Close Reading: the Worlds, Plots, and Characters in Harry Potter
Universität Tübingen Englisches Seminar LPS: The Harry Potter Phenomenon Dozentin: Christine Frasch SoSe 07 Referenten: Andreas Fielsch, Ariane Hof, Anne-Katrin Hölldampf, Melissa Schur, Janine Wetzig, Daniela Wyrwol Close Reading: the Worlds, Plots, and Characters in Harry Potter Characterization and Development Harry James Potter: - born 31 July 1980 - untidy black hair, green eyes, lightning bolt-shaped scar, round glasses, skinny - irascible - extremely brave and bright in facing danger - wants to be ordinary and loved, admires Ron for his family - narrow-minded - lonely, isolated → safe and comfortable at Hogwarts → lonely Hermione Jane Granger: - born 19 September 1979 - bushy brown hair, brown eyes, large front teeth - always eager to learn and work, reads a lot, best student in her year - disapproves of rule-breaking, but always loyal to her friends - always wants to help her friends - hates prejudices, puts herself out for the helpless and oppressed - does always what she thinks is right, wants her friends to persuade in her moral values - self-confident concerning knowledge and morality, insecure in emotions - frightened and nervous in facing danger → brave and bright, rebellious Ronald Weasley: - born 1 March 1980 - red hair, blue eyes, freckles, tall - bullied by his brothers, and Ginny - admires Harry for his popularity - always loyal to his friends - frightened in facing danger → brave - shy, nervous → self-confident Prefect Draco Malfoy: - born 5 June 1980 - grey eyes, white blond hair, pale - prejudiced, narrow-minded - good student - self-confident, arrogant - proud of his father - treacherous - frightened in facing danger, terrified to attempt murder, not capable of murder
Severus Snape: - born 9 January 1958 - black greasy hair, black cold eyes, pale, long hooked nose - always fascinated by the Dark Arts - extremely good potion-master - self-confident - respected by his colleagues and Dumbledore - respected by Slytherin’s students - hates Harry, but helps and saves him many times - dislikes Lupin, but brews the potion for him - hates Sirius, but never betrays him - loyal to Dumbledore or Voldemort → deceiving the Greatest Wizard Mother figures in the Harry Potter books: Lily Potter: - Harry’s real mother - she is her son’s savior → gives her life to save Harry’s - love for her son saves him from death - although dead, she always appears to Harry when he needs her most, for example, her voice is there when he needs to fight the dementors and her spirit helps him in his fight against Voldemort - she also appears to him on several other occasions, for example, in the Mirror of Erised and in the Pensieve - source of comfort for Harry Petunia Dursley: - Harry’s surrogate mother - although she takes in her nephew she does so unwillingly - doesn’t take very good care of Harry → abandons the child entrusted to her care - overwhelmingly favors her biological son over her surrogate - starves little Harry to stuff her gluttonous son Dudley - she and her family are responsible for Harry’s miserable childhood Molly Weasley: - prototypical mother → has given birth to the magical number of seven children - gives Harry a surrogate family and something that represents familial love and warmth helps him through his trials - generous woman who shows him what a mother’s love should be, for example, by turning up to watch him at the Triwizard Tournament - treats him like a son, for example, by knitting him sweaters for Christmas and inviting him to her home during the school holidays Minerva McGonagall: - wise woman and teacher - closest to a mother Harry and his friends have at Hogwarts - represents omnipresence of a mother → she is there to comfort, but also to discipline - helps Harry achieve his goals, for example, by telling him he can play Quidditch - even as a first-year student, or by offering to help him become an Auror
Father Figure in Harry Potter James Potter - Died when he tried to save Harry and his wife - It is Harry’s deepest wish to have his father and his mother near him - His death leaves Harry vulnerable to mistreatment by others Æ Voldemort, Dursleys (Harry doesn’t have any friends at school, because he has to wear old baggy clothes and sellotaped glasses and because Dudley’s gang chases Harry) - Although he’s dead, he’s able to help Harry in dangerous situations (graveyard in the fourth novel) Vernon Dursley - Treats Harry unfairly and ignores him - He cares more about his biological son Dudley than his surrogate son Harry - He tries to hide Harry and the fact that he is a wizard - He wants to keep Harry from going to Hogwarts and so tries to prevent Harry from becoming a wizard Rubeus Hagrid - With his large size and his appearance, he protects Harry physically - Hagrid introduces Harry to the wizarding world - But Hagrid is also like a friend to Harry Sirius Black - Harry recognizes Sirius, not Vernon Dursley as his surrogate father - Because he wants to protect Harry, he tries to stay near him, even when it is dangerous - Sirius gives Harry good advise - He encourages Harry emotionally - Sirius trusts and respects Harry - Sirius’ death is a heavy blow for Harry Remus Lupin Arthur Weasley - Accepts Harry as a member of his family - Tries to protect Harry - He backs Harry in risky situation, even when it means discomfort for himself - Trusts Harry and takes him seriously Albus Dumbledore - Serves as contact between Harry and James Potter - He tries to prepare Harry for his fight against Voldemort - Functions as Harry’s guardian after his parents’ death - Dumbledore is proud of Harry, because his actions show his allegiance to him
The symbolism of good and evil - One of the eldest literary themes. - Very important role in literature already since the antiquity - The whole Harry Potter series can be seen as a fight between good and evil Characters: Albus Dumbledore: - representative of the good side - is the only one Voldemort ever feared - personification of a white , good wizard - has too much confidence (in Harry’s opinion) - he confesses that the age has its weaknesses and that he can make mistakes Hagrid: - his appearance is very frightening - he looks very wild and furious but he is very friendly and good-natured - is absolutely trustworthy but not totally reliable Snape: - is described very negatively - is very nasty to all students except to the Slytherins - hates Harry - however he saves his life in the Quidditch match in the 1 book The theme of choice between good and evil has also a very important role in all books.
