Thursday, October 30, 2003

Born a House-Elf;
Born a Slave

Note: Part III. of Prejudice and Discord in the Magical World. However, each part also stands alone as its own post.

"Not spew," said Hermione impatiently. "It's S-P-E-W. Stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare."
"Never head of it," said Ron.
"Well, of course you haven't," said Hermione briskly, "I've only just started it."
"Yeah?" said Ron in mild surprise. "How many members have you got?"
"Well - if you two join - three," said Hermione.
"And you think we want to walk around wearing badges saying 'spew' do you?" said Ron.
"S-P-E-W!" said Hermione hotly. "I was going to put Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status - but it wouldn't fit. So that's the heading of our manifesto."
She brandished the sheaf of parchment at them.
"I've been researching it thoroughly in the library. Elf enslavement goes back centuries. I can't believe no one's done anything about it before now."
"Hermione - open your ears," said Ron loudly. "They. Like. It. They like being enslaved!"
Book Four, Page 224, US Edition

One of the great things about Ron and Hermione is their tendency to argue about nearly everything. From this, the audience is able to get two opposing sides on issues found throughout the books, without having to worry about a good vs. evil approach. When it comes to elf enslavement, Ron and Hermione are actually arguing Aristotelian philosophy. That is to say, philosophy as set forth by Aristotle. Aristotle was a teleological thinker. In other words, he believed that everything that was natural had a purpose. In his book, Aristotle Politics, Aristotle discuses the issue of slavery and whether or not it is a natural state for some people, or a conventional state (created by man). This can be seen in the Harry Potter series as Ron arguing for slavery as natural (it makes them happy) and Hermione arguing for slavery as conventional (forced by wizards).

Spawning from these two arguments, Rowling presents the reader with a deeper and more complicated conundrum. Should house-elfs be slaves? Should all house-elfs receive payments? How ethical is wizard-kinds treatment of elfs and how does this treatment affect both groups? The areas that Ron and Hermione disagree on are important, and at the heart of the issue. Ron is perfectly okay with Winky working for free; Hermione seems to view this as a travesty.

In the end, the question of natural vs. conventional comes down to the ethics of slavery. Should slavery be allowed? Should house-elfs be granted rights, even if they don't want them? Who is right? Or is the real answer embedded between both of their ways of thinking? Despite Ron and Hermione coming from two ends of the spectrum, the audience can conjecture that there are areas they can agree on. For instance, they would probably agree that the Malfoys had no right to treat Dobby the way that he did. In this post, I will analyze both Ron and Hermione's arguments for and against slavery. I will also delve into the deeper enigma regarding the different problems and solutions plaguing the house-elfs.

First, let us look at Ron's (and most wizards) arguments for elf enslavement. Where do his ideas apply and when do they not apply in the house-elf paradigm? It is clear that Ron, Hagrid, and others believe that it would be an injustice to force elf rights upon house-elfs that don't want them. But why don't elfs have these rights in the first place? Again, Ron is subscribing to Aristotelian thinking. He believes that house-elfs are slaves because that is the purpose in life that makes them the most happy. If they are happy, and they want to serve, why take this away from them?

The problem with this way of thinking goes back to the labeling idea. Ron is classifying all house-elfs into a category of people that must enjoy slavery. Yet, we see that there are house-elfs who are not happy with this lot in life. Dobby cheered when he was freed from the Malfoy family. Kreacher was proud to serve the Blacks, until that meant being bound to serve Sirius. I'm sure Ron doesn't mind Dobby being free; in fact, he is probably all for it. Yet Ron remains indifferent to the idea that there may be other house-elfs out there that do want to be free.

"Sirius did not hate Kreacher," said Dumbledore. "He regarded him as a servant unworthy of much interest or notice. Indifference and neglect often do much more damage that outright dislike..."
Book Five, Page 834, US Edition

"I warned Sirius when we adopted twelve Grimmauld Place as our headquarters that Kreacher must be treated with kindness and respect. I also told him that Kreacher could be dangerous to us. I do not think that Sirius took me very seriously, or that he ever saw Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human's-"
Book Five, Page 832, US Edition

This indifference, for many wizards (not necessarily Ron), also translates into neglect and abuse. Aristotle said that slaves were defined by their purpose, being an animate tool. This means that a slave is just that, a tool. This problem has shown throughout world history. African descendents were often seen as tools for plantations or other work, and never as men. For this reason, some people had no qualms about beating them or keeping them in slavery. The same is true for wizards. Many only see house-elfs as merely tools. They do not recognize a person with feelings, but see an object that needs to serve well. For this reason, they abuse these creatures.

House-elfs do not merely serve, some are treated maliciously by their indifferent masters. Look at how Malfoy treated Dobby. Look at how Crouch treated Winky. Some house-elfs see the families they serve as their own family, and what are many of them given in return? Not a family with love, but neglect and abuse. Many do not share in this, but enough do that something should be done. Take a look at Winky.

