“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is one of the novels written by the famous English writer J.K. Rowling. The novel is a combination of different literary genres, such as adventure, mystery, coming of age story, fantasy and others. As it is considered to be a work of children’s literature, it teaches readers to develop and possess certain traits of character and behavior. The process of teaching is introduced through the major themes, motives and symbols which play the very important role for understanding and interpreting the author’s idea and message. One of the main things described in the novel is the education of children living in school and studying there as well. The plot of the first novel about Harry Potter, which creates a suspenseful atmosphere, is organized in chapters and has many traits of a traditional one.
In the center of the novel is a young boy Harry Potter, who once discovers that he is a wizard and begins his studies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He makes new friends and they help him to thwart the evil wizard who killed Harry’s parents some years ago.
It is very difficult to refer to “Harry Potter” to one genre as it is a combination of several genres. Firstly, the novel is the work of children’s literature and has elements of coming of age story. Besides, it contains some elements of such literary genres as adventure, mystery, fantasy, thriller and romance. For example, speaking about the traits of mystery in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, one may point that there are many elements of a detective story: the secrets are everywhere, and all of them are uncovered in the end of the book. Besides, the atmosphere in the novel resembles those of terrific mysteries: “But as all they knew for sure about the mysterious object was that it was about two inches long, they didn’t have much chance of guessing what it was without further clues” (Rowling 130). As “Harry Potter” is an adventure, its main characters usually take risks and danger so that the story is exciting and interesting:
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They fell backward – Harry slammed the door shut, and they ran, they almost flew, back down the corridor. Filch must have hurried off to look for them somewhere else because they didn’t see him anywhere, but they hardly cared — all they wanted to do was put as much space as possible between them and that monster. They didn’t stop running until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady on the seventh floor. (Rowling 129)
As it was mentioned, the novel “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone” belongs to the children’s literature, readers may find in the text many ideas which teach young people to develop certain qualities and traits. This goal is achieved through major themes which are the humility, danger of desires, love, choice, rebellion, friendship, death, power and some others. For example, love is demonstrated through Harry’s ability to survive his parents’ death. At the same time, Harry stayed alive thanks to his mother’s love and protection. Later love appears between friends who are ready for everything in order to be happy. The choice as a theme teaches to develop an ability to make the right choice in borderline cases. Harry, despite he has much in common with Voldemort, doesn’t want to be evil and decides to use all his good traits for good:
Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either… So where shall I put you?” Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought “Not Slytherin, not Slytherin”. “Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you’re sure – better be GRYFFINDOR! (Rowling 97)
The theme of rebellion, in its turn, teaches readers to listen to their hearts and to fight for something they think to be important. In addition, “Harry Potter” persuades the reader to be modest and friendly and to understand the importance of friendship. Finally, the author pays readers’ attention to the concept of death and claims through the words of Professor Dumbledore that “death is but the next great adventure” (Rowling 243). This means that people should not be afraid of death, see it as an obligatory end of every person and live honest, interesting and respectable life.
The major themes of the novel are supported by the symbols (objects or character used for the representation of abstract concepts and ideas). Among the symbols in “Harry Potter” is Harry’s Scar, which is the symbol of honor and strength; the game of Quidditch, which is the symbol of heroism and teamwork; and the Mirror of Erised which is the symbol of self-awareness and character development.
One more thing, that is considered to be important in the novel, is education. The writer depicts a well-organized school system, kind teachers, studies with practical-oriented bias and other aspects which a good school has to possess. Many children want to study in a school like Hogwarts. Its pupils have many interesting subjects and don’t learn ordinary things like reading or writing. Nevertheless, they write school essays and can count (Kronzek 20). Teachers in Hogwarts are creative and their aim is to encourage pupils. The main their aim it to teach students to respect themselves and each other.
Being the coming of age story, the novel depicts children’s transition to adulthood. Reading the book, children cognize characters, learn how to be adults and what is meant by adulthood and childhood. The heroes of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” are cheerful and courageous and they decide to sacrifice themselves for good and all their positive traits only improve as they grow older (Eccleshare 11).
Generally, this novel may be called a traditional one, as it has a plausible and unified plot structure, which is organized in chapters, sharply individualized characters and a persuasive illusion of reality. The complicated, adventurous and vivid plot of “Harry Potter” makes a great contribution to the general tone of the story and makes it suspenseful. Every page makes the reader worry and feel excited. Each chapter has its composition, beginning with the calm exposition, going through an exciting climax and ending with an unexpected but logical dénouement. Chapters are logically divided and have titles. All the events, depicted in the book, relate to the major themes and teach something.
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Summing up, the novel “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” combines several genres and tells the story of young wizards who learn what are friendship, love, power, adulthood and death. They teach how to live a good life, to grow. The novel explains how to differentiate between good and bad. All the events, themes and symbols teach children to develop only good traits of character.
- Rowling, Joanne Kathleen. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book One). Arthur A. Levine Books, 2001. Print.
- Kronzek, Allan Zola, and Elizabeth Kronzek. The Sorcerer’s Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter. New York: Broadway Books, 2001. Print.
- Eccleshare, Julia. The Publishing of a Phenomenon. A guide to the Harry Potter novels. Bloomsbury: Continuum International, 2002. Print.