ELA 12: Sweet Thirteen

We're sure if you had to classify the Harry Potter series by genre, your first move would be to call it a Bildungsroman... no? Just us? Well okay, just hear us out for a second.

British LiteratureAll British Literature
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureBritish Literature

Transcript

00:25

Another genre the series belongs to is that of the Bildungsroman

00:29

Those are novels dealing with the protagonist's psychological and moral growth as they progress from youth

00:34

to adulthood.

00:35

Oof, that’s a mouthful. [Description of Bildungsroman in a mouth]

00:37

Both the word and the definition.

00:39

Alright so this genre is fiction that focuses on how young people grow up, but with more emphasis

00:45

on their psychology than… on how tall they're getting each year. [Girls height is measured]

00:49

Since the series starts with Harry as an eleven-year-old kid, and each successive book covers another

00:54

year in his life, the series almost can't help but touch on various themes that come [The books in the Harry Potter series appear]

00:58

with growing up.

00:59

And no, we don't mean outgrowing your old jackets. [Harry's top rips]

01:02

Luckily Rowling didn't devote too many pages to that kind of thing.

01:05

There's all sorts of pleasant stuff, like learning the value of love, loyalty, and friendship, [Harry's friends by his side]

01:10

something Harry learns plenty about due to his relationships with Ron and Hermione.

01:14

They also help him learn grittier lessons about courage, perseverance, and overcoming

01:19

obstacles.

01:20

Though, to be fair, his enemies also help him learn these lessons. [A Dementor puts down a blackboard]

01:23

Enemies are good for something, you know.

01:25

Although these themes come up as early as the first book, it's only in the third volume,

01:30

The Prisoner of Azkaban, where we start to see one of the more complicated of the Bildungsroman [The Prisoner of Azkaban book appears]

01:36

That is the tension between the emerging individual and the society in which they find themselves.

01:42

Luckily it's not a literal tug of war, because society definitely has the individual outnumbered. [Harry Potter in a tug of war with other characters and he is flung into the air]

01:47

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, this tension is brought out by Azkaban itself: the isolated, [Dementors surrounding Azkaban]

01:52

foreboding wizard prison guarded by dementors.

01:57

When Harry arrived at Hogwarts, the wizarding world seemed like a fantastic place, full [Harry walking through the dining hall]

02:01

of clever spells and exquisitely decorated banquets.

02:05

But Azkaban's a reminder that this society has a dark side.

02:09

Convicted prisoners are kept on this isolated island, guarded by fearsome dementors, and [Prisoner runs away from Dementors]

02:14

it's generally expected that the prisoners will go insane within weeks of arriving.

02:19

Sounds like an extended stay at a Days Inn.

02:21

When Harry learns about Azkaban, he must confront the fact that the evil of the wizarding world [Harry thinking about the Azkaban prison]

02:26

isn't just a bunch of angry renegades with vendettas against him.

02:30

It's also partly institutionalized within the wizarding world…and he can either accept

02:34

this world as it is, or seek to change it.

02:38

Admittedly, we’re talking about some pretty heavy stuff, but if Harry Potter only had [Harry debating what to do]

02:42

to come to terms with sorting hats and levitating candles, the stories might get boring fast… [Harry falls asleep]