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Stylistics: Second Assessed Essay

Candidate 316773

Module Title Stylistics

Module Tutor Charles Owen/Murray Knowles

Question With reference to a text or texts of your choice show how authors
use linguistic devices to slant and orientate their work towards
readers. You might want to refer to narratives for children in your

Title Depicting children to a child readership in Harry Potter and The

Worst Witch

MHRA Citation

3309 Words
Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
April 2002

Depicting Children To A Child Readership In Harry

Potter & The Worst Witch

This essay will examine language in extracts from the children’s books Harry Potter
and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Worst Witch (both reproduced here as
appendixes). Three linguistic strategies that slant and orientate the extracts to
particular child readers will be identified:

• The complexity of Harry Potter’s narration, which is aimed at older readers,

compared to that of The Worst Witch.
• Reader-alignment or ‘focalization’1 with one child character (in both extracts
the eponym).
• Similar constructions of a conventional ideology in both extracts.

Analysis will be based on Toolan’s (1998) stylistic categories2 and Knowles’ (1996)
investigation of ideology.

1 The ways in which Harry Potter presents a more complex narrative

The Worst Witch uses mainly “pure narration” (Toolan 1998, 112). There is no free
indirect thought, or even indirect thought. The narrator is foregrounded as an
individual human storyteller using a first-person pronoun: “as I have mentioned
before” (3). S/he has complete objective knowledge, the generic sentences about
broomstick riding demonstrating his/her status to make “inconvertible and
foundational orientations” (Toolan 1998, 64). Reflecting the use of illustrations, there
is a comic-book feel to the prose. The idea that “flashed” into Mildred’s head evokes
the “light bulb = idea” convention. Nonetheless, there are still some complex
presuppositions. The modalised aside “she disappeared – literally”, for instance,
foregrounds the extract’s textuality. The reader is expected to know that there is a
common figurative use of ‘disappeared’ in fiction, which actually just means ‘left’ or
‘has gone’, which is debased in the magical world. Ultimately however, a relative lack

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
of modality in the Worst Witch makes for a non-ambiguous, very clear narrative. This
world of definites is most suited to younger children.
Harry Potte’s narration is more complex. The reader must interpret events
from the validity of various character discourses, aided by probability modality. Ron’s
judgement of Malfoy's boasts: “I bet that's all talk” first introduces the idea that a
character may say something not because it is true but to elevate their social standing.
Doubting probability modality frames subsequent indirect speech: “the way Seamus
Finnigan told it”, as does mockingly generalising usuality modality: “most of his
childhood”. The formulaic nature of all of these boys’ stories (which establishes a
male culture of boasting) is emphasised through a lexical similarity chain of ‘close
encounters’ and/or opposition with the ‘muggle’ (non-magical) world:

narrowly escaping Muggles in helicopters (11)

almost hit a hang-glider (13)
zooming around the countryside (12)

The summarised narratives have the shape of Labovian orientations, enforcing the
sense that they are constructed rather than recorded. Ron’s story is a simple rehash of
Malfoy’s, building a similarity chain from its elements. Where Malfoy was “narrowly
escaping” (11) Ron “almost hit”, where the Muggle flying contraption Malfoy faced
was “a helicopter”, Ron faces “a hang-glider”.

2 Reader Alignment With One Child Character

2.1 Harry Potter as focalizer3
Stephens notes “a tendancy for children’s fiction to focus attention predominantly on
the individual psyche” (1992, 3). Harry Potter demonstrates this; his experiences are
to some extent ‘bibliotherapy’4; he roughly reflects the age and situation of the
implied reader5, suffering conventional childhood anxieties6 despite the fantasy
context. The cohesive identity chain ‘Harry Potter’ is by far the longest in the extract,
49 instances by my analysis. The frequency of repetition is not significant in itself 7,
but in that it emphasises the way in which the text is held together by everything’s
significance to Harry. His mental processes are the most reported; of the 27 here 14
are attributable to him individually, with another two attributable to him as part of a
group. The extract begins with one such process:

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch

senser mental process phenomenon

Harry had never believed that he would meet a boy
he hated more than Dudley

This indirect thought establishes Harry’s hatred of Malfoy as the theme of the
forthcoming episode. Harry’s mental processes are also the theme of the opening

senser circumstance mental pro. phenomenon

“I always wanted to make a fool of myself in front of Malfoy
“You don’t know you’ll make a fool of yourself

The third-person narrator's omniscient eye is eschewed in favour of viewing

events through Harry’s perception. Consequently he is often present during events in
which he plays little part. In sentence 17 Ron’s agentive actions are framed by a
clause that positions him as medium-target, watched by Harry:

agent medium-t

Harry had caught Ron prodding Dean’s poster of West Ham
football team
agent medium-t

Harry’s perception of events also frames the following dual verbal and mental process

said [unintended addressee] sayer verbal pro.

‘Broken wrist’ Harry heard her mutter
Phenomenon Senser mental pro.

