Most of us in this day and age are familiar with the Harry Potter series. An entire era itself, beginning with books in 1997 and ending with films in 2011. JK Rowling taught the whole world how to read with her phenomenal story. In a brief summary, Harry Potter, at age 11, is about as unhappy as a child can get. Both his parents have died, and he has been raised his whole life by Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, his aunt and uncle. Harry has been mistreated his whole life, and received special torment from his cousin. The day his life completely changes is when an abnormally large man named Hagrid comes to tell him he is a wizard. Harry has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the very same institution his parents studied at. Throughout his tale, Harry is battling for the triumph of “good over evil.” Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard known to man, seeks power and control of the wizarding world. He believes only purebloods, or those who only have magical bloodlines, are the only ones worthy to study magic. Any mixing of magical and muggle (non-magical) blood is unacceptable, and the punishment is always torture and death.
Throughout this well loved tale, Harry learns the true value of friendship; something he has never been able to experience before his arrival to Hogwarts. In his world at the Dursley’s, he was discriminated against for being different; for being “magical.” In the wizarding world, those with non-magical blood are discriminated against. Muggleborns especially (also called “mudbloods” in a more negative light) whom were born with magical abilities although both their parents are not wizards, receive awful torment. In some cases, two wizards have a child that posess no magical abilities, known as a Squib, and they are pressured by society to practice and practice magic while just hoping they can fit in. Lord Voldemort only values those who are pureblood, and seeks to eliminate anyone who doesn’t fit this standard. This theme is quite related to Nazi Germany, and even more recently in current politics with executive order issued by President Donald Trump, often referred to as the “Muslim Ban.” The many of us who have read and cherished Harry Potter feel a negative reaction to discrimination against those of different race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and more. In an article by Tom Jacobs (writer for Pacific Standard Magazine) a study was conducted that showed kids who read Harry Potter books became more tolerant of minority groups. The research was conducted in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, and explained how the Harry Potter books provided so many examples of unfairness towards other human beings (or even house-elves for that matter) that kids were able to attach them to real-life prejudice. The large, worldwide scale, pop culture phenomenon of Harry Potter contributed to the opinions on prejudice to so much of this generation all around the world. In our development stages we were exposed to this story and connected it to our realities, enabling us to be such an open minded group of people. I believe the story had a huge impact on our treatment towards fellow human beings.
1. Jacobs, T. (2014, July 29). Harry Potter and the Battle Against Bigotry. Retrieved February 05, 2017, from https://psmag.com/harry-potter-and-the-battle-against-bigotry-d5bb0d530152#.minzlk34c