16 Pages, Grade: 70
An Empowering Hogwarts: socialization and the representation of school experience in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In J.K. Rowling’s third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the school experience is represented as an overall empowering one. I propose to argue against the approaches of Roberta Trites and Mathew Grenby in their respective papers of The Harry Potter Novels as a Test Case for Adolescent Literature and The School Story. By evoking the power mechanism of the Foucauldian Panopticon they depict the Hogwarts school experience as one of complete authoritarianism. I will outline how Foucault’s ‘Panopticism’ is entirely inappropriate and unsustainable in the school of Hogwarts due to the impossibility of surveillance in its enchanted halls and the fallibility of its headmaster. Through its rule-breaking culture I will show how the Hogwarts school experience instead celebrates and encourages the independent questioning of existing dysfunctional power structures. I will explore the school experience of Hogwarts with regard to the themes of authority, power and tribal exclusivity, arguing that the overall portrayal of Hogwarts is an empowering one that inspires in its students independent thought and action against existing authority.
Within this context, I will trace the socialization of Harry into the wider Hogwarts community detailing how this socialization can only manifest itself after the psychosexual development of Harry that indicates a construction of a more whole self. I propose to examine Harry’s psychological development and the subsequent socialization that it both draws from and enables in the context of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory. This psychological perspective is appropriate given the rich symbolism in the wizarding world of the novel and the classic characteristics Harry exhibits as he emerges from an oppressive, parentless childhood into an independent member of the Hogwarts school community. His integration into the school experience is subsequently signified by Harry’s success in the sport of Quidditch which is a further socializing mechanism.
The representation of the experience of attending Hogwarts is entirely different to that of critics who invoke Foucault’s panopticon. Foucault’s panopticon describes how society internalizes a disciplinary code due to the subject’s inability to know whether they are under surveillance. Both Trites and Grenby describe how the pupils of the school are akin to student-prisoners who “behave themselves because they never know when they are being watched” (Trites 474/5). Grenby sees in Albus Dumbledore, the Hogwarts headmaster, “an all-seeing”, omniscient figure with ultimate surveillance over Hogwarts which is meant to ensure the internalisation of a strict disciplinary code (99). In The Prisoner of Azkaban, however, there is contrary evidence to this supposed authoritarian code and Dumbledore’s knowledge and awareness is far from complete. Both the “atmosphere of constant surveillance” by Dumbledore and the ensuing authoritarian ethos that Trites and Grenby are insufficiently sustained in the text (Trites 475).
Rowling’s universe of wizardry makes Foucault’s panopticon virtually impossible. The world is one of complete deception and secrecy in which an “atmosphere of constant surveillance” seems unattainable (Trites 475). The ability in the wizarding world to buy “two hundred copies of the Invisible Book of Invisibility” costing “a fortune” and never being able to find them sums up this problem (Rowling 45). This imperceptibility governs the wizarding universe. In Rowling’s work, hardly anything is what it at first seems. Books are in fact monsters grappling “with each other, locked together in furious wrestling matches” (Rowling 44). Rowling further depicts statues of “humpbacked, one-eyed” witches concealing hidden passageways (Rowling 142). On countless occasions Harry and Sirius attribute to this by disappearing under the invisibility cloak or breaking into Hogwarts transformed as “enormous, bearlike dog” (Rowling 279). Where invisibility cloaks and transfigurations reign, surveillance fails and the headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, seems to be aware of this. At one stage he describes how the dementors, stationed at every exit, “are not to be fooled by tricks or disguises – or even Invisibility Cloaks” (Rowling 72). This seems to be suggestive of both Dumbledore’s and the wider Hogwarts’ community’s knowledge that these evading measures usually work within Hogwarts. Furthermore, Dumbledore, the supposed “all-seeing” warden of the Hogwarts panopticon, is not as omniscient as Grenby proposes (99). We hear Lupin detailing gaps in Dumbledore’s cognisance. He describes how Dumbledore “never knew [he] had led three fellow students into becoming Animagi illegally”, witches or wizards who can transform themselves into an animal at will (Rowling 260). We again see a puzzled Dumbledore conceiving various theories as to how Sirius broke into Hogwarts “each of them as unlikely as the next" (Rowling 124). Grenby seems to be wrong when he tells us that “certainly Rowling created a world in which all is known to the authorities” (99). The atmosphere is one of imperceptibility, far from that of constant surveillance. The ensuing proposed description of the authoritarian nature of the school experience at Hogwarts, too, seems questionable.
