Harry Potter. A hero of children's literature?

Bachelor Thesis, 2017

58 Pages, Grade: 1,1


Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Children’s Literature
2.1 What is Children’s Literature?
2.2 The Plot
2.3 Hogwarts as Setting
2.4 Topics and their Representations
2.4.1 Love
2.4.2 Death
2.4.3 The Fight against Evil and its Consequences
2.5 And they lived happily ever after?
III. The Hero
3.1 What makes a Hero?
3.2 Harry Potter
3.3 The Hero’s Journey/ Harry’s Journey
3.4 Relationships
3.4.1 Friends
3.4.2 Foes
IV. Conclusion
V. Bibliography
5.1 Primary Literature
5.2 Secondary Literature


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone referred to as HP1 or Philosopher’s Stone Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets referred to as HP2 or Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban referred to as HP3 or Prisoner of Azkaban Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire referred to as HP4 or Goblet of Fire Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix referred to as HP5 or Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince referred to as HP6 or Half Blood Prince Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows referred to as HP7 or Deathly Hallows

I. Introduction

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home
(J.K. Rowling, tzekoulis, “J.K. Rowling's Emotional Speech“).
When J.K. Rowling started to write her series in the mid 90’s she could have never imagined the success and the world wide phenomenon she would cause with it. Thereby the story of the unemployed single mother sitting in a pub and writing one of the most popular book series ever is as well known as her written story and the verbiage “from dishwasher to millionaire” totally came true for her. Nowadays she is one of the richest women in the world and even richer than the Queen herself although the editorial director of Bloomsbury publishing house warned her that she will never get rich by writing children’s books (c.f. Eccleshare 291f.). Rowling took five years from her first idea to invent her story and she already knew that she will write seven books in total (c.f. Eccleshare 290). She had problems with finding a publisher for Philosopher’s Stone but after being published by Bloomsbury it won several prices like the Nestlé’s Smarties Book Price in 1997 which is awarded by schoolchildren all over England and many other prices (c.f. Eccleshare 299). It was sold in the UK for 1,500 pounds and after its success for 105,000 US dollar to Scholastic Rowling’s publisher in the USA (c.f. ibid.). Additionally, all other books in the Harry Potter series became bestsellers, too, and in “2000, all three of J.K. Rowling’s books dominated the bestseller lists” (Casares1 ). The Harry Potter books have been translated into 78 languages and over 450 million copies of it had been sold until 2015 (bloomsbury-jk-rowling).
J.K. Rowling started her series as a story for children but is her protagonist, to whom many refer to as hero, really a hero and can the Harry Potter series be seen as children’s literature? This question will be answered in this work with firstly looking at the characteristics of children’s literature and if Rowling used them in her novels or not with a closer look on Rowling’s plot and setting as well as her representation of love, death and trauma. Rowling places her story in a boarding school with dangerous and unknown animals and creatures and her protagonists are wizards. Her main protagonist is an eleven-year old orphaned boy who has to live with his miserable relatives until he discovers that he has to fulfil a greater destiny. Furthermore, the endings of her books will be analysed whether they are closed or open because although she knew that the series should consists of seven novels in total she did not knew how successful her novels might be and if she will get the opportunity to write more books. According to that, the endings will also be examined on whether they have happy endings or not since they picture different outlooks on the story due to the plot that is set up by Rowling.
Besides Rowling’s personal success her “greatest achievement is her ability to write books which inspire millions of children to read with excitement and curiosity- perhaps for the first time in their lives” (Stephenson 1) which I can totally agree with because the Harry Potter books were the first books I decided by myself to read and through them I developed my love for literature. This is not only valid for me but also for many other children and adults all over the world who “has been captivated by the charm of the bespectacled wizard” (Gurevitch1). But why do children and adults likewise read and love the Harry Potter books in such a huge amount? What is special within these books that catches and keeps its readers for more than seven books, eight films and over 20 years? “[W]e believe that the answer is rooted in the magical world and story created by Rowling, the richness of her characters, and the respect she exhibits for her readers” (Beach and Willner 103). “Joanne K. Rowling’s teenage wizard has enchanted readers all over the globe, and Harry Potter can truly be called an international hero” (Köhler 15) but is Harry really a hero? This is the second question of this work which will be analysed by having a close look on Rowling’s protagonist, Harry, and his characteristics of a hero figure. Therefore, Harry’s character will be examined and the single books as well as the series as a whole will be compared to Joseph Campbell’s “hero journey”. The most important aspects of the series are friendship and love and will be considered together with Harry’s relationships to his enemies. After looking at the two topics independently they will be combined in a conclusion that will show whether Harry Potter is a hero of children’s literature or not and if J.K. Rowling wrote a series for children.

