Although Harry Potter is a product of the 21st century, he still has the necessary components of the romantic hero. The mystical circumstances surrounding his birth, his underdog state before receiving unlimited power, the mark of the chosen on his forehead, his status in the wizard community as the future savior – these qualities are just some examples that show how Harry Potter was patterned after the idea of a romantic hero (Heilman, 2008). As a result, he became a character whom audiences found themselves easily relating with.
In following Harry’s adventures, they were introduced to a world where good always triumphs over evil and problems can be instantly solved with a single magic spell. The Hero’s Journey In almost every genre and medium, the journey of the romantic hero is divided into three parts – departure, initiation and return. Such a division was intended mainly to show audiences why he or she deserved to be the protagonist. In the duration of the journey, the positive traits of the protagonist are slowly revealed. In the process, it is imparted to audiences that even the most ordinary persons can likewise be heroes in their own right.
Departure The departure begins with the call to adventure. The hero, usually portrayed as a dislocated and oppressed individual, is suddenly given notice that he or she is about to undergo a life-changing escapade. Harry was presented in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997) as an orphan who was constantly maltreated by his relatives, the Dursleys. His miserable existence came to an end when the wizard Rubeus Hagrid suddenly came for him at the Dursley home and brought him to Hogwarts (Stouffer, 2007).
But due to reasons such as fear, insecurity or a sense of duty or obligation, the hero usually refuses to heed the call. Harry was initially reluctant to attend Hogwarts due to personal insecurities and lack of money. These concerns were dispelled when he later realized that his parents had a large amount of currency deposited at Gringotts Bank and that he was well-known in the wizardry circles as “the boy who lived” (Neal, 2002). According to Hagrid, Harry survived the Dark Lord Voldemort’s curse of death which killed both his parents (Neal, 2002).
Once the hero has committed to the quest, either consciously or unconsciously, he or she is bestowed with immense power and magical helpers. Apart from Hagrid, two of Harry’s closest friends in Hogwarts were his schoolmates Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They proved to be loyal friends who always stood by his side through thick and thin. Throughout the series, Harry also acquired several powers such as the ability to enlarge an item (engorgio) and create a Patronus (Expecto Patronum) (Granger, 2008). Furthermore, the hero’s commitment to the quest entails his or her abandonment of familiar surroundings and beliefs.
From being the drudge and whipping boy of the Dursleys, Harry became a very powerful wizard who fought fearsome villains such as Sirius Black, Snape and Voldemort himself. Furthermore, the responsibilities associated with being “the boy who lived” resulted in Harry having a more restricted life than most boys his age. In an age when most boys should be having their first romantic relationships, Harry was depicted struggling to deal with his failed romance with Cho Chang (Agarwal and Vincent, 2005). Initiation In the duration of the adventure proper, the hero experiences numerous trials.
These ordeals were intended to bring about his or her transformation. Although the hero often fails in one or more of these tests, his or her allies help him or her get back on track. Harry is no exception. In his first year in Hogwarts, he had to help capture a mountain troll, get past a three-headed dog named Fluffy, escape Devil’s Snare, find and catch the correct flying key among a flock, win a game of living chess, figure out which potion is safe to drink and finally face Professor Quirrell/Voldemort before getting the Sorcerer’s stone out of the Mirror of Erised (Neal, 2007).
By the time he reached his second year, Harry had to discover who the heir of Slytherin is and defeat the monster in the Chamber of Secrets. In his third year, he and Hermione were tasked with figuring out how to rescue Buckbeak and Sirius. In his fourth year, Harry had to take a golden egg from the nest of a mother dragon in order to get through the Triwizard Tournament, rescue hostages held by merepeople and get to the Triwizard Cup by traveling through a dangerous maze.
In his fifth year, he was in danger of being expelled and having his wand taken, was tested in every subject for his Ordinary Wizarding Level Examinations (OWLs) and traveled to London to battle Death Eaters and Voldemort. In his sixth year, Harry went with Dumbledore to a lake guarded by inferius (animated human corpses) before they found and destroyed one of Voldemort’s horcruxes (Neal, 2007). The trials that the hero undergoes are not without purpose – these take place primarily to prepare him or her for the “final encounter” with his or her nemesis.
In Harry’s case, therefore, the trials that he underwent in Hogwarts were actually preparations for his final battle with Voldemort. But his confrontation with Voldemort is more than just a skirmish – it was an exorcism of the fragment of Voldemort which he carried in himself. It must be noted that when Harry was still a baby, his mother Lily cast a powerful protection charm over him – a spell which required her to offer her life’s blood.
In order to grant himself invincibility, Voldemort stole a fraction of this powerful charm – an act which resulted in him and Harry bound together in life and in death (Falconer, 2008). Return After the adventure was finally accomplished, the hero is usually reluctant to return to normal life. But his or her guides and assistants manages to convince him or her that the wisdom that he or she gained during the quest would be put to better use when shared with the rest of the world.
Thus, the hero returns to everyday life, retaining the wisdom that he or she acquired during the adventure and using it for the betterment of the community he or she lives in. After defeating Voldemort, Harry went on to become the head of the Auror Department – the organization responsible for ridding the world of evil wizards. His struggle against Voldemort left in him a strong resolve never to let evil wizards threaten the world again (Riphouse, 2004).
Conclusion The black-and-white, romantic persona of Harry Potter is a welcome break in an era of complex strife. His meteoric rise from underdog to the most powerful wizard unconsciously implies to audiences that they can still overcome their present situation no matter how difficult it may seem. Although good people may have things hard at first, they will eventually triumph in the end. The bad people, on the other hand, will end up receiving the punishment that they deserve. Simply put, Harry Potter is a reminder to a conflict-weary populace that there is still hope even for the most insurmountable dilemma.
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