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Carol Nathanson (Advisor)

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Master of Humanities (MHum)


J.K. Rowling, best selling author of the Harry Potter series, uses mythology to add layers of meaning to her own creative storylines, to provide insight into the characters and plot, and to subtly foreshadow events to come. Rowling reinvents the old myths referred to in her text by creating surprise twists that are a reversal of the reader's expectations. Ultimately, Rowling's reworking of established mythology reveals the author's own modern perspective about what makes a hero, the power of choice, and the nature of evil.

Although Rowling draws from a variety of mythologies, including Arthurian legend, ancient Egyptian mythology and European folk lore, this thesis is focused largely upon her use of ancient Greek and Roman myths. The thesis examines Rowling's inclusion of mythic elements within the names of her characters, as well as within the characters themselves. The thesis further explores the role of myth within the storylines and overarching themes of the series. A historical survey of literary mythic motifs, such as werewolves, heroes, sirens and mermaids is included for comparison to Rowling's treatment of such characters. The author's use of myth to reflect contemporary concerns is explored, highlighting specific social and ethical issues that Rowling addresses.

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