Headscratchers: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Wizarding Prejudice
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- I really felt like JKR copped out in book 7. She'd been setting up the Wizarding World—especially the Ministry—as having some serious problems that just get swept under the table: Sirius's lack of a trial, the laws against werewolves, the marginalization of Muggle rights, the lack of a responsible/reliable source of information that wasn't outright propaganda. None of these problems were Voldemort's fault, but JKR seems to want us to believe that simply by having Harry defeat the Dark Lord everything's coming up roses. The ultimate example was Umbridge: in book 5, she's a petty bureaucrat who is evil, but it's a human evil based on stupidity, small malice, and a very large sense of self-importance. (She seems to be fairly typical of the wizarding government.) When Umbridge shows up again in Deathly Hollows, she's made the transition from a human evil to the Death Eaters' style of evil (the kind of outright mustache-twirling tie-me-to-the-train-tracks evil that Voldemort represents), and therefore, there's no need for the Wizarding World to change itself. Because, see, Umbridge wasn't really an ordinary little human evil taking advantage of a poorly designed system, she was a great evil black magic Death Eater evil just waiting for her chance to show her true colors.
- Umbridge makes the hard-left turn from "Zealous Bureaucrat" into "Evil Tyrant" during Book 5. It was barely concealed in the first place, given her willingness to torture and attempt to murder children.
- Hell, didn't she send DEMENTORS over to Privet Drive to get rid of Harry? Not to mention the repercussions of it being a muggle residence and Dudley experiencing it as well. That was in the beginning of book 5. She's not a petty bureaucrat, she's a monster with a position of power.
- "she's a petty bureaucrat who is evil, but it's a human evil based on stupidity, small malice and a very large sense of self-importance" — You forgot to mention absolute power over children. The only difference in bk7 is that she has absolute power over adults too. Umbridge disproves Lord Acton's Aesop, she was ALWAYS evil. The only difference is that she has enough power to achieve the "Greater Good". YMMV, I would call becoming a tyrant a "hard-right turn" because of Those Wacky Nazis.
- Plus, there's the fact that it was illegal at the time for her to round up and threateningly imprison Muggle-borns. It was made pretty clear that she was a cowardly bigot who went after anything she considered not fully wizard if she could get away with it (like werewolves or mermaids). Suddenly in book seven, she's told "hey, these people are "thieves" who need to be punished. Have at 'em".
- Who says it's so much better? It'd be a lot more stable, what with the biggest known threat to the entire world being dead.
- She ends up in Azkaban, by Word of God. Detailing all the problems which needed to be sorted, and how they were fixed, would have taken years. This story is at heart about how Harry fought Voldemort, nothing else.
- For the sake of the "Greater Good", Harry forgives Snape, the Malfoys, Dursleys, DD, etc. I think Harry would forgive Umbridge. Suppose she does go to Azkaban guarded by Dementors. How long would it take for her to recruit Dementors to her own army?
- I'm not sure Harry would forgive Umbridge. He never felt the same sympathy for her that he felt for the others. Snape, while a petty, vindictive man, fought for the good side. After seeing Snape's pensive, he understands the bullying and love for Lily that drove Snape to be who he became. Harry had known Draco Malfoy since he was 11 years old and had witnessed his hesitation/misery when forced to do bad things. The Dursleys were horrible and abusive, but they are family and, as JRK mentioned, Dudley has also been abused, in a way. And their reactions are mostly motivated by fear and old hurt. While they are fairly terrible people, Harry understands them and can sympathize. Umbridge doesn't repent and, if she has a tragic backstory, Harry doesn't know it. Just because he can forgive some morally ambiguous people in his life doesn't mean he's going to let all the former Death Eaters roam free (supposing it is up to him).
- Bks 1-6 are about issues in Wizarding World which make it so easy for a Dark Lord to seize State Power; bk7 is all about Harry. All was well. Epilogue: WW had all the same issues, Albus Severus Potter is set up as the next Dark Lord. Albus loves his Dad, Harry is safe from the next Dark Lord. It's all about Harry. All is well because all the Ravens and Huffs and Humans and Goblins whom Albus will kill don't matter.
- Having just reread the epilogue, I see nothing that would indicate Albus will become a dark wizard. In fact, he seems to be acting just like Harry did at his age.
