Harry Potter an extraordinary ally during this pandemic and the confinements

Harry Potter an extraordinary ally during this pandemic and the confinements

Andrea Smadja - C19 Tamar news

“The colourless immensity of the sky had extended above him, detached from him and his suffering” Harry Potter

The successful Harry Potter franchise did not have its best year in 2020. J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments had a negative impact, as did the replacement of Johnny Depp from the Fantastic Animals saga following his legal troubles.

Of course, 2020 will not have been the best year for anyone due to the health regulations imposed to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. That this series so dear to the hearts of a generation of readers is suddenly singled out at the very moment when the world’s population is confined is entirely coincidental. But the similarities between the current situation and some of the plots in the young wizard’s story are no less interesting.

The first six volumes in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, were set at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a magical boarding school of peril, mystery, and magic. Deathly Hallows cuts Harry, Hermione, and (occasionally) Ron off from their customary daily routine. Loneliness, a lack of resources, fear of being trapped, frustration, and the stress of being thrown into the new global order cause them great distress.

Looking back on it today, it is eerie how closely this article matches our current year, which it lacks nonetheless.

These similarities may seem anecdotal, but they point to specific literary theories, notably the episteme theory of French philosopher Michel Foucault, the neo-historicism of American literary historian Stephen Greenblatt, and the semiotic resource theory of British semiotician Gunther Kress.  This approach shows how texts’ meanings vary according to the context in which they are read through this approach.

Harry Potter’s cultural meaning has shifted with the world.

When you are affected by a pandemic, the passage, such as, “The colourless immensity of the sky had extended above him, detached from him and his suffering,” takes a whole new meaning.  Understanding his feelings of isolation and worry enables us to identify with Harry better. Students in 2020 will be in a position to empathize with the inner turmoil the young wizard had due to being severed from his prior existence at Hogwarts.

The interruption of his education, his adolescence, and his path to the adult world is all too familiar to today’s middle schoolers, who certainly did not expect their studies to be disrupted by a virus any more than Harry could have expected to lose their final year at Hogwarts to a Voldemort coup.

In light of our own isolation, we have a higher chance of understanding and feeling the success of Harry, who is home again, fighting against Voldemort, and demonstrating an unbreakable bond with Hermione, who never gave up on him.

Literature revisited
This is not a new occurrence. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a cautionary tale about the perils of communism, whereas George Orwell’s 1984 is a warning about Big Brother and monitoring. Animal Farm is an uncompromising commentary on the hypocrisy of communist regimes. This theme strikes a responsive chord with the readers of Western countries who are confronted with the “Red Scare.”

The immersive potential of the novel Animal Farm, which is read more like an animal fable for an audience with little knowledge of the former USSR, vanished with the end of the Cold War.

Under the presidency of George W. Bush, with the enactment of the Patriot Act and the monitoring efforts it contained, the book 1984 saw a brief renaissance.

Finally, the fact is that the story’s durability and the author’s legacy are profoundly reliant on the context of history. When authors cannot anticipate the future, we must accept the role of chance as an “editor” and collaborator in many beloved pieces of work. It seems that even Shakespeare himself was lucky to have had coincidental encounters.

Could rereading Harry Potter be another literary phenomenon like J.K. Rowling’s series? The meanings of Shakespeare’s and Orwell’s works change over time, just as J.K. Rowling’s does.

As the world around us evolves, each generation’s perception of the Harry Potter journey will vary. It is an illusion to believe that texts are permanent, unchangeable entities.

Harry Potter seems to have undergone the same dramatic transformation as everyone else. Without getting out, we might view this as an opportunity to revisit an old favourite and give it a fresh perspective.

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