Friday, December 19, 2014

Who is Hermione Granger?

Hermione Granger, the third of the three musketeers, was the brains of the operation. However, she ia a mudblood. This means that one of her parents was a witch or wizard and the other is a muggle. Which can easily be related to by kids from different erhnicities. She was also looked down upon for being so smart. It was claimed that she is a know it all. Well when you have the smarts, you might as well use them.

Being someone that follows the rules and studies classifies kids as a nerd, and nerds aren't cool. This is one of many reasons kids are bullied. Seeing Hermione defeat the dark lord many of times and still pass all of her classes teaches kids that it's okay to be a "nerd". By the end of the first book everyone knows Hermione and wants to become her friend. Having friends isn't all based on popularity.

For those who can relate to the isolation from being known as a nerd, reading about Hermione is like having a friend who you can relate too. A friend who is always there for you. The only thing you have to do is open the book.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Who is Ron Weasley?

We also meet Ron Weasley in his first year at Hogwarts. He comes from a long line of Brothers. He has five older brothers and one younger sister, all of which attended Hogwarts. Coming from a big family like the Weasley's it can be hard for one to create a name for themselves. Malfoy knew instantly that Ron was Weasley because of the way he looked and the hand-me-down robes that he was wearing. The Weasley's didn't have a lot of many, they made ends meet. Ron doesn't start out as the best wizard ever, and eventually he brakes his wand, which makes him even worse. That doesn't make him give up though. He tries every day to improve his magic. He gets help from Harry and their brainy friend Hermione Granger.

Even though Ron doesn't have much like some of the other kids at school he doesn't let that define who he is. He has great friends, and has a great time while he's away at school. Readers can relate to this. Not everyone has as much money as they wish they could but that doesn't make them a bad person. Some people are embarrassed of the little that they have, including Ron for a while. He then realizes that his friends and family are enough to get him through life, and with an education money isn't a necessity.

By the end of the series we see Ron grow into an amazing wizard. He helps defeat the Dark Lord even though growing up his magic skills weren't the greatest.

Who is Harry Potter?

 When we first meet Harry, he is an orphan being left on the doorsteps of his Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia's home. Harry was just a baby at this point so he doesn't remember the magical people who dropped him off. Later we meet up with Harry again on his eleventh birthday. This is a very vulnerable age for Harry and many readers. From what we can see Harry had to grow up very quickly. His Aunt and Uncle weren't very fond of him so they made him the live-in housekeeper. Learning how to cook, clean, and entertain himself with the very little that he had. Once he gets to school Harry learns that he is a much bigger person than he's been his whole life. He is a wizard, and not just any wizard, he's the boy who lived. Harry was raised to think that he wasn't good enough for anything. He thought he was a bastard child, and was only there to serve his family. When Harry finds out he is a wizard his response shows it all with the famous quote, "I can't be a wizard, I'm just Harry". 
This makes Harry very relatable for many readers, especially at his age. When you turn 11 a lot of changes occur in your life. You've probably moved up from elementary school, to middle school or junior high. You're forced into new classes with new people that you didn't have with you in elementary school. As Harry grows into his new school so do many readers. Along the way you see the development of friendships that Harry makes. Which shows readers not to be nervous, everyone can find friends. 
Harry's life wasn't easy either. Not everyone has the perfect home life that we want for them. Many actually harder lives than we can ever imagine. Seeing Harry overcome the obstacles that his neglectful family puts in his way is an inspiration for readers. If this boy can do it, why can't they? When readers are having a hard time at home they can escape to their rooms, bury their noses in the book and escape from the life they are living. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tolkien on Escapism in "On Fairy Stories"

Arguably one of the greatest authors of Fantasy Fiction there is is J.R.R. Tolkien, who has quiet a lot to say about Fantasy itself and the way it is viewed as escapism. 

 One thing he does not agree with when Fantasy and Escapism are discussed is the sense of pity and scorn that comes with the term escape and the misuse of this word, as well as the misuse of the "real world" phrase that often is paired with a discussion of fairy worlds.  Tolkien often closely links "escapism" and consolation.

