J.K Rowling is the second richest woman in Britain, owing it all to the transformational force of the Harry Potter series which has turned the publishing industry upside down in the last few years. With the sales figures being extraordinary, the series has almost started a war between America and Britain.
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Not only this, the New York Times had a children’s section added to their bestseller’s list because of the growing demand for the Harry Potter Series. The Harry Potter Series has been a dominant factor in the world of children’s literature.
It was the 16th of November 2001, when the first movie version of the book was released in the United States of America. Alarmingly, because it was never seen earlier at the box office, the movie grossed over $90.3 million over just the first weekend and broke all previous box office records. (Zipes, 2001).
What is it about this series that the world is going crazy over? Simply, it is the way these books have revived children’s interest in fantasy and fiction and also, at the same time, they represent a charming new generation of wonders and magic.
Like great superheroes, Harry Potter is a double personality who is defined according to his sharp difference between his overt and secret identities. Before being accepted into Hogwarts Academy, and in between its terms, he is the despised and abused ward of the revolting Dursley family, but at school he is an apprentice wizard, marked (literally) [well said] for greatness.
As a baby, Harry withstood a magical attack by Lord Voldemort; with whom he is now engaged in a desperate race against time as to who will be the better successor of the Hogwarts school and this was also a race between evil and good.
The measure of Rowling’s achievement is that encompassing this kind of elegant fantasy—which is wonderfully appealing to children, especially those who feel deprived even of the limited kinds of power that children can exert over their peers—Harry is not merely unequaled but unsurpassable.
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Magic at Hogwarts
Hogwarts is a foundation laid by four magical wizards of which Salazar Slytherin was the least active and maybe was involved in dark magic, that is, the use of his influence for uncertain if not absolute evil reasons, and for centuries a lot of the young students who resided in Hogwarts have displayed the same qualities.
The instructive dilemma for Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster, after that—although it is never explained so openly—is how to guide the Hogwarts students not just in the technological aspects of magic but also the ethical aspects essential to evade the repeated copy of the few great dark lords of magic like Voldemort and their countless supporters. The problem is aggravated by the existence of teachers who are not completely insensitive with Voldemort’s aspirations.
According to Natov (2001), magic is something which requires to be trained for. To become a magician an individual needs to learn how to become one. As a ritual the Sorting Ceremony, which is carried out at the Hogwarts School, is a little more than a hazing.
The supernatural art is a skill which may be learned, not through rite, commencement, or the diffusion of magnetic power, but somewhat with the help of learning from a book, training, observation, and usual testing (Natov, 310). Consequently, Lindy Beam explains the magic of Harry Potter as ability rather than an authority and explanation.
Beam (2001) states what “An odd phenomenon it is when, even in a book about magic, the Western value of reason and accomplishment is held up over the supernatural as a source of power.” This becomes particularly obvious in Rowling’s handling of Professor Trelawny who is a teacher of Divination at the Hogwarts School.
Her assumed control is more classical and supernatural and is dependent on the development of innate awareness: one must, among other things, turn out to be “attuned to the clairvoyant vibrations” (Rowling, Philosopher’s Stone, 103).
Not every individual, nor any magician or witch, can learn foretelling. In the very first class held by Professor Trelawny, her students are warned by her that “if you do not have the Sight, there is very little I will be able to teach you.
Books can take you only so far in this field …” (Rowling, Prisoner of Azkaban, 103). It is also evident that the magic taught by Trelawny cannot be practiced just everywhere or any time. If this happens then it would be dependent on universal distant forces. She is shown to be dwelling in a confined, dark room, with an odor of burnt substance.
This room is situated on the peak of a high rise tower, amplifying that “descending too often into the hustle and bustle of the main school clouds my Inner Eye” (Rowling, Prisoner of Azkaban 76). Trelawny is shown to be a person who reflects fun and amusement.
Also students in her class are comfortable and enjoy and chuckle throughout her class. She is taken to be a teacher who can give you good grades without much hassle. Other teachers ridicule her influence as “silly and superstitious” (Beam, 2001).
Christine Schoefer, (2000) is a feminist critic who noted that as a person, Trelawny, was dismissed by her students and was said to be stupid and incompetent by her fellow staff and sometimes by her students as well. “The entire intuitive tradition of fortune-telling, a female domain, is discredited” (Schoefer, 2000: 9).
Enchantment that is dependent on the supernatural controls of any person or on perspicacity of a hidden authority behind phenomenon, or on rite severance of oneself from culture is discarded in respect to the magic that can be achieved through sensible and practical teaching.
Gadgets and equipments that are discussed repeatedly are another way of helping us learn about the technological features of Harry Potter’s enchantment and of the disillusioned view of the world which lies beneath it. Rowling keeps discussing different resourceful magical developments in the Harry Potter series.
These are often talked about casually in the plot which helps move the stories interestingly yet put across the ambiance of the supernatural world and the world of magic. Thus they prove to be very helpful in presenting how disillusioned that world is.