A similar shift to Harry’s perception occurs within the pure narration about Neville’s
inability to fly. Here modality is attributed to Harry rather than the narrator:
“Privately, Harry felt [Neville’s Gran] had good reason”. Similarly, background
information on the unreliable nature of Hogwarts brooms (sentence 41) is conveyed
through gossip Harry has heard from older pupils.
Crucially, there is also ambiguity between pure narration and Harry’s free
indirect thought. Early in the extract it is difficult to attribute the statement “Still,
first-year Gryffindors only had potions with the Slytherins, so they didn't have to put

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
up with Malfoy much” to the narrator or Harry’s FIT, especially as it directly follows
Harry’s mental process in sentence one. Either way, it is a distinctly anti-Slytherin
statement that aligns the reader with Harry and the Gryffindors. The use of ‘Still’
marks the speaker qualifying the preceding statement, by indicating that matters are
not too bad for the first year Gryffindors because they didn't have to see the Slytherins
very often. The use of the cohesive conjunction ‘so’ is also notable. Used instead of
the more general-purpose rejoinder ‘and’, it implies that the Gryffindors ‘naturally’
avoided Malfoy. There is no suggestion that they should try to put up with him, or that
making friends with him would be a positive thing to do. Malofy is portrayed as
unambiguously bad.

2.2 Mildred Hubble as focalizer

As in Harry Potter, Mildred’s focalization is aided by the use of a realist mode that
allows the reader to treat fantastic occurrences as part of everyday life. Take, for
instance, the nominalisation (Knowles, 59) of the fantasy experience of riding a
broomstick as “broomstick riding” in sentence 2. This facilitates the naturalisation of
this particular magic experience as part of the everyday school routine. Also like
Harry Potter, the orientation of all events around the eponym places other characters
in do-er and done-to participant roles in the same instance:

agent medium-t

[Mildred] leaving her kitten chasing a leaf along the ground
Agent medium-t circ

The reader’s alignment with Mildred is also heighened by our sympathies with
her kitten. In the extract kittens are made to resemble their owners using unification
strategies: “it looked as though her kitten was going to have the same trouble” (8).
The narrator claims that “Riding a broomstick was no easy matter” rather than
“difficult”. Phrasing the information this way specifically refutes the position of
Ethel’s cat, turning us against Ethel and towards Mildred. Lexis makes Mildred’s
actions seem more dynamic and engaging. Instead of running “she dived into the
school”. Rather than thinking “An idea flashed into [her] head” (a material process).
Sentences 3 to 7 are overtly instructive, constantly placing the narrator’s
addressee in the position of an agent/medium-i in the hypothetical situation of riding a
broomstick. This brings the reader closer to Mildred's experience, because it

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
encourages readers to regard themselves as the symptomal subject experiencing
broomstick riding, as the addressee, the ‘you’. An entire hypothetical drama involving
the reader is thus enacted: “in which case you would either fall off or find yourself
hanging upside-down and then you would just have to hold on with your skirt over
your head until a friend came to your rescue”8. It is a progression of the idea that
focalization means “the reader's own selfhood is effaced and the reader internalizes
the perceptions and attitudes of the focalizer and is thus reconstituted as a subject
within the text” (Stephens 1992, 68).

2.3 Aligning The Reader With The Gryffindors

In many ways Mildred Hubble is an outsider, constantly fearful of exclusion as
emphasised by the differentiating statement “Everyone else is all right” (14). This is
not the case in Harry Potter’s alignment strategy, which incorporates an entire social
group. Several strategies of symbolic construction using ‘unification’ and
‘differentation’ (Knowles 1996, 47) join together the characters with whom the reader
is supposed to sympathise and those that s/he is meant to despise. The most obvious
of these is the creation of the school houses Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and the binary
opposites ‘good’ Gryffindor and evil ‘Slytherin’. The power struggle between the
latter two houses is emphasised in their speech-acts. When speaking to a member of
the other house conversation is not based on the initiating-act and response system
that Toolan describes as normal conversation (1998, 192) but usually in commands
and counter-commands. Harry's repeats “Give that here, Malfoy” and Malfoy
responds “Come and get it, Potter!” (83) and “Catch it if you can, then” (100) .
Using a macro-linguistic unification strategy the members of Gryffindor or
Syltherin often act as homogenous entities. When Malfoy begins arguing with the
Gryffindors “The other Syltherins joined in” (72). The framing clause after direct
speech is often ellipted, obscuring individual identities and heightening the impression
of two conflicting voices (see various instances between sentences 71 and 77). The
first-year Gryffindors in the following table are cast in the role of a single participant,
often unified using pronouns such as they or them all:

sentence Carrier relational process attribute

2 first-year (only) had Potions with the
Gryffindors Slytherin

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
medium/agent medium-t
2 They didn't have to put up with Malfoy
3 They didn't [have to put up with] [Malfoy much]
They spotted
3 [the notice] made them all groan

Senser mental process. phenomenon

3 They spotted a notice

The Gryffindors add value to Harry's escapade. A rise in social standing is

demonstrable from the evaluative adjective: “an admiring whoop from Ron” (90).
Harry’s daring act differentiates boys and girls for the only time in the extract –
“[Harry heard] screams and gasps of girls back on the ground” (90) – adding an
element of sexual pride to his success.

