Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Harry Potter Reading

The reading from “Harry Potter, the War Against Evil, and the Melodramatization of Public Culture” states that a melodrama is “a drama of knowledge,” and “the action ends when the mystery is dispelled and/or the misunderstood hero’s always extant goodness is at last recognized” (79). This quote is particularly apt to describe the revelation in the final installment of the series: Snape has been protecting Harry (in melodramatic terms, Snape is good.) Though a melodramatic reading can be applied to several characters, Snape’s situation is particularly obvious. He has been portrayed as evil throughout the entire series. At one point, Harry discovers that he is a Death Eater, and in several instances he assumes that Snape is trying to kill him. However, as the story finally comes to a close, Harry realizes that he was, in fact, one of his biggest protectors. For Snape, this is a huge melodramatic revelation of goodness, and a conclusion to his story.

As the reading describes, much of the series’ melodramatic content is expressed through Harry’s character. There are several instances in which he finally shows himself and others that he has been treated unfairly or is misunderstood. He is good, worthy, and essentially a hero. One of the very first melodramatic revelations to the reader occurs in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:

“Griphook unlocked the door. A lot of green smoke came billowing out, and as it cleared, Harry gasped. Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts.

‘All yours,’ smiled Hagrid.

All Harry's -- it was incredible. The Dursleys couldn't have known about this or they'd have had it from him faster than blinking. How often had they complained how much Harry cost them to keep? And all the time there had been a small fortune belonging to him, buried deep under London” (58-59).

As the reading explains, many times the revelation is one of status: a “tendency to reveal the identity of the hero as someone who doesn’t belong to the working class at all, typically an aristocrat in disguise or blocked from his inheritance and title by accident or conspiracy” (187). His whole life up until this point, Harry has thought of himself as poor and unlucky. However, he soon finds that he is a wizard and has inherited a fortune from his parents. This begins a sequence of revelations for himself and other characters. Harry continues to develop as a hero, in part due to his natural born status, and in part due to his growth of character and innate goodness. This revelation is essential to the story, and cannot be expressed without the use of melodrama. Harry would be a completely different character without his money, his parents, his status, essentially his identity. The melodrama is what drives his story.

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