II. Children’s Literature

2.1 What is Children’s Literature?

When it comes to the field of children’s literature there is a lot of literature available. JSTOR counts currently around 100,000 entries2 3 about children’s literature and most of the texts deal with different aspects and primary literature of children’s literature. Children’s literature is a widely spread field thus there are very different types of it available. There are picture books for the youngest readers or listeners, fairytales and adventure stories, stories about princesses and love as well as more realistic stories about war and the apocalypse for adolescent readers. Moreover, children’s literature is permanently changing as every other field of literature and therefore difficult to capture. Thereby it is important to note that children’s literature is not made by children but for children and hence written by adults who imagine what is necessary and adequate for children to be read and as Lesnik- Oberstein points it:
The definition of a children’s book is still variously based on publishers’ and editors’ decisions, general trends of style and illustration, supposed or claimed readership, and theories of the creative processes which produce a book (4-5).
The origin of children’s literature nowadays lies within literary works that were intended for religious and educational purpose (c.f. Grenby 25). In the 17th century children should learn from these books “how to live godly lives, seek grace, and attempt to avoid the torments of hell” (Reynolds 8). Thus, children’s literature was meant to be didactic for children which lasted until the mid 19th century when children’s and adolescent’s literature was used to mediate values and virtues like hard work, allegiance and godliness (c.f. Lindauer 64f.). During the Second World War books had to be consistent with Hitler’s ideology (especially in Germany) whereby books were not written about reality after Hitler’s downfall to give children a change to escape their sad reality (c.f. Lindauer 69f.). From 1968 onwards reality in children’s books became popular again and fantasy books were out of contest. This changed again through the publication of “Die unendliche Geschichte” by Michael Ende in 1979 (c.f. Lindauer 72f.).
As already mentioned children’s books were meant to teach children before they became just enjoyable. “[T]he business of the child’s life is education” states Gruner (216) and it is true that education plays a huge role in children’s lives because as in Western countries children have to go to school for at least ten years. Therefore, the school and classmates as well as teachers are directly connected to the child. According to that, many children’s books take place in schools and are thus named school stories. It is quite easy for the young readers to identify with the protagonists in these stories because they are in the same situations. Adults on the other hand went to school as well just a few years earlier than their children and can therefore identify with these stories, too, and thus many children’s books are also read by them. “As long as we continue to read these books, we can be ever again young and innocent, ever again older and wiser” (Nodelman 6) what may be the attraction for adults to read children’s literature. By reading and enjoying these books, adults can give their children an understanding of reading and literature because “[...] the one dominating influence for a child that is emphasized is the child in his home surroundings. Books introduced, shared, and enjoyed at home become the most valued of reading experiences” (Hamilton 32). Killinger describes the school story differently by saying that [l]ife in such institutions is usually rigorous, masters are unreasonable, and children are at first lonely and disoriented. But being children, most of them are fairly resilient and manage to survive by aligning themselves with other children and an occasional professor (38).
This description is valid for all new situations in humans’ lives whether one comes to kindergarten, school or later to university and employment. It is always a weird feeling until one finds others and is able to make friends with them. Furthermore, the school is often only used as the setting of the story rather than being a real topic (c.f. Gruner 217). This may be because children go to school to be taught by their teachers in fact but what they learn there is only a part of the things they learn in school. Many things are learned outside and are not part of the curriculum like humanity, self-identification and valuation of others. Casares states that child culture can be described as a place where children feel most comfortable in their environment. [...] The culture stimulates the child so she or he is able to learn how to make valid judgements in everyday life situations.
In many of these school stories the children are taken away from their parents to escape their authority and being able to fully become themselves without their always observing parents.
Other often used types in children’s literature are the fairytale and the adventure story. In contrast to the older children’s literature fairytales are not meant to teach something because they would be predictable and children like pointless stories (c.f. I. Singer 51f.). Thereby, it is not compulsory necessary that the story takes place in an unreal world. Like Lindauer writes in her book, many stories can begin in the real world and take place for an amount of time in it (49). To support children’s imagination and their ability to think beyond fixed circumstances “adventure tales are often situated within unknown and exotic settings, which scarcely exist anymore in a globalized world” (Köhler 18). A lot of fairytales begin with the disaster of the protagonists and their everyday life in which they are often forced to live with awful people (c.f. Gurevitch). As the name already indicates, adventure stories are about protagonists who go on adventures to for example find a treasure or save the world. These stories have in common that adults are portrayed similarly through the eyes of children. They are always “hostile, domineering, and evil, and must be overcome by means of ingenuity, the exercise of restraint, and the patience to wait for the timely moment, which inevitably arrives” (ibid.). Of course not all adults are evil in children’s literature because children need mentors and assistants who help them fighting evil. The protagonists are released from their wretchedness by an arriving unusual stranger who tells the protagonists that they have special abilities or the destiny to fulfil a certain task and takes the heroes with him or her (c.f. ibid.). One subgenre of fantasy is the marvellous story in which