Harry Potter: Future Classic?Jun 15, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line It is rather too early to tell if Harry Potter will become a classic or not, but it has characteristics in common with some childrens' classics.
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There are definite similarities between the Harry Potter books and Roald Dahl's children's books. Both authors frequently have young protagonists from unhappy backgrounds who either have magical abilities and/or embark upon fantastic adventures. Both authors use poetry, wordplay, and have a knack for apropos character names. Harry Potter's nasty rival is Draco Malfoy, for instance. The first name means "dragon" in Latin, and "Mal" is French for "bad." In "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", one of Charlie Bucket's competitors for the factory is the supremely bratty Veruca Salt--and a veruca is a type of wart. Rowling's fondness for wordplay also shows up in the magic spells her characters use; "Wingardium Leviosa" is a levitation spell, for example.
It is probably too soon tell if the Potter books will be classics or not. Rowling has been writing for roughly five years; Dahl began writing during WWII. Generations of children have grown up reading his stories and poems, while Rowling is just getting started.
The Potter books do have some attributes in their favor, though. The first is an unusual setting; there are not many novels or series built around a sorcerers' school. Rowling is also a clever enough world-builder to provide more information about the wizards' realm in each installment. The first book simply introduces Harry and most of the other major players. The second book begins to give us some background on the evil Voldemort, whom we learn has a history with both Dumbledore and Hagrid. We also learn a possible reason for Draco's nastiness, when we see him with his equally unpleasant father. The third book gives some background on Harry's father, and introduces some of his contemporaries, while the fourth introduces two other sorcerers' schools. The reader thus learns about Harry's world along with Harry.
Again, it is tough to say if Harry Potter will join the elite group of beloved characters of children's fiction. But he does share some traits with them. For example, he acts or tries to act on his own behalf, which makes him more appealing and interesting than someone like Charlie Bucket who wins, simply by virtue of being the least obstreperous child in the group.
He is resourceful and independent, and can even be rebellious, especially in his dealings with the Durseleys. Rebellious characters, from Huck Finn on down, are common in childrens' fiction. Characters who can bend the rules and get away with it appeal to lots of people.
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