Fridge Harry Potter Discussion

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JulianLapostat
Topic
06:40:31 PM Aug 5th 2017
  • Word of God has established that three of the four Hogwarts founders were from the three nations making up modern mainland Britain (Godric Gryffindor was from England, Rowena Ravenclaw was from Scotland, and Helga Hufflepuff was from Wales), and there are a few details about the fourth (Salazar Slytherin) that seem to evoke popular representations of Ireland. To elaborate:
    • Gryffindor's colors are red and gold, and their symbol is a lion—evoking many common symbols in English heraldry. England's flag includes the red Cross of Saint George, their military has historically worn red uniforms, and a gold lion is traditionally a symbol of the English monarchy. The gold in their heraldry is also fitting for the wealthiest region of Britain, and their association with courage and martial prowess (hence Godric Gryffindor's sword being his Iconic Item) is appropriate for the seat of chivalry in Britain, since most of Britain's knights historically came from the English ruling class.
    • Ravenclaw's primary color is blue (the primary color of the Scottish flag), and their association with the element of Air is appropriate for the most mountainous region of Britain. Considering their association with the values of intelligence and curiosity, it's probably not an accident that Hogwarts itself—the seat of all magical learning in Britain—is located in the highlands of Ravenclaw's native Scotland. According to Word of God, Ravenclaws are also known to value independence and nonconformity far more than the other Houses, symbolically tying them to the famously independent Scots.
    • Hufflepuff's association with the element of Earth is appropriate for the fertile farmlands of Wales, their humility and mild attitude is appropriate for the most politically stable area of Britain, and their association with the values of unity and teamwork are appropriate for the region that has historically had the strongest alliance with the ruling English (in contrast to the often rebellious Scots and Irish). Their founder also had a magical chalice as her Iconic Item, evoking the Holy Grail; many scholars believe that the historical King Arthur might actually have been Welsh, and that many Arthurian legends can be traced to Wales.
    • Slytherin's primary color is green, the color most often associated with Ireland in the popular imagination. Salazar Slytherin was said to hail "from fen", which could easily describe the swamplands of Ireland, and the house has a snake as its animal symbol, evoking the popular legend about Saint Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) banishing all snakes from the isle—especially since Slytherin could speak to snakes.

I am pulling this entry for the fact that I think this kind of Nationalist allegorical reading is dangerous and full of Unfortunate Implications...not on the part of the work necessarily but on the part of the troper. Unless Rowling comes out and openly says this is applicable to all regions which in that case would mark as either Unfortunate Implications or Critical Research Failure in the main page...

Now the other problem I have with this page is some of it is just plain wrong. Wales for instance is written as the most stable and politically compliant of this region. There were historically famous Welsh rebellions against the Crown...Owain Glyndŵr most famously. Scotland likewise has been happily serving as co-partners to England since the Acts of Union, and the independence movement is neither the only or the most representative part of Scotland. Likewise associating Gryffindor with England because of Wealth ignores the fact that in the books...Slytherin's the house of the Pureblood elite with the richest families being Slytherins...while Gryffindor has poor Pureblood families like Weasleys as well as Muggleborns and so on. So it's not even a proper consistency. It's just fan projection.

And I have huge problems with ireland being associated with Slytherin for a variety of reasons (mostly because Slytherin is the House of Evil in the books, and I don't think the Irish, or the English, or any people or nation, should be automatically associated with) simply because Green=Slytherin. Lily Evans has Green Eyes, as does Harry Potter...heck Harry wears Green robes...this kind of blinkered simplistic colour symbolism is not even consistent in the books.

And none of this is Fridge Logic...this belongs in WMG and Headscratchers (and even then for Unfortunate Implications I would argue against it)...seeing Hogwarts Houses as being representative of different parts of England, means what...that Luna Lovegood is not as English as the Weasleys or something? That Draco Malfoy is Irish? None of this makes any damn sense even as allegory.
JulianLapostat
07:12:20 PM Aug 5th 2017
And I need to add one final point...has established that three of the four Hogwarts founders were from the three nations making up modern mainland Britain (Godric Gryffindor was from England, Rowena Ravenclaw was from Scotland, and Helga Hufflepuff was from Wales), and there are a few details about the fourth (Salazar Slytherin) that seem to evoke popular representations of Ireland.

