Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

by J. K. Rowling

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What limits the narrator's perceptions in the Harry Potter series?

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The Harry Potter series is written in the third-person limited point of view rather than the third-person omniscient. While Harry Potter is the main character in the series, he does not tell the story himself, and J. K. Rowling mostly limits her narration to what Harry would know and experience in the moment. Neither the character nor the narrator is all-knowing in this style, so they cannot perceive the thoughts and feelings of others. They can only perceive the actions of other characters or events. For example, Hermione might be perceived by Harry to be thinking, but we don’t know what she is thinking about unless she speaks. We can’t get inside her head, because Harry can’t. The notable exception to this is with the series’ main villain, Lord Voldemort. He and Harry share a connection that allows them to enter each other’s minds, although Voldemort uses this far less frequently than Harry does. There are very few scenes in the series where either Harry or Voldemort (with Harry mentally present in some capacity) is not present. Harry is present in nearly every scene, or at least in the general vicinity of the action, and every character is filtered through the prism of his perception of them. This limits the knowledge of the narrator to that of an eleven- to seventeen-year-old boy wizard.

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J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is written from the third person limited perspective. This means that, though the narrative is written in the third person, the perspective is limited to one specific character's experiences. Thus, Rowling's narrator's perception is limited in that the narrative is pretty much only told from Harry's perspective (there are a few exceptions to this rule in the series, but they are rare). As heroic as he is, Harry can't possibly be everywhere at once, so he is unable to know everything that's going on in the world of witchcraft and wizardry. Moreover, he can't know other characters' exact thoughts. As a result, the narrator's perception is limited in the Harry Potter series in that the narrative is essentially confined to Harry's personal experiences. 

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