Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the 3rd novel in J. K. Rowling’s fantastic saga about a teenage wizard growing up. Check it out!

 

A very entertaining fantasy, this book is very complex.

 

The plot structure and character constructions, while still planned following classic narrative structures, are twisted from their standard format.

 

This novel is a key point on the general saga dramatic structure since it places the moment when Harry Potter finally decides who he is and what is his role from this point on.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Book Cover Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter Saga
J. K. Rowling
Fantasy
Bloomsbury (UK), Scholastic (US)
July 1999 (UK), September 1999 (US)
paperback, kindle, hardcover, others
between 435 and 464, depending on edition


  • The dreadful prisoner, Sirius Black, is on the loose headed to Hogwarts.
  • Is he after Harry Potter, who was the only one to outlive You-Know-Who?
  • Does Black want revenge against the boy who was also responsible for his doom?
  • Is Harry Potter safe within the walls of his magical school?


One problem that I was having when trying to break down an analysis of this book, is that Harry Potter did not quite fit in the functions of a flat protagonist, even though he seemed to be the Main Character. In other words, it looked like Potter was not a hero in this story.

So I asked myself a question:

"Who drives this story forward?"

And that question answered all my prayers:

SIRIUS BLACK

That's the character that leads the story to a goal. Well, at least until a certain point on the plot.

This was a bold risk taken by J. K. Rowling that paid off beautifully.

Nevertheless, it seems that making Sirius the protagonist was not enough for the author.

She inserted a RETUMBANT TWIST not only on the plot itself but also with the archetypical function distribution as well.

The two primary functions of a Protagonist are:

ANALYSE situations

to

PURSUE a goal.

Her first bold move was to split these two between 2 characters:

Sirius Black pursues his quest in the main plot.

Harry Potter analyses what's going on around him, almost as if detached from the main plot, but still not as much and also in a sub-plot and the general saga-plot.

Potter also performs the emotional archetype functions.

Harry Potter is an emotional Demi-Hero, and Sirius Black is an obscure half Anti-Hero that we don't accompany much, but have information about in the story.

On the mid-point, the writer brilliantly switches their functions and

Harry Potter with Hermione become the Protagonist.

Hermione is the pursuer.

Harry Potter the Analyzer.

Black switches to emotional functions.

Overall, in my opinion, this novel is the one with the most complex character constructions of the saga and probably of all books I have read so far.

read about Dramatic Structure Diagrams

Let's see:

 

Act 1


Harry Potter in his natural Ordinary World at the Dursley's and The Leaking Cauldron.

Sirius Black, supposedly in Azkaban.

 

Trigger


Sirius Black escapes prison.

Mr. Weasley warns Harry that Sirius Black is coming after him.

 

Act 2


Harry plays the Analysing and the Emotional character during this act

Sirius plays the Pursuer character.

Hogwarts is the Extraordinary World (adventure world) for both of them.

 

Sirius' tests:

  • Series of attempts to contact Harry Potter, including the scene in front of the children's park.
  • Dementors will be guarding the school.
  • Fat Lady reveals Sirius Black is in the school.
  • In the Divination class, a cup of tea reading reveals that a “Grim” is near, symbolizing death.
  • Newspaper saying Black has been seen near Hogwarts.
  • Prof, Trelawney tells Harry that the servant will return to his master.

Harry Potter's tests:

  • Dementor Attack.
  • Learning about Sirius' threat.
  • Harry is in danger with Sirius' chasing him.
  • Harry is trying to go to Hogsmeade with his friends.
  • Professor Lupin teaches Harry to defend himself against the Dementors.
  • Harry learns that Sirius Black, his godfather, deceived his parents into death - a Moment of Truth when he swears to destroy Sirius.

 

=== MIDPOINT START ===

The “Grim” drags Ron into a lair beneath the Whomping Willow and down the Screaming Shack.

new clues, revelations and switching point

The Grim is Sirius in animal form.

Sirius wasn’t the betrayer and murderer of Harry's parents.

Scabbers was, in disguise, the supposedly murdered Peter Pettigrew, the real traitor.

(Harry switches to full protagonist and Sirius to emotion here)

As everyone is trying to take Pettigrew into custody, the full moon turns Professor Lupin into a werewolf.

Sirius protects the children, and when Lupin nearly kills him, Harry rushes to his defense.

