In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione Granger is troubled by the fact that House Elves are treated like slaves, and she is determined to do something about it. She organizes the S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare) campaign to improve the plight of House Elves and grant them equal rights.
In this Learning Activity appropriate for grades 8-12, students identify aspects of Hermione’s experience that are also reflected in the stories of Americans whose real-life activism prompted major social change.
What is social change?
Social change is defined as a change in attitudes and behaviors that determine how people relate to each other in a society. In order for social change to occur, the proposed change must be appealing to a wide audience, and that audience must view the change as necessary.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione campaigned for social change in the form of new wizarding-world policy that would free House Elves from slavery. She had the tough task of convincing other students—and even some of the House Elves themselves—that such change was necessary. She spoke one-on-one with Hogwarts classmates, developed a slogan and used promotional materials such as buttons in order to advance the campaign. Some of her Hogwarts professors—such as Minerva McGonagall—were supportive of the cause, while others—such as Severus Snape—were not. The non-violent campaign never made it to the level of large rallies or demonstrations, nor did it make it to the level of Headmaster Dumbledore’s attention. While she experienced limited success, Hermione serves as an example of good social change strategies.
Here are eight key lessons that Hermione’s experience can teach us about social change:
Hermione’s actions reflect those of real individuals who have organized to right perceived wrongs throughout history. Some of the more famous examples of social change took place in the United States during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
Options for Student Activities
Students use each activity to reflect, either orally or in written form, on how Hermione’s eight lessons are exemplified by the experiences of real-life Civil Rights activists.
Extending the Activities