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A valuable lesson learned from Charlie and The Chocolate factory by Roald Dahl is that good things do come in small packages. There is a strong theme that Dahl creates that all that is good in the novel is rather small in size. For example Charlie Bucket, Mr. Wonka, as well as the chocolate. Charlie first off, is small, and mal nourished which was described as, “‘Charlie Bucket? He must be that skinny little shrimp standing beside the old fellow who looks like a skeleton. Right close to us. Just there! See him'” (Dahl 56).. Dahl focused significantly on Charlie’s small size and frame do to his lack of food and nourishment. Then continuing further, Mr. Wonka was also described as a small guy. When he is first introduced to the text he is described as, “Mr. Wonka was standing all alone just inside the open gates of the factory. And what an extraordinary little man he was” (Dahl 57). A good lesson that Dahl appears to be trying to teach by focusing so strongly on those who are smaller and those things that are smaller is because so often people overlook the smaller things in life. They don’t think they are important and significant, little do they realize that sometimes those that are small in size are the biggest in heart and work ethic.

OOMPA LOOMPAS!!Charlie’s small size makes him appear weak and belittles him, when really he is the strongest one on the inside out of all the kids who visited the factory, and in the end he ends up taking over the whole factory. Mr. Wonka’s small size in fact hides his powerfulness as well as his intenseness. It is hard to believe that such a small man could run such a factory and come up with everything that he does, but he surprises everybody with his success and how powerful of a person he really is inside. Mr. Wonka has the power in his hands to control a child’s fate and grant wishes, which is an extremely intense power to possess. Lastly, there is chocolate. Small and unsuspecting to all. However, a single chocolate bar held the fate of Charlie’s life in it. The Golden ticket changed Charlie’s life completely, and his family’s. Without that chocolate bar, Charlie would still be poor, starving, and in a crammed house with all of his family hardly getting by day to day. Once Charlie got the golden ticket, and entered the Chocolate Factory he realized just how powerful things that are small and unsuspecting in size can really be. A lesson that everybody learns at one point or another.


So Good Yet, So Bad

Sometimes it feels so good to be bad. But is that what makes a hero? In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it seems that only the characters that exhibit a certain strain of rebellion are the “cool” ones, and those that refuse to do not are either prudish or wet blankets.

The first example of this is seen, in Harry’s history. His father (James Potter) and his two best friends, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, ran the school in their time at Hogwarts–a full-fledged clique with beautiful girls (Lily, Harry’s mother), wannabes (Peter Pettigrew), and of course, rejects (Severus Snape). But why? It wasn’t because they were heroes like Harry, fighting basilisks and Dark Lords left and right–no–this was much more a case of the cool “bad boys” that every boy wanted to be and every girl wanted to be with. “Black and Potter. Ringleaders of their little gang. Both very bright of course–exceptionally bright in fact–but I don’t think we’ve ever had such a pair of troublemmakers–” This is how Professor McGonagall refers to them–she even later admits how Pettigrew was a mere tag-along who never quite fit in with them. He was pudgy, and a little slower than they, with an animagus of a rat–not exactly the most “badass” of creatures; certainly less threatening than a deer, a dog, or a werewolf.

Which brings us to the thing that defines “the gang”: the Marauder’s Map. The opening of which requires the reader to say “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” And there it is: why can’t those who follow the rules be one in the gang? And why is it that Peter Pettigrew, after betraying his friends, goes searching for acceptance with the worst of the bad boys, AKA Lord Voldemort?

And that’s not all…

Harry and his friends face this pressure every single day at Hogwarts. Hermione, the quintessential “goody-goody”  is constantly scoffed at for knowing the material in class, and her need for structure in a reckless life. Her constant hounding has gotten her humiliated on multiple occasions, as she plays the role of nagging mother in Harry’s school life. We see this especially with the Firebolt. As soon as he gets it, Hermione has it given to Professor McGonagall for inspection due to her concern for Harry’s safety. Only once, to we see her rebellion: when she slaps Malfoy. She is then awed by her peers and seen as somewhat of a heroine. Again, feeding into the notion that only those who can be bad, are good.

