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We Could be Heroes…..all You Need is Love

Harry Potter, a name famous in the real world as well as the secondary world that J.K. Rowling creates in her series based on the boy wizard. In the series and outside of them Harry is depicted as the hero of the wizarding world, being “the boy who lived” and by the Prisoner of Askaban a young boy who had defeated and escaped incarnations of Voldemort twice. Yet, when looked at with a deeper understanding of his circumstances and his character as a whole, Harry is not really the hero everyone has projected him as. He has demonstrated extraordinary amounts of bravery in his three years of being in the wizarding world, and has surmounted many of his peers when it comes to defensive spells, such as preforming a full formed patronus charm, however, these attributes hardly make him hero worthy. The fact that he still has the capability to love someone to the point that he would risk his life to ensure their safety, after all the love he has been withheld makes him hero worthy. In fact, his ability to cast a patronus is based purely on him producing a powerfully happy memory to focus on, he loves his friends to such a great extent that thinking of them allows him most often to achieve this goal (in later books), that is a rare gift to possess, especially from someone who had an upbringing completely void of any real affection “Harry cast his mind about for a happy memory. Certainly, nothing that had happened to him at the Durselys’ was going to do” (237). In the end of the Prisoner of Askaban also, his rescuing of Sirius from the horrifying punishment of the dementor’s kiss makes him a hero. Rescuing his godfather did nothing to benefit the wizarding world, and nothing to prevent Voldemort from executing any of his plans, but it is still one of Harry’s most heroic moments. Harry’s heroism is even tested at the end of the third installment of the series, when he has the chance to decide the fate of the true betrayer of his parents. He could have let Lupin and Sirius kill the traitor Pettigriew and avenge his parents, but he does not, instead he decides for him to be sent to Askaban under the justification that he does not want his father’s true best friends to be on the level of Pettigriew, “I don’t reckon my dad would’ve wanted them to become killers – just for you” (376). For a 13 year old boy to understand the power killing someone does to one’s soul when two of the most skilled and decent wizards is outstanding and gives another example of how Harry is a hero, since even though his decision ultimately leads to Pettigriew returning to Voldemort, he saved the souls of Lupin and Sirius which would have been tainted with the murder of their once friend. Harry is seen as a crusader of justice and a warrior against evil in the wizarding world, and to an extent he is, but not with his abilities, but with his motivations, his bravery, and above all his love. As Dumbledore said at the end of the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, “It is not our abilities that show us who we truly are, it is our choices”. Harry’s choices show that heroism lies with compassion and not any one great skill he possesses or because of the circumstances of his birth.

Let your Happiness Protect You (Response 5)


Within Harry Potter, Harry is forced to confront what he fears the most time and time again. Harry fears Dementors that remove any happiness a person is feeling at the time and in Harry’s case forces him to relive particularly traumatic memories from his past. Thus when he is confronted with a boggart, a creature that takes the form of what you fear, it transforms into a Dementor itself. However, there are two different spells two combat the two different creatures, Riddikulis and Expecto Patronum. While the spells themselves combat different but similar creatures they seem to have a common force that must be used in order for either spell to have effect, some sort of happiness.

In the case of the boggart, a user must think of something particularly funny for the boggart to turn into when using the spell Riddikulis because laughter is what finished off a boggart. In one particular scene Neville, who is terrified of professor Snape, uses the spell and imagines Snape “wearing a long, lace-trimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth-eaten vulture and swinging a huge crimson handbag” (Rowling 137). While overtop compared to the remaining ways the students dealt with their boggarts it sends a picture, that something that makes you laugh or fills you with good natured thoughts can combat something we fear.


However, when Harry faces off against the Dementors he has to use a different spell, Expecto Patronum. The spell can only work if when stating the incantation the user is able to think of a particularly happy memory, enough so that either a shield or spirit form of the spell can act as a barrier and subdue the dementor. During the first few tries, when Harry is learning the spell with Lupin he is unable to conjure a sufficient shield form and is overwhelmed. However near the end of the novel, whereas previous times he was only able to conjure the shield, he was able to conjure “not a shapeless cloud of mist, but a blinding, dazzling, silver animal”, his true Patronus (411). Harry was able to succeed at that moment because he knew he had before, but the memory that had fueled him was the desire to see his father and to save himself and his godfather Sirius.


So when looking over and comparing the two spells side by side, it seems they both require the same similar emotion to work. Which is that Happiness or joy can combat fear, depression or darkness, both spells provide elements of light, Riddiculis, the psychical transformation of fear into funny and Expecto Patronum the psychical manifestation of light to combat the rippling dark of the Dementors. The spells seem to suggest that magic in the overall scheme is supposed to encourage joy and wonder and should be used in a positive light to make things better, not worse.