The really weird distorting part is that it acts as if Ireland in a sense belongs to Great Britain...Ireland is an independent nation and part of the EU unlike England these days...Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain and there are, it goes without saying and it must be emphasized, that there are people there who have very good reasons for being Unionists but that doesn't change the fact that a huge chunk of the Irish people don't consider themselves part of "West Britain" anymore...and they have equally good reasons for doing so.

And there is a Irish character in Hogwarts, Seamus Finnegan, and he's in Gryffindor. Now Seamus Finnegan is probably a bit of an Irish Stereotype and there might be objections to that...but there's nothing to suggest that wizarding england reflects the Muggle nationalism. Let's not forget that In-Universe Harry and Co. cheer the Irish Quidditch Team at the Quidditch World Cup and the Irish are considered The Ace of Quidditch. Now maybe that is a reflection of the fact that the English generally suck at sports they invented, whether it's cricket, football, rugby or tennis...but there's none of the essentialism implied in that entry.

TheMightyHeptagon
08:25:15 PM Aug 5th 2017
edited by TheMightyHeptagon
As I said: the fact that the association doesn't stand up to rigorous, step-by-step analysis doesn't necessarily mean that it couldn't have been intentional on the author's part. Plenty of authors use slightly simplified versions of history for the sake of thematic motifs, since fiction is—by definition—a simplified version of reality that adheres to the rules of drama in ways that real life doesn't.

I'm perfectly aware that there have historically been Welsh rebellions, and that there's far more to Scotland than their historic independence movements. But the fact remains that Scotland is still far more associated with independence in the popular imagination, which suggests that the author might have had that on her mind when she made the conscious artistic decision to establish Rowena Ravenclaw as a native Scot.

Likewise, I'm perfectly aware that not all Gryffindors are rich, while plenty of Slytherins are. But the fact remains that the author chose to use the color motif of gold (which tends to suggest wealth and prosperity) in connection with Gryffindor, which is the only one of the four houses explicitly said to be founded by an Englishman.

And I'm perfectly aware that Ireland is considered an independent sovereign nation today (Northern Ireland notwithstanding), but the fact remains that Britain and Ireland are still regularly referred to as "The British Isles" (note the plural) in the popular imagination, and that the modern United Kingdom is composed of four constituent nations—not three.

Considering Rowling went to the trouble to write a whole poem that included mentions of the Founders' birthplaces ("Bold Gryffindor from wild moor, sweet Ravenclaw from glen, sweet Hufflepuff from valley broad, shrewd Slytherin from fen") and to outright establish three of them through Word of God, it seems pretty clear that she considered their nationalities to be part of their characterization; otherwise, she could have just left the fans to assume that all four of them were English.

I don't mean to suggest that their entire characterizations all spring from their national origins, just that they add another layer to some of the details of each House. For example: since the Scottish-born Rowena Ravenclaw was known to place more value on learning and intelligence than any of the founders, it's probably not an accident that Hogwarts is located in Scotland.

It's important to remember: a core theme of the series is that even House placement doesn't define everything about a person, it just provides a way to sort people into convenient groups, and it provides a paradigm that each person can be compared to. As the series shows us time and time again: there are plenty of cowardly Gryffindors, and at least a few snobbish Hufflepuffs and stupid Ravenclaws.

By your logic, one could also say that Rowling's use of the Four-Element Ensemble doesn't hold up either, just because Harry (a Gryffindor) is most comfortable when flying (associating him with the element of Air) despite Gryffindor's element being Fire. And because Neville Longbottom (also a Gryffindor) is repeatedly shown to be an expert herbologist (associating him with the element of Earth). And because Crabbe and Goyle (both Slytherins) meet their demises in a climactic scene where they conjure monsters made from flame (associating them with the element of Fire), despite Slytherin's element being Water.