The Foucauldian mechanism of ‘panopticism’ theoretically functions by ensuring constant rule-abidance due to subjects behaving “themselves because they never know when they are being watched” (Trites 474/5). Its purpose therefore is to establish complete control and authority over its subjects. Indeed, there are rules and power structures within Hogwarts that ensures some sort of order, however these measures – such as the house point system – are mere “basic regulations”, that do not entail an overall oppressive school experience (Grenby 96).
Hogwarts instead embraces a rule-breaking ethos that moves away from a panoptic authoritarian vision critics often invoke and this culture of rule-breaking seems to be an ever-present tradition in the recent history of Hogwarts. It is passed down, generation to generation, through the symbolic bequeathing of magical objects which themselves enable rule-breaking. For instance, we hear Professor McGonagall describe Sirius and Harry’s father James, as “such a pair of troublemakers” (Rowling 152). The Marauder’s map which was partly created by Sirius and James while they were attending Hogwarts shows all the secret passageways and people as “tiny ink dots” on the grounds of Hogwarts (Rowling 144). The map itself has a long history of rule-breaking owners. After Sirius and James, the map’s possession falls into the hands of Fred and George Weasley, individuals who would have given Sirius and James a “run fer their money" (Rowling 152). Fred and George take up the rule-breaking mantle which they seem to pass on to Harry alongside the map. This legacy of rule-breaking, passed down from generation to generation represents the Hogwarts experience as one full of transgressions and confrontations of the status quo. Harry’s rule-breaking is emblematic of this. We see Harry using the map alongside the invisibility cloak he inherits from his father, to sneak out of the school and visit Hogsmeade, despite Dumbledore making “it plain that nobody is to leave school without permission” (Rowling 72). We hear about various incidents of insolence such as when “Harry stayed where he was” despite being told to sit down by Snape (Rowling 128). While at another stage Harry, encouraged by Dumbledore, emphatically breaks the decree of the Ministry of Magic by setting both Buckbeak and Sirius free at the end of the text (Rowling 303).
This culture of rebellion is supported by various structures and individuals in the school. The representation of the school building itself, with its secret passageways, common rooms only accessible with a password and skirting chamber rooms to “skulk” in, creates an atmosphere in which rule breaking is not only extremely possible, but encouraged (Rowling 240). Despite the model plan of the panopticon being only used metaphorically by Foucault, the very layout of Hogwarts, so far from the panoptic circular prison, is extremely telling. The architecture seems to exude deception, creating the perfect environment for rule-breakers and rule-breaking. For example, the entrance to Gryffindor common room is “up the marble staircase... along more corridors, up more and more stairs, to the hidden entrance” (Rowling 74). Furthermore Rowling depicts Professor Lupin, a representative of the school, operating as a rule-breaking-enabler through his contribution in creating the Marauder’s map and his returning of the map and invisibility cloak back to Harry after Sirius and Buckbeak’s escape (Rowling 309). However, Dumbledore, supposedly the head of discipline, is the most effective enabler of them all. He is seen frequently encouraging a subversion of existing power structures through rule-breaking. We witness him encouraging Harry and Hermione to travel back in time to save Sirius and Buckbeak who have been sentenced by the Ministry of Magic in apparent disregard of the official laws. “If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight. But remember this, both of you: you must not be seen. Miss Granger, you know the law – you know what is at stake You – must – not – be – seen" (Rowling 288). Furthermore, Dumbledore is the one who bequeathed the invisibility cloak to Harry, enabling all Harry’s rule-breaking escapades. Ron reminds Harry, how Dumbledore “sent [him] the invisibility cloak anonymously” (Rowling 166). Dumbledore’s general opposition to the dementors and especially after their infringement on the Hogwarts grounds is extremely significant (Rowling 136). The dementors work for and represent the authority of the Ministry of Magic. The headmaster’s opposition to this power structure is not only in line with the spirit of the rule-breaking culture in Hogwarts, but is emblematic of the challenge to authority that the school experience of Hogwarts teaches.