two parallel worlds exist. Moreover, a clear distinction between good and evil is shown in different ways like the weak child versus the powerful adult (c.f. ibid.). Additionally, “the hero suffers and undergoes hardships, yet despite his ordeals, he never loses his courage, hope, or sense of justice, and ultimately, almost predictably, emerges triumphant” (ibid.). For Klaus, fairytales are rather plot- oriented than character-oriented and feelings of loss, desire, doubt and self-insecurity are absent (c.f. 25f.). Furthermore, she states that fairytales do often have the same characteristics like a protagonist who is an orphan, a quest structure and good fights against evil (c.f. 22). In that case many parents are afraid of their children not being able to distinguish between what is real and what is only fantasy and does therefore not exist. But children are able to differentiate between the real world and fiction around the age of three (c.f. Casares). In contrast to that, Isaac Singer asserts that children like the supernatural and believe in it (c.f. 53) but there is a difference between really believing that for example magic exists or whishing that magic would exist. By reason of the popularity of fantasy fiction it is nowadays “the dominant force in children’s literature” (Reynolds 8) what gives children the opportunity to enjoy childhood by not worrying about too serious topics although there can also be a hidden message in novels.
According to Sundmark
[c]hildren leam to be childlike through children’s literature, each according to the norms of the society and culture of which they are part; and additionally, through this literature children learn to grow up in that society. Children’s literature is innocence and experience at the same time (293).
Thus, children also learn how to be adult like because children’s literature makes them clubbable. Although novels of regression in which children do not want to grow up are quite dominant in British children’s literature there are as well novels of progression in which children’s development into adults is depicted (c.f. O’Sullivan 61). A few general characteristics of children’s literature are that they are short, simple, often didactic in intention, and clearly positive in their outlook on life [...] [but] their apparent simplicity contains depths, often surprisingly pessimistic qualifications of the apparent optimism, dangerously and delightfully counterproductive possibilities that oppose and undermine the apparent message (Nodelman 1f.).
Moreover, children’s literature deals with everything that adults’ literature deals with as well with the exception of graphic sex and brutal violence (c.f. Lesnik-Oberstein 5) because the books were meant to teach children how to become good adults. Since sex before marriage was forbidden or more precisely sexist forbidden for women it was not dealt with in children’s literature. This has changed in the last few decades especially in literature for adolescents4 5 6 7 and these topics became quite popular and widely spread. Thereby it is important not to change the use of words from adults’ to children’s literature because it makes no difference whether a child is able to understand every single word or not (c.f. I. Singer 56). Like Reynolds states it, traditions and events have an impact on children’s literature (c.f. 10) and in famous British children’s literature most protagonists are white and live in middle-class heterosexual families (c.f. 21). “Almost every children’s story [...] starts by describing its protagonist’s childlike point of view [...]” (Nodelman 4) what is often supported by the fact that these books are written in a third-person narrator (c.f. Nodelman 3) who is only able to reflect the protagonist’s feelings and emotions and of no one else. Furthermore, children’s literature seems to be focused on places and all places are therefore associated with values and worries (c.f. Nodelman 10). According to that one pair of places would be the home and away where the home represents safety and boredom, communal connection and suffocation whereas away stands for danger and excitement, independence and isolation (c.f. Nodelman 9). The plot in most cases deals with a protagonist who often gets into trouble and has to solve the problems (c.f. Nodelman 6) and the readers seem to enjoy the upcoming chaos and tricky situations. Evil is in most cases depicted in black and darkness and the pursuit of power but are defeated by and through love (c.f. Lindauer 219, 221). Whereas witches and wizards were previously depicted as the bad characters they are nowadays often the good ones fighting evil (c.f. Lindauer 300). In contrast to Nodelman, Nel points out that children’s books can also be “complex, playful, and profound” (23) what shows the ambivalence in this genre and the different point of views of its researchers. In addition children’s books were shorter than books for adults but that changed as well in the last decades4. Children’s books favour active treatment, dialogues rather than descriptions, children as protagonists, an optimistic and child-oriented language, fantasy and adventures (c.f. Reynolds 26). They should have happy endings because children are sensitive (c.f. I. Singer 54) and to give them the opportunity to keep their hope for the future (c.f. Reynolds 27). Children are only in the eyes of adults not capable of taking the world as it is with all the bad things happening. Most children are able to understand these and adults do not have to come up with stories to explain the tough world to their children. The climatic moments in children’s books “celebrate maturity” (Nodelman 4) and these books “end quickly, shortly after the point at which wisdom is gained, for the activities of the wise are simply less interesting to contemplate than those of the unwise”. This again is only true for an amount of children’s books because there are enough books that are evidence for the contrary. Hamilton says that [i]n good children’s books characters live, plots have structure and validity, the human condition has immediacy, humor is fresh and sharp. [...] [And] books must have truly interesting content before any psychological, sociological, or educational approach (28f.).
Tatar adds a few other characteristics like “an abject orphan, toxic stepparents, false heroes, helpers and donors, villainy and revenge” (qtd. in Killinger 21).
As it is shown by the mentioned aspects there is no clear definition or approach of children’s literature. Each book has to be examined and afterwards decided whether it could be counted as children’s literature or not. The most striking aspects that will be examined further in this work are the school setting, depiction of certain topics and happy endings.8

