and from otherreligious traditions, especially from conservative Muslims, who argue that the depiction of magic andthe supernatural in the book is "contrary to Islamic values." The Potter books were banned fromschools in the United Arab Emirates, have been attacked by a state-run newspaper in Iran, were
  9. 9. pulled from some Muslim schools in Britain because of fundamentalist protests, and have perhapseven been the object of terrorism; in Pakistan in August, 2007, a bomb threat postponed the launchof Deathly Hallows at a book store in Pakistan, and police suspect that the threat emerged fromreligious objections to the Potter books.And while other religious people (including me) have praised the books for their imagination, themoral values of their heroes, the strong contrast between good and evil, and their similarities to faithnarratives (including, in its review of the film version of Half-Blooded Prince, the same Vaticannewspaper that had previously condemned the books), others continue to denounce them in thestrongest possible terms (7). In addition to those recent comments from the pope, Dr. James Dobson,founder of Focus on the Family, released this correction in 2007 when a press account suggested heapproved of the Potter books:"We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products." [Dobsons] rationale for thatstatement: Magical characters — witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists and so on— fill the Harry Potter stories, and given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in thelarger culture, its difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young,impressionable minds (8).Following Rowlings post-Hallows announcement that Dumbledore was gay, the Christian Coalition andPat Robertsons Christian Broadcasting Network, which had previously ridden the fence on the Potterbooks, condemned them strongly. A guest on CBN, Jack Roper, took the opportunity to use theDumbledore controversy to return to the roots of the argument: "As a cult researcher for many years,I have seen contemporary witchcraft packaged in many seductive forms, and Harry Potter is the best"(9). One needs only look at the comments section of any Christian Web site publishing a positiveassessment of the Potter books to discover that a vocal segment of the faithful still consider the booksSatanic, evil, and a negative influence on anyone who reads them. Some have even suggested thatthey — and books like them — could lead to such horrific violence as the Columbine shootings; whenonce we invite evil into our schools, they say, who knows where it will stop?One of those arguing that the Potter books use of magic actually infected classrooms with evil wasanti-Potter activist Laura Mallory, the Georgia housewife who received worldwide attention for herattempts to have the Potter books pulled from her childs school; I first read about her in theLondon Daily Mail. When the school refused, she went to the Georgia Board of Education, thenpetitioned the state Superior Court, where at last her legal options ended, although her passion didnot diminish. Melissa Anelli, Web-mistress of the Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron, went to Georgiato interview Mallory, expecting to find someone who was deranged or paranoid; how could someoneclaim that God had told her not to read these books that had meant so much to so many?But Anelli said that what she discovered in Laura Mallory was resolute sincerity and confidence thatshe was right: "[Harry] is a wizard. Witchcraft is evil . . . one day everyone will know that witchcraft isevil" (10). Mallorys reading of Harry Potter told her that it was primarily about magic, and herinterpretation of the Bible taught her that witchcraft — even fictional witchcraft — was an affront toGod, and she could not be shaken from that belief. Laura Mallory, and people who believe as shedoes, cannot be argued with; Anelli certainly tried. But when you consider that this fear of witchcraftgrows out of the very real belief that people of goodwill are matched in spiritual warfare with darkforces, then perhaps these sorts of misconceptions and misunderstandings become moreunderstandable, if not excusable. One should not be afraid of a fictional wizard — and the books are,as Rowling insisted, deeply moral. But this continuing controversy has made it possible for the Potternovels to be simultaneously the most-read fiction in history and, according to the American LibraryAssociation, the most-banned books of the twenty-first century (11).Perhaps the great irony of Dr. James Dobson, the pope, and Muslim fundamentalists finding commonground around their condemnation of J. K. Rowlings works as leading to an unhealthy interest in theoccult is that since her earliest interviews about the controversy, Rowling has categorically denied anysuch intent or content. As far back as 2000 on the Today Show with Katie Couric, Rowling had thisvery clear response to a viewers question about witchcraft and Satanism:
  10. 10. Katie Couric: Tammy in Kansas was wondering: "What would encourage you to write books forchildren that are supporting the devil, witchcraft and anything that has to do with Satan?" Youveheard that before.J. K. Rowling: Well, nothing would encourage me to do that because I havent done it so far so whywould I start doing it now?Katie Couric: You have heard criticism along those lines ever since the beginning, and I think it alsogrew since more and more books came out.J. K. Rowling: A very famous writer once said: "A book is like a mirror. If a foot looks in, you cantexpect a genius to look out." People tend to find in books what they want to find, and I think mybooks are very moral. I know they have absolutely nothing to do with what this ladys writing about(12).So it is also, perhaps, ironic after chronicling the ongoing contention to suggest that this fuss isprimarily the result of bad reading. Rowlings use of magic as an element in her stories is simply aconvention of the fantasy and fairy-tale genres and not actually about faith and belief, but ratherabout power and the willingness to use it. In this chapter, we will explore the world of magic,considering the criticism that Rowling sets up magic as a belief system or presents a Gnostic view ofreality in which the magical world and its practitioners are somehow superior to magicless Muggles.And in the process, we will consider the idea that magic is simply an ingredient in the type of storyRowling has chosen to tell, and one that speaks more about our misplaced human desire for powerthan about any supernatural powers of evil.Magic and the Two WorldsMagic and Muggles are opposed elements of the Potter story, and it can be easy to misunderstandwhat Rowling intends to do by creating this contrast. In the course of the Potter narrative, we meetfirst the horrid Dursleys of 4 Privet Drive, who glory in their suburban normalcy, who have kept Harryunder their thumbs for eleven years, and who will continue to make Harrys life a living hell. They arethe most Mugglesome of Muggles, "perfectly normal, thank you very much" non-magic people whowant no surprises, no changes, and