“Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling - themes Presented by Ms.Loesch
Background on J.K. Rowling • Born as Joanne “Jo” Rowling on July 31, 1965 • Known as the most influential woman in Britain next to the queen • “Rags to Riches” life • Wrote the beginning of Harry Potter’s life on a train heading back to London while shewas living on welfare.
J.K. Rowling • Most of the characters in her books are the product of people she met throughout her life. • Example: the headmaster St. Michael’s Alfred Dunn = Albus Dumbledore • At a young age began to tell fantasy stories to her sister. Gained a love of literature through her great aunt: • “taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind” • Jo’s mother died right as she was beginning to write Harry Potter – this tragedy reflects heavily on the series
Themes: • Throughout all 7 books, thereare consistent themes • Though some are heavily implied, others are present. • J.K. Rowling knew before she finished the books how it would end and how the battles would be finished. • This is shown through the use of themes
Value of Humility • Showcases the humility of the protagonist. • Though Harry grows up in a horrible place, even after he learns of his fame & wealth – he continues to stay humble. • His reputation does not change his attitude in public but only makes him want to live up to the publicity. • Sharply contrasts to the character of Draco Malfoy who grew up wealthy and famous but boasts about his family and money.
Rebellion • Clear rules and strict enforcement at Hogwarts but Harry is unable to abide by the rules to protect those around him. • He rebels but not because he’s failing at something but because it enhances his heroism – shows he his able to think for himself & make his own judgments. • Harry = picture of rebellion but his best friend Hermione strictly follows the rules (until she learns that it is better not to) • One of the main lessons of the story is that while rules are good and necessary, sometimes it isnecessary to question and evenbreak them for the right reasons.
Prejudices • The idea of prejudices is almost the root of all evil in the world of Harry Potter. It’s what drives Voldemort to evil and what causes the wizarding wars. • Those born with no hint of non-magical, Muggle, blood in their body are Pure Bloods and most of them are prejudice against magical people who were born in a non-magical family, Mudbloods. • Ron Weasley and his family is the example of anti-prejudice because they associate themselves with every type of wizarding family.
Community and Friendship • Nothing is achieved by only one person. Though Harry is the hero in the story, he is almost always with his best friend, Hermione and Ron. Throughout the series also, he always has a loyal group of followers who wants him to win the wizarding war. • Although the three main characters (Harry, Ron & Hermione) are courageous, they are also able to seek help when necessary, either from each other or from outside sources. Each character has vices and virtues that balance out the others.
Dangers of Desire • Excessive desire is condemned from the story’s beginning, as the spoiled Dudley’s outrageous demands for lavish objects appear foolish and obnoxious. • The same type of greed appears later in a much more evil form in the power-hungry desires of Voldemort. • Overblown desire is dangerous in that it can make people lose perspective on life • Example: Voldemort’s desire to live forever
Loyalty • "I thought you two'd value yer friend more'n broomsticks or rats." – Rubeus Hagrid (Prizoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14) • Betraying someone you’re meant to have a lifelong loyalty to is one of the worst things the three main characters can think. • Shows through the dynamic friendship of the trio and even other friendships/relationships (Neville, Sirius and James, Snape and Lily)
Education • Knowledge is power. • Throughout the series, older wizards stress the importance of Hogwarts and how the knowledge they gain in those walls will help them forever. • The students do not understand that until their education is put on hold and they must teach each other the importance of knowledge • Hermione is a running example of this theme
Self-Sacrifice • The characters are constantly put into life threatening situations where they must sacrifice themselves to save someone else – it is seen as a “good” character if they go through with it. • Even self-sacrifice to save oneself. • Example: Voldemort must divide himselfinto 7 parts to save himself from everdying.
Influence of the dead • Throughout the series, Harry is constantlytold he is much like both of his deadparents so he feels he must live up tothat standard. • Harry always asks himself if his mentors that have died and his deceased parents would agree with a choice he is making. • Though dead, characters who are struggling with death seem to want to please the deceased. • Harry’s story demonstrates that the reason it’s so difficult to love the dead is that it’s hard to believe that they love you. They can no longer explain their actions or profess their love, and it’s easy to believe that they are simply gone, past caring about or loving anyone.