While the Harry Potter novels are full of magic and things that don’t exist in our world, J.K. Rowling included some parallels to our world as well. One of these parallels is discrimination. This is shown mainly through the Dursley’s mistreatment of Harry. They are always extremely mean to him for what appears to be no reason other than the fact that he is a wizard. They hate him for being what he is. The Dursleys always refer to wizards as “your lot” when they talk to Harry about them. The Dursleys, being Muggles who know about the existence of wizards, may hate them out of fear for the powers that they possess. Aunt Petunia has a prejudice against wizards because her sister was gifted with the ability to perform magic and she was not. Aunt Petunia’s sister (Harry’s mother) got to go off to Hogwarts while Petunia had to live a normal Muggle life. It is because of these things that the Dursleys treat Harry so poorly. It is kind of like a way to lash out at the wizarding world.
Another example of prejudice in this book is the way werewolves are treated. This form of discrimination is interesting because it exists in the magical world. Professor Lupin tries to keep his being a werewolf a secret but when he is discovered at the end of the novel he has to leave Hogwarts. It is not Lupin’s fault that he is a werewolf but he still has to deal with the mistreatment. Professor Snape hates Lupin for being a werewolf because when they were in school Sirius tried to get Snape to enter the shrieking shack on a full moon while Lupin was transformed. Lupin really hasn’t done anything to bring on the hatred for being a werewolf except for being a werewolf.
On Ged’s first encounter with the Lord of Re Albi’s daughter he seems to be easily swayed by her. It is very interesting because in the text it says that he finds her to be, “very ugly” (32 in my copy). Instead of being persuaded by her looks he is more persuaded by her actions. She constantly talks and he warms up to her and starts to tell her all about his tricks and the different things that he has done. He tells her of the great fog he brought over the warriors that were attacking his village and she wants him to tell her more. It is here in their conversation that I think it says the most about Ged at this point in his life. She asks him if he could conjure the dead and he says that he can. When she asks him if it is difficult and dangerous to do so he replies, “Difficult, yes. Dangerous?” (32 in my copy). Later in the story we learn that it is dangerous and it is his arrogant attitude that is shown here that later releases the shadow into his world. At this point in Ged’s life he thinks that he can do anything. His power that lies inside of him feels limitless and he loves to brag about what he can do, even if he hasn’t done it yet.
When Ged encounters the Lord of Re Albi’s daughter (who he now sees as beautiful) for the second time he has done the one thing he said that he could do. Ged found out for himself that it was indeed incredibly dangerous. The result from trying to resurrect the dead has brought about the most dangerous thing in Ged’s life. He tells the Lord’s daughter, “ I had power once, once. I have lost it, I think” (128 my copy). Instead of having the huge head that he had before regarding his powers, Ged has now been humbled greatly by the bringing about of the shadow. He does not believe in himself as much anymore. He is ashamed that he has come in contact with his enemy, been defeated, and run away.
At times we all feel like we would like to always be children or maybe go back to that stage in our lives. It seems like such a wonderful thing to be able to experience that carefree lifestyle that is childhood once again. This is one of the reasons why the story of Peter Pan is so fascinating. It takes us right back to that sense of childhood wonder and fear. At first glance it seems like Peter Pan has achieved the ideal life because he is always going to be a kid but there are some negative things associated with always being a child.
To start out, in the beginning the book makes being a kid seem better than being an adult. While the kids only have to deal with the usual things of not wanting to go to bed or taking medicine their parents have to deal with real life struggles like paying the bills and keeping a job. Even the simplest of things like tying a tie just about sends the children’s father off the deep end. It seems at this point in the text that the children are being introduced to what adult hood is like and being told to grow up. “Be a man, Michael.” (Barrie 15) When the parents seem to be the most stressed over their lives Peter Pan comes flying in through the window and takes their children away on a wonderful adventure.
Peter is the kid’s rescue from the hectic world at home because he is forever a kid. He doesn’t have the responsibilities that adults have and he is free to do whatever he wants. The coincidence that Peter can also fly is probably not unintentional at all. Barrie wants the reader to see how wonderful Peter’s eternal childhood is by giving him the gift of flight through his friendship with the fairies.
There are also many negative things about eternal childhood that the author wants the reader to see. Because Peter has been a child for so long he will not ever be able to function in the real world. He doesn’t know how to do simple tasks that adults teach children like sew or know what soap is for. He is also incredibly boastful and it seems to perturb the children whenever he acts that way. Peter Pan is also careless about the things that he does throughout the story like when he is flying with the children and is constantly abandoning them to go have fun. Another good example is when one of the children begins to fall out of the air he waits until the last minute to catch them, “…and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of human life” (Barrie 35). As a result of forever being a child Peter Pan will forever have the nature of a child when it comes to serious issues.
It is common belief that in children’s literature if the character or characters have faith in God then in the end God will help them and there will be a happy ending to the story. In the story of Hansel and Gretel it is obvious that both of the children believe that as long as they have faith that God will help them and nothing will go wrong. Their faith is shown every time Hansel tries to comfort Gretel. (185, 186) The first time Hansel puts his faith in God he is immediately rewarded with white pebbles that glittered “…like silver coins.” (185) White is a color that is often associated with the forces of good and with God. The funny thing is that the second time Hansel comforts Gretel by telling her “The Lord will protect us.” (186) Hansel is not able to gather any pebbles because his evil stepmother has locked the door. Now the children are brought out into the woods with no way of marking their way back except for Hansel’s bread crumbs which are eaten by birds.
The children spend several days in the woods searching for a way back. After a white bird (another symbol of God) leads them to the witch’s house it seems that God abandons the children at this time. Before this point white has always been a good symbol. While the bird has led them to food it has also led them to a trap. The witch makes up two beds for the children using white sheets and the children “…felt as if they were in heaven.” (188) It now seems that the witch is using white to trick the children into feeling as if they are safe. Now it is unclear whether the white bird was God leading the children to food or the witch luring the children to her house. It is like as soon as they enter the evil witch’s territory God has no power.
Hansel (who seemed to have the most faith in God at the beginning of the story) is locked in a shed so that the witch may fatten him up to be eaten. Gretel cries out for God’s help but nothing happens until she acts on her own. She tricks the witch and pushes her into the oven. It is only after the witch is dead that they are able to find their way out of the woods. They even meet a white duck that helps them across a large body of water on their way back to the house. This suggests that God is in power again.
As for the question of whether the children’s faith or cleverness was rewarded, it is a draw. When the children were outside of evil’s grasp their faith was rewarded. Whenever evil had an influence in the story (The children’s stepmother or the witch) the children’s faith in God was ignored and they had to rely on their wits to get them home safely.