"But there are also other and more profound “escapisms” that have always appeared in fairytale and legend. There are other things more grim and terrible to fly from than the noise,stench,ruthlessness, and extravagance of the internal combustion engine. 
There are hunger,thirst,poverty, pain, sorrow, injustice, death. And even when men are not facing hard thing such as these, there are ancient limitations from which fairy-stories offer a sort of escape, and
old ambitions and desires (touching the very roots of fantasy) to which they offer a kind of satisfaction and consolation."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories"
 Here is a link to the full essay, it really is worth the read!

A Country Under Attack Escapes to Other Worlds

No one anticipated 9/11.

But is it just good timing that Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone came out in theaters right after the 9/11 attacks?

Did Warner Brother's do this to help American's escape from what was going on in their lives and go to Hogwarts?

Are the terrorists really just Death Eaters and Voldemort planned everything?

No. Of course 9/11 wasn't planned by Voldemort. But the timing of the release of the first Harry Potter movie most definitely helped  viewers take a break from reality. And the bad guys lost, which helps make viewers feel better too.

Harry Potter Changes Lives

"This is why a skinny bespectacled boy is not only The Boy Who Lived, but will always be the boy who kept me living."

This is a story of a young boy whose life of abandonment was completely saved by Harry Potter. Every time that he came home from his life on the streets he felt more and more alone. Without Harry Potter this boy admits that he would no longer be alive. His mother passed away due to an overdose, which was followed by his father's suicide. His only escape from the real world was the wonderful world of witchcraft and wizardry. This is definitely a story that many people with depression, or suicidal thoughts could relate to. The story is worth the read.

*If for some reason the link doesn't work, copy and paste it into your browser.*

How Harry Potter changed my life.

My birthday is in late November, therefore I got to start school when I was three years old. All of my friends were always older than me, so then I would feel left out when every one older than me was hanging out. Well then Harry Potter came out and that was something we could all relate to. They would go see the movies and read the books and I was always excluded. So that made me hate the series. Once I got a little older and was allowed to go to the midnight premiers are friendship was back to the way that it used to be. Because of Harry Potter we were best friends at the age of four, we remained best friends through this common bond, and are still best friends. We actually still find time to watch the movies together many years later.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What is the next phase?

Sometimes I think Fantasy Fiction love comes and goes in phases.

When I was younger it was the decade of Harry Potter.

Then for a while I refused to read the "popular" next series of books.

Okay, I'll admit it, I read the Twilight series but that's totally not the same.

I haven't and probably never will read the Hunger Games books.

But perhaps Game of Thrones is the next big fad of Fantasy Fiction/ popular books.

Harry Potter for grownups if you will.

Does one simply "outgrow" Harry Potter?

Has your love of Harry Potter changed as you've gotten older?
I used to watch the movies when I needed to fall asleep and couldn't.
Now I'm over that phase.

Was it a phase?
Was it just a subculture?
Was it just pop culture?
Was it just adolescence?

Am I just "too old" now?

Is there such a thing as being "too old" for Harry Potter?

I feel old.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Are you willing to believe?

A Willing Suspension of Disbelief- 
 Are you willing to believe?

Many of the questions posted to the class Fantasy Fiction blog talk about differences between the “real” world and the fantasy worlds. Some of these questions include:

“Do the best works of fantasy need their own universes or can great works take place in the world we know?” 

This then brings us to ask the questions of whether these fantasy worlds are “just literary devices, or whether they are intended to be believed as truth”.
Then we must ask if these works of fantasy should even be “read and analyzed for their symbolism and literary devices”.

If one decides to read works of fantasy fiction and apply lenses, devices, symbolism and analogies to them one must then as if these works should be read with the fantasy worlds as a “commentary on the real world”, and if the time period and culture in which the author wrote these stories in needs to be taken into account.

The answers to these questions are going to rely on individual and very personal readings of each text. Who are we as readers to decide what is real or what the author’s intentions were? One of the greatest aspects of fantasy fiction to many readers is the ability to escape from the “real” world and travel into the fantasy world. What is important to notice however is that this escapism doesn’t make the fantasy worlds any less "real" than the real world. What does matter is that there is a base of a real world from which to escape from

In Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making September leaves the very real land of Omaha and enters Fairyland without even a glance back at first. In the many Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling Harry must return to the “Muggle” (real) world every year. In C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia the very entrance to Narnia is through a wardrobe in a house that is in the real world. Whether or not the worlds of Fairyland, Narnia or Hogwarts are real the adventures within them and the stories they create would not exist without a real world to escape from and come back to. One cannot always decide whether or not these fantasy worlds are to be taken as truth, but it is certain that the real world is what allows them to exist. 

