“Harry Potter Casts a Spell for Tolerance” by A. M. Paul Essay

July 1, 2021 by Essay Writer

This paper is based on the article taken from the website of the New York Times newspaper. The article is called “Harry Potter Casts a Spell for Tolerance”, it was written by Annie Murphy Paul and posted on the website on the fourteenth of August.

The author of the article explores the role of literature in the social and moral development of the adolescents and children. The article explains that through reading about familiar experiences in popular literature young people can perceive the equality of all social groups, learn to respect the differences of people, be tolerant and friendly towards the diverse members of the society.

Taking a fantasy novel by J. K. Rowling as an example of explanations of social discrimination and the value of tolerance the author demonstrates how such methods provided through popular books can educate young people about the life in a diverse society.

“Harry Potter” novels present diverse social groups within its fictional society, but instead of the cultural clashes typical for our society such as the differences between white and black people, between Muslims and Christians, the author creates her own conflicting social groups such as wizards, muggles and mudbloods (Paul 2014). The article notes that literature can help young people to develop tolerance by enforcing their diversity of imagination.

The author of the article mentions that the best and only way to destroy the unfriendly stereotypes and judgments is a long-term communication between the members of the confronting groups. To increase the time teenagers spend experiencing the issues of diversity this aspect is brought into the products of modern culture such as movies and books.

This subject is an applied example of developmental psychology in adolescence. This stage starts with the beginning of puberty and goes on for several years. During the period of adolescence children grow to learn about the social roles and statuses of adult people, their responsibilities and duties.

This is the stage when teenagers start forming their social opinions and identity and employ the morals and behaviors they believe are appropriate in various situations. This is why proper social education is highly important at this stage. It allows the adolescents to learn more about such important aspects as manners, etiquette, tact, tolerance, respect, trust, and reliability.

It is a well-known fact that adolescents tend to unite into groups and follow the same behavioral patterns. For the children of teen age, it is highly important to feel like they belong together with someone, that their experiences are shared by other members of their social groups.

The device employed by J. K. Rowling in her novels allows the adolescents reading these books to recognize the experiences they have been through, relate to the characters and learn from their behavior. The experience of being discriminated educates young readers about the importance of tolerance and makes them realize that behind all the differences people are still equal, this is why hostility and ignorance in a diverse society are not appropriate.

It is important to know that in the United States adolescence started to be seen as a separate stage of personal development only in the twentieth century (Belsky 2010).

For generations young people have been known for their hot temper, emotional behavior, quick and radical judgments and the tendency to rebel against the common social rules, although the scientists started to associate all of these behaviors and call them as one of stages of life fairly recently.

Today, developmental psychology pays quite a lot of attention to the emotional, mental and physical processes that happen during the period of adolescence and the changes they cause on a psychological level.

When the government first decided that all adolescent people should go to schools and receive proper education, this caused a massive effect. First of all, it very quickly created a serious educational gap between young people and their parents that never attended high schools.

Besides, it served as another reason for young people to unite into groups, spend more time together, with the people that shared their wave length and with whom they could find understanding and speak a common language. Finally, these small unions soon produced many different subcultures with their own beliefs, rules, dress codes, and attitudes.

Feeling alienated and misunderstood is very typical for teenagers. This feeling often becomes the reasons of rebellions and protests. Unusual clothes, bright makeup, loud music, smoking, and other provocative behaviors are the signals that a teenager is going through a stage of adolescence.

What is often perceived by adult people as “acting crazy” is a normal reaction of an adolescent brain to all the changes that happen to a person’s mind and body at this stage of life. Puberty raises the levels of hormones in the body. As a result, a teenager start to go through multiple new experiences that at the beginning of adolescence are simply shocking for the young persons.

Feeling lost and lonely the teenager starts to look for people that go through similar experiences. This is when literature and films start playing an important educational role for the adolescents.

Puberty throws the teenagers into a completely new world where they have to re-evaluate their social status, re-think their identity, form their morals and opinions. Teenagers badly need any possible help with distinguishing between what is right and what is wrong.

It is fascinating to notice that most of the contemporary novels popular among adolescents contain examples of diversity and confrontations between the representatives of different cultures, social classes, religions, and races. “Harry Potter” books by J. K. Rowling are, without a doubt, very skillful and beautiful, but not the only examples of the author using fantasy literature with educational purposes.

Among the most popular novels that fulfill the teenagers’ desire to understand the society around them and learn to deal with its diversity are “Twilight”, “The Hunger Games” and “The Mortal Instruments”. Te films based on this book help to carry out and spread their educational capacities.

Besides, contemporary cinema started to introduce more diversity into its products and emphasize the social and cultural diversity using including diverse groups of main characters and showing the ways they work through their differences, grow closer, learn to cooperate and develop genuine relationships and friendships.

To conclude, it is highly important that such an important aspect of modern life as social and cultural diversity is taught not only in schools but through the mass media and social media too. Learning about the society that surrounds us is a crucial part of the psychological development of an individual; this is why today the scholars, psychologists, and artists have united their efforts to deliver the message about the value of tolerance.

Reference List

Belsky, J. (2010). Experiencing the Lifespan. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishing

Paul, A. M. (2014). Harry Potter Casts a Spell of Tolerance.

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