All of J.K. Rowling’s characters are notably complex; however, she takes this to the extreme in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, going as far as creating two additional characters in order to play up Harry’s complexity. Especially in this novel, it becomes clear that Ron and Hermione are really just exaggerations of the opposing sides of Harry’s personality. Hermione personifies Harry’s sense of responsibility and his intuitive capabilities, while Ron counters this by representing Harry’s irresponsible, and egocentric side.

One example of this occurs when Harry receives the Firebolt for Christmas. Harry wonders who could have given it to him, but quickly brushes this troublesome fact in his excitement at owning such a high-quality broom. This is played out on a much larger scale by Ron and Hermione. Hermione is apprehensive and thinks that “that broom was probably sent to Harry by Sirius Black” (232), but Ron dismisses this and is more concerned about being able “have a go on it” (225). Harry’s egotistic obsession with his Quidditch skills wins out, and he teams up with Ron in ignoring Hermione.

Harry spends most of the book ganging up on Hermione with Ron, showing how he is dominated by his lack of responsibility throughout this stage in his life. Harry again chooses his self-minded side over his cautious side when he decides to go to Hogsmeade with Ron just days after Sirius Black appeared in their dormitory. When Ron persuades Harry to sneak out, Harry makes sure “that Hermione [is] well out of earshot” before agreeing with him (276). This represents Harry’s feelings of guilt about doing something he knows is dangerous, while trying to ignore his conscience and give in to his self-pleasing side.

At the end of the story, however, Harry is finally forced by Dumbledore to do good and get back in touch with his conscientious side. He and Hermione set off to rescue both Sirius and Buckbeak, and this time it is Ron that Harry chooses to neglect. Hermione, as the embodiment of Harry’s ability to solve problems in a positive and effective manner, supplies him with the Time Turner, helps him solve the puzzle of how to save Buckbeak and Sirius, and it is in her company that Harry is finally able to conjure a full-fledged Patronus. Also, Hermione reminds Harry during this time that they “must not be seen” or else there will be catastrophic consequences (405), maintaining her status as responsible part of him. When Harry submits to his Hermione side, he emerges as a hero.

Harry is a double-sided character. The fact that he has names for these sides of himself, and that they seem to be characters of their own, may lead one to believe that he’s somewhat of a schizophrenic. But this seems to be the recipe for heroism in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione

J.K. Rowling is often praised for the character complexities and development in the Harry Potter series.  Although a variety of individuals introduced throughout the novels, it seems almost every character comes with a parallel or pair of themselves.  With this pair usually, but not always, coming from the other generation.

Hermione and Professor McGonagall as the Wonder Twins

These two are the most important, strong, smart, female figures in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  They are usually the ones that keep Harry on track. They both occasionally adopt mom-type roles, but only when it is absolutely necessary to helping Harry.  They both like to be right.  Hermione is always concerned with being right both academically and morally.  She is often described as bouncing up and down with her hand in the air so that she will be the one called on to answer the question. This tends to annoy quite a few people, like Professor Snape, who docks points from Gryffindor because she is an “insufferable know-it-all”.  McGonagall on the other hand is a teacher, so she doesn’t have to worry about being called names.  They both share strong moral convictions too. When Harry tells Hermione that the Weasley twins had given him the Marauder’s Map, she immediately asks him to return it to the proper authorities. Hermione is terrified of stepping out of line at the beginning of the series, just as McGonagall is always ready to shove someone back in line.The two characters are logical and levelheaded. They plan ahead and think things through before they do them. They prefer tangible evidence and facts over ideas and schemes.  This shows in their obvious, and shared, distain for Trelawney’s mind games and Divination, the study of omens and the supernatural.