But in spite of all that, Rowling still took the time to establish Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin as being associated with the elements of Fire, Air, Earth and Water through Word of God—because it made for an interesting motif. She also took the time to establish that Gryffindor was founded by an Englishman, Ravenclaw was founded by a Scotswoman, and Hufflepuff was founded by a Welshwoman—probably because it also made for an interesting motif. And she gave Salazar Slytherin at least three major qualities that seem to invite associations with popular imaginings of Ireland, establishing him as a man who wore green, came from swampy fenlands, and had the power to speak to snakes. I think all that suggests that she intended the four nations as a deliberate motif, just as the four classical elements were a deliberate motif.

Lastly: as for the perceived Unfortunate Implications in associating Slytherin with Ireland, I think Rowling has made it abundantly clear that Slytherin is not a "House of Evil". If you still genuinely believe that all Slytherins are evil—and that all evil people are Slytherins—after reading all seven books, that probably says more about you than it does about me.

Thank you.
JulianLapostat
08:53:12 PM Aug 5th 2017
Thanks for your detailed response. I am glad that we understand each other and can clear the air. I still have some disagreements and hopefully I can summarize them, if it's too long, I apologize, for I would surely write something shorter if I had more time...heh heh...

1) Considering Rowling went to the trouble to write a whole poem that included mentions of the Founders' birthplaces ("Bold Gryffindor from wild moor, sweet Ravenclaw from glen, sweet Hufflepuff from valley broad, shrewd Slytherin from fen") and to outright establish three of them through Word of God, it seems pretty clear that she considered their nationalities to be part of their characterization; otherwise, she could have just left the fans to assume that all four of them were English.

See...the thing is there are Moors and Fens in England. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fens) and there's no narrative justification to see the Fens as being a reference to Ireland specifically. So if Rowling intends it to serve as that kind of reference then it should fit Critical Research Failure, The Theme Park Version and so on. Since it's a shallow Flanderization and in any case, Since Rowling as openly stated this, this isn't a Fridge Entry, it should go on the character pages and so on since there's nothing Fridge about inferring this.

2) But the fact remains that Scotland is still far more associated with independence in the popular imagination, which suggests that the author might have that on her mind when she made the artistic decision to establish Rowena Ravenclaw as a native Scot.

That implies that Harry Potter rests on Viewers Are Morons, which I don't believe. And furthermore, while I can accept that kind of symbolism from a Non-English creator (aka Braveheart), I certainly can't believe that a writer who comes from Scotland would insist such a superficial symbolism, especially given that Rowling publicly opposed Scottish independence on a referendum. So in her mind the idea that Scots=Independence does not exist. It's one thing for Rowling to claim that the backgrounds of so or so come from such a place, and another to say that she intends this to be symbolic of British Unity. You may call Death of the Author on Rowling's expressed political opinions to which I call Death of the Author on Rowling supplying additional canon outside the books.

3) but the fact remains that Britain and Ireland are still regularly referred to as "The British Isles" (note the plural) in the popular imagination,

Not everyone in the world mistakes Ireland for the British Isles, and certainly it would be hard for a contemporary British Author of Rowling's profile to make that assumption. That's the thing, Rowling is British, for her to make such assumptions about her culture and history is to imply that she's some Thatcherite Little Englander which we know from her stated views she is not.

I mean the only thing you say that suggests Salazar Slytherin is Ireland is that one his colours are green, and two that he comes from "fen". Now leaving aside the fact that it's probable most people learned the existence of the word "Fen" from Harry Potter, that's not the first thing people associate Ireland with. And by the way The Other Wiki doesn't mention Ireland on the page for it, so it fails the basic test. Second, Slytherin's first name Salazar is not remotely Irish-sounding (and was derived from the name of a Portuguese dictator), and in any case for most of history, the colour associated with Ireland is blue.

4) I think Rowling has made it abundantly clear that Slytherin is not a "House of Evil". If you still genuinely believe that all Slytherins are evil

Salazar Slytherin was undoubtedly evil. He created a monster and put in a school for children hoping his descendants would Follow in My Footsteps. He was a pureblood supremacist who fell out with the founders. That there are individuals who come from Slytherin who are good or decent, no more prevents Slytherin from being a house of evil, than the existence of Pro-Union Southerners or Abolitionist Southerners prevent the American South from being a region associated with Slavery, or the few resistors and genuinely decent Germans prevent Germany from being associated with Nazism...

