Are the Characters Becoming Too Harsh?

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Are the Characters Becoming Too Harsh?

Post  Elanor on Sat May 21, 2011 11:24 am

Are the Characters Becoming Too Harsh?

This topic serves as an archive of a thread from the Harry Potter Lexicon Forum as hosted on World Crossing which ceased operation on April 15, 2011. Elanor

Liz Mann - Jun 29, 2005 8:45 am
Edited by Kip Carter Nov 17, 2005 2:51 pm
I've noticed, particuarly in OotP, that some of the characters are becoming a little harsh. Harry, Ron and Fred and George in particular. For example, the twins pushed Montague into the Vanishing Cabinet and when he reappeared again he was confused and disorientated, and Madam Pomfrey didn't seem to be able to make any improvement on him. Hermione suggested to Harry and Ron that they tell the teachers what happened to him, in case it helped, and Harry and Ron said no. Then when Hermione said, "What if Montague's permanantly injured?", Ron replied, "Who cares?" Isn't it a bit harsh to not care if someone is permanantly injured because they tried to take points from Gryffindor?

There are other instances of characters being harsh, but this one's in my mind at the moment because that's the part of the book I've just been reading. Hermione is one of the characters J.K. uses to speak for herself, so I'd say J.K. is of the same opinion as Hermione, so I doubt that Montague is permanantly injured, but it's a bit worrying about Ron's attitude.
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Are the Characters Becoming Too Harsh (Post 1 to 50)

Post  Elanor on Sat May 21, 2011 11:25 am

Ludicrous Patents Office - Jun 29, 2005 9:51 am (#1 of 132)
Liz I think that the harshness comes from the situation the characters are in. There is no respected authority so people are inclined to "give in" to their darker side. Fred and George in particular, once Dumbledore left they were bent on getting expelled.

Also the characters are teenagers. I work with students 11-14. They can be very harsh. They are sensitive to who hurts them but do not have much sympathy when people they do not like get hurt.

You could add Hermione into this with her jinx on Marietta. The fact she did use a counter jinx. LPO

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Liz Mann - Jun 29, 2005 10:25 am (#2 of 132)

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I am inclined to think that Marietta isn't permanantly disfigured because of what Hermione said about Montague. But that's for the Marietta and/or Hermione threads really.

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Ponine - Jun 29, 2005 5:33 pm (#3 of 132)

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
Personally, I found the commotion created around the World Cup to very unsettling; the noise, the cruelty, and the senseless spinning of a small child, as well as exposing Mrs. Robertson was very disturbing to me, and would have upset me when I was younger. Furthermore, as I have mentioned on another thread or two, I honestly found the image of Draco the bouncing ferrit (ferret?) to be nauseating. I don't care how much it really is supposed to be Draco, it is still a small fluffy animal there and then, and I hope and pray the movie won't give kids around the world any ideas... These examples do not reflect any of the characters per se, but a darker, harsher mood for the books. Disturbing, but good.

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Finn BV - Jun 29, 2005 6:21 pm (#4 of 132)

Me kayaking, Niagara River, August 2006. I have been likened to Reepicheep in this photo.
Yes, I agree with Ponine, just to think about the QWC events seems so sickening, because it would never happen in the Muggle World. Also the fact that Lucius is ready, willing, and able to just kill or Imperio or Crucio Harry, a classmate of his son (no matter how much they dislike each other), any time.

However, more to Liz's point… I agree, I think the characters have definitely increased the drama of malignity and – as you say – harsh-ness towards others, but it just shows tone of the book. Perhaps it's natural; it is, definitely, for teens.

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Solitaire - Jun 29, 2005 7:15 pm (#5 of 132)

LPO: I work with students 11-14. They can be very harsh. They are sensitive to who hurts them but do not have much sympathy when people they do not like get hurt.

This is absolutely true. I also think we must consider the fact that Voldemort has returned to power. His presence seems to incite harsh behavior. I think the behavior at the QWC could be related to his closer proximity to his DEs. If Snape and Karkaroff have been noticing the Mark getting darker and clearer, surely the other DEs have had the same experience.

Keep in mind, too, the effect that Umbridge's presence had on all of the kids. In order to get around her, the Trio and the rest of the DA kids had to be more devious. Her punishments were much harsher than any given by other professors in previousyears. In addition, she was planning to let Filch use physical punishments. She also gave the Inquisitorial Squad--STUDENTS!--the freedom to penalize and use physical spells on other students (mainly Gryffindors).

I think the presence of evil has simply affected everyone within its circle.

Solitaire

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zelmia - Jun 29, 2005 9:04 pm (#6 of 132)

Oh! And that's a bad miss!
I think Rowling is right in not copping out and having this behaviour occur "off-camera". She has always maintained - and I, for one, wholeheartedly agree - that if you are going to have an evil character, you have to show that Evil. It can't just happen in conversation, as a description of something that occurred elsewhere. In the HP world, there is a reason why no one will even speak Voldemort's name, and Rowling has honored her duty to demonstrate it whenever the plot required it (e.g. Cedric's Death).

As for the more heroic characters, I agree that these are tenuous and stressful times for everyone. People tend not to be as forgiving when there is a real "Us vs. Them" mentality permeating the environment. Combine that with the standard "teenage angst" and you've really upped the ante, as far as the "who cares" mentality that Ron exhibits.

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mooncalf - Jun 29, 2005 10:40 pm (#7 of 132)

Personally, I think that Ron has always been rather like that. But Ron's bark has always been worse than his bite.

The harshness that caught my attention in this book did not come from the good guys, but from the bad guys. For the first time we have characters, Umbridge and Bella, who are truly sadistic. As awful and heartless as Voldemort is, he always has a reason, however twisted, for what he does. Bella and Umbridge are cruel for it's own sake; they enjoy it. I found it sickening to watch them get bright-eyed and breathless at the idea of inflicting pain on someone else.

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TwinklingBlueEyes - Jun 29, 2005 11:38 pm (#8 of 132)

"Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking"
"because it would never happen in the Muggle World."

Care to bet a stoat sandwich on that. I read worse in newspapers across the world everyday.

Too harsh? I think not...

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Phelim Mcintyre - Jun 30, 2005 12:57 am (#9 of 132)

I hope that they don't have Malfoy the bouncing ferret in the film. I can already see the headlines "J K Rowling encourages cruelty to animals".

Twinkling - I agree. I wouldn't bet a staoat sandwich, but a crate of butterbear. Here in England some teenagers have been arrested for kicking a man to death because he did not have a light for their cigarettes. Thankfully they did not have magic wands.

If we try to remove violence from ficton all we get is froth.

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Snuffles - Jun 30, 2005 12:59 am (#10 of 132)

Olivia
Phelim, that scene is in the movie, it's been discussed quite a bit on the GOF movie thread. Personally it's one of the scenes I'm most looking forward to!!

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Ruthie - Jun 30, 2005 3:42 am (#11 of 132)

I think the younger characters actions are all you could expect from teenagers in the middle of a war. The Slytherins in the Inquisitorial Squad and whos parents are DE's and the Gryffindors who are connected with the Order are just (being teenagers) very passionate about what they think is right and what has been impressed on them by their parents. Mind you, I do feel sick every time I read the QWC incident or when a DE crucios someone with a smile on their face.

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Phelim Mcintyre - Jun 30, 2005 4:31 am (#12 of 132)

Snuffles - I'm looking forward to the scene, especially the look on the actors face afterwards. But I can already here the anti-Potter brigade.

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Liz Mann - Jun 30, 2005 7:26 am (#13 of 132)

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The anti-Potter brigade will cause a fuss anyway, whether J.K. gives them a reason to or not. And if they complain about the ferret scene as encouraging cruelty to animals then clearly they haven't actually watched the scene because it's not a real ferret (although I suppose it's actually worse to do it to a person, though Malfoy didn't seem to be injured by the incident, just a little sore). And we do have to remember it was Crouch (evil) not the real Mad Eye Moody.

With the QWC, I think J.K. was perfectly right to show the Death Eaters doing those things, because she needs to bring it across just how evil these people are and what they're capable of. Harry needs to know that too, because he's the one that has to deal with them later.

I wasn't concerned about the behaviour of the villains. I was concerned about some of the behaviour of the good people. Although I agree with what people have said about teenagers and the effect people like Umbridge have on those around them.

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Joanne R. Reid - Jun 30, 2005 10:20 am (#14 of 132)

Hi,

Yes, this series has become "darker", as we had been told it would.

I've been saying all along that JKR is writing another saga of Good vs. Evil. And, as has been said many times, Evil must be shown to the reader and its consequences demonstated vividly to be felt and understood by the reader. The reader must experience not only the Evil, but the Fear that preceeds it and the Horror that it leaves in its wake. Only if Evil is fully understood, can the reader appreciate Good.

Yet, Good is not Purity. Good has to be as real as is Evil. Good must be embodied within a real person, experiencing real things in a real world. The personification of Good must be tempted. That Hero must know the full consequence of the attempt to defeat Evil. That Hero must succeed, in spite of personal loss, while forsaking personal gain.