2.4 Aligning The Reader Against Draco Malfoy

For the reader to successfully identify with Harry they must detest his enemy Malfoy,
the other who must be expurged (Knowles 1996, 57). He is unified with the other
enemy, Harry’s step-brother Dudley, in sentence one. The rather melodramatic
modality of Harrys first mention of Malfoy, commenting “darkly”, heightens his
importance and aligns him with evil. The narrator modalises against him. He does not
simply “take” Neville's Rembrall but does so using a word with stronger connotations
of wrong-doing, “snatched” (32). When Malfoy leaves with his drones/henchmen
(themselves connotating an evil character) the particularly evil-loaded verb “sloped”
is used. Using the evaluative aside “of course” in sentence 24 the narrator takes his
bad nature for granted. These negative characteristics unify him with the other
Slytherins, who are “hard-faced” (74).
Malfoy’s negatively-modalised boastful stories and “gloating” nature are
central in establishing an ideal of humility. In The Worst Witch similar negative
evaluative adjectives enforce this ideal when describing Ethel as “rather smug” (2).
The reader is distanced from Malfoy’s point of view because it is reported only as
indirect speech within Ron’s direct speech: “I know Malfoy’s always going on about
how good he is at Quidditch, but I bet that's all talk” (9). The narrator supports Ron's
point of view in a heavily modalised narrative report of Malfoy’s discoursal act:
“Malfoy certainly did talk about flying a lot” (10). Ron’s boasts are softened in
comparison with Malfoy’s. Where Malfoy attempts to address everybody, speaking
“loudly”, it is implied that nobody really listens to Ron, as the narrator describes his

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
addressee as “anybody who’d listen” (13). Harry is the opposite of Malfoy because he
doesn’t express his opinions about people. Instead, he opines on Neville’s
shortcomings “privately”.
Even the morphology of Malfoy’s name connotates negativity9. Its mal prefix
evokes words of inadequacy such as malcontent, and malnourished. His house,
Slytherin, obviously connotates slithering and relates to their emblum of the snake.
This negativity works either by presupposition (the reader recognises it from other
texts) or as an active propagator of traditional iconography. If s/he already
understands the negative connations held towards snakes in Western culture, from the
Garden of Eden onwards, Malfoy is immediately negative. If, however, the reader is
unaware of the archetypal snake/evil connotation it is established in Malfoy's
detestable actions. The reader can subseqently apply these connotations if they
encounter this archetype in another text.

2.5 Alignment Through Exciting Situations: Differentiating The Fantastic

As has been mentioned, reader-alignment is partly created by placing the eponym in a
similar social situation to the reader, the school. Equally important, however, is the
idea that the eponym is enjoying experiences that the reader never will. In Harry
Potter a macro-linguistic strategy that constantly diffentiates the magical and the
muggle always treats the magical as superior and more exciting. This is done through
the interaction of cohesive lexical chains10 within the boasting patterns:

Pupil Magical Experience Muggle Context

Malfoy flying and “narrowly Muggles in helicopters

Seamus Finnigan flying: “zooming around” around the countryside
– modality heightens
Ron flying (almost hit) a hang-glider
Ron love of Quidditch Dean Thomas’ love of
football, which is
unexciting in comparison
with Quidditch because it
is “a game with only one
ball where no one was
allowed to fly”
Ron expecting photographs to “prodding Dean's poster of
move as they do in the West Ham football team”
magical world

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch

In The Worst Witch a similar idea can be found in condemnation of the non-magical
world as “easy” when Miss Hardbroom condemns Mildred using imagery that
presupposes the reader recognises features of a bicycle: “perhaps it would be even
easier with handlebars and a saddle” (34). This differentation of the magical/fantastic
and the real enforces the possibility of textual verisimilitude. In Stephens’ view (1992,
4) both texts therefore promote a system based on “one-to-one relationship[s] between
objects and their representation [that masks] the processes of textual production of
meaning: representation becomes equated with truth”. Both extracts, therefore,
propagate a strictly orthodox ideology.

3 Ideology
Though neither text seems to operate with an overt political mandate (“intended
surface ideology”), their “passive ideology”11 is particularly significant. Treating
ideology strictly as “relations of dominance” (defined in Knowles 1996, 43) these
extracts do not so much “slant and orientate” themselves towards readers as slant and
orientate readers to the idea that the school is an incontestable institution in which
teachers hold complete power.

