Discussion for English 212W, Melodrama in Culture
and Politics at Emory University, Spring 2014.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Harry Potter Melodrama
“’So I made Ginny write her own
farewell on the wall and come down here to wait. She struggled and cried and
became very boring. But there isn't much life left in her….I have many
questions for you, Harry Potter….how is it that you—a skinny boy with no
extraordinary magical talent—managed to defeat the greatest wizard of all time?’”
These several lines, taken from
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, paint a rather
perfect picture of the very traditional melodramatic components. Most
obviously, Tom Riddle (the character speaking) is the embodiment of pure evil.
He appears as something of a black hat and has taken a poor, innocent girl as a
captive. Ginny plays the role of the damsel in distress: she is helpless and
needs saving from her perilous doom. Harry is cast as the victim hero, the “boy
who lived” when his parents were murdered by Tom Riddle himself (AKA
Voldemort). He functions as the hero with a pure heart and pure intentions, a
commoner who stands up and overcomes the evil that he is confronted with. To
change this set up, one may make Tom Riddle appear to be less of the mustachioed
villain, Ginny appear less helpless, and Harry appear to have qualities that
are unfitting of a melodramatic hero in the traditional sense. Humorously,
one could translate the passage as follows:
"So I asked Ginny to write her own farewell on the wall and come down here to wait. Her incessant complaints about the condition of her accommodations began to wear on my nerves. But she became disinterested and is now napping....I have many questions for you, Harry Potter....what scheme did you devise to defeat the greatest wizard of all time?"