Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Harry Potter And The Muggle Struggle Part Nine: Dark Magics Not Served Here

It's back! The one, the only... John's old boring essay! I think I can wrap this thing up in two more installments. Que gozo. <-- Spanish for "What joy." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In fact, compared to many popular science fiction movies, the magic of Harry Potter seems less extraordinary. Star Trek presents a futuristic world in which space travel is possible to a far greater extent than our current technologies allow us to go. Yet, bad acting seems to be the largest complaint made against the show. Star Trek presents the imagined technologies available to them as of the future, and society accepts it as perfectly acceptable. Harry Potter calls it magic and the complaints start pouring in. Mike Hertenstein argued that "if it makes a moral difference to you whether the carpet is powered by pixie dust or a dilithium crystal, I would suggest you're missing the point" (qtd. in Osling 6).
In the world of Harry Potter, "magic is a matter of training..." (Ostling 10). Great emphasis is placed on discipline and mastery. The greatest of wizards and witches must train and study for years to master the art. It is the tedious nature of learning that brings the amount of self-control necessary to wield such great power. Magic which is mystical in nature or easily obtained is looked upon with disdain by the magic society. Take for example the way Professor Trelawney, whose main area of expertise is divination or in essence fortune-telling, is treated. She is mocked and set aside more as novelty than as a legitimate source of magic. One reason for that may be the lack of control she is able to have over her magic. It is wholly dependent upon supernatural phenomenal forces, thus it is considered silly to pursue it as a legitimate study of magic. Lindy Beam remarked "An odd phenomenon it is when, even in a book about magic, the Western value of reason and accomplishment is held up over the supernatural as a source of power" (qtd. in Ostling 10).
In fact, great effort is given to distinguish occult dark magic from "technological" magic in both form and application. Those wielders of dark magic are pointedly different from the rest of the magic world. The Death Eaters (Voldemort's band of evil power-hungry followers) are not pleasant people. They are largely border-line insane and egotistical. They are self-serving and most often "racist" in their pure-blood status. The types of spells they use not only bring harm to others; they also differ greatly from the spells used by good wizards. In fact, even the ingredients used in many of those spells are strange and dark. In order to purchase those dark ingredients, they have to go to seedy scary locations. Rowling effectively illustrates the differences between dark occult and good "technology" based magic. Good magic helps others and its basic use is convenience. That being the case, then perhaps Harry Potter is guiltier of promoting laziness than witchcraft.

Previous: Part Eight


Stefu said...

I love the part about: "pixie dust or a dilithium crystal." Good point!

Inspector Clouseau said...

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