3.1 Ideology In Harry Potter

The school provides an underlying fabric of authority in Harry Potter. In the first
paragraph every relational process - those that are incontestable as they describe the
way that things are - is related to school infrastructure:

Carrier rel. pro. attribute circ

first-year Gryffindors had Potions with the Slytherins only
Flying lessons would be starting on Thursday
Gryffindor and Slytherin would be learning together

The information on the notice pinned up in the Gryffindor common room (presumably
put there by a teacher) can be regarded as a non-verbal speech-act. On the surface it
appears to be an inform, simply providing pupils with information. However, Harry's
acknowledgement-style response, “Typical” indicates that it may in fact be a
command. It demands that pupils attend certain lessons on a certain date. In either
case, the teacher's voice is superior as the knower, the addressee as subordinate. The

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
position of the teacher is asserted in eternalisation strategies such as Professor
MacGonagalls’ exclamation “Never- in all my time at Hogwarts”, which presupposes
that she has been at Hogwarts for a much longer time than any pupil.
In Harry Potter 12 material process verbs refer to individual teachers. The
majority, 10, express processes in which she is a “do-er” rather than “done-to”
element. Three of these teacher-dominated processes are transitive, establishing them
as the causer of events that affect other entities or objects.

Sentence Agent Mat. Pro. Medium-t Circumstance

53 Madam Hooch showed them how to mount their
brooms without sliding
off the end
53 Madam Hooch [was] their grip
55. I blow my whistle [when]

Excluding Madam Hooch’s unsurprising dominance over her whistle, both affected
instances are Hogwarts pupils. As Toolan has suggested, “experiential structures with
the sequence agent-material-process-medium-target, where both participants are
human, may be somewhat exceptional” (93). Madam Hooch’s dynamic participant
role affects a whole group rather than individuals, marking her out as being extremely
powerful. She is given absolute authority, “how to mount their broomsticks” is not
modalised, and as such does not allow for the possibility that her demonstration could
be wrong. Indeed, the narrator deems any deviation from Madam Hooch’s system
‘incorrect’; Malfoy “had been doing it wrong” (54). The idea that adults are rightly in
charge is stressed when Harry, with whom we are aligned, regards Neville’s
grandmother’s caution as being “for good reason” (19).
Madam Hooch is attributed with knowledge of absolute truth. We are told that
Neville has broken his wrist not by the narrator but because Harry hears her mutter
this analysis – its validity is never questioned. Neville falling off his broomstick
because he doesn't do what his teacher says is a piece of rationalisation ideology that
justifies teachers’ dominance. Madam Hooch makes requests in the shape of informs,
as though her addressee has no option other than to respond: “Now, when I blow my
whistle, you kick off from the ground, hard” (55). The undmodalised futurity in which
she speaks also indicates that her description is the way that things will be. She has
total, objective authority.

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
At the end of the extract Professor MacGonagall prevents her pupils from
articulating their opinions (the way things really were, enforcing reader-alignment
with the children) in a series of commands: “Be quiet, Miss Patil 12- . . . That's enough
Mr Weasley” (111-112). The sayer of each protestation can only be retrieved from her
interrupting replies. She uses a common adult (especially teacher) technique, referring
to children using their surnames and a premature adult title: “Miss Patil”, “Mr
Weasely”. By talking to them in the language reserved for those who are important,
she stresses their true status and lack of importance. Here, however, we encounter one
of the inherent problems of analysing microtexts. It appears that Professor
MacGonagall has ignored her pupils here, but she may really have understood the true
nature of the situation; instead of punishing Harry after the end of the extract, she
appoints him the youngest ever seeker of his Quidditch team.

3.2 Ideology In The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch stipulates that the correct relation of dominance is teachers above
pupils, and then pupils above their cats. This is reflected in a lexical similarity chain
about ‘commanding’:

you ordered the stick to hover (3)

you could make the stick do almost anything (6)
“listen!” she said severely (11) [to the kitten - more abstract]
“I would remind you that there is a potion test tomorrow morning” (40) (more

Mildred, being “the worst witch” has more difficulty in asserting dominance
over her cat than the other young witches. She initially performs transitive processes
that place her in the position of power:

sentence medium-i/agent medium-t circ.

9 She put it [the kitten] on the broomstick
10 Mildred picked up her kitten

However the situation is reversed in the kitten’s reaction:

sentence medium-i/agent medium-t circ. / instrument

16 The kitten gazed sadly at her [Mildred] on the broomstick
16 [the kitten] Licked her nose with its rough tongue

Teachers are as objectively powerful as in Harry Potter. Three material process verbs

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
refer to Miss Hardbroom (H.P.). She is the ‘do-er’ in all three. However, of the two
transative processes humans (Maud and Mildred) are the affected incidents in only

Agent Mat. Pro. Medium-t Circumstance

I (Miss Hardbroom) would remind You that there is a potions test
tomorrow morning

Perhaps the most significant element of this element is the relational process in the
circumstance position. Like Madam Hooch, Miss Hardbroom does not modalise the
future, enforcing the idea that this future test is an incontestable fact. Maud enforces
the teacher’s dominance in the inform, “That's cheating” (30), which presupposes a
correct way of doing things - the teacher’s way - from which Mildred has deviated.
Miss Hardbroom speaks to the girls with false-politeness that emphasises her
superiority. She refers to Mildred as “my dear” in the same diminutive tone as
Professor MacGonagall did referring to children by their surnames.

