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Ismael Melendez Amy Becker-Chambles English 2308-02 March 19, 2013 Marxist Criticism of Harry Potter Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains. - Karl Marx Marxism is a political socio-economic theory that advocates a classless society, where there is to be a fair distribution of wealth, based on the principle by Karl Marx, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." In the first four books, which were the rising action of the Harry Potter series, we read about the characters growing and maturing. Changing the economic system is not part of the story. There is monumental personal change through the realization of belonging the greater collective of good wizards. However emphasis is not placed on coming together to overthrow the Bourgeoisie, which is the wealthy class, but they do come together to face evil. Realization that Voldemort returns makes the wizarding world tense. Through the next book Harry Potter realizes that he is not by himself; he has the support of his friends and many wizards. He also realizes he cannot do all the work and fighting by himself, when he finally allows his friends to help him. It is through the adventures of Harry Potter that the young readers debate adult themes and questions. They are faced with the idea of good vs. evil most of all. Overthrowing capitalism is not part of the narrative. The books show a reflection of the capitalistic world where the author lives. One of the most important determinants in identifying the socio-economic system used in the world of Harry Potter world is to look at its institutions. The most prominent one is

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Hogwarts, which is also the setting for the Harry Potter books. It is in Hogwarts where students learn magic and how to use it. Ultimately, the skills and knowledge they gain in Hogwarts set them on the path for a career. The idea of consumerism is lush in the Harry Potter series, as children want the latest flying broomstick model, and students take trips to the nearby shop to purchase all kinds of goods. Competition is very noticeable at Hogwarts amongst students, teams, and with other schools. As we read throughout the books, we realize adults in the Wizarding world, like in the real world, can be employed or not. Characters move to different jobs, search for jobs, or lose their jobs temporarily. The majority of them work for the Ministry of Magic. The Weasleys, including the father and Percy, work in the Ministry of magic. Professors work at Hogwarts, which respond to the Ministry of Magic. There are some private businesses we read about such as the small shops and restaurants near school and those in Diagon Alley. Another important and more far ranging institution is the Ministry of Magic, which is the governing body in the wizarding world. The Ministry of Magic works like government bodies in the real world. Although there is no recognizable separation of power, there are seven departments that deal with different aspects of the wizarding world. Corruption is evident at the Ministry, from unfair trials, secrecy, and abuse of power. The ministry controls the media and makes Harry Potter and Dumbledore be portrayed negatively and falsely, after the return of Voldermort. Additionally they made Xenophilius Lovegood, Luan's father, write negative statements and articles about Harry Potter. Not only did the Ministry exercise power of the media, they also were involved in other aspects of the Wizarding world. Hogwarts is under the scrutiny of the Ministry of Magic, who interfere in school business, using safety as reasoning, especially in year five, when a servant of

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the Ministry of magic, Dolores Umbrige, through the implementation of educational decrees, discredits Albums Dumbledore. She eventually is successful in having him removed. She takes his place as headmistress, in representation of the Ministry of Magic, because the ministry knew she would follow their instructions. She was representative of excessive government interference. Her effects on the student were evident. They were not comfortable with having their liberty taken away and being tortured. The students answered to the very bad changes in Hogwarts by forming Dumbledore's Army and seeking to get prepared for the battle against evil. There training they gained as part of Dumbledore's Army served them well in the second great war. Another aspect of the books' economic system is their financial institutions. Gringotts bank is the only bank for the Wizards, which is run by goblins. The bank holds money and prized possessions. Wizards can exchange muggle money for wizard money there. The bank employs some humans; Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour both worked there temporarily. There are only three different coins in the wizarding world and no decimal system. If there is a tax system, it is never mentioned in the books. Most of the wealth that is described in the Harry Potter books is gained from inheritance, the clearest example being Harry Potter. Wealth distribution in the Wizarding world is not equitable. There is a clear disparity between the rich and poor. The Weasleys are the best example of the poor, a big family too, where hand me downs are passed down from the older siblings. A reflection of working families the Weasleys are composed of a stay at home mother, working father, and children. They live in a modest home and don't have the newest and shiniest possessions. If the Weasleys were the embodiment of the poor, the Malfoys were a good

