A lot of media in speculative fiction has characters with magical powers, and those characters are often introduced in opposition to characters with no magical powers whatsoever. Think of the X-Men, whose powers are an allegory for discrimination and prejudice in the real world. When a universe has both powered and non-powered people, the story should, at some point, discuss the implications of a world where one side has an inherent ability to do something that the other side will never be able to do. Unfortunately, many stories never venture into the conflict between powered and non-powered people, and the ones that do don’t manage it very well.
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Magical Mondays: Magic as Allegory
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about authors who use their novels as religious allegories, but many authors also use various magical diseases and abilities as a stand-in for many touchy political or personal issues.
In J.K. Rowling’s case, she switched out a real disease for an imaginary one: lycanthropy. The werewolves that populate Harry Potter were meant to be an allegory for the real-life suffering of people with HIV and AIDS, who, up until recently, were treated with contempt and suspicion by the general populace due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what caused the disease and what the disease did. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s Remus Lupin’s life in a nutshell. In the 2008 court case between JKR and Steve Vander Ark over the HP Lexicon, Rowling said:
I know that I’ve said publicly that Remus Lupin was supposed to be on the H.I.V. metaphor. It was someone who had been infected young, who suffered stigma, who had a fear of infecting others, who was terrified he would pass on his condition to his son. And it was a way of examining prejudice, unwarranted prejudice towards a group of people. And also, examining why people might become embittered when they’re treated that unfairly.