A literary-linguistic study of heroism in Harry Potter

Tan, Sze Leng (2015) A literary-linguistic study of heroism in Harry Potter. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study conducts a linguistic-literary analysis of heroism in the Harry Potter book series. Previous studies have shown that Halliday’s Transitivity model (Halliday and Matthiessen 2014, based on Halliday 1995) is a useful tool for literary-linguistic studies and this approach has been used already in studies of Harry Potter (e.g. León 2008, Goatly 2008, and Sunderland 2011). My work differs from previous studies in two ways. Firstly, I primarily utilise Davidse’s (1992) Transitivity/Ergativity model, which develops Halliday’s original work and allows for fine-tuning of my analysis. Secondly. I develop and use a complementary method of analysis, the Heroic Properties Analysis, to study heroism specifically. I then test out the combination of these methods with shorter and longer extracts from the Harry Potter books.

Through the analysis of both long and short examples taken from the series, I found that Harry Potter’s physical activities, mainly for achieving his heroic goals, are represented by the use of relatively agentive resources from the Transitive system of Material Processes. However, the representation of Harry as a hero does not only rely on portraying him engaging in high-agency, goal-achieving activities but also on using a range of literary-linguistic resources, in addition to Ergativity/Transitivity, to highlight his role as a clever magical hero. He uses mental and magical strategies - acting effectively overall, both alone and in a team - to overcome various unpredictable challenges he has to confront. I have shown that a Heroic Properties Analysis is a better analysis tool for relating linguistic and literary resources to the heroic properties demonstrated by the character, as compared to the use of Transitivity/Ergativity Analysis on its own. This study intends to encourage other studies of literary themes using various linguistic and stylistic tools.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: Literary-linguistic study, stylistics, English, Harry Potter, heroism, transitivity, ergativity
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Emmott, Dr. Catherine and Anderson, Dr. Wendy
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Ms Sze-Leng Tan
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6317
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2015 13:34
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2019 16:05
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6317

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