Harry Potter: Literary Art or Commercial Entertainment?

The flying brooms and magic spells in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series may be compelling to a creative mind, but is this series just entertainment? Her works are surely entertaining, but as an avid Harry Potter reader, would not call the books simply “commercial fiction”. From a distant view, a person “knows” the series from the most basic description: witchcraft, wizardry, flying brooms, a Z-shaped scar, and a very evil man with no nose. Sure, these topics are entertaining, but a deeper meaning lies below it. These uninformed individuals are likely to describe these novels as literary fiction. There are deeper meanings to Rowling’s novels than meets the eye. When I looked further into the words of J.K. Rowling, I realized that her series could be read as another version of the Bible. If these meanings fail to be recognized, the literary genius of Harry Potter remains unobserved.

The Harry Potter series, when looked at from a different point of view, is quite complex, which is why I believe it should be considered literary fiction. In the past, these novels were criticized due to its “promotion” of witchcraft. The thought of the subject was scandalous, especially to religious older generations who were not open to any idea regarding witchcraft. However, these arguments were too often made by the uninformed. As someone who has read every Harry Potter book several times, I stand by the argument that Rowling’s books are in no way sacrilegious. In fact, quite the opposite is what makes these novels a work of art. Looking at the novels from a different perspective brought me to the realization that Harry Potter can actually be understood as an interpretation of the Bible. As an example, the famous Sorcerer’s Stone in the first of the famous series is a representation of the forbidden fruit. It represents what humanity should not ever get their hands on, since it would bring an overbearing sense of wealth and eternal life. It holds too much power for one person alone, which is why if it falls into the wrong hands, it could be detrimental. I related this to the story of Adam and Eve, and the temptation by the snake to eat the forbidden fruit. The fate of the wizarding world continues to fall on Harry Potter for the entirety of the series.

Probably the most pertinent of the religious significance that I noticed is the reason that Harry Potter has an immortal soul, unable to be fully killed by evil. When he is ultimately killed by Voldemort, or the “devil”, he is risen up and comes back to life, because of his immortality from the malicious. This is a clear relation to the resurrection of Jesus in the common beliefs of many Christian religions. This event does not occur until the end of the series, which is what enticed me to read the entire series for a second time. With new knowledge of the depth of the series, I picked up on new religious references that Rowling cleverly inserted into the story. This is the most obvious of the relations between these novels and the Bible to me, showing that Harry Potter represents Jesus, while Voldemort represents the devil. It was then when I was thankful for my religious background, so I could make a connection between Bible stories and this series. The relation of J.K. Rowling’s series to the Bible is an example of the depth of the series, making it much more of an art than simple entertainment.

I am a firm believer that any book or story that has more than one meaning to it cannot be simply entertainment.  Calling the series simply commercial fiction is a broad statement, made most likely by individuals who are not aware of the many meanings cleverly inserted into the books. J.K. Rowling’s genius is something that should not be overlooked. It is the first modern and widely popular series that was known to be controversial by parties around the world. I also believe that these stories will go down in history and be studied as a literary art, because of the multiple meanings that these books hold. When I first started to think about its relation to the Bible, I continued to read the books and began to catch onto many references and aspects of the story that I wouldn’t have caught onto before. Having a religious background certainly helped me grasp a deeper understanding of the series Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and the depth she inserted into the series is what will help in making the series a studied literary art in years to come.


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