Fantasy as a Form of Empowerment in 'Coraline' and 'Harry Potter' College

The epigraph in Coraline by G. K. Chesterton states that “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” (Gaiman 2). This is a fair representation of the function of fantasy in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Coraline where the ‘dragons’ of evil and fear exist and are defeated. Fantasy becomes the vehicle by which these authors empower their child heroes and communicate to their child readers that they too can face and defeat their own ‘dragons’.

Fantasy has long struggled for recognition as a legitimate genre. In Plato’s dialogue, Phaedrus, Plato critiques myths or fantasies. While considering them “very pretty in general” Phaedrus says “I have no time for them at all…it seems ridiculous…to investigate irrelevant things” (Plato 421-3). In the intervening years, although fantasy is no longer dismissed as “unworthy of notice” (Kurtz 574) or solely the domain of children (Lewis 12; Tolkien 11), it has notoriously defied definition. There is, however, general agreement “that ‘fantasy’ must contain an element of magic or the supernatural” (571). Successful fantasy creates a world which despite being populated by things that are not...

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