Harry’s spell lingers on

Metro spoke with Michael Drout, Professor of English at Wheaton College and an expert on fantasy literature.

Thousands of Harry Potter fans are camped out at London’s Trafalgar Square last week for a chance to see the premiere of the final Harry Potter movie. How did a book character manage to get such a following? Metro spoke with Michael Drout, Professor of English at Wheaton College and an expert on fantasy literature.



The Narnia series and the Lord of the Rings are excellent books. What makes people go gaga over Harry Potter?



Fantasy has become popular anyway, but the drawback with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis is that they take themselves too seriously. The fate of the universe is always at stake. J.K. Rowling took fantasy and inserted humour. She’s also very good at creating characters. Her characters are not the cardboard characters you usually get in fantasy.



But why do people relate to Harry Potter?



He’s literally a Cinderella story, and he taps into the idea that anyone can be the most important person in the universe. He’s also moral compass of sorts: he’s loyal and he knows what’s right and wrong. And like all fantasy, the Harry Potter books put readers into a position where they can change the world. Also, Rowling doesn’t get enough credit for being a decent writer. A typical fantasy writer invents three-four different languages and has 20-page explanations for everything. In Harry Potter readers learn how things work because Harry himself is learning.

 
 
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