College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in English (MA)


Mary Beth Baggett

Primary Subject Area

Literature, English; Literature, General; Literature, Modern; Language, Modern; Language, Rhetoric and Composition


Aristotle, C. S. Lewis, friendship, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, moral development


English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Modern Literature | Rhetoric and Composition


Nobody today doubts the momentous influence the Harry Potter series has had on a generation of readers. Many scholars and critics assume Harry's place amongst other great works of children's literature, and indeed the series has brought about a revival in children's literature scholarship. Despite this popularity, many critics question the series' aesthetics, its attention to moral demeanor. Therefore, what element exists in Harry Potter that could enforce its aesthetic quality? Based on a rhetorical reading of the texts, my thesis upholds the aesthetic nature of the books through an analysis of the trio's friendship and and its impact on Harry's moral development. For a framework, I use Aristotle's theory of anagnorisis and peripeteia: the principle character's recognition of a moral flaw which leads to his or her suffering and subsequent moral transformation. However, I deviate from Aristotle's theory by stating that the series shows Harry's recognition of a virtue, specifically his friendship with Ron and Hermione, leads to his transformation. Therefore, the series' emphasis on the moral development of the main character through friendship provides evidence of the aesthetics of the novels.