Author Archives: staubner

Staying Strong and Feminine

One of the many reasons the characters in Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban seem so realistic is because they do not consistently subscribe to the typical stereotypes seen in most fantasy novels. Examples of this can be found in her depictions of the female characters such as Hermione and Mrs. Weasley. Unlike the novels we have read in the past, the females all have strong roles while still holding onto their femininity. Hermione is the most intelligent student of the third years and seems to have a thirst for knowledge that she is determined to encourage. This is pointed out when Ron points out “‘they’ve got you down for about ten subjects a day. There isn’t enough time…how’re you supposed to be in three classes at once?’” (Rowling 122). Even though she is a strong girl, Hermione still exhibits the typical characteristic of females to be the caring one; the one who looks after Harry and Ron to make sure they are doing alright and are behaving appropriately. When Harry shows the other two the Marauder’s Map Ron’s reaction is excitement whereas Hermione is more cautious and advises Harry to “hand it in to Professor McGonagall” because “…He [Sirius Black] could be using one of the passages on that map to get into the castle,” (Rowling 247).

Mrs. Weasley also shows this nurturing characteristic but more strongly being she is the main mother figure throughout the book and in Harry’s life. This is seen when Mr. and Mrs. Weasley argue over whether or not to tell Harry everyone is so worried about him specifically when it comes to Sirius.  Mrs. Weasley is worried “‘…the truth would terrify him! Do you really want to send Harry back to school with that hanging over him? For heaven’s sake, he’s happy not knowing!’” (Rowling 81). The uncharacteristic part of this scene is that fact that Mrs. Weasley is arguing her male counterpart, supporting her side of the argument with logical reasoning and even though Mr. Weasley uses the same tactic, it is he who ends up conceding to Mrs. Weasley’s wishes. Even though he does end up informing Harry before he leaves for Hogwarts, he does so without his wife’s knowledge (Rowling 91, 92), not wanting to upset her.

Ideally It Would Always be Spring

When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy enter the world of Narnia, they open their eyes to an alternative universe where animals have the ability to speak, a half jinn half giant rules the land, and the battle between good and evil is easily defined. This war creates not only a vertical racial hierarchy that ascends and descends based on intelligence or wisdom but a horizontal plotting of characters as to how good or evil their character is. Aslan would be plotted on the far left as the ideal good and the White Witch on the far right as the ideal evil.

Going from Aslan, the next truly good being in Narnia would be the Daughters of Even, Lucy and then Susan followed by the Sons of Adam, Peter then Edmund. This would be because, as Father Christmas explained to Susan when giving her the bow and arrows, “’You must use the bow only in great need’” and then to Lucy when presenting her with a small dagger, “And the dagger is to defend yourself at great need. For you also are not to be in the battle’” (Lewis 118, 119). In this way they do not become involved with the slaying of enemies which means they are superior to the Sons of Adam in goodness. Edmund is inferior to Peter only because of his initial betrayal when he first entered Narnia. Next would come all of the good animals, trees, dwarfs, giants, satyrs, dryads and the like. All of these creatures had their choice and watched some of their kind side with the White Witch which brings us over the neutral line between good and evil.

On the opposite side are the evil trees and dwarfs, werewolves ogres, wolves, Hags, Wraiths, Sprites, Ettins and other horrible creatures. Once the children take their rightful place as Kings and Queens of Narnia they saw to it that “all that foul brood was stamped out” (Lewis 200). This shows that these creatures were almost as bad as the Witch herself; they contained no love in their hearts and did not have the potential or the motivation to become good again. The White Witch herself is the ultimate evil in this novel possessing only an understanding for the cruel, betraying, hateful and fearful qualities characteristics creatures can express. This in the end led to her final downfall.

“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”-Kurt Vonnegurt

In Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince,” the court is represents the concept of blissful ignorance and a kind of Heaven on Earth. Wilde describes to the reader through the Happy Prince that, “Round the garden ran a very lofty wall, but I never cared to ask what lay beyond it, everything about me was beautiful.” (255) The Prince and his companions waste their days away playing in the gardens and their nights dancing in the Great Hall. Only positive emotions are known and nothing seems to exist that causes discomfort. These elites in the story experience the ultimate prize of Utopia without having to go through any harsh realities. However, outside of the garden wall lays an entire city filled with “ugliness and…misery” (Wilde, 255) that the Happy Prince, specifically, chooses to ignore. Only after death does the Happy Prince learn of this harsh reality. This is when he is made to weep, as if, as consequence for living in false paradise, he must now understand the sorrow of humankind that he never grasped in life. What is worse is that he can do nothing about it since he is “fastened to this pedestal and I cannot move” (Wilde, 256). This could be seen as purgatory for living a life of complete happiness. Only when the Happy Prince has given everything he can and looks “little better than a beggar” (Wilde, 260) is he allowed into the true garden of Paradise. The Happy Prince had to give up all materialistic wealth before being given the ultimate prize; the admittance into the House of God.

 

It seems that Wilde is trying to portray the royals in a more pessimistic light. Where in other fairy tales the powerful and wealthy also seem to have generous hearts-as in “Catskin” by Joseph Jacobs-without needing any prompting from negative consequences, these royals are ignorant and selfish; they can only be concerned with their own happiness and well-being. Wilde also shows that just this is only rewarded in the human realm. It is not until the statue of the Happy Prince has been used to its fullest extent that it is finally melted down because it was “no longer beautiful” and therefore “no longer useful” (Wilde, 260) is the Happy Prince recognized as one of “the most precious things in the city.” (Wilde, 260)