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A Critical Assessment Of The Harry Potter Phenomenon In Contemporary British Culture

1918 words - 8 pages


The first Harry Potter book came out in 1997, and no one at the time could imagine that in the 10 years that followed, it would become the most read children’s book and a $6.4 billion worth film franchise. The aim of this essay is to try to explain the reason for the popularity of the Harry Potter books. The aim is also to show the changes that the series caused, how they influenced the people who read them, how they had an impact on literacy and overall, on British popular culture. In the first part of the essay I will briefly explain the beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon and its growing popularity in the countries all over the world. In the second part I will deal with the character of Harry, explaining why he has such an appeal to the readers and how come people identify with him. In the third part, I will explain the impact Harry Potter books have on society, how they influence young adults and children. The fourth part will deal with the controversies about Harry Potter, the views and thoughts of religious people who see Harry Potter as a book that should be banned. In the fifth part, I will mention the difference the phenomenon caused when it comes to the book business and the film industry of Britain.

The Beginning of the Phenomenon

The Harry Potter phenomenon had its humble beginning all the way back in the 1990s, when the first book, written by J. K. Rowling, came out in the shops. The main protagonist, a scrawny, young child wizard, who wore round glasses, had an immediate appeal to the readers, but no one at that time knew that the young boy would turn out to be the literary icon of the last decade. The popularity of the book resulted in it being translated into various languages, thus establishing its status as a phenomenon known worldwide. During the second and the third installment, the stories developed as the characters matured, so the series began to reach out to both young and adult audiences. The transition from the book to the big screen, Christopher Columbus's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from 2001, introduced the magic world of the young wizard to even further audiences, leading to the formation of many fan clubs and websites, proving that the Harry Potter phenomenon was there to stay.

Harry, a Character with Universal Appeal

One of the main reasons for the popularity of the Harry Potter series is definitely the characterization J. K. Rowling uses. She writes about young adults and manages to portray their experiences at school and with their families, and even though the protagonists are wizards who attend a wizarding school and whose life has nothing normal to it, the readers are able to relate to them on basic levels. Anyone who reads the series can connect to the feelings of insecurity, competition or fear that the protagonists experience, as well as the attempts to live up to the expectations of their families together with the basic challenges of...

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