June 30, 2019
நாட்டுப்புறக் கதைப்பாடல்களில் கதையமைப்பு
June 30, 2019

Sparkling International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Studies

Volume 2           Issue 2           April – June 2019           Pages 23-28


Smitha Santhosh

M.A. Student, Department of English, University of Kerala, Trivandrum, Kerala, India.


Magical Realism or Magic Realism is a genre of fiction that merges magical elements with reality in a way that blurs the edges until seamless characterized by the matter-of-fact enclosure of implausible or mythical elements into ostensibly pragmatic fiction. Magic Realism has been predominant since the 1950s and it is said to be an intermingling of fantasy and reality. It has aspects of dreams and visions, of fantastical creatures. Magic realism could be a twisted sort of reality that has remodeled over the years. It brings together two opposites i.e magic and reality and hence it is used to push boundaries and venture into the unknown. Harry Potter series, written by the contemporary British author J. K. Rowling, has been in the list of bestsellers since its publication. The main idea of this paper analysis is to clarify the mixture of magic with reality as a genre of writing keeping the Harry Potter novels in perspective. This paper analyses Harry Potter series from the perspective of the three universally recognized features of magic realism- the application of unique narrative strategies, the employment of mythological archetypes, and the exposition of social problems.

Keywords: magical realism, fantasy, reality, harry potter, mythological archetypes.


“Magical Realism” is a term coined by the art historian Franz Roh in 1925 to describe a visual arts movement emerging throughout Europe (Franz Roh 1968). He presented Magical Realism as a reaction to Expressionism’s more abstract style and to mark a return to Realism. By the 1920s, leading art critics had determined that Expressionism, which seeks to convey personal inner experience through the distortion of natural images, had run its course. Magic Realism is totally different from fantasy as a result of it doesn’t involve superheroes with superpowers or fancy gadgets. In science-fiction, there is no element of magic. Fantasy has components of magic in it with mythical creatures like elves, dwarves etc being written about. Also it generally has a plot where mythology is used. Among many writers who refer to the compatibility between magical realism and the postcolonial world, one is Homi Bhabha who defines magical realism as “the literary language of the emergent postcolonial world” (Bhabha, 1990: 6). On the other hand, there are few writers that support Alexis’s focus on the economic mode of production as a determining factor in magical realism. Another scholar who has a similar discussion to that of Alexis is Fredric Jameson who suggests that the content of magical realism rests on “coexistence of pre capitalist with nascent capitalist or technological features” (Jameson, 1986: 311)

There are 5 characteristics of magic realism: 1) an element of magic is there 2) there is a fantasy world 3) the reader may be confused between two opposite events 4) there are multiple worlds 5) there is disruption of space, time and identity. Many have same that JK Rowling’s writing is straightforward and commercial, however instead it infuses magic with reality with the utilization of metaphors. In Harry Potter an awfully real has been represented with components of magic woven into it in order that the magic becomes expected for the reader. All the five characteristics of Magic Realism are present in Harry Potter series. Repetition, metamorphosis, verbal magic and mythology have been used here to explore the themes of magic realism. There is distortion of perception in Harry Potter wherever the readers get one thing utterly surprising (Pritha Biswas 2014).

Joanne Rowling was born on 31st July 1965. Dianne, Joanne’s younger sister, was born nearly 2 years later and Joanne’s earliest childhood memory is of Dianne’s arrival. She, her sister and her folks lived in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, until Joanne was nine, when the family moved to Tutshill, near Chepstow. From an early age Joanne wanted to be a writer. She wrote her first book at the age of six – a story about a rabbit called Rabbit. Then once she was eleven she wrote a completely unique piece of work concerning seven cursed diamonds and therefore the people that closely-held them.

Joanne went to school at Wyedean secondary school and so went on to study French and Classics at the University of Exeter. Her Classics studies would come in very handy later when she was thinking up all the spells in Harry Potter, some of which are based on Latin!

J.K. Rowling first had the concept for Harry Potter which was delayed on a train movement from Manchester to London King’s Cross in 1990. Over subsequent five years, she began to plan out the seven books of the series. She wrote largely in longhand and collected a mountain of notes, several of that were on scraps of paper.

She arrived in Edinburgh in 1993 with three chapters of Harry Potter and therefore the Philosopher’s Stone in her baggage. She had a baby female offspring, Jessica, but she continued to write in every spare moment she could find. When Joanne had finished the manuscript, she sent the first 3 chapters to a variety of literary agents, one in every of whom wrote back asking to envision the remainder of it. She says that it was absolutely ‘the best letter I had ever received in my life’.

After finishing the first book and while coaching as an educator, Harry Potter was accepted for publication by Bloomsbury. Harry Potter and therefore the Philosopher’s Stone quickly became a bestseller on publication in 1997. As the book was translated into other languages, Harry Potter started spreading round the globe – and J.K. Rowling was shortly receiving thousands of letters from fans.

The Harry Potter books have since broken several records. In 2007 Harry Potter and therefore the Deathly Hallows became the fastest-selling book ever, selling 2.65 million in the first 24 hours in the UK. The Harry Potter series is currently published in eighty languages, and over 500 million copies have been sold across the world. J.K. Rowling has received several awards and honours, however as Associate in Nursing OBE for services to children’s literature, France’s Légiond’ Honneur, and jointly the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

The “Harry Potter” series is the story of the eponymous hero, orphaned at birth and left in the care of the cruel Dursley family of “Muggles” (non-magical people). On his eleventh birthday, Harry receives a letter from Hogwarts, a school for young wizards and witches, and promptly enters a world of wonder and mystery. At Hogwarts, he meets his two closest friends – Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger – and begins studying magic. It shortly becomes clear that the death of Harry’s parents was no accident: the evil Dark Lord Voldemort murdered them. Voldemort also attempted to kill Harry, but his attack rebounded on himself, severely crippling Voldemort’s power. The first few books of the series develop the characters and set the stage for Book four, in which Voldemort returns to power and regains a corporeal body. Aided by his fellow evil wizards (“Death Eaters”), Voldemort begins a campaign to kill Harry Potter, the only one who may stand a chance of defeating him. The last 3 volumes handle Harry’s more and more desperate battle against Voldemort, and his fight to stay steadfast when the globe spins into chaos around him.

