Hating Harry Potter May Mean You Hold This 1 Horrible Belief
Millions love the Harry Potter series, which tells a tale of great friendship, bravery, and adventure, all set in a magical castle hidden in Scotland. The series has inspired one of the world’s largest fandoms and encouraged generations of children and adults alike to read.
Underneath the premise of spells, potions, and a well-written (albeit unique) coming-of-age story is one powerful message in particular that influences readers more than they know. Enter the Wizarding World to discover — now with a study’s proof — just how powerful Harry Potter may be.
The franchise holds worldwide acclaim
The fantasy series about The Boy Who Lived has won over of 40 awards, inspired eight movies and a play as well as multiple spin-offs, and even resulted in its own theme parks and experience-driven museums. It’s a worldwide phenomenon that millions of fans couldn’t imagine their lives without.
The series’ 20th anniversary this past summer reminded fans, even if they hadn’t picked up a book in years, why they loved the wizarding world. “20 years! I can’t believe it! Thank you for changing the literary, cinematic and theatrical World with #HarryPotter,” a fan wrote on Twitter.
There’s no doubt it’s pretty magical
Harry Potter lives most of his adolescent life in a castle mixing potions, performing spells, flying on a broomstick, and defeating evil. It’s no wonder that, to this day, 11-year-olds everywhere wait throughout the summer hoping that an owl will deliver them a letter summoning them to Hogwarts.
The books themselves were called “magic,” due to the rare fervor with which children and adults were consuming the novels. “Those of us who may not have been readers are reading, children and adults. And reading, and thinking, more critically. The books have provoked discussions of: religion and community and, perhaps, ways to make the world a better place and ourselves better Muggles,” Linton Weeks wrote for The Washington Post. While it superficially explores magical creatures and classes, the books delve into serious thematic material that impressionable young adult minds will read.
It explores themes of love, death, and true sacrifice
Love is at the core of every Harry Potter lesson. The power of his mother’s love saves Harry from the first of his many interactions with death. Spoiler alert: Snape’s love for Lily kept Harry safe for seven years. Harry’s ability to love became his great strength and what eventually separated him from Voldemort.
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realise that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever,” said Dumbledore.
Diversity and discrimination play a role
Throughout the series, all of the characters’ differences are broadcast for observation and analysis. Harry’s scar and orphan status, Ron’s family’s finances, and Hermione’s muggle heritage are all discussed and used against them. The three also come in contact with multiple people and creatures who are considered “different” in the wizarding world.
Hermione notably starts S.P.E.W., or the Society for the Protection of Elfish Welfare to protect house elves, the series’ slaves to their masters, wealthy wizards. Two of Harry’s closest confidants and biggest supporters throughout the series are Hagrid, a half-giant, and Dobby, a house elf. “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open,” Albus Dumbledore, Harry’s father figure, and mentor reminds him.
The true magic? Identifying with Harry Potter can reduce prejudice
A team of researchers from Italy found some Harry Potter magic that a spell can’t cast. They discovered that reading Harry Potter books improve children’s attitudes surrounding stigmatized groups. The groups they studied included immigrants, refugees, and members of the LGBT community.
“Harry Potter empathises with characters from stigmatised categories, tries to understand their sufferings and to act towards social equality,” said Dr. Loris Vezzali, lead author on the study. “I and my colleagues think that empathetic feelings are the key factor driving prejudice reduction. The world of Harry Potter is characterized by strict social hierarchies and resulting prejudices, with obvious parallels with our society.”
This is how the study worked
The European researchers conducted their experiments with elementary school, high school, and college students in Italy and the United Kingdom. For the first part of the study, they gave the young children a questionnaire. It asked them how they felt about immigrants. One group read a scene about Draco Malfoy calling Hermione Granger a “filthy little Mublood,” and the other read neutral passages, such as Harry buying his first magic wand.
A week later, the children were asked again about their attitudes towards immigrants. Those who identified with Harry Potter and read the prejudiced excerpt had significantly improved their attitude towards immigrants. The perspectives of the children who read the passages unrelated to prejudice reportedly didn’t change. For the second part of the study, the researchers worked with a group of college students in England, examining their attitudes toward refugee groups. The researchers found that reading the books had led to a reduction in prejudice towards refugees.
So if you hate Harry Potter, at least consider its great message
The researchers point out the obvious association between Voldemort’s, the primary antagonist, beliefs and Nazism. He believes power should be held only by “pure-blood” wizards and witches, or those who are born from parents who both have magical powers. Harry Potter, along with many friends who come from very different heritages and lineages, spends seven books (and seven years) trying to thwart this evil.
“Harry has meaningful contact with characters belonging to stigmatized groups. He tries to understand them and appreciate their difficulties, some of which stem from intergroup discrimination, and fights for a world free of social inequalities,” Vezzali said.
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