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Harry Potter 101: Final Exam

Deconstructing Harry.

By  Tyee Staff and Contributors 11 Jul 2007 |

This exam was compiled by Vanessa Richmond, Richard Warnica, Jennifer Muir and Francis Plourde.

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Divine the truth.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • J. K. Rowling
  • Raincoast Books (2007)

Instructions: please read carefully.

This examination consists of two essays of equal length. Each essay is worth 25 points (10 for depth/originality of argument, 10 for style and five for spelling and grammar).

You have three hours to complete the examination. Good luck!


1. Third wave feminism: Hermione and the riot wizrrrrrrds

Hermione would be the star if she pushed up her bra instead of her brain. Discuss. (Include an analysis of the broom as pole dancing prop).

2. Second wave feminism: Harry Potter and the barriers of structural inequality

Discuss Hogwarts as a classic patriarchal institution. Include analysis of the symbolism of Dumbledore's staff and whether Harry's "granted" magical gifts are representative of a false meritocracy with invisible barriers to female achievement. Extra points are available for a consideration of the role of the broom as phallic substitute and the multiple axes of oppression faced by "othered" female wizards (see Chang, Cho).

3. Post structuralism: Harry Potter and the violent hierarchies of opposition

Deconstruct the Voldemort character. To what extent does he exhibit Derrida's theory of binary opposites? Include in your analysis a discussion of how "his" power is everywhere and nowhere, how He Who Should Not Be Named has no physical or solid identity and how he represents "pure" evil. To what extent is Azkaban influenced by Foucault's Discipline and Punish?

4. Marxism: Harry Potter and the chains of capitalist oppression

Discuss the role of middle class "charity" in the text. Include an analysis of Hermione's house-elf "liberation." What prevented a worker's revolution in this case? Are the house elves freer now than before?

5. Classical realism: Harry Potter and the unitary national interest

Professor Snape: Kissinger with a cauldron? Discuss. Please include a classical realist analysis of Voldemort vs. Dumbledore and the primacy of war in your interpretation.

6. Christian literary theology: Harry Potter and the only begotten son

Consider Harry as a Christ substitute (and/or Voldemort as Lucifer, Dumbledore as God, Sirius as the star, the Chamber of Secrets as Genesis). Compare and contrast the roles of prophecy, doubt and miracles in the two narratives. Bonus points for discussing the role of the lightning bolt as born-again symbolism, or how the series will end for Harry/Jesus.

7. Liberal internationalism: Harry Potter and the responsibility to protect

Imagine that Voldemort has conquered England. Construct an argument justifying a humanitarian intervention of the conquered state by outside forces. In your answer, ensure you take a stance on the spells as weapons of mass destruction debate and discuss the parallels between NATO and the Order of the Phoenix.