There are two primary reasons for the characterisation of Rowling’s school experience as one of progressive empowerment. The first is the rule-breaking culture that encourages confrontation of existing power. The second however is through Rowling’s repeated depiction of flawed powerful individuals. For instance, the representation of the fraudulent seer Professor Trelawney who despite ceaselessly forecasting the future, has a mere total of two “real predictions” (Rowling 311). When Hermione impetuously defects from her class – she “strode over to the trapdoor, kicked it open, and climbed down the ladder out of sight” – she is in fact embracing the Hogwarts experience (Rowling 220). We hear of no subsequent punishment administered to Hermione, the school’s way of approving her defiance in the face of incompetent authority. Later on in the text, there is again no subsequent punishment administered to the three protagonists after they had “tried to disarm Snape at exactly the same moment” causing him to be knocked out (Rowling 265). Again, this challenge to Snape’s authority is warranted because, acting upon a “schoolboy grudge”, he incorrectly believes that Sirius is guilty and that Lupin had been helping him get into the school (Rowling 263). Furthermore, Harry and Hermione’s eleventh hour challenge to the power structure of the Ministry of Magic is warranted due to the incompetency and corruption that seems to epitomise the institution. The ministry is attempting to recapture Sirius therefore putting an “innocent man back inside Azkaban” (Rowling 263). Later Harry, Ron and Hermione hear how the authority responsible for Buckbeak’s conviction, the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, is in “in Lucius Malfoy's pocket” (Rowling 235), (Rowling 241). Dumbledore’s opposition to the dementors who act as a type of law enforcement for the Ministry of Magic also seems to be entirely warranted as they are “among the foulest creatures that walk this earth” and lead to the collapse of students (Rowling 140). The school experience in Hogwarts teaches its students not merely uncritically to take everything for granted and perform an unquestioning role, but to challenge existing authority and power structures when they are functioning defectively. Hogwarts and its headmaster does not want to disempower and subjugate its pupils but teach them to rethink and question existing power structures, thus leading to an overall empowering school experience and development of the whole selves of the students within their school community.
This representation is not a widely-held perspective. Trites in fact, in complete opposition to this, labels Hogwarts an Althusserian “Ideological State Apparatus” – an institution that exists merely to indoctrinate ”school-aged children into their place in the market economy” and the “social state in which they live” (Trites 475). However, the examples I have advanced, in which legitimate challenges to questionable authority remain unpunished undermines this argument. Trites’ perception of Hogwarts as merely a means of producing obedient witches and wizards to assimilate unquestioningly into a wizarding society under the authority of the Ministry of Magic is short-sighted. Rowling’s depiction of a wizarding society ruled over by an incompetent and corrupt Ministry of Magic led by the “uncomfortable” and “awkward” Fudge does not seem to be a society with which Hogwarts is teaching its students to acquiesce (Rowling 40), (Rowling 39). Fudge’s ministry evokes the type of flawed authority that is seen in Snape and Trelawney that is allowed to be challenged unpunished in Hogwarts.
I have outlined how the rule-breaking culture of Hogwarts is passed down through the school empowering students to question dysfunctional authority and enabling them to develop independent thought. However, a less progressive culture lies in the foundational structure of the school itself. Hogwarts’ structured house system, whereby on students’ first day they are placed into one of four rival houses, means from day one, a Hogwarts’ student inherits an ancient rivalry that encourages enmity and mistrust. Some rivalries are greater than others, such as the Gryffindor-Slytherin antipathy but with the exception of classes, meals and Quidditch matches, the different houses rarely socialise with one another. Each of the four houses have their own exclusive table in the great hall and common room accompanied by a secret password – “they passed the security trolls, gave the Fat Lady the password... and scrambled through the portrait hole into the common room” (Rowling 217). The culture of exclusivity and tribalism stemming from the Hogwarts house system is mirrored on a micro level in Harry’s friend group of himself, Ron and Hermione. The group constantly segregates itself both from members of their own house and the wider school community. Rowling tells us how “all three of them kept breaking off” from “the crowded Gryffindor common room” seemingly wanting no interaction with other students (Rowling 91). Later on, when the whole school must spend a precautionary night in the great hall, we see how the trio make every attempt to remain separate from the rest of the school – “’c'mon,’ Ron said to Harry and Hermione; they seized three sleeping bags and dragged them into a corner” (Rowling 122). The trio’s lack of interaction with the wider Hogwarts community changes alongside their socialization, a process with which I will deal presently. However, despite the conservative exclusivity the house structure breeds, the spirit of anti-authoritative rule-breaking that it encourages contributes to the empowering school experience represented at Hogwarts.