The only differences in the different forms of Sagae are the fates of the Heroes. In the greatest of these, the Hero survives. The Hero goes on to become a leader and an inspiration to others.

In others, including a vast number of the most easily forgettable, the Hero dies. Typically, such an ending makes a mockery of the Hero's great struggle. Worse, such an ending implies that the struggle between Good and Evil is not Heroic and is, in fact, futile. Those Anti-Hero stories embody the messages that all is lost, there is no Hope for the future and that nothing anyone can do is the least bit worthwhile.

It remains my hope tht Harry Potter will survive this difficult period, overcome Evil and restore a sense of civility and kindness to the WW. Perhaps, through his heroism, Harry will serve as an exemplar to our children and grandchildren.

I will now step down from my soapbox and trundle off for more butterbeer.

Accio! Half-Blood Prince!

Thanks,

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Ydnam96 - Jun 30, 2005 10:39 am (#15 of 132)

Joanne, you are quite right. I do think that if an author is going for authenticity then the characters must embody real human characteristics. I think the question may lie in what "we" find acceptable for "children's" books.

Now I'm a HP fan. And I think up untill this point things have held a quite nice balance and the violence or "darker" side of the stories have had a purpose and have never been added for effect. I don't see JK going for that in the next two books either. However, I am of the mind though that children who read the books should be mature enough to handle the subject matter they deal with, ie death and the like. Some children are not as mature as others and I think parents should be careful and informed of where each of their children are personally as they allow them to read these (or any) books.

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Steve Newton - Jun 30, 2005 11:11 am (#16 of 132)

Librarian
It seems to me that children's books have always been harsh. Didn't Hansel and Gretel push the witch into the oven. That's harsh!

Now, I don't think that these are children's books. Children read, and like them, but they seem to be quite readable by everyone.

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Liz Mann - Jun 30, 2005 12:02 pm (#17 of 132)

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I agree. They're not really children's books, but neither are they adult's books. They're books for everyone!

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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jun 30, 2005 12:58 pm (#18 of 132)

These books are about good and evil. However they also look at the good and evil inside of the individual characters. Each of us has a choice. Umbridge brought out the worst in the students. Many people let their harsher side come out when they think they have a good excuse. In GoF p. 724 Scholastic Hardbound Dumbledore says: "Remember if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy..." Every day we have to make those choices. Circumstances have encouraged students to behave harshly. They need to learn it is up to the individual not the circumstance as to how to respond. LPO

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Miriam Huber - Jun 30, 2005 1:35 pm (#19 of 132)

I wanted to add just something to all your very insightful posts:

It is not only some characters that are harsh, the whole wizarding world is harsher than "our" world (at least, our "first world"). Look at the dangers and injuries the students come across even when their initials aren´t HP - the detentions, the possible injuries at class, how dangerous Quidditch is ... I suppose, at least some of it may have to do with magical healing possibilities: if Madam Pomfrey can mend bones in a second, you don´t fuss about broken bones.

I think wizards just have other standards than us - I don´t say it´s right or wrong, I only say I don´t think it is just one or the other character that gets harsh.

Of course, concerning the characters we know, they also grow, get into a "harsh" age and are confronted with the frightening prospect of a second war, as many of you pointed out.

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Solitaire - Jun 30, 2005 2:07 pm (#20 of 132)

the whole wizarding world is harsher than "our" world

Given what I am seeing in the news on a daily basis, I cannot agree that the WW is harsher than the Muggle world ... especially if you happen to be a child or young adult. Hardly a day goes by anymore--at least here in the US--that we do not read or hear of a child or teen meeting some horrible fate at the hand of another ... maybe even another child. I won't even start on what we have seen happen to kidnap victims at the hands of terrorists. As for sports, well, recently we have seen even fans get injured by some of the bad behavior at sporting events.

Wherever we go, people are guilty of all kinds of bad behavior. We Muggles have our own versions of the sociopathic Bellatrix Lestrange and even Voldemort. The truth is that our world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place, and I think Jo's magical world is probably reflecting that.

Do I think all is lost? No, because--like Anne Frank--I still believe most people are good and caring and want to live in peace. But that takes cooperation, understanding, compromise, and a willingness to put aside egos. I'm not sure those "in charge" are always willing or even able, especially when it comes to the ego part. Sorry if this post seems harsh ...

Solitaire

edited

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Liz Mann - Jun 30, 2005 2:17 pm (#21 of 132)

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It doesn't seem harsh to me, Solitare.

It is not only some characters that are harsh, the whole wizarding world is harsher than "our" world (at least, our "first world"). Look at the dangers and injuries the students come across even when their initials aren´t HP - the detentions, the possible injuries at class, how dangerous Quidditch is ... I suppose, at least some of it may have to do with magical healing possibilities: if Madam Pomfrey can mend bones in a second, you don´t fuss about broken bones.

I also think it is to do with the fact that wizard healing is so much more advanced. Quiddich, for example, would be a lot less moral in our world than in theirs, because for us a broken arm takes ages to heal (during which we have to live with the pain and inconvenience). For them it only takes a few minutes and then they're raring to go again. Also I think it is easier for Muggles to get injured in the first place than wizards (judging by the fact that in PS Neville fell twenty feet and only broke his wrist).

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Nathan Zimmermann - Jun 30, 2005 4:25 pm (#22 of 132)

In my experience as a student in special education classes throughout primary and secondary school, the harshness of the students of toward one another in the course of the school term is accurately depicted within the books. J.K. Rowling also accurately depicited the natural harshness that exists between the able bodied students toward disabled students. As an example of this idea look at the relationship between Draco and Neville.

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Madam Pince - Jun 30, 2005 5:49 pm (#23 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
...just to think about the QWC events seems so sickening, because it would never happen in the Muggle World. -- fbv

Have you ever seen the goings-on at some U.S. college campuses that follow a big sports victory? Yuck. I have never understood that mentality, but it does exist. If some of these college students had wands, I have no doubt there would be people floating upside down in the midst of the "celebrations."

In one of the televised interviews with JKR, she recounted the story of the woman who wrote to her and complained that the stories were getting too "dark," and apparently the woman also made suggestions as to how Jo could write them "better" and implied that Jo had better watch her step because "I'll be watching to see that you make these improvements," or some such nonsense. JKR's response was along the lines of "Yes, they're getting darker. They're my stories. I'll write them the way I want, and if you don't like them, then don't read them."

That was a pretty harsh reply, but you could tell she was irritated by the question. I think they are certainly getting darker, and I think it would be well for parents to ensure that their kids are ready to read whatever is coming, as Ydnam said earlier.

And I agree with Solitaire and Ludicrous Patents Office -- in OoP, Umbridge's evil just helped to bring out the worst in everybody else. It's sort of like that "slippery slope" thing....

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Riley the Happy Dude - Jun 30, 2005 6:59 pm (#24 of 132)

I think that what is happening in the Wizard World is almost no different than what happens in our world.

Even the stuff that happened at the QWC is not much different than stuff that happens at some serious sports events in the muggle world. I know someone who wouldn't go to the big Chicago Cubs game last year because she knew if the Cubs won then the crowd would get too rowdy.

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Finn BV - Jun 30, 2005 7:43 pm (#25 of 132)

Me kayaking, Niagara River, August 2006. I have been likened to Reepicheep in this photo.
MP and Riley, you're both very right with what happens in between worlds. I think what I was trying to say more was that it's sickening that it goes in a book… and one that I'm reading. Obviously there are books about hazing and riots, but the thing is that I don't read them, kids younger than me don't read them, and mature adults don't read them. Maybe it was just such a shock. Hmm. Don't know. But, all in support of the characters becoming too harsh. I maintain my point about Lucius.

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Mediwitch - Jun 30, 2005 8:05 pm (#26 of 132)

"We could have all been killed-- or worse, expelled!"
Try reading some of the original Grimm Brothers "fairy tales" - not the watered down versions that are so common. They make Hansel and Gretel pushing the witch into the oven look charming. And, like HP, fairy tales are considered to be "children's" stories.

Children tend to be pretty savvy - if you give them an unrealistic story, they KNOW it's unrealistic. JKR has said all along that the stories are going to get darker. If she wants to portray characters realistically (and I believe she does; that's why we are all so invested in them!), they will get darker too.

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Amilia Smith - Jun 30, 2005 8:16 pm (#27 of 132)

I once heard a storyteller say that Fairy Tales were never meant to be children's stories at all. They were a way to teach adolescents what life is like out in the real world. Boys, there are witches out there; don't marry them. Girls, chances are, you will be a stepmother; don't be like this. If you don't work hard, the wolves will eat you (original lazy pigs of "Three Little Pigs" fame got eaten, they weren't rescued by Big Brother). It was only when Disney started watering them down that they became suitable for small children.

Mills.

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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jun 30, 2005 8:36 pm (#28 of 132)

Amilia I would like to add what we call Fairy Tales comes from oral history. When there was no TV and long winter nights. Versions of these tales were told "over the camp fire" people then like today like to be scared. There are also cautionary tales. Children were viewed as little adults. Their psychological development was not much of a consideration. LPO

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Solitaire - Jun 30, 2005 10:41 pm (#29 of 132)

people then like today like to be scared

Well, I don't, but a lot of people do! If you don't believe it, look at the popularity of movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, all of those "Jason" movies ... need I go on?

