Literary Analysis Paper- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In “Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban,” Rowling illustrates Harry Potter in a significant way through Harry’s defeat of Voldemort, which was also Sirius Black’s downfall. This then leads back to the true story of the real Secret-Keeper who also happened to be Voldemort’s servant, Peter Pettigrew and Harry’s strength as a wizard.

Most of the times, people tend to state false statements about a true story that has happened in the past. At one point, the false story might be convincing but the truth will definitely find its way. Also, in some of the situation that we face, betraying our friends and loved ones is very common. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban” is not a fictional story that will contain a false memory throughout the plot of what had happened during the death of Harry’s parents, James and Lily Potter. Instead, it is narrated in a way that Harry somehow believes the false memory of the story but then it leads to the true story after Harry finally meets Sirius Black. Harry Potter is significant because of how he defeated Voldemort. Sirius Black was accused by many of being Voldemort’s helper because he found out that Peter Pettigrew was actually Voldemort’s helper and tried to kill Peter. But the people didn’t know that Peter was actually the real Secret-Keeper who also happened to be Voldemort’s servant. The truth finally becomes clear to Harry as he listens to Professor Lupin and Sirius Black’s side of the story.

Harry Potter had heard rumors about Sirius Black’s escape and that Black was coming back to kill him. He was convinced that Black was coming for blood. The plot of the book is set up in a way that convinces the readers that Black was truly going to kill Harry. It was during the night before Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and his siblings would leave for Hogwarts in the morning that Harry had overheard Mr. and Mrs. Wesley talking about the danger of Black’s escape. As he was listening, he heard Mr. Wesley say to his wife, “The guards told fudge that Black’s been talking in his sleep for a while now. Always the same words: “He’s at Hogwarts…he’s at Hogwarts.” Black is dangerous Molly, and he wants Harry dead. If you ask me, he thinks murdering Harry will bring You-Know-Who back to power. Black lost everything the night Harry stopped You-Know-Who, and he’s had twelve years alone in Azkaban to brood that…” (66). But Harry thought to himself, “I’m not going to be murdered” (68). With all the rumors about Sirius Black coming back to kill Harry, Rowling stated that “nobody would want Harry to leave the safety of the castle until Black was caught; in fact, Harry suspected his every move would be carefully watched until the danger has passed” (68). This causes the reader to think that Sirius Black’s escape from the prison has everything to do with Harry being dead and giving back power to Lord Voldemort. This quote is important because it ties in with both Lord Voldemort and Sirius Black’s downfall, which Harry had caused when he defeated Voldemort.

Anyways, the book continues onward and stresses more information about who Black was. It was during the Hogsmeade trip that Harry had sneaked off illegally by using his invisibility cloak and made his way there. While he was there, he hid under the table where Ron and Hermione were sitting at in the Three Broomstick (restaurant) and overheard a conversation about Black’s escape that some of the professors and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge had going on. Harry heard that Fudge answered Madam Rosmerta’s question when she asked, “Black betrayed them”? (206) and Fudge said: “He did indeed. Black was tired of his double-agent role, he was ready to declare his support openly for You-Know-Who, and he seemed to have planned this for the moment of the Potters’ death. But, as we all know, You-Know-Who met his downfall in little Harry Potter. Powers gone, horribly weakened, he fled. And this left Black in a nasty position indeed. His master had fallen at the very moment when he, Black had shown his true colors as a traitor. He had no choice but to run for it-” (206). This is the main rumor that is going around about Black and it was because of Harry Potter’s actions leading towards his defeat against Voldemort.

After Harry heard the rumors that Black was coming back for him and that he also betrayed his family, he was thinking about what he wanted to do with his dad’s best man, Black. Both Ron and Hermione knew that Harry was upset but knowing Harry, they did not want him to go out looking for Black. Harry saw that his friends did not seem to understand how Black was a problem to him so he explained saying: “D’you know what I see and hear every time a dementor gets too near me? I can hear my mom screaming and pleading with Voldemort. And if you’d heard your mom screaming like that, just about to be killed, you wouldn’t forget it in a hurry. And if you found out someone who was supposed to be a friend of hers betrayed her and sent Voldemort after her-” (214). This causes the reader to clearly understand the text and ask the question; who else apart from Black might also do this to the Potters’ since Harry mentioned friends. This quote is important because it gives a clue to who might also be involved in this mess. Since Voldemort has his own servants who serve him, there might be others who transfer information to him personally while they are also friends with the Potters.

