Genealogy and Social Class: Prejudice in Harry Potter

Topics: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Pages: 4 (1301 words) Published: February 24, 2013
While writing the bestseller Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone J.K. Rowling was struggling on welfare in a coffee shop. Like Rowling, the heros in her novel are social outcasts. Harry is an orphan; Ron comes from poverty; and Hermione comes from a non-wizard family. Harry grows up in the non-magical world, raised by non-magical folk. He is maltreated because he is different, and to an extent an uninvited part of the family. The real world exhibits prejudice due to race, religion, gender and social class on an everyday basis. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone is set in a fantasy world that is far from the ordinary world readers are used to, however; prejudice is a theme that is dealt with throughout the whole story, much like in real life. In her book, Rowling clearly illustrates how prejudice due to genealogy and social class is often unreasonable and always ignorant.

From the beginning of the story, readers are introduced to prejudice by the way Vernon Dursley behaves toward those he sees inferior to his self induced, inflated social class. When he encounters people dressed in cloaks readers see that “Mr.Dursley couldn't bear people dressed in funny clothes” (8). In his mind they are “weirdos”, immature, and second-class citizens. Harry is raised in this way; the Dursleys hate anyone who is different from them, and Harry is very different. This is why he is forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs, wear Dudley’s scruffy hand-me-downs, stay in hiding when visitors come over, and be Dudley’s human punching bag.

Readers soon discover that the Dursley’s hatred for Harry comes from him having wizard blood. Uncle Vernon swore “when [they] took him in [they'd] put a stop to that rubbish. Swore [they’d] stamp it out of him”(43). The Dursley’s take pride in their “normality” and anything that doesn't fit their mould must be altered, this is what they tried to do with Harry, but could not. Aunt Petunia shows her resentment for wizards when asked by...

Cited: Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997. Print.
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