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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

This essay explores the concepts of fantasy in Lewis Carroll's ‘Alice in Wonderland' and J. K Rowling's ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'. Both authors include an emphasis on the genre of contemporary and juvenile fantasy, containing a main character travelling through a magical world different from their original settings. Their adventures do not begin until either character has entered into the fantasy world. Rowling's world is set adjacent to our own, creating a world within a world; the mysterious world of magic inside the mundane world of ‘muggles'. In comparison Carroll takes his heroine Alice into Wonderland, a world where logic is turned upside down.

The ‘Alice in Wonderland' extract is placed near the end of the novel, as Alice discovers the power and madness of the Queen, taking place after Alice has attended the Mad Hatter's tea party. Characters, for example, The Mad Hatter show different attitudes throughout so the reader isn't aware of their development. This is due to the (literal and figurative) change in maturity Alice undergoes. Alice experiences an inverted hierarchy, in which animals have a measure of authority, treating Alice as an inferior. Alice discovers that animals are the subjects of an inanimate object. Inanimate objects register below animals in a social hierarchy. The Queen acts as a ruthless ruler ordering her subjects' beheadings. She utilises living creatures as objects, (playing croquet using hedgehogs, and flamingos). Wonderland reverses the conventions as inanimate objects rule the land while living creatures are tools.

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The ‘Harry Potter' extract is placed towards the climax of the novel. Within this chapter Harry is serving detention, proving him to be a human hero through his faults and more relatable to a child audience. This significant extract comes after revealing the Forbidden forests' mystery as students are prohibited, but are ordered to enter it now.

The fantasy elements in ‘Alice' are adapted from Carroll's humour and fantasy appealing to both children and adults. It appeals to children due to the fantasy creatures, (i.e. an anthropomorphic rabbit dressed in a waist coat, and playing cards given the ability to speak). Carroll uses mockery and fantasy to appeal to children; Generally Carroll's style does not seem to follow the fantasy genre conventions consist mostly of surreal features, strangely developed fantasy aspects and childhood games.

In ‘Harry Potter', Rowling uses elements from the fantasy genre, in its purest form. Rowling incorporates a balance of mythical and traditional creatures strengthening the idea of the magical and mundane worlds co-existing. Incorporating mythical creatures (i.e. three headed dog, Centaurs and Unicorns); the forest becomes more secret, continuing the mood established. References in the extract carry a sense of mystery and mythological creatures are used to complement the European and Greek mythology. The extract also contains medieval references to weaponry following the medieval reference (‘He pulled out an arrow and fitted it into the crossbow'). In medieval Europe, the unicorn was often a symbol of pure and selfless womanhood.

Themes are presented to the reader, allowing them to understand what is happening. ‘Alice' contains themes of manners and the ability of possessing common courtesy, dating back to the nineteenth century. Children in this era were expected to act as miniature adults; this reflects Alice's tone of voice. Alice is an independent girl, making her own decisions, using polite expressions (‘it's no business of mine.'), also maintaining good manners. This indicates her social status, and ability to identify people within her social class and lower. Alice demonstrates a previously unseen courage. She talks to the Queen with great insolence, attacking the illusion of Wonderland's power.

Themes within ‘Harry Potter' tie in with the novel. Rowling presents a Hogwarts system of detention, (a form of punishment). Loyalty and friendship, (in spite of their circumstances) are shown. Firenze allows Harry to ride upon his back, showing disloyalty to fellow centaurs, however presenting himself as loyal to Harry. Rowling uses a theme of impassivity, when Harry is presented with a ‘hooded figure', through his belief that he is a mere observer. The use of death connects with the issue of ‘good verses evil' during Hagrid's search for the unicorn's killer (There's summat in here that shouldn't be), and the anonymity of the ‘hooded figure'. The spectacle of the dying unicorn is shocking because it is the first death the reader actually witness, but also because the unicorn is a symbol of innocence and purity (‘Always the innocent are the first victims'). Death is shown to be something wrongful and horrid whileevil is presented as ruthless and unfair. Voldemort drinks the unicorn's blood to sustain his own life.

Characters in ‘Harry Potter' address each other through typical twentieth century styles. (‘He walked forward and shook the centaur's hand'). However the centaurs' speech is formal, using old-fashioned language (‘Good evening to you, Hagrid'), giving the impression of wisdom, linked with the mythical theme. The formality of Bane's greeting is reinforced by the conventional interrogative, (‘I hope you are well?'). Rowling's use of inverted syntax reinforce the archaic formality (‘Students, are you', Always the innocent are the first victims'). Rowling uses idioms in narration ('Hermione's jaw dropped) and in dialogue by Hagrid (‘Harry potter an' Hermione Ganger, by the way. Students up at the school'), the syntax in the extract strengthens the old-fashioned language used by Ronan (‘the forest hides secrets'), giving the impression of knowledge reinforced by the balancing phrases by repetition and lack of contradictions. In the extract, the narration is omniscient, with conventions of writing in third person. Neither author makes a personal comment, remaining neutral. However Rowling's use of a second person narrative, suggests internal thoughts of Harry.

