From fundamentalist views that wish to ban the books for their use of magic, to perspectives that the books are a modern-day expression of good Christianity, controversy around the rhetorical implications of faith in Harry Potter has become critical to the culture of the book. With its focus on these questions of religious rhetoric in Rowling’s texts, this article centers specifically on the theological thread that runs through C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Harry Potter series. Lewis’s deeply embedded use of the trilemma “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?” — the question that haunts Narnia as Edmund plays the Judas to Aslan’s existence and resurrection — also winds its way through the unfolding plot of the Harry Potter series. Rowling’s narrative, however, takes its own rhetorical path. Defying and confusing traditionally stark boundaries between good and evil, mortal and immortal, Harry Potter is not the tidy story of clear ideological divisions. Rather, Rowling’s use of Lewis’s trilemma serves to complicate and illustrate the dialectic of faith and doubt, as well as the moral complexities of “good” and “evil,” in order to address an audience not necessarily Christian, but decidedly human.
Harry Potter, Rowling, Lewis, Christian rhetoric, trilemma, Rhetoric and Composition
Copyright © 2011 Rebecca Ingalls
Recommended CitationIngalls, Rebecca. "The Trilemma Revised: Harry Potter and a Landscape of Moral Uncertainty." Poroi 7, Iss. 1 (2011): Article 7.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.13008/2151-2957.1063