3.3 Transgression Of School Authority

This school rules-dominant ideology is, however, challenged to some extent in both
texts. Alignment with Mildred and more importantly the expurgation of the other,
Ethel, demonstrates that there are positive attributes to the transgression of this
system. The undesirable characteristics embodied by Ethel are a high level of skill
(she can ride a broomstick well ) and, later in the story, academic ability since we are
told “Ethel was one of those lucky people for whom everything goes right. She was
always top of the class, her spells always worked, and Miss Hardbroom never made
any icy remarks to her” (1974, 197).
The Harry Potter extract also questions the absoluteness of teacher’s power.
Madam Hooch cannot prevent Neville from injuring himself. Her position as iniator
within her own hypothetical speech – “when I blow my whistle” is reversed in a
prepositional phrase introducing the actual event:

circ. agent. circ

before the whistle had touched Madam Hooch's lips

A lexical cohesive chain of school-style learning is established, and Harry

gradually breaks the rules:

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
[Flying] was something you couldn't learn by heart out of a book (21)
[Hermione] bored them all stupid with flying tips she'd got out of a library book
called Quidditch through the Ages (22)
Hermione’s lecture (23)
[Flying] was something [Harry] could do without being taught – this was easy,
this was wonderful (89)

The narrator’s statement “everybody was very pleased when Hermione’s lecture was
interrupted” presupposes that Hermione’s academic nature is universally disliked. So
does Harry’s transgression of academic authority, with its positive results (the
Remembrall is saved) actually destabilise the prevailing ideology? In fact, it may
simply be a dramatic effect based on the archetypal charm of the rebel for the cause of
good. This transgression, namely that in exceptional circumstances conventional rules
can be broken for overall benefit, can be seen best in terms of Chomsky’s idea of
“fixing the limits of possible thought” (explained in Knowles 1996, 67). It conveys an
attack upon the dominant ideology through the framework of the dominant group,
limiting the possibility of genuinely destabilising ideas about the validity of this

In conclusion, stylistic analysis proves my three assertions: that the narration of Harry
Potter is more complex, that the eponym in both extracts is focalized, and that both
extracts construct a similar conventional ideology. My analysis has its shortcomings,
however. It (and perhaps stylistics in general) does not allow for plurality of reader-
response (Stephens 1992, 4). As Stephens points out "even if (real) audiences were
prepared to adopt the subject position of the implied reader it was not the inevitible
outcome that they also adopted the ideological frame implicit in that position" (1992,
64). Moreover, my findings are purely descriptive, it being difficult to appraise the
significance of my analysis without becoming caught in what Stanley Fish describes
as: “a serious defect in the procedure of stylistics, the absence of any constraint on the
way in which one moves from description to interpretation, with the result that any
interpretation one puts forward is arbitrary” (Weber ed 1996, 96).
My analysis does however raise broader questions about the nature of
children’s literature. Aside from a (generally) more straightforward choice of lexis,
and a tendency towards definiteness rather than ambiguity, it appears to use exactly
the same linguistic strategies as adult literature. Linguistically, then, it is difficult to

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
define why Harry Potter should be any more of a “socialising agent” (Stephens 1992,
9) for children than adult texts are for adult readers. It is also unsurprising that the
series has appealed to so many adults13.

Appendix I

Extract from Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (sentences


1. Harry had never believed he would meet a boy he hated more

than Dudley, but that was before he met Draco Malfoy. 2. Still, first-
year Gryffindors only had Potions with the Slytherins, so they
didn't have to put up with Malfoy much. 3. Or at least, they didn't
until they spotted a notice pinned up in the Gryffindor common
room which made them all groan. 4. Flying lessons would be
starting on Thursday - and Gryffindor and Slytherin would be
learning together.

5. 'Typical,' said Harry darkly. 6.'Just what I always wanted. To make

a fool of myself on a broomstick in front of Malfoy.'

7. He had been looking forward to learning to fly more than any-

thing else.

8. 'You don't know you'll make a fool of yourself,' said Ron rea-
sonably. 9. 'Anyway; I know Malfoy's always going on about how
good he is at Quidditch, but I bet that's all talk.'

10. Malfoy certainly did talk about flying a lot. 11. He complained
loudly about first-years never getting in the house Quidditch
teams and told long, boastful stories which always seemed to end
with him narrowly escaping Muggles in helicopters. 12. He wasn't the
only one, though: the way Seamus Finnigan told it, he'd spent
most of his childhood zooming around the countryside on his
broomstick. 13. Even Ron would tell anyone who'd listen about the
time he'd almost hit a hang-glider on Charlie's old broom.
14. Everyone from wizarding families talked about Quidditch con-
stantly. 15. Ron had already had a big argument with Dean Thomas,
who shared their dormitory, about football. 16. Ron couldn't see what
was exciting about a game with only one ball where no one was
allowed to fly. 17. Harry had caught Ron prodding Dean's poster of
West Ham football team, trying to make the players move.

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
18. Neville had never been on a broomstick in his life, because his
grandmother had never let him near one. 19. Privately, Harry felt
she'd had good reason, because Neville managed to have an extra-
ordinary number of accidents even with both feet on the ground.

