Developing empathy through fantasy literature: A comparative analysis of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
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The purpose of this thesis is to investigate possible connections between fantasy literature and the development and fostering of empathy. At the same time, I explore how this may contribute to promoting the ideas, values, and aims represented in the Norwegian national curriculum (LK20). After a brief introduction to empathetic systems and their development, I draw connections between literature, empathy, and ethics. In my analysis, I investigate how the narrative elements of plot, characters, and point of view may relate to empathy in two fantasy novels. The thesis provides a comparative close reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. The findings show that the narrative elements foster empathy through factors such as identification with characters or events, bonding with the narrative and its characters, the suspension of disbelief, and fantastic events making a safe place for children to experience and explore their own and others’ emotions. These factors may contribute to aims of the Norwegian national curriculum related to developing an identity, social and intercultural competence, critical thinking, and compassion for others, as well as creativity and imagination. As shown through the discussion of the novels and the national curriculum, there is strong potential in using fantasy literature for developing important aspects of children’s social and psychological systems.
Master i grunnskolelærerutdanning 1. -7. trinn, engelsk. Høgskulen på Vestlandet, campus Bergen