- "Detailing all the problems which needed to be sorted, and how they were fixed would have taken years"... It is 19 years later, all we need is for Hermione to smile, "We are making progress: Mudbloods are 70% free, Werewolves are 60% free, Goblins are 50% free, Centaurs 40%, Elves 30%, Humans 20% free." We don't expect perfection, all we ask for is SOME progress. All we ask is that all this stuff made a difference.
- Word of God asserts that Kingsley becomes Minister for Life. I like and trust book!Kingsley. I would vote for him; interview!Kingsley abolishes elections.
- Er, no. Kingsley is made permanent Minister of Magic, not Minister for Life. Permanent in this case means that he went from provisional Minister to full-time, not dictator. Plus, what elections? If there were any elections, then how long are their terms, and why are there no limits to power? Fudge ruled as a dictator and was never voted out of office, or impeached, and he was basically allowed to make up propaganda about Harry, Dumbledore, and co. without anyone noticing his obviously controlled Daily Prophet. In short, they probably don't even have free elections anymore, so there's no way Kingsley could have abolished them.
- That's true, the story IS about how Harry fought Voldemort. And from the start, the divide is drawn between the two, and the entire series is staged as a battle between good and evil. But I think simplifying it in this way is a bit of a cop-out in itself. Yes, ultimately, she told the battle that we have been expecting from book one: Harry vs. Voldemort. But along the way she spent a great deal of time exploring other issues that were not entirely forgotten, but which could have been resolved in a bit of a more satisfying way.
- A terrific example is Hermione's whole SPEW movement and the mistreatment of House Elves. This is something initially shown to be a fairly black and white issue; Malfoys are evil, Malfoys are evil to Dobby, Dobby betrays them to help Harry, Hermione sees that House Elf enslavement is wrong. The reader sees this as well. But the situation is more complex, isn't it? Sirius is betrayed by Kreacher BECAUSE of his abuse of Kreacher. That is a very important thing for the reader as well as Harry to understand. Sirius is a good character, he was a hero to Harry, Harry loved him, and according to Dumbledore was usually kind to House Elves. But that doesn't make his abuse of Kreacher any different than what Dobby received from the Malfoys. And Kreacher betrayed him for that exact same reason. In this instance, you see that the righteous INTENTS of a character do not diminish the impact of their actions on people that suffer for it; Sirius wants to be good, and he is good much of the time, but that doesn't make his abuse easier on Kreacher nor does it mean he is excused for it. And it has huge, tragic consequences. If this were to be a plain-and-simple Harry vs. Voldemort story, there would be no sense in bringing in such issues that are completely independent of that, and to give them such significant presence in the series. But this isn't explained or solved by the end - House Elves are still enslaved, and one of Harry's last thoughts of the battle are about getting Kreacher to make him food. This is confusing and not a very tactful way to end that plotline.
- Wordof God is that Hermione gained a job in Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, where she campaigned for the protection of elvish rights. Also, another facet of SPEW is Hermione's arrogance in assuming that she knew what was best for the elves. Yes, they were being exploited, but just going up and telling them that, and then trying to force them out of a life that they actually enjoy, was just not right. After the end, Hermione is able to work to protect and educate elves, without trying to force her values onto their lives.
- Additionally, the propaganda issues and the ultimate power of the Ministry ARE kind of touched on. It's obvious to Harry and the Order that the Ministry is being controlled by the DE, but they are a tiny fraction of the community. The DE are using 'cunning' to get things done; they have infiltrated the Ministry and taken control of politicians the public have already become familiar with and trusted to a certain degree. By the time people are being overtly persecuted, it's too late to consider getting control of the Ministry in any tactical way, because there are too many DE influences there. On top of which, the Order's tiny size as well as its lack of military presence is probably a huge issue when it comes to public support. Remember the first war, when the Order wasn't able to prevent the hundreds of deaths that were happening? That the Order were LOSING when miracle baby Harry felled the Dark Lord where the vast majority of the Order had died in the process of trying to do that very thing? Why would they trust the Order now, when the DE are everywhere and they're not hearing any news of successful resistance? People resist if they have the fibre to do it on their own, but the majority of civilians are too scared to do that. This is one of the issues with the society that IS kind of explored. But how this issue is solved after Voldemort's Death is not really discussed; the issues with the Ministry and the news publications would still have existed at the end of the series, but we're expected to think they were somehow just fixed later.