Speaking of Harry and his friends, things got a little bit weird when Ron had a nightmare about Sirius Black. Turns out it wasn’t a nightmare because Ron screamed louder saying, “Black! Sirius Black! With a knife!” (266). As Professor McGonagall came into the Gryffindor common room looking irritable, Ron yelled again saying, “IT WASN’T A NIGHTMARE! PROFESSOR, I WOKE UP, AND SIRIUS BLACK WAS STANDING OVER ME, HOLDING A KNIFE!” (267). This causes the reader to think that Ron seeing Black could be a sign that Black is already at Hogwarts. The reader might also develop some confusion as to why Sirius Black would go to Ron instead of killing Harry since everybody is saying that Black escaped out of Azkaban to kill Harry. Both of the quotes are important because they provide a better clue that Sirius Black is already at Hogwarts, ready to kill whoever he wants to kill after waiting for 12 years. This creates more danger in Harry’s life.

In addition to the risk in Hogwarts, everybody tries to keep Harry away from danger thinking that Sirius might be somewhere in Hogwarts. But Harry doesn’t seem to have fear. He decides to go to Hogsmeade again, illegally by using the Marauder’s Map. On his way to Hogsmeade, he met Professor Snape and Snape told him to return back the Gryffindor tower. However, Harry managed to make his way back to Hogsmeade after seeing that Snape was gone. When he arrived in Hogsmeade with his invisibility cloak on, he found Ron. But then Draco Malfoy and his two friends decided to come up to Ron and talk about Hagrid’s situation in which Malfoy had an incident with Buckbeak, Hagrid’s flying lesson bird. That annoyed Harry so he hit Malfoy on the head. Somehow, Malfoy happened to see Harry’s head under the invisibility cloak and decided to tell Snape about it. Since Snape does not like Harry, he told Harry right away saying: “Everyone from the Minister of Magic downward has been trying to keep famous Harry Potter safe from Sirius Black. But famous Harry Potter is a law unto himself. Let the ordinary people worry about his safety! Famous Harry Potter goes where he wants to, with no thought for the consequences” (284). This causes the reader to think that Snape does believe that Sirius Black wants Harry dead. And that it is not safe for Harry to randomly go to places that are not safe for him. This quote is important because it fits well with the fake story that people are believing of Sirius Black’s escape.

However, it got to the point where Harry finally met Sirius Black. It happened when Harry, Ron, and Hermione went to Hagrid’s House to check up on him before the Committee member and the executioner, Macnair would come and kill Buckbeak. While they were there, Hermione found scabbers after scabbers had faked his own death by having blood on the sheet earlier. On their way back to the castle, Sirius Black, who was now in the form of a dog came and pulled Ron into the Whomping Willow together with Scabbers. So Harry and Hermione decided to go down to the Whomping Willow too because they didn’t want to leave their friend. When Harry saw Sirius, he got angry and said, “HE KILLED MY MOM AND DAD!” (340). He wanted to kill Sirius Black but Black reminded him saying, “I don’t deny it. But if you knew the whole story-” (342) but Harry replied saying, “You sold them to Voldemort. That’s all I need to know” (342). Even though Harry didn’t believe Black, he reminded Harry saying, “You’ll regret it if you don’t… You don’t understand…” (342). This causes the reader to think about Harry and Black’s situation now. If Sirius wanted Harry dead, why did he took Ron and Scabbers into the Whomping Willow instead of Harry? It also causes the reader to wonder what kind of story Black is talking about because all Harry knows is that his parents were sold to Voldemort by Sirius Black. Those quotes are important because it’s leading to the real story of the real Secret Keeper.

In addition, it got to the point where the true story of James and Lilly Potters’ death became clear. While Sirius, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Scabbers and Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat were still in the Whomping Willow, Professor Lupin arrived after he saw Harry and Black’s name appearing on the map. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He saw on the map that Sirius was pulling two people into the Whomping Willow. But Ron reminded him that no it was only himself. But Lupin said, “No, Ron. Two of you.”(348) and then he asked Ron if he could see Scabbers. Ron replied saying, “What’s my rat got to do with anything? “And Lupin responded saying, “That’s not a rat…He’s a wizard. An Animagus by the name of Peter Pettigrew” (348). This causes the reader to think; why would Lupin support Black instead of helping Harry and his friends. It also causes the reader to ask the question, is there a connection between Lupin and Sirius? What’s with the rat? Those quotes are important because they are also leading to the real story of the Potters’ betrayer.

