HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN - PUBLICATION
The novel was originally released on July 8, 1999, in the UK. Rowling once remarked that Prisoner of Azkaban was her best writing experience because during this period she was no longer worried about her finances and the press attention wasn’t very excessive. Her favourite part of this book was introducing the character of Remus Lupin whom she built into the plot with great care and planning.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN - PLOT
During the summer holidays at Dursleys, Harry saw the news on television that a prisoner named Sirius Black has escaped. During a family dinner, Harry unintentionally inflated Aunt Marge after which he decided to run away. By a Knight Bus, he reached the Ministry of Magic where he stayed for three days until united with Ron and Hermione. During his stay there, Harry learned that Black is a convicted murderer and there are rumours that he might kill Harry next. On the train to Hogwarts, a Dementor made Harry faint, while at the same time, the new Defense Against Dark Arts teacher Remus Lupin helped Harry and the three friends learnt that the Dementors will be guarding the school in order to search Black. At Hogwarts, Harry had several incidents of problems with Dementors, for example, the Quidditch match during which he fell from the broomstick and broke his arm.
By following the Marauder’s Map of George and Fred Weasley, Harry went to a nearby village named Hogsmeade where he heard some teachers talking about Black. He came to know that Black was his parents’ friend but he betrayed them by letting Voldemort the access of their house. When the three friends come to know that Hagrid’s hippogriff, Buckbeak is sentenced to execution for attacking Malfoy (Malfoy himself provoked him), they turned to help him. Their efforts went unsuccessful and while all this was happening, Ron’s rat Scabbers appeared whom Ron tried to follow and ended up being attacked by a big black dog. The dog dragged him through a tunnel while Harry and Hermione followed him. After a while, they saw the black dog turned into Sirius Black. Professor Lupin entered the scene and explained everything to Harry and his friends that he and Black are werewolves and Scabbers is actually Pettigrew in the guise of a rat. In the form of a rat, Pettigrew had been hiding in the school from Black because he framed Black for the murder of Harry’s parents. Though Lupin tried to kill Pettigrew Harry stopped him, telling that his father would have never wanted this. He advised instead to send him to Azkaban.
On their way back to Hogwarts, Lupin turned into a violent werewolf because of missing his Wolfsbane Potion. Black tried to control him while Pettigrew escaped. When the three friends woke up in the hospital, they got told that Black has been given the punishment of being kissed by a Dementor that would eventually take away his soul. Snape told the faculty about Lupin’s secret of having the ability to turn into a werewolf. This led to his termination, while the book ends at the final meeting of Lupin and Harry where they were sure that they would meet again.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN - CHARACTERISATION
The three new major characters introduced in the novel are Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. Lupin is the dream Defense Against Dark Arts Teacher for all the students. He is not mean like Professor Snape nor anything like Lockhart. He is a friendly cool teacher that believes at building personal terms with his students. He keeps chocolates for his students to make a special place in their heart. Lupin is an animagi but he hides it from everyone until Snape debunks him in front of the whole faculty. His conversations with Harry on the various issues like Dementor’s kiss, Sirius Black and the nature of evil form the crucial informative parts of the book. On the other hand, Sirius Black is a notorious character whom everybody blames for helping Voldemort but it reveals only during the closing chapters of the book that he was actually framed by Pettigrew and hence he was innocent. The characters of Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew are constructed like two opposite sides of an equation—Black was despised for something that he never did while Pettigrew was adored in his form of a rat without knowing that he was actually a traitor.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN - RECURRENT THEMES
The most important theme weaved into the plot is how the past can affect someone's life and what to do in order to deal with it. Though Voldemort doesn’t appear in this part but memories associated with him lingers throughout the story. Prisoner of Azkaban is actually based on the rumour of how Sirius helped Voldemort and ultimately suffered in the prison. The part where his innocence was revealed symbolizes the moment in our lives when we come in terms with our past and are finally able to let go of it. Past is the umbrella theme that gives birth to other secondary themes like fear. For example, Harry's fear of Dementor, Ron’s fear of spiders and other students’ fears that they tried to overcome in Professor Lupin’s class were actually based on their haunting memories of the past.
Credit Csilla Madarasz
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN - ANALYSIS IN TERMS IF SYMBOLS AND ALLEGORIES
One of the key symbolic features represented in the novel are animals, most of whom are animagis (wizards turned into animals). Thus, we can see lots of animal characters in the book like Buckbeak, Hippogriff, Hedwig, Crookshanks, Scabbers, et cetera that add to the depths of meanings in the novel. The novel preaches to take them seriously and that animal can be more than what they actually appear. For example, it cannot be expected that a childhood pet like Scabbers would turn into a traitor. Thus they reinforce the concept of appearance versus reality in the novel. At few places, animals also stood for the extension of their owners’ personalities. For example, Crookshanks—Hermione’s cat was just as genius as Hermione herself.
SOME IMPORTANT QUOTES
I. You think the dead we loved truly ever leave us? Do you think that we don't recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?
II. Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
III. I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for.