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Ideology in Literature on the Example of the Book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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Social class is the leading cause in creating undefined barriers between people, with no real legitimate reason why they are formed. These undefined social and economical barriers that society creates develops into divisions amongst people of different races, religions, social class, economic status, and so much more. An example of an undefined barrier based on economic and social status would be the way in which people with a lot of money view others without a lot of money with inferiority. This ideology is extremely present in literature, such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, where Harry Potter has lost both of his parents and is now forced to live in his aunt and uncle’s abusive house. Additionally, in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Ponyboy Curtis’ involvement in the neighborhood gang rivalry between the Greasers and the Socs, alters the way he and other members of the gang develop throughout the course of the novel. Lastly, in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, where a post-apocalyptic version of the United States of America is portrayed, consisting of two extremes of wealth, a wealthy Capitol and surrounding poor districts. In addition, the annual barbaric “Hunger Games”, where tributes are chosen based on the social class and district in which they are from and forced to compete to the death to become the last person standing, which was the case with Katniss Everdeen. In all of these examples, the experiences that the characters have relating to their background, wealth, the norms of society, and other major events, have ultimately changed the way in which they have developed, with a positive and negative outlet for each character. Classism and social class have an import role in the development of the lives of Harry Potter, Ponyboy Curtis, and Katniss Everdeen, and with these trends, an analysis of how character development is affected by the social class the characters grew up in can be derived.

One of the most prominent examples in literature where the social and economic status of characters leads to differences in how those characters develop is in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Following the perseverance throughout the hardships and obstacles in the way, Harry Potter, along with best friends Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley, the novel is shaped around Harry Potter’s survival from Lord Voldemort’s attempted murder, with his destiny being shaped due to this event, which happened to kill both of his parents (Kalumuck 1). Harry Potter individually had the rest of his life altered by an event that happened as an infant, by Voldemort, who is also known as “‘You-Know-Who’” since people are too afraid to use his name (Rowling 11). The trio collectively come from different backgrounds, bringing all of their past experiences and knowledge together into a unique mixture. Harry has a lot of money given to him by his parents, including gold coins, silver columns, and bronze Knuts, but ultimately does not have any parental figures in his life to guide him (Rowling 75). Hermione, growing up with two non-magical parents, called Muggles, is extremely smart and studious. An example from the book that displays her background leading up to her appearance in the novel is “‘I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice and it’s all worked for me. Nobody’s in my family’s magic at all…I’ve learned all our course books by heart, of course’” (Rowling 105-106). ‘For eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort’” (Rowling 11). Additionally to Harry and Hermione, Ron comes from an extremely large family all full of witches and wizards, all with very prevalent red hair, with the novel stating, “The speaker was a plump woman who was talking to four boys, all with flaming red hair. Each of them was pushing a trunk like Harry’s in front of him” (Rowling 92). The main reason why all of these backgrounds and descriptions of the characters is necessary is because they lay the foundation for how they will grow up and develop. Economical and social status of the three main characters, with Harry Potter having the most prevalence out of the three, shape and define them in the long haul. Harry Potter will not be able to live a “normal” life due to his instant fame of surviving the “Killing Curse” by Lord Voldemort, a curse explained in the latter novels to be unsurvivable. In addition to this, being told lies by his relatives, such as how his parents died in a car crash (Rowling 20) rather than the reality that “‘You-Know-Who killed ‘em’” changes his whole understanding on his life and how he came to be (Rowling 55). Being housed in his aunt’s and uncle’s abusive home has turned him into who he is, as he was not given the opportunity to be loved and nurtured by a loving immediate family (Rowling 19-20). In summary, the way in which certain characters are described lead to different ways they can develop and change, with big relations to the social class and economic status that they came from.

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