"My poor Mr. Crouch, what is he doing without Winky? He is needing me, he is needing my help! I is looking after the Crouches all my life, and my mother is doing it before me, and my grandmother is doing it before her . . .oh what is they saying if they knew Winky was freed? Oh the shame, the shame!" She buried her face in her skirt again and bawled.
Book Four, Page 381, US Edition

From this paragraph we can see the attachment that Winky had to Mr. Crouch and his family. She saw her servitude as a service to take care of them, almost like a mother figure. Yet, Crouch is quick to give her clothes. It is true that he sweeps his own son aside, as well, but I still believe that Crouch's actions are similar to how many wizards look at and treat house-elfs. They're simply tools that move around, not people with feelings. Now that she has been abandoned, we see that Winky does have acute emotions. She becomes a drunk because she cannot handle a life where she is disowned by her family.

Another example of wizards forgetting about house-elfs as sentient life with feelings and rights, comes from Kreacher's name. It's not exactly a far leap to find the name "creature" in it. As Dumbledore explains to Harry, Kreacher is what he has been made by wizards treating him as though he were only a creature.

The argument that slavery is natural, and therefore okay, can only go so far. How can one determine which house-elfs are willing slaves, and which ones are forced? What about the severe mistreatment of elfs by wizards. Ron, Hagrid, and others may not want to stand up with Hermione to free the elfs, and in some ways they are justified, but I do believe that they should at least fight against the malicious treatment of the elfs. They should also stand up for the rights for those who do not want to be slaves.

Second, let us look at Hermione's arguments against slavery, and what she plans to do to improve the house-elfs way of life.

"Oh for heaven's sake!" Hermione cried. "Listen to me, all of you! You've got just as much right as wizards to be unhappy! You've got the right to wages and holidays and proper clothes, you don't have to do everything you're told - look at Dobby!"
"Miss will please keep Dobby out of this," Dobby mumbled, looking scared. The cheery smiles had vanished from the faces of the house-elfs around the kitchen. They were suddenly looking at Hermione as though she were mad and dangerous.
"We has your extra food!" squeaked an elf at Harry's elbow, and he shoved a large ham, a dozen cakes, and some fruit into Harry's arms. "Good-bye!"
Book Four, Page 539, US Edition

It is easy for those people that subscribe to western thoughts and ideologies to believe that Hermione is right. We come from a society that strives to be egalitarian and capitalistic, believing that everyone has a right to decent wages, days off, and material comforts. Perhaps, in many ways, everyone should have a right to them. However, we can see from the house-elfs reactions that they do not subscribe to a similar ideology and are offended at Hermione's suggestions. Why? Shouldn't they be happy to secure equal rights for their entire race?

The problem with Hermione's argument is that she wants to enforce her own culture on the house-elfs. If the elfs are happy as slaves, she should not force them out of their position. Their culture is to serve, so let them serve. She is wrong to try and force them to accept wages and time off, because they don't want wages and time off. However, she is right in noticing that the house-elfs are in a predicament and they need help.

As we have already seen, house-elfs are often treated horribly. Laws that protect house-elfs by banning beating, unusual cruelty, and so forth, are needed. Also, some kind of campaign does need to be set forth to ensure that wizards come to regard house-elfs as a people and not a set of tools. Also, laws that allow a house-elf to be set free on it's own accord, are also important. If an elf such as Dobby wishes to leave his masters, he should always have that right.

The truth is that the matter goes much deeper than laws and choices. Hermione raises an interesting point by saying that slavery is wizard made.

"They think they've got the best job in the world-" (George Weasley on house-elfs)
"That's because they're uneducated and brainwashed!" Hermione began hotly,...
Book Four, Page 239, US Edition

If house-elfs are brainwashed, than the question on slavery is more complicated. Are house-elfs choosing slavery because they like it, or because they have been made to like it? There have been a number of hints within the books that suggest that more than just will-full servitude is going on. For instance, Dumbledore does mention enchantments that are in play.

"He (Kreacher) was bound by the enchantments of his kind, which is to say that he could not disobey a direct order from his master, Sirius." (said by Dumbledore to Harry)
Book Five, Page 831, US Edition.

From this line it is impossible to tell whether these are enchantments house-elfs have imposed on themselves, or on others. However, it seems to me that if it was imposed by house-elfs, Kreacher would have found a way to break past the enchantments. I would not be surprised if house-elfs were originally forced into slavery by wizards through enchantments. Therefore, Hermione's response may not be as unfounded as it seems.

If house-elfs are under enchantments, the first step to helping them would be to make these enchantments illegal. Then, over time, if house-elfs choose to leave their masters, than they may. Perhaps this is my western ideology talking, but loyalty shouldn't be forced.

The reason that the house-elfs are so angry with Hermione is that she wants to change their way of life, a way of life they enjoy, for whatever reason there may be. Hermione is wrong to try and force this life away from them. However, she is right in trying to help them find recognition among wizards. Dumbledore is right about the terrible damage abuse and neglect can leave in their path.