Solitaire

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frogface - Jul 1, 2005 3:14 am (#30 of 132)

I don't think the wizarding world is harsher than ours. In the UK we've had massive troubles with soccer riots (although we call it football Smile ) and the QWC was a very accurate reflection of what can happen when a bunch of exhilirated, stupid and horrible people get together like that. The wizarding world probably just seems a bit harsher sometimes because they are capable of much more than us, imagine what our world would be like if anyone of us could whip out our wands and jinx people we didn't like!

I think thats what is so wonderful about these books, JKR is writing about something magical and impossible, yet its so realistic and believable. She's not afraid to show things truthfully just because she realises that some people won't like it, and I for one find that very admirable.

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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jul 1, 2005 10:49 am (#31 of 132)

One of the things I find interesting in the WW is dueling. Muggles have outlawed it. I find it to be harsher way to overcome conflicts. I also think using dementors to guard prisons and suck people's souls out to be harsh. LPO

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mooncalf - Jul 1, 2005 11:32 pm (#32 of 132)

That's an interesting point, LPO, but I had the feeling that Wizard dueling is different than Muggle dueling. In the type of muggle duel to which you refer, the object is to kill your opponent. I get the feeling that wizard duels are more of a sport.

Perhaps it would be better to compare it to Muggle boxing. Although boxing is dangerous, the object certainly isn't to kill anyone.

I don't like to think that Professor Flitwick became a dueling champion by killing all his opponents. And I certainly don't think there would be a dueling club at school if it was the "Walk ten paces, turn and fire" sort of duel. They'd lose too many students!

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Madame Librarian - Jul 2, 2005 7:09 am (#33 of 132)

There is the evil without and the evil within. The war and the grand conflict between the Order and the DEs is the outer world. It is indeed harsh. JKR is also trying to tell us a tale about the inner conflict that most thinking humans must face in their own lives involving on-going choices, of course, of how to live one's life. Will one take the "good" path or the "evil" path. Or, will one waffle between the two and constantly struggle to quell one or the other. The impulse to do evil (or good) is not easy or simple to handle. The teens in this story are themselves a metaphor for the ebb and flow of evil times and good times in the world at large. And the story itself is a fantasy version reflection of the reality we readers face very day.

All your thoughts are great ideas and excellently presented. I hope JKR (if she's not caught up in a final frenzy of prep, or deservedly resting up before the BIG DAY) is reading these posts and nodding sagely, thinking, "I think they've got it!"

Ciao. Barb
(back from a break and not succeeding too well in catching up)

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Liz Mann - Jul 2, 2005 8:32 am (#34 of 132)

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Hey, Madame Librarian!

I think you're right. And I also agree with Mooncalf about duelling. I think it must be done for sport, just like boxing or wrestling. But you can use wrestling in real life to defend yourselves, just as you can duelling. It's the same with karate or judo.

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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jul 2, 2005 11:03 am (#35 of 132)

I agree dueling is like a sport. The object is not to always kill your opponent. But injuries can and do occur. I think it is also a way to deal with conflicts in the WW. We try to teach kids and adults a better way to deal with conflict is through coming to a non violent agreement. I understand dueling can be competitive but it is also used to settle conflicts (Voldemort tired to kill Harry in a duel and at the MOM battle dueling was very serious).

Well said Madame Librarian. It is an ongoing daily choice to be good or bad. And we are not perfect. In some circumstances we may behave badly even though over all we have chosen to be good. LPO

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Solitaire - Jul 2, 2005 12:37 pm (#36 of 132)

In high school, I took fencing. For some reason, that is how I have always considered Wizard dueling. I think boxing and wrestling are good analogies, as well.

Solitaire

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The giant squid - Jul 2, 2005 3:35 pm (#37 of 132)

I see wizard dueling along the same lines as fencing as well. Duels weren't always to the death--otherwise there'd be no need to add "to the death". Those are just the duels that get all the press. No one hears about a duel "to the bruise".

--Mike

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haymoni - Jul 3, 2005 4:28 pm (#38 of 132)

Ungrateful Son took a Fencing class in June and was showing me his moves.

His first stance looked just like Dan & Tom in COS, so I'm guessing Chris Columbus saw it that way too.

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Ponine - Jul 3, 2005 7:13 pm (#39 of 132)

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
I agree with both Miriam and Solitaire; and I personally think that you agree with one another, you just talk 'past each other' (how is that for an insufferable know-it-all ) The wizarding world can be considered more physically harsh; frequently magic and potions are practiced on other wizards, muggles or animals, whether it is practicing charms on one another in class, modifying muggle memories or turning Trevor into a tadpole. Giving Dudley a tail (while attempting to turn him into a pig), body-binding Neville, causing various classmates to sprout antlers or disappar for extended periods of time are all fairly - invasive measures to inflict on someone. I suspect this is in part because, as has been mentioned previously, WW perception of what consitutes a serious injury varies quite a bit from Muggle perspectives. Harry's great fall and total loss of bones in an arm would be quite a bit more grave had it occurred in MW.

However, I do not think for a moment that WW is harsher or more inclined to inflict harm that Muggles, more likely the opposite; it is just that the means are different. JM2K

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Liz Mann - Jul 4, 2005 6:23 am (#40 of 132)

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However, I do not think for a moment that WW is harsher or more inclined to inflict harm that Muggles, more likely the opposite; it is just that the means are different.

I agree. Wizards can get away with more without it being considered immoral because of their more advanced healing abilities. Otherwise even Quiddich wouldn't be played in schools.

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Weeny Owl - Jul 5, 2005 3:15 am (#41 of 132)

Since JKR worked with Amnesty International, I wonder if the dementors are reprsentative of what some prisons do to people by the conditions they're subjected to.

Whether or not the Death Eaters deserved the dementors doesn't matter as much as Sirius being innocent and Sturgis Podmore basically being framed, not to mention Hagrid being completely innocent and there being no evidence on him whatsoever.

Oh her website, JKR says: However bleak the situation of prisoners of conscience and others whose human rights are being violated, the actions of Amnesty International’s members and supporters can make a difference.

There are probably some prisoners in Azkaban who have to suffer through horrible conditions even if their crime might get them probation in our world.

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Liz Mann - Jul 5, 2005 9:07 am (#42 of 132)

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I believe the Dementors were influenced by of a period of time when J.K. was suffering from depression herself. I'll go check that.

Edit: Okay, here it is.

Rowling, who was born 35 years ago in the bizarely named town of Chipping Sodbury near Bristol in England, is a single mother, who fled a bad marriage shortly after her daughter, Jessica, was born, and subsequently found herself very poor and very depressed.

What matters to Rowling is what happened next both to her and to Harry Potter. "I was very lucky," she says. "I didn't suffer depression for very long, but I vividly recollect what it felt like. I had no hope and I didn't believe I would ever feel lighthearted again."

And then from Harry Potter and Me (BBC, 2001), about living in the flat she moved into after coming back from abroad:

Everything was just very very dilapidated and always filthy which wasn't the flat's fault -- it was normally my fault because people very often say to me, "How did you do it? How did you raise a baby and write a book?" and the answer is, I didn't do housework for four years! I'm not Superwoman, and living in squalor that was the answer. Memories of this time definitely created the dementors.

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Vulture - Jul 5, 2005 9:56 am (#43 of 132)

It's just my opinion, but I like it !!
Just looked into this thread, so apologies if this has been said before: I don't think that the characters are becoming permanently harsh, but every human being has their limits, and Umbridge has pushed Hogwarts students (or at least, non-Slytherin ones) pretty close to theirs.

Even Mahatma Gandhi, who deplored violence, said (this is quoting roughly from memory) that whereas those with highest consciousness will oppose violence with non-violent resistance, nevertheless "if a man has not this higher consciousness, it is better for him to fight than be a slave, since that is the choice for him".

Personally, as I was reading Book 5, I found myself sharing the Harry's friends' feelings (though not all of his _ that's a separate issue involving Lord V). When Fred & George set off the Hogwarts rebellion with their flight to freedom, there is a feeling of "yes !! _ relief !!", like one feels when a thunderstorm bursts after that build-up of pressure.

Also, before we get too moralistic about Fred, George, and others, let's not forget how the teachers react to the rebellion _ e.g. McGonagall egging on Peeves. Bottom line _ Umbridge is evil and needs overthrowing, and it won't be done by wishing.

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Steve Newton - Jul 5, 2005 10:59 am (#44 of 132)

Librarian
Actually, in Chapter 17 of OOTP, Educational Decree Twenty Four, I read this:

Harry thinks that "he was a key part of the rebellion."

The rebellion had started long before the twins made their brilliant exit.

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Liz Mann - Jul 5, 2005 12:06 pm (#45 of 132)

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I wasn't talking about the rebellion when I suggested that the characters might be becoming harsh. Umbridge deserves a bit of trouble, and the twins caused that for her. As for the teachers I loved the way they handled Umbridge, it was hilarious! I was thinking more about things like Montague and the Vanishing Cabinet. All he tried to do was take points away, and Harry and Ron don't seem to care that he could be permanantly injured because of his plight.

