According to Facts on File Companion to the British Novel: 20th Century, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has sold “over 200 million books worldwide.” In addition to that, the Harry Potter series has also added a “film franchise” that has topped the box office every summer. However, although the series has such highly rated reviews, the truth is that the series exploits unsafe and malicious ideas that can be terrible for our young generation of readers. If we analyze the first two books, we can easily find that there is witchcraft, betrayal, people not being treated equally, favoritism, and murder involved. Also, if we examine the character, Harry Potter, himself, we find that he is not the role model that we would want young readers to look up to. The series not only exploits awful actions, such as betrayal and murder, but also sets a terrible example as well.
The Merriam Webster’s definition of witchcraft is “the use of sorcery or magic” and “communication with the devil.” Also, according to the “Salem Witch Trials”, from the Encyclopedia of American Folklore, witchcraft has been around since the 1600s. The Encyclopedia also states that, “witches were believed to consort with evil sprits’, including the devil. Some considered witches to be possessed by the devil.” Just with this information, no one should perform or promote the horrifying and terrible use of witchcraft.
In the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter, the “loveable and courageous role model”, begins a new life as he enters “Hogwarts: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” Hogwarts is a school that teaches young adults to perfect the use of witchcraft and develop them into becoming witches or wizards. In the series, Hogwarts may seem like a wonderful school to attend to, but in reality, it is a school that promotes and allows the awful use of witchcraft. Letting our young generation of readers glance about students who attend school to learn witchcraft is not only dangerous, but also completely wrong. What happens if young children loves and obsess the series so much that they want to learn the evil craft of witchcraft?
To betray someone is one trait that all parents try to teach their child or children not to do. Turning your back on someone you know to benefit yourself is an awful act. The trait of betraying someone should not be seen or read by young children as it can easily influence them to do the same thing. In the first book of the series, Harry learns that Professor Quirrell, “the timid professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, was the one who tried to kill Harry at his quidditch game. The Harry Potter series not only involves witchcraft, but betrayal as well. No child should read about a series that involves their own teachers betraying their students. This also sets a terrible example and can also influence young readers to lie and betray their friends as well as those who they love.
In grade school, we all learn to be kind to each other and treat each other with respect. In the Harry Potter series, however, not only do certain students get treated differently, they are looked down upon and get treated with hate and disrespect. According to the series, a “muggle” is someone who is a member of the non-magical society. An example of a muggle would be one of Harry’s best friends, Hermione Granger. However, in the series, her fellow classmates, due to her muggle family, treat Hermione differently. In my opinion, no one should be treated differently just because of who they are or who they’re parents are. Although some people may look at Hermione as someone they can relate to because she gets treated differently, this is a very bad example the book is setting. If there was no use of people not being treated equally, then no one would have the idea to pick on a particular person just because of their past.
Favoritism can cause a young adult, or even adults, to feel awful and less good about him or herself. The worse kind of favoritism is when it is involved with a parent, teacher, principal, or coach to a particular family member, student, or athlete. We see this with Harry Potter’s muggle family, “The Durseleys” as they favor their son more than they do with Harry. We also see this with Harry himself, as he not only receives favoritism amongst his peers, but also by the “headmaster”, Albus Dumbledore, as well. In the first book, The Durselys spoil their son with gifts and treats. However, they treat their nephew, Harry, like dirt and it almost seems as if they consider him a slave. Also, Harry Potter gets treated with favoritism as he enters Hogwarts. In the first book, Harry is known as the “boy who lived” and gets immediate respect from his peers even though he has done nothing to earn it. In addition to his peers, Albus Dumbledore also treats Harry with respect and favoritism. In the first book, Harry and his two friends, Ron and Hermione sneak out at night to attempt to save the sorcerer’s stone. After Dumbledore learns that the three snuck out of their rooms to save the stone, he honors them by awarding them points to their houses. Also, the Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction, states that in the second book, “It also becomes more apparent that the headmaster, Dumbledore, has more than a casual affection for Harry and is quietly manipulating things on his behalf.” In my opinion, the book sets the wrong message when Dumbledore rewards Harry and his friends for sneaking out at night and acted upon something dangerous. What is also wrong is that in the series, Dumbledore is known as a man that is looked up to and extremely well respected. Favoritism is highly immoral and cruel and when a character in a book that is valued and appreciated by everyone uses it, it sets the wrong example.