Exploration of Magic Realism: Harry Potter novels in perspective

One of the foremost revenant themes within the “Harry Potter” series is the sacrificial love of Harry’s mother lily, who died to guard her kid son. On a less complex level, love also repeatedly motivates acts of self-sacrifice on the parts of the main characters. Primary characters are willing to (and do) suffer unbelievable loss for one another, even giving up their lives in order to do the right thing. The love between family members is celebrated as beautiful and noble, never something to be mocked and sneered at. The “Harry Potter” series is, in many ways, a parable about the danger of desiring immortality. Voldemort is obsessed with the concept of living forever, no matter what the cost. This dark desire leads him down the path of villainy, transforming him from a disturbed orphan boy into the living incarnation of evil.

Is it not because the fairy-tale conventions collapse themselves, when the boy-wizard, who has lived in the ordinary world until became eleven years old, and in the day of birth, despite the obstacles of Muggles-guardians, received an invitation to school of wizards, and at the same time suddenly learnt, as he is world famous and nice on the way to the magic shops for school accessories comes with his guide, a magician and a drunkard, naive, sensitive, and a giant-the supply manager of a, in some cafe, where the tables drink or smoke older single women; and know who they are? Maybe they are enchantress. The wizards have their own government (the Ministry of Magic), schools (English school of Hogwarts etc.), newspapers and magazines, “radio”, money, banks, etc. They have their own hospitals and its magical medicine. Wizards have their penitentiary system (referred to prison Azkaban). They have railway station. There is even own the game, spit-stones, magical chess and others. Wizards use their own shops, restaurants; they have their own interests, their own fashion. The wizards live, as a rule, in the same locations, as not wizards. They form small communities of the magicians, supporting each other. It is thus underlined, that there are some villages, inhabited only by wizards, in the other settlements wizards have to live next to the wizards. Ron’s father works in the department on struggle against illegal use of the inventions of muggles that already says a lot. Or wizards carefully preserve their way of life, or simply can’t cope with the rapidly becoming complicated technique. Mention of the locomotive, leading the Hogwarts express and three-storey bus “Night knight” – this is perhaps, and all the technical things from the world of muggles, which are used magic world. For travel around London you can use the ministerial cars, although the wizards prefer to travel through fireplaces, using the volatile powder. Instead of ball pens or pens and ink, the letters are not written on paper, and on the parchment, instead of mail, telephone and telegraph messages deliver an owl, although it is possible to communicate and with the help of the fireplaces. In addition, a message can be communicated, asking about this ghost. Another way is through the portraits of one man, which are located in different places. It is possible to speak about a kind of “conservatism” in the world of magicians.

Magic is an essential part of the narration. This series is set in the world of wizards and witches where magic functions as everyday reality. Usually, the magicians and wizards are secondary characters or maybe villains and also the main ones are normal mortals who are either being victimized or helped by wizards. However, in The Harry Potter Series not only villains but also the hero Harry and most all of his friends are all witches and wizards. In Rowling’s magical world, wizards are not all evil. In fact, the series tells the reader many times that it is the choice one makes that defines them, not who or what they are; Harry and all other wizards are magic users, having the choice between the good and the bad. It shows that magic itself is not at all evil, the purpose only matters so that it can direct people to both sides which side they desire to be; that is in the hands of the individuals. Apart from the characters and the setting, Rowling uses magic as the significant element of the plot. It is considered as one of the characters because it is an essential part of Rowling’s reality. Nonetheless, Harry Potter Series is not stories about magic. Magic is what makes the story unreal though not untrue. However, it gives the realistic representation about life.


To conclude, magical realism is a combination of reality and magical fantasy. It is the transformation of the real into unreal, is an art of surprise by creating distorted version of time and space and is characterized by a cold cerebral aloofness that tries to cater to the aesthetic subtleties of a few sophisticated individuals. It is an indirect and metaphorical means to convey the undercurrents of reality and is very much adaptable still today. Stephen M Hart says: [magical realism possesses broadly based public appeal. Indeed, It was the only “foreign” fiction enrich chosen by Blooms bury when the publisher launched the new Reading Group Internet book son various aspects of world literature. The genre of J.K.Rowling’s hugely successful Harry Potter is listed as none other than “magicalrealism”. […] the genrehasevolved over time and place. This is precisely because of the ways in which magical realism has crossed national, linguistic, and generic boundaries (305-306). It is the most obvious reason why Harry Potter Series is among successful fantasy literature. This series always revolves around the good Harry’s confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort and his followers. Both the sides are using magic to achieve their ends but which one is more powerful either the good magic with good intentions or the bad magic with wicked intentions that is the core of the series. Rowling’s magical ingredients keep the story more interesting apart from Harry’s battle with Lord Voldemort. Rowling’s distinctive and original way of naming charms, spells, creatures and the magical objects which are presented in the series can certainly be regarded as one of its literary merits. Her treatment over the magical elements manifests not only her literary influence but also why the series has become a huge success.

Works Cited

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Jameson, Fredric. “On Magic Realism in Film.” Critical Enquiry, vol. 12, no.2, 1986, pp. 301–325.
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To cite this article

Smitha Santhosh. (2019). Locating Magical Realism in Harry Potter Series. Sparkling International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Studies, 2(2), 23-28.

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