Thursday, September 4, 2014

Harry Potter- "The Melodramatic Hero"

Melodramatic is defined by as "exaggerated and emotional or sentimental; sensational or sensationalized; overdramatic" (source: There is no doubt that J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter "in a melodramatic mode" (Bousquet, Harry Potter... pg. 2). 

J.K. Rowling exaggerates and over-dramatizes most, if not all, of the Harry Potter series to make the woes and troubles seem worse than they actually are and make the triumphs and celebrations seem better than they are. Rowling clearly chose her words very carefully when forming her sentences, to not only garner as much reaction and emotion from her readers, but also to make the characters and the entire setting as melodramatic as possible. She portrays Harry Potter as this tragic hero, this little boy who lost everything as a baby, yet is still looked up and revered as some sort of  "hero" in the wizarding world. But what exactly makes him the hero? What exactly makes him good? What makes us like him so much and root for him, instead of Voldemort and his followers? Because he's the victim. He was the victim as a baby, when his parents were murdered, he was the victim growing up with the Dursleys in a home of neglect and abuse, he was the victim of gossip and all sorts of mad stuff at Hogwarts, he's the biggest victim in the series. So we, as the readers, just tend to root for him because since he's the victim, he can only do good, and whenever he's in a fight, he's fighting evil.

It is pretty obvious from the first chapter of the book that Harry Potter was destined for heroism. But J.K. Rowling didn't stop with him.

"Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory." (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

Here we have another instance of melodrama from Rowling, except this time, we have a new victim hero. Meet Cedric Diggory, a sixth year in Hufflepuff who was Hogwarts' Triwizard Tournament participant. We don't learn much about him from the fourth book, except that he, like Harry, was a victim of an evil act. He was good, he was a hero who tried to stand up to Lord Voldemort. This quote, in my opinion, is a perfect example of Rowling's melodramatic mode. He was "good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort." She is making very clear distinctions of who a victim/hero is, and who the villain is.

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