Lily Potter: most powerful choice - Draco Malfoy: because he’s full of arrogance, pride and envy, he joins the Death Eaters - Harry: decides not to be in Slytherin - “It’s our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Groups: - The Order of The Phoenix vs. The Death Eaters - Gryffindor vs. Slytherin - Harry, Ron, Hermione vs. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle There are, however groups that cannot exactly divided into black or white: Ministres of Magic; Dolores Umbridge Harry vs. Voldemort Voldemort: - embodiment of evil - most powerful wizards in history - high intelligent - as a child he was already very cruel - was the best student and very handsome, but by becoming engrossed in the Dark Arts he lost humanity completely and he gets a monstrous state
The big difference between Harry and Voldemort: Harry is able to love. Voldemort “was in such a hurry to mutilate his own soul, he never paused to understand the incomparable power of a soul that is untarnished and whole”. (Book 6; p. 478) Narrative Situation: internal authorial narrator (out of Harry's point of view) Exceptions: - 1st chapter Philosopher's Stone – "The Boy Who Lived" - 1st chapter Goblet of Fire – "The Riddle House" - 1st + 2nd chapter of Half-blood prince – "The Other Minister" & "Spinner's End" - 1st and 2nd Quiddtich match in Philosopher's Stone Î Very restricted and biased view on things: Harry's "mistakes": Harry thinks that...
Book 2: . Ron & Hermione have forgotten him over the holidays . the gateway has closed itself to forbid him to go to Hogwarts . Malfoy is the heir of Slytherin . Tom Riddle is/was a good person - Book 3: . the Grim is trying to get him (even if he does not admit it) . Sirius is bad and evil and that he is the one who betrayed his parents . Trelawney cannot make any prophecies at all . Buckbeak was killed -Book 4: . Moody is a good person and tries to help him . Karkaroff is the one who put his name into the Goblet of Fire . Barty Crouch Senior was wrong when he had put his son into jail -Book 5: .
Sirius is in trouble with Voldemort and runs to his rescue . Umbridge is a Deatheater or has some other relation to Voldemort -Book 6: . the Half-blood Prince is his father, Lupin or someone else close to them . the Half-blood Prince is all good and noble Comparing Worlds Magic world Muggle world - Hogwarts, centre of education for young - Boarding schools, often elite institutions, witches and wizards, highly magical, “houses” sometimes very renown, classic muggle are competing against each other, all kinds of subjects are taught. magical knowledge is passed on to the pupils.
Ministry of Magic, in charge of muggle - - Governmental institutions, regulating wizard relations, muggle protection from various aspects important to society events/problems of the magic world, in (health, education, social security ) ,
control of enforcing rules in the magic effecting every day life depending on community. type of government. - Magic creatures are part of the world as well - At least no magic creatures known, but “normal” animals. (Griffins, Dementors ) legends/tales have made extensive use of all kinds of mythical creatures. - Ghosts and spirits are common and able to - Ghosts are found in fiction and fantasy communicate with the living, take an active and sometimes fairytales or horror stories.
role in everyday life. Seeing a ghost is an extraordinary thing. - Most things are done magically, few electric - To make life easier lots of electronic applieances needed. For muggle understanding devices are used in the homes. Success rather simple homes. often doubtful, sometimes used to substitute love (Dursleys).
Only really popular sport is “Quidditch” - Lots of different sports are played and played by most and loved by all. World Cups loved, all kinds of competitons take place and competiton exist and are a main event. during the entire year. Sources Schanoes, Veronica L. “Cruel Heroes and Treacherous Texts: Educating the Reader in Moral Complexity and Critical Reading in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Book”. In: Anatol, Giselle Liza (ed.). Reading Harry Potter: Critical Essays. Westport: Praeger, 2003, pp. 131-145. Grimes, Katherine M. “Harry Potter. Fairy Tale Prince, Real Boy, and Archetypal Hero”.
In: Whited, Lana (ed.). The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003, pp. 89-122. The Harry Potter Lexicon. http://www.hp-lexicon.org