- One last issue is that, while the meat of the plot is about Harry vs Voldemort, the actual POINT of the story is about the evils of racism, prejudice, and violence toward the 'other'. The only reason that Voldemort could ever GET followers was because there was that racism to begin with, and the racism of those characters is tolerated to the point that they're even able to get public office is only because there is an undercurrent of prejudice in the wider wizard community. We see this from the way they talk about Muggles to the way they use Obliviate on any Muggle that sees anything suspect, while the use of Obliviate against Ron and Harry by Lockhart is treated as True Evil. In either situation it is to protect the caster, not for the benefit of the victim, but one is acceptable and the other isn't. This is a significant issue that is never fully addressed, and killing Voldemort isn't going to 'fix' it. Racism existed before he was born, before he came to power, and it will continue to exist afterward. The death of the Dark Lord doesn't equal the death of the traditions and beliefs that gave him the power to begin with. This in particular is a somewhat abrasive omission on Rowling's part.
- Actually, using a memory Charm on Muggles isn't to protect the caster, its a precaution to protect that Muggle and the hundreds of Witches and Wizards that could be exploited by that Muggle. If some Muggle starts ratting out witches and wizards, that Muggle becomes a specific target for Anti-Muggle actions. That Muggle will get killed, even if other Muggles treat them as mad. If that Muggle is believed, then it causes the deaths of hundreds of witches and wizards all over the country. Lockhart was using it to keep his fame going, for entirely selfish reasons. There's a huge difference between the two.
- I don't understand the problem with the Wizarding World's societal ills. They're SOCIETAL ILLS. These things take decades to change, through education and social reform. There wasn't any way for Rowling to resolve this in the book without seeming contrived. These social problems were made clearer than they had been before (in universe), and the ultimate, most horrible result of this prejiduce and corruption, Voldemort and the Death Eaters, was burned into the collective consciousness more than ever before and then met their end. This is a point from which they can move on and make real changes. It's the beginning of social change, not the result.
- What's the Fridge Logic on elections? Fudge didn't "rule as a dictator" until OotP, and he was impeached after that (he actually says he was "sacked", which raises further questions. He obviously has to answer to someone). Elections are never mentioned because Harry's a school kid and isn't old enough to vote. An election (or even more than one) could easily have been held during the summer when Harry was cut off from the wizarding world, but even if it happened during the school year, it doesn't mean anything that it wasn't mentioned because it's basically irrelevant to Harry. It also doesn't say anything that Fudge was reelected, because it's pretty obvious that public opinion is against the protagonists for a good part of the series. Scrimgeour and Thicknesse (and Kingsley for that matter) were appointed under nonstandard circumstances, so the fact that they weren't formally elected doesn't mean ministers aren't generally elected. What part of this is inconsistent with democracy?
- Fudge has the power to order media censorship of even the most blatant kind (Daily Prophet, no comment necessary), order peoples' arrest and imprisonment without trial or even a simple habeas corpus hearing (Hagrid), to make law without the consent of the people or their elected representatives (the Educational Decrees), to order private institutions (Hogwarts is ultimately administered by a Board of Governors, not the Ministry department of education, so it is not state-owned) to employ and to fire people as he directs against their own wishes and business interests (Umbridge in book 5), and to order summary executions (Sirius Black and Barty Crouch Jr., the latter of which was actually carried out directly in front of an unresisting Chief Warlock!). Which one of these things is remotely consistent with democracy? Fudge is a dictator — a dictator who ultimately had to answer to an entrenched oligarchy, when his job performance became sub-optimal — but still a dictator.
- Presumably the Minister is answerable to the Wizengamot, as they're the wizarding equivalent of Parliament.
- Was anybody else bothered by what an unmitigated blood bath Deathly Hallows was? Yes, I know it's a war, there are bound to be casualties, but the eventual body count was in my view completely unnecessary. The most glaring examples were Lupin and Tonks, presumably - as another troper has commented - to make the series begin and end with an orphaned boy, but what was the point in bumping off Colin Creevey, for instance? And why the ruddy heck wasn't Umbridge bumped off in a suitably horrific fashion?
