Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the most well-received books in the entire series. Its movie adaptation, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is certainly the most critically acclaimed Harry Potter movie ever made. While the latter may be due to the skillful directing prowess of Alfonso Cuarón, there is no denying that the book is popular solely because of how well Rowling established herself as a writer with a confident voice that can explore dark and gritty boundaries in the plot without fearing rejection of the manuscript.
While the concept of Harry Potter and the world of magic in itself is very interesting, it is the later books, starting from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that showed the true potential of this series as not just a children’s book series, but also as a series that children would grow up loving and learning crucial lessons of life from.
Blind Spots of the Law
One of the most essential ideas that this book address is the nature of law and its fallibility. It is very clear from the occurrences of this book that the law doesn’t always protect the innocent. Instead, it sometimes just looks for the easiest explanation that fits into its idea of who the culprit is and just claims judgment. Sometimes, the actual culprits easily escape trial, and the innocent are punished.
Sirius Black, as it is eventually found out is not at fault at all, and is grieving the deaths of two of his closest friends, when he is arrested and placed in the Azkaban prison for betraying these friends and being a supporter of Voldemort. Furthermore, he is also accused of killing Peter Pettigrew, the very person who actually betrayed Lily and James Potter and beat a hasty retreat.
The law doesn’t seem to care or listen to anything Sirius has to say, neither do the closest people to Sirius who are hoodwinked by the authoritative nature of the law to believe that he must be guilty. This is the blind spot of the law, that it cannot always protect the innocent, not if they are made to look guilty.
Another place where this problem arrives is when Buckbeak is accused of attacking Draco Malfoy and sentenced to death. Clearly, it was Draco Malfoy’s fault as is evident from his actions. He was told to not insult the Hippogriff and to approach it slowly but he ridiculed it and made fun of it. Furthermore, despite being only slightly bruised, he made a big deal out of his injury, involving his powerful father to speak in favor of sentencing Buckbeak to death. Eventually, the law complied. Not only because of Malfoy’s father but also because of his preconceived notions about animals being dangerous. This again, is a blind spot of the law that Rowling has boldly addressed in this book.
Fear and the Dementors
Fear, in any of its forms, is one of the most unsettling and undesirable emotions. It makes us feel very vulnerable and helpless, and we usually try to avoid it whenever we are faced with something that induces it. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the dementors are creatures that feed on people’s joy and hope, making them weaker and more vulnerable with time. The dementors are a very apt and clever metaphor for depression and perpetual sorrow, something that Rowling intended when she wrote this book.
When Rowling wrote this, she was suffering great loss from the sudden death of her mother, and the periods of sorrow that kept coming back and made it difficult to live were what led to the creation of dementors in the plot. Dementors represent a dark force that takes away all that is happy and the ability to be happy again and leaves behind fear, doubt, and sorrow.
The only way to overcome the dementors is to cast a Patronus, which in essence is an imprint or projection of what makes our ‘self’ happy and worth living for. There are always going to be difficulties and struggles in life, but recalling the moments that we crave to go back to or memories that made us really happy, helps us focus on what to be grateful for and what to hope for instead of what to fear. This is one of the best ways to triumph over fear.
Friendship and Betrayal
A very strong theme to touch upon in a children’s book, betrayal of friendship is a sad and undesirable but very real effect. Friendship is a very strong bond of mutual reciprocation that keeps one happy, strong, and content in life. Friendship, as has been addressed in the first two Harry Potter books can be a great thing because until Harry met Ron and Hermione, or even Hagrid, he didn’t have any friends and he really enjoys his life after he met them.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Rowling delves deeper into the trope of friendship by also bringing in the rare case of betrayal. Although friendship is a pure bond based on trust, there are times when this bond is broken by people who do not understand the true meaning of friendship.
Rowling uses the example of Peter Pettigrew to illustrate this harsh reality, warning young readers to understand these complexities instead of ignoring them and getting hurt later. Peter betrayed both James and Lily and eventually got them killed. Furthermore, when confronted by Sirius, he made it look like he got killed and escaped, leaving Sirius to take his place as the culprit of all the crimes Peter committed.
What are some symbols in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban?
There are several significant symbols in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Some of them include the dementors who represent fear, the grim, which could signify irrational fears that scare us despite no real threat being there. Another symbol is the time turner worn in a necklace form which could represent the immense value of time.
How did Peter Pettigrew escape from Sirius Black?
When Sirius Black confronted Peter for betraying James and Lily Potter, he loudly claimed that Sirius had betrayed the Potters for the onlookers to see, but when Sirius tried to catch him, he used an explosive curse that ended up killing twelve muggles, left a crater on the road and diverted everyone enough for him to turn into his rat form and easily escape without being noticed.
How did Remus Lupin become a werewolf?
Remus Lupin is a very interesting and likable character in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. When he was a boy, he was bitten by another werewolf called Fenrir Greyback and therefore turned into a werewolf.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - One of the best Harry Potter Books
Lasting Effect on the Reader
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Book Review
‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ is one of the best Harry Potter books ever written because it incorporates a multitude of themes and ideas into a children’s novel and makes it a way bolder book than the others. Its ability to still be a children’s book but impart some grounded realities of life into the reader makes it quite an exceptional and skilfully written book. Its plot makes use of several interesting motifs including time travel, imprisonment, revenge and rebellious rule-breaking.
- It is a very strongly written book with a lot of life lessons for children.
- It teaches both about friendship as well as how to make good friends without hesitating to highlight the latter.
- It has several key plot lines making it more engrossing for the reader.
- It may be very gritty and dark for some readers, especially considering the first two books which were way more mild.
- It has some plot holes which might reduce its credit as a contender for a great book.
- It is still a one sided account of the enmity between the Marauders and Snape, making it very biased for the reader.