Such is the tribal rivalry between the school houses that it causes rules to be ignored to antagonize individuals in other houses and benefit those within the same house. With the main house rivalry being between Slytherin and Gryffindor it is unsurprising that it is frequently individuals affiliated with these two houses that take part in tribalistic rule-breaking. Rowling tells us how Snape bends the rules for members of his own Slytherin house – “Malfoy had always been able to get away with anything in Snape's classes; Snape was head of Slytherin House, and generally favoured his own students above all others” (94 Rowling). Later on, she describes how Hermione “slapped Malfoy across the face with all the strength she could muster” and how Ron” flung a large, slippery crocodile heart at Malfoy” (Rowling 216, 138). The Slytherin-Gryffindor rivalry has a long history in Hogwarts. When Professor Snape was a Slytherin student at Hogwarts he “especially disliked James”, a Gryffindor student (Rowling 261). Jealousy certainly may have played a part here. However it must have been easy for Snape, a Slytherin, to dislike a star player for Gryffindor due to the institutionalized rivalry in Hogwarts. This “schoolboy grudge” propelled by the house structure in Hogwarts, encouraged Snape’s “sneaking around” “hoping to get [James] expelled” (Rowling 261). Rowling therefore depicts various instances of rule-breaking encouraged by the tribalism stemming from the exclusive house structures. However, these instances pale in comparison to Quidditch motivated transgressions.
The sport of Quidditch is interwoven inextricably into the school experience of Hogwarts. Quidditch “the most popular sport in the magical world – highly dangerous, very exciting, and played on broomsticks”, is the primary space Rowling uses to explore the deep seated house rivalries and the rule-breaking they trigger (Rowling 15). Rowling describes how “a highly charged atmosphere” came over the whole school before the ultimate match between Gryffindor versus Slytherin and describes to us how “by the time the holidays were over, tension between the two teams and their Houses was at the breaking point” (Rowling 222). This tense house tribalism even manifests itself in violence when “a number of small scuffles broke out in the corridors” between Gryffindors and Slytherins (Rowling 222). Harry, as a member of the Gryffindor team, is even given student body guards who accompany him “everywhere he went, in case the Slytherins tried to put him out of action” (Rowling 222). During the actual game, the tribalistic rule-breaking does not subside. We hear how “deliberate damage” and “unprovoked attack[s]” are perpetrated against the opposing team and Rowling tells us it was the “dirtiest game Harry had ever played in” (Rowling 226). Again Rowling shows how the tribalism encourages rule-breaking, but in this case, the rules broken are the rules of Quidditch. Despite not seemingly significant, this sporting rule-breaking implicitly reinforces the undermining of institutional power.
The school experience is constructed by a dual process: the dissemination by the school itself of a culture and values and secondly the students’ internalization and enacting of these components. Hogwarts’ rule-breaking culture is therefore simultaneously forming and being formed by the students of the school. Grenby tells in the traditional British school story “the school features almost as a character itself, and in which children fit happily into their school, each helping to form the character of the other” (87). Rowling’s text draws from this tradition in this way. By representing Hogwarts as a tribalistic space of rule-breaking, that challenges and undermines authority, the fully socialized student we would expect to encounter is one who embraces these values and the protagonist of Harry eventually does so warmly. However, The Prisoner of Azkaban traces Harry’s psychological development and maturation before his subsequent socialization into Hogwarts.
