Realism in the Fictional and Fantastical World of Harry Potters
Critical Analysis of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets of the serves by J.K. Rowling books:
The penguin dictionary of literary theories and terms.
“A vague and general term for an imaginative work, usually in prose.”
The term realism has been defined as opposed to this:
The Oxford dictionary meaning of fantasy is: faculty of imagination, mental image, day-dream; fanciful invention or speculation. Fiction can be a combination of two different worlds, first world is the real everyday world which we can relate, to, and second world is the supernatural world of ghosts, wizards and apparitions which is presented in the fiction.
New England’s most original and successful tales of 19th and 20th century are those which include fantastical elements. Among them is the fiction of “Harry Potter” by “J.K. Rowling.” Although the fiction of “Harry Potter” is a product of imagination and presents a world of fantasy, magic, witchcraft and wizards, yet the fabric of reality is interveness in the fantastical world of the fiction is such a way that it does not seem awkward and superficial.
J.K Rowling falls in the category of those writers who are brilliant entertainers. In the fiction of Harry Potter, there is an implied social criticism, and through the issues in the supernatural world Rowling is infact commenting on human life, but this does not disturb one’s enjoyment of the story. A it is stated in a newspaper.
“….Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone has all the makings of a classic… Rowling uses classic narrative devices with flair and originality and delivers a complex and demanding plot in the form of a hugely entertaining thriller she is a first rate writer for children.” The Scotsman.
The pot of the different books is women around a young child-Harry who at the age of one had somehow survived a curse from the greatest sorcesor of all times. Lord Voldemort, whose name most witches and wizards still fear to utter. Harry parents had died in Voldemort’s attack but Harry has escaped with his lightning scar, and somehow no body understood why Voldemort powers had been destroyed the instant he had failed to kill Harry. So Harry had been brought up by his lead mother’s sister and her husband. He had spent ten years with the Dursleys thinking he is an ordinary boy until he enrolls at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizard. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals. The books deal with his encounters against Voldmort the dark sorcerer.
In the fiction of Harry Potter, elements of both magical and the muggle (non-magic community) worlds are presented. Though, the world of magic and fantasy overpowers the fiction, yet there is the neutralization of fantastical elements through realism. In the very first chapter (the boy who lived) of the fiction (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone), the amalgamation of both worlds is evident when Dumbledore (Headmaster at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardary) entertains himself with a glass of sherbet lemon, and says:
“The Sherbet lemon, They’re a kind of Muggle sweet I’rather fond of “(Harry Potter and the philosopher’s tone, the boy who lived, pg: 13)
Later in Chap 4, Hagrid (gamekeeper at Hogwarts) asks for a cup of tea from Dursleys (Harry’ uncle and Aunt) when he comes to get Harry to Hogwarts, and says:
“Couldn’t make us a cup o’ tea, could Yeh? It’s not been n easy journey…” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, the keeper of the keys, pg: 39)[Through this neutralization of fantastical elements through reality, the wizard world seems for less fictional and fantastical].
Besides, throughout the two books there are occasions when a tremendous feast conjures up on occasions like christmas and wizards are shown having dishes like beef, roast children, pork chops, boiled potatoes, gravy etc.
The wizard world introduced in the fiction seems very much like the human world, and their ways of living do not show striking dissimilarities with the world of humans. Like the human community wizard’s community has a ministry of magic, whose main duty is to control the affairs in the world of wizards. They also have railway stations, shops, markets, schools like Hogwarts.
Though wizards are not as advanced to keep computers with them, yet they have their own means of communication. For instance, for being in touch with each other, wizards have owls which serve as postal and are equivalent to telephones in the human word.
Another mean of transmitting news is the use a different world newspaper, The Daily Prophet, which also serves to neutralize the fantastic world of wizards.
Like human beings, wizards too have banks, Gringotls run by goblins, where wizards keep their money and is supposed to be the safest place.