2.2 The Plot

Iafratel summarizes the plot of the Harry Potter books as follows:
It is the progressive parents’ dream-series, complete with labor-reform for house-elves, a brilliant female who prizes books over popularity, and underlying messages about how to treat people.
Like it is said in chapter 2.1 children’s books are short, simple and positive in their outlook on life. The first Harry Potter book counts 332 pages and the longest one in the series Order of the Phoenix counts even 766 pages. This is not short and especially for children a high amount of pages to read what was one reason for publishers to refuse Rowling’s books. The first two books in the series are of a linear structure. There is a problem that must be solved and Harry, Ron and Hermione suspect the wrong person to be the manipulator but in the end someone else is the villain and Harry solves the puzzle. From Prisoner of Azkaban on the books become more complex with hidden story lines and new characters apart from teachers.
The Harry Potter books contain characteristics of both the fairytale and the adventure story. Each book starts with Harry’s life at the Dursleys’ with the exceptions of Philosopher’s Stone, Goblet of Fire, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows in which other story lines are brought forward before the story turns to Harry. Therefore, the beginning and the ending of each book takes place in the real world before Harry leaves again for Hogwarts. Thereby Rowling “draws young readers into the books by connecting aspects of the world in which they live with a world that transcends reality” (Beach and Willner 103). Harry’s life at the Dursleys’ is always awful because no one of his relatives wants him to be there and due to their behaviour Harry cannot stand them. By depicting the Dursleys as evil people who maltreat an innocent child because of his abilities and ancestry Rowling makes use of another characteristic of the fairytale and adventure story. Harry is released from his wretchedness for the first time by Hagrid who comes to tell Harry that he is a wizard and therefore able to go to Hogwarts. Hagrid functions as the unusual stranger who tells the hero that he has a specific destiny. Klaus states that “fairy-tale narratives favor the outsider” (23) and Harry is an orphan what is popular for protagonists of children’s literature and has no friends until he comes to Hogwarts. He is often brought to situations where he is the outsider like in Goblet of Fire when he is selected as second champion for Hogwarts although he is much too young to participate in the “Triwizard Tournament” (HP4 238) and in Order of the Phoenix when the Ministry of Magic spreads the rumour that Harry is lying about the return of Voldemort. Moreover, Harry is also white and lives in a middle-class heterosexual family what is also typical for children’s literature. In addition children’s literature focuses more on action than on inner thoughts and reflections what can be seen during the first four novels in which Harry reflects only a little and if he does so he only reflects about what to do next (c.f. Nikolajeva 134). This changes from book five onwards because the reader gets more and more insight into Harry’s thoughts like when Harry tries to understand his weird feelings for Ginny and thinks about a conversation with Ron about being Ginny’s new boyfriend (HP6 482).
The marvellous story deals with two parallel worlds which are also present in the Harry Potter books. On the one hand the real world and the wizarding world are opposites and on the other hand good is fighting against evil. During the series Harry physically and mentally suffers a lot whether it is because of a Quidditch game (HP2 129), a dementor’s attack (HP3 105), a “Cruciatus curse” (HP4 573) or the loss of a beloved person (HP5 710) but he never loses his courage and always decides for what is right not easy to do. Due to different circumstances it is always Harry who gets into trouble although he never seeks it what Nodelman depicts as a characteristic of children’s literature (c.f. 6). In the end Harry is successful in defeating Voldemort. Through the novels the characters mature what can be seen in Harry’s behaviour towards other people. Since children learn to be adult like by reading children’s literature Harry functions as a role model of how to deal with acting too emotionally during puberty or how to handle a first love. In Casares opinion the popularity of the series is due to “the genius of Rowling’s plotting” but it is also because of her established characters with whom readers can easily identify because they undergo the same problems of growing up. Many adults see the Harry Potter books as too scary for their children because in contrast to films books do not have an age rating. During the series people are tortured, and killed and an old castle functions as school. The “criticism is strictly based on the confines of an adult understanding of what is frightening to children” (Casares) because adults write the novels for children and therefore decide what is frightening for them. With each novel the series gets darker by Harry’s rising temper and that he is not able anymore to rescue everybody. The first death occurs in book four and Harry cannot do anything to prevent it (HP4 553).
What begins as a seemingly simple story of a boy’s entry into an unknown world of magic turns into a search for identity, a battle between good and evil, a maze of moral decisionmaking, and a quest for the meaning of human relationships (Beach and Willner 103f.).
In her Harry Potter books Rowling makes use of different genres what “reflects the Zeitgeist of an era seeking freedom of thought in a 'supermarket of ideas'” (Gurevitch). Rowling mixes the school story with Hogwarts as its setting with the adventure story in which a young protagonist has to save the world from evil as well as with the fairytale because the protagonist is a wizard who lives in an unreal world. Stojilkov sees the Harry Potter series as a patchwork of a bildungsroman and a boarding school novel, but even more so of an adventure story, a detective novel, a gothic romance, and medieval legends and, as such, features death and dying from the very beginning (134).
Furthermore, the books are written in a third-person narrator and the reader is only able to see what Harry sees with the exception of the chapters “The Boy Who Lived” (HP1 7-24), “The Other Minister” (HP6 7-24), “Spinner’s End” (HP6 25-41) and “The Dark lord Ascending” (HP7 9-18).

