Friday, October 24, 2003

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)

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