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Steve Newton - Jul 5, 2005 1:55 pm (#46 of 132)

Librarian
If it really is a rebellion then I think that all rules of civilized society are by the boards.

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Liz Mann - Jul 7, 2005 10:38 am (#47 of 132)

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Another example of a character being harsh is when Harry beat up Malfoy. Harry was very angry, yeah, but beating Malfoy up like that because of one comment he made about Harry's mother was a bit extreme, don't you think?

I wonder how they'll handle that scene in the movie. They need to have it in there, surely, otherwise why would Harry get kicked off the team?

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Weeny Owl - Jul 7, 2005 10:48 am (#48 of 132)

It wasn't the one comment, Liz, at least it didn't see that way to me. It was a build up of tension, stress, and everything Harry had gone through up to that point. Draco's comment was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Harry reached his boiling point, and that's exactly what Draco wanted.

In general, I don't think the characters are becoming too harsh. I don't see any of it as being any different than things we can see today, with the exception of magic being used.

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Solitaire - Jul 7, 2005 11:03 am (#49 of 132)

I agree with Weeny here. There are so many times that Draco has caused trouble for Harry and Snape has been there to punish Harry and let Draco go unpenalized ... I think Draco just got what had been coming to him for a long, long time.

Solitaire

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Liz Mann - Jul 7, 2005 11:44 am (#50 of 132)

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Maybe Draco deserved it but beating someone up, especially when they're on the ground, is a pretty low thing to do, isn't it? I agree, though, that it was a build up of tension from everything that had happened to Harry, and this just made him snap. But he really has to learn to control his anger. Or maybe this is J.K's way of saying, "Look what happens when you let things fester." If she really thought it was okay for Harry to beat up Malfoy she wouldn't have made him do it in a place where Umbridge saw and then have Harry lose his place on the team because of it.
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Are the Characters Becoming Too Harsh (Post 51 to 100)

Post  Elanor on Sat May 21, 2011 11:27 am

Paulus Maximus - Jul 7, 2005 12:00 pm (#51 of 132)
So Fred and George were right... "You don't want all that anger building up inside... let it all out..." or something like that...

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Liz Mann - Jul 7, 2005 1:27 pm (#52 of 132)

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Exactly. Just let it out in a non-harmful way. Like on a punching bag.

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Steve Newton - Jul 7, 2005 1:27 pm (#53 of 132)

Librarian
Isn't that what Draco was?

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Liz Mann - Jul 7, 2005 1:30 pm (#54 of 132)

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I meant a literal punching bag.

Dudley beat Harry up for years and we've been lead to dislike Dudley for it. Harry didn't deserve it, but Dudley believed that he did because he believes Harry is a bad person, like Harry believes Malfoy is a bad person.

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Madam Pince - Jul 7, 2005 3:00 pm (#55 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
I always got the impression that Dudley did it just because he's a nasty little bully -- he whales away on somebody smaller than he is in order to stroke his own ego. I don't think he gives two figs about whether Harry is a bad person or not.

You're right though, about Harry needing to control his anger. I think that's an excellent point that JKR was making a gentle reminder to her readers by having Harry face consequences for what he did -- unfair though those consequences were.

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Denise P. - Jul 7, 2005 3:12 pm (#56 of 132)

Ravenclaw Pony
I don't think they are becoming too harsh. In the case of Harry beating on Draco, maybe Draco will think twice about taunting Harry now. Harry, for years, has swallowed it and took it from Draco and Dudley. There comes a point for everyone where the next taunt will be the straw that breaks the camels back. It doesn't matter if Harry had a punching bag to take his anger out on, I think it is a given that Draco or Dudley was going to make one comment too many and Harry was going to break bad on them. With Dudley, there is the fear of magic that keeps some control on his mouth but until now, Draco had no control on him, no real reason to restrain himself. Sure, there were better ways for Harry to handle it but anyone who has been on the other side of being bullied will realize that JKR wrote this very well and showed what real kids will do.

Given what we read about in newspapers, what kids are doing to other kids for being bullied, we should be happy that Harry *only* hit Draco, didn't do anything more permanent to him.

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Solitaire - Jul 7, 2005 4:13 pm (#57 of 132)

I agree, Denise. And what is more, if the tables had been turned, you can bet your wand Draco's thugs would have been holding Harry down so Draco could kick the **whatever** out of him--assuming Draco hadn't opted for some more permanent kind of damage!

Solitaire

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Liz Mann - Jul 7, 2005 4:20 pm (#58 of 132)

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Yes, but that's Draco, he's a nasty little slimeball. Don't stoop to the level of your enemies, otherwise you're just as bad as they are.

J.K. chooses to speak through characters like Hermione, Dumbledore and McGonagall, and McGonagall was disgusted with Harry and George's actions.

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I Am Used Vlad - Jul 7, 2005 5:33 pm (#59 of 132)

I Am Almighty!
I think McGonagall was more disgusted by the fact that Harry lost his temper again than by what he did to Draco. She had already warned him about the importance of controlling himself after his outbursts in DADA class.

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Mrs Brisbee - Jul 7, 2005 7:26 pm (#60 of 132)

Yes, but that's Draco, he's a nasty little slimeball. Don't stoop to the level of your enemies, otherwise you're just as bad as they are.

J.K. chooses to speak through characters like Hermione, Dumbledore and McGonagall, and McGonagall was disgusted with Harry and George's actions. --Liz Mann

I get what you are saying, Liz, and I agree. Harry totally lost it and beat up Draco even when Draco was curled up on the ground not fighting back. Not a pretty picture.

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Finn BV - Jul 7, 2005 7:30 pm (#61 of 132)

Me kayaking, Niagara River, August 2006. I have been likened to Reepicheep in this photo.
J.K. chooses to speak through characters like Hermione, Dumbledore and McGonagall, and McGonagall was disgusted with Harry and George's actions. --Liz Mann

Excellently put, Liz. That's a very smart observation. If McGonagall, Dumbledore, or Hermione think of something in some manner, you better believe it's right!

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Herm-own-ninny Weezly - Jul 8, 2005 12:44 am (#62 of 132)

I don't think JKR has written any of her characters to be right in actions or thoughts all of the time. That was the beauty of DD's speech at the end of OoP; we finally see him as human (though still amazingly powerful). Before this, I had always viewed DD as all-knowing. Though his intentions were good, we see that everyone can make mistakes because no one can know where their actions will eventually lead.

Additionally, brilliant as Hermione is, I would definitely say she still has alot of growing up to do. Growing up is about making mistakes and learning from them. And she definitely has alot to learn about house elves among other things, but that is being discussed elsewhere...

Edit: I'm not trying to use this as an argument to say that Harry was right in attacking Malfoy and McGonagall was wrong to be disgusted because I do think McGonagall had it right that time. I just want to mention that in the future, she may not always be right because people make mistakes...

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TwinklingBlueEyes - Jul 8, 2005 3:55 am (#63 of 132)

"Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking"
"Don't stoop to the level of your enemies, otherwise you're just as bad as they are."

Now that is a very idealistic phrase!

What I find interesting about that scene was that Harry didn't just turn George loose and pull his wand, as Malfoy probally would have, but as has been said before, the straw that broke the camels back. Crabbe had just caught Harry in the small of the back with his illegal bludger attack, and yet you think a fist to cuffs is harsh? Maybe they should have just turned the other cheek? As Harry had been doing? For how long? Just turn away? Sometimes that becomes impossible, at least in the real world. Harry could have blown them all way, just like Peter did. Harsh choices, harsh life.

Vlad I agree about McG;s reaction.

"even when Draco was curled up on the ground not fighting back. Not a pretty picture." Hmm, when has Draco started something and fought back? Draco taunts, bullies, and like the slug he is he curls up in fright at the mere thought of defending himself. Buckbeak showed us this.

Harsh? As rough and tumble as some see the WW, JKR's rendition of life as we experience it in the "real world" is a marshmellow.

...toddles off and takes my opinion with me...

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Liz Mann - Jul 8, 2005 6:57 am (#64 of 132)

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From what Mconagall said I think she was angry with them beating up Malfoy, not just that Harry lost his temper again.

"I have never seen such a disgraceful exhibition. Two on one!... He'd just lost, hadn't he? Of course he wanted to provoke you! But what on earth he can have said that justified what you two... I do not care what provocation Malfoy offered you, I do not care if he insulted every family member you possess, your behaviour was disgusting..."

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Madam Pince - Jul 8, 2005 8:33 am (#65 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
See, that was one reason why I spent the better part of OoP thinking "What a big prat Harry is being!!!" He really irritated me on my first read-through. As I've re-read, though, I've mellowed a bit.

I can see both sides -- we're not perfect, and everybody reaches their limit where they react too strongly sometimes, and Draco certainly deserved it. At the same time, it's part of growing up to learn how to curb those emotions a bit, and I think Harry could definitely do with working on that.