Another important strand that ties the fictional world of wizards with the human world is the order in the wizard’s community, that is preserved by abiding the rules and regulations. The wizard world is not chaoti rather it follows an order. At Hogwarts, (the great wizard school of Witchcraft) the students are given training to abide the rules and regulations. On their first day at Hogwarts, when all the first year students have reached Hogwarts, they are told by professor McGonogall: (The Deputy head Mistress).
“Now form a line, “Professor McGonogall told the first-years, “and follow me”. (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, the sorting hat, pg: 87). Later on when the ceremony is about to begin. “Professor McGonogall now stopped forward holding a long roll of parchment.”
“When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted.” She said. “Abboll, Hamnah,” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, the sorting hat, pg: 89)
Besides, these are certain rules like underage wizards are not allowed to use magic outside school. If any tries to break the rules he is punished lither by the teachers at Hogwarts or by the Ministry of magic once when Harry is out of bed with his friend Hermone, Neville at one o’ clock in the night. The are punished for breaking the school rules and lose one hundred and fifty marks for their house, and also receive detentions.
The atmosphere of fantasy collaborates with reality because more or less like humans as they have accidents in which they get injured. In chap 9 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, Neville (a first year studying learning magic) has broken his wrist during his first broomstick flying lesson and gets admitted to the Hospital wing. Harry the protagonist of the fiction and an underage wizard factured his right arm when a charmed Bludger crashed into his elbow while playing a Quidditch ( a game like football in the wizard world) match in the chapter, the Rogue Bludger in Harry Potter and chamber of secret.
The fantastic world of wizard’s community look very much like human, as wizard have a man of transportation just like humans. Although much of the Muggle technology is not to be found in the magic world of wizards. Everyday items such as telephones and electric lights are unfamiliar to many of the wizard community, but the wizards have their own devices that can fit comfortably in both worlds. Hagrid (a wizard and a gamekeeper at Hogwarts) is shown to have a motorbike in chap 1 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone.
“Where did you get that motorbike? “Borrowed it, Professor Dumblebore, Sir,” said the grant, climbing carefully off the motorbike as he spoke. “Young Sirius Black lent it me. I’ve got him, sir.” (Marry Potter and the philosopher’s stone, the boy who live, pg: 16)
Arthur Weasley, a wizard and father of Harry’s friend; has an interest in the things of non-magic community. In Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets, Ron Weasley comes to take Harry away from his uncle and Aunt in an old turquoise car and tells him.
“We’re only borrowing this, its dad, we didn’t enchant it” (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Burrow, pg: 24).
Besides wizard’s community have railways stations to get to other places and is mentioned in the fictions, when Harry asks for a lift to the station from his uncle, his uncle mocks him.
“Funny way to get to a wizard’s school, the train, magic carpet all got punctures, have they?” (Harry potter and the philosopher’s stone, the journey, pg: 68)
Also several students at Hogwarts have wristwatches, one of the student named Colin has a camera;
“We (Colin) was clutching what looked like an ordinary Mugge Camera.” (Harry Potter and Chamber of secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart, pg: 75).
Infact, Rowling has created a truly magical world which is made work authentic touches of reality. Though magic is usually supposed as a way of being able speedily to manipulate the world of not having to work to understand it. Mr. Seiged Writes” “When, as Dr. Faustus does, we 80 for dismissing the wearisome world, we are saying hello to magic. But in Harry Potter, the magical world is not a dismissal of the ordinary world it is itself a oneness of the strange and ordinary. The way school of life in the wizard school is so like school life in an “ordinary” school, makes for both the depth of the book and its humour. This magic is not a speedy changing of reality: there is work-courses to take-some difficult, some boring; there are exams worry about them, cramming” (site Harry Potter Lexcon, Nature; Romanticism and Harry Potter, 5,20,2005)
“Three times a week they went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called professor sprout, where they learn how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi, and found out what they were used for (Barry Potter and the philosopher’s stone, pg: )
This sentence is a oneness of supernatural and work a day.
