Harry Potter As Companion Through Childhood And Adolescence
The night of July 12th to 13th 2011 was for many of us the end of an era. One last time did a movie of the Harry-Potter-Saga come to a close with the credits of „Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 7.2“. And to evaluate this unbiasedly might be difficult for everyone, that grew up with the books and movies for more than a decade. One could even speak of a Harry-Potter-Generation. Project Quality, however, will try to take a few different perspectives on this phenomenon in the following four weeks, starting with “Harry Potter As Companion Through Childhood And Adolescence”.
With an overwhelming amount of over 500 Million sold copies worldwide, the book series seems to address adult as well as young audiences, although the influence on those readers, who grew up along with the main character, might be even greater. With its fabulous complexity it’s hardly possible to reduce this series on a single genre. The criteria of Children’s and Young-adult literature apply as well as those of Crime Novels, of course of Fantasy literature and Coming-Of-Age-Novels too.
Functioning as a Coming-Of-Age-Novel J. K. Rowling’s opus also reveals educatioal values. It is almost as if this moral authority has been there all throughout our childhood. Harry suffers, is often confused and unsure – emotional conditions that many youngsters can relate to very well. However, he does not match the popular cliché of a “normal” teenager.
With the deep insight into her main characters psyche Rowling allowed us to identify with Harry, even though he is a very individual and oftentimes even idiosynchratic character. And that exactly is the educational aspect: learning to have the same compassion for him that Harry shows to fellow human beings. Because despite all the suffering and dangers, that Harry has to go through, he always remains true to his friends and prefers threat after threat over selfishness.
Professor Dumbledor’s wise advice also helped to shape and advance our own moral maturation. His universal message, that love triumphs over everything, has been processed in books and films numerous times before, but almost never as vividly as it has been through Harry’s survival and his parents’ ultimate sacrifice.
Maybe no lightning-bolt scar will remain on our forehead to remind us, but the belief in the good in man has been memorably installed in half a Billion readers’ hearts just by this book and movie series. I believe that this message survived even the hype around the franchise, which signifies a rare exception in Youth literature, equal to the work of such authors as Astrid Lindgren, Jostein Gaarder, Michael Ende or Erich Kästner.