2.3 Hogwarts as Setting

“Central to the Rowling phenomenon is Hogwarts Academy, which offers a version of an élitist ideal that struck a chord in the highly conventional 1990s, and such élitism may still play a part in middle-class fantasies” (Eccleshare 289). As it is already mentioned in chapter 2.1 schools play a huge role in children’s literature. Hogwarts is a typical boarding school where children are educated away from their parents. When Harry gets to know that he is a wizard and will be accepted to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry all his dreams come true because he will be able to leave the Dursleys for nearly the whole year until he will come of age when he will be able to do whatever he wants to do anyway. Hogwarts represents for Harry freedom and the possibility to fully develop himself without worrying about what his relatives will think and do about it. Moreover, Hogwarts is a kind of Neverland for Harry (c.f. Billone 191) where he can truly be himself.
The narrow path had opened suddenly on to the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers. [...] Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead (HP1 123f.).
This is the first time Harry gets a glimpse at Hogwarts and it evokes the atmosphere of admiration. Everyone is silent and looking in aspiration at the mysterious castle that comes closer every second. They arrive at the castle and enter the Entrance hall whose size makes the new students appear much smaller than they actually are:
The Entrance Hall was so big you could have fitted the whole of the Dursleys’ house in it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors (HP1 125).
A castle is a typical setting for a Gothic story and this impression is supported by the depiction of the Great Hall where the Sorting Ceremony takes place:
Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles which were floating in mid-air over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. [...] Harry looked upwards and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars (HP1 128).
Castles are mysterious because they consist of many rooms, are dark, old and traditional. Furthermore, they are associated with the past and their inhabitants are isolated and lonely because castles are normally built away from villages. They contain dungeons and ghosts and are often nerved by secret passages. Due to the castle’s many rooms, floors and corridors it is difficult for a stranger to come along and to know where he is and where to go. People often begin to imagine things that are not present when they are left in the dark without orientation like being followed. When the first years are brought to their dormitories they completely lose their orientation and are totally addicted to their guide. The next morning Harry and his classmates struggle to find their classrooms and are of course late for class. The stairs in Hogwarts make everything worse because they change their positions every now and then so that nobody can rely on the way they have come (c.f. HP1 144). This is a situation every child knows because coming to a new school is always connected to getting familiar with it during the first weeks there.
The lessons at Hogwarts are unusual because the students have to learn transfiguration, potions making, flying on a broomstick and how to treat magical plants and animals. Additionally, they have to study the movement of the planets every Wednesday at midnight (c.f. HP1 146) what would not be possible if their parents were around because in their opinions midnight is far too late for their children if they have to get up early the next morning. Of course every student has his own favourite subjects and subjects he does not like. Hence readers can easily identify with Harry and his peers. Although the first years seem to be disoriented and lost in Hogwarts they soon come to form alliances and to make friends. Thus, they are not alone anymore and face the tasks of their everyday life together.
As already mentioned in chapter 2.1 the school often functions just as the setting of the story rather than as a real topic of it. In the Harry Potter books Hogwarts is the setting and the lessons play a huge role in them as well. Hogwarts reflects the three progressivist ideals: “hands-on learning, building on the natural interests of children, and connecting schoolwork to everyday life” (Bassham 213). The adventures Harry and his friends undergo at Hogwarts are not directly related to their classes but the things they learn during their lessons help them to master and survive their adventures. “For Harry Potter, Hogwarts is a place of tests: some academic, some practical, and some moral” (Pharr 58) thus Hogwarts combines many aspects of education. Furthermore, they learn a lot of things outside the classroom because they have nothing to do with the curriculum like humanity, friendship, loyalty or integrity. Outside the classrooms the students learn most of the sections by themselves without controlling or instructing adults. But their lessons are a great part of the series because there are many scenes in which Harry, Hermione and Ron sit in the Gryffindor common room and do their homework or learn for exams. Children at Hogwarts do not only learn by listening or reading but more often by active participation that usually includes first the demonstration by a skilled teacher, second the practice by the students, third the correction by the teacher and forth the continued practice until the students are capable of the technique (c.f. Bassham 213f.).
