Every generation gets the fantasy it deserves. Victorians had the stark realities of life and death depicted in George McDonald’s At The Back of the North Wind. The interwar generation could escape to Neverland, but the cost of not growing up was always clear in the work of JM Barrie. The Baby Boomers would inherit the world, just as CS Lewis promised in the works of Narnia. Thank God Thatcher’s children could rely on Roald Dahl to show them the truth of a world dominated by the selfish, callous and cruel.
In Harry Potter, the Millennial generation has a fantasy that reflects its own obsessions. Harry’s problem is not so much that he is an orphan; rather, his real predicament is being trapped in a stifling lower-middle-class upbringing. Imagine if Harry hadn’t been lucky enough to have powerful friends to help him get to private school and a top-class education. Instead of becoming the world’s most powerful wizard, he’d have had to settle for a place at the local comp and, if he was lucky, a job in a call centre or, very lucky, as an estate agent. What if Harry had been left behind on Platform 9 and ¾ at Kings Cross? Forsaken to live a (possibly longer) mundane life, with only a dull sense of existential despair to keep him company as Hermione and Ron continued on to magic and adventure?
This is an interesting combination of real insight and total BS.