19 Jul 2009

Essays on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Third in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Prisoner of Azkaban begins to reveal more of the history that has brought Harry Potter to where he is, preparing him for the ultimate battle to come.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the story begins with an incident in which Harry ends up blowing his aunt up like a hot air balloon in a fit of anger over her derogatory words about his parents.  After she floats away, Harry packs his bags and runs away.  He encounters and is brought to the “Leaky Cauldron” by a magic-realm bus called the “Knight” bus.  He finds Ron and Hermoine are also there the next morning and together they begin their trip back to Hogwart’s for their third year at the school. On the train to Hogwart’s, they end up in a cabin with a Hogwart’s teacher who pretends to be asleep.  During the ride they found out that the teacher is Professor Lupin, who is to be their new “defense against the dark arts” instructor.

During the ride to Hogwart’s, the train is stopped and searched by creatures called Dementors who are searching for an escaped convict from Azkaban, the same prison mentioned in Chamber of Secrets.  Harry ends up affected by the Dementors, passing out during the encounter and saved by the “sleeping” teacher in the cabin.  Other than himself, no one on the train is affected by the Dementors.

As they reach the school, Harry and his fellow students find out the Dementors are to be posted outside of Hogwart’s on the pretense of protecting Harry who they believe the escapee, Sirius Black, is out to kill.  As the story progresses, Harry finds out that Sirius is his godfather and mistakenly believes he betrayed them.  In response to Harry’s reaction to Dementors, Professor Lupin teaches Harry how to keep a Dementor at bay with the “Patronus” spell.

Harry later learns that Professor Lupin is a werewolf, while Sirius, who turns out to be Professor Lupin’s brother, is an Amiginous (a human-animal shape shifter).  During their encounter with Sirius, Harry learns that he, in fact, was wrongly accused.  Harry and Hermoine go back in time at Dumbledore’s request and save more than one life.

  • J.K. Rowling seems to incorporate hidden lessons in every novel she writes.  In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is taught fundamental lessons in family loyalty and never jumping to conclusions, no matter how significant the current “evidence” might seem.  Describe how the breadcrumbs of evidence in the novel initially lead Harry to believe Sirius is an enemy and how this could happen during criminal investigations in our own society.

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