Civil Rights for Werewolves

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.

Potter Puppet Pals

Harry is a Hero

Harry Potter has many expectations thrust upon him due to his fame, but it is through his actions that he proves his heroism.  Harry had the qualifications of a hero as a baby, surviving an attack from “the most feared Dark wizard…Voldemort” and making Voldemort flee (6).  This past makes people very admiring of Harry.  However, he is not only heroic for a past he scarcely remembers; he is heroic because he disregards his own safety while fearing for others and he shows mercy to people who harm him.

Harry shows heroic qualities such as fortitude—he is determined to learn to fight dementors, for example, wanting to conquer his fears no matter what.  He also sacrifices himself for others when they are in danger.  When a dog attacks his friend Ron and pulls him into a passageway, Harry knows there is not enough time to get help and runs after him; the only thing he can “think of [is] Ron and what the…dog might be doing to him” (337).  He disregards his own safety many times, refusing to leave Ron when Professor Lupin turns into a werewolf, for example; he also runs into a crowd of dementors to save his godfather Sirius while knowing dementors have a more horrible effect on him than anyone else.   In addition, he does all he can to save a hippogriff Buckbeak from execution, deciding to rescue Buckbeak and have Sirius escape on him. His risk of being caught by the executioners is very high; he determinedly says, “We’ve got to try, haven’t we?” at Hermione’s doubt (396).  When he, Sirius and Hermione collapse due to swarms of dementors, Harry saves them all—to Hermione’s shock— with the spell “expecto patronum.”  She tells him that it is “very, very advanced magic” (412).  Through Harry’s concern for others, he shows his defensive talent and saves many people, including Ron, Hermione, Sirius and a man called Peter Pettigrew.

Harry’s mercy is the next trait that makes him so heroic.  Not only is he extremely brave and loyal, he also shows compassion to those who might not seem to deserve it.  When he meets the man he thinks is the reason for his parents’ deaths, he cannot kill him; “his nerve…[fails] him,” or his compassion shows through (343).  He also gives the man—Sirius Black—a chance to explain himself, stopping Professor Snape from sending Sirius to the dementors.   This mercy is fortunate, because Sirius turns out to be innocent and becomes a great friend to Harry.  However, Harry shows his mercy yet again with Peter Pettigrew.  He realizes that Pettigrew is the real reason for his parents’ deaths, but he runs in front of Pettigrew when Sirius and Lupin want to kill him, saying, “You can’t kill him…you can’t” (375).  Harry’s heroics lie in his compassion for every person and his desire to fight for this compassion; he truly does make a name for himself regardless of the events surrounding his birth.

The Eyes Have It

“I expect you’ll tire of hearing it, but you do look extraordinarily like James. Except for the eyes…you have your mother’s eyes.”(427) It is often said that the eyes are the window to the soul. This is significant where Harry is concerned because it leads us to conclude that Rowling was trying to show that, while Harry looks a lot like his father on the outside, on the inside he has his mother’s personality. This personality shows itself particularly strongly in the company that both Harry and James keep.

            James is not a bully, but he does enjoy being the center of attention and he can’t help showing off sometimes. This is first seen during the conversation between the teachers in the Three Broomsticks, when Professor McGonagall describes both him and Black as “leaders of their little gang” and “exceptionally bright” (204). Their “little gang” consisted of James, Black, Lupin, and Pettigrew. Further on in the conversation McGonagall states that Pettigrew was “never quite in their league, talent-wise,” and that he “hero-worshipped Black and Potter” (207). From this conversation is seems as if James allowed Pettigrew into their group because he was in awe of everything they did. James probably loved having Pettigrew “tagging around after them at Hogwarts” (207). This eventually comes back to haunt James. He, Lupin, and Black felt real loyalty towards each other because they had formed genuine bonds of friendship based on whether they enjoyed being with each other instead of what they could provide for each other. With Pettigrew, however, they allowed him to be their friend because he loved everything they did, never recognizing that he felt no true loyalty towards them and was only their friend because they were popular and could protect him if he needed it.