Lupin and Sirius as the Go-Getters

Remus Lupin and Sirius Black are the more action prone of all the characters in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, besides maybe Harry himself.  They act before they think, the exact opposite of Minerva and Hermione.  This is proven during Sirius’ first attempt to kill Scabbers. For some reason he thinks it’s a good idea to jump on to Ron’s bed, while he is in it, to kill the rat.  Rons wakes up and is seriously disturbed by the image of Black looming over him with a knife in hand.  Black just wanted to get it done and over with, not thinking about safer options that wouldn’t attract as much attention. Lupin, although he wants to get stuff done, is a little calmer about it.  Where Sirius has been driven crazy about the thought of killing Pettigrew, Lupin has had time to thik it through.  He wants Pettigrew dead just as much as Black, but he offers an explanation to the children for their actions instead of jumping into it.  They are both portrayed as very loyal people who are willing to do anything for their friends.

Ron and Hagrid as the Common Relief

These two provide some common relief in an uncommon situation.  Ron and Hagrid both have more everyday problems to deal with.  Ron wants to make sure his rat isn’t eaten by Crookshanks, and instead of fearing for his life because a supposed murderer is out to get him, he fears for his Potions grade.  Hagrid ,too, has more  traditional issues to deal with.  He is a first time teacher. A job that comes with a lot of stress whether you’re teaching about magical creatures or about addition and subtraction. They both care for Harry very much. They are almost always willing to help him with whatever he may need, and to join the adventure whenever they can.

Neville and Trelawney as the Dazed and Confused

These two characters are both complete messes.  Neville is scattered and scared, he loses something every five seconds, and always seems close to tears.  Neither of them seem know what they are doing. Neville wanders about lost in the crowd, and doesn’t ever know what exactly is going on. Trelawney is just as baffled as he is, but does it with style, probably acquired after years of complete confusion.  She dons the air of someone who knows what they are doing, and belittles those, like Hermione, who don’t agree with her.

Malfoy and Snape as the Grumpy Old Men

These two characters are angry with Harry.  Snape holds a grudge with Harry’s father James Potter. And since James is now dead, he holds it against Harry.  Malfoy, on the other hand, can’t get past Harry’s initial rejection. They both want to revenge on Harry. They go about their anger towards Harry in a similar way.  They both mock and taunt Harry with information to get him riled into action. Snape using Harry’s idealization of his father against him, and Malfoy using his knowledge of Harry’s connection to Black and later Buckbeak. They believe that the best way to get satisfaction would be to watch him fail, after they have set him up.



Harry has gone through the majority of his life knowing hardly anything about his parents with exception of what the Dursley’s have told him about them.  It isn’t until Harry and Professor Remus Lupin begin their private lessons, that Harry realizes that Lupin and his father James were good friends in school. His perception that Sirius was out to get him for the vast majority of the book turns out to be a complete contradiction of what Sirius is truly about. Following the realization that Lupin knew his father, Harry says to him, “If you knew my dad, you must have known Sirius Black as well,” (Rowling 242). Professor Lupin’s kindness to assist Harry in battling the dementors that haunt him, seem to be formed as a sort of favor to Harry’s father in honor of their friendship. The lessons Lupin gives Harry is his sort of way in assuring the Harry can be protected from danger or in this case the dementors.  Sirius on the other hand, manages to secretly send Harry the new Firebolt broomstick which is another thing that a sort of fatherly figure would do. He perhaps perceived the sending of the new broomstick to Harry as a way of providing for him because James could not.


Harry’s shock that he was able to hear his father’s voice as he was attempting to fight the boggart as a dementor allows him to begin piecing together missing segments in life about his parents and how they fought to keep him alive. This third book in introducing Lupin and Black brings together that missing link that Harry needs to better understand his parents, and most of all his father. Rowling uses both Black and Lupin (both men from James’ past) to help guide Harry in the journey of understanding who he truly is and where he comes from. Along the journey to discovery, Harry makes difficult decisions when it comes to saving those who he cares about which is something he would have learned from his father. In preparing to take on the dementor, Harry’s mind begins to flashback subconsciously, “Harry was falling again through thick white fog, and his mother’s voice was louder than ever, echoing inside his head—”Not Harry! Not Harry! Please—I’ll do anything,” (Rowling 239). James sacrificed himself as an attempt to allow his wife Lilly and Harry to get away safely. Sadly Harry was truly the only one who could save himself. But the experience taught him that he should do whatever is needed to save those he cares about even if it means putting him in harm’s way