no drama in their lives — except for the drama they themselvescreate (13).Vernon Dursley, director of a drill-making firm, is perpetually apoplectic; on the day before his nephewHarry Potter comes to live with them, he "yelled at five different people. He made several importanttelephone calls and shouted a bit more. He was in a very good mood" (14).In that first chapter of The Philosophers Stone, we also make the acquaintances of representatives ofthe Wizarding world: Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft andWizardry, Harrys future mentor and friend; and Minerva McGonagall, his future teacher and househead, who cant believe Dumbledore truly intends to leave Harry with his non-magical and thoroughlyunpleasant aunt and uncle. The two friends are in shock, grieving the great loss of Lily and JamesPotter amidst the euphoria at the defeat of Lord Voldemort. Then, out of the night, a thirdrepresentative of the magical world, Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, comes roaring in with babyHarry astride Sirius Blacks motorbike. Before he gives over the child to be left on the Dursleysdoorstep, he kisses the baby, and grief as outsized as he is boils over at the idea of leaving this childof wizards here in Little Whinging. "S-ssorry," sobbed Hagrid . . . "But I cant stand it — Lily andJames dead — an poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles - " (15).A simplistic division of Harrys life into two distinct worlds - Wizarding and Muggle — is part of themisconception of those who believe that magic is the defining element of the Potter stories. In thismisreading, there are two worlds, the mundane and the magical, and Harry is an orphan and a misfitin one world but a hero in the other. Certainly one could read the books this way—their beginningsand endings, typically set in non-magical England, show a Harry deeply unhappy at being where he is,while his adventures and acclaim come, at least in the earlier books, entirely in the Wizarding world atHogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This simplistic division between worlds does break down
  11. 11. somewhat in later books, however. In Goblet of Fire, Harrys great battle with a revived Voldemortoccurs in a Muggle graveyard, far from Hogwarts; in The Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his cousinDudley are attacked by Dementors in suburban Little Whinging; in Deathly Hallows, Harry, Hermione,and Ron have adventures the length and breadth of the United Kingdom (including a pivotal scene inthe Forest of Dean, where Rowling grew up) and return to Hogwarts only for the climactic battleagainst Voldemort and the Death Eaters. That battle, of course, changes the game for everyone,wizards and Muggles alike; Voldemort is a threat to the entire world.If we are to read the Potter novels first on a literal level and to place them in an understandablecontext, then magic is the essential element with which we need to grapple. Are thebooks about magic? Magic pervades the books, certainly, and it would be easy to read them literallyand simply assume this. But careful reading suggests an alternative: any simplistic division of Harryslife into two realms, one of which is assumed to be superior to the other because of its possession ofmagic, crashes against one of Rowlings most obvious concerns, that of tolerance. The Wizardingworld, as will see, is no Utopia; it is only superior to the Muggle world in magic and magical artifacts.It does not surpass the Muggle world in compassion, tolerance, or love; although we have no majorMuggle characters who are not Dursleys, we never imagine that Hermione Grangers parents love anyless than Ron Weasleys parents do, and conversely, the wizards living in the Wizarding world clearlyshow that they are no more unified or universally compassionate than those living in the Muggleworld. Both "worlds" are disturbingly, hopefully human.Therefore the notion that wizards and the "reality" they inhabit are somehow superior sounds like anexposition of Grindelwalds, Voldemorts, or Lucius Malfoys most prejudiced ideas — that magic-usinghumans are elevated above those who cannot use magic or those magical races who somehow differfrom them. As Rowling noted, this reading of the books is in direct conflict with the narrative itself,which dramatically illustrates the evil of prejudice: "Bigotry is probably the thing I detest most. Allforms of intolerance, the whole idea of that which is different from me is necessarily evil. . . . Thisworld of witches and wizards, theyve already ostracized, and then within themselves, theyve formeda loathsome pecking order" (16). Two worlds exist, true, but only the villainous characters in eitherwould pretend that their world is superior.Those who attack the Potter novels as "Gnostic" are probably referring to two distinct aspects of thatphilosophical and even religious idea: the belief that true salvation comes from secret knowledge heldby an elite group, and the concept that there are two realities, with the one we live in being only ashadow of a higher and greater realm. There is, to be truthful, a great deal of secret knowledge in thePotter novels; wizards learn spells and incantations, and since the Statute of Secrecy, they havehidden themselves, their magic, and all magical creatures away from the Muggles. Wizards themselvesare secret knowledge. They make this choice, however, not because they inhabit a different world, butbecause they inhabit the same world, and their secrecy is not simply about preserving secretknowledge; it also serves to protect them — and Muggles — and to preserve the status quo. Hagridexplains to Harry that the Ministry Of Magic hides their existence from the country because, "Blimey,Harry, everyoned be wantin magic solutions to their problems" (17). And of course as we (and they)remember from the past, fear-filled Muggles do have a penchant for burning the occasional suspectedmagic-user at the stake. Even if, according to Wizarding history, they tend to burn the wrong peopleand not to harm the actual witches and warlocks, why stir up such alarm and loathing?The idea that there are two realities, one more "real" than the other, is an ancient idea, emerging inGreek philosophy, and in religious belief going back at least to the Manichaeans in the first fewcenturies C.E. It is also a modern idea, found among many religious fundamentalists of various faithtraditions who insist that the world we inhabit is completely fallen, and merely a shadow of the truespiritual reality to come. Alister McGrath describes this belief espoused by the Manichaeans as "afundamental tension between the spiritual realm (which is seen as being good) and the material realm(which is seen as being evil)" (18). One could regard the Wizarding world as a spiritual realm, sincemuch is hidden from the eyes of Muggles, and certainly some wizards believe that they occupy ahigher plane of existence. This is the justification used by Voldemort and the Death Eaters to killMuggles for sport, or by Grindelwald (and the young Albus Dumbledore) to rule over Muggles for "thegreater good," as they once plotted together.
