Politics of Harry Potter - Conservative and Sexist Values

Conservative and Sexist Values

The critic Anthony Holden wrote in The Observer on his experience of judging Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the 1999 Whitbread Awards. His overall view of the series was very negative—"the Potter saga was essentially patronising, very conservative, highly derivative, dispiritingly nostalgic for a bygone Britain." A review in the Guardian echoed this interpretation and stated that "despite all of the books' gestures to multiculturalism and gender equality, Harry Potter is a conservative; a paternalistic, One-Nation Tory, perhaps, but a Tory nonetheless." Rod Liddle of The Times also concludes that the Potter tale is popular for its sexist and neo-con values, suggesting that this is normal for children's books, but not for adults. Salon.com critic Christine Schoefer has also criticised the books as sexist, claiming that the series presents a patriarchal world filled with stereotypes and adherence to "the conventional assumption that men do and should run the world".

When an interviewer suggested her books portrayed a conservative world, Rowling replied, "So I'm told repeatedly. The two groups of people who are constantly thanking me are Wiccans and boarding schools. And really, don't thank me. I'm not with either of them. New ageism leaves me completely cold, and would never go to boarding school. I went to a comprehensive."

Rowling says she gets frustrated with the "conservative world thing". She made Hogwarts a boarding school so that action could happen in the middle of the night and to create a sense of community among the characters. Harry also reflects the modern world, she argues, in that he is mixed race — his father being pure-blood, his mother being Muggle-born." She also says her feminist conscience is saved by Hermione, "who's the brightest character" and is a "very strong female character".

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