John Granger gets technical with Harry Potter

Category:  News
Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 at 6:12 PM
John Granger gets technical with Harry Potter by Jenna Giordano
Photo: Britton Rozzelle

Last week, Potterfest took over the Edinboro University campus, and John Granger, an author of multiple books focusing on literature, faith and culture, was the keynote speaker this year.

Granger is likely most famous for his analyzing of the Harry Potter novels, digging deep into the meaning of the story.

During his talk on Sept. 27, he spoke on the seven keys to unlocking Harry Potter.

Granger stated: “We know now that Harry Potter is not a fad. These books have touched generations, and fans still continue to talk about the novels and movies to this day.”

The talk discussed multiple areas of the books, the first being genre and story setting.

This key, Granger believes, is how the author answers the question: “What story am I going to tell?”

However, Granger believes that when J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she wrote a “fruit salad.”

She used a set of genres for her novel, and the most prominent, according to Granger, were a story of an orphan schoolboy and a novel in a gothic setting.

He believes the orphan schoolboy aspect is the most important because this is how we get to know Harry from the beginning.

Harry Potter is the boy under the stairs, and as a reader and viewer, we are there for him, Granger explained.

He stated, “I mean you would have to be crazy if you are rooting for the Dursleys.”

According to Granger, Rowling has previously stated in interviews that Jane Austen is her favorite author, and that “Emma” is her favorite novel. He believes this statement is important due to the fact that she wrote Harry Potter with the same voice: third person limited omniscient.

This allows us to be practically over Harry’s head for the entire story.

Granger also pointed out that the Harry Potter novels are doing two things throughout the entire series: first, they are satisfying our need for adventure in a story; second, they are advancing the larger story, or the ultimate prophecy, as he put it.

The story is squaring everything up, and giving us a profound view in terms of a human experience, he explained.

Harry has death looming over him through the entire story, just as we do essentially, and this, according to Granger, is a slow narrative release.

The talk also focused on how the novels deal with prejudices that we see today, even if they are in a different world.

For example, you have the competition between houses, and how “Dumbledore’s Army” is basically all of the outcasts. And then, you have the “Muggles” and those with magic. Even though the context is different, Rowling touches on a lot of real world issues in our society, said Granger.

He believes the main thing to understand in the Harry Potter novels is that everything is about choice. Everything that happens to the characters and every storyline that plays out is because of a choice. This helps to show us that choices truly do matter, he said.

He believes that Rowling places hooks in your imagination, and that there’s no escape.

“It’s just that good,” said Granger.

He also went on to talk about Christian symbolism in the novels, as Rowling was writing as a Christian herself. According to Granger, the themes, as well as symbols in the story, can all be tied back in some way to religion.

At one point, Christians were rebelling against the story because of its context, and Granger wishes they would open their eyes to see the story is filled with Christianity.

One of the last points made was how the stories are all in a “ring composition.”

You are able to lay out chapters of the novels into a circle and they are all connected.

Rowling wrote the story in order to have chapters reflect each other and she made it her formula, he said.

Granger believes this is because Rowling wanted us to see that everything comes back to the center, and that everything is important to a story.

“Rowling wrote with a sense of literary alchemy. She showed us that she had a plan, and that plan was to give us a story that we would be talking about to this day,” stated Granger.

Jenna Giordano can be reached at 

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