Harry is depicted as psychologically immature at the beginning of the novel. Rowling depicts Harry’s identity develop alongside the school socialization process where he becomes not just part of the community but develops friendships, becomes a team player, and a hero – a peak of acceptance and integration of self with others. However, at an early stage in the text Harry runs away from his aunt and uncles house after an incident in which he accidently uses magic to unintentionally blow up his aunt. At this time he has not learnt to turn his “primary drives and emotions” into the more controlled socially accepted ones we associate with the socialization into a community (Davis 29). Rowling describes how, infuriated by his Aunt Marge, Harry causes her to inflate “like a monstrous balloon” (Rowling 27). When explaining to Ron and Hermione what happened he says "I didn't mean to... I just – lost control" (Rowling 47). On several later occasions early on in the text, Harry shows a further lack of control as he is filled with “reckless rage” and “was shaking all over” with anger (Rowling 28, 27). In a further lack of emotional control, on the Howarts Express Harry is drained of happiness to the point of unconsciousness by the dementors who feast on “excitement” and “emotions running high” (Rowling 66, 140). Nobody else has this reaction. This lack of control has many parallels with the Freudian phallic stage. During this phase, Siegfried tells us that the Id, “the unorganized part of the psyche that contains a human’s instinctual drives” controls an individual’s actions (Siegfried 1). Usually occurring and concluding at an earlier age, we can only surmise that due to Harry’s childhood oppression under the Dursleys, which I shall detail later on, his psychological development has been impeded. Harry’s infatuation with the Firebolt broomstick in Diagon alley is emblematic of this phallic stage. Before he sets eyes on it Rowling tells us how “he had never wanted anything as much in his whole life” while Harry’s constant return, “almost every day after that, just to look at the Firebolt” verges on the fixation with phallic symbols that occurs in the phallic stage (44). This fixation is reinforced as we hear about Harry’s fascination with wands. “Harry remembered only too well the occasion when Ron's old wand had snapped” while just after his ‘release’ of magic, Harry’s response, while possibly still aroused, is to pull “out his wand, and point it at Uncle Vernon” (Rowling 28). In the absence of Harry’s father, this resembles a displacement of the patriarchal oedipal challenge on to the surrogate father of Uncle Vernon. This fixation on phallic symbols, coupled with the fact that Harry cannot curtail his instinctual drives, means that Harry seems to be firmly in an early psychosexual stage. Due to Harry’s psychological immaturity socialization into any society at this time is unattainable. This all changes when Harry is immersed into the school experience.
In order to socialize into the Hogwarts community Harry must first develop past this psychosexual phallic stage which concludes after the resolution of the Oedipus complex. The Oedipus complex posits that in the psychosexual development of a child, the child develops a sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex. The death of Harry’s parents means there are infrequent examples of Harry’s Id partaking in oedipal sexualising of his mother, Lily. However, when Harry hears his Aunt Marge insultingly discuss his mother Lily, saying – "then she ran off with a wastrel and here's the result right in front of us" – all Harry can think is “grasp your broom firmly by the tail” (Rowling 26). Under Freud, Harry’s mental grip on his phallic broomstick while his mother is being discussed is suggestive of the unconscious erotic investment in his mother that the Oedipus complex entails. The scene eventually leads to an evocative uncontrolled, ejaculative release of magic towards his aunt, in a possible displacement of oedipal urges from his mother, certainly however in an illustration of a lack of control that aligns with the phallic stage. The resolution of this complex marks the maturation of the individual beyond the phallic stage and enables the individual’s mental faculty of the superego to be developed which can be traced as Harry moves through school society.
Freud’s theory describes how the Oedipus complex is resolved by the child “identifying with the same-sex parent, which is the foundation of superego formation” (Lapsley 9). There doesn’t seem to be any key moment of oedipal resolution in Rowling’s novel, but Harry’s gradual internalization of his father’s values and ethos is obvious as the novel progresses. Harry repeats activities that his father had done at school such as playing for the Gryffindor Quidditch team – Sirius tells Harry “you fly as well as your father did" (Rowling 273). While Harry, “completely hidden beneath the Invisibility Cloak”, frequently uses the cloak he inherits from his father for rule-breaking escapades, a cloak under which Lupin remembers "the number of times [he] saw James disappearing under" it (Rowling 254, 205). Harry also befriends his father’s old school friends such as Lupin, with whom he has private “anti-dementor classes” and Sirius who was his father’s “best friend” (Rowling 180), (Rowling 278). Furthermore, the values that Harry internalizes are seemingly dually patriarchal. In the setting of a parentless boarding school, the authority figures in the school become makeshift parents. This happens doubly so for Harry as his parents are no longer alive. Harry’s internalization is patriarchal not only because Harry is assimilating his father’s values, but because Dumbledore, acting as a replacement father figure, is guiding Harry’s socializing internalization process. When Harry mistakes himself for his father, he tells Dumbledore that “when I saw myself across the lake ... I thought I was seeing him”, while Dumbledore, in a confirmation of Harry’s internalization of his father, conclusively tells him that his “father is alive in [him]” (Rowling 311, 312). Dumbledore’s further encouragement to rule-break and challenge authority is too, emblematic of Harry’s actual father. This confirmation of the internalization of patriarchal values, that is an essential part of the school experience, signals the formation of the superego. This in turn marks the end to the reign of “primary drives and emotions” that is emblematic of the phallic stage and which proves significant in the process of socialization (Davis 29).
