The Wizarding World: Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic, King's Cross, Godric's Hollow
Narrator and Point of View
As a play, the stage directions serve as our primary narrator, emphasizing for the reader and the actors the crucial gestures, facial expressions, and (occasionally) inner thoughts of the characters. The point of view is not tied to one specific character, and the audience is shown scenes in which the main characters are absent.
Tone and Mood
The tone of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is similar to that of the Harry Potter novels; an adventure story infused with both lighthearted comedy and drama.
Protagonist and Antagonist
Albus and Scorpius are the protagonists of the play; the clearest antagonists are Delphi and Voldemort, however the boys' fathers, Harry and Draco, often get in the way of the happiness of the protagonists, often inadvertently serving as antagonists to their sons.
Estranged and unhappy with their fathers, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy steal an illegal Time-Turner from the Ministry of Magic in order to save a boy named Cedric Diggory from being killed under Voldemort’s orders in the past. In order to save Cedric, the boys need to travel back to 1995 when Albus’ father was in his fourth year in Hogwarts.
After saving Cedric, Albus and Scorpius change history and cause Harry Potter to be defeated by Lord Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts. After they change the timeline back to normal they discover that Delphi is actually Lord Voldemort’s daughter. She uses the Time-Turner to go back and prevent Voldemort from killing Harry Potter in the first place, but is foiled by Scorpius, Albus, and their parents.
Foreshadowing occurs at three major moments in the play. The rumor about Voldemort having a son (which is suspected to be Scorpius Malfoy) foreshadows the twist ending that the child does exist but is in fact a daughter, Delphi. Bane's prediction that Albus has a black cloud around him foreshadows the anger and resentment that will lead to him trying to alter the past. Finally, the repeated dreams that Harry has of Voldemort's voice foreshadow the alternate reality where Voldemort is alive and rules over the Wizarding World.
Scorpius and Albus repeatedly underestimate the effects of changing time, cavalierly returning to the past and making small changes, each time being surprised by the magnitude of their effects. For example, when the boys prevent Cedric from succeeding in the first task, they return to the future and are extremely surprised to find that not only are Ron and Hermione not married, their kids don't exist, nor do they hold the same careers. All of this occurs because they fail to recognize the ripple effect that comes from changing one small element of the past.
The play is filled with allusions to the original seven Harry Potter books. For example, in the first scene, Ginny tells Albus to run straight into the Platform wall. That was the same advice that Molly Weasley gave Harry in his first year going to Hogwarts.
The stage directions often paint pictures of what magic will be brought to life onstage. The lyrical style of the stage directions give the reader a sense of the magic that will take place onstage, having them use their imagination to create the stage magic. There are lots of fantastic elements not seen in a traditional stage play: spells, dementors, flying, fire, wind, chases on top of trains etc.
A major paradox in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is that in the quest to save the innocent life of Cedric leads to the deaths of others. Not only does Albus's meddling with time lead to the death of his own father in alternate versions of the past, it leads to the very real murder of Craig Bowker because of his alliance with Delphi.
The journey of Albus and Scorpius at Hogwarts parallels Harry’s own coming of age journey when he was his age. Although it was not of the same scale, both of their journeys involve dangerous obstacles, dark magic, and run-ins with Voldemort. The parallelism between Harry and Albus help us see the similarities between them by the end of the play.
Metonymy and Synecdoche
J.K. Rowling has stated in multiple interviews that in imagining the creatures called "Dementors," she sought to create a living embodiment of depression. These creatures personify the hopelessness and despair that ultimately rob a person of their happiness, and eventually, their soul.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child study guide contains a biography of J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.