20. Hermione Granger was almost as nervous about flying as

Neville was. 21. This was something you couldn't learn by heart out
of a book -not that she hadn't tried. 22. At breakfast on Thursday she
bored them all stupid with flying tips she'd got out of a library
book called Quidditch through the Ages. 23. Neville was hanging on to
her every word, desperate for anything that might help him hang
on to his broomstick later, but everybody else was very pleased
when Hermione's lecture was interrupted by the arrival of the

24. Harry hadn't had a single letter since Hagrid's note, something
that Malfoy had been quick to notice, of course. 25. Malfoy's eagle
owl was always bringing him packages of sweets from home,
which he opened gloatingly at the Slytherin table.

26. A barn owl brought Neville a small package from his grand-
mother. 27. He opened it excitedly and showed them a glass ball the
size of a large marble, which seemed to be full of white smoke.

28. 'It's a Remembrall!' he explained. 29. 'Gran knows I forget things -

this tells you if there's something you've forgotten to do. 30. Look,
you hold it tight like this and if it turns red - oh ...' 31. His face fell,
because the Remembrall had suddenly glowed scarlet, '... you've
forgotten something ...'

32. Neville was trying to remember what he'd forgotten when

Draco Malfoy, who was passing the Gryffindor table, snatched the
Remembrall out of his hand.

33. Harry and Ron jumped to their feet. They were half hoping for
a reason to fight Malfoy, but Professor McGonagall, who could
spot trouble quicker than any teacher in the school, was there in a
34.'What's going on?'
35.'Malfoy's got my Remembrall, Professor.'
36. Scowling, Malfoy quickly dropped the Remembrall back on the
37. Just looking,' he said, and he sloped away with Crabbe and
Goyle behind him.

38. At three-thirty that afternoon, Harry, Ron and the other

Gryffindors hurried down the front steps into the grounds for
their first flying lesson. 39. It was a clear, breezy day and the grass

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
rippled under their feet as they marched down the sloping lawns
towards a smooth lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to the
Forbidden Forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance.
40. The Slytherins were already there, and so were twenty broom-
sticks lying in neat lines on the ground. 41. Harry had heard Fred and
George Weasley complain about the school brooms, saying that
some of them started to vibrate if you flew too high, or always
flew slightly to the left.

42. Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short, grey hair
and yellow eyes like a hawk.
43. 'Well, what are you all waiting for?' she barked. 44. 'Everyone stand
by a broomstick. 45. Come on, hurry up.'
46. Harry glanced down at his broom. 47. It was old and some of the
twigs stuck out at odd angles.
48. 'Stick out your right hand over your broom,' called Madam
Hooch at the front, 'and say; "Up!"'
49. 'UP!' everyone shouted.
50. Harry's broom jumped into his hand at once, but it was one of
the few that did. 51. Hermione Granger's had simply rolled over on
the ground and Neville's hadn't moved at all. 52. Perhaps brooms, like
horses, could tell when you were afraid, thought Harry; there was
a quaver in Neville's voice that said only too clearly that he wanted
to keep his feet on the ground.

53. Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms
without sliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows,
correcting their grips. 54. Harry and Ron were delighted when she
told Malfoy he'd been doing it wrong for years.

55. 'Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground,
hard,' said Madam Hooch. 56. 'Keep your brooms steady, rise a few
feet and then come straight back down by leaning forwards slightly:
57. On my whistle -three -two -,

58. But Neville, nervous and jumpy and frightened of being left on
, ground, pushed off hard before the whistle had touched
Madam Hooch's lips.

59. 'Come back, boy!' she shouted, but Neville was rising straight
, like a cork shot out of a bottle -twelve feet -twenty feet.
60. Harry saw his scared white face look down at the ground falling
away; saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and -
WHAM -a thud and a nasty crack and Neville lay; face down,
on the grass in a heap. 61. His broomstick was still rising higher and
higher and started to drift lazily towards the Forbidden Forest and
out of sight.
62. Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as
63. 'Broken wrist,' Harry heard her mutter. 64. 'Come on, boy -it's all

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
right, up you get.'
65. She turned to the rest of the class.
66. 'None of you is to move while I take this boy to the hospital
wing! 67. You leave those brooms where they are or you'll be out of
Hogwarts before you can say "Quidditch". 68.Come on, dear.'
69. Neville, his face tear-streaked, clutching his wrist, hobbled off
with Madam Hooch, who had her arm around him.

