“It is our choices, that show what we truly are.”

To a great extent, J.K. Rowling attempts to show the injustice of classifying people by social and racial prejudices. She has the wise and all-knowing character, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, scold those who show prejudices against other wizards and creatures, as well as those who show hatred toward Muggles. In contrast, Voldemort, the antagonist, and his followers, despise Muggles and any other person or creatures that are not wizards like themselves. However, despite all of this work to show the unfairness of holding prejudices based on race or social class, some prejudices appear unintentionally throughout Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Rowling has the main characters confront many common prejudices in the Wizarding world, some that many people make in the real world. One such prejudice, is the way students from the Slytherin house, lead mainly by Draco Malfoy, treat their new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. The Slytherins judge and mock Professor Lupin by how much money he has, a common social prejudice in our world today, saying ‘“Look at the state of his robes…he dresses like our old house-elf”’(141). The story continues that nobody else cares about Lupin’s poverty, as he is such a good teacher. As Slytherins are often characterized as being the villains and poor decision makers, Rowling has thus shown young readers not to form prejudices against those who may fall into a different social class as their own. Rowling also addresses this prejudice many times throughout the series with poverty of the Weasley family, showing their happiness and unity despite having to buy second-hand robes and books.

Despite these large efforts show the injustice of stereotypes and prejudices against those, who may not be like you, Rowling creates an unintentional bias against Muggles. Among other things, wizards often view Muggles as dimwitted, as Stan Shunpike, conductor of the Knight Bus points out saying they ‘“Don’ listen properly, do they? Don’ look properly either. Never notice nuffink, they don’”’(36). Muggles appear too foolish to the wizard world to notice a large double-decker bus speeding down the street. This prejudice is exemplified further by Harry’s own bias against the Muggle world from his miserable childhood. At the beginning of the novel, Harry is intent on leaving and getting as far away from his Muggle family as possible, shown by his running away from home saying “I’m going…I’ve had enough”(30). Harry’s longing to be back in a world with other wizards, creates a prejudice in readers against living in a world without magic.

Rowling’s attempt to break old prejudices is strong effort and effective. It will undoubtedly send the message that judging others by their class or heritage is wrong. Nonetheless readers are consistently reminded throughout this book and the entire series how superior wizards and witches are when compared to Muggles. Thankfully this is not a prejudice that corresponds to groups in our world, so no harm may come of it.

 

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