Fantasy Literature: Synthesis Essay
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Fantasy literature is a genre that goes back to ancient mythology. Teaching powerful lessons to people young and old since early 1900’s. But, should fantasy be taught in schools? Yes, fantasy should be taught in school, fantasy can teach many different lessons such as love, happiness, confidence, the importance of family, and good winning over evil. There are many different forms of fantasy such as fairy tales, novels, and movies. Fantasy is an excellent form of literature to use because the genre has lessons that can be used by people in every age group.
The first piece of fantasy literature that proves fantasy is more than a form of entertainment but, teaches valuable lessons as well is The Lion The Witch and Wardrobe. This novel has a strong universal theme of betrayal, but more importantly, forgiveness. The book also shows that good triumphs over evil. The novel is about four siblings that are sent to a country house by their mother so they will be safe from the ongoing war. One day Lucy the youngest of the four finds a wardrobe that takes her to a magical world named Narnia. After coming back to her siblings and telling them about the new world she found, she soon goes back to the strange world with them. They then join in the fight against the White Witch. You can see the forgiveness when Peter doesn’t believe Lucy about Narnia. This is seen in the book when the author writes, “‘I apologise for not believing you,’ he said, ‘I’m sorry. Will you shake hands?’ ‘Of course,’ said Lucy, and did.” (Lewis 60). This shows that although Peter didn’t believe Lucy about Narnia Lucy forgave Peter. Another reason this specific part of the book contains a good lesson is because Peter admitted that he was wrong, not only admitted it he apologized for it. The character as well as the readers see sometimes people make mistakes. Learning this lesson at a young age helps the children realize that humans aren’t perfect.
You can also see good winning over evil in the novel, when Aslan was killed by the white witch, but since he was killed out of an act of kindness on his part he was brought back to life. You see this when it says, “ ‘Oh, it’s too bad,’ sobbed Lucy; ‘they might have left the body alone.’ ‘Who’s done it?’ cried Susan. ‘What does it mean? Is it magic?’ ‘Yes!’ said a great voice behind their backs. ‘It is more magic.’ They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.”(Lewis 177-8) This shows that goodness can win over the evil that is passed around through society. Children have minds that are easily influenced therefore they should learn good lessons at a young age so it sticks. This also shows that you should look out for others as well as yourself.
There are also other lessons that can be taught through fantasy. Another prime example is seen in the book Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. This novel shows many solid reasons as to why fantasy should be taught in schools. Harry Potter is an average 11 year old boy who has to live with his aunt Petunia, uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley due to his parents’ death. He attends Hogwarts and has to overcome many different obstacles. In the story you can see examples of characters standing up for injustice as well as the fact that no matter what someone goes through there is always someone that will be there for you. Throughout the story Harry has to stand up for Neville Longbottom because Draco Malfoy taunts him and other students in the school. You can see this when Draco takes Malfoys property after he is hurt and harry goes to get it back. The author goes on to write,
“‘Give it here!’ Harry yelled, but Malfoy had leapt onto his broomstick and taken off. He hadn’t been lying, he could fly well. Hovering level with the topmost branches of an oak he called, ‘Come and get it, Potter!’ Harry grabbed his broom. ‘No!’ shouted Hermione Granger. ‘Madam Hooch told us not to move — you’ll get us all into trouble.’” ( Rowling 183).
Harry knew he could get into trouble but beside that fact he decided to get the Remembrall back from Draco anyway. This shows Harry standing up for injustice as well as Harry being in Neville’s corner when no one else is there. You can see someone in the story in Harry’s corner no matter what he went through. You see this when Rowling writes, “‘I won’t let you do it,’ he said, hurrying to stand in front of the portrait hole. ‘I’ll — I’ll fight you!’ ‘Neville,’ Ron exploded, ‘get away from that hole and don’t be an idiot –’ ‘Don’t you call me an idiot!’ said Neville. ‘I don’t think you should be breaking any more rules!” (Rowling 339) This shows that Neville was concerned about Harry and his friends even though they got him into trouble. Another part of the book that shows harry has people in his corner is when Ron and Hermione stop Snape from hexing Harry’s broomstick you see this when it says, “ ‘He’s doing something — jinxing the broom,’ said Hermione. ‘What should we do?’ ‘Leave it to me.'( Rowling 236) This shows that Hermione and Ron will do anything to protect Harry. This is good for children to see because they can then look for people in their lives that will look out for them the same way Harry’s friends look out for him.