William Siegfried tells us that the superego “reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly taught by parents applying their guidance and influence” (Siegfried 2). It appears then that the development of the superego is integral to the process of socialization, as John Clausen describes Socialization as "the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained" (Clausen 5). Similarly, Havighurst and Davis describe socialization as “the process by which the human organism develops its primary drives and emotions into the socially controlled motivations which are expected and rewarded by his society” (Davis 29). Both definitions seem to be inextricably linked to the idea that an individual must have the ability to internalize the values that surround them. This is the function of the superego. Socialization, as a process, therefore transforms the instinctive drives of an individual into controlled, socially normative ones in line with the existing culture of a community. Due to the superego being responsible for the internalization of cultural values, it appears that an individual must have a developed superego in order to successfully socialize into a community. This is why Harry’s psychosexual maturation is so important. At the beginning of the novel Harry lacked the psychological tools necessary to socialize and assimilate into any community. Rowling depicts him isolated both from the wizarding and muggle (non-wizarding) world during his summer. Rowling describes how “Harry had had no word from any of his wizarding friends for five long weeks” and even “Hedwig had been absent for two nights now” who we hear “was the only living creature in this house who didn't flinch at the sight of him” (10). This oppression under the Dursleys is possibly the cause for his late psychological development however, it is extremely evident that both the Dursleys and his friends steer clear of him due to his id-driven psychological immaturity.
Harry’s subsequently developed superego however restricts this drive. The superego which “works in contradiction to the Id” enables Harry to control his emotions and instincts (Siegfried 2). Harry’s progression to performing a Patronus is emblematic of this. Harry learns to channel the happiest memory he can think of to eventually succeed in creating a “powerful” anti-dementor Patronus (Rowling 297). At a later stage, Harry resists killing Sirius despite wanting to “avenge his mother and father” (Rowling 251). These two examples, accomplished through the curbing nature of the superego, certainly fall into the bracket of socially controlled motivations that Davis describes being involved in the process of socialization (Davis 29).
The sociologist Talcot Parsons, who reconciles Freud’s psychoanalytic theory with the process of socialization, tells us that the superego works “as a mechanism that interconnects self and collectivity, or interconnects the social system with the personality that allows complex adjustment to changing situations which occur continually in the course of social processes” (Best 123). It seems that the superego therefore is the stepping stone that allows an individual to engage with the culture or society that he or she inhabits. Grenby alludes to the fact that the process of socialization involves “the way in which the wholeness of the self is established by integrating the individual psyche and the collective unconscious of the community” (92). Therefore, before Harry’s superego develops, he lacks the status of a whole self that is needed to integrate into the Hogwarts community. With the development of Harry’s superego, he is entirely more adjusted to integrate into the Hogwarts community, which he does so wholeheartedly.
What helps Harry to do this, is the patriarchal values and traditions that Harry internalizes often align with those of Hogwarts. We have seen how Harry sneaks around the school, breaking rules like his father in ignoring safety precautions, leaving the school without permission and being insolent towards Hogwarts staff. For instance, Snape reminds the trio of their rule-breaking: “you are out-of-bounds, in the company of a convicted murderer and a werewolf” (Rowling 264). Harry’s embodiment of Hogwarts’ culture here seems to be an exemplar of the school story genre’s representation of a school with a character into “which children fit happily” (Grenby 87). One of the most emphatic ways that the development of Harry’s superego and the internalization of his father’s values contributes to Harry’s socialization is Harry’s engagement with the sport of Quidditch.
