paper final - Anthony Podesta Comp-Lit 233 TA: Nicole C...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Anthony Podesta Comp-Lit 233 TA: Nicole C Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Themes and Structures The central theme of the twentieth-century genre fantasy novel epitomized by J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is frequently described simply as the conflict between good and evil. It should be noted, however, that fantasy does not deal with good and evil like they are moral concepts. Rather, it uses the discrete theatre of the secondary world as a site for the exploration, comparison and judgment of two opposing and mutually exclusive paradigms of imaginative response to the environment within which human beings exist: one which constructs that environment as limiting and attempts to transcend its limits by gaining power over it, and one which attempts to adapt to existence within the limitations the environment imposes and thus to ensure survival. The Harry Potter series of young adults' novels by J. K. Rowling, most notably Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is not genre high fantasy. It belongs to a sub-genre of fantasy, which can be thought of as ‘invisible world’ fantasy. Within the landscape of her series, however, Rowling constructs a complete generic fantasy scenario. The Harry Potter series features a conflict with a long history. It includes an antagonist (Lord Voldemort) making a second bid for power. He is opposed by a marginalized protagonist (Harry Potter), who is aided by a group of secondary heroes (Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley). A third party (Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Harry's school) to some extent stage-manages the conflict between antagonist and protagonist to achieve his own ends. The book’s major narrative strand represents the closing movement of the long conflict. As well as adding a complexity not often seen in invisible world fantasy to the narrative of the Harry Potter series, and tying it firmly to its generic roots, the location of this high fantasy scenario within the structure of an invisible world fantasy allows Rowling to expand the genre fantasy's abstract exploration of imaginative paradigms into a more complex examination of the positions those paradigms hold in modern Western cultures. Rowling structures the wizard world as an invisible society that functions
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
alongside the world of the Muggles (nonmagic users); whose main goal is to keep their world unknown. It is one of the first things we learn about the wizard world, when in the first chapter Professor McGonagall reproaches Dumbledore over all the celebrating the wizards have been doing in public: “A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all.” (Sorcerer Ch 1) The wizarding world's status as an invisible society is reiterated forcefully early in the book. The difference between the wizarding world and the dominant culture (Muggles) in the series, however, is not a physical difference. It is magic: that is, imagination. The first culture to be encountered in the book is the dominant, mundane
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 04/23/2008 for the course COMP-LIT 233 taught by Professor Tymoczko during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).

Page1 / 7

paper final - Anthony Podesta Comp-Lit 233 TA: Nicole C...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online