Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Harry Potter and the Melodramatic Hero

"The thin man stepped out of the cauldron, staring at Harry... and Harry stared back into the face that had haunted his nightmares for three years. Whiter than a skull, with wide, livid scarlet eyes and a nose that was flat as a snake's with slits for nostrils... Lord Voldemort had risen again." (Goblet of Fire, p.643).

This is one of many melodramatic quotes that appear in J.K. Rowling's famous Harry Potter series. Many melodramatic passages came to mind when I was thinking of which one to choose, and several had already been mentioned by previous students, most notably "The Man With Two Faces", mentioned by Joey, and Chang's passage detailing the revelation of Lupin's werewolf identity. The scene quoted above is closely preceded by Cedric Diggory's death during the Triwizard Tournament, and like that scene, this one is especially melodramatic in that you are expected to gasp at the return of the infamous Lord Voldemort. Harry once again comes face-to-face with his arch-enemy, and therefore, Rowling exploits this opportunity to be melodramatic.

Simply put in non-melodramatic words, this passage would read: Lord Voldemort emerged out of a cauldron and stared at Harry. But would that be good literature? This passage could have easily been written the way I wrote it above, but without Rowling's eye-catching details and build-up, this passage would simply be boring. Perhaps melodrama, especially in a teenage/children's book like Harry Potter, is a necessary "evil".

I also wanted to respond to Saher's earlier passage detailing Snape as the true hero. In Dr. Bousquet's article, Harry's heroism is often called into question. "Hermione in the final three novels becomes increasingly visible as a tutelary agent moving Potter from self-absorption to actual interest in others" (Bousquet, 191). I think it's interesting that Saher brought Snape into the picture. Was Snape good or evil? In the end, it appears that he was good, but does that excuse his earlier actions, such as killing Dumbledore and being a death-eater? I think this article and Harry Potter in general begs us to consider why we tend to view things as black and white, when really, most of life is a whole lot of gray.

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