Popular Novel: The Ethics of Harry Potter

Peter Childs

in Texts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620432
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671700 | DOI:
Popular Novel: The Ethics of Harry Potter

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J.K. Rowling’s extraordinarily successful series of children’s stories has inspired an unprecedented reaction across the world, in terms of devotion and denunciation. Celebrated in conventions in Bangalore, vilified in southern American schools, the Potter novels seem to present a straightforward binaristic world of good and evil, mixing the subgenres of Victorian orphan fiction, medieval romance, Tolkein fantasy, public school Bildungsroman, and children’s adventure story. Various communities have received the novels very differently from the adulation that has greeted each volume at its launch. Some have condemned the books for promoting magic and the occult: the Seventh Day Adventists banned the novels in 60 of their schools in Australia. The Catholic Church in Poland put pressure on their government to remove them from the national literacy drive. In the UK and the US Christian Fundamentalists have roundly decried the novels and protested against them in print and on film. As discussed here, the moral case against the Harry Potter novels has not been concerned with blasphemy but has rested on their possible influence on the young.

Keywords: Ethical Criticism; J K Rowling; Harry Potter; Ethics and literature

Chapter.  4746 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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