Oh…You Aren’t A Wizard?

J. K. Rowling demonizes the human characters in her book and validates witches at their expense. Specifically through the Dursely’s, Rowling makes humans seem un-accepting, and inconsiderate.  The story begins with Harry trying to do his homework under his sheets with a flashlight because if his Aunt or Uncle find out he is studying magic in their house he will be severely punished.  Harry even describes his Aunt and Uncle as having “a very medieval attitude towards magic” (Rowling 2).  Even though magic has changed over the years and his Aunt and Uncle do not fully understand it, the Dursley’s are still prejudiced towards witches, wizards, and magic.

After Uncle Vernon talks to Ron on the phone he turns to Harry and says, “HOW DARE YOU GIVE THIS NUMBER TO PEOPLE LIKE-PEOPLE LIKE YOU!”(Rowling 4). This shows how disgusted the Dursley’s are with witches and wizards and how offended they are that one would call their house. They also make it clear that they are embarrassed that Harry is living with them when Uncle Vernon’s sister comes to visit.  Uncle Vernon tells Harry that, “We’ve told Marge you attend St. Brutus’s Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys” (Rowling 19). He would rather his sister believe that Harry is a criminal than confess that he is a wizard.  Dursley’s deny Harry’s differences and lie to themselves and others in hopes that Harry will be “normal” one day. Rowling then sheds a positive light on witches and wizards when she reveals that Hermione is taking a “Muggles Studies” class (Rowling 57).  Hermione is taking this because she thinks it “will be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view” (Rowling 57).  In this way, Rowling further belittles and criticizes humans for not trying to understand witches and wizards, and create a more acceptive and understanding persona witches and wizards.

Humans are also depicted to be inconsiderate and rash.  While on break Harry must turn over anything magical to his Aunt and Uncle so they can be locked away for the summer, “This separation from his spellbooks had been a real problem for Harry, because his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of holiday work” (Rowling 3). Even though the books are for Harry’s education, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Dursley are so appalled and opposed to Harry learning about magic and that he his a wizard, that they attempt to ban him from doing any work over the holiday. The Dursley’s do not even acknowledge their Nephew’s birthday, in fact, “they had completely ignored his last two birthdays, and he had no reason to suppose why they would remember this one” (Rowling 6).  Aunt Marge is also extremely inconsiderate to Harry.  She is constantly making rude comments about Harry’s deceased parents, saying things like, “If there’s something wrong with the bitch, there’ll be something wrong with the pup” (Rowling 25).  Aunt Marge then moves on to insulting Harry, comparing him to one of her dogs who drowned because he was “weak” and “underbred” (Rowling 27).  The Dursley family gives Muggles and humans a negative connotation for being rude and inconsiderate.

Rowling’s critique of the Dursleys extends to the Muggle society as a whole, and makes them appear un-accepting to different cultures and beliefs (witches and wizards), and inconsiderate and rude by insulting to others.  This encourages the reader to sympathize and support the wizard characters more than the Muggle, human characters throughout the novel.

Muggles Lack Imagination

In Rowling’s series, she belittles Muggles like the Dursleys, to express the closed minds of humans, as well as their zero-tolerance for witch craft. After the release of the Harry Potter series, Rowling was criticized immensely for the magical content of her books. Much criticism came from religions such as Judaism, Islam, Anglicanism, Greek Orthodox, and Catholicism. The religious groups concluded that the imagery is dangerous to their children, and that the content supports demon worship. Content and imagery such as drinking dead animal blood and receiving power, contact with the dead, and magic are considered immoral and not normal to these religious groups. As a result of all the negative responses, that did not even come from the audience that the books were aimed towards, Rowling takes a stab back to show the lengths Muggles have gone to express their opinion about witch craft by including a scene of Muggle outbreaks in the fourteenth century.
Harry Potter’s assignment over his summer break from Hogwarts is to write an Essay on “Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless-Discuss” (1). The topic of the essay immediately describes the take Rowling was going to take on the subject, and the fact of it appearing on the first page suggests her immediate response to the criticism.
When muggles capture witches and burn them at the stake, Rowling stabs back by explaining in the text that it was enjoyable for witches, and that the Muggle out-roar was useless. “The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation” (2). In this scene, Rowling demonizes humans by portraying them to be irrational because of their reaction. She continues to demonize Muggles by explaining a scene where a witch enjoyed their impracticality. “Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burned so much that she allowed herself to be caught no less than forty-seven times in various disguises” (2). Rowling’s critique of the Dursleys in comparison Muggle society as whole only extends to the topic of their outlook on magic and as well as their incapability to open their minds and welcome imagination.