70. No sooner were they out of earshot than Malfoy burst into
71. 'Did you see his face, the great lump ?'
72. The other Slytherins joined in.
73. 'Shut up, Malfoy,' snapped Parvati Patil.
74. 'Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?' said Pansy Parkinson, a
hard-faced Slytherin girl.
75. 'Never thought you'd like fat little cry babies, Parvati.'
76. 'Look!' said Malfoy, darting forward and snatching something
out of the grass. 77. 'It's that stupid thing Longbottom's gran sent

78. The Remembrall glittered in the sun as he held it up.

79. 'Give that here, Malfoy,' said Harry quietly: Everyone stopped
talking to watch.
80. Malfoy smiled nastily.
81. 'I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to collect -how
about -up a tree?'
82. 'Give it here!' Harry yelled, but Malfoy had leapt on to his
broomstick and taken off. 83. He hadn't been lying, he could fly well-
hovering level with the topmost branches of an oak he called,
'Come and get it, Potter!'
84. Harry grabbed his broom.
85. 'No!' shouted Hermione Granger. 86. 'Madam Hooch told us not to
move -you'll get us all into trouble.'
87. Harry ignored her. 88. Blood was pounding in his ears. 89. He mount-
ed the broom and kicked hard against the ground and up, up he
soared, air rushed through his hair and his robes whipped out
behind him -and in a rush of fierce joy he realised he'd found
something he could do without being taught -this was easy, this
was wonderful. 90. He pulled his broomstick up a little to take it even
higher and heard screams and gasps of girls back on the ground
and an admiring whoop from Ron.

91. He turned his broomstick sharply to face Malfoy in mid-air.

92. Malfoy looked stunned.
93. 'Give it here,' Harry called, 'or I'll knock you off that broom!'
94. 'Oh, yeah?' said Malfoy; trying to sneer, but looking worried.
95. Harry knew, somehow, what to do. 96. He leant forward and
grasped the broom tightly in both hands and it shot towards
Malfoy like a javelin. 97. Malfoy only just got out of the way in time;
Harry made a sharp about turn and held the broom steady. A few

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
people below were clapping.

98. 'No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy;' Harry
99. The same thought seemed to have struck Malfoy.
100. 'Catch it if you can, then!' he shouted, and he threw the glass
ball high into the air and streaked back towards the ground.
101. Harry saw, as though in slow motion, the ball rise up in the air
and then start to fall. 102. He leant forward and pointed his broom
handle down -next second he was gathering speed in a steep
dive, racing the ball -wind whistled in his ears, mingled with the
screams of people watching - he stretched out his hand - a foot
from the ground he caught it, just in time to pull his broom
straight, and he toppled gently on to the grass with the
Remembrall clutched safely in his fist.


104. His he art sank faster than he'd just dived. 105. Professor
McGonagall was running towards them. 106. He got to his feet, trem-
107. 'Never- in all my time at Hogwarts -'
108. Professor McGonagall was almost speechless with shock, and
her glasses flashed furiously, '- how dare you -might have broken
your neck -,
109. 'It wasn't his fault, Professor -'
110. 'Be quiet, Miss Patil-'
111. 'But Malfoy -
112. 'That's enough, Mr Weasley. Potter, follow me, now.'

Appendix II

Extract from The Worst Witch by Jill Murray (sentences numbered)

1. Almost all the first-year witches were in

the yard trying to persuade their puzzled
kittens to sit on their broomsticks. 2. Several
were already clinging on by their claws,
and one kitten, belonging to a rather smug
young witch named Ethel, was sitting bolt
upright cleaning its paws, as if it had been
broomstick riding all its life !

3. Riding a broomstick was no easy

matter, as I have mentioned before. 4. First,
you ordered the stick to hover, and it
hovered lengthways above the ground.
5. Then you sat on it, gave it a sharp tap,
and away you flew. 6. Once in the air you
could make the stick do almost anything

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
by saying', 'Right! Left! Stop! Down a
bit! ' and so on. 7. The difficult part was
balancing, for if you leaned a little too far
to one side you could easily overbalance,
in which case you would either fall off or
find yourself hanging upside-down and
then you would just have to hold on with
your skirt over your head until a friend
came to your rescue.

8. It had taken Mildred several weeks of

falling off and crashing before she could
ride the broomstick reasonably well, and
it looked as though her kitten was going to
have the same trouble. 9. When she put it on
the end of the stick, it just fell off without
even trying to hold on. 10. After many
attempts, Mildred picked up her kitten
and gave it a shake.

11. 'Listen! ' she said severely. 12. 'I think I

shall have to call you Stupid. 13. You don't
even italic try to hold on. 14. Everyone else is all
right look at all your friends.'

16. The kitten gazed at her sadly and licked

her nose with its rough tongue.

17. 'Oh, come on,' said Mildred, softening'

her voice. 18. ' I'm not really angry with you.
Let s try again.'
19. And she put the kitten back on the
broomstick, from which it fell with a thud.

20. Maud was having' better luck. 21. Her

kitten was hanging on grimly upside

21. 'Oh, well,' laughed Maud. 22. ' It's a start.'