There are still deeper questions that must be asked with house-elfs. There are hints within the books that house-elfs are much more powerful beings than one might think at first sight. Perhaps this spawns from a pre-slavery condition. Look at Dobby. He can do magic without a wand. Not just little magic either. Look at everything he did in book two from the rogue bludger to stopping the barrier for platform 9 3/4. What could Dobby do with a wand? I believe that there is a genuine fear among wizards on what a house-elf who is free and armed with a wand can do. Remember how much trouble Winky was in for just holding Harry's wand?

"Yeah," said Mr. Diggory, "and she had a wand."
What?" said Mr. Weasley.
"Here, look." Mr. Diggory held up a wand and showed it to Mr. Weasley. "Had it in her hand. So that's clause three of the Code of Wand Use broken, for a start.
No non-human creature is permitted to carry or use a wand."
Book Four, Page 132, US Edition

It is this scene in the forest that leads to Mr. Crouch setting Winky free. We also learn that all non-human creatures are not allowed to hold wands. Why? Are wizards afraid of what the "magical brethren" can do to them? Add this potential power to a house-elfs stealth (remember the mark of a good house-elf is not to be seen (182).), and it is no wonder that wizards may fear house-elfs. Keeping them happy under enslavement is one way to ignore and keep in check a possible threat. However, the way that they treat elfs may also be part of the wizards undoing. One only has to look at Kreacher to see this possibility.

Another problem with the house-elfs stems from within their own community. This is the shame factor. Dobby is looked down on by other house-elfs for wanting pay. They believe that all house-elfs should be happy as long as they have work. For this reason they also look down on Winky. This is another example of labeling, only this time self-imposed. The shame factor is something that Hermione should work on as part of helping the elfs. It will make all of her other work more difficult to achieve until it is dealt with. The shame factor can be a strong inhibiting force.

One also has to question why house-elfs have this shame factor. Is it a sign of pride or fear? I think a little of both. House-elfs take honest pride in the work that they do. As a race, they feel that receiving payment for it only undermines their work. However, it may also contain a fear of what will the cruel master do if he finds out house-elfs are asking for paying? Will it cause all house-elfs to lose all their jobs? Will this be the first step towards a revolution that many house-elfs will want nothing to do with? It is something worth thinking about.

Where will Rowling go with house-elfs in later books? I'm not sure. I don't see a full liberation about to take place, but I wouldn't be surprised if the house-elfs start to rebel. If Hermione can start focusing on improving house-elf rights within their own culture, she may be able to make a lot of ground in helping them get passed the label of "slaves" or "tools". Ron, Hagrid, and others that have shown disapproval at S-P-E-W might be more inclined to help if the focus was more aimed at helping improve living conditions as opposed to capitalist ways of life. Whatever direction it does go, it is clear that the house-elfs are a great example of how labeling and indifference can increase the discord within the magical community.

It is important to remember that the plight of the house-elfs is not uncommon in our own world. Wherever slavery exists, the same questions must be answered. In the United States, slaves had to break through many barriers before they could be freed. These barriers included fighting accusations that slavery was in their nature or fighting the shame that came with dissent. Rowlings' world is often a mirror for our own, with magic representing our own technology. The political and social issues that Rowling raises are found in our own world, and we would be wise to learn from her. That being said, let's continue to the next phase of the thesis.

Table of Contents for Prejudice and Discord in the Magical World

Great Literature Discussion

New Poll ---> Hermione is winning

Introduce yourself

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Poll Results and Mark Evans Post

As I write this post, 31 people have already voted in the poll! The winner is none other than Mark Evans. He is an interesting puzzle piece that we know very little about. Still, look below for the Mark Evans Post. Vote in the new poll.
I am still writing the longer Discord in the Magical World post, but as it is extremely long I'm only posting up piece by piece for a while. Truly, it's about 30 pages when finished. Each individual post is much smaller and easy to read. It is so long because I am convinced that Harry Potter is only partially a book about Good vs. Evil and that prejudice is the wider theme that the books tackle. As for the next part of the post, Living a Lie, you can look forward to information on Umbridge (her bigotry against the centaurs), Hermione and SPEW (is she right or wrong?), and goblins (just who are they?).

I will write other posts inbetween so there will be a variety of ideas showing up on this site. Today: Mark Evans. Coming soon: Neville Longbottom.

Slightly edited for clarification.

The Mysterious Mark Evans

If you only read book five once, than it is unlikely that you noticed the ghost character named Mark Evans. If you were, however, reading carefully or on your second or third time, the name sticks out like a black eye. It's a quick sentence or two in the book, nothing more. The question is whether or not it is a red-herring or a mysterious piece in solving the enigma that is the Harry Potter books.

(Harry to Dudley)
"So who've you been beating up tonight?" Harry asked, his grin fading. "Another ten-year-old? I know you did Mark Evans two nights ago-"
Book Five, Page 13, US Edition

While this may be a short sentence, it does contain a lot of information. First, a kid that lives close enough for Dudley to beat up, shares Harry's mother and aunt's last name. Second, the kid is ten-years-old. Third, (we learn a few lines later)the kid has enough guts to insult Dudley, a fifteen-year-old wrestling menace. The question that now must be tackled is What implications does the introduction of this character have on the remaining story line?