After all, sometimes it ticks your enemies off even more to just ignore them or react calmly, rather than giving them the exact reaction they're prodding for. (ex: Dumbledore and Fudge/Umbridge right before Dumbledore left Hogwarts.)

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Liz Mann - Jul 8, 2005 11:00 am (#66 of 132)

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After all, sometimes it ticks your enemies off even more to just ignore them or react calmly, rather than giving them the exact reaction they're prodding for. (ex: Dumbledore and Fudge/Umbridge right before Dumbledore left Hogwarts.)

Which is why Hermione keeps intoning, "Ignore them, ignore them." I guess all teenagers can be prats sometimes (I remember perfectly - I thought the same about most of my classmates ), and using your fists is a trap a lot of them fall into. It would have been nice if one of Harry's friends, like Hermione, gave him the, "You've done wrong - feel the guilt!" look, though.

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Weeny Owl - Jul 8, 2005 8:18 pm (#67 of 132)

Don't forget what Harry has taken from Draco all these years. In fourth year Draco tried to hex Harry in the hallway, and if it hadn't been for Moody (Barty Crouch, Jr.) who knows what Draco would have done.

Between what Harry's relatives have put him through, what he's had to put up with from Draco and Company, from Snape, from Umbridge, from The Daily Prophet, from the public... I'm only surprised he hadn't snapped earlier.

I'm not condoning beating someone up, but I can understand how, after having so much abuse heaped and heaped on a fifteen-year-old kid, he might just snap and let the fists fly.

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Miss Malaprop - Jul 8, 2005 11:41 pm (#68 of 132)

Harry does a pretty good job of ignoring Draco, I think. Well, perhaps not ignoring him, but at least "Getting Malfoy" isn't his top priority - he doesn't spend all his spare time thinking up sneaky ways to get Malfoy into trouble, he doesn't go out of his way to be nasty, and he doesn't persecute him at every opportunity.

Comparatively, I don't think a heat-of-the-moment fistfight is too bad, especially when you consider Harry's background, as Weeny Owl said above. Even when Harry is being a jerk in OotP, I'm fairly forgiving of his behaviour - I would expect him to be a much more bitter and troubled person.

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haymoni - Jul 9, 2005 4:22 am (#69 of 132)

I think Harry's comment to Draco about Voldy being a warm-up act for the three of them sums up his contempt for Draco.

Harry doesn't think much of Draco's abilities. He's a fly that needs to be swatted.

Of course, some flys bite - Harry could underestimate Draco.

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Liz Mann - Jul 9, 2005 6:28 am (#70 of 132)

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Comparatively, I don't think a heat-of-the-moment fistfight is too bad, especially when you consider Harry's background, as Weeny Owl said above.

You're right, it's nothing compared to how he could react.

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Ms Amanda - Jul 9, 2005 11:22 am (#71 of 132)

I just posted this in the HBP: A Guaranteed Success? thread. I'm beginning to think it might be more appropriate here, with some editing. So here goes:

I feel that when finishing the first four books, I was satisfied that Harry was safe and happy.

As I started reading OotP, a big warning sign flashed inside my head, "Something is wrong with Harry." I only got through a few chapters before I called a friend and fellow Potter fan and said, "I'm worried about Harry." She didn't have the book, so I kept the signs to myself, and merely told her that Harry was "very upset." To all who have read the book, you know exactly what kind of understatement that is.

When I finished the book and called her back, she assumed that I would now be fine and she said, "Is everything ok with Harry now?" She was so shocked when I said No that she didn't read the book for several months.

I was shocked at any doubts that Harry could withstand the pressure he was under. I felt that Harry was put into the circumstances he had to endure, including living with the Dursley's, in order to give him what I call 'grace under pressure,' a quality of Dumbledore's that I greatly respect (and secretly would be what I'd see in myself in the Mirror of Erised).

And frankly, it wasn't just Harry who had been tested to the limits and come off badly in OotP: Hagrid attacked people, Minerva was sent to the hospital, Dumbledore admitted to keeping information from Harry that he should not have, the Weasley family is not whole, a teacher not possessed by Voldemort actually injures students, and the government is corrupt. To cap it all off, Harry leaves Hogwarts and is still very badly upset and then the Dursley's are threatened.

None of the good guys came off better for being in this book. Now I don't trust any of the characters, and I don't trust any of their lifelines, either. Are they too harsh? Well, they aren't advocating violence or substance abuse or mental abuse. They are just portraying the effects of such behavior.

I feel that I will enjoy the book if it will restore my faith in the characters, and I know I will enjoy the writing style and storytelling of JKR no matter what. And just in case any major characters are planning on acting like jerks, I'm practicing my Patronus charm.

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Liz Mann - Jul 9, 2005 12:03 pm (#72 of 132)

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Interestingly, Ms Amanda, when I first read the book I didn't really notice any of that. It was only later when I re-read. I worry about a lot nowadays anyway, especially about morality. But I'm going to tackle your points one by one:

I wasn't shocked at Harry being so angry and miserable, because I expected it. Maybe I've read too much angsty fanfiction. Plus Harry has the added curse of being fifteen, and fifteen is a very angry the-world-sucks age. Harry's behaviour reflects a lot of the people I knew in school (people I didn't like, but then I suppose there was probably a nicer side to them which I never saw). Maybe now I actually understand my classmates actions more, even though they were still wrong. But they're part of growing up, I guess. Even I (a person who was always very quiet and noticed all these things in other people) have done things I later regretted without actually realising I was doing them. Harry will, hopefully, grow out of his current behaviour. And J.K. did say in the World Book Day chat that he will have to master his feelings in this book in order to make himself useful.

Hagrid attacked people, yes, but we don't know what happened in his cabin, what they said or what they did. I got the impression that they attacked him first. I doubt Hagrid would have reacted that way from the shock of being sacked, because he was already suspecting he might be.

McGonagall being sent to hospital was the result of Umbridge and her helpers' actions. Rowling is very realistic and she isn't going to downplay the nastiness of her villains.

Dumbledore kept things from Harry because he wanted to protect him. He was wrong to keep those things back, but he didn't realise the consequences it would have (and because he never went to see Harry he didn't see the effects not telling was having on him, otherwise maybe he'd have changed his mind). I still have faith in Dumbledore. Let's just hope Harry does, too.

Percy's just an idiot. Some people are.

As for Umbridge, well, she's gone now, hopefully. Besides, the worse the villian is the more the reader cheers when they're defeated. And Umbridge was delt with in a very satisfying way because it came of her own actions (or rather words when speaking to the centaurs).

Despite Sirius's death, the latter part of the final chapter was more upbeat, I felt. Luna was telling Harry that he'd see Sirius again someday, which made Harry feel better; and he felt touched when all the people he cared about gathered together to say goodbye to him as he left the station. And the Dursleys being threatened - I doubt the Order would do anything major to them. Just turning their hair pink would be enough to make the Dursleys scream bloody murder. MAGIC! MAGIC ON MY HEAD! GET IT OFF ME, GET IT OFF ME!

And hey, I've just countered my own concerns.

I, too, hope though that there won't be as much of this type of behaviour in HBP.

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Solitaire - Jul 9, 2005 12:33 pm (#73 of 132)

Just turning their hair pink would be enough to make the Dursleys scream bloody murder

LOL Liz! I think it would take much less than that to make them squirm. I don't think the Order members would even need to DO anything! Frankly, just seeing Tonks and Moody walk up the path to the door would probably send Petunia into a tizzy and Uncle Vernon into a fit of apoplexy! If the twins were to show up, the Dud would probably run out the back door! Remus alone would probably be able to enter the home without scaring them to death ... until Harry informs them he is a werewolf! hehehe What fun! **rubbing hands together in fiendish glee**

Solitaire

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timrew - Jul 9, 2005 3:40 pm (#74 of 132)

Middle-aged Harry Potter fan
LOL Solitaire! I can just picture Tonks and Moody walking up the Dursleys drive with Remus on a lead (at full moon), closely followed by Fred and George.

I think the Dursleys would wish they were back in the shack on the rock in the sea!

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Muggle Doctor - Jul 10, 2005 3:54 am (#75 of 132)

The Dursleys are threatened because for fifteen years their behaviour towards Harry is behaviour that in the real world would get Vernon (certainly) and probably Petunia as well convicted of child abuse and thrown into prison for very lengthy sentences. I have always maintained (events at the end of OOTP spoiling it somewhat) that if Harry died, Ron would not rest until he'd seen all the Dursleys thrown into Azkaban.

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Ms Amanda - Jul 10, 2005 9:00 am (#76 of 132)

I'm sorry that some people found that the Dursleys being threatened was excusable. I have to respectfully disagree but emphasize that the point I was trying to make is that all of the good guys have been shown to have some sort of weakness.

The Dursleys have been repeatedly hurt and frightened by magic. Petunia's sister died. The house has been repeatedly damaged and invaded by magic. Dudley was attacked by a magical being and could have been killed. Sure, much of what happened was comical from our point of view, and no one has been seriously hurt yet. But magic is the Dursleys' personal boggart, something they've always irrationally suspected was out there waiting to be used against them.

