Social Sensitivity

Although not blatantly didactic, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets delivers several moral messages to readers. Resisting racism is the most crucial social issue discussed in the book. Harry refuses to discriminate against other students because of factors, such as lineage, that they cannot control. Instead of encouraging inequality, Harry promotes cooperation through teamwork. He avoids controversial causes endorsed by dubious classmates and does not succumb to peer pressure. Rowling incorporates several moral themes in her novel, and she wants to show how character and integrity influences an individual’s decision-making processes, noting that most people are innately good unless they have suffered extreme emotional or physical abuse. She stresses that her novels reveal the consequences of evil and how innocent people are often victimized unfairly.

Harry has the courage to give voice to his concerns and distinguish right from wrong. He is a role model for his fictional cohorts as well as his readers and establishes acceptable standards for behavior. Keenly aware of what is fair and just, he is accountable for his actions, justifying when breaking rules is permissible for the greater good. Harry tries to work within established guidelines without harming the Hogwarts community. He opposes favoritism among professors and students, disliking cliques that are a part of most school environments. The hierarchy of wizard castes at Hogwarts repulses Harry, whose mother was a Muggle. He resents classmates who passively permit such ostracism to continue. Interestingly, no professors are targeted as outcasts. Harry’s compassion for individuals’ differences and his sense of social responsibility might make readers aware of any harmful prejudices they have or encounter and strengthen them to voice their concerns.

Harry displays socially acceptable behaviors such as respecting his elders and strives to maintain the honor of Hogwarts through his actions, refusing to cheat on class assignments or sports despite academic pressures and provocations. A diligent, self-disciplined worker, Harry is committed to earning grades and achieving goals rather than being granted privileges that might weaken his character like the spoiled Draco Malfoy. He worries about the well-being of other wizards and witches as well as animals, and places their needs over individual desires and ambitions, altruistically sharing his food and belongings and freeing Dobby from his servitude to the Malfoys. Harry values knowledge as being more powerful than the illusions of magic. Admitting that he is imperfect, he urges his classmates to become better people and is loyal to his friends even when they disagree with him. Harry bravely pursues his course of action despite ridicule, risks of losing possessions, or encountering hazards.

Unfortunately, Rowling sometimes casts characters, albeit the more loathsome ones, with stereotypical descriptions. Harry’s offensive male relatives are heavy-set to indicate their stupidity and laziness. The buffoonish classmate, Neville Longbottom, is also described as plump which his surname seems to suggest. Sexism and racism often are intertwined, and, while Rowling does not endorse discrimination, subtle sexism occurs when Hermione is transformed into a cat after creating the Polyjuice Potion. Also, Ginny is depicted as a stereotypical helpless, foolish, confused female who is rescued by a male. Risk-taking by male characters is rewarded, while that undertaken by females is punished.

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