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Author Comment
Nica01
Registered User
(6/28/06 2:51 pm)
Fairytales and HP
Hi! Im writing a thesis about the Harry Potter series and the books connection with fairytales. Any opinions, good, bad, or indifferent would be beneficial. Im also wondering if the HP story being divided into 7 books is a unique characteristic in the realm of fairytales.

ConverseSneaker
Registered User
(6/28/06 4:07 pm)
Re: Fairytales and HP
Uhh...I'm not sure if this is what you mean, but Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire could be Snow White, because the witch tries to kill her 3 times.

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(6/28/06 6:08 pm)
Re: Fairytales and HP
I know that Jack Zipes has written and spoken about HP's affinities to the Cinderella story--you might take a look at his most recent work.

As to the 7 books--eh, it would take a lot to convince me. 7 is widely thought of as a magic number, and I think there are 7 Narnia books, but I don't think there's anything particularly significant about the number.

intrikate88
Registered User
(6/29/06 9:42 pm)
All Those Significant Numbers
Three is a typical fairytale number- you have three brothers, three sisters, three trials, three witches (or the maiden/mother/crone thingamabob) and so on. Probably has something to do with the Trinity in Christianity.

As for seven, in Jewish and Christian theology it is God's number, meaning perfection. That's why 666 is imperfection and corruption- it falls short of the seven and the Bible says its man's number. Even though that has nothing to do with this topic.

Rowling uses a lot of influences from folklore and mythology, but she seems to relabel a lot of them. Since I love to be picky about HP, I say that's because she wants to look original but can't quite pull it off except by ripping off everything else without proper references. But pretty much all the creatures she talks about have roots elsewhere.

midori snyder
Registered User
(6/30/06 6:20 pm)

ezSupporter
Re: All Those Significant Numbers
While multiples of three can lend themselves to symbolic meaning for Christians, the use of three repetitions is quite universal--even in cultures that don't have that symbolic connotation with the number.

I wonder sometimes if it isn't more related to aesthetic considerations by the performer in oral narrative performance. Repetition is a common element in narrative structure: it organizes information, highlights important details, and establishes for an audience, a sense of anticipation--and then breaks it (much to the delight of an expectant audience) when the third repetition often fails the models established by the first two repetative events. Repetition drives the story like a manual engine.

Storytellers who want to keep their audiences engaged and focused on the implication of key events in the story may use the triplicate repetition because they have learned that it is the most aesthetically pleasing to an audience. It is enough to make a critical point and establish a pleasant tension in the story. Conversely, good storytellers have been known to draw out a repetition without advancement of the story so as to make a stubborn child fall asleep in the boredom!

Edited by: midori snyder at: 6/30/06 6:22 pm
comfymumfy
Registered User
(7/4/06 11:35 am)
Theme of Harry Potter
To quote from the thread I found on this website about a book called The Red Feather by Marjorie Fischer:

"But that's the point of the romance of the child: 'I know I came from someplace more special than this, and from far more special people, and someday the truth will out.'"

The writer points out that this is also the underlying theme of the Harry Potter books. The concept of Who I Really Am is universal, perhaps even a genetically encoded thought pattern. It may be that we all secretly suspect we are more special and powerful than we actually appear in this human form. Hmm....

Heidi Anne Heiner also points out its relevancy to The Stolen Child, currently on the best seller lists.

L Cully
Registered User
(7/4/06 7:44 pm)
Re: Theme of Harry Potter
To add to what cumfy said...

While I can't think of any specific references at the moment, you probably want to keep in mind that H.P.'s dead (they have to be dead, of course) parents are constantly popping up in various figurative and literal ways -- the vast bank account they left for Harry, their appearance in the Mirror of Erised, James's legacy of Quiddich, Lily's green eyes, their actual rescue of him in the Goblet of Fire, etc, etc. -- to protect and guide Harry. Huge, huge fairy tale motif; especially anything involving his mother (her death saved him, remember).

And that means the Dursleys are his "evil step-parents," natch. Dudley's his favored and nasty stepbrother; Harry lives in a cupboard much like Cinderella slept in the ashes. He's the epitome of the persecuted orphan who's actually royalty of a sort (or a least actually a beloved child). It's one of the biggest draws of the series for kids who have felt persecuted, and what kid hasn't?

Nica01
Registered User
(7/15/06 7:23 am)
Re: Theme of Harry Potter
Much thanks for the input and ideas!

Lisa Jensen
Unregistered User
(7/15/06 5:33 pm)
Harry Potter, themes & numbers
Just one more quick observation: I've always thought the reason J K Rowling chose to write 7 books is simply that seven is the number of years English children typically spend in boarding school. They begin as "First Years" at 11 and continue on until they're "Seventh Years" at 17. Since Hogwarts School is the principal setting for her stories, it makes sense to organize the material year by year up to Harry's graduation.

spirit88
Registered User
(7/20/06 7:51 am)

ezSupporter
Re: Harry Potter, themes & numbers
Seven is THE mystical number! There are 7 chakras, 7 sacraments, 7 levels of the Sephiroth in Kabbalah, 7 colors in the rainbow, 7 notes on the musical scale... and so on and so on.
Several psycho-spiritual teachers (Rudolf Steiner, Carl Jung, and others) speak of seven year cycles of development in the human biography. This is the idea that every seven years we cycle through a complete developmental cycle--gestation, birth, development, blooming, decline, decay, death.
Each stage, in my own observation, contains the steps of Joseph Campbell's "hero's journey": Ordinary World, Call, Approach, Allies and Enemies, Descent (into the cave), Struggle/Ordeal, Return with the elixir/bride/prize, Reintegration into the community/Resurrection.

My point is that like all mythic heroes, Harry is experiencing all of these steps in each book--and like all humans, he is cycling through a seven-year cycle of personal development at the same time...