- Rowling wanted to convey how chaotic a real war with magic would be.
- Because there is never a meaning in death. People don't choose who gets offed in real life either, there will always be random deaths. Rowling just wanted to portray real life by showing that anyone can die or stay alive no matter how much they deserve the former or latter.
- The gray morality of the final book contributes to Umbridge not being killed off. If she had died, it would have been been a too convenient closure, the same as if the good guys had all majestically survived.
- And about Colin, hey, it ain't called Anyone Can Die for nothing.
- At least there WAS a final battle which took place, and no bullshit anticlimax like Twilight.
- Just to answer the question in the original post: Yes, this troper was bothered. Very much so. The entire book was basically nothing more than a giant kill-fest, with the deaths of Hedwig and Dobby being the most jarring and insulting ones (to the characters). Also, why resolve the conflicts between Lupin and Tonks when they are killed later anyway? Portraying the reality of war is all well and good, but that bit was just bad story-telling.
- Hedwig, at least: This is very early in the last book, and it's "serious". Before, Harry's always had his owl with him, when she's not carrying messages at least, and now he hasn't. And with Dobby; he was helping them, but it killed him. It's dangerous now, and anyway, life sucks. As for the last one, if you take it further, why bother trying to be happy when you're just gonna die in a fairly short time anyway? Why do anything?
- Hedwig had possibly the most pointless death in the whole book. What was Harry thinking keeping her in a cage and trying to flee on a broomstick that he knew would probably be attacked by Death Eaters? Why couldn't he have let her out to fly like he does half the time during the rest of the series?
- You have to remember, at that point they had seven Harrys who were all supposed to look exactly alike. Having Hedwig in a cage was the only way he could remain identical- letting her out to fly would have drawn the Death Eaters to him.
- That doesn't make sense, since they didn't have seven cages with seven snowy owls. Letting her fly free wouldn't reveal anything unless she decided to follow one particular Harry closely. In the movie, they didn't figure it out until she swoops in to save Harry.
- Yes they did. Read that chapter over again, Moody provided them along with the identical clothes, glasses, etc.
- Dobby has always been taking dangerous risks to help Harry. In Deathly Hallows, those risks finally caught up with him. That's the thing about dangerous risks; you don't always make it through okay. As for Lupin and Tonks, you ask why bother making things up between them? Because they didn't know they were going to die! Death strikes without warning and without concern for who you are and what you are doing. It is cold, merciless, and absolute. When death comes for you, you go, whether you deserve to or not. Lupin and Tonks making amends had everything to do with the fact that they weren't planning on dying in the Battle of Hogwarts. They wanted to have a future together. Death coming out of nowhere to cut that future short is, unfortunately, simply what it does.
- This bugs me that a lot of you fellow tropers can't seem to grasp that War doesn't care who you are or what you do. It is not bad storytelling in saying that these people died, since when you have War, a lot of people die. If you engage in War, there is a high possibility that you will die. Oh yeah, and guess what, innocent people get killed too. If you are in a warzone, innocent or not, you may get killed. Do some research into War, you will find this out fast enough.
- War = People risk their Lives for the Cause and those who die for the Cause deserve to be honoured. DH = Harry fake!died for the Cause and therefore his fake!sacrifice is more important than people who really died because Harry needs a sandwich and all is well.
- Reality is Unrealistic. And this is not a bad thing. It seems odd that people are willing to accept so many other facets of unrealism yet are bound and determined that one specific bit is just right. When one person dies, it's traumatic. When two or three people die, it's catastrophic. But when you're wholesale killing off half your cast, it stops being catastrophic and just becomes ridiculous. Sure, you get to have the dramatic scenes with the main character walking through the bodies, but you can do that without killing off a bunch of main characters, and a war where half of your friends die is no victory at all. Not to mention the PTSD the remaining characters will go through for the rest of their lives. George will probably never recover, the rest of his family will be haunted forever, and that's only the face of the issue. If Rowling is going to depict realistic war, then she needs to depict realistic consequences, especially the consequences of the consequences. And when you realize that, it becomes more and more obvious that Evil actually won the war. Sure, Voldemort died, but before he did he practically destroyed magical Britain, devastated seven years of upcoming students, spread dark creatures rampant across the countryside, and the cleanup of the entire mess will not be measured in years, it will be measured in GENERATIONS. Talk about a Downer Ending.
