I recently ran across an interesting published complication of articles of literary criticism of the Harry Potter novels. In it, various authors argued that (among other topics) the universe was either a criticism of communism or an apology for communism. Supporting those claims is one of the things I find genuinely disturbing about the universe: None of the children or staff of Hogwarts apparently have any objection to the students’ future being determined by a singing hat.

No one complains or appeals to Dumbledore about being designed as irredeemably evil, or about being shunted into the house for useless NPCs (or something about Ravenclaw, but that house hardly even appears in the books). Nor, for that matter, does anyone object to the idea that a 10-year-old who fails the hat’s Detect Evil check may not eventually become an 18-year-old sociopath. One of the few legitimate points in the compilation is the assumption that the powers that be in the magical world work are unimpeachably correct and are not to be argued with.

Although there are a few evil authority figures (Umbridge and the rest of the ministry of magic) in the novel, no one expresses the idea that an unelected shadow government of magicians secretly running England and apparently running even the magical world by bureaucratic fiat may not be an entirely positive thing. The authors in the compilation actually agree on that, to the extent that they address it; they just disagree on whether that fact makes it a pro-communist or anti-communist tract. I would be very interested in seeing the Harry Potter novels recast as a 1984-style series about a magician in the elite Party who’s starting to have doubts about the way the Muggle proletariat are managed, but that’s probably not what Rowling had in mind.

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