On Harry Potter
Mental Illness in the World of Wizardry
When Harry Potter first learns that he is a wizard, he hears his Aunt Petunia call his mother a “‘freak’” (Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone 53). Aunt Petunia then goes on to summarize her sister’s short life and to insult Harry with the following statement:
“Then she met that Potter at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew you’d be just the same, just as strange, just–as–abnormal–and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got landed with you!” (Sorcerer’s Stone 53).
In Aunt Petunia’s world (made up almost entirely of her spoiled son, Dudley), her sister does not belong. Yet in the wizarding world, Harry’s mother discovers a hidden talent in Potions class, finds a cocky and talented future husband, and develops the courage it will take to one day stand between Lord Voldemort and her infant son. Although her sister considers her a “freak,” Lily Evans Potter becomes a heroic figure in the world of wizardry, just as Harry becomes our hero.
What does it mean to be “abnormal”? Clearly, someone ceases to be abnormal when he is surrounded with people (or wizards) just like him. Oftentimes, we describe people who are outside of the norm as “freaks,” “weirdos,” and “misfits,” but we might also describe them as “brilliant” and “amazing” depending on how we view their abnormalities. For example, someone with an extremely high
I.Q. may be described as “freakishly smart” and viewed with admiration. However, …