The threads of reality are present in the fictional world of Harry Potter as, the society of the wizard’s community is divided into class i.e. the affluent ones and the mediocre ones. This class system is reflected through the families of Luciurs Malfoy and Arthur Weasley. Though both belong to old wizarding family, yet Maffoy’s family is rolling in wizard gold; and have the best of everything they also have a house-self called Dobby, and these house-dues come with big old manor and places like that. On the other hand is the family of Arthur Weasley, who are living from hand to mouth because he has a large family to support. He has a small income and a small house. Ron (the youngest son of Arthur Wasley) often complains about having old things.
“You never get anything new, either-with five brothers. I’ve got Bill’s old robes-Charlie’s old wand and Percy’s old rat” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s tone the journey from platform nine and three-quarters, Pg: 75
Mrs. Weasley looks worried for not having enough money to buy new school books for her children as she says:
“I expect we’ll be able to pick up a lot f Ginny’s things second-hand.” (Ginny, the younger one and only daughter of Arthur Weasley) Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets, at Flourish and Blotts, Pg: 38
Discrimination against the low borns the enslaved and the dregs of magical world dramas connection between the fantastical world and the realistic. In the wizard’s community the servants are treated very badly and are considered lowly creatures. They are given heavy beatings and death threats by their master. These servants have to serve throughout their lives without any reward. They have to wear the marks of enslavement, something like a filthy pillow case or anything like that. They can be freed if their masters present then clothes. But the masters take great care not to give even a sock to them, otherwise they would be free to leave their house.
Dobby (the elf who serves at Malfoy’s home) is a symbol of oppressed ones in the wizard community. He is mistreated by his masters, and the discrimination against him is clear when he says:
“We house of were treated like vermin, sir! Of course, Dobby is still treated like that, sir.” (Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets, the Rogue Bludger, Pg: 133)
Besides the wizards have discrimination not only against the dregs of society, but they have a strong prejudice against these wizards who actually belong to non-magic community and somehow got a chance to study at Hogwarts (the school of witchcraft and wizardry). There are some wizards like Malfoy’s family who think they are better than everyone else because they’re what people call pure-blood. While those who are Muggle born non-magic parents are called Mudbloods, Dirty blood or common blood. Once in a brains with Harry and his friends, Malfoy calls Hermoine (the best friend of Harry):
“No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood, he spat.” (Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets, Mudbloods and Murmurs, pg: 86)
Malfoy’s father has the same notions as Malfoy himself says: “He (Dralfoy’s father) says the school needs ridding of all the Mudbloods filth, but not to get mixed up in it.” (Harry Potter and the chamber f secrets, the poly juice potion, pg: 167).
The hatred against the Muggle borns can be traced back to times when Hogwarts (the school of witchcraft and wizardry) was founded long ago by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. The four school houses are named after them. Godric Gryffindor, Helga Huffle Puff, Ravena Revellaw, and Salazar Slytherin. But then a sift began to grow between stytherin and others. He wished to be more selective about the students admitted to Hogwarts, and believed that magical learning should be kept within all magic families. He disliked taking students of Muggle parentage.
J.K Rowling herself says: ‘the wizard represent all that the true “Muggle” most fears: they are plainly outcasts and comfortable with being so. Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!” (site of magic and single motherhood “interview with J.K Rowling by Margaret Weir” Salon,” March 31, 1999.
Though the fiction of Harry Potter is about magic world, yet the setting of the fiction is real enough to exist beyond fantasy.
According to Mark B. Hammer (perfect Marcus) 2002 “when magic meets Muggle technology)
“From the start of the Harry Potter series, our hero finds itself a stranger in a very strange land. He discovers that the world he grew up in hides a secret wizarding world. There is oz or wonderland that exists separate from the normal world and can only be entered through extraordinary means. No, it exists side by side with present-day England.”
In fact, the author of the fiction tries to concretize the world of fiction by giving each and every detail about time ad space. The opening chap of Book “Plassy Porter and the Philosopher’s stone,” begins:
“Mr. and Mrs Dursley, of number four, privet drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, the boy who lived, pg: 7)
“When Mr. and Mrs Dursley woke on the dull grey Tuesday out story starts” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, the boy who lived, pg: 7)
In these lines a definite location is introduced i.e. number four, privet drive and the details Tuesday early morning suggest that the author places the characters of the fiction in a physically existed world not just in her imagination.
