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Many critics have noted that the popular Harry Potter book series is a well-defined series that is united by several strong themes. JK Rowling, the creator of the series, has succeeded in embedding several interesting themes and motifs into her novels. The Harry Potter book series deals with many of the big themes of life: love, death, the presence of evil, and many more. Many of these themes may seem too dark or “heavy” for a young reading audience, but Rowling succeeds in dealing with “serious” themes in ways that both young adults and older readers can appreciate and deal with.

One of the most important themes in the Harry Potter books is death. This is a potentially dark theme that Rowling deals with openly yet which is not exploited. The first book in the seriesâ€"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the United Kingdom) introduces us to Harry, a boy whose parents have died in a mysterious manner. Harry must deal with the notion of death early on, as an orphan who must live with his bumbling, selfish relatives. But besides the death of Harry’s parents, the theme of death is also present throughout the Harry Potter books through the character of Voldemort. Voldemort is the looming reminder of death in all the Harry Potter books. He is Harry’s ultimate antagonist in the series, and a constant reminder of his parent’s death and the threat of dying. Many critics have analyzed Voldemort’s name for clues. The word ‘mort’ translates in death in French and Latin, and the word ‘volde’ also contains many clues. ‘Vol’ means flight in French, and it also reminds many German readers of the words ‘Wald,’ which means forest, and the word ‘Volk,’ which means people. Other German speakers are reminded of the word ‘will,’ which is pronounced ‘vill’ in German, and which means wish or volition. In this case, Voldemort’s name would translate loosely as ‘death wish’ or ‘the will to death.’

But besides his name, the character of Voldemort himself is the most frequent reminder of death throughout the Harry Potter series. Voldemort is obsessed with conquering death. He is on the ultimate quest of immortality, and will stop and no end to accomplish this goal. Harry Potter and his mates are responsible for stopping Voldemort, or the Dark Lord as he is most commonly referred to, which brings us to another of the main themes in the Harry Potter book series: good versus evil. This is a classic theme, but even this well-worn idea sees new light in the confident hands of JK Rowling.

Yet another very strong theme that is invoked in nearly all the books of the Harry Potter series is the sting of prejudice and discrimination. In the Harry Potter series, the world of witches and wizards is mired in prejudice and discrimination. Some magical characters view the non-magical world inhabited by “muggles” as inferior. Other characters discriminate against certain classes or designations of ‘magical folk.’ For instance, some wizards and witches discriminate against those who are not “pure blood.” There is a complicated system of designation that has to do with a wizard’s heritage, including half-blood, or Muggle-born wizards that are sometimes disparagingly referred to as “mudblood.”

Of course, there are many other important themes in the Harry Potter themes, which include loyalty, friendship, the importance of choice, and the power of love. Rowling has been lauded by critics and readers at large for her ability to create entertaining literature that also deals with important themes. However, Rowling herself asserts that the themes of the series have mostly emerged organically, and that she prefers the themes to emerge on their own rather than consciously embedding themes into her works.

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