The philosophers stone

‘Harry’s fictional realm of magic and wizardry perfectly mirrors the conventional assumption that men do and should run the world. From the beginning of the first Potter book, it is boys and men, wizards and sorcerers, who catch our attention by dominating the scenes and determining the action. Harry, of course, plays the lead [… ] Girls, when they are not downright silly or unlikable, are helpers, enablers and instruments. No girl is brilliantly heroic the way Harry is, no woman experienced and wise like professor Dumbledore.

In fact, the range of female personalities is so limited that neither women nor girls play on the side of evil’ (Christine Schoefer). Do you agree? Consider the representation of gender roles in Rowling’s text. Harry Potter is the hero of children’s literature across the world. Just one mention of his name and there is not a child, parent or grandparent who has not heard of the excitement, thrill and fantasy that is Harry’s world.

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JK Rowling’s books have been translated into many different languages throughout the world where children across the planet are reading these fascinating novels of the Potter series not to mention the billion pound movies that have made Harry and indeed Rowling an international household name. This series of children’s books has reignited kids’ desire to read and while doing so entertained numerous adults.

Harry like Rowling had had a struggle in life from Harry losing his parents and being brought up by his aunt and uncle, who took an instant dislike to him and shoved him under the stairs, to Rowling with her life portraying a similarity to a Cinderella rags to riches story. JK Rowling had a universitiy education and taught English abroad. She was a single parent portrayed as a scrounger and a problem in society. Harry is perceived as a ‘freak’ by his stepfamily but as something magical by his friends and teachers.

This bears a resemblance to the famous story of Jesus in the Christian Bible, whose brothers hated him and looked upon him as a freak yet was thought of as special by many others. A very interesting point to look upon is that Jesus and Harry are both male, magical and world greats! Society has always shown that men and their world have always been run by males looked upon as these great rulers and wizards. Bush in the United States of America, Blair in the United Kingdom and every government party in the UK are lead by men.

In the 80’s, luckily for the women of the land, Margaret Thatcher took reign as government leader but the press were always criticising her actions and slating her for being a woman! The Queen is another great monarch to rule the land although rarely is allowed to express her views in society. Instead it is left to the males among us who are portrayed as powerful and always correct. JK Rowling is a woman who herself has struggled in life and against the government in being a single parent also continues this reign of men in her story ‘The Philosophers Stone.

‘ Right at the beginning of the novel Harry’s uncle Vernon Dursley shows us he is very much the man of the house at four Privet drive as he kept Harry and his secret hid under the stairs. The Dursleys had everything and anything that they wished for, and in their eyes a wonderful son Dudley, a boy who also dislikes Harry. Harry had many jobs to do in the house and is treated more like a servant to the Dursley’s than a relative. Is at this stage that you do not see Harry in his full heroic glory. It is not until some very special letters start to arrive that we as the reader begin to see the character of Harry Potter come alive.

The letters alarm the Dursleys and they try to put a stop to them by drilling up the letterbox. Harry realizes that something magical is happening but has no idea he is a Wizard unlike the Dursleys who have been keeping this secret from him. Had Mr. Dursley tried to stop these letters because Harry could become the alpha male and be much stronger than he is? I believe he is very afraid that this could happen. Dudley the short little fat ugly kid in the story very much over powers Harry by whining about him ruining the trip to the zoo where he set a snake onto him.

However, Harry just ignores this without a care in the world showing that really he is a stronger person than Dudley. As the Dursleys work hard to get rid of the Hogwarts letters Harry is visited by a Hogwarts employee – Hagrid the giant a keeper of the keys at Hogwarts School. He himself a former pupil who left due to personal reasons but returned to maintain the schools grounds out of loyalty to Dumbledore. He has a passion and gentle affection for dragons, beasts and the sort of magical creatures that others may find terrifying!

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