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

hallieod at indigo.ie hallieod at indigo.ie
Fri Jan 31 05:10:34 EST 2003

>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.

Yeah.  Like Kyla, I also agree with what Ven said. :-)  I reread the 
2nd and 3rd books when I was sick, and got totally fed up with the 
feeling that everything was being written for an effect, rather than 
because it was true in any way that mattered.  Harry's the underdog - 
must build up sympathy for him, so we'll put the (fat and) evil 
Dursleys in charge of him, and let him be sent back there through 
book after book, so he can really suffer.  Quidditch matches have to 
be exciting, and Harry has to be the hero, so we'll ignore the way 
the school authorities encourage kids to risk their lives while half 
of them indulge in unpunished cheating and violence.  (Notice how 
there's only one of each position, so nobody can be sent off or 
suspended for fouls?)   And on and on (Ven's described the different 
school groups already).  I just got tired of finding huge gaping 
flaws in the logic of things, and wishing some editor had pointed 
them out.


>Heck, Hermione is the queen of textbooks and yet she's a
>Gryffindor.  Which is why I'm not ready to discount the possibilities yet.

But surely that's still consistent with the logic of really Good Guys 
being the Gryffindor type, and right the way through, even as grown 
ups, having less power than the Bad Guys?  So nerd=underdog, 
Ron=poor=underdog (as is his father), Harry, well, I've said it 
before.  Dumbledore is the most powerful wizard in the world, except 
that he's unable to stop Harry's abuse at the Dursleys, unable to 
stop Malfoy Jr. from bullying in school, and Malfoy Sr. from bullying 
in the world, etc., etc.

>I never in my life foresaw the complexity with which Rowlings ended the
>fourth book, with not only the split between Good and Evil but between Good
>and Better.

I was going to ask about bothering to read onto the fourth one, which 
I've never read.  I did remember someone (Christian?) saying he/she 
really liked the fourth one a lot more than the previous ones, though 
I don't remember if that's an accurate memory of what was said.

After rereading the two HPs, I then reread _A Wizard of Earthsea_. 
Talk about contrast!  The writing style is very different, but it 
strikes me that DWJ and Le Guin have the same way of exploring 
character in a rich and subtle way, while Rowlings takes the easier 
option of lay-it-on-with-a-trowel black and white depictions.


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