  12. 12. So if we believe arguments that Muggles are inferior to wizards, then perhaps this radical division ofreality makes sense. Certainly Voldemort believes it. At the outset of Goblet of Fire, he claims to thecaretaker who discovers him in his fathers old house that he is not a human (despite his humanbirth): "I am not a man, Muggle," said the cold voice . .. "I am much much more than a man.""However, the wizards we most admire in the story — the adult Dumbledore, Arthur Weasley, andothers — argue that there is no difference between wizards and Muggles. As with the Jews so reviledby German Nazis, there is no physiological difference between oppressor and oppressed. In Book 7,future Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt exhorts listeners of the Potterwatch broadcast to shelterMuggles from the Dark Lord and his minions by casting protective spells over their dwellings, andconcludes, "Were all humans, arent we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving "(20).Ultimately wizards and Muggles are both human beings, with different gifts; one might have a genefor magic, another a gene for music. But there is no biological distinction between Muggle and magic-user — just prejudice (on both sides) about superficial differences. Just as Harry does not occupy ahigher world because of specialized knowledge, he is not somehow superior to the non - Wizardingpopulation because he can cast an "Expelliarmus" charm. Rowling brings these understandings to lifefor us in a number of ways. First, while Harrys discovery that he is a wizard delights him, becoming apart of the Wizarding community and mastering secret knowledge does not bring him peace or joy inand of itself; it is not a key to redemption or to a higher being. In fact, in some ways, Harrys life forseven years is constantly complicated and endangered because of his knowledge of this other world,and his mastery of magic is not at the core of who he is or even at the heart of his final victory overVoldemort. As Stephen Fry observed to an agreeing Rowling onstage at a talk at the Royal Albert Hall,"Its desperately important that the way Harry solves all his problems is really through his courage, hisfriendship, and his loyalty and stoutness of heart" (21). Secret knowledge or inhabiting a higherreality do not constitute Harrys redemption; instead, as we will explore in chapter 2, it is the veryhuman joys of love, companionship, and community that give his life meaning.Second, Rowling draws so many correspondences between the Wizarding world and the Muggle worldthat there can be little question that she sees them simply as two sides of the same coin, twoexperiences of the same reality. From the outset of the saga, it seems clear, for example, that theWizarding world is as full of bad people as is the mundane world, something Rowling demonstrates forus from the beginning of Harrys journey. While the Dursleys are indeed horrible — "You couldnt findtwo people who are less like us," as Minerva McGonagall says, describing them and their alreadyhorrifying little boy — Rowling doesnt mean to suggest that they (and Muggles in general) areuniquely horrible (22).There are terrible people in both worlds; the first representative of the Wizarding world that Harrymeets (after Hagrid, of course) is Draco Malfoy, who is directly compared to Harrys horrid MuggleCousin: "Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley" (23). Likewise we see Malfoy early in Chamber ofSecrets, when Harry observes him from a hiding place in Flourish and Blotts, the dark magic store thatHarry has entered accidentally. Draco is dragged into the store by his father Lucius, and he behavesprecisely as we have seen Dudley behave, sulking, whining, and saying, "I thought you were going tobuy me a present" (24). These two boys, Dudley and Draco, are presented as twin bullies, Harryschief antagonists in the world of his childhood, tormenting him at each of his homes, and they arepresented as mirror images so that we might understand that there is no fundamental differencebetween them.Draco, who will be a part of Harrys life from their first introduction on, also previews in their firstmeeting an important element of the Wizarding world which will grow in importance throughout thesaga, the completely human bigotry and intolerance of wizards. When Harry meets Draco in MadamMalkins robe shop, Draco inquires whether Harrys parents were "our kind," and lets drop that hedoesnt believe "they should let the other sort in" to Hogwarts (25). Rowling intended to plant thisfocus on Wizardly racism and intolerance from the outset: "It was always there from the beginning, asyou saw with Draco - even from [the] first book with Draco Harry discovers him being rude aboutMuggles" (26).
