Date of Award

4-7-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Abstract

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are extraordinarily popular; readers zealously respond to these texts with unprecedented adoration and dedication. Generally, critics attempt to explicate the popularity of Harry Potter in one of two ways: through an examination of either Rowling’s literary artistry, or an analysis of the relentless marketing of the culture industry. Coupled together, the aforementioned analyses sufficiently explain the initial success of Rowling’s series. However, the only way to understand the unflagging popularity of Harry Potter is to elucidate the emotional adoration that these texts inspire in readers. This can be accomplished by explicating the primary theme of this series and then rationalizing the way that readers typically react to the connotative meaning of this theme. Subsequently, the conclusions that are drawn from this line of reasoning can be reinforced by juxtaposing the primary theme of Harry Potter with the themes that generally surface in Harry Potter fan fiction.

Throughout this series, Rowling’s heroic protagonists are characterized as figures who are capable of altruistic affection. Conversely, her antagonists are ambitious figures who neither practice nor experience selfless love. This antithesis demonstrates that love is the primary point of contention and the principle theme in Harry Potter. It is possible to definitely prove that readers are responding to the theme of love in Harry Potter by examining the way that love functions in the fan fiction surrounding this series. The themes presented in fan literature reinforce and champion the fundamental meaning of Rowling’s novels. As a result, an examination of Harry Potter fan fiction indicates that readers are attracted to Rowling’s portrayal of love. Consequently, it is this theme which inspires the readers’ adoration and thus the series overwhelming popularity.

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