The teachers at Hogwarts, especially Professor Dumbledore, give the students the space to try themselves out and to see if they are capable of something thereby the books lack an “omniscient controlling authority figure” (Gurevitch). “Harry Potter restores both the educational environment and learning process itself with a sense of empowerment, intellectual curiosity, morality, and excitement” (Stephenson). There is no subject concerning a language for the students at Hogwarts although the pupils from “Durmstrang” and “Beauxbatons”, other schools for young witches and wizards, are able to speak English what must therefore being taught there (c.f. Köhler 20). This represents British pupils because they are often not able to speak another language than their mother tongue since English is the world language and mostly everyone can talk in English there is no necessity for them to learn a foreign language. Irish pupils learn Gaelic in school although they cannot use it in any other country.
There are always new settings introduced with every volume of the series. The first book only takes place at the Dursley’s, Diagon Alley, King’s Cross and at the grounds of Hogwarts. In the second book Ron’s home “The Burrow” (HP2 29) is introduced to Harry and the reader. In the third book Harry comes to know the Knight Bus (HP3 42) and the students of his year are allowed to visit the wizard village “Hogsmeade” (HP3 18) and in Goblet of Fire the Quidditch World Cup and its location is new (HP4 87) as well as the graveyard where Voldemort returns to power (HP4 552). In the fifth volume the “Ministry of Magic” (HP5 112) and “St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries” (HP5 412) are added as places. In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Harry travels with Dumbledore to Professor Slughorn (HP6 59) and at the end of the book to a hidden cave to find one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes (HP6 519). The last book of the series does not play at Hogwarts at all despite the final battle. The introduction of more and more places occurs due to the fact that the students become older each year. Therefore, they do not need to be protected in the castle as they were during their first year because they need to become independent and selfconfident. The learned contents can be proved in the real world.
Furthermore, pupils are not punished for breaking the rules if they were broken for a greater good. In Philosopher’s Stone Harry and Hermione are punished for leaving their beds when they tried to help Hagrid with his dragon because Professor McGonagall thought that they were tricking Malfoy (HP1 262). But they are not punished for breaking the third-corridor-rule to prevent Voldemort from getting the “Philosopher’s Stone” later in the book (HP1 297). “Breaking the rules at Hogwarts enables the young magicians to explore their hidden abilities, and presents Harry Potter with opportunities to confirm his leadership” (Gurevitch). Discipline is therefore ambivalent at Hogwarts or in most cases supportive because it is not used to dominate or repress the pupils but for means of self-construction because children’s literature tries to answer the question of how to balance the two issues of discipline (c.f. Wolosky 286f.).
Hogwarts is often criticized for being too dangerous, having too few qualified teachers and giving students not the well-rounded education they need (c.f. Bassham 215). It is true that Hogwarts is a dangerous place but just because the world its pupils live in is dangerous as well. Dumbledore warns his students not to go into the Forbidden Forest and the third floor during their first Welcome Feast because otherwise they would die a very painful death (HP1 139). This indicates that pupils are treated like adults at Hogwarts because no one would frighten children that much by telling them not to go anywhere because otherwise they will be slaughtered. A school has the task to prepare its students for their later life and by preserving pupils with the exercises and fears they will have to deal with later Hogwarts performs this task very well. Gurevitch claims that Hogwarts is a representation of New Age pedagogy because it gives its students some “challenges and exercises that are individual, active, experimental, intellectual, educational, and extreme in nature, and are designed to encourage independent thinking”. She also adds the school’s tasks to encourage equal opportunities and to install leadership skills. Hogwarts has got more qualified teachers than unqualified. The only unqualified teachers at Hogwarts are in most cases the teachers for “Defence against the Dark Arts” and Severus Snape. In contrast to the Dark Arts teachers who are unqualified for this job due to their lack of knowledge Snape is unqualified for his job because of his obvious aversion to all students who are not in Slytherin and especially his hatred against Harry. Stephenson says that Rowling’s books appeal to readers precisely because Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry is not a haven, secure from violence and cruelty, but is, instead, a place where children learn not only how to live in a world that contains evil, but also how to fight against it.
Therefore, readers like the danger Hogwarts is surrounded by because it is something completely different from their save daily routine. Reading about Harry, his amazing subjects and school, his exciting adventures and his loyal friends is fascinating for children who cannot experience such adventures themselves.