Paralleling Emotions

Daemons are the humans’ spirit that represent their consciousness and can feel the same emotions and physical sensations as the humans do. These daemons take on the form of any animal they desire but when each human reaches puberty the daemon can no longer shape shift and must chooses an animal that truly represents their human and remains that way forever. According to each person’s rank and status in society they are followed with the same rank by his or her daemon. If the human knows his place in society then the daemon that feels and knows what the human does also is recognized with the same rank. When a daemon or the human is disrespecting the hierarchy, then each human’s daemon puts the other daemon in its place. This is not the same with humans but because there is such a strong connection between human and daemon the consequences faced by each daemon is felt by the human.


For example we see proof of the immense connection when Pantalaimon is injured when the fox daemon is trying to capture him because the gobblers are after Lyra.: “But the fox daemon tore at the cat Pantalaimon and Lyra felt the pain in her own flesh, and sobbed a great cry as he fell” (91). This shows that the attachment between human and daemon goes beyond just emotional and mental. Tony’s daemon, Ratter, was ripped from his hands by the gobblers because they were separating the children from their daemons as a sort of experiment because they wanted to learn more about dust. The trauma suffered before his death not only continues to prove the unbreakable connetion between daemon and human, but also further shows how strong it really is and how one cannot survive without the other.  “He couldn’t settle, he couldn’t stay in one place; he kept asking after his daemon, where she was, was she coming soon… but he closed his eyes finally and fell still, and that was the first time he looked peaceful, for he was like any other dead person then, with their daemon gone in the course of nature” (191). Everything one feels, the other does as well, these parallel feelings make it easier for the human characters to expose their true colors in the form of their daemon while still seeming friendly and civil. Mrs. Coulter still wants to seem like Lyra’s friend and role model but when Lyra refuses to listen to her demand to put her “childish bag” away, Mrs. Coulter scolds her but her daemon physically attacks Pam. “Mrs. Coulter’s daemon sprang off the sofa in a blur of golden fur and pinned Pantalaimon to the carpet before her could move” (76). Mrs. Coulter’s daemon was punished Pam as if it were Lyra being punished.

Angels and Daemons

In the novel “The Golden Compass” humans hold a strong emotional and physical bond between some sort of animal called a daemon.  In the novel these daemons are said to act like a person’s manifestation of a soul and reveal character traits as well as emotions they currently experience.  Coincidentally, there is a point where the daemon “settles” on an animal form that most resembles that of the person.  In some instances they can be like a conscience and provide a voice of reason on the subject at hand. Unlike our own souls these daemons are external and can provide different feelings through their own experiences such as when Lyra’s daemon, Pan, swims with dolphins and brightens her mood through its own joy.

Not only can a person feel the daemon’s emotions but its pain as well.  On multiple instances Lyra’s daemon is attacked and she feels every scrape and bruise that her daemon does and vice versa.  Although he daemons are external they cannot stray far from their hosts.  The novel mentions how children will test the “pull” of the bond between daemon’s and people to see how far apart they can bear to be without one another.  Both parties experience significant pain in the chest area as if their heart is being ripped from their torso.  The bond between the two is so strong that the permanent separation will result in death.

As mentioned before, the daemons will take on a permanent animal form that most resembles their person’s character traits. this most likely symbolizes an actual soul which is envisioned to become lighter or darker with each decision made during a person’s lifetime.  The daemon also tends to take the form of what the person will be like in the future as well.  For instance all servants have dogs as their daemon but depending on the hierarchy in the world, each daemon will take on the shape of what is most relevant to that person.

Is Good the new look for Evil?

