Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Laura Nicosia

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka

Committee Member

Jeffrey Gonzalez


This study focuses on the perceptions of gender and its expressions in the Harry Potter series, primarily regarding the adult female characters in the novels. Through the Harry Potter novels, J. K. Rowling asserts her belief that women must fit into a traditional role that a heteronormative society dictates or else they are not a “true” woman. Rowling’s recent public transphobic statements also lend credence to this heteronormative perspective. This phenomenon is seen through the analysis of the “good” adult female characters—Lily Potter, Molly Weasley, and Minerva McGonagall. Their treatment in the text differs from the “bad” adult female characters—Dolores Umbridge, Rita Skeeter, and Olympe Maxime. Literary scholars Tison Pugh and David L. Wallace’s “Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series” provides a framework for this thesis in that they outline the traditional structures within Rowling’s world—home, school, and government. The structures are utilized to examine the female character’s roles, and how they obey or defy the men within these systems. I conclude that the Harry Potter novels and their portrayal and treatment of “good” and “bad” women can influence how young readers view other female characters in the series and in other texts, as well as women and womanhood in their real lives.

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