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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

[Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone] Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
Bloomsbury Publishing, plc, 1997
Amazon.co.uk: audio CD, audio cassette
Amazon.ca: audio CD, audio cassette
Amazon.com: audio CD, audio cassette
Recommended by: Greg Slade

Above all else, the Harry Potter books are morality plays, something like George MacDonald's stories such as The Princess and the Goblin. Characters who are greedy, arrogant, prejudiced, or just plain mean are caused to suffer. Characters who are generous, friendly, tolerant, or just plain nice are rewarded. This is particularly clear when Harry's uncle takes his family from a pleasant house in Surrey to a grotty hotel, and finally to a damp, draughty, "most miserable little shack you could imagine" (p. 37) on a deserted island, just to keep Harry from getting his acceptance letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry's aunt and uncle claim that they treat Harry the way the do to keep him away from magic, so he can grow up to be normal, but the story makes it clear that they mistreat him the way they do because they hate him for being different. Since I was the class weirdo most of the way through school, I particularly enjoy seeing intolerance punished, and the fact that Harry's uncle essentially punishes himself through his meanness just makes the moral that much clearer. (Actually, this moral content is so pervasive that it makes me wonder why the books are so popular. Maybe this world isn't quite so corrupt as I tend to think it is, and people really do still believe in virtue.)

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