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However in ‘Alice', narration dominates the extract. There is little dialogue compared to ‘Harry Potter'. In these description there are few adjectives used. Whereas In ‘Harry Potter' dialogue is frequently used, containing less narration compared to ‘Alice'. More description can be found in the narration than the dialogue. Rowling's syntax use a balance of interrogative and directive, while simple sentences (due to the direct speech), are used more often continued by complex, minor and compound structures. This follows the conventions of the genre, and the set style.

The majority of syntax used by Carroll consists of complex sentences. This is a style feature continued throughout the novel. Carroll rarely uses simple sentences, contrasting to Rowling. In ‘Alice' Carroll uses a clear exploration of language when influencing the mood of the extract. Carroll's use of language shows Alice to be intelligent, while the simplicity in diction show her to be a little girl. Carroll explores the issue of identity through Alice's ability to reason, even though she doubts herself. Carroll does this by placing Alice in different situations, demonstrating how she learns a new manner of conversation.

In ‘Harry Potter' Rowling‘s uses of syntax consists of simple sentence structures due to direct speech, continued then by complex, minor and compound. Throughout extracts there is a frequent use of complex while a rare use of simple structures.

In ‘Alice' it is Carroll's fascination with language and logic that influence the mood of the novel. In the extract Carroll presents suspense and tension, with the Queen's arrival. While in ‘Harry Potter' the language creates a sinister mood, carrying suspense, which is focused on, yet left unexplained in the extract. The lexis in ‘Alice' is limited, compared to ‘Harry Potter'. This is because there is a lack of actions through Carroll's vocabulary limited to descriptions (i.e. ‘suddenly'). Conjunctions except for ‘and' are used rarely, while adverbs are used, but varied. Adjectives appear not to use vivid descriptions, only limited to ‘small' or ‘large'. Verbs lack variety some used to reflect Alice's childish nature.

In language, ‘Harry Potter' there is a variety of adjectives, verbs and adverbs to reinforce the vocabulary associated closely with the characters and their traits (‘...said Hermione faintly', ‘...Hagrid said irritably'). The way the author sets apart character's dialogue, allow the readers to recognise the characters by their speech. When making Hagrid's speech characteristics, Rowling uses omissions (‘can't be too careful, Ronan'), use of contradictions (‘anythin') and phonetically speech through lexis (‘yerself', ‘bin hurt bad'). Adjectives are grouped together in pairs (‘long reddish tail'), while the comparative adjectives are grouped together in threes (black-haired and - (black) bodied and wilder-looking). The uses of verbs are associated with characters or creatures. Personification is used to discuss the Forest, (‘Forest hides many secrets') and comparisons (‘sounded like a cloak trailing along the ground').

The Graphology in ‘Alice' follows the established convention in earlier chapters. Semi Colons are used in complex sentences, instead of full stop, separating clauses in a list. Colons are used to introduce further clarification (‘he was in livery: otherwise'). Italics are used to emphasise a specific point, (‘For instance, if you were inside.'), dashes are used to indicate pauses and clarification, and to introduce free indirect speech, sometimes an authorial voice. (...‘extraordinary noise going on within- a constant howling and sneezing'). Exclamation marks appear in Alice's speech; elsewhere in direct speech, by the playing cards (‘your business!') as an emotive function of the language spoken in direct speech, but not in narration.

Graphology in ‘Harry Potter' follows the conventions of the genre. Question and exclamation are used due to the tense mood Rowling places her characters in, (‘Show yerself... I'm armed!'). Dashes indicate further explanation in the extract, introduce free direct speech and to show hesitation (‘unicorn bin injured - would yeh...', ‘Erm'). Commas, a conventional parenthesis, are used to separate adjective pairings, clauses, and add emphasis within a sentence. Apostrophes are used to explain Hagrid's speech, (containing colloquialism) and the contradictions he uses. In ‘Alice' apostrophes are used in narration and speech. However Italics are used by both authors to emphasise a specific point. (‘Are there many of them in here?').

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Finally both authors combine traditional and cultural themes. Stylistically ‘Alice' appeals more to adults, due to its density in dialogue and morals; it highlights morals and childish logic which adults find amusing. ‘Harry Potter' is widely accessible to many audiences, using fantasy to capture all readers' attentions.

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