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The Harry Potter phenomena - why is everybody mad about Harry?
"It didn't matter no matter how long it was, I would sit there reading until I was done. My Mom kept asking me, `Don't you want something to eat ?' I replied with a simple grunt and kept reading."
"Yes, my subway car has turned into the Harry Potter express. My growing fascination leads me to turn down party invitations, avoid the phone and stay up way beyond any reasonable hour. I am a woman obsessed."
The first statement steams from 12 year old Danny and the second from Kirsty who is 34. They are, as nearly the whole world, obsessed or at least crazy for Joanne K. Rowling´s little wizard Harry Potter, who turns the world upside down and in the meantime has infected people with his magic stories all over Germany as well.
Experts are confused, how can, in times of High-Tec when reading is meant to be `uncool', an old-fashioned hero with his broomstick rise people's fantasy so strongly? It nearly sounds a bit ironical that children flee at the centuries turn from digital dataways to their cosy armchair and read gruesome stories about dragons, wizards and the power of magic mixtures. There more than 35,000000 copies of "Harry Potter and the Sorcere´s Stone", "The Chamber of Secrets", "The Prisoner of Askaban" and "The Goblet of Fire", translated in 40 languages, sold. So what is it, that makes our children (and their parents as well!) read again? Little Harry is an orphan who has lived for 10 years with the Dursleys, his cruel aunt and uncle and their hateful son Dudley, in a faceless English suburb. Shortly after his 11th birthday he learns that he is a wizard. What's more, he is famous throughout the wizard world; although his parents were murdered by the evil Lord Vorldemort, the infant Harry survived the attack. The only thing that remained was a lightening-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead. When Harry gets an invitation of the famous wizard school Hogwarts he leaves the `Muggle (which means real) world' and enters the Hogwarts-Express at the mysterious gate number 9 ¾ to become a proper wizard.
It is Hogwarts where he meets Lord Voldemort for the first time and from then on has to fight against the evil whenever he turns up.
Joanne K. Rowling describes Harry as a small, skinny boy with glasses held together by tape and no one who understands him in his family. He is a character that all kids who feel left out can identify with. Even when Harry finds out that his parents were gifted magicians and he is going to attend the most famous school for wizards, he does not turn into `Superman'. The reader sees Harry to be confronted with very human, very familiar challenges: new teachers, new friends and more than a few mysterious things he has to get along with. To make his way at Hogwarts, Harry has to confront his fears and therefor is the new children's hero. But not all parents were delighted to see their children's face buried in Harry Potter books. Some conservative Christians came to feel that, because the books feature evil, magic and devil, they were proof of satanic influence.
Rowling does feature in fact the evil but she makes clear that, as in `real life', the evil can only appear if it is able to find a weak person it can sneak in. On itself evil is only `shadow and dust' and can not cause any harm. Her descriptions of the episodes Harry has to fight against bad figures remind the reader of traditional values: Harry defeated Lord Valdemor with love, he was able to overcome him because he and his friends put together all their cleverness and therefor were stronger. There was big discussion about the 4th Potter book featuring too much violence because one of Harry's friends dies. Parents went promptly to the barricades but forgot to think about their children are confronted with everyday. Through the internet kids get access to a world they are not ready for and most of the parents aren't able to select special child-friendly websites for they haven't got a clue about computers. Nowadays, children seem to be dedicated to violence. An example therefor is the `Pokemont' hysteria, a couple of months ago. The whole sense of this game is training little monsters to kill others. So, Rowling sees in letting Harry's friend die not a crucial act but education: "My daughter doesn't have a PlayStation at the moment. She is desperate for one. Particularly with younger children, I don't like the idea that they're going to be blowing people up, these little humanoids on the screen, whit no thought of what this really means. And doing that for points! I think there is a vast difference between that and seeing a character you care about dying in a book, experiencing those emotions, working through things that we all have to face at some point."
Rowling underlines a lot of basic values like friendship, responsibility, honesty, loyalty and trust but she does it very sensitively: it is Harry himself who finds out he is better of if he relies on his friends and it is natural for him to take care of his younger fellows and the whole world of wizards, for he is the one who can master the evil. From that point of view it is not quite understandable why some parents judge Harry Potter books as the incarnation of evil influence on their children. Some parents even pointed out that, since they and their children are reading Harry Potter, they have got a better understanding for their kids.
A mother from the United Kingdom explained that she and her daughter got something in common now, they can talk about for hours. Out of the `Potter discussion', she says, she found a new access to speak to her daughter. The main thing they are fascinated by is the relationship of the wizard world on the one side and the `Muggle world' on the other. Rowling provides the reader the possibility to leave reality and disappear into a world of fantasy without getting out of touch with reality. Harry can walk a few steps through a London pub near Charing Cross Road and enter Diagon Alley, a wizard shopping bazaar where he and his classmates buy school supplies. He can easily switch from one world to the other by using a funny mixture of flee powder which brings him wherever he wants to go. Harry is living a double life, for he spends his holidays in the `Muggle world' and stays at Hogwarts for the rest of the year.
Living a double life is not appreciated in reality but this is what might fascinate readers all over the world. Reading Harry Potter provides the opportunity to get away from our hectic lives, our digital world with all the quick decisions to be made and the overwhelming mass of High-Tec. The reader won't find these things in a Harry Potter book because it contains no technology at all. At Hogwarts, light is provided by torches and heat by huge fireplaces. Who requires mail pickup and delivery or even Email when a squadron of trained owls flies messages to and from the school?
It seems that the reader want to believe the unbelievable, and Rowling makes it easy and good fun for them to do so.
The Harry Potter phenomena is proof that there are a lot of people, young and old, in our society who wish to dream and get away from everyday life. Especially grownup find through the Potter books the legitimate way to slip into childhood again without feeling as an outsider who reads books for children. On the contrary, for Harry Potter is even on the New York times bestseller list!
- Arbeit zitieren
- Tina Hau (Autor), 2000, The Harry Potter phenomena - why is everybody mad about Harry?, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/98754