Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

British novelist J. K. Rowling has penned a saga that is the story of a young orphan whose magical abilities and status as the sole survivor of Lord Voldemort’s attacks propel him on a journey of confrontation and self-discovery. Scholars have noted that Harry Potter’s character follows the pattern of the epic hero: born to relatively typical parents, orphaned young, then mentored and deserted by a succession of mentors or surrogates. Harry reluctantly accepts his great destiny and repeatedly distinguishes himself.

Most of the series’ major themes begin early. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone introduces the quest for immortality driving Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort as well as the protective power of a mother’s love, personified in Lily Potter, Molly Weasley, and Narcissa Malfoy.

The theme of blood purity and race prejudice is raised during Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, when Draco Malfoy insults Hermione Granger with the racist word “Mudblood.” Book 2 also continues the concept of one person exercising overreaching control or outright possession of another, a theme introduced in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with Voldemort’s parasitic occupation of Quirrell. The theme continues in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with the petrifications and with Ginny Weasley’s brainwashing by Tom Riddle’s diary. Later, the theme resurfaces in Barty Crouch, Jr., who impersonates Mad-Eye...

(The entire section is 526 words.)