  13. 13. It is Draco and his family who will carry the banner of "pure-bloods" versus "Mudbloods" and "bloodtraitors" until Voldemort returns to do it himself, and it is Draco who first utters the insult "Mudblood"to Hermione Granger, although she and Harry need to have it explained to them by Ron: "Mudbloodsa really foul name for someone who is Muggle-born — you know, non-magic parents. There are somewizards — like Malfoys family — who think theyre better than everyone else because theyre whatpeople call pure-blood.... Its a disgusting thing to call someone" (27).In the eyes of the Malfoys and the other Death Eaters, and in Voldemorts own self-loathing prejudice,Muggles are inferior, but even among those in the magical world there are gradations of acceptability,"us" and "them," just as there have always been prejudices in the world you and I inhabit. Wizardswho call themselves pure-blooded set themselves up as superior to those who are of mixed blood, orwho have no magical abilities at all, just as people have always divided themselves by blood or byrace or by culture. These distinctions, though, as Voldemorts own Muggle ancestry suggests, arespurious. As Dumbledore once wrote Lucius Malfoy, explaining a decision not to pull a Muggle-sympathizing story in the Tales of Beedle the Bard from the library, there are no purely magicalfamilies: "So-called pure-blood families maintain their alleged purity by disowning, banishing, or lyingabout Muggles or Muggleborns on their family trees. They then attempt to foist their hypocrisy uponthe rest of us by asking us to ban works dealing with the truths they deny. There is not a witch orwizard in existence whose blood has not mingled with that of Muggles" (28).Muggles and so-called pure-bloods are no different, and their worlds are likewise no different. That themagical world is not, in and of itself, intended to be a separate or superior realm may bedemonstrated finally by referring to the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, whenthe Muggle Prime Minister is visited by Cornelius Fudge, "The Other Minister," and the Prime Ministertries to express the difficulties of his present moment, only to be brought up short by Fudge:"Difficult to know where to begin," muttered Fudge, pulling up the chair, sitting down, and placing hisgreen bowler hat upon his knees. "What a week, what a week ......"Had a bad one too, have you?" asked the Prime Minister stiffly, hoping to convey by this that he hadquite enough on his plate already without any extra helpings from Fudge."Yes, of course," said Fudge, rubbing his eyes wearily and looking morosely at the Prime Minister."Ive been having the same week you have, Prime Minister. The Brockdale Bridge ... the Bones andVance murders ... not to mention the ruckus in the West Country" (29).It seems clear that these leaders occupy the same world, not separate ones, that they struggle withthe same challenges although they come at the experience from different directions. Voldemorts riseto power menaces both worlds, Muggle and Wizarding alike, as the film of Half-BloodPrince demonstrates dramatically with its Death Eater attacks on the Millennium Bridge, a well-knownLondon tourist attraction, rather than the fictional Brockdale Bridge.The Prime Minister imagines that because wizards "can do magic!" they should be able to sort outanything, but as Fudge and new Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour tell the Prime Minister when theydepart his office by flue, magic does not solve all problems, particularly when ones enemies alsopossess it (any more than, to draw an analogy, nuclear weaponry solves all geopolitical problems forthose who control it). It is simply a tool to be used (30). What matters, ultimately, is not whether onehas a magic wand or an M-16: it is what one chooses to do in response to the circumstances of onesbirth and upbringing, and the company one finds oneself in because of ones choices. As Fry said withRowlings assent, the books are less about casting spells than they are about power, what one doeswith it, with whom, to whom.Perhaps, finally, the only real difference between the Wizarding world and the Muggle world may bereflected in the type of "magic" people employ to exercise power. Wizards are those who, through anaccident of birth, possess some innate mastery of spells; Muggles have developed technology — cars,batteries, escalators, and many other devices — to the great astonishment of Arthur Weasley:"Fascinating he would say as Harry talked him through using a telephone. Ingenious, really, how
  14. 14. many ways Muggles have found of getting along without magic ...... (31). Other wizards also seem tofind Muggle technology estimable. In Book 7, for example, Dedalus Diggle makes much of UncleVernons ability to drive: "Very clever of you, sir, very clever, I personally would be utterlybamboozled by all those buttons and knobs," and he is hardly the only wizard to view technology assomething fantastic and barely believable (32).All this simply goes to remind of us of the familiar rule formulated by science fiction author Arthur C.Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Just as Sirius is said bythe Muggles to be armed with a gun, "a kind of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other," J. R.R. Tolkien also suggested that there was ultimately little difference between magic and technology(33). He spoke of the mechanisms used in a world (real or fictional) to project power, whethermechanical, magical, or personal, as "The Machine," and said there was little difference between thesemethods when they were employed for "the corrupted motive of dominating: bulldozing the realworld, coercing other wills" (34). In other words, Hitlers Blitzkrieg of tanks and Stukas isindistinguishable from Voldemorts volley of dark curses; magicians and Muggles alike employ power,but while wizards have magic wands, charms, and brooms, Muggles have electricity and the plugs andbatteries so beloved by Mr. Weasley, who finds them magical. Both are "secret knowledge" to theuninitiated; neither makes for a "superior reality."http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/features/essays/literarytradition Harry Potter and the Literary Tradition By Severina AequitasAt the present time, literary criticism tends to be directed mostly to works that societyperceives as holding great social and literary significance. These works have changed theway people look at art or literature, either by sparking controversy or through theirconsiderable popularity. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling has done just this, but hasyet to be accepted as a serious literary work. It has received much acclaim as anoutstanding piece of children’s literature, but the novels contain much more than a simpletale about a boy wizard. Rowling follows in some very old traditions of literature, and byapplying German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s theories about the cruelty of life and theinherent Apollonian and Dionysian qualities in all forms of art, and French philosopher andcritic Jacques Derrida’s theories of the pharmakon and the pharmakos, one begins to seehow the Harry Potter series deserves to be regarded as a significant piece of literature.Furthermore, instead of using the entire Harry Potter series for this undertaking, I’ve chosento use just one text from it, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and demonstratehow it draws on those sources.Nietzsche and the Theory of Apollonian and Dionysian QualitiesNietzsche felt that every work of art, whether it is music or drama or writing, contained twoaspects: the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The Apollonian aspect is that of order and laws,which can constitute the illusion that things are in control even if in reality they are not. TheDionysian aspect is about the “cruelty of life” or not being able to ever escape one’s fate;and also that of escaping to an alternate state of being, usually a temporary one. Thesethemes run quite strong in Order of the Phoenix with Harry unwilling to accept his destiny.Nietzsche notices in Greek tragedies that the heroes show “tremendous distrust of thetitanic forces of nature: Moira[destiny], mercilessly enthroned beyond the knowableworld,” 1 and uses Oedipus as an example of one who learns of what his future holds forhim, tries to run away from his fate, but unknowingly runs closer towards it.Harry is in a similar situation. Not only was his being born a wizard kept secret from himuntil he turned eleven, but, like Oedipus, a prophecy was made that would affect his entire
  15. 15. life; in Harry’s case, the prophecy stated that a child would be born who would vanquishLord Voldemort. When Voldemort unintentionally turns Harry into the prophecy’s fulfillment,Harry constantly questions, both internally and to those closest to him, why he must be the“Chosen One”. When the wizard newspaper, The Daily Prophet, continually writes storiesimplying that Harry’s motives in saying Voldemort has returned are to garner himself morefame, he bursts out: “I didn’t ask—I didn’t want—Voldemort killed my parents! I got famousbecause he murdered my family but couldn’t kill me! Who wants to be famous for that?Don’t they think I’d rather it’d never [happened?]—”2Harry’s feelings of unhappiness continue throughout the text, and after Sirius Black dies, hisfeelings intensify to the point that he wishes he wasn’t himself: “He could not stand beingHarry anymore….He had never felt more trapped inside his own head and body, neverwished so intensely that he could be somebody—anybody—else.”<small 3</smallEventually hebecomes so frustrated with his life that he doesn‘t see the point in living anymore,yelling at Dumbledore ―I DON‘T CARE! I‘VE HAD ENOUGH, I‘VE SEEN ENOUGH,I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON‘T CARE ANYMORE—‖ 4 Dumbledore helpsHarry see why he must accept his destiny, and even though Harry feels a sense ofisolation because of it, it also seems to give him a sense of motivation and purposethat most fifteen-year-old boys don‘t have yet: An invisible barrier separated him from the rest of the world. He was—he had always been—a marked man. It was just that he had never really understood what that meant…. And yet sitting here on the edge of the lake, with the terrible weight of grief dragging at him […] he could not muster any great sense of fear. […] The grounds around him were full of laughing people, and even though he felt as distant from them as though he belonged to a different race, it was still very hard to believe as he sat there that his life must include, or end in, murder….5Harry has transitioned from wanting to avoid his destiny to realizing and acceptingthat he must face and vanquish Voldemort. He overcomes ―the cruelty of life,‖moving into an acceptance of his fate.The Dionysian quality of wanting to escape to an alternative reality not onlyaffects Harry, but the reader as well. When staying with the Dursleys, Harry isunable to use magic and readers empathize with his frustration. When members ofthe Order come to take him to Sirius‘s house, they use their broomsticks to flythere, and the effect on Harry is intoxicating, ―He felt as though his heart wasgoing to explode with pleasure; he was flying again, flying away from Privet Driveas he‘d been fantasizing about all summer, he was going home…. For a fewglorious moments, all his problems seemed to recede into nothing.‖ 6 For manyreaders, they feel a similar effect whilst reading the Harry Potter novels. Thereader is aware that the books are fiction and such a magical world cannot exist,but they create a retreat, away from the realities they deal with in their life: Despite the high intensity with which these dream realities exist for us, we still have the residual sensation that they are illusions […] the essence of Dionysiac rapture, whose closest analogy is furnished by physical intoxication […] the individual forgets himself completely.7This is evidenced by the record-breaking numbers of books sold on their first dayof release, showing how many people enjoy escaping into Harry Potter‘s world,and that these Dionysian qualities exist both within and outside of Rowling‘sbooks.
  16. 16. In Order of the Phoenix, there is a great emphasis on the Apollonian aspects(order and law) of the magical world. Wizards have all the same forms ofgovernment that Muggles (or non-wizarding folk) have, most notably a Ministry ofMagic (and Minister of Magic, whose function is like that of a President or PrimeMinister) that forms the central place of government over various aspects ofwizarding life and a Wizengamot that oversees all judicial aspects of the laws. Inthe beginning of the text, Harry is forced to use magic to ward off Dementors, andbreaks one of the laws that forbid underage wizards to use magic. Because of this,he must go to a hearing to determine whether he should be reprimanded becauseof this, and at the hearing the charges mentioned show the extent to which thewizarding community has developed their laws: The charges against the accused are as follows: That he did knowingly, deliberately, and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, having received a previous written warning from the Ministry of Magic on a similar charge, produced a Patronus Charm in a Muggle-inhabited area, in the presence of a Muggle, on August the second at twenty-three minutes past nine, which constitutes an offense under Paragraph C of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, 1875, and also under section thirteen of the International Confederation of Wizards’ Statute of Secrecy.8The Wizarding society depends on laws to try to prevent chaos and also to stopwizards like Voldemort from gaining too much power. The Ministry‘s big mistake isrefusing to believe Voldemort has returned, which would force them into actionsthey are unwilling to make. Hence Fudge‘s displeasure when Harry is re-admittedto Hogwarts after being acquitted in the misuse of magic charge. Indignant, Fudgeplaces Dolores Umbridge in Hogwarts as a tool of the Ministry to exert force at theschool, something that had never before happened. Hogwarts typically operatesoutside of the limitations of the Ministry, and has its own sets of rules, againreflecting the Apollonian aspects of their society.Derrida and the Pharmakos/PharmakonJacques Derrida‘s theories concerning the pharmakon and the pharmakos apply tothe Harry Potter series as well. The pharmakon translates to the dual meaning ofbeing both a remedy and a poison. This can pertain to when Voldemort first triedto kill Harry: Voldemort himself would ‘mark him his equal.’ And so he did, Harry. […] He gave you the scar that has proved both blessing and curse. […] In marking you with that scar, he did not kill you, as he intended, but gave you powers, and a future, which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far— something that[…] your parents […never] achieved.9The very thing meant to kill Harry—the Avada Kedavra curse—made him strongerthan he would have been otherwise. Derrida believes that words should show allpossible meanings, and the words Rowling chose, ―Avada Kedavra,‖ haveinteresting origins. The original Aramaic that became ―Abracadabra,‖ it translatesas ―let the thing be destroyed.‖ It was originally used to cure illness, but Rowlingchanged it to a killing curse for any living thing. Again, this has interestingconnotations concerning the remedy/poison duality of the pharmakon.Another idea that intrigued Derrida was that of the pharmakos in ancient Greece,The word pharmakos means ―wizard, magician, poisoner.‖ Derrida says:
  17. 17. The character of the pharmakos has been compared to the scapegoat […] the pharmakos represents evil both introjected and projected. Beneficial insofar as he cures—and for that, venerated and cared for—harmful insofar as he incarnates the powers of evil – and for that, feared and treated with caution.10In the Harry Potter series, wizards live outside of Muggle society because of thepersecution they endured. The Dursleys are an excellent example of this prejudice,secretly fearing anything magical, but trying to demonstrate their superiority overit: ― ‗Ministry of Magic?‘ bellowed Uncle Vernon. ‗People like you in government?Oh, this explains everything, everything, no wonder the country‘s going to thedogs.‘ ‖ 11 The Dursleys show their fear of wizards at the end of the novel as well,when members of the Order confront them about their treatment of Harry: Uncle Vernon turned a deeper shade of puce and glared at Mr. Weasley, but chose not to say anything, partly, perhaps, because the Dursleys were outnumbered two to one. Aunt Petunia looked both frightened and embarrassed. She kept glancing around, as though terrified somebody she knew would see her in such company. Dudley, meanwhile, seemed to be trying to look small and insignificant, a feat at which he was failing extravagantly.12Muggles aren‘t the only ones who persecute those who are different from them,though. In the magical world, wizards single out many for being different, and thehypocrisy of the wizards‘ prejudice is shown in how they sometimes treat Mugglestoo. Mr. Weasley tells Harry about this, telling him that ―Muggle-baiting mightstrike some wizards as funny, but it‘s an expression of something much deeperand nastier.‖ 13 Wizards also mistreat house-elves, werewolves, centaurs, andother various creatures: ―Hermione was talking very earnestly to Lupin about herview of elf rights. ‗I mean, it‘s the same kind of nonsense as werewolfsegregation, isn‘t it? It all stems from this horrible thing wizards have of thinkingthey‘re superior to other creatures….‘ ‖ 14 Derrida says that in the case of theGreeks this keeping of the outside out and the inside in was a way to keep theirself-identity intact, but he disapproves of that. With the prejudice shown towardsthe wizards by Muggles, and by the wizards to other creatures, the series showsthat even though the magical world might look better than our own, it has to dealwith the same problems as any society.The Harry Potter series has been tested against some very influential methods ofliterary criticism and is able to stand on its own as a significant piece of literaturethat deserves to be taken seriously by the literary-critical community. The worksmentioned here have had an enormous impact on what literature is, and the HarryPotter series follows in that tradition, by continuing to challenge present-daynotions of what should be considered ―Literature.‖ Literary criticism allows us tolook closer at ourselves through the novels, and the popularity of theHarryPotter series has shone to be one of those that have hit a chord with our societyand ourselves.Notes1. Nietzsche, ―The Birth of Tragedy,‖ 422.2. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 74.3. Ibid., 822.4. Ibid., 824.5. Ibid., 855–56.
  18. 18. 6. Ibid., 55–56. 7. Nietzsche, ―The Birth of Tragedy,‖ 420. 8. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 140. 9. Ibid., 842. 10. Derrida, ―Plato‘s Pharmacy,‖ 130–33. 11. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 29. 12. Ibid., 868. 13. Ibid., 153. 14. Ibid., 170–71. Bibliography Derrida, Jacques. ―Plato‘s Pharmacy.‖ Tel Quel 32–33 (1968). Nietzsche, Friedrich. ―The Birth of Tragedy.‖ In The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends, 2nd ed., edited by David Richter. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin‘s, 1998. Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003. http://www.slideshare.net/sgerald/harry-potter-and-the-magic-of-literature Harry Potter and the Magic of Literature - Presentation Transcript1. Harry Potter and the Monsters and Magic of Literature http://www.elbenwaldforum.de/userpics/14826.jpg2. http://cagle.msnbc.com/news/harrypotter/harry2.asp3. http://cagle.msnbc.com/news/harrypotter/harry3.asp4. http://cagle.msnbc.com/news/harrypotter/harry9.asp5. http://cagle.msnbc.com/news/harrypotter/harry4.asp6. http://www.exposingsatanism.org/harrypotter.htm7. Potter Time line 1990: The idea for Harry Potter is born. 1995: The first book is completed and rejected by several publishers. J.K. Rowling is warned that she will never make any real money by writing childrens books. 1997: Philosophers Stone is published in England. http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/childrenandteens/story/0,,1838086,00.html8. Potter Time line 1998: Chamber of Secrets is published in England and becomes an instant best seller. Philosophers Stone is published in America under the name Sorcerers Stone . 2003: Harry Potter has become so pervasive that “muggle” is added to the Oxford English Dictionary . http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/childrenandteens/story/0,,1838086,00.html9. Meanwhile, publishers are asked to set release dates for Potter novels for weekends so as to avoid causing massive school truancies, The New York Times declares childrens books ineligible for its best seller list, and Harry Potter takes the #1 slot in the most frequently banned books of the 21 st century list.