Furthermore, Lupin and Sirius had told Harry the actual story of the real betrayer, Peter. Lupin told Harry about the connection between Sirius, James Potter, Peter Pettigrew and himself. Lupin went on saying, “I had friends, three great friends. Sirius Black…Peter Pettigrew…and, of course, your father, Harry-James Potter” (354). Lupin also told Harry that because he was a werewolf, his friends transformed themselves into Animagi to support his wolf form. He told Harry that they were familiar with all the grounds of Hogwarts and said, “That’s how we came to write the Marauder’s map, and sign it with [their] nicknames. Sirius is Padfoot. Peter is Wormtail. James was Prongs” and Lupin himself was known as Moony (355). While Lupin was telling Harry his side of the story, Professor Snape appeared and wanted to kill Sirius in that instant but Lupin stopped him saying, “Severus, you’re making a mistake. You haven’t heard everything. Sirius is not here to kill Harry-” (359). Then Harry stormed out on Snape and knocked Snape out together with his friends help because Snape was trying to kill Sirius. But still, Harry does not believe Sirius and Lupin. So Lupin told Harry the truth saying, “All this time we’ve thought Sirius betrayed your parents and Peter tracked him down-but it was the other way around, don’t you see? Peter betrayed your mother and father-Sirius tracked Peter down-” (365-364).

Then Lupin and Sirius finally did the honor of transforming Peter back into his human body after Ron gave Scabbers to them. As Lupin told Peter that he wanted to ask him something, Peter screamed saying, “He’s come to kill me again! He killed Lily and James and now he’s going to kill me too” but Lupin reminded him that “No one’s going to try and kill you until we’ve sorted a few things out” (367). Peter tried to come up with all sort of assumptions that will cause Harry to think that he was not the one who betrayed his parents but Black told Peter saying, “You haven’t been hiding from me for twelve years. You’ve been hiding from Voldemort’s old supporters…Voldemort went to the Potters’ on your information…and Voldemort met his downfall there” (368). But Peter denied the truth saying, “If Voldemort’s supporters were after me, it was because I put one of their best men in Azkaban-the spy, Sirius Black!” (369). Yet Sirius kept on unfolding the truth, leaving Peter in an awkward position. This causes the reader to finally come to the conclusion that it Peter betrayed Harry’s parents, not Sirius. Those quotes support the text and are important because they fit in well with the idea of finding out the true betrayer of Harry’s parents.

In the light of Peter Pettigrew finally coming out in his human form and feeling guilty of what he has done, both Lupin and Sirius continued to expand facts to the true story behind what really happened during the Potters’ incident with Voldemort. Sirius then told Harry that he saw Peter in a picture with Ron and his family a while ago and said: “I realized he was at Hogwarts with Harry…perfectly positioned to act, if one hint reached his ears that the Dark Side was gathering strength again…ready to strike at the moment he could be sure of allies…and to deliver the last Potter to them. If he gave them Harry, who’d dare to say he’d betrayed Lord Voldemort? He’d be welcomed back with honors… So you see, I had to do something. I was the only one who knew Peter was still alive…” (371). Then Harry finally decided believed Sirius when Sirius said, “Believe me, Harry. I never betrayed James and Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them” (372).  

Anyways, Black and Lupin finally decided to kill Peter together and Peter was begging Harry for mercy saying, “Harry, James wouldn’t have wanted me killed…James would have understand, Harry… he would have shown me mercy…” (374). Peter also admitted saying,” Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus (Lupin) and James. I never meant it to happen…He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named forced me.” But Sirius screamed at Peter saying, “DON’T LIE. YOU’D BEEN PASSING INSIDE INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!” (374). As things got a little bit worse, Harry told them to stop what they were doing and take Peter up to the castle, rather than killing him. Harry reminded Peter saying, “I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this because I don’t reckon my dad would’ve wanted his best friends to become killers-just for you.” Then Harry told the others that “[Peter] can go to Azkaban. If anyone deserves that place, he does…” (376). This causes the reader to think; what if Peter transform back into his rat form again? Or is it over since Peter, the betrayer was caught? Will Black tell Harry more truths behind his friendship with Harry’s dad? Those quotes that I chose support the text and connects to the main focus of my thesis, identifying the real betrayer and the true story of Lord Voldemort’s servant.

In the hope that Peter Pettigrew would be sent to Azkaban and that all would go well, there seems to be a little conflict that Harry somehow seems to manage by showing his true strength. On their way back to the castle, Sirius told Harry the big secret about his connection with him saying, “I don’t know if anyone ever told you-I’m your godfather” (379) but Harry already knew about it so it wasn’t a big secret at all. Then Sirius told Harry that he could come live with him if he wants to when his name is cleared and that made Harry really happy. Harry was happy because he wouldn’t deal with the Dursleys anymore.