Moody, who tried not to use the Unforgiveable Curses when bringing in DEs, stooped to threatening a family that has no protection against magic? I'm with everyone out there who believes that their presence alone would be enough to frighten them. After all, pink hair was enough to intimidate Petunia into closing her eyes.

Actually, I'm probably going to delete this post soon. I hate defending the Dursleys. I'm against how they have treated Harry, especially in CoS, when they definitely crossed the line into neglect and child abuse. I just also think it is harsh to turn a moment of solidarity for Harry into a vocalized threat against the Dursleys.

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Joanne R. Reid - Jul 10, 2005 10:38 am (#77 of 132)

Hi, Ms. Amanda,

I suggest that it is critical for someone in authority to threaten the Dursleys with some kind of retribution for their continued abuse of Harry. Vernon, especially, needs to understand that his vile, malicious and hateful acts will result in a punishment far greater than anything he can imagine.

Vernon was, is and will always be a bully, as is his son. He uses his immense size, his brawn and his great voice to threaten, intimidate and punish Harry.

Harry is helpless. Harry cannot go to Muggle authorities. Harry cannot protect himself using Magic. Harry can only run away or hide. Yet, as we have recently discovered, Harry must return to Petunia's home to receive his annual innoculation against Voldemortitis.

It is only appropriate that an official of the MoM, namely Arthur Weasley, inform Vernon of the consequences of his actions. It was brilliant of Arthur to ensure that he had plenty of back up, and especially that his official entourage included Alastor.

Hopefully, Vernon will attend to his duties as guardian of his nephew. Equally, we hope that Dudley will cease and desist his nefarious activities, and that Petunia will aid, comfort and support her only other living relative.

Thanks,

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Weeny Owl - Jul 10, 2005 12:35 pm (#78 of 132)

The Dursleys have been repeatedly hurt and frightened by magic

For the first ten years they had Harry, a few odd things might have happened, but nothing that could have hurt them or frightened them. Before Harry's first year there was the snake at the zoo, but that wasn't deliberate, and there was Hagrid, but Vernon was threatening him with a shotgun. Second year there was the scene with the pudding, but then they locked Harry in his room and put bars on the windows. Third year Aunt Marge did get inflated, but again, it wasn't intentional. Fourth year there was the fireplace and Dudley's tongue, but none of that could have been truly horrid. Fifth year was the dementor attack, and that was scary, yes. Through it all, there have been only a few instances of magic, yet Vernon and Dudley have continued to be abusive with Harry.

Harry is locked in a room and fed cold soup through a catflap. He gets no clothing of his own. He gets beaten up by Dudley. He gets either beaten by Vernon or close to it. Someone should have threatened these people long ago.

Threatening Vernon was not out of line. They didn't really threaten him with much of anything. They didn't threaten to harm him physically, for instance. All they said, basically, was that if Harry was mistreated Vernon would have them to answer to. That really isn't much of a threat. All they're saying is that Vernon has to treat Harry with decency for a change. Treat him the way he should be treated or answer to us... not much of a threat, really, unless Vernon plans on being abusive. If he does, then he knows there will be consequences, but that is really no different than obeying laws... speed and you get a ticket, commit a felony and you go to jail.

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Ms Amanda - Jul 10, 2005 2:13 pm (#79 of 132)

Edited by Jul 10, 2005 2:24 pm
Ok, I'll be deleting the other post now, as I really do hate defending the Dursleys.

Firstly, I feel that getting hand-me-down clothing is not really something that Harry should feel the Dursley's need to be punished for. I only had hand-me-downs for the first twelve years of my life, too, and my only close family were boys. Some of the neighborhood girls lent me clothes when I needed to dress girly. I don't think Vernon beats Harry; he was awfully surprised when he grabbed Harry in OotP and got shocked.

However, I feel that my opinion is still valid. Petunia's sister died. Dudley could have been killed by the dementor, could have choked to death on his own tongue, and had to go to a doctor to have the tail removed. Vernon's home has been repeatedly invaded by magical letters, magical owls, and magic people and he has no way to protect his family from a force which has harmed it before.

They are truely frightened, and I felt that Moody showed a little weakness there, knowing that they fear magic could hurt them. And the threat was not for just abuse or "being horrible," it was even if Harry was not able to use the telephone.

And yes, this post will soon be deleted as well. Edit: No, I think I'll leave them both. As much as I hate defending the Dursley's, I'm going to stand by that Alastor pushed the limits too far. I'm not saying that the confrontation was bad, just Moody's choice to make a threat at all.

I really do hate defending the punks. I know that they've mistreated Harry. I don't deny that.

Edit: Denise, I was typing the first edit as you posted.

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Denise P. - Jul 10, 2005 2:20 pm (#80 of 132)

Ravenclaw Pony
Please don't delete the post, much as we don't like the Dursleys, you bring up valid points.

I think it was well thought out and because we are NOT supposed to like the Dursleys, I never really looked at the situation from their veiwpoint.

When a post is deleted out, it interrupts the flow of the thread due to people have responded, please don't delete them.

Edit Thanks Amanda, I think you raised valid points to discuss and show the other side of the issue

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The giant squid - Jul 10, 2005 2:29 pm (#81 of 132)

Ms. Amanda, like Denise said, please keep your posts. The simple fact is that we don't want to like or defend the Dursleys (as you yourself said). But really, if your sister were to suddenly inflate at the dinner table, or the glass keeping a python away were to suddenly disappear, you'd react rather strongly as well.

The thing is, the Dursley's were mistreating Harry long before he ever showed signs of magical powers, simply because of who he is (Lily's son). He has been underfed, poorly clothed, and generally maltreated--if they can afford to buy Dudley 36 birthday presents, there's no reason Harry can't have socks that fit. That is why Arthur & the Order threatened Vernon. Muggles freak out about magic, that's a given; but for them to treat Harry the way they have for no other reason than they just don't like him is inexcusable.

--Mike

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Weeny Owl - Jul 10, 2005 2:40 pm (#82 of 132)

Don't delete your posts, please. Debating is fun, and it's interesting seeing other points of view.

I don't think Harry believes the Dursleys need to be punished for hand-me-down clothing. I'm not sure Harry believes the Dursleys need to be punished at all, rather, I think he would prefer to have his only living relatives treat him like family. Harry's nice that way.

As for the magic the Dursleys have had to put up with, they didn't have to take Harry in, after all. Once they did, it seemed Vernon was determined to squash every drop of magic out of Harry that he could.

The threat about not hearing from Harry for a few days still wasn't a threat. It was more along the lines of, "If we don't hear from Harry, then there is a reason, and after what you've put him through all his life, we'll be checking to see that you haven't hurt him, hurt his owl, locked him in the closet, locked him in the cupboard under the stairs, locked him in his room, beaten him up, or whatever. We'll be checking to see that he is alive and healthy."

All Vernon has to do in order not to have contact with wizards and witches is to allow Harry to keep in contact with his friends. That's it... allow Harry to owl whomever he pleases, and all is well. Keep him from contacting his friends, and that would mean that something is seriously wrong, and people will be checking to see if Harry is being mistreated again.

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Nathan Zimmermann - Jul 10, 2005 3:11 pm (#83 of 132)

I would assert that in Moody's point of view in his treatment of the Dursley's could be defined in a Newtonian way in the following manner.

From the point of view of Alastor Moody the response toward the Dursley's was an example of the principle that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It could be argued that Moody was driven by a love, respect and admiration for Harry to defend him from the treatment of the Dursley's.

I concede that the manner in which he expressed his feeling could have been more diplomatic. But, I do not see Moody as being a negotiator or diplomat, he is a man of action. For these reasons I would have argued that it would have been better to have a smaller reception committee with Remus taking the leading.

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Madam Pince - Jul 10, 2005 5:55 pm (#84 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
MAGIC! MAGIC ON MY HEAD! GET IT OFF ME, GET IT OFF ME! - Liz Mann

Liz, you're killin' me!! Too funny! I had this mental picture of Mr. Carlson from "WKRP in Cincinnati" (an old 70's U.S. sitcom) stamping his foot on the floor and yelling "Monkeys on my feet! I got monkeys on my feet!" OK, so you had to be there.

Ms. Amanda, I am really glad you posted the posts you did. Although I certainly don't like the Dursleys, I have sometimes felt a bit uncomfortable with people categorizing their situation with Harry as "abuse." (Mainly because I just can't believe that Dumbledore would allow "abuse" to continue.) Your post really made me think and see things from their viewpoint, which is certainly valid. Just because someone's a prat doesn't mean they don't have fears and feelings as well.

SquidMike, I like your word better -- "mistreatment." That hits it better for me. Umbridge = abuse. Snape and the Dursleys = mistreatment.

Anyway, very interesting idea, Ms. Amanda!

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Solitaire - Jul 10, 2005 10:56 pm (#85 of 132)

Please don't delete any posts! As long as they are respectful--and yours is--even dissenting posts are necessary to the logic and continuity of any disagreement or discussion. I hate "holes" in threads that I come to after posts have been deleted. The "holes" often make a train of thought hard to follow.

