Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is an all around amazing book, but perhaps my very favourite thing about it is its inclusion of time travel as a plot mechanic during the final act. I love time travel more than is probably healthy, so to see it show up in my favourite series of novels is a dream. But I love time travel for more than just its ability to provide crazy plots. I have long stood by time travel as a form of communicating depth and emotion through a variety of means. I find that time travel provides the perfect mechanic for allowing characters to reflect on themselves, their pasts or their histories. Back to the Future, for example, is a time travel movie, but the time travel is mostly used as a device to let Marty see what his parents were really like as teenagers, as well as discover some of his own courage. Similarly, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban uses time travel to create an emotional climax for Harry.
Rowling begins to weave in her third act time travel twist right from the start. Hermione is taking more classes than logic allows. She disappears and re-appears at random points before, during and after classes. It doesn’t make any sense, but in reality this is Rowling setting up the device she will properly introduce later. Amazingly, she doesn’t just limit the set-up to pure foreshadowing. Hermione is using her Time Turner to get to all her classes, but it takes a huge toll on her. She has always been a girl striving to learn as much as possible, and some of that might be overcompensating for not coming from a magical family, or maybe its just that her lack of magical background makes her that much more interested in that world. Whatever the motivations, Hermione is a major overachiever. In the real world Hermione might just take extra classes, night courses, summer courses and do all kinds of extra-curricular activities to soak in all she can. In Rowling’s universe time travel enables Hermione’s personality; she incorporates magical concepts to explore facets of Hermione, and later she uses the same concepts get into Harry’s mind. Click to read more