Harriss, Chandler; McCluskey, Michael
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Research suggests that reading fiction can increase empathy, and a number of studies have found the Harry Potter series to promote pro-social values. One prosocial value that has not been explored directly in relation to the series, however, is empathy. Defined as “the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective,” empathy is the motivation behind many prosocial behaviors and values, making it an important focus of investigation. In this study, I conduct a textual analysis of the Harry Potter series using the perspective of theory of mind and simulation theory as a guide. After analyzing a range of situations in which Harry and his friends respond empathetically to acts of discrimination, I argue that empathy in the series is communicated to readers primarily through Harry, whose inner thoughts, perspectives, actions, words, and “theory of mind” dominate the story even when he is not directly involved in specific demonstrations of empathy.
I would like to present my special thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Gailey for her assistance with this research and her support every step of the way through this project. Her encouragement made it possible to complete this task.
B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Fantasy fiction, English -- History and criticism; Values in literature; Empathy
Potter, Harry -- (Fictitious character)
Layman, Lindsey M., "Magically empathetic: an investigation of theory of mind and empathy in the Harry Potter series" (2017). Honors Theses.