Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 237-247

First online:

The Magic of Harry Potter: Symbols and Heroes of Fantasy

  • Sharon BlackAffiliated withDavid O. McKay School of Education, Brigham Young University

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This article suggests that the worldwide, multiage appeal of Harry Potter may lie in the way these stories of magic meet the needs of readers to find meaning in today's unmagical contexts. The imaginative appeal and symbolic efficacy of the books for children are examined in terms of Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment. The development of Harry Potter as a hero in the mythic/fantasy tradition, which allows young adults to grasp a sense of hope for meaning and triumph, are explored in terms of Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces. Case studies are included to illustrate.

Harry Potter fantasy symbolism imagination hero