As for reading works of fantasy to draw parallels and make connections to the real world that is very subjective, but no matter what one chooses to believe, the fantasy world does not need to be taken as truth or even be taken as a work to make commentary on the real world in order to have meaning. The witches in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making point out strong lessons in the world that are neither symbolic nor allusive, but are merely just true, no matter what world one applies them to. The witches inform September that “The future is a messy, motley business” and that they “have to dress well, or the future will not take us seriously” (Valente 31). This is true whether or not one chooses to believe in fantasy worlds.

As for the time period and direct correlations between the real worlds and the fantasy worlds, that decision is left more to the reader. It does not matter if the author intended any of these novels to draw parallels between the wars during which they were written. What matters is whether or not the reader is going to dive into the stories with a willing suspension of disbelief. 

For readers who read to escape, the answer is simple. I’m going to cross through the wardrobe into Narnia to hang out with my animal friends and do good for the world, and I still believe that my mother intercepted my owl and burned my acceptance letter from Hogwarts. Fantasy fiction reading isn’t so much about whether these fantasy worlds actually exist or whether or not they are supposed to represent the real world. Fantasy fiction depends on whether or not you are willing to believe.

Works Cited
Lewis, C. S. The Chronicals of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Hollywood, CA: Walt Disney Studios and Walden Media, 2006. Print.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry Potter. NY: Listening Library, 1999. Print.
Valente, Catherynne M. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2011. Print.

Long live Potter

A LONG but cool paper written on J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter journey

“Either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives”
            Many authors will use what is going on in their lives and juxtapose it into their writing. For some it’s an escape and a way to express how they are feeling, and for others it’s just the state of mind that they are in at the time and it reflects in their writing. J.K. Rowling used the emotions and what she was going through in her life in the Harry Potter series.
            Rowling began writing and planning the Harry Potter series during a delay from Manchester to London, King’s Cross station. It took her five years to begin the writing for the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone; it was then published in June, 1997. Within the five years that it took for the book to take it’s form that we know today Rowling experience a roller coaster of emotions. She was married to her first husband in 1992, had her daughter, Jessica in 1993, and was divorced before the book was published. Many wonder if the divorce had affected Rowling’s decision to make the series so dark. Well it almost did. But there were more factors in the planning that caused Rowling to make the series so dark. The divorce however had perfect timing, because without that the series wouldn’t have been as dark. During an interview with CNN she discussed the relationships with the three main characters, Harry, Ron, and Hermione. After looking back on the series she realizes that Hermione ended up with the wrong wizard:
“I know I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m completely absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

It seems as if she left the imperfect couple together in spite of the fact that her imperfect couple didn’t work out and resulted in a divorce. Instead of Hermione ending up with Ron, she thinks that she should have ended up with equally powerful wizard, Harry. Within the first five years of planning she had the main plots for the series planned, the relationships, and the deaths almost completely decided. Later in the interview Rowling admits that she almost killed off everyone’s favorite wizard, Ron Weasley. 
“Funnily enough, I planned from the start that none of them
would die. Then midway through, which I think was a
reflection that I wasn’t in a very happy place, I started thinking I might punish one of them off. Out of sheer spite.”

Out of all of the wizards to kill off out of spite she picked the male of the imperfect couple. At the time she was going through the divorce, her desire for men at that point was probably very low. Her decision to almost kill him was based on the emotions she was feeling as she went through the divorce.
            Also during the beginning stages of Harry Potter Rowling was facing the darkest thing any child has to. Her mother died on New Years Eve in 1990. As a daughter losing your mother early in your life is a hard thing to cope with. Rowling was around the age of 25 when she lost her mother. This is the biggest factor in the darkness of the series. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, a paper in the U.K. she reveals that the reason she made the series so dark was because she was losing her mother while the series was being outlined. Rowling states that:
“My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry’s parents. There is Voldemort’s obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality at any price, the goal of anyone with magic. I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We’re all frightened of it.”