Goodness is used to hide the underlying purpose of the user.  While Lyra was living in Jordan College, she was surrounded by men.  Most of those men were elderly and had other things to do than worry about a little girl.  When Ms. Coulter came to the College, she took a specific interest in Lyra. When speaking to Ms. Coulter Lyra told her everything important to her in her life.  Lyra couldn’t believe that a woman this beautiful and important was interested in what she had to say.  Once in London, they spent their time dinning, shopping, and meeting new people.  Ms. Coulter was even giving Lyra spending money of her own.  She would tell her that their adventures in the north would be spectacular, and she would give her motherly attention that Lyra was missing back in Oxford.  Ms. Coulter was giving Lyra everything she wanted but not without something in return.  The White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia did the same thing with Edmond.  She was a gracious hostess and gave him warm drink and plenty of Turkish Delights, promising him that one day he would be king.  But there was a catch, she needed him to bring his siblings to her.  Later in the book we see that her intentions were for Evil not for good.  Ms. Coulter wanted the Golden Compass that she need to find the dust.  Lyra was told not to give this compass to Ms. Coulter by the Master that tried to kill her uncle in the first place.  We see here the confusion of each characters role in good and evil.  Lyra finally understands what Ms. Coulter is up to when a Scholar mentions that she is in charge of the Oblation Board.  It is then that Lyra finds out that the Oblation Board are the “Gobblers” that are taking the children without reason.  Lord Boreal is the one that clarifies why they use Ms. Coulter and why Lyra is with her as if she was a Daemon.  He says, ” …What’s done is for their good as well as our.  And of course they all come to Ms. Coulter willing.  That’s why she’s so valuable.  They must want to take part, and what child could resist her?  And if she’s going to use you to bring them in, so much the better.  I’m very pleased” (Pullman 84).  Lord Boreal shows us that because Ms. Coulter looks so pleasant, the children come to her willingly.  And now that she has a child with her at all times, people won’t suspect that she is the one behind all the disappearances.  So far we see Pullman use women as pretentious, lets see how these characters grow by the end of the book.

What would your Daemon Be? Online quiz

In Phillip Pullman’s novel, The Golden Compass, each human character has a creature called a daemon that is spiritually and emotionally connected to them. They cannot exist without them because they are a part of their soul. A child’s daemon can take on various shapes and forms because the child is imaginative and still developing, while an adult’s daemon is in a permanent form. The author uses the daemons to reflect their human’s personality and social class.

Daemons reflect the humans they are linked to. For example, Lord Asriel is a powerful man who is feared and respected with a daemon that is an immense snow leopard. The way he is described in the book as “dominating the room” (16) and having the most power goes along with the fact that he had the most majestic creature in the room. He was also characterized as “a tall man with powerful shoulders…all his movements were large and perfectly balanced, like those of a wild animal” (12). This description demonstrates the inclination of daemons to appear like their humans. Mrs. Coulter and her daemon are another example of this. She herself is beautiful and young, with “such an air of glamour” (59);while her daemon is a golden monkey, an intelligent animal, considered to have humanlike qualities because they have the ability to be strategize or control as her human is.

Daemons settle into a form that will best fit their human’s personality and social class.  In the very beginning of the novel when Lyra is hiding in the closet, the Steward enters with his daemon; “He was a servant, so he was a dog; but a superior servant, so a superior dog” (5).  Dogs aren’t special animals and were usually street animals during this time. This animal form could suggest that the Steward had grown up in the working class as a servant. Another example of class would be Roger; though he is a child and his daemon changes shape, it is often in the form of a rat. Roger is the kitchen boy, a worker for the college.  The lower class you are the more common your animal is.

For these reasons, Daemons play a significant part in the novel. They are completely connected to their humans that they are non-existent without each other. They reflect a human’s personality and social class.

One life cannot be without one death

Ged eventually defeats the shadow by following it to the Island of Iffish, where he eventually encounters someone who has not been tricked by the Shadow. Estarriol was one of Geds closest friend at school, and he offers to help Ged on his journey to find the Shadow. The two men venture out to sea in hopes of using Geds new found connection to track his enemy. They follow this untill they meet a shoreline. Here is where Ged comes face to face with the Shadow, he realizes that one cannot exsist without the other and that to become a successful wizard he must incorporate his counterpart into his self. This is where he unites his life with his inevitable death.

Ged’s encounter with the shadow

In the book, “Wizard of Earthsea”, Ged believes that the shadow can only be defeated by light. When Ogion observes that Ged is able to defeat not only magicians, but also dragons, he sees that Ged will be able to defeat the shadow. This is when he gives him advice, through which Ged sets out on his boat to find the shadow. While one this quest, he is unable to find the shadow, making him furious, which is when he says, “I am here, I Ged the Sparrowhawk, and I summon my shadow!” (134) The shadow appears and then starts to run away, while Ged follows it.

While following the shadow, Vetch and Ged end up in an island, where he approaches the shadow. “Ged reached out his hands, dropping hiss staff, and took hold of his shadow, of the black self that reached out to him.” (179) This is when both darkness and light had joined, meaning that Ged had neither won nor lost. Ged realizes that joining with the shadow had made him a man who can’t be controlled by any power other than him. Through the constant search of the shadow, he he learns from the consquences of his actions, and therefore acts upon them. Furthermore, Ged acknowledges his shadow by both of them joining and becoming one. Also, by doing so, Ged finally frees himself and learns to accept the shadow.