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Comparing The Families In Rowling’s Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban And Hoban’s The Mouse

2879 words - 12 pages

Comparing the Families in Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Hoban’s The Mouse and His Child

Creating “worlds of their own, with particular kinds of boundaries separating them from the larger world”, families ideally provide encouragement and protection for each of their members (Handel, xxiv). In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, however, the Dursleys and Aunt Marge fail to fulfill their roles as Harry’s primary caregivers. In Russell Hoban’s The Mouse and His Child, the father mouse is unable to give his child all that he needs and longs for. In these two children’s stories, the expectation that families will provide physical support, emotional support, and encouragement for their children is not met.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the orphaned Harry is physically neglected by his only living relatives, the Dursleys. Harry’s Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and cousin Dudley think that by endorsing Harry’s non-existence in their lives, their fear of non-Muggles would disappear. Treating Harry like a wild animal, the frightened Dursleys physically confine Harry to their home and do not allowing their nephew any contact with the outside world. When Harry finally runs away from the Dursleys, he panics because his family never gives him Muggle money. While forcing Harry to stay indoors, the Dursleys also encourage Harry “to stay out of their way, which Harry [is] only too happy to do” (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 24). Shunning communication and distancing themselves physically from Harry, the Dursleys fail at being the loving family that Harry needs and craves. By giving Harry little to eat and old clothes to wear, the Dursleys continue to treat Harry as non-human, because Harry is in fact not an ordinary “human being.” In The Mouse and His Child, the father and child toy mice stand “upright with outstretched arms and joined hands” (The Mouse and His Child, 2); thus, the father and son cannot distance themselves from each other physically like the Dursleys distance themselves from Harry. The father mouse, however, is unable to provide for his son physically. In the beginning, the mice are both smartly dressed and they live in a beautiful dollhouse. As time passes, the mice’s clockwork deteriorates and their clothes become ragged. The mouse father makes no attempt to brighten their physical condition. Just as Harry in Harry Potter feels lost with no Muggle money, the mouse child feels lost at being deprived of clothing and shelter – the mouse child is alienated from the world because of his father’s inability to provide him with the basic necessities of life. When the mice are smashed by a cat, the tramp fixes them and “the mouse and his child [are] whole again” (TMAHC, 14). Are they truly “whole”? This family of father and son are still vagabonds – wanderers who have no place to call “home.” The concept of “home” is intertwined with that of “family.” In Harry Potter,...

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