Examining each item in detail may help shed more light on the conundrum.

Why Mark Evans

The first possibility that comes to mind is that this name is a wild goose chase. Rowling has admitted to putting red-herrings in her books and Evans is a common last name. The greatest evidence for this in the books is Harry's non-chalant way of saying his name. He is angry, concentrating mainly on Dudley and Dudley's aggression. He doesn't even think about what someone living close to him, with that name, could mean. If Harry thought this might be important, the question should have haunted him. Then again, this assumes that Harry already knows that his mom's last name was Evans. I can't recall if he learns her maiden name at any earlier point in the books. However, one would think that since he lived with the Dursley's for fifteen years, he would know his aunt's maiden name. Yet, we also know that Harry's knowledge of the Dursley's is limited and he might not have picked up on this important piece of information. It is more likely that Harry knows the last name, but that still makes us wonder why he doesn't question who Mark Evans is at any point. Maybe we just missed him going over the necessary thought processes. (Convenient for Rowling anyways.) Another large piece of evidence against Mark Evans being a relative, is that Dumbledore has said time and again that the Dursley's are Harry's only living relatives.

From now on, let's assume that the name "Evans" is important. Now where does this lead us to? Logicaly, a close or distant relative of Harry's has entered the books.

Since Harry can hear his mom's death at times, we can be 98% sure that Lily is dead. Since Mark is five years younger than Harry, it is extremely improbable that this is a child of Lily's. Petunia had changed her last name to Dursley long before Mark's birth, so it is also improbable that he is Petunia's child. However, he might be a grandchild of Petunia. Did Petunia have any kids before her relationship with Vernon? A child that would have kept the last name of Evans? This seems more probable. Petunia might have given this child to the care of the real father, her own parents, or someone ele, and not have thought about him since. Meanwhile, the kid retains her last name and goes on to have another child, the famous Mark Evans. It is doubtful that the same can be said for Lily, but Dumbledore would be knowledgeable if Lily had another kid. He would have put Harry in his sibling's care instead of his aunt's. Instead, Dumbledore has told us time and again that the Dursley's are Harry's last living relatives. Either Dumbledore is purposely holding something back, which I doubt, or the child would have to be someone Dumbledore didn't know about. This makes it much more likely that the child was Petunia's, making Mark Evans her grandson. This might shed light on why Petunia knows so much about the wizarding world. I don't give this theory too much credit, however.

Other possibilities include that there was a sibling of Petunia and Lily that had a child. We are never told that Petunia and Lily didn't have any other siblings. This still leads us to the same problem, however. Dumbledore would probably have known about the other sibling, and not have retained that the Dursley's are Harry's last living relatives. Still, maybe the Evans' family kept the secret of this sibling to themselves. Was it a first sibling that was given to the care of someone else, when Lily's mom couldn't handle a child? Was there something about the child that made them have to hide him/her?

Another possibility is that Mark Evans is a distant relative spawning from Lily's father's (maybe mother's) side of the family. In this case Mark Evans would be a distant cousin. This sounds the most probable to me.

(If I missed any possibilities, put it in the comments section.)

Now let's assume that Mark Evans is a distant cousin of Harry's. So what?

Mark Evans is ten-years-old

If the name isn't suspicious, the age is. Mark Evans is ten-years-old in August. This means that next year, he will be eleven-years-old, the age of acceptance into Hogwarts. I would not be surprised if we actually see this ghost character enter the story in book six at the sorting hat ceremony. As an Evans, he may have some magical blood in him. This suggests that he might have a stronger link to either Lily or Lily's parents, as Lily is the only Evans that entered Hogwarts for at least a while. Remember Petunia, "We have a witch in the family," in book one. Also, Dumbledore has stressed the importance that Harry is only a half-blood because his mother was muggle-born. (Book Five, Page 842, US Edition)

One problem against this, is that the ministry has been keeping close tabs on Little Whinging.

"We have no record of any witch or wizard living in Little Whinging other than Harry Potter," said Madam Bones at once. "That situation has always been closely monitored, given. . .given past events."
Book Five, Page 143, US Edition

Assuming the ministry hasn't fowled up, this means Mark Evans either is not a wizard, or lives outside of Little Whinging.

Assuming he is a wizard, however, let us move on.

If Mark Evans does show up in the next book, his plight with Dudley already gives the reader sympathy to the character. Will he be a Gryffindor, a Hufflepuff, a Slytherin, or a Ravenclaw? Will he be an ally to Harry, or turn out to be a bad guy? Will he be part of uniting Slytherin and the other houses? The possibilities are endless and nearly impossible to conjecture. We will just have to wait till book six to find out.

