Tag Archive: magic
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is the third book in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. This book follows Harry, now thirteen, as he attempts to finish his third year at Hogwarts under the threat of escaped prisoner, Sirius Black, and the Dementors that are searching for Sirius. The Prisoner of Azkaban differs significantly from the previous two installments in structure, while continuing to develop back story and conflict related to the overall plot of the series.
Almost immediately we are presented with a theme of fear revolving around Harry’s internal conflict. The Dementors that invade first the train and then the school are creatures that feed on fear, and we learn that they affect Harry particularly much because of his tumultuous past. These dangerous creatures are despised by everyone, yet even Dumbledore cannot keep them from the school grounds, and so Harry must confront them several times. The other students also confront their fears when professor Lupin introduces them to a Bogart, a creature which assumes the shape most fearful to its viewer. Professor Lupin teaches the children how to deal with both creatures – with the Bogart, by ridiculing their fears, and with the Dementors, by focusing on a positive feeling, such as love and acceptance, which can then be channeled into the Patronis spell and literally drive the Dementors away. In comparison to the Dementors, Harry’s fear of Voldemort and Sirius take the sidelines, even when Sirius infiltrates the castle in search of him. The adults are plenty worried, however, and place many restrictions on Harry’s movements. When Harry disobeys these precautions, he and his friends meet Sirius Black and, in confronting him, learn that he is not a villain after all. The final battle ends up being against the evil Dementors, partially resolving Harry’s internal struggle with fear.
However, unlike the happier endings of books one and two, book three ends with a note of dread. Voldemort is growing in power, and one of his faithful servants, Wormtail, has escaped the good people at Hogwarts to return to his master. While Harry has learned more about his past and about himself, he has not confronted Voldemort directly. The structure of book three also differs in that, while there is a mystery, the identity and motivations of Sirius black, this serves as more of a backdrop to Harry’s internal development. Harry and his friends solve the mystery almost by chance. Their real challenge is to then save Buckbeak and Sirius in a mad dash at the end. This is just as well, as it allows time for the three friends to have their arguments and their separate developments in the rest of the book. We are just now beginning to see more of Ron and Hermione as a foundation for book four. As the friends’ challenges become more sophisticated, so do their individual development as characters and their interactions as friends. Hermione in particular comes in strong at the end of the book when she reveals the time-turning device she’s been hiding from her friends all semester, and she and the device become crucial in saving Sirius. As the main character, Harry still gets the spotlight when he manages a Patronus and saves his past self from the Dementors, but the help of his friends is clearly critical.
Yet, The Prisoner of Azkaban is not all doom and gloom, as spatterings of humor throughout the text affirm. The open ending is offset by the finality of Harry helping to win the Quidditch match. This serves as not only a positive event, but also a show of Harry’s skills independent of his friends’ aid, what with Hermoine and Ron busy bickering between themselves at the time. Harry’s Patronus also shows us Harry’s skills as a wizard, but we don’t get to see this until the end. Quidditch helps hold us off until then. The end is also offset by the fact that Sirius Black, a protagonist after all, is Harry’s godfather. Although Sirius Black cannot back up his offer for Harry to live with him, Harry still ends up with another powerful friend going into book four, on top of Dumbledore and the school staff and, of course, Hermione and Ron.
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is exactly the engaging read that, by now, we expect. Despite being significantly longer than its predecessors, it holds our attention just as well and expertly expands our emotional involvement in the story. If we are left wanting more at the end, it is only because we want the next installment.
Michelle writes short fiction of all speculative fiction genres in between chasing her toddler from tree to tree. The shorter the work, the better, because 200 words looks very long on her cellphone and that keypad is very, very small. You can find out more about her rabid love of Star Trek, podcasting, and raising future geeklings at her blog, wakingdreamsblog.blogspot.com