            The relationship between Harry and his friends is markedly different than his father’s because he has more of his mother’s personality. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are friends not because they feel they can benefit from each other, but because they enjoy each other’s company. Their friendship is truer than the friendship between James and Pettigrew because none of them are looking to gain anything from the friendship except a friend. In addition to Ron and Hermione, Harry is also friends with Neville Longbottom, a boy who is very similar to Peter Pettigrew. Neville is seemly not very talented and is usually impressed by what the trio do. Unlike, Pettigrew however, Neville does not feel the need to tag along incessantly after the trio nor is he friends with them simply because Harry is famous. Likewise, Harry is not friends with Neville just because Neville thinks Harry is someone to be admired. Harry’s friendship with Neville is like his mother’s would be. Harry is kind and accepting of Neville because it is the right thing to do; whereas James only accepted Pettigrew for the adoration he would give himself and the others.

When it comes to loyalty however, Harry is very similar to his father. James would have rather died than betray his friends, even Pettigrew, and Harry would do the same for Ron, Hermione, and Neville. Unfortunately, Harry and James also make the mistake of acquiring childhood enemies. In the first book, we learn that James and Snape were enemies at school. This relationship is shown in more depth as the books progress, especially anytime Harry mentions his father in front of Snape. This childish relationship of hatred is mirrored in Harry and Draco’s relationship.  Harry and Draco hate each other almost the minute they enter the school. This relationship is similar to that of James and Snape because in both relationships it is a case of Gryffindor vs. Slytherin and hatred of Dark Arts vs. fascination with Dark Arts. These relationships do differ however, in the way they are executed. At one point Snape reveals to Harry “Your saintly father and his friends played a highly amusing joke on me that would have resulted in my death…had their joke succeeded, he would have been expelled” (285). This quote shows that James and his friends often goaded Snape into doing things, which resulted in him taking every opportunity to get them back. In the Harry and Draco relationship however, it is usually Draco that picks the fights and goads Harry and his friends. The trio, for the most part, only responds to Draco out of defense of themselves or others. When he insults Hagrid for crying over Buckbeak, “Harry and Ron both made furious moves… Hermione got there first…she had slapped Malfoy across the face” (293). They never try to jinx Draco in the hallway or trick him into doing something stupid or dangerous. James and Snape had a more balanced relationship of hatred with both sides attacking the other, whereas Harry and Draco’s relationship is slightly unbalanced with Draco instigating more of the issues then Harry.

Harry has avoided some of the pitfalls his father fell into in terms of his friends because of having more of his mother’s personality. Unlike his father, Harry chooses not to become friends with people who only like him because he is famous; instead befriending people he enjoys being with and whom he can be himself around. Harry and his friends feel a deep loyalty to each other and therefore he will not run into the same problem of betrayal that his father did. However, the pitfall that Harry was unable to avoid was the acquisition of a childhood enemy. Both he and his father gained enemies at school, although James’s proved to be fatal, while Harry’s did not.

The Makings of a True Hero

In the book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, Harry is portrayed as the “hero” continuously and “the boy who lived” against Voldemort. Harry Potter is known as the hero in this text because from birth, he lived when Voldemort was trying to kill him and this was known throughout Hogwarts and the whole wizarding world. But the question is if he was considered a hero from birth or from what his deeds to protect everyone in the secondary world. James Potter, Harry’s father, was a well-known seeker for Hogwarts and lived up to his name, but because of this, Harry has to live up to his father’s name. His deeds also led him to be known as a hero because of what happened to him in the past and his special characteristics, including speaking snake language; he confronts dangers and near-death experiences. Outside of his reputation as James Potter’s son, he stands up courageously to defeat his enemies. The Dursleys were also his enemies because they treated him with cruelty and on page 16-17, Aunt Marge, who despised Harry, stayed over with the Dursleys for a week and forced Harry to blow her up because of the way she talked about his parents. He fought against his dangerous enemies such as the dementors, Peter Pettigrew, and Professor Snape, helped him to grow stronger as a wizard by learning new spells, such as expect patrolum and riddikulus. His deeds also led him to be known as a hero because of what happened to him in the past and his special characteristics, including speaking snake language; he confronts dangers and near-death experiences. On pages 162-163, Harry Potter and his friends find out that Scabbers, Ron’s rat, is actually Peter Pettigrew and that Sirius Black is actually his godfather that was trying to help Harry. Harry also saves Sirius and himself when the dementors came to give them a kiss, and using the spell that Lupin had taught him, he casts the dementors away, saving them. Throughout the book, Harry saves and risks his own life in order to save others and through these kinds of acts, he is proudly known as a hero.