Murder is arguably one of the most hateful and despicable actions a human being can do. Unless it is a mature book for adults, by no means should murder and death be involved in young adult book. However, in the first Harry Potter book, we quickly learn that not only are Harry’s parents dead, an evil wizard named Lord Voldermort murdered them. A murder in a young adult series so quickly not only generates negativity, but also gets our young generation thinking about death and murder at such a young age. I am not saying that having death and murder in books is wrong because death is just something that we are all one day going to face. Nevertheless, having murder and death so early in a book that is read by an extremely young audience is hugely off beam. Our young generations’ minds are still developing and they are still learning, which is why having them read about parent’s being murdered and death is wrong and can easily send the wrong message.
An example of how Harry Potter sets a wrong example would be when my little cousin, Michael, was attempting to make a “potion” to harm his classmate. After he had been bullied at school one day Michael, who was five years of age at the time, cleverly snuck out of his bed and went to the kitchen. As he entered the kitchen, he quickly grabbed milk and sleeping pills. Fortunately, my aunt quickly awoke and stopped Michael from continuing. After being asked what was he doing, Michael responded by saying, “I’m creating a sleeping potion just like Harry so they can stop bullying me.”
In spite of all the negativity, I can see why kids may look up to the character Harry Potter. The character Harry Potter has many qualities that every child sometimes wishes they could have. Harry is tough, courageous, intelligent, and somehow always overcomes the odds. Also, before he entered Hogwarts, Harry had a miserable and tough life. In a way, Harry can even be compared to the character Cinderella. They both lived tough lives and were treated as slaves and dirt by their families. Also, metaphorically, someone saved them both. In the story Cinderella, the beautiful Cinderella was saved by a fairy godmother that came and changed her life forever. In Harry’s case, his fairy godmother was Hagrid, who according to the Facts on File Companion to the British Novel: 20th Century, is a”the half-giant who is the keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts.” From an outside perspective, it may seem as if Harry is a leader and a perfect role model. However, in reality, Harry is not the proper role model everyone expects him to be.
Harry not only practiced witchcraft, he is also a liar and a troublemaker who get rewarded for his actions. This brings me to my last reason as to why the Harry Potter series does not set an admirable example; because the main character, Harry Potter, is not a perfect role model. In the first book, Harry and his friends escape from bed to go and sneak out at night. Also, Harry has an act to sneak his nose into people’s businesses’ and again not be punished for it. If children follow Harry and his friends’ footsteps and sneak out at night, poke their nose into other people’s businesses’, lie and practice witchcraft, our young generation would be in a serious crisis. In conclusion, Harry sets a poor example for our young readers and does a terrible job of being a role model to them.
In the end, our beloved Harry Potter along with the series is an extraordinarily compelling story. In spite of this, the series sets the wrong message to our young readers, especially Harry Potter. This is not a story that should be read to our young generation whose minds are still developing as they try to figure out what is right and wrong. If they read the first two books not only will their minds be confused, they will believe that certain things that are obviously wrong may be right. I am not saying that the story is unacceptable for any reader because it is not. In fact, I think the story behind Harry and Hogwarts is actually quite fascinating. However, the fact the books are being read by many young readers is wrong and should be stopped immediately.
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Watts, Linda S. “Salem witch trials.” Encyclopedia of American Folklore. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://0-www.fofweb.com.sslopac.bergen.edu/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= EAFolk739&SingleRecord=True (accessed January 22, 2010).
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D’Ammassa, Don. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://0-www.fofweb.com.sslopac.bergen.edu/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= EFHF0229&SingleRecord=True (accessed January 22, 2010).
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Merriam-Webster Online. 22 January 2010