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The “Adventurous Song”: Why Harry Potter is Epic Literature

Harry Potter

By Helena Abstract: This essay looks at the “Harry Potter” series and makes the argument that it should be considered Epic Literature, owing to the fact that each book contains certain qualities that are traditional of epic works. The writer looks at such plot points as the hero having supernatural abilities, the hero facing quests/challenges and succeeding in those tasks, the presence of mythical creatures in the text, the theme of resurrection, and the hero suffering but then regaining his rightful place by the end. We usually think when we hear of ‘epic literature’ of the classics such as Homer’s Odyssey or Milton’s Paradise Lost, or even JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings; but not often do people consider the Harry Potter series. It comes as somewhat of a surprise therefore that the entire series of Harry Potter contains qualities and follows the structure of epic literature, as they are generally considered “popular fiction”: excellent stories, but not necessarily excellent writing. However, the ever-expanding fandom and unremitting popularity of the novels suggest that there is something more than good story-telling, and I believe that part of this lies in the strong links the novels have to the epic genre. There ... Read More »

Barricades and Wands: Comparing the Les Amis de la ABC and Dumbledore’s Army

Dumbledore's Army

By Miryam Raizen Abstract: If you have ever read the novel or seen the show of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” and wondered if perhaps there might be some slight similarities between the students in Dumbledore’s Army and students who fight on the barricade, you are are correct. Question: What are the similarities and differences between Dumbledore’s Army and the Les Amis de la ABC? Both Les Misérables and the Harry Potter series have created phenomenons that have captured people’s minds for many years and have employed the uses of various media such as books, movies and even musicals. In 1862, Victor Hugo published his novel Les Misérables. It featured a group of courageous young men fighting for liberty, equality, and fraternity. They were called the Les Amis de la ABC, led by a student named Enjolras. Almost 100 years later, Joanne Rowling published her series of Harry Potter books and the 5th book, The Order of the Phoenix featured Harry leading a group of students called Dumbledore’s Army. While the Les Amis fought for France to be freed from the King and hoped to create a republic, Dumbledore’s Army was training to defend themselves against the Dark Lord Voldemort and ... Read More »

Bellatrix’s Secret – A Reply and Expansion

Bellatrix Lestrange

By Stuart Abstract: In her quibble, Melissa has suggested that Bellatrix had a son with Lord Voldemort. This respons goes beyond the mere textual analysis to examine real world motivations and feelings that might support such a hypothesis. WARNING… adult themes. Melissa has suggested that Lord Voldemort fathered a son with Bellatrix LeStrange and has used several textual examples to support this. Short comments in reply range from yeuch… Bellatrix is married and couldn’t possibly… Voldemort is half formed and couldn’t possibly… to some possible acceptance. But let us look at the components before we proceed to examine the possible actions. If any of us imagine Voldemort as imagined and portrayed on screen, beware… Was this visualisation, brilliant in some ways as it was, truly reflective of the Voldemort as imagined and described by JK Rowling? Was he really as visually repulsive or did his evil manifest itself in a man who might well have been physically attractive? It is well documented both in literature and real life, that men with power are often powerfully and magnetically sexually attractive to women. Have a look at just two politicians as an example – Dominique Strauss Kahn and Silvio Berlusconi – both ... Read More »

Out of the Cave, into Hogwarts

Plato

By Joseph Abstract: I recently had to write a paper comparing a piece of literature to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. Being the fan I am, I found a way to wiggle Harry Potter into it easily. I compared several aspects of “Allegory of the Cave” to different symbols, characters, and events in the Harry Potter series. Around 380 BC, Plato, a Greek philosopher, wrote The Republic, his most renowned and influential piece of writing. The book focuses on the definition of justice and the role of philosophers. It is a collection of conversations between Plato’s mentor, Socrates, and various other philosophers. One of the most well-known segments of The Republic is “The Allegory of the Cave.” In it, Plato uses an analogy to explain his ideas on becoming a philosopher and gaining knowledge to fully understand the world around him. The Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling, is one of the many literary works that was influenced by Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” The seven-book fantasy series follows a young boy named Harry Potter that started off like any other child, only to be immersed into the wizarding world when he turned eleven years old. He attended Hogwarts ... Read More »