Riddikulis and Expecto Patronum are two spells wizards use to conquer fear. Riddikulis is used against a boggart (a shape-shifting creature that takes the form of whatever someone fears the most). For Professor Lupin it turns into a moon because he fears his transformation into a werewolf at the full moon. Ron Weasley has an irrational fear of spiders, so the boggart turns into a giant spider for him. The boggart represents fear itself. J.K. Rowling’s choice to make “riddikulis” the incantation for fighting boggarts could be her way of communicating to readers that some fears are ‘ridiculous.’ In Defense Against the Dark Arts, the young wizards keep the boggart at bay by changing it so that it becomes funny. “The charm that repels a boggart is simple, yet it requires force of mind. You see, the thing that really finishes a boggart is laughter.” (Rowling 134). Through Lupin’s first lesson, Rowling teaches her readers to laugh at irrationality and ward it off with their strength of mind.

            The second charm, Expecto Patronum, is used to fight off dementors. “Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them.” (Rowling 187). Dementors represent a deeper kind of fear. The source of this fear is within people rather than some exterior thing. Dementors and their effects on wizards are taken more seriously in the book: Dementors guard the wizard prison; Expecto Patronum requires much more power, focus, determination, and skill than Riddikulis; Dementors can “kiss” wizards and leave them soul-less, empty bodies. “You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life” if you fall victim to a dementor (Rowling 187). To overcome this inner emotional darkness requires more strength of character. Wizards have to reach deeper inside themselves, which (as Harry proves) can be draining, to conquer the dementors. The derivatives of “expecto” and “patronum” translate to roughly mean “I summon a protector.” Since the wizard has to summon a power from within himself, Rowling is probably indicating having faith in yourself is some of the best armor against evil.

            Rowling proposes that we inhibit ourselves with fear. The only defense against despair is to search within ourselves for what makes us strong and what we truly believe in. For Harry, that is the love of his parents. His patronus takes the same form his father took as an animagus. Fighting a dementor is more difficult than fighting a boggart. In reality, fighting hopelessness is more difficult than conquering the fears that inhibit you 


snape-boggart.jpg image by Snoopy31591

     Although Harry Potter is a favorite hero among readers of all ages, what good is a story without it’s villain?  Harry Potter is constantly under the attack of Lord Voldemort, a dark lord bent on dominating the wizarding and the Muggle worlds.  What makes Voldemort a formidable foe, and does our fear of him come from past enemies in the readers’ world?

     Voldemort began as Tom Riddle, the son of a witch and a Muggle.  Orphaned, Riddle eventually gains acceptance to Hogwarts, where he begins his education as a wizard.  During his school years, Riddle begins his evolution into the monster he would eventually become.  Clever and manipulative, Riddle is able to trick teachers and students alike with his charms.  After his time at Hogwarts, he uses his wiles to manipulate others to give him artifacts he later uses as Horcruxes. 

     Riddle’s “charming” personality as he grew up and evolved into Voldemort is reminiscent of real-world villains and murders, which makes him all the more frightening.  This connection to reality keeps the readers engaged in the villain, who is rendered even more terrifying because of allusions to serial killers and criminals in the Primary World.  An example of this is Ted Bundy, a murderer in the 1970s.  Bundy was seen to be charming, charismatic, and smart; however, he was extremely dangerous.  He exhibited characteristics of a personality disorder that although he was anti-social, he appeared friendly, warm, and loving, which is how he lured his victims.  Riddle exhibits many of the same qualities, which ties him to the Primary World because of the believability of his personality and actions as a result of that personality; because more adult readers are able to draw this comparison, Voldemort becomes fully realized as a villain that could be seen in reality. 

     Voldemort is also a formidable villain because of his ability to lead.  He is able to draw followers, both men and women, who will obey him and give him their absolute loyalty.  In this way, we can connect Voldemort to another real-world enemy, Adolf Hitler.  Hitler was able to lead a nation against his foes.  Because of Hitler’s ability to speak persuasively, he gained many followers who were willing to agree with his views and fight for them.  Like Hitler, Voldemort possesses the power of persuasion, and is able to lead his Death Eaters in a war.