- Granted people die in war; what I have a problem with is the fact that the deaths seemed to me like checking of a grocery list; 'oops, gotta remind the folks that war is senseless and brutal—-which one gets the axe?' I'm not saying that Rowling didn't put thought into it; I'm saying that it really didn't seem like *she* did, and simply saying that war is chaos shouldn't absolve her of a serious pacing problem in the end. (Just to be sure no one misunderstands me: while I have several ideas of how it could have been done better, I am not saying I *could* have done it better.)
- Also, if it's a war story, why the hell doesn't Harry ever kill anyone but Voldemort? If you want it to be a brutal war story, fine, but then your main character has to freakin' kill people. You can't have it both ways; either it's a brutal war story where people kill and are killed, or it's a fluffy fantasy story where the main character doesn't have to kill anyone but the baddest of the bad.
- And why exactly can you only choose between wholesale bloodbath or just one person dies???
- What pacing problems?
- Perhaps the fact that both the preparation and the final battle iself were so short, while most of the book was spent on Harry, Ron, and Hermione doing nothing for most of the book.
- The problem isn't with J. K. Rowling's writing, it's with those readers who have a disconnect with understanding the difference between uncrafted, ruled by chance reality and crafted, deliberate fiction made to mimic the chaos of reality. Bottom Line: It's a war, Anyone Can Die and JK wanted to show this. it's not bad storytelling just because you can't fathom it.
- Actually it is bad writing because it uses death as shock value to try and seem mature, people know that many die in war but killing off half the cast after they have used up their character arcs is a terrible way to use them, death in fiction has to affect the still living characters to have impact, Tolkien was much better at writing about the horror and the glory of war and he only killed off one of his main characters but JK seems to think that throwing death after death will have the same emotional impact as when she first killed off a beloved character. It's not that we cant FATHOM it it with our small mortal brains, its that she really didnt handle it well but fans tend to ignore that her books are far, far from perfect.
- Actually there is a problem, granted wars are chaotic situations where Anyone Can Die, that doesn't mean that a writer writing such a situation in a fictional series is absolved from the duty to give it some order, it is still very much up to the writer to find that bridge between order and chaos while still making their story believable. RK kinda failed in this aspect.
- My main problem with that part was actually how nobody else gets a reference. Oh no, Remus and Tonks and Fred died... and then those other 50 people who I might or might not know, but I wouldn't know because Harry doesn't have the guts to actually look who else died to buy him time.
- So... Why was the Wizarding world so quick to jump on the "Let's hate the filthy mudbloods!" bandwagon? It seems weird that nobody was protesting the government's turn against muggle-borns.
- Welcome to politics.
- We've seen what the Death Eaters did to schoolchildren who questioned their propaganda. Do you think they were nicer to adults? Sure, go ahead and protest the Ministry's turn against Muggle-borns. The next day you'll come home to find they've killed your whole family.
- We can ask the same question about 1930's Germany.
- I can probably answer this because I'm a student of history. Ok the reason why no one was protesting the prejudice aganist Muggle-borns was because they would have been killed. For the prejudice aganist Jews/Romas/Disabled/ in RLF history? They would probably have been thrown into the contrection camps that you have heard of.
- And the Jews/etc. weren't popular before, either. It's not like people were very tolerant of homosexual folks, and Jews had had a lot of trouble in the past, with people calling them greedy and Christ-killers and so on.
- Exactly, the wizarding world didn't protest the the Deat Eaters' agenda, because the wizarding world was already afraid of non-wizes. Muggleborns were simply collateral damage.
- They were never really off it. Look over the whole series and you'll see even wizards on the "good" side still had some prejudice against muggles, and by association muggleborns. Even Arthur Weasley shows some views on thinking muggles are less than wizards, albet in a "aww, aren't they cute with their little muggle toys?" sort of way, and he was known to be an active muggle and muggleborn rights supporter. In fact, the Weasley's themselves were looked down upon by more than just the pureblood supremist for their acceptance of muggles/muggleborns. It's stated more than once that Arthur's job is low paying and considered unimportant by most ministry officials . So it's less of jumping on the "hate the muggleborn" bandwagon and more nurturing an already there prejudice until it goes from being mild to major.
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