The_Role_and_Functionality_of_Memories_i.pdf - The Role and...

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The Role and Functionality of Memoriesin the Harry Potter NovelsClaudius StemmlerIntroductionOne consistent theme throughout J.K. Rowling'sHarry Potternovels is that ofmemory. The series incorporates reflections on memory on an individual as well ason a social level. On an individual level many of the series' characters are influencednot only by their past but also by how they treat their memories of it. As theHarryPotterseries can be seen as a coming-of-age story orBildungsroman(Appelbaum85) and memories are a key element in the development of one's identity (Piippo 75)this is not surprising regarding the adolescent characters. But this extends evenbeyond protagonist Harry and his schoolmates and includes the series' adultcharacters. Beyond their usefulness in providing character development, memoriesare also presented as an important part of the series' wizarding world. Throughmagical means, memories function as substitutes for many roles taken by media inour reality.In order to explore how memories are employed throughout in different functionsthroughout theHarry Potterseries I will begin by looking at some general functionsof memory highlighted in the series. Then I will offer a brief reflection on the series'positioning of memories as part of the individual's soul and look at the specificproprieties of magically mediated memories. The rest of the essay will then bededicated to the role of memories for several of the series' characters. The first of1
these chapters will treat protagonist Harry while the second will look at a selectednumber of other characters. Finally, the conclusion will summarize the essay'sfindings regarding the role of memories throughout the series.Functions of memoryTwo functions of the human memory are of particular significance throughout theHarry Potterseries. The first is its role in shaping the individual's identity. Based onour memories of the past we 'know who we are' and act accordingly in the present(Sutton). Regarding this 'we' French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs introduced theterm collective memory to accompany his belief that all of an individual's memoriesare framed and/or partly supplied by social context (Ulanowicz 14). Halbwachs'argument thus supports the idea of memories extending beyond the individual. Boththese points are important in theHarry Potterseries where characters are stronglyshaped through social groups like the school houses of Hogwarts and wherememories can actually be transferred beyond the individual, as with the Pensieve.The second important role of memories is their function in serving as a remembranceof the past. The late twentieth century changed the role of memories, particularlyregarding historical writing and identity. That “the victims of the Holocaust came outof the shadows” (Winter 105) brought the birth of the witness who “was a survivor, atruth-teller” (Winter 108). Simultaneously, oral history projects collected the

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Term
Fall
Professor
june
Tags
The Lord of the Rings, J K Harry Potter

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