  19. 19. 10. 300 million Harry Potter books (and counting) have now been sold worldwide in at least 47 languages. http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/childrenandteens/story/0,,1838086,00.html11. Literary Genres, Archetypes, and Motifs12. The Epic http://www.warnerbros.co.uk/movies/troy/img/troy_main.jpg Like the ancient epics (Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Gilgamesh, Beowulf), Harry Potter has a little something for everyone—danger, romance, moral lessons, and most of all the kind of intense suspense that comes from knowing that the fate of the world rests on the heros shoulders.13. The Fantasy http://www.acton.org/images/blog/narnia.jpg As a kind of epic fairy tale, fantasy novels place ordinary people in extraordinary situations-- like the magical worlds of Narnia, Oz, Neverland, or Hogwarts.14. The Mystery Who is R.A.B.? Is Snape good or bad? Is Dumbledore really dead? Whats the last horcrux? Will Harry and his best friends survive? Will there ever be an eighth book? http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/images/38673000/jpg/_38673687_sherlockholmes300.jpg Mysteries offer readers a chance to test their problem solving skills along with the hero. Series mysteries, like Harry Potter, give readers a way to bond with one another by discussing clues and anticipating outcomes between books.15. The Hero http://starwarsmaniatic.webcindario.com/Luke%20Skywalker.jpg Like the epic heroes before him, Harry was born to be bold. He gets out of many tight spots through a combination of bravery, intelligence, and skill. It doesnt hurt that he also inspires great loyalty in his friends and supporters.16. The Orphan Harry is among the ranks of Cinderella, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, Frodo, and Luke Skywalker as one of the most famous orphans of literature. http://images.amazon.com/images/G/01/dvd/cinderella-godmother-large.jpg17. The Mentor http://hometown.aol.com/shaggy9872004/images/harry%20and%20dumbledore.jpg When Odysseus leaves for Troy, he asks his friend Mentor to look after his infant son. Thus, we get the word for the kind and wise older friend who advises the hero throughout his (or her) adventures.18. The Villain http://www.harrypotterforseekers.com/images/sym_voldemort.jpg http://hpmovie.variety.ru/photo_archive/voldemort.jpg Beowulf has Grendel, Luke has Darth Vader, Batman has Joker, and Harry has Voldemort. How would we know who our heroes are without the villains?19. The Journey http://www.road-to-the-isles.org.uk/westword/hogwart2.jpg Like Odysseus, Aeneas, Frodo, Dorothy, and many other heroes, Harrys adventures always begin and end with a journey.20. The Quest http://www.palettesofvision.com/Angels/index1.html Perhaps the most famous in all of literature (and of history) is the quest for the holy grail. In Half Blood Prince , Harry finally gets his quest. The one thing we do know about book seven is that Harry will be spending his time searching for and attempting to destroy Voldemorts horcruxes.21. The Task http://thecia.com.au/reviews/h/images/harry-potter-and-the-goblet-of-fire-6.jpg Like the labors of Hercules, Harry Potter is given a series of tasks he must complete in both Sorcerers Stone and Goblet of Fire .22. The Ultimate Battle of Good and Evil http://recollectionbooks.com/bleed/images/BB/Dorww1.jpg Reminiscent of the Biblical teaching that there will be a final show-down between good and evil in which good ultimately prevails, many epics conclude with a great battle—the final test of the heros strength and skill.23. Literary and Mythological Allusions24. The Lightening Scar Harrys Scar is Lightening-Shaped, The Symbol of Zeus, King of the Olympian Gods http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/tv_film/newsid_1660000/1660878.stm http://olympus.het.brown.edu/~danieldf/photos/figs/zeus/zeus.gif
  20. 20. 25. Fluffy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Cerberus-Blake.jpeg Fluffy, the three-headed dog used to guard the Sorcerers Stone is remarkably similar to Cerberus, the dog that guards the gates of Hades in Greek mythology. http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/tv_film/newsid_1660000/1660878.stm26. Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/anempires_1895_38295297 And Harry Potters Teacher http://images.hollywood.com/images/large/l_1684397.jpg27. Hermes, the Messenger http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/mythology/images/mercury_art_archive.html http://it.geocities.com/tonibin/owl/owl.png In Greek mythology, Hermes is the messenger of the gods. Percy Weasleys owl Hermes, like other owls in Harry Potter, acts as a messenger, delivering the mail. Owls have long been associated with wisdom, and the owl is the symbol of Athena (or Minerva), goddess of wisdom. The owls ability to see at night was thought in ancient times to be a magical quality.28. Argus, The All-Seeing http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/M22.2.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argus_Filch Argus, the watchman of Hera, had 100 eyes, some of which where always awake. Hogwarts students see their caretaker, Argus Filch, as having much the same characteristic.29. Mrs. Norris http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argus_Filch Mrs. Norris, the cat, is the namesake of the very nosy and interfering Mrs. Norris of Jane Austins Mansfield Park .30. The Sphinx http://www.molon.de/galleries/Egypt/Pyramids/img.php?pic=2631. Gryffindor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Gryphon.gif http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gryffindor The griffin is a mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle. Gryffindor comes from the French “gryffon dor,” meaning “golden griffin.”32. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix.jpg Fawkes Dumbledores bird Fawkes is a phoenix. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix would rise reborn from its own ashes at the end of a life cycle. Is it only a coincidence that the phoenix is connected with Dumbledore?33. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:The_potters_hp.JPG http://www.skyenergyportal.com/le-christ/unLysBis.asp?P=8 Lily Potter The lily is often used to symbolize Christ. Lily Potter, Harrys mother, sacrifices her own life to save Harrys and, in doing so, teaches the world that love is the greatest magic of all.34. http://img.search.com/6/62/300px-Remus_lupin_hppoa.jpg http://www.reijnhoudt.nl/zeus/wolvin02.jpg Remus Lupin Remus and his twin brother Romulus (the legendary founder of Rome) were said to have been raised by wolves. Lupin is a play on the word “lupus,” Latin for wolf. Remus Lupin is a werewolf.35. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:William_Fettes_Douglas_-_The_Alchemist.jpg Nicholas Flamel Nicholas Flamel was a 15 th century alchemist. Legend says he succeeded in creating the Philosophers Stone, the goal of alchemy since ancient times. The Philosophers Stone could be used to turn metal into gold and to create an elixir to cure disease and to prolong life. Alchemy was a precursor to both modern mysticism and modern science.36. http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/bios/hermione_full.html Hermione Granger In Greek mythology, Hermione is the daughter of Helen and Menelaus. Rowling, however, borrowed the name from Shakespeares A Winters Tale in which Queen Hermione comes to life again after being made into a statue—like Hermione Granger in Chamber of Secrets . Granger is the name of a character from Fahrenheit 451 —the leader of “The Book People.”37. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:HarryPotterGOFPoster-SiriusBlackWanted.jpeg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Position_Alpha_Cma.png Sirius Black Sirius, the star system, is said to have been placed in the sky at the feet of Orion because in Greek Mythology Sirius was the faithful dog of Orion. Sirius mourned Orions death so
