Thursday, July 28, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review #3

What is the strongest image or emotion that I take away from this reading experience? The answer: Indignation.

What I find most disturbing is J.K. Rowling's portrayal of adolescent behaviour. What we saw in the Half-Blood Prince is the reinforcement of adolescent stereotypes. Boys are hormone-crazed to the point of abandoning all reason in favour of satisfying that primal urge. Girls are no smarter than setting up schemes to make these boys jealous, in the hopes that the boys will take notice of the girls, and finally appreciate them.

I have worked in both high schools and junior high schools, and I can say that yes, such adolescents do exist. But, are they the majority? Certainly not. There is a large group of adolescents who do know what it means to respect their peers, to work hard and earn good grades, to uphold their principals and their honour against the ever-intensifying onslaught of peer pressure. What J.K. Rowling has done in Half-Blood Prince is to perpetuate all the negative stereotypes. Not only that, she romanticizes these stereotypes. Instead of showing what is wrong with this type of behaviour, she turns it into a comedic sequence to evoke amusement rather than disapproval.

J.K. Rowling has garnered so much respect over the years, and her voice is one of the most revered and idolized in our modern literary culture. She could have made a statement and taught a few lessons, set up some positive examples and role models. Instead, Rowling chose to sumbit to the degenerating stereotypes of juvenile pop culture. What a shame.

3 comments:

chasezgranger said...

JKR will be criticized for her portrayal of adolescence in the HP world.

What's interesting to note is that the persons whom you thought would be acting jealous (Lavendar and Parvati) and show signs of hormonal passion (Seamus) seem to be the most mature of the Gryffindor group.

To reduce Harry, Ron and Hermione to showcase the ridiculousness of teenages years was bad. She could have at least spared us the stupidity and shown teenage urgencies throughout books 4-6 instead of clumping them all in this one book.

PheonixSong said...

I agree, Chasezgranger. Rowling has been criticized for not portraying teenagers in a realistic fashion. Now, this is probably her attempt to silence her critics. The only problem is, to devote an entire novel to illustrate the worst aspects of adolescenthood is nothing short of irresponsible and misguiding. If, like you said, she showed a growing anxiety over sexuality from books 4-6, then that would surely appear more realistic.

chasezgranger said...

If she's doing this to shut up her critics, then clearly the books aren't about Harry Potter, but shutting up her critics. Very immature and very stupid. Don't let your personal feelings get in the way of writing of the book. *coughWitherwingscoughHermione'fraidofBeakycough**