Mark Evans has guts

"So who've you been beating up tonight?" Harry asked, his grin fading. "Another ten-year-old? I know you did Mark Evans two nights ago-"
"He was asking for it," snarled Dudley
"Oh yeah?"
"He cheeked me."
Book Five, Page 13, US Edition

It can be conjectured from above that Mark Evans has courage. It could also be that Mark Evans is extremely stupid to bother Dudley, or Dudley had taken something as "cheeking" that wasn't. However, if we assume that Mark Evans did insult Dudley, this gives us some insight into his character. Maybe he has guts to stick up to Dudley, a large wrestler with five years up on him? Maybe he has a death wish? Maybe, Mark Evans is a strong kid with a lot of courage (a future Gryffindor?). If Mark Evans is a distant relative and a courageous child, I am inclined to think of him as a future ally to Harry. Still, it may be smart to watch him carefully. Maybe Rowling wants us to think well of him, when indeed he is undeserving of this assesment.

Bascialy, Mark Evans may be a distant relative of Harrys that we will see much more of at Hogwarts. He may or may not be an ally. Now, we just have to wait to read book six to see whom Mark Evans really is.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Discord in the Magical World

"You are blinded,"said Dumbledore, his voice rising now, the aura of power around him palpable, his eyes blazing once more, "by the love of the office you hold, Cornelius! You place too much importance, and you have always done, on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognize that it is not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!"
-Book Four, Page. 708, US edition

Table of Contents


Dr. Hagrid and Mr. Grawp

Born a House-Elf; Born a Slave

Coming soon:

The Proud Race, the centaurs

Creepy Allys, the goblins

Living a Lie: The Fountain of Magical Brethren

Of Muggles and Wizards

Stereotypes and Labels Within the Wizarding Community

Conclusion: Arthur Weasley, A New Hope

Have you voted in the latest poll?

Have you introduced yourself?

Discord in the Magical World
Part II. Dr. Hagrid and Mr. Grawp

"Grawp's about sixteen feet tall, enjoys ripping up twenty-foot pine trees, and knows me," she (Hermione) snorted, "as Hermy."
Book Five, Page. 705, US Edition

Hagrid is no stranger to prejudice. Perhaps, that is why he is willing to take in creatures such as blast-ended skrewts or norwegian ridgeback dragons. Hagrid wants to see the good in all people and to help all creatures reach their potential. Admittedly, Hagrid is often misguided. It is doubtful that a blast-ended skrewt could ever live up to his expectations, but then again a blast-ended skrewt doesn't talk or show any signs of intelligence. Grawp, Hagrid's most recent project, does.

Why is it so important to Hagrid that his brother learn to speak? Or that he bring in other creatures to help and nurture? Most probably, it stems from the fact that Hagrid was abandoned by his mother. However, I think a large portion of it stems from the prejudice Hagrid himself has to endure. Remember, Hagrid is a half-giant and therefore in many wizards' eyes, a dangerous being. To Lombroso, giants would be degenerates because of their natural tendencies to murder, their awkward appearance, and the general fear they evoke. Society, sees things in a similar light. Therefore, Hagrid has to live in duplicity, constantly hiding his giant part while only revealing his wizarding side. It is not until book four that Hagrid is revealed to be a giant, and only then because of a snooping reporter. He knows that society cannot understand him, and has tried to keep this part of him quiet.

In this way, Hagrid is a lot like Dr. Jekyll from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll must show society only his good face and deny anything that goes against the norms. However, Jekyll can not live with this submission and finds a way to divide the evil side from the good side. Jekyll can now live in society and stand up right, while the evil side of Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, can run rampant. However, Dr. Jekyll himself is not all good, wishing for his Hyde part to come out. Mr. Hyde is not all evil, proving himself full of manners and is sometimes found weeping.

By taking in Grawp, Hagrid is playing out this same theme, but taking it to new levels. Hagrid is now known to be a half-giant and therefore feared by many in the wizarding community. Prejudices against Hagrid are made humorous and infuriating by the introduction of Professor Umbridge, who goes out of her way to prove Hagrid an unintelligent giant. What Hagrid does do to fight prejudice, even before the introduction of Umbridge, is to bring Grawp to the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid wants to teach him to talk and become less violent so that he may live in the wizarding world. It is as though Hagrid is trying to prove that the giant in him is just as socially acceptable as the wizard in him. Yet, even Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a hard time understanding this need in the beginning. As Lombroso would, they classify Grawp as a degenerate and Hagrid as a good guy. They fail to see that Grawp may have the potential to be as "good" as Hagrid. In the end, they begin to learn that they are wrong when Grawp saves them in the forest. Grawp is trying to say the names he has learned, proving himself capable of learning English. (Grawp's own language is naturally more savage. I'm being sarcastic of course.)

