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

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 30 14:07:36 EST 2003

Ingrid wrote:

Denise DeGraf wrote:
> I've fallen into an interesting discussion on 
another list about the way in
> which the Harry Potter books seem (to me at 
least) to condone bullying, in
> the sense that Harry & Ron are depicted as 
justified in mistreating their
> "friend" Hermione because of her bookish 
habits.  Some people are
> protesting that Rowlings is merely "depicting 
the sad reality" as if
> there's no option except to show the abuse as 
entertaining.  (Perhaps the
> bullies find it funny, but I didn't: I was 
treated that way growing up myself.)

"No option but to treat it as entertaining" what
a dreadful idea! Yes, I think  the Potterverse
internalises the idea that some people are born
to be victims and even deserve it. I saw the
second film with a friend and her seven year old,
Charlotte. When Neville is hung up on the ceiling
by the blue piskie things he says "Why does this
always happen to me?" and Charlotte piped up
"Because yer name's LONGBOTTOM!" That's the way
Rowling writes it. 

In the Potterverse all the Real boys and girls
are in Griffondor and Ravensclaw, if you are in
Hufflepuff you are a joke (and probably plump),
if you are in Slithering you are nasty -- nasty
and snide or nasty and thick, you also may have a
weight problem (in the film you get to have
grotty teeth too) Everyone is allowed to pick on
Hufflepuffs but that's allright, it's only a
joke. Slitherings are compelled to go around
being nasty but that's no problem because they
can never win. Griffendors retaliating against
Slitherings may be as nasty as they like but
that's ok because they are in the right and the
Slitherings started it. As "the other nice
house", supplier of spear carriers and girlfiends
Ravenclaws keep out of bother. Everything that
applys to Griffendor applies to Hagrid as well
--and he is bigger than anyone else.

I seem to have gone off on one there and
forgotten my original point! JKR does that to me.

My DWJ examples:

Charmed Life: Gwendolen is a thorough bully. She
bullies Julia in obvious ways, like the snake
dress while she uses and manipulates Cat. She's
not, in fact, a very clever bully, she goes for
easy targets like her little brother and Mrs
Sharp. Julia's reaction to the snakes is pretty
good as an example of what to do about this kind
of thing -- she keeps her cool and gets the adult
fuss and praise.

Dogsbody: Duffy is one of the nastiest of Dwjs
adult bullies. Her oldest son copies her and the
youngest copies him, but they do seem to be

Drowned Ammett: Mitt bullies Hildy and Ynen in
order to get control over them and their boat.
his heart isn't really in it.

Eight Days of Luke: features bullying within the
family -- both David's and Luke's. 

> I know that DWJ treats this issue from the 
other side round -- showing what
> revolting little jerks bullies of any sort can 
be -- in Witch Week, but I
> can't remember what other books she did it in. 

Given the discussion is on
> a support group for adults & kids that are (due

to neurology) almost
> identical to Hermione in the lack of social 
skill, preference for books,
> etc I'd really like to be able to offer more 
positive examples.  Ideas?

A common theme in dwj is the idea that people who
are being bullied often turn round and pick on
somebody else -- eg in WW, the way everyone is
allowed to have a go at Brian Perkins and even
Nan flies at him once. Her solution, clearly, is
to stop doing that and deal with the real

Ingrid wrote

<First, I agree that the Potter books condone 
bullying, and more than
just toward Hermione. I'd much rather discuss the

bullying in DWJ

<I think there's a lot dealing with the subject
bullying in most of
DWJ's books because it's such a real part of most

children's lives.
"Archer's Goon" is the one that springs to my 
mind first, because of the
way the family works, the way Shine works, and 
the character of Awful in
general. There was also a bully there as a 
character - the boy who
worked for Shine. I think his name was Hind? He 
was the only actual
bully from a child's perspective but he's also 
the one who turned out to
be decent underneath it, despite giving Howard 
such a hard time at the
beginning of the book. It's the characters who 
were far more powerful
bullies, even if they weren't as rough outside as

Hind, that were shown
to be fairly awful people. Shine, Archer, the 
other sister (ack, my
memory) were shown to be some of the biggest 
bullies, even if they
weren't the "revolting little jerks" kind. It's 
not like it's an
overwhelming theme or anything, I don't think it 
ever is with DWJ. It's
just one of those things that exists.

Can't improve on that!
<It's also there in "The Ogre Downstairs", where 
bullying isn't just
confined to the children, but the way the Ogre 
handles the children is
very in the manner of a grown up bully, 
initially. Now I have to go find
my copy. Which now appears to have vanished, so 
forgive the temporary
blankness concerning names. When Jaspar and 
Malcolm switch bodies,

Ven -- Caspar

<Jaspar experiences the previously unknown 
bullying that Malcolm suffers
at the hands of his classmates. Afterwards, 
Jaspar begins to understand
him better, even though they're different, and 
goes to lengths to make
up for the way he's indirectly caused Malcolm to 
suffer. There's also
the way the eldest of the boys treats the three 
younger ones, although I
can't think of any specific examples. Just vague 
memories and an
impression of him as a scaled down version of the


Yes, in the Ogre a lot of the bullying is
unintentional, basically down to a combination of
misunderstanding and selfishness (self

<I don't think it's really "bullies are bad 
people" that you can get from
DWJ because that would not be her style. I'm sure

there are plenty of
minor bullies who are bad people, or awful little

jerks, but it's a very
black and white way to show it. A lot of 
characters have attributes that
belong to bullies, and sometimes it's seen in 
adults, sometimes in other
children, and sometimes in the main characters. I

think it's so
intricate to childhood that it will be found most

anywhere, and while I
don't think she would ever condole it in the way 
Rowling does, I don't
think there's a lot of "bully getting comeupance"

kind of thing either.

Corrections, anyone?

And my word, I fear that made absolutely no 
sense. Apologies.

It made loads of sense, you should delurk more


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