The Element of Fear in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Document Type : Original Article


Islamic Azad University, Karaj Campus



One of the characteristics of children’s literature is that the stories in this genre intensely involve the reader (the child), and the more they make her/him identify with the character(s), the more the reader enjoys the stories. One of the reasons for the popularity of Harry Potter stories lies in the fact that they evoke a psychological response in the readers by addressing their normal sense of fear and anxiety, hence creating a pleasurable tension while they are reading the book.
The present study examines this pleasurable tension in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling from a psychological point of view. Although the study refers to the responses of some children to the book at some points, it is not based on Reader-Response Theory. To invite science to the realm of literature, the approach relies both on child psychiatry and human anxiety in general discussed by a few psychologists who are not of course literary scholars. The aim of this study is both to know our children better, especially their normal fears and the way their fears grow and give way from one form to another, and to evaluate Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone one more time, but from a new point of view.