"Hagrid took two massive swipes at his closest attackers; judging by their immediate collapse, they had been knocked cold. Harry saw him double over and thought for a moment that he had been overcome by a spell, but on the contrary, next moment Hagrid was standing again with what appeared to be a sack on his back - then Harry realized that Fang's limp body was draped around his shoulders.
"Get him, get him!" screamed Umbridge, but her remaining helper seemed highly reluctant to go within reach of Hagrid's fists. Indeed, he was backing away so fast he tripped over one of the unconscious colleagues and fell over. Hagrid had turned and begun to run with Fang still hung around his neck; Umbridge sent one last Stunning Spell after him but it missed, and Hagrid, running full-pelt toward the distant gates, disappeared into the darkness.
Book Five, Page 722, US Edition

Clearly, wizards have a reason to fear the giants. The giants are large, incredibly strong, and can take numerous amounts of stunning spells without effect. As a race, they do have murderous tendencies, making the above all the more terrifying. The problem is that wizards see all giants as bad, and that there is nothing good about them. They let their fear take over and blind everything else. We can see through Hagrid, Madame Maxime, and Grawp how this fear plays out against them. Obviously, Hagrid and Maxime are not murderous, crazed, or as dangerous as society believes. Yet, Hagrid, once an exposed half-giant, is considered only a giant and therefore a dangerous creature. Maxime just keeps her mouth shut and calls it big bones.

An interesting point to note is that Hagrid hides in the mountains after the incident quoted above. It is as though we are seeing the forced isolation of giants re-played out through Hagrid. By the end of the book Hagrid down come back, but only thanks to Dumbledore.

"The second step you must take - and at one," Dumbledore pressed on, "is to send envoys to the giants."
"Envoys to the giants?" Fudge shrieked, finding his tongue again. "What madness is this?"
"Extend them the hand of friendship, now, before it is too late," said Dumbledore, "or Voldemort will persuade them, as he did before, that he alone among wizards will give them rights and their freedom!"
Book Four, Page. 708, US edition

Society has placed labels on the giants. The wizarding world sees them as only uncivilized murderers. The giants are forced to live in the mountains, isolated from the wizarding community. It is this very isolation that works to Voldemort's favor. Voldemort does not tell the giants that he looks at them as inferior, thought undoubtably he does. Voldemort does not condemn the giants, but embraces their evil side. Since wizards refuse to embrace the giants good side, they go to Voldemort since he will at least embrace some part of them. This is why Dumbledore found it pertinent to reach out to the giants. He may have been too late in some cases, but we are left with the hope in Grawp that maybe some of the giants will choose to fight for good instead of evil. It's all up to how the wizarding leaders treat the giants.

Part III. Living a Lie (coming soon)

Back to Table of Contents

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Discord in the Magical World

(slightly edited to make what I was saying clearer)


The magical world is filled with prejudice. These prejudices spawn from fear, misconceptions, hate, hasty judgments, and superiority complexes. In this way, the magical world echoes the real one. Many of the creatures in Rowling's creation, though fictional in many ways, remind the reader of various cultures. House-Elfs have a similar plight to that of the African descendents under slavery. Death Eaters are similar to purist groups throughout the world, including british secret societies and the Ku Klux Klan in America. Centaurs bear an uncanny resemblance to indigenous peoples. Giants are the perfect example of what Lobroso and Nordau (19th- century pseudo-scientists) called a degenerate, a kind of de-evolved human. What each of these creatures have in common is the constant battle against prejudice and colonialism.

Wizards are convinced that house-elf's are naturally slaves, centaurs are minimally intelligent half-bred humans, and giants are unteachable, murderous fiends. Under these conditions, many wizards chose to live blissfully ignorant of the destruction and hurt they have caused others. Many chose to accept the social labels they have imposed, and refuse to see those labeled as "creatures" as equal beings. These wizards have underestimated and toyed with other magical folk for so long, that something is bound to break.

"Sirius did not hate Kreacher," said Dumbledore. "He regarded him as a servant unworthy of much interest or notice. Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike. . . The fountain we destroyed tonight told a lie. We wizards have mistreated and abused our fellows for too long, and we are now reaping our reward."
Book Five, Page. 834, US Edition

Dumbledore has warned us throughout the books that unity will be the key to defeating Voldemort. The problem is that most of the wizarding community refuses to see past their prejudices to find unity. All giants are murderers. Once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater. Any non-wizard or witch is a creature and subject to the wizarding laws. Even within Hogwarts, people are labeled and continually judged.

For Voldemort, this disunity allows him to win such followers as the giants and "pure-blood wizards". For centaurs, it means isolation, and developing a superiority complex to fight the opposing one. For house-elfs this means living as slaves or living in shame. For Hogwarts it means rivalry among the four houses. In the Second War that book six will undoubtedly portray, all of these factors are going to come to light as a force that can destroy the wizarding world. The question is whether or not each group of magical folk can let go of their prejudices and work together to fight evil, or whether each group will chose to embrace their prejudices and be destroyed from an external exhibition of their inward hate.

Dr. Hagrid and Mr. Grawp

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Note: the reason I am comparing house-elfs with african descendant slaves, is from her emphasis on their dialect.

If noticed that many of you mentioned liking Shakespeare. This is an essay I wrote earlier this summer after watching A Midsummer Night's Dream

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Good news,...

...the Dr. Hagrid and Mr. Grawp post is almost ready! This will be a LONG post including information on Mr. Weasley, Hagrid, Grawp, Fountain of Magical Brethren, Snape, Harry, Cornelius Fudge, Firenze, Dobby, Winky, and more! I may have to break it into a few different posts. Keep your eyes out. It should be up tonight!!!!!

