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Should the Harry Potter Novels be Banned?

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By Paul N, Literary Critic

Ever since the first publication of the first Harry Potter book in 1997, the series of 7 novels has become increasing more popular as the series continued, selling millions of copies and achieving critical acclaim. The Harry Potter series of novels has become one of the most popular book series ever published.

But that’s not to say the Harry Potter series hasn’t raised its fair share of criticism. For one, the series “promote” witchcraft, which can set bad examples because in the series, there are two sides of the wizarding world depicted in the novels, the good side of wizards and the dark side of wizards that use such spells as the killing curse, Avada Kedavra which has been shown to kill a person with a quick green light.  This can be considered too dark, as the Harry Potter series is not only for adults but for children as well, and the series is known for becoming increasingly darker as the series progressed.

One school that banned the Harry Potter novels was St. Mary’s Island Church of England in Chatham, Kent. The head teacher, Carol Rockwood, explained, “The Bible is very clear and consistent in its teachings that wizards, devils and demons exist and are very real, powerful and dangerous and God’s people are told to have nothing to do with them.” She added that, “I believe it is confusing to children when something wicked is being made to look fun.” Others have disagreed with this statement and argued that the Harry Potter novels are fantasy and not true stories and should not be taken as such. Some children also know how to tell the difference between a story and real life, as evil magic does not exist and magic itself could be fake, but that has not been disproven entirely. The spells and potions that are mentioned throughout the series come from author, J.K. Rowling’s creative imagination.

Others, however disagree with this point as they argue about the way Harry, Ron, and Hermione act, claiming they cause mischief by breaking school rules, lying, and disobeying teachers and authority figures is indeed inappropriate for the target audience of children. The series also uses mild language with a few swear words here and there. They feel heroes, especially for their age in the earlier books, are not behaving how they should and are often rewarded for their actions. For example, in the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, near the end of the book, Harry is found with an ancient Hogwarts artifact, the Sorcerer’s Stone. Instead of being punished for such, he is rewarded points for Gryffindor house which helps them win the house cup at the end of the year.  Another example is located in the second book in the series, The Chamber of Secrets, in which Harry and Ron must go into the secret chamber beneath the school through the girl’s bathroom, which is inappropriate as not only is it the two boys but a male teacher,Gilderoy Lockhart, goes as well. One gender inside the opposite gender’s bathroom is bad enough, but Harry and Ron must go into the chamber, which was constructed in secret by one of the Hogwarts founders, Salazar Slytherin. Inside of the chamber resided the Basilisk, a giant snake that had the ability to instantly kill anyone who looks it in the eye, or petrify those who see its reflection. However, on the bright side, Harry and Ron do this for good; as Tom Riddle, the young Lord Voldemort, tried to kill Ginny Weasley and other students who were muggle-born. Harry and Ron must save Ginny before she dies. Again, in the end, Harry and Ron are rewarded for their actions as “pure bravery” and face no punishment whatsoever. Finally, even though Harry, Ron and Hermione might not be perfect heroes, they still can be positive role models to the children reading them.  

Some consider the Harry Potter novels, especially the later books, from the fourth book on, to be too scary and dark for their targeted audience. The later movies also contain many onscreen deaths and blood and gore which can be unsettling for the young ones watching. It all begins with the first book; Harry begins the series as an orphan, and his parents are described as being violently killed. There are also violent duels throughout the books, and a lot of them involve Harry; over the course of the entire series, many people who are good are killed, some suddenly and in the most horrible and painful of circumstances. Nagini, Voldemort’s pet snake, even sometimes kills Voldemort’s victims under his command – this involves the victims being bitten and slowly dying in pain.

Others disagree and argue that the Potter books can be handled by children, and that the children are disregarded for such. Some believe that reading scary stories is a way for children to learn how to deal with the death of friends and family. Some people also consider the book series as classics and believe that they belong with other classics like Charlotte’s Web and The Hobbit.
In conclusion, should the Potter books be banned? This article is in no way claiming that the Harry Potter books are good or bad, just that they are fantastic stories in a truly magical world.

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Should the Harry Potter Novels be Banned?