TheMightyHeptagon
05:32:31 PM Aug 7th 2017
edited by TheMightyHeptagon
1) I never said that Rowling openly stated that Slytherin was Irish; it's Fridge specifically because it's something that can be subtly inferred from several relatively minor details, adding another layer to a motif that the author already established. And I'm perfectly aware that there are Fens in England too, but it's not exactly hard to imagine that—in the context of the poem—"Fen" could have simply meant "swampland", and that Rowling used it because it rhymed with "glen"; "swamp", "bog" and "marsh" don't exactly rhyme with many words for common types of land in the British Isles.

2) It's a pretty big leap to assume that I mean to imply that Viewers Are Morons just because I noted that the House founded by a Scotswoman has "Independence" as one of its core values, and that it has the same primary color as the Scottish flag. Yes, there is far more to Scottish history than movements for independence, but they're still undeniably a part of Scottish history, and Rowling is perfectly allowed to acknowledge that fact without being accused of advocating for seceding from the UK. As we frequently say on this site: a depiction is not an endorsement. Both of those things are perfectly valid observations, regardless of Rowling's own political views. And as I've repeatedly said: it's probably not an accident that Hogwarts is located in the highlands of Rowena Ravenclaw's native Scotland, since Ravenclaw advocated for the importance of education far more than any of the other founders; that's also a perfectly valid observation. And it's also probably not an accident that the House with "Air" as its Element was founded by someone who hailed from the most mountainous region of Britain.

3) Regardless of your feelings on Irish independence, the fact remains that "The British Isles" is a frequently used geographical indicator. And they still remain two neighboring islands with a common language and a deeply intwined history, even if only half of Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom. That close relationship is reflected in the books, which feature the Irish character Seamus Finnegan as one of the most prominent Gryffindors, and also feature Harry and the Weasleys enthusiastically cheering on the Irish team at the Quidditch World Cup. Once again: a depiction is not an endorsement; one is perfectly allowed to acknowledge the close relationship between the people of Britain and Ireland without being accused of endorsing British imperialism.

I'm perfectly aware that green wasn't always closely associated with Ireland, but the fact remains that it is today (hence why it's used in the modern Irish flag to represent the Irish nationalist movement). Rowling is writing for a modern audience from a modern perspective, so it's still a perfectly valid observation to note the significance of green being Slytherin's color when she explicitly established the other three Hogwarts founders as being from the three nations making up modern Britain. And if you're willing to accept that "fen" was just used as a synonym for "bog" or "swampland" for the sake of rhyming, it's worth noting that The Other Wiki's article for bogs does mention Ireland multiple times. And my point still stands: Salazar Slytherin was a man who was associated with the color green, and could communicate with snakes, so (implications aside) it's a perfectly valid observation to note that he has some striking parallels with Saint Patrick—which is particularly worth noting when we're discussing a series that uses All Myths Are True so liberally. I haven't really seen a convincing rebuttal for that point.

4) Regardless of the evil things that Salazar Slytherin might have done, he's still a Posthumous Character, so we only have other people's accounts to tell us what kind of a person he was. And as morally questionable as his actions might have been, he was still a founding member of Hogwarts, and his contributions to the Wizarding World were important enough that he still has a House that carries his name. It's a bit of an "Apples and Oranges" comparison to compare Slytherin to Nazi Germany or the Confederate States. For one thing, Hogwarts is a school attended by Wizarding children of multiple cultures, religions, ethnicities and nationalities. For another thing, all Hogwarts students are ultimately loyal to Hogwarts itself, regardless of their House. And for another thing, Houses are assigned to students based on individual qualities, so it's ultimately up to them to decide whether they actually sympathize with any of Salazar Slytherin's outdated ideas on Pureblood supremacy. As Rowling herself would say "It is our choices, far more than our abilities, that show who we truly are."

Above all, I would remind you: this is the Fridge page we're talking about, so the examples on this page are—by their very nature—based on audience reactions. They're supposed to be a little bit subjective, simply because everyone reacts to a work a little differently, and not everybody fixates on the same details. I think I've made a pretty good case for my entry being based on valid observations about the text. Even if you didn't infer the same implications from those same details, that's no reason for deleting my entire entry outright.
JulianLapostat
06:04:59 PM Aug 7th 2017
Well, I am still iffy about it, but you do give convincing arguments.