     Voldemort also relates to Hitler in their common belief in a “pure race”.  Voldemort works towards a world where Muggle-borns and mixed-blood wizards are degraded or extinguished.  He fights for a pure-blood world, where only those born of two wizarding parents are worthy of respect and admiration.  Hitler also tried to create a pure race by murdering millions of Jews, Christians, homosexuals, and other cultures he believed to be inferior.  Both Hitler and Voldemort attempt to “purge” the world of those they see unfit to live in it. 

     Because of Voldemort’s similarities to real murders and dictators, his character becomes more frightening.  He is able to be connected back to the Primary World with the ways in which he leads his followers and in his personality traits.  This makes his character as a villain more believable because his actions are those that the readers have already experienced.


Quid-What? Quidditch!

Quidditch. In the wizarding world it is as big as “football” is to the Europeans. From the start of the series Harry had a natural talent for the sport, but in “The Prisoner of Azkaban” you see just how important it is him and to Hogwarts. Despite all the chaos in the story, Rowling still makes Quidditch a big part of the book, making a point to describe each game. It is even because of Quidditch that Harry learns the Patronus charm. So yes, Buckbeak bit Malfoy, and yes, the Dursleys hate Harry and everything magical, but I belive it is Quidditch that helps Harry get through the hard times and gets him to where he needs to be in the end.

      In the first few pages of “The Prisoner of Azkaban”, we see how happy flying and quidditch makes Harry. When he receives letters and gifts from his friends during a summer of isolation from them, Rowling writes “Apart from his friends, the thing Harry missed most about Hogwarts was Quidditch, the most popular sport in the magical world—highly dangerous, very exciting and played on broomsticks” (12). Hermonie, his best friend sent him a large jar of Fleetwood’s High-Finish Handle Polish, a pair of gleaming silver Tail-Twig Clippers, a tiny brass compass to clip onto his broom for long journeys, and a Handbook of Do-It-Yourself-Broomcare (12). Harry is excited about the gift and throughout the story Rowling brings it back up. She also goes on to say that one of Harry’s most prized possessions is his Nimbus Two Thousand racing broom, which is the first broom he bought and has used since discovering he had a natural talent to fly.

      Harry\’s Quidditch\’s Love  potterbroom

The importance of Quidditch and brooms is brought up again in chapter four when Harry is in Diagon Alley. It is there that the sees the best broom of all time, The Firebolt (51).  Everyone in the shop crowds around it examining its beauty and marveling at how fast it is. This scene clearly shows how the rest of the wizarding world loves Quidditch and brooms.  This shop is the place where all the boys go, and in fact it is here that Harry sees his fellow Gryffindor students who are also “ogling” the Firebolt (55). The Firebolt plays a big part later on in the story.

      Throughout the rest of the book, Rowling describes how Wood, Gryffindors Team Captain, is intent on wining the Quidditch Cup this year. He plans many practices, which take up a lot of Harry’s time, but Harry doesn’t mind. He sees Quidditch as a way to escape what is going on around him. It is his time to be away from Ron and Hermione and all the drama that is associated with them. Harry is nervous about the first game of the year, yet he can’t wait for it to come. It is during this game that the Demantors intrude and Harry falls off his broomstick causing him to lose his very first game. On top of this, the Whomping Willow destroys his Nimbus Two Thousand. Harry feels a deep sadness over losing his broom, which had been so faithful to him for the past two years.  It is after this game that Harry decides to learn the spell that keeps the Dementors at bay so that this won’t happen again, and causing him and his team another loss. Harry’s determination to win is what leads him to learn the Patronis spell so that he wouldn’t put his team in jeopardy again. As I stated earlier, the Firebolt is a crucial part of the story. During Christmas, Harry receives a Firebolt from an unknown sender. When word gets out and Harry gets back in time to play in the critical game, everyone is talking about it, and even Malfoy can’t help but be jealous. It is with this Firebolt that Harry catches the snitch and wins the Quidditch Cup. All this shows how Hogwarts takes Quidditch very seriously and how brooms are yet another way to display people’s status and wealth. Rowling always mentions that the whole school goes to watch the games and that being on the team is a privilege. It is the “thing” to do at Hogwarts; you are either on the team or go watch and cheer.