I have to agree with those who feel that the Dursleys have pretty much earned every scary thing that has happened to them via Harry. If they hadn't behaved badly by him, Dudley would not have received a tail. If they hadn't locked him in his room and forbade him to contact Ron and Hermione, the bars would not have been pulled off the window by the Weasley kids. Aunt Marge would not have been blown up if she had not been rude and insensitive regarding Harry's parents. If Dudley had not been a known bully to Harry, the twins would not have tempted him with the ton-tongue-toffees.

If Uncle Vernon had behaved like a respectable person, Harry would not have been lying in the flowerbed trying to listen to the news. His outburst let to Harry leaving the premises and wandering around the neighborhood after dark, resulting in him and the Dud being attacked by the Dementors.

I can't help it ... I honestly believe the Dursleys are lucky they have gotten off as easily as they have.

Solitaire

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Weeny Owl - Jul 11, 2005 12:03 am (#86 of 132)

Don't forget that not all abuse is necessarily physical. There are also psychological abuse, emotional abuse, and plain old neglect.

I doubt if the Dursleys would be prosecuted for child abuse for most of what has happened in Harry's life, but regardless, Harry has been abused.

The Dursleys have done all they could to beat him down, even if it's with words and neglect, making him and only him do household chores, not even giving him a birthday card, locking him in a spider-infested cupboard, allowing their son to beat on him, all the way up to Uncle Vernon trying to force Harry to leave the house when he was just fifteen.

I agree with Solitaire... the Dursleys have gotten by with nearly everything, and I can only imagine what their lives would have been like had Harry not been the person he is. THEN they might have reasons to be fearful.

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Solitaire - Jul 11, 2005 12:33 am (#87 of 132)

Exactly, Weeny! If Harry had harbored the remotest desire to get even, the entire family would have been toast the day he returned from his first year at Hogwarts--underage magic laws notwithstanding. He has continued to put up with their abuse and maltreatment because Dumbledore has said he must stay there a few weeks each year in order to keep the charm intact. I still think it is a testament to Harry's good nature that he has not attempted some sort of "niceness charm" on them.

Solitaire

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Ms Amanda - Jul 11, 2005 3:57 am (#88 of 132)

So subtract the magic that Harry did, since Harry didn't do anything to them. After all, looking at my previous two posts, I didn't include anything Harry did to them, except a brief mention of Harry zapping Vernon in OotP, which is entirely just.

Petunia's sister died.

It happened before Harry came into their lives.

She already hated magic from the sounds of what she said; after Lily died, Petunia had good reason to fear it, too.

Dudley's tongue incident is the second time his body is modified by magic. The first time it took a doctor to reverse the damage; how were the Dursleys to know that Mr. Weasley could help? They were too panicked and frightened to listen. I'm with Arthur on this one, as he is extremely angry at the boys for using magic on the boy.

Actually, I'm with Arthur Weasley all the way. His behavior to the Dursleys is always just, even when he wishes to present himself as an authority with the right to question Vernon's behavior. He manages to make Vernon behave better while in his presence, without threat. And Arthur tries to do things to keep the Dursleys from being in the presence of magic; he lets his son use a telephone and he uses Muggle post.

Ok, ok. Dungbombs away. I'm getting used to the smell. Besides, my flowers could use fertilizing.

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Joanne R. Reid - Jul 11, 2005 9:58 am (#89 of 132)

Hi, Ms. Amanda,

Please don't delete your wonderful expositions. They are a new viewpoint that has led us on a marvelous journey. We have discussed this topic at length, and each of us has explored their own feelings regarding the Dursleys.

Thank you for bringing this aspect of our favorite novels to light.

Thanks,

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Weeny Owl - Jul 11, 2005 10:47 am (#90 of 132)

He manages to make Vernon behave better while in his presence, without threat. And Arthur tries to do things to keep the Dursleys from being in the presence of magic; he lets his son use a telephone and he uses Muggle post.

Arthur is a very kind person who tries to be understanding, yes, but I don't see him doing things just to keep the Dursleys from magic, and it was Molly who sent the letter asking if Harry could attend the Quidditch World Cup, and I see her as being basically kind as well.

I don't see Arthur making Vernon behave better at all. In fact, Vernon started chucking things at Arthur when the Weasleys got Harry for the Quidditch World Cup.

After Vernon's reaction to what happened before the start of fifth year, and from what Mrs. Figg said about how she couldn't make Harry's time with her pleasant or the Dursleys wouldn't have liked it, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Dumbledore hadn't had a chat with Harry's welcoming committee and suggested that a bit of pressure might be needed.

We know Dumbledore keeps a close eye on Harry, and he did send that Howler to Petunia rather quickly. He also knows how Harry felt being isolated from everyone before fifth year. He would have to have talked to Lupin, Tonks, Moody, and Arthur about this or they would really have no way of knowing what had happened between Harry and his family. Dumbledore might have decided that, knowing how Vernon is, he would only respond in a favorable way if he had a reason other than mere human kindness.

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Vulture - Jul 11, 2005 12:25 pm (#91 of 132)

It's just my opinion, but I like it !!
After Vernon's reaction to what happened before the start of fifth year ... it wouldn't surprise me at all if Dumbledore hadn't had a chat with Harry's welcoming committee and suggested that a bit of pressure might be needed (Weeny Owl - Jul 11, 2005 10:47 am (#90)

Absolutely spot on, Weeny Owl _ I feel that he probably did. There's a lot of different things which seem to point in that direction. I won't go through them, but I reckon that after their conversation in his office following Sirius's death, Dumbledore would feel that he needed to intervene. (He normally is quite restrained about doing so.)

An alternative possibility is that Sirius's death was discussed at the next Order Of The Phoenix meeting (naturally enough), and that enough was said about how Harry was taking it to prompt the Weasleys, Lupin, Moody and Tonks to take matters into their own hands.

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Vulture - Jul 11, 2005 12:41 pm (#92 of 132)

It's just my opinion, but I like it !!
Edited Jul 11, 2005 1:25 pm
Firstly, I feel that getting hand-me-down clothing is not really something that Harry should feel the Dursleys need to be punished for. ...

I don't think Vernon beats Harry; he was awfully surprised when he grabbed Harry in OotP and got shocked. ...

However, I feel that my opinion is still valid. Petunia's sister died. ... Vernon's home has been repeatedly invaded by magical letters, magical owls, and magic people and he has no way to protect his family ....

They are truly frightened, and I felt that Moody showed a little weakness there ... (Ms Amanda - Jul 10, 2005 2:13 pm (#79))

Hi, Ms. Amanda: Well first, let me add my voice to all those begging you not to delete your posts. If you don't like defending the Dursleys, then the fact that you do so shows you to be very fair-minded. Anyway, cut and thrust of debate is half the fun !!

Anyway, just a few points: does Harry feel the Dursleys need to be punished for giving him hand-me-down clothing ? I don't remember anything indicating that. If Harry had been brought up by the Weasleys, and if his parents hadn't left him any money, I've no doubt that, like Ron, he'd get hand-me-down clothing all the time. In fact, they'd probably have to share !! But we know full well that Harry wouldn't care. (Well, OK, he'd probably growl about it like Ron does, the odd time. But have you ever heard Ron wanting to swap family upbringings with Harry ? _ no way !!)

On the point about Vernon beating Harry _ well, he has probably has left most of that job to his son until Harry was eleven. Still, we've certainly heard him threatening Harry with a beating (Book 3), and he was quite prepared to grab him around the neck, none too gently, in Book 5.

I don't think the death of Petunia's sister caused the Dursleys any grief _ though, since what we learned in Book 5, we have to wait for Books 6 and 7 to work out exactly what makes Petunia tick.

On Moody's flashing the eye _ well, it was harmless enough, wasn't it ? I mean, by Moody's standards it was quite restrained. Mainly thanks to Sirius's account in Book 4, my impression of Moody is that, yes, he's fair and "didn't kill if he could avoid it", but that basically he's a wizard version of the kind of 1970s cops you got in "The Sweeney" _ probably the best and most realistic cop show ever made, but also probably one of the most violent, even by today's standards.

In general, I think it's a mistake to judge the whole Dursleys situation by our own standards. I say that for two reasons: (1) the different books seem to be aimed at slightly different age levels, and (2) the Dursleys' world is not exactly the one we know: it has bits of the present, and bits of how things were around the 1960s or 1970s.

On (1): Book 1 seems to be aimed at what kids _ not much older than Harry _ can take. We're told that he had lived with the Dursleys for "ten miserable years", but he's actually quite chirpy, considering it all. And the Dursleys getting their comeuppance with the tail is put across in a very light-hearted way, not meant to be taken too seriously. As the books progress, the topics get ever-so-slightly heavier with each book _ almost as if JKR has in mind what a child reader growing up alongside Harry can take. (This is just my impression, of course.) So, in each book, of course, the Dursleys' treatment of Harry becomes a more and more serious topic. Book 1 casually mentions that Harry "hated" Dudley, but only in passing and not intensely. By Book 5, we're feeling the force of "fourteen years of hatred" very seriously indeed as he points the wand at Dudley. (Mind you, I think what Harry is feeling is anger , not pure hatred.) In Snape's office, among Harry's memories are "his heart bursting" at five years old because of how differently from Dudley he's treated. Yet, I say again _ skip back to Book 1, and you see a Harry who's quite unbelievably positive given what he's been through: I think that's done so as not to distress a younger reader.