23. Mine's useless,' said Mildred, sitting"
on the broomstick for a rest.
24. 'Never mind,' Maud said. 25. 'Think how
hard it must be for them to hang on by
their claws.'
26. An idea flashed into Mildred's head,
and she dived into the school, leaving her
kitten chasing a leafalong the ground and
the broomstick still patiently hovering.
27.She came out carrying her satchel which
she hooked over the end of the broom and

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch
then bundled the kitten into it. 28. The
kitten's astounded face peeped out of the
bag as Mildred flew delightedly round the

29. 'Look, Maud!' she called from ten feet

up in the air .
30. 'That's cheating! ' said Maud, looking
at the satchel.
31. Mildred flew back and landed on the
ground laughing.
32. ' I don't think H.B. will approve,' said
Maud doubtfully.
33. 'Quite right, Maud,' an icy voice
behind them said. 34.' Mildred, my dear ,
possibly it would be even easier with
handlebars and a saddle.'
35. Mildred blushed.
36. 'I'm sorry, Miss Hardbroom,' she mut-
tered. 37.' It doesn't balance very well -my
kitten, so. ..I thought. ..perhaps. ..'
38. Her voice trailed away under Miss Hard-
broom's stony glare and Mildred
unhooked her satchel and turned the
bewildered kitten on to the ground.
39. ' Girls! ' Miss Hardbroom clapped her
hands. ' 40. I would remind you that there is
a potion test tomorrow morning. 41. That is

42. So saying, she disappeared - literally.

43. 'I wish she wouldn't do that,' whis-
pered Maud, looking at the place where
their form-mistress had been standing.
44. 'You're never quite sure whether she's gone or not.
45. 'Right again, Maud,' came Miss Hard-
broom's voice from nowhere.
46. Maud gulped and hurried back to her

Candidate 316773 Stylistics Second Assessed Essay Depicting Children To A Child
Readership in Harry Potter and The Worst Witch

Sources Cited

Hoey, Michael 1991 Patterns Of Lexis In Text Oxford: Oxford Univ.Press

Kennedy, C 1982 "Systematic Grammar And Its Use In Literary Analysis" in Carter, R
ed 1982 Language & Literature London: Allen & Unwin

Knowles, G.M. & Malmkjaer, M.K. (1996) Language & Control in Children's
Literature London: Routeledge

Lodge, David "Repetition In The Novel" in Page, Norman ed 1984 The Language Of
Literature Macmillan: London & Basingstoke

Murphy, Jill 1978 The Worst Witch (1974 Allison & Busby) Suffolk: Puffin

Rowling, J.K 1997 Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone London: Bloomsbury

Stephens, J 1992 Language & Ideology In Children's Fiction London and New York:

Toolan, Michael 1998 Language In Literature: An Introduction to Stylistics, London:


Weber, Jean Jacques 1996 The Stylistic Reader: From Roman Jakobson to the Present
London and New York: Arnold

Zipes, Jack Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children's Literature from
Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter New York and London: Routledge

Defined in Stephens as the perceptual point of view: the vantage point from which something is
represented as being visualised. “The point of noticing who is the text's focalizer at any given moment
is tied up with attitude-making and the credence we give as readers to what the text offers” (1992, 27).
Namely processes & participants, cohesion, modality and attitude, recording speech and thought, lexis,
speech acts and presupposition.
3 Defined by Stephens (1992. 57): “A subject position is frequently constituted as the same as that
occupied by a main character from whose perspective events are presented, that is, readers will identify
with the character”
Defined by Stephens as “books which purport to help children confront and deal with specific
problems in their lives” (1992, 9).
Defined in Stephens (1992, 55): “The implication for audiences of literary fiction is that they will, as
part of the reading process, invoke an ‘appropriate’ subject position from past experience, which may
correspond to a lesser or greater degree with experiences described in the text, or else they will either
be inscribed as a subject position ready-made within the text or construct a subject position from
materials to hand in the text. . . the ‘implied’ reader thus tends to blend into a notion of an ‘ideal’
reader, the reader who will best actualize a book’s potential meanings”.
“any attempt to alter the mental state of another human being [the reader] is most successful where
there is already a coincidence between mental states” (Stephens 1992, 68)
David Lodge: “the most frequently recurring word in a given text is not necessarily the most
significant word” (1984, 78)
Interestingly, the “skirt over your head” clause implies that the reader is female, yet The Worst Witch is
certainly appeals to both male and female audiences. There is ripe material her for feminist stylistic
analysis. All the characters are female, apart from the very top of the magical hierarchy, “the chief
wizard” who makes a brief appearance (page 66) and is a man.
See Zipes (2001, 181) for similar analysis of the name Voldemort
Hasan’s term, denoting that the recognition of coherence in a text partly lies in cohesive ties forming
chains that interact with each other (defined in Hoey 1991, 8)
Defined by Hollindale in Stephens 1992, 10.
Stephens notes the rise of multiculturalism in children's books from the 1970s onwards (1992, 51). The
creation of this ‘politically correct’ character – a girl called Parvati Patil – fails its principle aim
however by focalizing her through the perspective of a ‘majority culture’ (Harry and his white circle of
close friends). Her presence only serves to enforce that she is a token ‘other’. Zipes feels that the novel
is also sexist (2001, 178) though there is little evidence for this in my extract.
This also, of course, has a lot to with marketing as Zipes (2001) has pointed out, and with the different
adult covers of the series, but this is not the place for an infrastructural critique.