“The Uncanny” In The Prisoner Of Azkaban

In Sigmund Freud’s essay, “The Uncanny,” he says within the middle portion of his essay that, “I will say at once that both courses lead to the same result: the uncanny is that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar.” Freud aims throughout his essay, to analyze this theme of our unconscious reminding us of our repressions. Freud discusses an idea he refers to as, “heimlich,” and its opposite “unheimlich.” Freud explains how heimlich in turn “becomes to be unheimlich,” and its so, because “on one hand it means what is familiar and agreeable, and on the other, what is concealed and kept out of sight.” (826) Freud ends this section of his essay by concluding, that “everything is unheimlich that ought to have remained secret and hidden but has come to light.” With this comes the input of this theory to J.K Rowling’s The Prisoner Of Azkaban.

The general feeling of uneasy is what makes the Harry Potter series what it is. Harry has so much that he doesn’t know, and its this crucial aspect of uncanniness, that creates a very dark, mysterious feel to the entire series. The danger feeling of unease, and imminent danger weighs heavy throughout the entire storyline. I believe J.K Rowling had some sort of background knowledge about this technique of illustrating uncanniness within her story. The audience is made to believe that the dementors are exactly what they are said to be, that being the protectors of Azkaban. Harry isn’t the only individual who is being conditioned here. Harry has many experiences with the dementors that proves the opposite of what is being conditioned upon him. The dementors serve as the obvious contradiction that Freud discussed above. The dementors on one side, demonstrate something seemingly harmless, but when evidence proves otherwise, they become something beyond what we are told. The dementors become the unconscious repressions that Harry struggles with throughout the entire series. The dementors although a significant illustration of the uncanny, are not the only example.


Another key aspect of uncanniness throughout the story can be seen through the reveal of Sirius Black. He is a prisoner to Harry, and the audience, but just like the twist with the dementors, there’s a twist here as well. Sirius is revealed as an actually good natured guy as well as a bigger reveal of being Harry’s godfather. What’s also revealed is that Sirius is also an Animagus. It’s Siriu’s presumed “bad nature,” that sets the tone for the heimlich/unheimlich effect. Everyone fears this man, but he in fact is of good nature, and as a result becomes a close ally to Harry. The illustration of the uncanny here, is within the character of Sirius Black, and his contradictory portrayal. Like a lot of aspects throughout the series though, the exact opposite is later revealed, and the plot changes in this way. 0a4a7df0-e227-0133-1faa-0e1a8cd64d33

Of course there are many more examples of uncanniness through the novel, and the entire series, but these two struck me as the most significant within the framework of this particular novel. This brings me back to my introduction, and ties into my conclusion when I say that, I believe J.K Rowling was aware of the concept of uncanniness when writing the novel. There are too many illustrations of uncanniness for it to be merely coincidence. I want to conclude the blog by saying how the series is without a doubt cut short of it’s true nature, and potential without the input of uncanniness and eeriness. It’s this factor that makes the series such an enjoyable experience. 45f2e5192d87ae6f01541dc87a744365.jpg


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