So yes, Harry has to fight the “Dark Lord” and has to deal with the fights between Ron and Hermione, but it is Quidditch that gets him through all of this. He considers it to be one of his happiest moments the day he learned to fly, and in the books to come his Firebolt plays a crucial part in helping him escape disaster.



the three musketeers     J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” portrays gender roles and stereotypes in a different way than many stories and novels during this time.  The roles of males and females are more equally depicted.  In many novels, gender roles can be skewed and females can play very original and unique roles as well as males, but in Rowling’s novel, we see a fairly equal depiction between the sexes.

     I believe that Rowling deviates from standard gender roles in her Hermione character.  Hermione is a very intelligent, stubborn, and motivated girl.  Her drive for success in school is immense and that is her main focus.  Meeting boys and doing girly things is last on her list, therefore she differs greatly from many female characters we see in other novels.  On the other hand, Hermione plays the mother role to Ron and Harry at many times during the novel, which is a traditional female role.  She is always very worried about the safety of Harry and tries to stop him from wanting to fight Sirius Black.

     The male characters are fairly stereotypical and follow traditional gender roles.  Ron and Harry are always teasing Hermione and constantly picking on her and giving her a hard time.  When Hermione is scolding Harry for going to Hogsmeade, Ron replies by saying, “can you hear someone talking, Harry?”  His mocking tone portrays a stereotypical adolescent boy, as do Harry’s actions when he ignores being ordered to stay on campus and goes to Hogsmeade.  All of the boys at Hogwarts are very focused on playing Quidditch and flying around on their brooms.

            Overall, the genders are portrayed equally.  All of the students at Hogwarts, boys and girls, can take any class they want and are usually treated equally, although many of the teachers somewhat idolize Hermione for her work ethic and concentration.  Both boys and girls play Quidditch, and are equally respected.  Cho Chang is the star player for Ravenclaw and is a girl competing directly against Harry, and manages to hold her own for a while.  This shows the equality between the genders and that Rowling had clear intentions on aiming for some kind of fairness.

Siriusly Evil?

Nothing’s black and white, not even in the wizarding world. None of the characters have a telltale title like “Glinda the good witch” and “the wicked witch of the West.” Instead the characters of the Harry Potter fantasy world tend to be more ambiguous. This is shown especially in the Prisoner of Azkaban in the characters of Severus Snape and Sirius Black.

Severus Snape is one ambiguous character in the novel. He clearly harbors resentment for Harry, Lupin, and Sirius. He is very mean to them and does not attempt to hide his hatred. However, despite his disdain for Lupin, he still brews him the potion that helps him when he transforms into a werewolf. Also, although he greatly resents Harry, Ron, and Hermione, he attempts to protect them from the werewolf and the dementors. Snape is an unpleasant person, but when it comes down to it, he does what is right.

The audience’s perspective of Sirius Black changes completely from the beginning of the novel to the end. He is originally portrayed as a murderous lunatic and a servant of Voldemort. Immediately he is labeled a “bad guy” as stories of his murder of 13 people, his association with Voldemort, and his supposed intention of murdering Harry are spread throughout the wizarding world. Harry even learns that Sirius betrayed his parents, adding to the negative view of him. Sirius’ own behavior does not help negate this image of him. He breaks into the castle and slashes the picture of the Fat Lady with a knife and kidnaps Ron with no explanation. Because of his anger and eagerness to get revenge on Peter Pettigrew, Sirius is careless in his behavior and doesn’t care that he acts guilty. However, in the end, we discover that all the stories about Sirius being in league with Voldemort and betraying Harry’s parents were false he has really been good all along. Although Sirius’s temper and behavior suggests that he is bad, in reality he is good.

Unlike the clearly defined heroes and villains that are portrayed in many children’s fairy tales and fantasy novels, the characters in Harry Potter are less extreme. It is not always obvious at first who are the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” It is this ambiguity that helps add to the depth and complexity of the characters.


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