The Fleeting Treatment of Romance in Harry Potter

Harry and Ginny

By Stuart Abstract: While teenagers will form relationships at school and these are part and parcel of growing up, it is dangerous and over simplistic to actually describe them as ‘true love’, much less extrapolate them to marriage. It is part and parcel of growing up for teenagers to form boy/girlfriend relationships and JK Rowling does capture this aspect of her characters very well. It is fun to try and read between the lines and try and tease out unseen relationships between characters – Neville and Luna being an obvious one. However it becomes a dangerous pursuit to try and extend such speculation to infer the sort of ‘true love’ and bond that leads to marriage. I say dangerous for two reasons. First of all the motivators that lead two people to marry are complex and adult in nature. They are not explored or even touched on in any of the novels, nor do they need to be. To do so would eclipse the central plot and narrow the audience. Second, to be able to speculate on such matters with any authority means that you need the experience of maturity to see things in perspective and context. This is not ... Read More »

Harry Potter and The Holy Bible: A Comparison

Statue of Jesus

By Massy Abstract: The author illustrates the many literary ties between Harry Potter and the Holy Bible. It is widely known that The Holy Bible is the most-printed book in the world. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling tops the New York Times list of best-selling book series of all time. One reason that these two popular books have reached such high levels of recognition could be that they deal with universal themes in all great works of literature: the internal struggle of good and evil and the message that love will always triumph in the end. Interestingly enough, when broken down, the two books also seem to share similarities in plot. Although the Harry Potter series and The Bible are two very separate works of literature, they have several comparable features. Parallels can be found between the actions and motivations of those in The Bible and book series. These comparisons exist between Dumbledore and God, Jesus and Harry, and Satan and Voldemort. The virtue of good is exemplified in the character of Dumbledore, while God is the embodiment of what is good in the world. Throughout the novels, there are moments in which Rowling hints at Dumbledore’s omnipresent ... Read More »

Latin and Ancient Greece: Not-So-Dead Languages and Cultures in Harry Potter

Fluffy

By Michelle Yancich Abstract: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is teeming with classical references – everything from Greco-Roman mythological creatures to names with Latin roots. This piece examines six specific characters with intriguingly relevant names and parallels in classical mythology, and concludes with a brief explanation of why Harry Potter can be considered a classical Epic. Introduction Bellatrix. Alecto. Merope. An avid Harry Potter fan would react to these names immediately: “Characters in my favorite books! Two Death Eaters and You- Know-Who’s mother.” But who are Cerberus and the Erinyes? An average Potter fan may be stumped, but any devoted Latin or Greek scholar would jump right in: “The guard of the underworld and another name for the Furies.” These names, in fact, do have something in common: their connection with the Harry Potter series. The use of Greek mythology and Latin in general is overwhelming in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Almost all the names in the books have parallels in classical myths or Latin etymology. Furthermore, nearly every name alludes to its character’s physical traits and personality, and sometimes even foreshadows significant events. Bellatrix Lestrange Bellatrix Lestrange, née Black – a name that would make some people ... Read More »

Love is Thicker than Blood: the Harry and Hermione Debate

Harry and Hermione

By The Free Elf ABSTRACT: Harry and Hermione are each other’s family. They protect and comfort each other, they are there for each other. As far as family goes, each other is all they have. Neither have parents or siblings in the wizard world. Contrast to Ron, who has more family than he knows what to do with – all in the wizarding world. This is not to say that Harry and Hermione are closer, it merely shows that their relationship is different. An answer to Harry/Hermione shippers everywhere! ——————- We all know now who ends up with whom. But in the years preceding the release of DH, I’ve spent countless hours reading the manifestos of the Harry Potter shippers. These lengthy essays ranged from the downright silly – Harry/Giant Squid and Snape/Dumbledore to the ridiculous – Harry/Draco and Hermione/Remus – to the understandable and normal – Harry/Luna and Ron/Hermione. The one I’d like to focus on is the Harry/Hermione relationship. Somewhere between the fourth and fifth books, I knew that Harry and Hermione had no romantic interest in one another. (Don’t get me wrong, I originally wanted them to end up together.) I had not yet picked up on ... Read More »

