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