: [Fwd: Bullying, DWJ, and Harry Potter...]

Jacob Proffitt Jacob at Proffitt.com
Sat Feb 1 12:01:00 EST 2003

---Original Message From: Megan Knight
> all this conversation about who belongs in which hogwarts 
> house just raises a point about the difference btwn jkr and 
> dwj. neither awful nor howl belong in slytherin: they are not 
> evil, or even really mean, just rude and inconsiderate. in 
> fact, i cannot imagine a single dwj character who belongs in 
> slytherin, they are all too multidimensional. most dwj 
> characters who are mean (like charles, or christopher chant) 
> are like that becuase they are miserable, or getting revenge, 
> or some REASON. draco malfoy and his lot are just mean and 
> nasty because it seems that jkr couldn't be bothered to give 
> them any complexity. even snape's behaviour doesn't get 
> explained until book 3, and even then not very well. of 
> course if jkr actually wrote from a multicharacter 
> perspective, and let us see what was going on inside anyone 
> but harry, then the books might be better...

I don't think that the difference between JKR and DWJ is as clear cut as
we've been assuming.  It's hard to make comparisons because they are such
different writers.  I mean, the only real relationship is that they both
write books targeting non-adults.  That's a pretty slim similarity to make
equivalent comparisons.  I think it's a too-easy judgment to place JKR in
the subordinate position just because our taste is for the more maturely
targeted DWJ.  It's like we're eager to defend DWJ when she's not really
under attack...

And Slytherin isn't the house of mean.  It's the house of ambition and
hunger for power.  Harry wasn't almost Slytherin because he is mean.  Quite
the contrary, he's a thoroughly nice boy.  He was almost Slytherin because
he has ambition and a hunger for power.  It comes down to what is the
predominant trait--ambition or honor.  Are you willing to sacrifice ambition
for the sake of honor?  I mean, it's no wonder that Slytherin is the house
that tends to turn evil and/or mean (because the hunger for power over honor
will lead that way), but it isn't really a given.  Which is why you have
Snape--a Slytherin who has no sympathy/patience/desire for honor who is
nonetheless on the side of the good guys.  And why Dumbledore can trust
him--He knows (as Snape knows) that Snape will never be accepted back by
Voldemort's crowd, has actively fought Voldemort's crowd, and any ambition
he has left lies clearly in Dumbledore's sole discretion.  Oh, and there's
still room for Snape to have *some* honor and despise the machinations of
his former crowd . . . it just isn't his predominant trait.

Which is why Howl *could* have been Slytherin.  Not because he's mean
(debatable) but because he's motivated by a desire for power (clearly
present).  I'm not sure that's dominant over his sense of honor, though, so
I'm not gonna say it's a sure thing.  Just that it isn't as much a given as
has been indicated here.

Jacob Proffitt

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