Uniquely, as a werewolf, Lupin forgot to take his potion that keeps him from transforming back into his werewolf form. So Sirius transformed back into his dog form and both of them had a fight. While they were fighting, Peter managed to take Lupin’s wand and transformed back into his rat form and ran away. It was too late for anyone to stop him. As the fight was over, Lupin went away while Sirius transformed back into his human form. But Sirius was having a difficult time because the dementors walked towards where Sirius, Hermione, Harry were staying. Immediately, Harry got out his wand and pointed it towards the hundred dementors saying, “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” while think about his godfather, Sirius (383). Harry kept on thinking, “We’ll be okay- I’m going to live with him – Expecto Patronum!” (383). But then Rowling said “something was driving the dementors back…It was circling around [Harry] and Sirius and Hermione…The [dementors] were leaving… The air was warm again…” Rowling then said, “Harry saw an animal amid the light. It was as bright as a unicorn. For a moment, [he] saw, by its brightness, somebody welcoming it back… someone who looked strangely familiar…but it couldn’t be…” and Harry fainted (385). This causes the reader to question, who could be that “familiar” person or who was that powerful wizard that defeated the one hundred dementors. Those quotes fit in well with the text because they lead the reader into finding how important Harry was portrayed in the book.

In addition, there was one last thing that needs to be done before all could go well and that Harry would finally save everyone. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were in the hospital the next morning after the incident with the dementors. When Harry asked Madam Pomfrey to go see Professor Dumbledore right after he woke up, she surprised Harry by saying, “It’s all right. They’ve got Black. He’s locked away upstairs. The dementors will be performing the Kiss any moment now-”. Immediately, Harry ran up to Minister Fudge and said, “Sirius Black’s innocent! Peter Pettigrew faked his own death! We saw him tonight! You can’t let the dementors do that thing to Sirius.” But Fudge said, “We’ve got everything under control…” Harry then yelled and said, “YOU HAVEN’T! YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG MAN!” And since Hermione was there too, she rushed to the Minister as well and said, “I saw him too. It was Ron’s rat, he’s an Animagus, Pettigrew, I mean” (389). Fudge didn’t believe Harry and Hermione at all. Suddenly, Professor Dumbledore came and talked to Harry and Hermione and listened to them. He trusted them and told them that the only thing they need “is more time” (393). So he told Hermione to use her hourglass, a Time-Turner that Hermione was using to go to all of her classes at the same time. The Time-Turner would go back in time.

Moreover, Professor Dumbledore reminded them that “Sirius is locked in Professor Flitwick’s office on the seventh floor…If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight. But remember this, both of you: You must not be seen” (393). Harry and Hermione had gotten back in time and made their way to Hagrid’s house. While waiting, Harry wanted to see that “familiar” person who came and defeated all the dementors so he went and hid by a bush. When it was the time that the “familiar” person would arrive, Harry was waiting impatiently saying, “Where are you? Dad, come on-”. Rowling then made it clear saying, “no one came. Harry raised his head to look at the circle of dementors across the lake. It was time for the rescuer to appear- but no one was coming to help this time-. And then it hit [Harry] – he understood. He hadn’t seen his father- he has seen himself-.” The author also mentioned that “It was a stag” that Harry saw earlier, not a unicorn. Rowling said the “[stag] was shining brightly as the moon above…it was coming back to [Harry]…Slowly, it bowed its antlered head” (411). Then Harry finally seems to understand and he whispered to himself saying, “Prongs” (412), which was his father’s Animagi. Hermione went back with Buckbeak where Harry was and fiercely said, “What did you do? You said you were only going to keep a lookout!” But Harry explained to Hermione saying, “I just saved all our lives” and Hermione replied saying, “Harry, I can’t believe it…You conjured up a Patronus that drove away all those dementors! That’s very, very advanced magic…” (412).

Anyways, while they were inspecting on what might happen next, they saw someone coming back out of the castle and Harry said, “Macnair! The executioner! He’s gone to get the dementors! That’s it, Hermione-” (413). In that instance, both Harry and Hermione rode on Buckbeak and went to rescue Black. After they got Black, they had given Buckbeak to Black so that Black could run away before anyone finds out and Black finally made his way out of Hogwarts with Buckbeak. Harry and Hermione then went back after three hours and met up with Dumbledore and all was well. Nobody knew about Harry and Hermione going back in time and rescuing Black except Professor Dumbledore because they quickly went back to the hospital as Professor Dumbledore helped them. But Professor Snape couldn’t help himself because he believed that Harry and Hermione had helped Black to run away by telling Madam Pomfrey, “THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!” (419) but no one believed Snape. This causes the reader to see Harry’s strength in the book. Harry finally made a Patronus that defeated the dementors. Those quotes are important because they help the reader to see Harry’s strength as one of the strongest wizards through his action. This portrays Harry as an important character in the book.

In conclusion, the Secret-Keeper, Peter Pettigrew was found and was confronted by Sirius and Lupin to speak the truth about the incident that happens to the Potters’. Harry then agrees to believe Sirius Black that he was not the one who betrayed Harry’s parents. All of this leads back to Harry saving the lives of everyone through his action of defeating the one hundred Dementors who came after Sirius Black by creating a Patronus. Harry is important in the book, “Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban” through his action of causing Voldemort’s downfall and defeating the dementors by creating a Patronum.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print.


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