idealism/sexism in HPIV

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Sat Oct 7 12:57:34 EDT 2000


Robin Gillespie asked:

> In re sexism AND idealism, does it seem to anyone that
> Hermione is ridiculed for her idealism?  Her opposition to
> what are basically colonial relations is made to seem silly.
> Not a good message for kids or anyone.

I tend to think you're right, thoughthe weird way in which the entire
subject of house-elf liberation is dropped makes it unclear to me how it may
reemerge later on.

Of course, any ridiculousness or "going overboard" on Hermione's part is by
construction-- the construction of the house-elves. I have to say, I'm
always quite uncomfortable when a non-human fictional groups is
characterized almost entirely by species rather than having individuals
differ as much as we would expect human individuals to differ. And to make a
non-human race dote on subservience seems particularly problematic--
enslaved humans have so often been described that way by their masters (male
and female).

Curiously, the fictional forebears to the house-elves tend, Dobby-like, to
want to be free. Consider the Cauld Lad of Chilton, for example. (There
seems to be no clothing issue where brownies and abbey lubbers are
concerned.) So I was quite unnerved that Rowling chose to construct
house-elves that way....

Mary Ann


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