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representation of the rich. The family was very wealthy, pure bloods, and the father worked in the Ministry of Magic, which meant he had connections, which he used several times to get Malfoy out of trouble. The father even got the Slytherin Quiditch team the newest model broomstick model, which secured Malfoy a spot in their Quiditch team. The judicial system of a society also helps us identify and examine it. In the Harry Potter series, there are no public trials and no defense for the accused. The trials are held by the Wizengamot or the Council of Magical Law. Trials are short, and there is no possibility of an appeal. Defendants could be sentenced to Azkaban, a torturous place. If there is an error made in a sentencing, like in the case of Sirius Black, there is barely an apology. The council just continues their regular work. There was also the incorrect accusation made against Harry for using magic, and therefore breaking the underage law that prohibits it. In reality he did it to protect Dudley from Dementors but he was not believed. It was only because a witch actually was present that Harry was able to prove his innocence, otherwise he would have received a sentence. It is also important to look at the stratification level in the Wizarding world. The most obvious distinction made is between muggles and wizards. Additionally, among the wizarding community, there is racism on the distinction between being a pureblood, half-blood and mud bloods. Speciesism is also demonstrated in the Harry Potter books; the elves, giants, centaurs and other magical creatures are not treated equally. Not everyone practices prejudice or racism. Most of the students don't. It is the older generations who display racist sentiments. Herminone was one of the individuals who did recognize the abuse of elves. She attempts to give all elves freedom. It is a noble effort by her, she creates the temporary organization, Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. This was as a response to the treatment the elves

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received especially as she witnessed in the world Quiditch cup. The reaction of the elves was not very supportive, but not surprising. The elves had become accustomed to their role in society. They felt that is how things were supposed to be. This is an idea that the Marxist movement describes. Probably the most anticipated scene, in the books and films, after the climatic return of Voldemort, is his demise. Voldemort was the incarnation of evil, which brought destruction and death to the world. He championed racism and prejudice. Had Voldemort had his way, humans and all other non-pure bloods would be exterminated. In the analysis of the socio economic undertone in the Harry Potter series, we must also consider the authors background. J .K. Rowling was born in in Yate, England, on July 31, 1965. She came from humble economic means before writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a children's fantasy novel. The setting of her writing was the delayed train rides between Manchaster and London. She was a single mother with bad job prospects. She worked as a teacher before she became the acclaimed author she is now. It is no question that what we see in Harry Potter is a reflection of the economic system she lived and experienced. In a New York Time the op-ed article, the author states that the the fantastic universe of
Harry Potter is a capitalist universe. In order to give credence to his ideas, Ilias Yocaris, elaborates on his proposition that Hogwarts is a private sorcery school, and its director constantly has to battle against the state. Additionally he points out it was not intention that JK Rowling illustrated a capitalistic world. She was not rich after all, a working class mother, she had likely identified with the workers. It does, however, give a glimpse in to the subconscious of the author. She does live in a capitalist world, and her writing reflects that. The capitalistic world she created is a mere parallel to the world we live in, where there is also scarcity. If she were in a world where distribution of wealth and scarcity were not so

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prominent, she could have easily made the Wizarding world a classless and more equitable society, because wizards could create anything with their wands and magic.

Taking a whole look at the series, I feel that the Harry Potter series did not energetically motivate the working class to rise up against the upper class. I dont think that was the pretense of the author. The main conflict was that between evil and good, and it was resolved. The books did cover a lot of adult problems and themes, but overthrowing capitalism was not one of them. In the end we learn the Harry, Hermione, and Ron all get jobs. Their children go to Hogwarts. Nothing changed in the socio-economic system of Harry Potter.