What are the themes in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban?  

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There are many themes present within J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, many of which address and critique real human and social issues.

One of the most prominent themes is that of the failings of legal systems across the world to effectively and justly...

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There are many themes present within J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, many of which address and critique real human and social issues.

One of the most prominent themes is that of the failings of legal systems across the world to effectively and justly deal with those who have been accused of a crime. One of the tenants of the modern justice system is that an individual is innocent until proven guilty; however, within the book, we see both people and creatures suffer time and time again for crimes they did not commit. Buckbeak is sentenced to death after attacking Malfoy, despite the fact that the animal was provoked by Malfoy's malicious spirit. Sirius Black is locked away in Azkaban and tormented by Dementors, despite being innocent of the crime he has allegedly committed, mainly for the sake of the Ministry appearing tough on crime. Even Ron and Hermione's friendship suffers when Ron rashly and incorrectly accuses Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, of eating his rat, Scabbers. Meanwhile, those who actually guilty of horrible acts continue to walk free throughout the wizarding world: Peter Pettigrew, Lucius Malfoy, etc. Clearly, these are all huge miscarriages of justice.

The book also examines the duality of our world, where not everything is always as it seems (demonstrated by Hermione's use of the Time-Turner) and the role that betrayal and loyalty plays in human relationships (brought to light by the revelation that Pettigrew had betrayed Harry's parents, leading to their untimely death). 

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