Both Harry and Sirius are almost killed by the Dementors—until a strange Patronus spell rescues them both.

The Ministry of Magic puts Sirius into custody to be later executed

Spoiler

Dumbledore tells Hermione to manipulate time to help straighten things up.

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At this is the point, Harry and Hermione become the protagonist.

 

 === MIDPOINT END ===

 

Act 3 - Preparation


On this section, the two start a preparation journey to fix what went wrong.

Spoiler

To rescue Sirius, Harry and Hermione use her “time turner” to go back in time.

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CLIMAX


We follow a climax-sequence in which Harry Potter faces the enemy.

Spoiler

Harry Potter defeats the Dementors

Now we discover that the two young wizards were fundamental in saving Harry and Sirius before. It was Harry that had cast the Patronus spell to save his earlier self and Sirius.

Sirius is set free and flies away with Buckbeack (who was also on the run in a sub-plot).

[collapse]

 

ACT 4


The usual return to the modified Ordinary World sequence

Spoiler

Lupin resigns over the argument that his werewolf conditions will scare all parents.

Harry receives the fantastic high top model Quidditch broom from Sirius.

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Archetype Analysis - Spoilers!
First Section before the switch

Protagonist:

  • Sirius Black pursues a goal moving the story forward
  • Harry Potter evaluates his situation under several aspects, including his acknowledgment of becoming a wizard.

Antagonist: Ministry of Magic and memory of Voldemort (saga)

Guardian: Remus Lupin and Dumbledore
co-Antagonist: Dementors

Emotion: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley
Reason: Hermione Granger

Sidekick: Weasleys, Hermione Granger
Skeptic: Malfoy, Ministry

After Switch

Protagonist:

  • Hermione Granger leads her plan to rescue Sirius.
  • Harry Potter follows and evaluates the situation to figure out how to solve the problem in the end.

Antagonist: Ministry of Magic

Guardian: Dumbledore, Buckbeack
co-Antagonist: Dementors

Emotion: Sirius Black, Remus Lupin
Reason: Hermione Granger

Sidekick: Weasleys, Hermione Granger
Skeptic: Malfoy, Ministry

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This book is a fantastic example of the quality of J. K. Rowling's writing. She took huge risks creating a complex story for teenage readers. The result is fantastic!

 

I recommend the book for all ages. Being so complex, some children may be confused with the comes and go's of the plot.

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6 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • 2016-09-01 at 2:56 pm
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    An interesting approach of seeing Black as the protagonist even if only for some part of the book. I read “The Prisoner of Azkaban” several years ago and forgot many details about it, but I’ve never viewed Sirius from that perspective.

    Maybe it’s time to re-read the whole series 🙂

    Actually, I also think that “Azkaban” is the book where Harry Potter saga took that darker tone of something really bad happening in the world, at Hogwarts and around the main characters.

    Reply
    • 2016-09-06 at 1:22 pm
      Permalink

      Hello, Dmitriy,

      I agree. I also think that Prisoner of Azkaban is the book, inside the saga, in which Harry Potter’s saga archetype player learns who he is and decides to jump into “Voldemort’s Wolrd”. It is the saga plot point where he jumps into the saga action. I have an article about narrative structure that might interest you, if you like that sort of thing.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  • 2016-09-15 at 2:08 pm
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    This is one of my favorite books in the Harry Potter series! Your review made me feel a bit nostalgic and now I want to go dust off my Harry Potter books on my bookshelf and get to reading! I must admit, that it has been awhile so I did not read some of the spoilers that you posted. Thanks for making it easy for me avoid the spoilers so it can be like I’m reading it for the first time again.

    Reply
    • 2016-09-20 at 7:26 am
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      Hello, Samantha,

      It is I that should thank you for the kind words. Enjoy your re-reading and come back to comment again. Cheers!

      Reply
  • 2016-09-19 at 6:45 am
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    Oh my, I don’t quite remember when I had read this book. It’s been so long ago. This book is among my favorite in the series (next to the super cool wizard tournament in the Goblet Of Fire of course).

    I really like how you break down the plots and your analysis of the story. It is very refreshing and enriching to know what a protagonist archetype function is. Thank you for this entertaining review. I’m going to read your other reviews after this =)

    Reply
    • 2016-09-23 at 6:06 am
      Permalink

      Hello, Isaac,

      Thanks for your kind words. Cheers!

      Reply

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