Not only Muggles but witches and wizards are not shown in the fiction as creatures beyond time and space, rather they are shown living in and sharing the same world with the non-magic folks. In her letter to Ron, Hermione writes, (Both are Harry’s friends).
“We’re on holiday!” and we’re going to London next month to buy my new books. Why don’t we meet in Dragon Alley.” (Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets, at Flourish and Blotts, pg: 38)
The fantastic world of wizards seems as real as human’s because of the cosmic changes and the cycle of seasons that follow in the wizard’s world. Each book of the series covers up a span of one year, and Rowling is conscious about showing the flow of time through the weather changings. The chilly cold weather at Hogwarts is replaced by the pleasant warmth of summer to indicate the passage of time. She is conscious enough to give exact time of the winker action season at Hogwarts is described as:
“As they entered November, the weather turned very cold, the mountains around the school because ice grey and the lake like chilled steel.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, Quiddich, pg: 133)
The winter at Hogwarts seems very much like the winter in England where the winter season is severe enough to freeze the lake and cover the landscape in several feet of show similarly the pleasant atmosphere of summer reminds the warmth of summer in England.
Another point that links the setting of the fiction to the realistic world is that in Hogwarts, the christens ceremony is celebrated in December, in winter season, which is very much the same in England.
“Christens was coming one morning in Mid-December Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several fee of snow.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone. The Mirror of Erised, pg: 43)
besides, the railway station in the wizard world is named after the railway station in England, which makes the setting of the story real.
According to Ellen Reiss:
“The wizard with world that Ms. Rowling has created is, as I see it, principally a way of saying that there is a world within a world of customary England, which the narrow, unimaginative, acquisitive Englishman doesn’t know about.” (Essay: the right of Aesthetic realism to be know)
So for the characterization of the fiction is concerned it is truth of life. The wizards do not appear a larger than life figures, rather they are seen very much like ordinary human being as life is not easy for them. They have mundane problems in life and even they are bound to die. Harry’s parents. Who themselves were wizards died in an attack by another wizard. Nicolas Flamel, the test friend of the Head master of Hogwarts and a great wizard himself is mentioned to have his death very soon, and they take it normal as they believe that to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, the man with two faces, though the protagonist of the fiction is 9 wizard called Harry, but he appears very much like an ordinary child and children can relate themselves to the protagonist like an ordinary child Harry has an inquisitive mind and in curious to know how things work questions about the environment throbs in his mind. In his first meeting with Hagrid (the Keeper of the Keys at Hogwarts) out of sheer curiosity he asks so many question to Hagrid about the world of wizardry. Even when he is enrolled at Hogwarts, the same curiosity a incites him to find out the secrets of magic world.
Beside the curiosity, at times it happens that he gets confused, tense frightened and jealous. These human instincts make him a realistic figure. When the sorting ceremony (the ceremony of electing students for four different houses through a magic hat) is about to begin. Harry is heart gave a terrible jolt as:
“He had not expected something like this the moment they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw that the philosopher’s stone.
The sorting hat, pg: 86)
Similarly when he breaks the school rules he gets confused and frightened, he thinks he is going to be expelled and get so nerrous that even his voice could not help him to defend himself.
The wizard characters in the fiction also true to life figures, some of them are good like Dumbledore and Hagrid (The Keeper of the Kegs at Hogwarts) but on the other hand there are some bad wizard like Voldemort (the great dark wizard) Quirrel ( a teacher at Hogwarts and a secret companion of Voldemort) Besides, they are some ambiguous characters like professor shape (A teacher at Hogwarts) Dumbledore (the headmaster at Hogwarts) appears as a kind, sympathetic figures, who helps out people in their problems and that is why respected by all. Similarly Hagrid who assists at the school though unable to graduate from it. He is massive, rough awkward, and very tender. He is affectionate not only infant Harry in his arms after the death of his and lovingly parents; nurses a baby dragon.