Is a he a true hero or is he faking?

Harry Potter, “the boy who lived” has always been considered someone who is higher above than regular people because he is the one who stopped Voldemort and weakened his powers.  Harry was only a baby and he was able to do this while adult wizards with education about magic and experience could not even stop Voldemort.  Because of that he is considered a hero, but it is not just this reason alone that he is considered a hero.  He has been very strong and determined throughout his young wizard career.  He is able to stand up and fight.  In the first book, he battled Voldemort and in the second one, he fought Tom Riddle, the Basilisk, and even destroyed one of the holcruxes.  Then, in this book he is able to take on an Expecto patronum charm which is very advanced magic to defeat dementors.   One can be born with hero characteristics, which Harry clearly inherited from his parents, but one cannot be a hero unless they set out to change the injustice instead of just letting it come to them.  Harry could have let Voldemort come to him or just let Voldemort kill but he was committed to fighting Voldemort.  This was partly to avenge his parents; and this seems the motive for a lot of what Harry does throughout the books, but he still wants to stop Voldemort because Voldemort is wrong and evil.  Harry has the characteristics needed of a hero.  He is strong, he is capable of being a leader, he is determined, strong-willed, and passionate.  Harry cares a lot about his friends, his teachers, and Hogwarts and he would do whatever he could to protect them.  This is evident throughout all the books where we see Harry put himself on the line to fight.  In the fifth book, he builds an army to fight Voldemort after he rose again in the graveyard during the Triwizard Tournament.  Harry is sometimes a little naïve and goes out looking for Voldemort but this is not always the case.  He was innocent at first but as he progressed through his years at Hogwarts, he started becoming more daring and finally sets out and does kill Voldemort in the end.  Harry has all the traits of being a hero, he is a true hero.

A Hero

Throughout the novel, Harry Potter is portrayed as a hero. This is mostly because of the events surrounding his birth, as he was the only one to escape the curse from Voldemort. Due to the event, Harry became famous, and has been living up to his reputation. If he had never defeated Voldemort as a child, he would be a normal wizard attending Hogwarts. However, due to his accomplishment, he is treated differently, and therefore gets more help and support from others around him. He is the one to defeat the dementors, saving Sirius Black’s life. Earlier in the novel, before knowing Hermione’s secret, Harry believes that it is his dad who he saw that had saved both his life as well as Siruis Black’s. However, later on, “it hit him – he understood. He hadn’t seen his father – he had seen himself” (411). This portrays his heroic actions as he defeated the dementors with his courage and abilities. If it weren’t for Harry’s fame, he would most likely be a normal wizard, just as Hermione. Even though Hermione has more knowledge, she isn’t given as much of an importance as Harry due to his fame. Most of Harry’s heroic deeds are dependent on his assistance from his friends and elders who not only support him, but also go through most of the events with him. Furthermore, he shows his heroic actions through the sympathy and kindness he shows towards others.  Although he had the option of letting Peter Pettigrew die since he was a traitor, he decided not to do so, and instead decides that he wants him to be taken to Azkaban. Therefore, if it weren’t for the events surrounding his birth, his deeds would not be performed with such courage and assistance from others.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Sirius Black

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling features characters who have been wrongly accused. The opening scene depicts Harry writing about innocent people being burned for witchcraft as a result of Muggles’ fear of magic. It is suggested that while Muggles took these events very seriously and believed they were protecting themselves, the actual witches knew it was fruitless. The unjust persecution of the first scene sets the tone for the rest of the novel and foreshadows later events.

In the opening scene, Harry reads about the witch-burnings of the fourteenth century. Harry’s book declares that often times the people accused of witchcraft were innocent and that although Muggles feared magic they were “not very good at recognizing it” (2). This discussion of wrongful prosecution closely resembles the unjust punishment that Sirius faces for the crimes he does not commit.

