How British cultural history influenced JK Rowling’s HP series JK Rowling’s choice of settings, quest and battles in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is closely connected with cultural history of Britain. These elements influence Rowling’s narrative much more than the average reader would think. Throughout the next paragraphs in this paper I will support my thesis that JK Rowling used British cultural history facts as an inspiration for her book. With that in mind JK Rowling made her book so realistic that readers digest her story easy and with ease and joy.
To begin, let’s talk about the location of the novel. I’m sure that readers at one point asked themselves “Why London and England? ” It’s not just coincidence; it is because the author has grown up under strong historic, patriotic influence of Britain and their huge role in WWII in resisting Nazi-Germany’s plans of conquering the world. England was the only nation in Europe that successfully fought the Nazis and was not defeated. With such a background setting, writing a book with such a thematic focused on the everlasting battle between good and evil in England was a natural choice.
If we go back to WWII and Nazi Germany we can find many elements that are related to the novel. One of the main points of Adolf Hitler’s ideology was that the German race has roots to the Aryan race with pure blood and that this fact will make them better than the rest of the world. This ideology has a clear connection with the theories of Voldemort and his followers. The Death Eaters’ treatment of Mudbloods and others direct relates to the treatment that the Nazis regime gave to Jews, Slavs and any other nations they thought to be less worthy then the German race.
This is the best place to quote JK Rowling when she fallowed Harry to the Ministry of Magic and says, “He examined it beneath the Invisibility Cloak. Its pink cover was emblazoned with a golden title: MUDBLOODS and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society. (249)” The author represents and dresses them in the black that directly relates to what the Nazis used for their elite troops called SS. Just to be sure and clear with history facts, regular German army was called Wermacht and they wore green brown uniforms.
But SS elite troops were only for chosen ones, dressed in the black and easy to recognize by skull and crossbones insignia on their hats and uniforms. Hitler’s closest personal guards were made from handpicked SS soldiers with clear German blood, brainwashed and ready to follow any order from their leader. This black color is associated with death, cold and darkness. People already have prejudices of what this color stands for and that is a reason why the author chooses this sense to guide readers in right directions.
Because this black and suspicious color reader expect something bad to happen and automatically will question if their actions have any support in ethical and moral grounds. These guided directions from author will bring readers to the conclusion that all people deserve to be treated in same way with respect if they wish to receive the same treatment and respect. Based on all this facts I believed that JK Rowling choose same color as Nazi-German’s SS troops and the Hitler’s ideology from WWII to represent evil in already “known” color and ideology that Death Eater’s stand for.
At very beginning of the novel we witness Harry’s attempt to run away from Dursleys home before his seventeenth birthday and the end of his mother’s protective spells. Harry and his followers faced air battle against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I believe that Rowling chose this kind battle because she was very well aware of great importance this kind of battle has for England. Just to refresh our memory I need to say little bit a more about this battle. In fact, plans for a German invasion, named Operation Sea Lion, were in the works.
The key to this plan was the establishment of German air superiority over southern England and the English Channel. That task fell to Goering and his Luftwaffe. What ensued would be the world’s first strategic bombing campaign and the world’s first battle entirely decided in the air, the Battle of Britain. Young pilots were dying daily in those fights showing a high moral and ethical values in time of crisis and making enormous psychological impact on rest of population. Rowling did a great job with bringing the readers into the battle.
We see how serious the situation is with so many friends willing to sacrifice their lives in order to keep Harry alive for the final battle with the evil Voldemort. In every war there are losses, and they are present in novel when Harry lost his owl Hedwig and Mad-Eye in this opening battle. But life goes on and they have to continue their mission. This was one more fact to support my thesis of how JK Rowling used British history for inspiration in her work. Another very interesting point is trough the character Snape Severus and his role in everything that is happening in and around Hogwarts.
Up to the very end of novel readers are not sure what to think about Snape. They share many question with Harry and one of them is, “Why Dumbledore trusted Snape so much? ” And then at the very end he reveals his secret to the readers so they will see Snape in different light. Snape represents a double agent almost as a double spy like ones back in WWII, ones that risk their life for greater good. He played his role as a Death Eater so good that he tricked even Lord Voldemort and kept his secret for all this time, even in the middle of the final battle.
Isn’t that example of heroic sacrifice similar to the spy’s from WWII when they valued the greater good more than theirs lives? I’m aware that is very hard to prove this statement, simple because there is no country that will reveal all details about their double agents assignments and private life. If we look at Snape as a mysterious person living a strange life and then take into consideration fact that there were nobody close to him to know his secrets and demons from past and understand his actions, that is only one thing from WWII that he remind me of. It is the Enigma Code Machine made by Germany.
Secret machine used for the encryption and decryption of secret messages. British and American code breakers were able to decrypt code and use messages for their advantage. In my eyes Snape looks and act very much like this machine with Death Eaters but on another side he gave all information to the Dumbledore. To show how situation in novel is complex, Rowling needed more mystery around Snape character and that was best done in a way that I already explained. Unexpectedly Snape will earn a lot of sympathy for his actions based on everlasting and never returned and completed love, which makes him a tragic character. Dumbledore’s Army” looks very much like the freedom resistance against Nazis in Europe during WWII. Yes again theme from WWII that Rowling incorporated in novel and use it to make picture of resistance more realistic. Freedom resistance was very strong in a France and rest of the Europe and actually helped allies to fight against Nazi-Germany. Network of resistance helped many that escaped labor camps of to hide allies’ survived pilots taken down by Nazis. This resistance all over Europe was very active and not limited only on adults but attracted youth also.
Freedom resistance from WWII brought people from different classes of society, genders and age groups together for one great cause, to protect freedom and defeat tyranny. I believe that based on these facts Rowling decide to make it more realistic and to organize Hogwarts students, their families and even Dumbledor’s brother in the resistance against Lord Valdemort. We have very interesting meeting and discussion of Harry and Dumbledore’s Army in room of requirement: “We haven’t come back to stay,” said Harry, rubbing his scar, trying to soothe the pain. There’s something important we need to do-“ “What is it? ” “I-I can’t tell you. ” There was a ripple of muttering at this: Neville’s brows contracted. “Why can’t you tell us? It’s something to do with fighting You-Know-Who, right? ” “Well, Yeah-“ “Then we’ll help you. “The other members of Dumbledore’s Army were nodding, some enthusiastically, other solemnly. A couple of them rose from their chairs to demonstrate their willingness for immediate action (580). ” Very complicated and hard experience for young souls also many sacrifices and losses but not for nothing as those in WWII This is my another argument that support thesis of JK Rowling using British historical facts to made book more accessible and realistic to readers.
I start with defending my statement with fallowing arguments, location choice of JK Rowling, opening battle, than Nazi ideology and their favorite color, mysterious Snape-Enigma and to finish with Dumbledore’s Army. With all these facts presented in this paper I believe that is more clear now to readers how JK Rowling used British cultural history as a proven recipe success for her Harry Potter series.