O Children: An Ode to Harry and Hermione

Harry and Hermione

By Selina Abstract: This essay offers an insight into the seventh movie, and how the canonical relationships between Ron and Hermione, Harry and Ginny and most importantly Harry and Ron have suffered in favour of featuring the hero (Harry) and the heroine (Hermione) together in key emotional scenes. In the Harry Potter books, it was made obvious from very early on that the main romantic relationship was going to be between Ron and Hermione, and in the sixth book, Rowling surprised her readers by having Harry fall for Ginny, Ron’s sister. Though unexpected, it was a nice development: Ginny had been harbouring supposedly unrequited feelings for Harry, and was shown to get over him enough to start becoming his friend, but as the friendship grew so did the connection between them, causing Harry to begin viewing her in a different light. Thus them getting together paid off years of character development for Ginny, and provided the readers with a connection they could go back and spot since book one, knowing now that it was more significant that they had originally assumed. And that’s always fun. But I’ve long maintained, stubbornly (ask anyone I know), that the movie makers never quite ... Read More »

Shakespeare’€™s Legacy: Hermione the Queen and Schoolgirl

Shakespeare

By Helena Summary: My essay analyses the similarities between Hermione Granger and Queen Hermione from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. There are some uncanny resemblances both in plot surrounding the characters and in the qualities they possess, which I discuss. I also try to determine the extent to which Rowling intended these similarities to arise. All quotations are taken from the UK editions of the Harry Potter books, and the RSC’s Complete Works of Shakespeare, 2007. The female characters created in the Early Modern period have often been condemned for being too weak. It has been argued that it wasn’€™t until the nineteenth century that stronger female characters emerged: largely due to the increase in female writers. However, biographer Amanda Foreman has asserted that women ‘were much more active than literature at the time would have us believe’ (The Duchess, p.404), a statement perhaps partially inspired by various female characters created by the man who has been considered the earliest feminist, William Shakespeare. He is responsible for a wide variety of strong female characters who continue to influence audiences today; and perhaps the one who still holds such power is Queen Hermione from A Winter’€™s Tale. It is common knowledge that ... Read More »

Parental Sacrifice

Riddle Grave

By Rachel Abstract: This essay examines the difference between Voldemort’s father’s ‘sacrifice’, the ‘bone of the father’ and Harry’s mother’s sacrifice, the ‘blood of the enemy’ and discusses how and why they are different and whether one form of protection is better than the other. ‘You stand, Harry Potter, upon the remains of my late father,’ he hissed softly. ‘A muggle and a fool… very like your dear mother. But they both had their uses, did they not? Your mother died to defend you as a child…and I killed my father, and see how useful he has proven himself in death…’ (p 560 GOF UK) Voldemort returns to his body by aid of a spell that requires the ‘bone of the father, unknowingly given'(p 556 GOF UK). By taking a part of his father’s body, Voldemort is able to return to full strength and prolong his life, however, this is not the first, nor is it the most significant display of parental sacrifice that takes place in the series. Harry is chosen to provide the ‘blood of the enemy’ (p 557 GOF UK) precisely because his life has been prolonged by his parents sacrifice. Parental sacrifice is a key theme ... Read More »

The Pensieve

The Pensieve

By Rachel Abstract: This essay examines Harry’s reaction to the events witnessed in Dumbledore’s Pensieve in Goblet of Fire, in particular Harry’s judgement of Snape being a former deatheater and Barty Crouch Jr. and his trial. This was selected for MuggleCast ‘Chapter by Chapter’ discussion (episode 222) Throughout the Harry Potter novels Rowling presents many instances of prejudice and the harm it can cause, however Harry is shown to be one of the most prejudiced characters within the novel, allowing his hatred for Slytherines to dictate his actions. The most notable example is Snape, who from the very first book has been deemed second to Voldemort in terms of Harry’s dislike, despite the eventual discovery that Snape in fact saved his life. In light of the final events of Deathly Hallows it is clear that although Snape could never like Harry, who so much resembles the man who married Snape’s true love, his actions were motivated by the desire to save him. In the pensieve scene of Goblet of Fire Harry discovers that Snape was a deatheater for the first time, but not only that, he also discovers that Snape turned against Voldemort. However, although Snape is the only deatheater ... Read More »

