In my AP English class a few days ago, we were talking about what the difference between literature and fiction is – how to distinguish them.
Literature, we decided, was novels that were more written for the author and contained rhetorical terms, themes, and symbolism. Also, that literature often challenges beliefs and society.
Fiction is written more for the readers, and doesn’t usually contain any of the extra thought that is put into books of literature quality. I’d actually put a lot of YA novels under here, which are usually dramatic or about love and sex.
At one point in our discussion, though, we reached something that definitely caught my interest: is Harry Potter fiction or literature?
And of course, we all know what I said: LITERATUREOKAY?
But in an AP class that type of answer doesn’t go too well, nor did we really decide to discuss that more thoroughly. However, I really wanted to talk about it. So, I went to my forum and brought it up to my friends, and listed a few reasons why I thought that it was considered literature. The topic didn’t get discussed very much, but only because no one tried to prove me wrong.
So, blog post? Yes, exactly. This is my attempt to find someone who will go into a throw-down with me and try to prove Harry Potter is fiction.
Here are my main points as to why Harry Potter is literature:
- Harry Potter may be a children’s book, and it may look like it is only a fad of our generation, but it is also deeply read by adults. Also, is Chronicles of Narnia not considered literature?
- Going off this, I have recently learned of one college and one high school that has a class devoted completely to studying Harry Potter. There is no doubt in my mind that this number will increase. If this was just a fad or only a piece of fiction, would there be any need to study it at all?
- There are thousands of people who have created communities around this book. There are three different things that I have found to be the most important parts of Harry Potter culture –
- Wizard Rock, or WRock, music. The topics of these bands’ songs can range from popular to minor characters, or important moments in the books.
- Harry Potter conventions. Even after the series has long ended, there are still Harry Potter conventions. I plan to go to one next summer, LeakyCon.
- Harry Potter fanfiction. There are a few hundred of devoted Harry Potter fanfiction-fiends who write to study the themes and (popular or minor) characters of Harry Potter.
- Going back to the study of Harry Potter. Many say that there are no themes or points to the books, merely that it is only about good vs. evil and is a standard children’s book. However, there are themes that are very carefully interwoven throughout them.
- Prejudice – The idea that whether you were born into a magical or non-magical family affects how worthy you are of magic. This caused war and death, showing readers the gravity of what prejudice can really do.
- Basis of family – Harry grew up without a proper family, but managed to find one when he went to Hogwarts. Goes to show that you can always find someone to love you.
- Sorting/judging – When characters first attended Hogwarts, they got Sorted. While many believe that they didn’t pick their House, Harry had the choice between Slytherin and Gryffindor. He chose a different path from Voldemort, making him good and not evil. He was not marked to be good, but chose it.
- Finally, the characters. Draco – along with Snape, Voldemort, and Dumbledore – are some of the many complex characters within the novel that address how history and life can affect actions and beliefs.
Tell me what you think. Literature or fiction? Why? Feel free to leave long responses – I am not afraid!