Abstract

This paper uses Game Theory as a theoretical framework to analyse the war strategies of Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter during the Harry Potter series (Rowling 19972007). Over the course of the series, Dumbledore's Prisoner's Dilemma creates a zero-sum Game that relies on the ignorance of the people his Game is built around; namely, Harry Potter. Harry's knowledge of himself is deliberately limited by Dumbledore, which establishes Harry as the embodiment of Dumbledore's equilibria rather than as an active player with agency. Harry Potter reclaims his agency and personhood after his death and subsequent return to life, and he does this by adopting a Stag Hunt Game strategy, which empowers both himself and his opponent, Lord Voldemort. This paper argues that the Harry Potter series constructs the limitation of agency and the ignorance of young characters negatively, regardless of the potential good it could serve society. By contrast, Harry Potter's cooperative Game strategy is empowering both to society and to other people because it provides them with the means to make informed decisions and exercise productive agency.

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