Critical Commentary of King’s Cross

King's Cross

By IslandGirl93 Abstract: This is an essay I wrote in practice for my International Baccalaureate coursework, and it involves looking closely at a particular section of the thirty-fifth chapter (lines 1-53), entitled King’s Cross, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wanted to explore how J.K. Rowling used literary style to emphasize the connection between Harry and the ‘creature,’ as well as describing Harry’s experience in this unknown place. NOTE: All quotations are from this extract of the book. The passage depicts the protagonist Harry in a dream-like state after what appears to have been a period of unconsciousness. He finds himself in a large and brightly lit hall and notices a small creature suffering in the corner. The narrative style can be assumed at once; the opening sentence begins with “He lay face down,” which implies that the third person narrative is limited, as the focalized character is Harry. The use of short sentences in the first paragraph suggests that the protagonist knows very little about his surroundings and the repetition of the word ‘nobody’ highlights his solitude. Incidentally, the repetition of another word, ‘perfectly,’ suggests a completeness that contrasts this. The increasing length and complexity of the ... Read More »

The Master of Death

The Elder Wand

By HufflepuffSam Abstract: This essay examines different attempts throughout the series to master death. It looks at mastering death through immortality, acceptance and sacrifice comparing the attempts of different characters to ultimately accomplish the same goal of mastering death. ‘When you say “master of death”-‘ said Ron. ‘Master,’ said Xenophilius, waving an airy hand. ‘Conqueror. Vanquisher. Whichever term you prefer.’ (DH, British Edition 333) J.K. Rowling has often said the central theme of the Harry Potter series is death. This idea of death as a key element comes to the forefront in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, particularly through the Deathly Hallows storyline. Xenophilius Lovegood claims that possessing the three Deathly Hallows (the elder wand, the resurrection stone and the cloak of invisibility) makes one the master of death (DH 333). Yet mere seconds earlier we hear Hermione read the Tale of the Three Brothers in which Ignotus Peverell greets death as an equal and gladly departs this life with him while only ever possessing one of the Hallows (DH 332). Has he not mastered death? We hear yet another definition of the mastery of death from Voldemort who claims to ‘have gone further than anybody along the path ... Read More »

Harry Potter: The Primary Color Issue

The Veil

By Andrew Abstract: The writer analyzes the presence of certain colors which frequently appear in the franchise. There are many colors in the world, but JK Rowling outlines three in her books. The films take this scheme and amplify it. The colors are Red, Green and Blue. Red: Red signifies good in this series. It is the primary color of Gryffindor, which is the Hogwarts house of courage and trust. Our general cast of characters are all here. And in the Movies, several of Harry’s shirts are Red Sweaters and Harry’s Triwizard outfits are all red and black. It should also be noted that both Lily and the Weasleys have Red hair. Similarly, at least in the movies, the Disarming Charm, Explelliarmus, is Red. In the books, it’s the color of the Stunning Spell. Other examples include the Red Sparks Spell, The Red Stars and Moon on the clothes that the Hogwarts staff wear at the Third Triwizard Task, The Hogwarts Express (especially when Harry first sees it) and the Sunrise in the Great Hall at the end of Deathly Hallows. Blue: I know Blue’s the color of Ravenclaw, but it is used quite frequently to represent mystery, suspense and ... Read More »

The Dangers of Stereotypes

Malfoy & Slytherin House

By Monique Abstract: Typically when Harry Potter readers think of stereotypes in the stories, they generally refer to Draco Malfoy and other Slytherins’ use of stereotypes in order to discriminate. But, there are other instances of stereotypes being used in the Harry Potter series that don’t involve Draco at all. In my essay (below), I intend to show how the Sorting Hat song in The Sorcerer’s Stone has been boiled down to stereotypes. These stereotypes have been ill used by readers and characters alike, making most forget that both good and bad characters can share the same traits–cunning, bravery, and love. Everyone knows about the stereotypes Draco Malfoy clings to as facts–non-purebloods are lowly, Weasleys are dirt, and only pureblooded people should reign supreme. But it’s not as if he’s the only one who believes stereotypes. Throughout the book series, almost every character is holding onto stereotypes. Even Harry Potter, himself, believes certain things are true until proven otherwise. In fact, the entire wizarding world is based on stereotypes and labeling people. Take for instance, part of the Sorting Hat’s song: You might belong in Gryffindor, Where dwell the brave at heart, Their daring, nerve, and chivalry Set Gryffindors apart; ... Read More »