Note: As we move into this new age, mystics are sensing the appearance (or are now able to detect what was already there) of an eighth chakra. Some postulate there is a ninth chakra as well. (perhaps, if we're lucky, JK Rowling, who seems particularly attuned to such mythological resonances, will give us an eighth HP book!)

Nica01
Registered User
(7/31/06 1:58 pm)
Re: Harry Potter, themes & numbers
Would anyone classify the Harry Potter series as a fairytale, or does the series just contain elements of fairytales? Is it too soon to tell?

Raveler
Registered User
(8/2/06 12:25 pm)
Re: Harry Potter, themes & numbers
The major reason I see behind the use of three is that it is the minimum number of repetitions to set and break a pattern - two of the same, and then one broken. One figure is only an anomaly, while two establish [i]what should be[/i], and the third is then [i]what is[/i].

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(8/4/06 8:28 pm)
Re: Theme of Harry Potter
[[ "But that's the point of the romance of the child: 'I know I came from someplace more special than this, and from far more special people, and someday the truth will out.'" ]]

Many old tales and myths with that theme are mentioned in Joseph Campbell's workS. Searching for Harry Potter + Campbell + Luke Skywalker should find interesting references.

pinkolaestes
Registered User
(8/13/06 2:45 pm)
Re: Theme of Harry Potter
Hello there everyone:
just my two cent's worth

the number seven:
seven days to the story of Creation; as someone spelled out well earlier, the cycle of zenith and return; thus
seven days and nights to a week, in terms of the mystic of timekeeping, and
four x 7 keeps the lunar cycle, and many women's menstrual cycles as well; again the striving to rise to the zenith of new life, and making it so or not, and then descent back to the starting place again... with or without new life, new insight, et al

when I was in psychoanalic training a thousand years ago, we studied for years how symbols, including this number of seven, as all the numbers, carried significance to various peoples and tribal groups, including scientists and those who study circadian rythyms, et al.

...the fairytale three, after all these years of close watch over human beings' endeavors, I would have to say the 'the fairytale three' can be understood in a plethora of ways... myself, I am impressed with several ways of seeing it, one being the fact that people in the real world will often cease their attempts to accomplish something after the first, and surely more often, after the second attempt that failed. They will simply give u p and stop. I think with some levity and morose about the piles and piles of unfinished needleworks and weavings and rug hookings and embroideries to be found at any Good Will or Salvation Army store...lol. I think of my own half finished projects that I did not have 'the knack for' after all was said and done... i remember trying the second time, 'well maybe enough time has lapsed, and I am smarter, stronger, more agile now...'. Nope. Still cant climb the rope to the top of the gymnasium. lol

To go it one more time as the third effort, after a disheartening two tries, seems to me to be in the range of extraordinary. It speaks to the self and soul's great brilliant force... ones that overwrite the lesser and more frail heart of the ego alone. I've seen it in others' lives many times: the force of soul overpowers ego's whiny disbelief in the real possibilities. (To go it the third time, as in me trying to climb the rope again... I think, could also mean one is completely addled too ...lol)

Just as a parallel line of thought about the Harry Potter series ... comments that I hope might be useful, especially to those who labor in the salt mines of writing and illustrating and performance... I do know J.K. Rowling, and , as is often the case with public figures when those selfsame public figures cannot have close relationships with all the people they wish they could, it is difficult to dispell small and large misunderstandings/distortions that might build around the author , author's actual motives, way of working, actual private life, heart philosophy, politics, etc.

I would just offer this tiny bit about her and her work. Despite the hugeness of its 'catch fire,' which was accidental and perhaps fated, but not planned (if one could 'plan' such things, surely those who caught on the fastest would make empires topple by the morning, and all books deemed 'proper' to earn bestseller status according to the political and philosophical leanings of the publisher, would top the lists) her writing the work by my sights, was and is an act of acute generousity.

Long ago Dr. M. (Angelou) talked about 'the cost of the book," and she meant the cost to the author in the writing of it, dealing with the court of apes that sit on a ledge above the writer, and anguishing over the ten thousand voices that want to but cannot be included, and the often profound detritus that arises in the public/academic/personal/ professional spheres after publication ...regardless of the potential good acceptance of a book....

in that vein, I think that the price to be paid for writing a book, or many books, can be, in several ways, enormous... and quite hidden. This cost with regard to authors, is rarely spoken of publically, and is often only spoken of amongst authors themselves...for self-preservation sake... in order to be able to continue not just writing, but receiving the work, and deciding to give up huge portions of personal freedom, to bring the work to the page... I think all these are as much a part of any book, as the end result one sees on the page; which often looks facile compared to what terror/wrest/kickbox match it took to get it there.

Once Barbara Kingsolver and myself and the fellow who wrote Bridges of Madison County ( a fairytale of it's own kind, as is American Psycho and Pessoa's works, and other unusual books) were up for the same award. The fellow who wrote Bridges, won. In his speech, he said it took him two weeks to write the book, and it was fun to do and et al. Barbara and I just looked at each other in shock, thinking, he had been kidnapped by mind-robbers and for whatever reason, had been spared the agony of gleaning and gathering and killing and giving resuscitation, and years of it. That way of writing books ..as though on a pleasure cruise... is rarer than fish eyes on a woodpecker. Most authors are lucky to live to tell about it afterwards.

I hope i havent gone on too long with my 'thinks'
It's just my two cent's worth, and not spelt well either I am afraid. But... absurdity is its own kind of aerobics.... lol...

with kindest regards,
cpe

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(8/23/06 10:28 pm)
Re: Theme of Harry Potter
So nice to see you back! Big breaths of fresh air. :-)

About Rowling -- with the money she made from the first book, we're lucky she bothered to write any more at all. :-)


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