2.4 Topics and their Representations

2.4.1 Love

As it is already mentioned in chapter 2.1 children’s literature does not deal with sex what is a huge part of love. During the Harry Potter series Rowling does not once mention sex when she writes about couples. In addition she does not write about one single homosexual person in all seven books. After she had finished the series she explained that for her Dumbledore was homosexual and had a love relationship with Grindelwald when he was younger. Rowling justifies herself by saying that in her opinion there was never a necessity or right time to broach the issue of Dumbledore’s sexuality in her novels and instead of that she depicts many different kinds of love in the Harry Potter books.

1 read online with access about < http://www.lib.latrobe.edu.au/ojs/index.php/tlg/search/search>, therefore no page numbers available
2 Stand 28th of February 2017 for the research: “Children’s Literature”
4 for example The Perks of being a Wallflower written by Stephen Chbosky that deals with a boy who was
5 sexually abused by his aunt or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in which children have to fight and
6 kill each other for the entertainment of the higher class in society
8 for example Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke counts around 600 pages as well as Eragon by Christopher Paolini and the last book in each series counts even a lot more pages 7
Excerpt out of 58 pages


Harry Potter. A hero of children's literature?
University of Bonn  (Bonner Zentrum für Lehrerbildung)
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harry, potter
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Laura Commer (Author), 2017, Harry Potter. A hero of children's literature?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/999793


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