“The Hallows” – Not So Hallowed

The Three Brothers

By Alex Abstract: The Deathly Hallows: are they really that powerful? What happens when they are all together? The writer makes the argument that they are powerful, but imperfect objects. Each object has flaws, but you can become “master of death”. Some people can become master of death without help from the Hallows, but some cannot. My essay describes the imperfections of the Hallows and what I believe happens when they are all together. I have attached the essay to this e-mail, and also have copied and pasted it below. If you get a chance, please let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy it! Despite the fact that the Harry Potter series has come and gone, many mysteries and unanswered questions still remain. I think one of the greatest mysteries surrounds the Deathly Hallows. It is said that if someone is to possess all three, then they will become “master of death”. However, no one has ever had all three at once (Harry came close, but he left the Resurrection Stone in the Forest). So, this leads the reader to wonder what actually does happen if you are to possess all three. Does it really make you immortal? ... Read More »

Did Albus Dumbldore Sacrifice James and Lily Potter in Order to Stop Lord Voldemort?

Albus Dumbledore

By Bill Abstract: The author explores the possibility that Dumbledore may have intended Voldemort to find the Potters – and kill them. Did Albus Dumbldore sacrifice James and Lily Potter in order to stop Lord Voldemort? Q1 Why would Dumbledore commit such a horrible act? Q2 How, and when, did Dumbledore find the way to stop Voldemort? Q3 How do you aim love? Q4 What about the prophesy? For question one, why would Dumbledore commit such an act as aiding and abetting in the murder of James and Lily? Because a world in which Voldemort ruled was unacceptable to anyone in the Order of the Phoenix. Voldemort was the cause of many deaths and corruption of the wizard community. Everyone in the Order of the Phoenix was committed to stopping Voldemort, or die trying. Period. How and when did Dumbledore find a way to stop Voldemort? Dumbledore knew that Voldemort was a sociopath who was only interested in power and achieving his own ends. It is logical to think Voldemort could not comprehend love when he had always seen how powerful fear was. Being the headmaster at Hogwarts would have enabled Dumbledore to research the magical qualities of love and ... Read More »

The Defense Against the Dark Arts Jinx

Quirrellmort

By Pablo Abstract: After re-reading the series I was wondering if the DADA jinx could be the cause behind most of what happens to Harry in Hogwarts. Did it spark the chain of events that led to Quirrell’s demise? Was Ron’s wand broken in order to make Lockhart leave at the end of the year? Just how powerful was this spell? As everyone who has read the Harry Potter books knows, during Harry’s time at Hogwarts no Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) teacher lasted more than a year. In the first few books, we are told that there are rumors about the position being cursed, and later we learn that this had been happening since Dumbledore refused to give the job to Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore suspects that this was the moment the Dark Wizard jinxed the position. Later, in a chat after the release of the seventh book, JK Rowling herself confirmed that after the death of Voldemort the jinx lifted. But now that the series is over we can look back and see how important this spell actually was. Was it actually the cause of most of Harry’s troubles? In the first book, the DADA teacher is Quirrell, ... Read More »

J.K. Rowling: A Secret U.S. Performance-Car Enthusiast?

Ford Falcon

By Rod Abstract: J. K. Rowling uses numeric subtlety in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone to conceal the fact that she is an American performance-car enthusiast. Is the lady who rules the most powerful nation on earth a U.S. performance-car enthusiast? The numbers make it appear so. J. K. Rowling, reigning Queen of ImagiNation and author of the 7-volume set of the Harry Potter book series, shares her concealed enthusiasm for American performance cars of the 1950s-’70s discreetly, with subtle enthusiasm. Consider the ending of the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, known in the USA as Sorcerer’s Stone. At Harry’s first end-of-school-year banquet, when Professor Dumbledore was awarding the points to each of the four student houses at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it occurred to me that the point values are the cubic-inch displacements of four historic U.S. automotive powerplants. From page 305 of the hardcover Sorcerer’s Stone, in “The Man With Two Faces,” the final chapter: “In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty two; Ravenclaw has four hundred and twenty six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy two.” ... Read More »