So why are the Harry Potter books so popular? There are five reasons:
Reason 1 – Multiple Categories
The Harry Potter books actually span a number of popular genres.
As many have pointed out, Harry Potter is definitely not just a children’s story. Depending on an individual reader’s tastes, the series falls into several classifications:
- Literary Satire
- Social Satire
- Children’s Fairy Tale
- Social Science/Modern Psychology
It just so happens that these are some of the most popular categories in contemporary literature.
Reason 2 – Exceptional Writing
Due to the skillful writing of J.K. Rowling, her stories not only cross-over into other categories but they excel within each of the genres.
The following describes how well her works relate to each:
Literary Satire – Her puns, double-entendres, and her witty use of language, names, titles, classical and mythological references, along with her clever story-telling, are totally captivating and allow Harry Potter to remain fresh through multiple readings. Those also elevate her literature to the adult level by giving it an intellectual dimension.
Social Satire – She has created a completely fictitious yet very relatable political and social atmosphere, including lampoon-like (yet believable) stereotypes, which rival those of L. Frank Baum, A.A. Milne, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Mystery – Packed with detail and a plethora of subtle clues and hints, her books are exceptional brain-teasers for whodunnit fans. In addition, they are one of the rare combinations of an epic mystery in a fantasy setting.
Fantasy – Harry Potter is also a great epic fantasy incorporating magic, heroes, quests, mysterious creatures, and the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. Well-written fantasies are known for becoming legendary classics – such as the Wizard of Oz and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings that was voted Book of the Century.
Adventure – Unlike Tolkien’s adventures, the Harry Potter stories are more action-packed with Indiana Jones-style of appeal, yet just like Tolkien, Harry Potter’s trials challenge his mental as well as his physical fortitude. The upcoming war will be an ultimate test and adventure for their whole magical world.
Children’s Fairy Tale – Harry Potter is not only a fun fairy tale for children, it both draws from the best tales as well as adding unique twists: it is a Cinderella story for boy’s and a Star Wars adventure with a fantasy setting. Nonetheless, while analogies are apparent, it is completely unpredictable due to the complexity of the plots.
Social Science/Modern Psychology – Through her remarkable understanding of psychological profiling, J. K. Rowling presents extremely provocative scenarios for character interaction. She also provides an arena for testing personal and social responsibility/accountability when faced with discriminatory and immoral attitudes. The Harry Potter books have spawned many insightful conversations – even among professional psychiatrists.
Reason 3 – Halloween Theme
The subject of mysterious influences, Medieval times, and Halloween is always universally alluring.
Adults, as well as children, are enticed with the concepts of alternate lives, the ability to fly, and even the fairy-tale possibility that a long-forgotten relative will show up to let them know they are heir to a great family.
Although interest in sorcerers and fantasy has been mostly attributed to children, the concept of witches and wizards have thrived on a global scale. In the U.S., Halloween is now the second biggest holiday of the year for retailers.
Reason 4 – All the Favorites
Through clever associations, all of our favorite fantasies are aggregated into one place where J. K. Rowling brings them to life in a world that is so similar to our own.
There are many stories about wizards, magical creatures, and fantasy worlds. However, this is the first time that an author has attempted to incorporate all the most popular characters, legends, and myths into one society. J. K. Rowling cleverly weaves information from the numerous and disparate historical accounts together – offering plausible explanations for each one so that they become an integral part of her special world. She includes all mysterious figures from the trite bogeyman to the majestic phoenix – everyone’s favorites can be found in this magical world.
Additionally, even though the subject is imaginary, fantasy authors (just like any other fictional writers) have found that in spite of our industrialized and highly populous environment, a present-day backdrop for fantasy literature gives it a believable perspective that teases the imagination of both children and rational adults. By placing her all-encompassing world in a current setting, J. K. Rowling gives these historical entities new life by allowing all of them to “live” in the present. Her work is so powerful that it is highly likely that J. K. Rowling’s descriptions will become the default image for these fantasy characters for all future generations.
Reason 5 – Social Relevance
Due to a raised consciousness of the effects of bullying and home environment on human development, J. K. Rowling has created a highly relevant social statement.
Harry is abused and bullied. In describing how he deals with his situation, J. K. Rowling exhibits an extraordinary understanding of human emotions and the consequences of social interaction. She extremely accurately depicts the emotional responses we have all experienced from our personal encounters with positive and negative influences, both as kids and adults. Harry is not only an endearing underdog but an inspiring tale of personal triumph. She confronts with incredible empathy many of the key effects on our existence: fear, love, hatred, jealousy, friendship, trust, ambition, death, bravery, loyalty, bigotry, and intolerance.
The fantasy world that J. K. Rowling created has order, government, laws, and social responsibilities. It uses a democratic system, but like our own world, its residents and leaders have to make difficult choices when faced with situations that compromise their standards and beliefs. Her magical world also exaggerates and emulates our real world as the characters, as well as the reader, are challenged emotionally and intellectually to address very significant moral issues that affect each of us personally in our own lives.
Those are the five reasons that account for the success of Harry Potter: Multiple Categories, Exceptional Writing, Halloween Theme, All the Favorites, Social Relevance. It is easy to see why the Harry Potter phenomenon has occurred, yet a person with the talent to successfully create and implement such a model is rare! That is why there are so few true masterpieces, and that is why we are all so intrigued with the accomplishments of J. K. Rowling.