Within the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone we learn that Harry is in fact an orphan and that he must live with his bloody aunt and uncle. Right from the start of the series you can see that a main theme of the novel is death. Which is one of the reasons that the story is so relatable, because at one point in your life you are going to have to deal with the death of a loved one.
            When planning and writing the novels J.K. Rowling was faced with the decision on who to keep and alive and whose life she will end. Throughout the series we see many of our favorite characters lose their lives, especially during the final battle for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Keeping the theme of orphanage going is the reason that she killed Tonks and Lupin off instead of Arthur Weasley, according to mental floss. She didn’t kill Arthur because he was the a stable father figure in Harry’s life, and that it would have left Ron half an orphan. Ron’s character wouldn’t have been able to deal with that. However Tonks and Lupin weren’t supposed to die at first either. She needed a character to lose both of it’s parents so that she could bring the story of the orphan full circle. So poor Teddy Lupin, Tonks and Lupin’s son, was the chosen one to become and orphan.
            There are also minor connections to Rowling’s life and things we see throughout the novels. For example in Harry Potter their newspaper was called “The Daily Prophet” and the newspaper that Rowling actually does an interview with is called “The Daily Telegraph”.  She was also asked which Hogwarts house would you be in, and she said, Gryffindor, I hope. I value courage beyond most anything”. ( That trait is one that we see is most revealing in Harry’s young life.
            J.K. Rowling brought to life one of the most beloved characters of this time. The hardships in her life helped form the perfect series. Most readers hope that there are more Harry Potter books to come, but Rowling got her happily ever after story. How can she continue such a dark series in a light way? It wouldn’t be the same, so for now, readers will have to stick with the original dark seven books and eight movies.

Ahmed, Saeed. "JK Rowling Says Hermione Should Have Married Harry Potter, Not

            Ron." CNN. Turner Broadcasting System Inc., 2 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

Greig, Geordie. "There Would Be so Much to Tell Her..." The Telegraph. 10 Jan. 2006.     Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
Panganiban, Roma. "12 Post-Potter Revelations J.K. Rowling Has Shared."

   1 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.


Rowling, J.K. “FAQ’s” 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine, 1997.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoneix. New York: Arthur A. Levine,

            2003. Print.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. New York: Arthur A. Levine,

            2007. Print.

The Harry Potter Generation

The kids who grew up with Harry Potter, those who CHOSE to escape can relate to this post more than J.K. Rowling could have ever imagined. With the linear year-by-year progression of the novels it was inevitable that readers would grow with Harry and his pals.

Escaping the real world

Harry Potter is one the more popular book series to this day. When Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone was first published many readers found it easy to relate to. Harry was a young orphan who was forced to live with his Aunt and Uncle. Harry was taught that his parents died in a car accident when he was a baby. Harry was miserable living with his family. He had a small bedroom the size of the cupboard and was their live in butler and maid. On his eleventh birthday Harry discovered that he was a wizard and would be attending the best school for witchcraft and wizardry, Hogwarts. A school teacher picked Harry up and brought him into a whole new world. In this world Harry was famous, he was the boy who lived. When he was a baby Harry and his parents were under attack, which is the real reason Harry became an Orphan. He however lived the infamous killing curse, which is none to kill any one in its path.

Once Harry got a taste of freedom he realized he know longer wanted to live with his Aunt and Uncle. He deserved to be treated better. Escapism is a common theme presented throughout the Harry Potter series. Escapism is the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities. For Harry his escape was going to school each year. For the entire school year he would pack up his belongings, get on the train, and never think about going back to his true "home". He considered Hogwarts to be his home, over his Aunt and Uncles.

Many readers however can also relate to the feeling of needing to escape from the real world. A lot of people liked Harry Potter because it was intoxicating and got everyone hooked on the "what could be" instead of actually what was going on. This brought a group of people together without even knowing. For some people, the fan base was there only way to escape the problems faced in the real world. Those people could turn to each other through social media. Harry as a character was easy to relate to as well. Many kids felt that Harry was a role model. If he could overcome a magic based villain then they can overcome what they were going through too. 

Escaping to another world for a few hours a day isn't the worst escape people could turn to. I personally would escape to Hogwarts to get away for a little bit.