Judging by the poll, I need to do articles on Neville Longbottom and Mark Evans (how many of you are asking yourself who Mark Evans is?). I'll have them up soon.

If you haven't voted in the poll, go there now! It's great to see that so many of you are checking the site! I also appreciate all the comments and emails people have left! It did my heart good to hear that this site has influenced some of you into reading some classical literature.

If there is a particular book you would like me to analyze, let me know, especially if you have a particluar question.

Thank you to kidslitfan26! She goes out of her way to make sure I am constantly working on new posts.

BTW, have you introduced yourself?

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Want a say in what the next few posts are about? Vote in the current poll!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

New Posts

1st: Don't forget to check out the Lupin part I added to the Mirror of Erised post!

2nd: Below is a reaction paper (for class) I just wrote (2 minutes ago) on Dr. Jekyll. It's a prelude to the essay I'm about to write on Harry, Snape, Hagrid, GRAWP, and their dangerous connections. (I have an outline for the essay but it is a difficult one to write. It should be up sometimes this week if school doesn't overload me with work.)

3rd: This blog seems to have a number of problems loading. If you don't get the entire front page on the first try, try reloading. Any other problems? Let me know. Thanks again for all your support!

Dr. Jekyll's Epitaph

The final chapter of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a first hand account of Jekyll's struggle with society and personal duality. Jekyll creates Mr. Hyde when he is forced to subdue parts of himself for parts more acceptable to the community. When his creation begins to take over, Jekyll has no one to turn to. Although he does eventually acquire the help of Dr. Lanyon, he is left almost completely alone to bear his cross. Society, in all of its mannerisms and judgments would sooner condemn a man for evil than try to help him find a balance. For this reason, the written word is Dr. Jekyll's last resource to reveal his true natures to society and the plight that he has had to endure. The written word is more than just a way to give explanations; it is a way to keep alive what is true when everyone involved has passed on.

Dr. Jekyll's account of the uncanny events is only displayed to the readers from a letter written by Jekyll in his last moments of desperation. By the time all of the information is brought to the surface, Jekyll, Hyde, and Lanyon have already suffered death. It is necessary that Jekyll is dead before he is willing to give the letter to Mr. Utterson, because he recognizes that society does not understand duality and would therefore sooner send him to the scaffold than help him. Mr. Utterson may be his friend, but throughout the book the reader is led to believe that Utterson fully believes that man is either bad or good. For instance, Utterson is filled with consternation when he learns Jekyll has anything to do with this evil Hyde character. "'I thought it was madness,' he said, as he replaced the obnoxious paper in the safe, 'and now I fear it is disgrace.'" (13) Indeed, whenever Utterson tries to help Jekyll it is only to try and convince him to throw away all evil and repair his reputation. Utterson does not understand that even without Hyde, Jekyll is not a perfectly good man. Therefore, Jekyll knows that he cannot get Utterson to understand without revealing everything and receiving Utterson's disgust in return. By writing down the letter to be delivered after his death, Jekyll has a full opportunity to express what he knows needs to be said.

Dr. Jekyll's written word becomes a means for Jekyll not only to reveal events, but to pass along the knowledge of truth. Jekyll's cross may be more marked by a character such as Hyde, but Jekyll recognizes that all man is composed of dual forces. He also understands that each man has to learn to hide this duality to live in a respectable society. Jekyll's letter stands as a warning to society that it's forced submergence of these truths only increases the evil. For if man has to bear all of his sin alone, than the temptation will eventually take over.

Dr. Jekyll's letters also tell us that even in Hyde's form, Jekyll found that his handwriting was the same. Despite attempts to hide it, Mr. Guest recognizes this similarity early on in the book. (38) This is another example of the written word containing truth. Mr. Hyde is a part of Jekyll. Despite the physical differences, the handwriting unmasks the fiend to present the good doctor.

Robert Louis Stevenson uses the written word in a similar way. The birth of modernism is just beginning, and Stevenson is revealing one of its key characteristics. Man is not all good and to claim that he is all good is to live a lie. Through Jekyll's letter, Stevenson reveals a tale about what happens when the suppression becomes too much. The book becomes less than an accusation and more of a plea for society to quit forcing each man to hide part of himself. The other half of man might not be pleasant, but in accepting its existence, man can at least help man overcome his temptations.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Additional 10/12: Lupin part added.

Their Most Desperate Desires

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Additional 10/12: Lupin part added.

As promised, I am going to write about what I believe Dumbledore sees in the Mirror of Erised. However, I think I am going to do this as part of a larger picture. I'm going to examine what individual characters in the series would see in the mirror (as of the end of the fifth book). I will post up desires one at a time.