Harry, in imitation of his father’s “talent on the Quidditch field”, quickly embraces the sport and wins Gryffindor the Quidditch cup (Rowling 261). Thanks to his developed superego, his new ability to counter dementor attacks secures his place on the Quidditch team. Wood comes to Harry worrying what will happen “you know. If the dementors come to the next one” (Rowling 173). Upon hearing about Harry’s anti-dementor lessons, Wood confirms that he had been thinking of removing Harry from the team – “I really didn't want to lose you as Seeker” (Rowling 173). With Harry’s place on the team secured Harry social circle widens enormously.
Belonging to a team is itself a major step in the process of socialization. His place on the team leads to a wider acceptance into the Hogwarts community. His friendship with his teammates comes to the fore after Harry wins a game against Ravenclaw. Rowling describes how – “the next moment, the whole team was hugging him so hard he was nearly pulled off his broom. Down below he could hear the roars of the Gryffindors in the crowd. "That's my boy!" Wood kept yelling. Alicia, Angelina, and Katie had all kissed Harry” (Rowling 194). The approving roars of the crowd are a sure sign of Harry’s successful socialization. Where before Harry exclusively hung out with Hermione and Ron, now Harry is frequently “surrounded by people” or going down to breakfast with “the rest of the boys in his dormitory” who want to give Harry and his broomstick a guard of honour (Rowling 190). Harry interacts with people of all ages as we hear “the whole of Gryffindor House took up the challenge” of accompanying Harry everywhere he went (Rowling 222). Furthermore, after Gryffindor beat Ravenclaw, Harry joins the whole Gryffindor house for a party in the common room that “went on all day and well into the night” (Rowling 195). This integration into a wider social circle is an indication of Harry’s socialization into Hogwarts. Harry’s newly developed superego, which “interconnects self and collectivity”, allows Harry to succeed on the Quidditch pitch (Best 123). The very concept of a team sport requires some sort of socialization in the internalization of rules and values of a game and in sitting through “endless discussions of tactics with Wood”, internalizing them and implementing them in the game, Harry is undergoing a socializing process of “cultural continuity” (Rowling 221), (Clausen 5).
Far from the authoritarianism that Grenby and Trites evoke, the representation of the school experience in Rowling’s work is one of progressive empowerment. Hogwarts empowers its students to interrogate authority as can be seen in the rule-breaking culture that Hogwarts exudes. This is the context in which Rowling depicts Harry’s socialization. As I have shown however, Harry’s selfhood must mature before he can embrace fully this experience. The development of Harry’s self aligns with Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis which itself proves integral to the socialization process. With the development of Harry’s self and subsequent internalization of values, Harry is ready to be socialized into the empowering school experience, which he does with aplomb. He embraces the empowering message of Hogwarts and stands up to the highest level of authority in the wizarding world. Critics as we have seen identify a conservative agenda in the Harry Potter series. However, The Prisoner of Azkaban, with its saturation of rule-breaking, preaches a challenge to the status quo. This progressive message glorifies independence of thought and action and creates a message which not only is empowering for the students of Hogwarts, but for its readership also.
Clausen, John A. Socialization and Society., Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1968.
Davis, Allison., Havighurst, Robert J. “Child Socialization and the School.” Review of Educational Research, vol.13, no.1, 1943, pp. 29 – 37.
Grenby, Mathew O. Children’s Literature., Edinburgh University Press, 2008.
Lapsley, Daniel K., Stey. Paul C. “Id, Ego, and Superego.” Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 2nd ed. Elsevier, 2011, pp. 1-9.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban., Clays Ltd, 1999
Siegfried, William. “The Formation and Structure of the Human Psyche Id, Ego, and Super-Ego – The Dynamic (Libidinal) and Static Unconsciousness, Sublimation, and the Social Dimension of Identity Formation.” Athene Noctua: Undergraduate Philosophy Journal, issue no.2, 2014.
Trites, Roberta S. “The harry potter novels as a test case for adolescent literature.” Style, vol. 35, no.3, 2001, pp. 472-482.
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