Concealed by his Invisibility Cloak, Harry overhears a conversation about the day his parents were killed Lord Voldemort. He learns that his parents, James and Lily, had entrusted Sirius Black with secrets which he later revealed to Voldemort, ensuring their demise. Harry also hears that another friend of his parents, Peter Petigrew, attempted to avenge their deaths, but is killed by Sirius. Harry is then under the false idea that his “parents had died because their best friend had betrayed them” (211). It is because Sirius betrayed Lily and James and killed Peter that he is sent to Azkaban, the infamous high security wizards’ prison. But later, Harry learns the truth: that it was actually Peter who had turned the Potters over to Voldemort, causing their deaths. Despite appearances, Black was the one who had been trying to protect Lily and James while Peter was the one who switched his loyalty to Voldemort. Peter had even survived that night and had only pretended to be killed by Sirius, but had actually transformed into a rat and slipped away unnoticed only to be presumed dead and awarded a wizard’s honor, the “Order of Merlin, First Class” (208).

Sirius’ imprisonment and Peter’s honorary status in the wizarding community are foreshadowed by the opening discussion of the witch burnings. Despite the fact that many people in medieval times were afraid of witchcraft and seriously believed that they were acting righteously by killing people, they were actually taking the lives of innocent Muggles. So it appeared obvious that Sirius had been the one to betray Lily and James, especially considering Peter’s fake death, while the real events leading up to their deaths went unknown for majority of Harry’s life.

JK Rowling Makes it Cool to be a Strong Witch

As one of the most popular women writers of modern fiction our generation has ever known, it is no surprise that JK Rowling reflects many strong and independent women in her text.  The masterful development of her beloved characters, across the span of seven series, is partly due to the way in which she opposes her leading ladies with men who bring out stereotypical traits in one another.  For example; headmaster Dumbledore is seen as the stereotypical wizard who is depicted very similar to that of the famous Merlin while his direct counterpart Professor McGonagall represents the media’s common depiction of what a witch looks and acts like I had always imagined a typical witch to be, “she transformed herself in front of their eyes into a tabby cat with spectacle markings around her eyes.”(121), along with her connection to the classic familiar  Minerva McGonagall is given the name of the Greek goddess of wisdom and reason which her character embodies.  Dumbledore and Minerva are the two figures that the young Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger look up to.  This brings me to Hermione, and how Rowling brings her personality to the forefront of this story. Her eager thirst for knowledge and her ability to keep up with her curious and at times reckless companions, Harry and Ron, molds her into a person that the author’s readers want to be.  At the beginning of the novel we learn that Hermione has chosen to take on more courses than a student at Hogwarts is required to, simply because she can never get enough knowledge; “ ‘Well, I’m taking more new subjects than you, are’ said Hermione. “Those are my books for Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, the Study of Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies’”.(97)  Rowling utilizes this to support her character profile.  Hermione is described as “the cleverest witch in Harry’s year,”(8) and time and time again proves her worth by being the brains behind many of the trio’s hi-jinks.  She serves to act as the logical voice of reason and as they mature together Hermione grows into not just the bookworm but she becomes the feminine touch in their friendship. This contrast may not be obvious but it does hold a valid point because of how the balance of stereotypical gender roles in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban does not leave women out of the picture, JK Rowling puts a positive spin on strong women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Well Deserved Hero – Tanner Carlton

In J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ the main character Harry is considered a natural born hero by many around him. Harry’s considered a hero because of his miraculous near-death experience as a child with the dark lord Voldemort. Throughout this story we learn that Harry’s fame is well deserved as he shows true signs of good leadership to other’s around him.

In the story, Harry acts as a sort-of silent hero who helps perform good deeds without recognition. Throughout the action Harry is pressed to catch the  said-traitor who helped kill his parents, Sirius Black. Upon learning that the traitor was not Black, but Peter Pettigrew instead, Harry begins to display his truly heroic characteristics.

With his friend Hermione, Harry dangerously goes back in time with a time turner that Hermione had been using for school purposes. First Harry and Hermione save Buck-beak, Hagrid’s beloved pet hypogrif that hurts Malfoy earlier in the story. This becomes important because Buck-beak is eventually given to Sirius Black so he can escape from Hogwarts. Then, For Harry’s true example of heroism he conjures a very difficult patronus spell to get rid of a group of dementors. In grand fashion he steps up to his heroic status by saving his friends as well as his newly introduced godfather, Sirius Black. An amazing effort that is not properly rewarded, but enjoyed by the joy of success with Harry’s good friends.

In conclusion, good friends seem to be where Harry sources his ‘heroic’ power. Not the undeserved fame, that he has previously recieved. If there is one main thing Harry and his parent’s had in common it would be good friends, and it is from those friends  that they both gain there true powers and leadership.