Equally as important to the rest, there is another reason as to why fantasy should be taught in school which comes from an article written by Bret Stetka. He explains that experiments were conducted by giving people different articles about different characters in Harry Potter. The goal was to see if this would affect the subject’s attitudes. The experiment was based on the fact that some people feel as though they don’t belong. In Harry Potter muggles aren’t respected in the wizard world. Half-bloods or mud-bloods aren’t accepted in either worlds and feel as though they don’t belong. However Harry, a full wizard raised by muggles, Hermione, a mud-blood, and Ron, a full wizard raised by wizards, are all friends. Their friendship goes against what some think should be but they don’t care because they enjoy eachothers company. Children, especially teens can connect to this because they are searching for where they truly belong, Which is why this is an excellent lesson for young school children to learn. The conclusion of the experiment showed that reading Harry potter can affect children’s views on immigrants and feeling as though they don’t belong. The article says, “ A week after the last session, the children’s attitudes towards out-groups were assessed again. Among those who identified with the Harry Potter character, attitudes toward immigrants were found to be significantly improved in children who’d read passages dealing with prejudice. The attitudes of those who’d read neutral passages hadn’t changed.” (Stetka) This shows that the control group that read parts of the story that had harry buying school supplies hadn’t been affected, but the children that read parts relating to the scene where Draco Malfoy, a pure-blood wizard, calls Hermione a “filthy little Mud-blood.” changed their opinion.
There are many reasons as to why fantasy should be taught in schools but there are also reasons it should not be taught. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone has several articles written as to why it shouldn’t be taught. Trisha Tucker wrote an article explaining that the spells used in the stories can make children want to go into witchcraft. She wrote, “But Ron Matthews, the conservative president of the Ventura County Board of Education, called that reasoning ‘hogwash.’ ‘What goes into the mind gets processed,’ he said. ‘It’s endorsing the demons and goblins and witchcraft, and it opens up the floodgates for demon possession’” (Tucker) This shows that teachers believe that children think that everything they read. Tucker then shuts this down by stating, “Most readers of Rowling’s novel — including many Christian readers — interpret the characters’ tutelage in spells and potions as harmless fantasy or as metaphors for the development of wisdom and knowledge.” (Tucker) This shows despite what some may think most readers don’t read the book literally, but in fact analyze the story for deeper meanings.
Another reason they say fantasy shouldn’t be taught in schools is because violence. The authors are known as the Grimm Brothers, and they wrote “The Juniper Tree”. The Juniper Tree is an interpretation of Hansel and Gretel. The story is about a stepmother killing her stepson. The mother then sets up her daughter to make her think she has done it. The father comes home asking about his son but the mother lies about his disappearance. The little boy magically becomes a bird who flies around asking various people for different gifts. At the end the bird goes home and gives the gifts to the father and, sister but, as for the stepmom the bird drops a cement block on her. This story has many forms of violence. You first see violence when the author writes, “‘Take out an apple for yourself.’ And while the little boy was leaning over, the Evil One prompted her, and crash! she slammed down the lid, and his head flew off, falling among the red apples.” (Grimm 191). The violence may scare some children, but there is violence in history. So should history be taught in school? There are no questions about history being taught in schools. Some may argue that history teaches you about the past so that we are educated to not make similar mistakes. However fantasy teaches lessons as well. The story has a happy ending and you see this when it says, “The father and Marlene heard it and went out. Smoke, flames, and fire were rising from the place, and when that was over, the little brother was standing there, and he took his father and Marlene by the hand, and all three were very happy, and they went into the house, sat down at the table, and ate.” (Grimm 197) This shows children that no matter what happens in their life the only thing they can control is their happiness.
In conclusion fantasy is a genre for everyone and teaches universal lessons for all ages. Although there are some reasons as to why it should be removed from lesson plans, there are more reasons as to why it should. Fantasy teaches readers that good wins over evil, forgiveness, not to mention that standing up for friends is okay. Therefore fantasy should remain apart of education for people of all ages.