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When I read Harry Potter for the first time I was in my late teens and the story and its wonderful characterization fascinated me. However, I was too young to understand the depths with which Rowling weaved the characters. It was a decade later, when I re-read the series, that I grasped the immense understanding of human nature that JK Rowling has. The characters, and types of people, in the series are remarkably diverse. Most of the following are brilliant parallels of inclusivity issues we face in the real world. JKR has gone on to show how random acts of kindness, and inclusion, can make or break a person. Here are a few cases where Rowling’s portrayal of diversity in Potterverse give us priceless lessons in inclusivity:
Be it Argus Filch or Arabella Figg, squibs are casually mentioned everywhere in the Potterverse. They are born to wizard parents, but devoid of magic, and hence slightly looked down upon in the magical realm. And while squibs, like Filch, brood over their lack of magical powers, and develop an inferiority complex, there is Angus Buchanan, who became a famous Rugby player, and inspired wizards to follow a Muggle game. There is a fascinating message of inclusion and empowerment in this.
An endangered category of people, who are fighting for their basic rights. Both Voldemort and his opponents, want to enlist them on their respective sides, despite having nothing to do with them, and alienating them for many years. Doesn’t the blatant electoral politics in the game of power ring a bell?
House elves are JKR’s scathing satire on serfdom. Elves are denied basic rights, and are not even aware of it. Dobby, the star elf of the series, grows with the narrative, awakening to his right to a free life. JKR lets her strongest general, Hermione, lead the SPEW drive. This revolution, wherein Hermione helps Elves discover their rights, teaches us the importance of using privilege to make a positive difference.
Werewolves are humans, who transform involuntarily into beasts, for a brief period of time. If there is one lesson to be learned from Remus Lupin’s story, it is the need to hate the disease, not the patient. Lupin lived a fulfilling life, grew up, married, and had a child, despite his crippling disease. This was made possible by the devoted caring that his friends, and later the Potter brigade, showered on him.
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