  21. 21. profusely that Diana took pity on him and sent him to be with Orion in the heavens. Sirius Black is the son of Orion Black and, in his animal form, is a dog.38. Gryffindors Sword http://www.uniquities.co.uk/acatalog/nn7198.jpg Harry Potter pulls Gryffindors sword out of the sorting hat like another famous boy who pulls another famous sword out of a stone.39. Sibyll Trelawney http://www.freeyourmind.fi/toimittajat/orolma/2004/kuvat/leffa_040804_harrypotterazkaban02.jpg Sibyls in ancient mythology were prophets. Cassandra—the great-great- grandmother of Sibyll Trelawney— is named for a woman in Greek mythology who was cursed to always prophecy the truth while never being believed.40. The Malfoys http://www.mandys-web.de/images/Potter/malfoy.jpg The family name of the people Potter fans love to hate means “ bad faith” in French. Draco means “dragon” in Latin and was the name a Greek ruler from whom we get the work “draconian” for terribly harsh punishments. Lucius is similar to Lucifer. Narcissa comes from Narcissus, the man in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection. Every good Potter fan knows, however, that the real narcissist of the series is Gilderoy Lockhart.41. Centaurs http://www.centaursite.com/hp/ronanbook.jpg In Greek mythology, centaurs are half man and half horse. The centaur Firenze befriends Dumbledore and becomes a teacher to Harry Potter in the same way that the centaur Chiron—a noted astrologer— tutored many of the great heroes of Greece, including Ajax, Achilles, Hercules, and Jason.42. Basilisk http://webhome.idirect.com/~donlong/monsters/IMAGES/Basili.gif http://free- ten.com/category/animal/kuu/images/other/print/basilisk.jpg The legendary king of the serpents, the basilisk makes an appearance in Chaucers “ Parsons Tale.” Sometimes depected as looking more snake-like and other times more rooster-like, some stories of the basilisk say it originated from the blood of Medusa, who could also kill with a look. Hermione uses a mirror to avoid the direct gaze of the basilisk in imitation of Perseus who defeated Medusa with a mirror. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/caravaggio/medusa.jpg43. Grindylows http://ewancient.lysator.liu.se/pic/fanq/m/a/mardibyrd3/grindylow_finished_small.jpg The grindylow is a water demon from English folklore, often used to scare children away from water. The word also sounds similar to Grendel, and some people believe Harrys encounter with the grindylows in the fourth book is an allusion to Beowulf .44. Hippogriffs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hyppogryphe.png A mythological cross between a griffin and a horse, hippogriffs have been mentioned by the likes of Virgil and Cervantes. In the Middle Ages, there was a saying, “when griffins mate with mares,” that meant something like the modern day saying, “when pigs fly.”45. Lessons from Harry Potter46. Love is the most powerful magic of all.47. Fear is dangerous and leads to the most corrupt actions known to all of history. Fear of death is far worse than death itself.48. Every action and every inaction has consequences.49. No magic can bring the dead to life again, but no one who is loved ever really leaves us.50. Its our choices, not our abilities, that determine who we are.51. Quick Quill quotes52. For the fear of death is indeed the pretense of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being a pretense of knowing the unknown; and no one knows whether death, which men in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. ~Plato, “The Apology of Socrates”
  22. 22. 53. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there will ever be to know and understand. ~Albert Einstein54. My fingers are crossed for Harry. ~John Irving http://www.helium.com/items/684065-literary-analysis-harry-potter-literary-insult- or-revolutionary-tale Literary analysis: Harry Potter, literary insult or revolutionary tale by R.P. Bailey Created on: November 05, 2007 "Pottermania" and "Potterism" are two words created by journalist to describe the sensational reaction caused by J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series. The characters represent archetypal heroes reminiscent of those in Greek mythology. Harry Potters success is due in part to the main characters ability to remain humble while overcoming challenges that seem completely unstoppable, and often unbeatable. The series has pushed Harry Potter into mainstream popular culture giving fantasy themed stories a new and birth turning the characters into modern day heroes for children and adults alike. After six books, four movies, video games, toys, and collectibles being sold at an exceedingly rapid rate, there is no doubt J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter has become a popular phenomenon. What has made the Harry Potter books and movies such a phenomenon with global appeal? The answer can be found in the main characters of the Harry Potter context; Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Hermione Granger, who are the underdogs that continue to prove themselves by overcoming everyday obstacles, making them the heroes in the end of each fable. Rooting for the underdog is inspirational to us all, and "Harry Potter," is filled with every day, ordinary characters "Harry Potter," is a well crafted tale slowly revealing ethical rights and wrongs allowing readers the opportunity to learn that he or she is responsible for the decisions one makes in their own life. It is a well crafted modern day tale, but it is not necessarily a revolutionary tale, because we have seen story lines similar to "Harry Potter" in other literary greats such as: "Narnia," "The Iliad," and "Lord of the Rings". That certainly does not diminish "Harry Potter," it just adds this work of literature to the aforementioned fantastic mythical tales. People all over the world are identifying and relating to the "boy who lived," and his friends. Harry Potter reminds adults of their childhood, and allows children the opportunity to dream, and believe that they can make a difference in their world. While Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione
  23. 23. Granger entertain audiences, on a deeper level they have the ability to bring out the eternal child ineveryone. These characters do not possess superhuman strength or seem superior to othercharacters within the narrative, because of this they are identifiable to the audience. All threecharacters are normal everyday children.The archetypes represented within the narrative makes