When Harry first meets Lupin, he is riding the Hogwarts Express in ragged clothing. As a werewolf, it is difficult for him to get a job and he has recently accepted a position as Defense Against the Dark Art's teacher from Dumbledore. Lupin quickly takes a mentor role for Harry, teaching the young hero to fight his fear and anger. We know that Snape hates him, and we slowly come to learn that this loathing comes from an old childhood enmity. Lupin was one of the mischievous Marauders that taunted Severus Snape as a child. Yet, we also learn that Lupin was often the voice of reason and restraint among the four friends. By the end of the third book, Lupin makes amends with Sirius Black and teaches the stronger lessons of courage and friendship to a very confused Potter. Lupin returns in the fifth book, more impoverished than ever and still the benign werewolf.

Yet, the truth is that little is really known about Lupin. How does he think and feel? What is most important to him? The books are all done from Harry's point of view, and the mentored often only sees limited dimensions of the mentor. We know that Lupin is forgiving and loving, a great friend and a gentle man. He hates hurting people, even when it is beyond his control (i.e. the full moon changed him). What we don't see is how did he react to the death of James and Lily? How quickly was he to accept Sirius' guilt, back when all the evidence convicted his dear friend? What we also don't see a complete reaction to Sirius' death beyond his the initial shock (paleness and broken voice). The one Marauder that is left alive and good has finally fallen leaving Lupin to bear life alone. How much anguish does he feel inside, and how does he deal with this anguish? How benign is he? We know that he was nearly brought to murder when it came to dealing with the betraying Marauder, Peter Pettigrew. Had it not been for Harry's pleas, Lupin and Sirius would have killed the traitor.

When all of the above is taken into account, it is hard to tell what Lupin would see when he looks in the mirror. I would like to conjecture that he might see the Four Marauders back together, healthy, safe, happy, and on the side of good. He would see all Four Marauders back before things got complicated by marriages, betrayals, and death. He loves Harry and often treats him as a son, but much like Sirius had a hard time accepting that Harry was not his father, I think Lupin wishes that James was still there by his side. Lupin is alone in this world, shunned by wizard-kind for his illness, loathed by many, impoverished, and unemployed. Dumbledore trusts him and befriends him, as does Molly and other characters throughout the story. Yet, none of these characters could ever offer Lupin the friendships he used to embrace.

Lupin was lowering his wand, gazing fixedly at Black. The Professor walked to Black's side, seized his hand, pulled him to his feet so that Crookshanks fell to the floor, and embraced Black like a brother.
Book Three, pg. 344 US

The Four Marauders, or at least three of the four, shared a special friendship that Lupin can never have again on this earth. This is why he will see his friends back together in the mirror, just like the days of yore.

(This is also why I believe Lupin has a high chance of dying before series end. 20:80, life:death ratio)

For the full post, including Dumbledore and Voldemort, click here.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Good news, I've got an entertaining post I've been playing with for a while now. It should be up within the next few days. It is entitled: Dr. HAGRID AND Mr. GRAWP. Can you tell I just got done reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? This will be more of a serious post that will be about Hagrid, Grawp, the wizard community, Snape, Harry, and the dangerous connections between them.

Additional: Sorry, sorry, I haven't had anytime for writing lately. It's been a busy week. I promise that this will be done before I leave for Washington on Friday. Hope you are all still hanging on! I'm going to aim for a new article on a bi-weekly basis. For now, I'm about to publish a small blurb on Lupin and the Mirror of Erised.

Monday, October 06, 2003

I updated the Harry Potter Grim page!

Friday, October 03, 2003

Columnists and Opinions
I consider this blogger to be a column in many ways. I write my opinions about what I see is happening in different forms of literature and examine different themes. I just came off of Mugglenet where one of my favorite editorialists, Dan Hoppel, was given a hard time for putting his political and religious opinions in his work. The thing is, I know many of you are probably annoyed that I do this on this blogger. Yet, I think that Dan and myself are correct. This is primarily a place for us to discuss literature. However, it is also one medium I have of sharing my ideas with the world. I don't ask you to agree with them or to even listen to them, but I do ask that I am able to at least share them. No one has said anything, which is kewl. I just had to share this because I felt bad for Dan. The fact is that I love reading his columns, even the ones that are political or religious based. I also enjoy sharing my opinions on whatever medium I can.
So the entire point of this blog is for me to say: thank you Dan for your wonderful editorials!

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Great Literature Discussion

Hey everyone! I started school this week. It looks like it will be an informative term. Sorry I haven't finished the Harry Potter post yet. My mind knows what it needs to say but keeps running blank. I'll give you the heads up when it is ready. Meanwhile, I pose this question to you: In your opinion, what factors determine great literature? I have wondered about this for a while now. I notice some of my favorite books are not among the so-called greats. Other books that I despise do make "the list" (for instance, both The Death of Artemio Cruz and The Faerie Queene both gave me allergic reactions *shivers*)

I have a professor that doesn't like Harry Potter because he is tired of the angst and the unchanging characters. I love the books because of the vivid angst and the dynamic characters. Many people don't appreciate Les Miserabl├ęs because of it's verbiage. I love the book because of its intense language. We are all different in what we are looking for when we read. What do you appreciate?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Vote in the poll below for who you want to see a post on. I'm hoping to get more input on what people want to read about.

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