While the bad characters are shown having seven deadly sins. Voldemort the great dark sorcerer is one of the character through which these deadly sins are presented. The deadly sins which are generally associated with human beings, are imparted in the character of Lord Voldemort (the great dark sorcerer). He has lust and covet for power envy against the Muggle and pride on his ancestry.
He sins of Glut and Sloth are represented through the character of Dudley Dursley (The cousin of Harry) who is not a wizard but Dudley is a fat and mischievous boy, who has only one hobby i.e. to eat and to eat. He is a sluggish boy who cannot even get up to get the post. In 3rd chap the letter from one Harry pother and the philosopher’s stone pg: 29 Dudley’s father asks him to get the past but he bluntly retorts; showing some deadly sins through human beings is to draw connections between the Muggle world ad the wizard world, and to make a realistic reading of the fiction.
There are some ambiguous characters like professor shape who appears as a rude abominable and mysterious figure he has cold and empty eyes that looks like dark tunnels. Harry thinks that the person who tries to kill him at the Quidditch a game foot tall in the wizard world match was shape, as shape has a certain disliking for Harry, but quite shockingly it reveals to Harry that shape is the person who was striving to safe. Harry’s life in the Quidditch match. The ambivalence and ambiguity is generally associated with human being, Rowling associates it with the wizards in order to make a realistic portrayal of them.
Rowling makes her wizard characters realistic by imparting emotions and feelings in them. One of the example is the character of Mrs. Weasley (Harry’s friend Ron’s Mother) Though she is a wizard but at the same time a true representative of maternal love and affection, who sends christmastime gifts to her children on every christmas. She shows her affection for her children when they sneak from the house at night to get Harry from his uncle’s house in a old turquoise ear.
“Bed’s empty, No note! Car gone… could have crashed… out of my mind with worry… did you care? (Harry potter and the Chamber of secrets, the Burrow, pg: 30)
In an interview, Rowling comments about the reality of her characters:
“I have to confess that Hermoine Granger (Harry’s friend) is a little but like I was at her age, though I was neither as clever or as annoying. Ronl Harry’s friend is a bit like my oldest friend and proffer shape is a lot like one of my old teachers, but I’m not saying which one.
(Harry Potter Lexicon, the J.K. Rowling interview as presented by stories from the web, 5/20/2005.
The major themes and issues of the fiction are prejudice, exploitation, and jealousy which dominate throughout the books.
A wizard society presented in the fiction is a bias society, where they have molest against those who belong to Muggle parentage. Wizards like Lucins Malfoy thinks that Muggle borns are scum while the pure-blood wizards are superior. The prejudice against Muggles is highlighted by the fact that Basilisk (the snake of Salazer Slyterin) only kill those students who have Muggle parentage.
Another important theme is the exploitation of good by the bad, poor by the rich, weak by the powerful. The wizard’s society is divided into two the oppressed ones and the oppressors. The oppressors exploit and torment the oppressed ones on the basis of power and wealth. Hagrid is an important example of the exploitation of good by the bad. Hagrid, who serves as game keeper at Hogwarts, was once a student at Hogwarts. He is a silly, clumsy but a good-hearted wizard. His goodness is exploited by the bad TOM RIDDLE (LORD DEMORT’S another name when he was a student at Hogwarts) who very cunningly put the blame on Hagrid for opening the chamber of secrets, and Hagrid had been expelled by the school authorities.
Jealousy is another important concern of the fiction the wizards, have grudge against each other and out of jealousy they try to harm each other. Professor shape (the teacher at Hogwarts) had strain relations with James Potter (Harry’s bather). Now he is also jealous of Harry, and shows his hatred against him through his actions.
The fiction portrays themes that echo realism like jealousy, grudge, exploitation and prejudice which are very humanistic concerns. Actually, Rowling is pointing real life issues and concerns through the fiction.