J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series

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Thus far in Rowling’s predicted seven book series, all four books can be found to have a number of shared themes that are rather evident in all of them. The most evident, however, would be that things in the land of Harry Potter are not always what they seem, and in order to get along well in this land, you must accept the differences of others.

Harry’s life for his first few years could be categorized under both of these themes. Harry, after all, is always having bizarre things happen at the most inopportune moments; his aunt, uncle, and cousin (the Dursleys) are definitely less than accepting of this, resulting in a very poor relationship between Harry and them (The Sorcerer’s Stone 18-24). Throughout the other four books this inacceptance of Harry’s differences by the Dursleys always leaves Harry with a burning desire to get back to Hogwarts. Harry, as a result of this poor home life, adjusts rather easily to his newly found life of wizardry. For him it is finally an explanation for the odd occurrences of before, and gives him a chance to be among others like him.

The themes present themselves in a variety of other characters and situations as well. The character of Hagrid, for example, which upon first description should lead one to believe he is the fiercest creature alive; he is definitely to be avoided (The Sorcerer’s Stone 14, 46-47). On the contrary though, Harry, Ron, and Hermione look past this and find a friend and protector. Harry’s godfather is also believed to be a creature, of sorts, “out to get” Harry. However, he turns out to be there to protect him, as well. As for situations, each book revolves around a mystery with so many twists and turns, that the final solution for it is almost always a surprise. In The Sorcerer’s Stone, for example, the reader is lead to believe that Professor Snape is the one helping the dark lord, Voldemort, do harm to Harry and steal the stone; in the end, the reader finds the guilty party in the most unlikely character, meek, stuttering Professor Quirrell (288). In The Chamber of Secrets, Hogwarts is suddenly plagued by students turning to stone. The initial belief is that Draco Malfoy is the culprit, then the blame shifts to Hagrid, and even Harry becomes a suspect.

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In the quest to clear his name, Harry discovers once again that an unlikely suspect has aided in the situation; Ginny, Ron’s little sister, has set free the memory of Tom Riddle, a.k.a. Lord Voldemort, via his journal. Thus, she has opened the Chamber of Secrets allowing Voldemort to unleash another reign of terror (306-314). In The Prisoner of Azkaban, the infamous Sirius Black, who is believed to have killed Harry’s parents, escapes from prison. Many believe that he is heading to Hogwarts to harm Harry. As the story unfolds, the reader is treated to finding out one of Harry’s instructors is a werewolf, Sirius is his godfather, and is not guilty of the accused murders, and Scabbers, Ron’s pet rat, actually a wizard in disguise, is the one who is truly guilty of the murder of James and Lily Potter (374-379). Book four of the series follows the same twists and turns. In The Goblet of Fire, all of Hogwarts is involved in the Triwizard Tournament against their French and German counterparts. The story is full of the victories and defeats of competition, leaving the reader guessing until the very end as to who will win, as well as, Harry’s worst battle yet with Lord Voldemort.

Even normally inanimate objects are personified. The Hogwart’s Sorting Hat, for example, reads the innermost thoughts of the person whose head it sits upon and from there selects the house the newcomer is to belong to. There are also the talking pictures that allow entrance into each of the houses. Then there is the magic itself. Without the acceptance of these drastic differences from the world Harry was use to, it would be easy to see how he may not have adjusted quite as well as he did.

Through the use of these themes, Rowling teaches her audience some valuable life lessons. The want for these lessons to be learned probably stemmed from Rowling’s childhood where her imagination was not always accepted in school (Rowling, J.K.). Whatever the case may be, Rowling is giving her audience, children and adults alike, a valuable message of acceptance and the need to look deeper for what may not always be readily apparent.

Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine
Books/Scholastic, 1998.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. London: Bloomsbury, 1999.

“Rowling, J.K.” Educational Paperback Association. 17 September 2001

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