A major instance might be the Self-Shuffling Playing Cards which Harry stumbles over in the hallway at Ron’s house (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 35). This self shuffling feature is similar to Solitaire on our computers (Doniger, 2000).
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Use of gadgets is essential to Harry Potter’s humanity and let somebody use much of its appeal and wit. It is evident that use of gadgets came prominently in the very start of the series when we see Professor Dumbledore, who was thought to be a greatest performing magician of his times, using a ‘put-outer’, a device which was identical to a silver cigarette lighter and was used to turn off all the street lights on the Muggle street in London (Rowling, Sorcerer’s Stone, 12).
In different books of the series we keep encountering these enchanting gadgets and devices. Some of these include, [Chocolate Frogs these are candy, too] (Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 50–51, 77), special-effects candy (Rowling, Philosopher’s Stone, 197), non-explosive shining balloons and a Grow-Your-Own-Warts kit (Rowling, Chamber of Secrets 150), changing colored ink, Dr. Filibuster’s Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 48) and Omnioculars, which are a kind of binoculars that help one play and move slowly whatever he is watching through them (Rowling, [Prisoner of Azkaban, 86).
Also, the Quidditch World Cup in the Harry Potter series was full of magical gadgets such as “luminous rosettes—green for Ireland, red for Bulgaria—which were squealing the names of the players, pointed green hats bedecked with dancing shamrocks, Bulgarian scarves adorned with lions that really roared, flags from both countries which played their national anthems as they were waved; brand broomsticks, which really flew.” (Rowling, Prisoner of Azkaban, 85)
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a strange mortal creature shadows Hogwarts halls and turns the students to stone, resulting in the students adapting to substitute supernatural resources which are offered as irrational rather than effectual: “hidden from the teachers, a roaring trade in talismans, amulets and other protective devices was sweeping the school. Neville Long bottom bought a large, evil-smelling green onion, a pointed purple crystal and a rotting newt-tail” (Rowling, Goblet of Fire 139).
If we look around we will notice that many of these products are by now obtainable in our natural world without the help of any magic, in fact, through usual technology. With the passage of time and the increasing rate of inventions, we can see that most of these will be invented soon if they have not been invented as yet.
Disapperaing Inks, camcorders, if not omnioculars, are already available. Rowling draws similarities between magic and technology because it is the increasing innovations in technology today that were thought to be unimaginable some time back [maybe even would have seemed like magic then?].
Therefore we can say that the domination of magic and enchantment is lowering due to today’s technological advancements. Objects such as talismans, wands, potions are usual both within real supernatural practice and in symbolism of the supernatural in imagination, myths, and fables. However, Trelawny’s conservative foretelling can be used to describe the tradition of magic in olden times.
It is evident that modern technological gadgets can wear out and get obsolete and therefore have to be repaired or disposed off. However this is not the case here where the tools are periodically renewed through customary rituals or spells; rather, they are the recognizable difficulty of being obsolete (Zipes, 2001).
When Ron’s wand gets fractured in a misfortune, it begins to take action like a wrecked electrical gadget with uncovered live wires which also release smoke and sparks.
Though he tries to fix it with the ‘spellotape’ this was almost useless (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 74). Another such broken gadget in Harry Potter is the broomstick that was issued by the school and “vibrated if you flew them too high, or always flew slightly to the left” (Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 109).
In the very first book of the series, Harry learns mastery in the sport of Quidditch, mostly because of his own will and intelligence, but also because we see that he holds an expensive broomstick (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 8). In the second book, Malfoy lands up with a newer model of broomstick for his team. Harry, distressed and despaired, does not know how to compete this. [But he attempts to obtain the Firebolt, which was formulated for international fight.
Scientists believe that the magic of Harry Porter’s world is the same as it is done today, but this is a misconception. In the world of Harry Potter, magic was used as a means of making things work and creating new things just like technology in the hands of a trained individual who makes airplanes that can fly in the air and freezers to keep stuff cold.
However it is these products of useful discipline, in a way, adequately enigmatic to the individuals who use them, that they may also be the yields of magic. Harry Potter is a wizard shown to be helpful to his friends and social circle with the help of his magic and supernatural behaviors. He does not intend to harm anyone except evil forces who are a threat to good humanity.
His magic and fantasy amuses the young generation all over the world and helps one connect to those times when fantasy and fairy tales were a good source of literature and excitement for children. Undoubtedly the magic at Hogwarts is certainly for the righteous people like Harry Potter and aims to bring peace all over the world.
Beam, Lindy. Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. 2001.
Doniger, Wendy. “Can You Spot the Source? Harry Potter Explained (Review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).” London Review of Books 22 (4) (2000 ): 26–27.
Eager, Edward. Half Magic. New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1954.
Natov, Roni. “Harry Potter and the Extraordinariness of the Ordinary.” The Lion and the Unicorn 25(2) (2001): 310–327.
Rowling, Joanne K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
———-, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 1999.
———-, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 1999.
———-, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2000.
Schoefer, Christine. Harry Potter’s Girl Trouble. 12 January 2000.
Zipes, Jack. Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children’s Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter. New York & London: Routledge , 2001.