About the Saint Patrick thing...Saint Patrick drove the Snakes out of Ireland and there aren't snakes in ireland...so that could suggest that Slytherin came from there but was driven out. So if you mention that, and qualify that, then I think it would square the circle. Make Slytherin from ireland but not make him associated with ireland. Slytherin being a guy thrown out of Ireland I think would be inoffensive, to me at least. And you know the Sorting Hat says they came from this part and so on...which doesn't necessarily mean that they are represenative of that region.

And you are right about it fitting the fridge entry, so if you want to restore it, I won't oppose it, but I will suggest that you carefully qualify it. Like say that the Wizarding Britain is not the same as Muggle Britain in terms of political history that there doesn't seem to be any real magical equivalent of the nationalism we know.

I think we both agree that the first version at least...where you suggest that Snape's experiences was comparable to the Troubles was uncalled for...so I wasn't wrong for criticizing that reading or pointing out the Unfortunate Implications since the logic of making Slytherin irish can lead to weak analogies. I mean cunning and so on being associated with poor people is 1) Victorian Classical Liberalism 2) Inaccurate because in the books Slytherin is the House of Aristocrats and even the two Poor Slytherins (Riddle and Snape) are wannabe aristos (Lord Voldemort and Half-Blood Prince), or at least Snape was in his Death Eater days.

It's a bit of an "Apples and Oranges" comparison to compare Slytherin to Nazi Germany or the Confederate States.

Slytherin explicitly said, and the Sorting Hat states this in the song in Book 4 or Book 5 that Slytherin wanted to keep the Muggleborns out...and that racist ideology inspired Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and Voldemort explicitly said that his vision for Hogwarts was Slytherin-Only with the other houses gone...I don't know how that is dissmilar from Nazi-Confederate views.

I mean the Aesop of the books is anti-discrimination but I don't think the narrative ever implies, however much fans wish, that the real victims are the widdle Slytherins rather than the House-Elves, Goblins, Werewolves and Muggleborns...although I do have problem with the novels Fantastic Racism metaphor.

Darkaros
Topic
03:24:19 PM Jan 20th 2012
Found these Fridge entries from Snape's character page. Did you know that Fridge Brilliance entries that are posted outside of Fridge subpages, especially unsigned, are pretty useless to readd? Just moving these here for reference, maybe someone can move them back to the page when there's time and the page is sorted again. I think there's still some duplicate/unsorted examples from the last time I cleaned up.


  • Fridge Brilliance: Re-read all seven books. What was the first clue that Snape was in love with Lily? When he's insulting Harry, he only compares him to James. (As a matter of fact, Fridge Brilliance was heavily leaned on for his Character Development; the actual trope page has several great examples.)
    • Also, the biggest one: the chapter where Harry looks at Snape's memories is called "Snape's Worst Memory." One would think that it is because he got humiliated by James Potter and Sirius Black, but one could also expect this was somewhat normal for them. Then comes Deathly Hallows and we discover that it is his worst memory because he called Lily Evans "mudblood", ending their friendship and destroying any chance he might have had of ending up with her.
    • Even earlier you have Snape's reaction to Sirius escaping punishment at the hands of the dementors. He damn near flips out and at that point you can only assume it is his hoping for revenge for past years of bullying and perhaps hoping for a bit of recognition. Get to the Prince's Tale and considering the crime that Sirius was thought guilty of at the time and Snape's reaction takes a very different meaning.
    • Fridge Brilliance essentially defines Snape's entire character. Virtually everything he does either makes for more sense or looks entirely different after The Prince's Tale.
    • Snape is never the warmest towards his students, especially the less talented, but his dislike of Neville seems to go beyond that into irrational hatred. Which seems less irrational when you realize that Neville is a constant reminder to Snape that Voldemort chose to pursue the Potters over the Longbottoms, thus tying Lily to her fate.

JulianLapostat
06:39:49 PM Aug 5th 2017
edited by JulianLapostat
EDIT:...oops sorry
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/remarks.php?trope=Fridge.HarryPotter