BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Harry Potter and the Truth of Magic Realism

Why do we like Harry Potter? Magic. Why do we like magic? Escapism. Escapism is something that every human being searches for. The chance to walk in another man’s shoes far away from our own lives. This dates right back to cave paintings and tribal dances in which the artists and dancers took on the guise of animals in an attempt to learn more about the world around them. As humans evolved so did our attempts at escapism. The Egyptians, Romans and Vikings all had vast pantheons of Gods each with their own rich lore that allowed each cultures citizens the chance at escapism. Often these cultures used escapism as a way to vanquish their fears about the world around them. Suddenly the reeds on the banks of the Nile which are full of dangerous wild animals become a place of magic and mystery where the Gods dwell. The eruptions in Pompeii are the wrath of the Gods and Thunder is simply Thor’s hammer striking an anvil in the sky. Fast forward through human history a little further and we get to the modern era, an era where fictional engagement is a key part of our culture whether its through film, books or video games.

Mudbloods and Magic

Religion now is less of a tangible thing, we no longer seek creation myths and instead turn to religion to answer the questions that science simply cannot. Morality, life after death and the search for truth are all topics that theologians study but not in an escapist manner, few people wonder what it would be like to be Jesus or Buddha. This has created a gap in the market. So what do we want when we look of escapism? Firstly, we want power. We want to know what it feels like to be able to do something no other human has ever done before or will be able to do after but that isn’t the end of it. We also want to believe that one day we could become the one with the power. This is where Harry Potter comes into the discussion. Around my eleventh birthday my eyes constantly flicked to the door as I hoped against hope that a seven foot man would come and tell me I was special, and I know I’m not the only one who did this. Harry Potter is so successful because it sets up the world next door where magic exists but it’s not restricted to gods or monsters, its something that we can possess if we are one of the chosen few. Spoiler: We are not the chosen.

What to do if You’re a Muggle

So if your reading this you are not a wizard. Wizards break computers and electronic devices so you really can’t be a wizard, but that’s okay. The human mind is a place where magic can exist, the truth is that it is the only place where magic truly exists. So the best way to escape into the world of magic is to use your mind to create the world of magic for you. J.K Rowling, Jim Butcher and Neil Gaimen all started with a search for escapism and so did most great artists, composers and writers. Go out and create, create magic in your head and pull it into the world, write about your own journeys through Hogwarts. Compose the music you hear as you sit in the great hall. Draw the paintings that would come to life in your bedroom. But please, please don’t just write about Hermione and Ginny making out.

Picture source: [accessed 9/5/2015]

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