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The Glass Ceiling In The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

1541 words - 7 pages

The Glass-Ceiling in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The portrayal of female characters in British literature has most often reflected the larger perception of women by society during the time of a work’s publication. In this regard, the immensely popular Harry Potter series written by author J.K. Rowling is certainly no exception. The circumstances for women in late 20th century Britain have improved and in many ways are nearing equality with men, yet a notable upper barrier to success still remains. Rowling captures this gender dynamic throughout the Harry Potter series by including a diverse cast of resilient female characters who are not allowed to take on the same leadership roles dominated by the men at Hogwarts, at the Ministry of Magic, in quidditch, and during the Triwizard tournament. The novels also center on an important theme of motherly love that Rowling uses to explore the sacrifices women must make in order to raise their children well. Such issues have been present in British literature for well over a century, with each generation seeing steps toward equality, both for the fictitious characters and the women of a given time period. The Harry Potter series, therefore, constitutes a reflection of female status in modern Britain that has advanced, but remains perpetually flawed.
Rowling describes a lack of mobility for women into the higher echelons of society through the an absence of a true female leadership roles, despite the apparent equality a magical education should give women. Throughout the series, Rowling demonstrates that magic gives males and females equal power in theory, but that in practice, positions of authority remain occupied by men. Magic alone is not able to discriminate between genders because the only requisites to become a wizard or witch are being born with magical abilities and learning to correctly cast spells. The only conceivable way to control magical ability would be deterring females from enrolling into schools of magic, which is certainly not seen at Hogwarts, as Headmaster Dumbledore remarks that, “help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it” (Chamber of Secrets). Any student admitted to Hogwarts is offered the same opportunities to learn magic and take qualifying examinations to assess their merit-based potential. Rowling, therefore, has described the situation in most Western countries, where on the surface, men and women are on paper treated as equals. In fact, the portrayal of female roles at Hogwarts is generally positive, as females are frequently described achieving the same, if not better, results than their male counterparts. The most notable female character of the series is Hermione Granger, who is extraordinarily smart, hard-working, caring, and proves her brilliance time and again during battles against Voldemort. Upon first meeting Harry and Ron, she remarks, “I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice and it’s all worked for me. I’ve learned all our...

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