On (2): from the kind of toys Dudley gets, and and from certain other clues (e.g. the very present-day UK attitudes to ethnicity), we might imagine the books to be set in the present or 1990s (and yes, I know all about how Nick's feast puts "Chamber" in 1992). However, in Book 3, we have the Dursleys and Aunt Marge chatting about the use of the cane in schools without any mention of this having been outlawed. There are other things about the books' Muggle world which are very pre-1970s, too.

So, I don't think we can judge the Muggle world of these books precisely by our own laws. We can, of course (and should) make judgements according to our best idea of universal standards of right and wrong.

Sorry that this has all been a bit of a mouthful _ didn't realise I'd be so long !!

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Liz Mann - Jul 11, 2005 1:05 pm (#93 of 132)

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Yikes, I didn't come on the forum yesterday and I have so many posts to respond to on this thread.

Dudley could have been killed by the dementor, could have choked to death on his own tongue, and had to go to a doctor to have the tail removed.

I don't think the twins would have invented ton-tongue toffies if they thought the person might choke to death. I think Dudley was probably most in danger of that because his mother was pulling on his tongue.

I don't think Harry believes the Dursleys need to be punished for hand-me-down clothing. I'm not sure Harry believes the Dursleys need to be punished at all, rather, I think he would prefer to have his only living relatives treat him like family. Harry's nice that way.

I think the old, younger Harry would have been like that. Now, though, I think circumstances and adolencence have led Harry to be a little more harsh. He was taunting Dudley at the beginning of OotP for no reason other than "it would be really fun to watch Dudley's dilemma, to taunt him, watch him, with him powerless to respond... He'd love to vent some of his frustration on the boys who had once made his life hell."

Also, J.K. said once, ages ago, something like, "Harry's going to be seventeen and then he can use magic outside of school. Ha ha! (Reporters laugh) So Dudley's really going to be in trouble. (Reporters laugh louder) Now look at you all being nasty to Dudley..." But she may have been joking. I would like to see Harry get back at Dudley in some way, but not a vicious way. Certainly not treating him the way Dudley treated him.

Although I certainly don't like the Dursleys, I have sometimes felt a bit uncomfortable with people categorizing their situation with Harry as "abuse." (Mainly because I just can't believe that Dumbledore would allow "abuse" to continue.)

Maybe he thought the protection from the Dark Side was more important. Or maybe he didn't know everything that the Dursleys were doing.

She already hated magic from the sounds of what she said; after Lily died, Petunia had good reason to fear it, too.

I don't think Petunia really cared about her sister enough for it to really affect her. She's certainly never shown any remorse for her.

Actually, I'm with Arthur Weasley all the way. His behavior to the Dursleys is always just, even when he wishes to present himself as an authority with the right to question Vernon's behavior.

I agree, Arthur is a very nice person and (apart from his tampering with Muggle objects) behaves in the right way most of the time. I truly think Harry needs to spend more time with him and Mrs Weasley. He needs parental figures to make sure he stays on the straight and narrow and learns not to let his anger lead him to do rash things, and they certainly seem willing to be that for him. Let's face it, Harry never really had a good role model growing up.

He would have to have talked to Lupin, Tonks, Moody, and Arthur about this or they would really have no way of knowing what had happened between Harry and his family.

I think Harry's told Mr and Mrs Weasley things. Or rather, he probably told Ron things, who in turn told his parents.

I think the Dursley's treatment of Harry does classify as abuse. As someone said above, there are four types of abuse - physical, sexual, emotional (mental/pshychological) and neglect. Harry was starved at times, forced to wear baggy clothes and broken glasses despite the fact that the Dursleys could well afford them (and he got laughed at for these things at school, which the Dursleys probably knew), he was forced to slave away around the house, he was made to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs, they let their son beat Harry up, and there is evidence to suggest that Uncle Vernon may have hit Harry himself. He (and Aunt Marge) keep going on about how beating is the best cure for delinquents (Uncle Vernon even said this in front of Hagrid) and remember in PoA:

"It's a lot to remember. I'll have to make it sound convincing, won't I? What if I accidently let something slip?"

"You'll get the stuffing knocked out of you, won't you?" roared Uncle Vernon, advancing on Harry with his fist raised.

And he put his hands around Harry's throat in OotP. Even if Uncle Vernon wouldn't actually have brought his fist down on Harry in PoA (which might be why Harry stood his ground so easily), threatening is still bad.

As for Moody's behaviour - perhaps he could have been a bit less blatent, but then we know Moody is tough. After all, Crouch Jr was impersonating him and when he turned Malfoy into a ferret and bounced him around the Entrance Hall, even though McGonagall was shocked she clearly didn't suspect him, so it seems that was the type of thing Moody would do.

I don't think the Order would actually hurt the Dursleys. As people have said, just the sight of them striding up the garden path would be punishment enough.

Edit: Wow! Long post.

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Lily Evans - Jul 11, 2005 1:26 pm (#94 of 132)

Hello all, I am a fairly new poster, but I have been an avid reader for long time now.

Anyway, I think the purpose of the Dursley's is to teach us (the readers)the value of tolerance. I believe their behavior is completely due to ignorance. And we can see it happen everyday in our "real" world whether it be homophobia, racial prejidence, or religious differences. The Dursley's can't get past Harry's differences to see who he truly is. If they would just take the time to understand and learn about Harry's abilities instead of trying so hard to stamp it out of him, they would find he is not that different than they are. (And that his abilities could end up being quite handy around the house!)

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Liz Mann - Jul 11, 2005 1:33 pm (#95 of 132)

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J.K. has said she never set out to teach anything, but I still think you're right that the Dursleys do show the importance of tolerance. (Although I think that seeing perfectly ordinary things like household chores done with something as abnormal as magic would just seem wrong and disturbing to them rather than interest them).

I am actually feeling a lot better about characters' behaviour now. I just hope they improve.

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Lily Evans - Jul 11, 2005 1:36 pm (#96 of 132)

You are probably right the Dursley's not wanting magic to perform their chores...but it would be welcome at my house anyday!

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Madam Pince - Jul 11, 2005 3:43 pm (#97 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
Mine, too, Lily! Very insightful post -- I agree that the Dursleys show the "wrong" in intolerance.

Maybe he thought the protection from the Dark Side was more important. Or maybe he didn't know everything that the Dursleys were doing. -Liz

Nah. Dumbledore knows evvvverything..... And he could've stepped in with a little gentle "nudge" if he thought the mistreatment had slipped over the line, which he apparently didn't do; he wouldn't have had to take Harry completely away from the magical protection of living with the Dursleys in order to get his point across. We've seen how Petunia reacts to a missive from Dumbledore -- she didn't like it, but she did what he said.

I rather think Dumbledore was following the philosophy of "Whatever does not kill us, makes us stronger." Perhaps the "toughening" Harry received at the hands of the Dursleys has strengthened him for the very difficult path that still lies ahead for him.

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Liz Mann - Jul 11, 2005 4:01 pm (#98 of 132)

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It's amazing really that Harry spent ten years living with the Dursleys and yet when we met him he was so polite and kind.

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Paulus Maximus - Jul 12, 2005 9:22 am (#99 of 132)

Dumbledore doesn't know "everything"...

Of course, only those who have TRIED to hoodwink him have succeeded... (i.e. the Marauders)

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Madam Pince - Jul 12, 2005 10:03 am (#100 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
Do you really think Dumbledore didn't know what the Marauders were up to? Maybe so. I just always thought he chose to "look the other way."

I'm not sure Dumbledore knows the future, because it's dependent on our choices and all that. But (just a gut feeling here) I feel fairly certain he knows what's going on currently, and in the past. He has to react quickly to things that are in the process of changing from "the future" to "the now" (for example, showing up after the events at Godric's Hollow; showing up at the DOM, etc.) but not much gets by him, I don't think. Kinda like Kip.
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Are the Characters Becoming Too Harsh (Post 101 to 132)

Post  Elanor on Sat May 21, 2011 11:28 am

Steve Newton - Jul 12, 2005 10:13 am (#101 of 132)
Librarian
If Dumbledore did know about the Marauders then he is a better liar than Ginny. I was convinced.

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Liz Mann - Jul 12, 2005 11:13 am (#102 of 132)

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I can't see Dumbledore lying to Harry about not knowing. What's the point? Harry's not exactly going to run to the authorities. He'd probably just grin or gape in amazement. I believe Dumbledore didn't know.

He's not all-seeing and all-knowing, because he's human. I think he knows so much about what's going on at Hogwarts because the portraits tell him things. None of the students really think about hiding things from the paintings. I mean, when the students sneak out of Gryffindor tower, do they worry that the Fat Lady (who must notice unless she's gone or asleep) will go tell Dumbledore or McGonagall? Harry certainly hasn't. The portraits are a useful tool for Dumbledore. But maybe the Marauders did take them into account and worked around them.

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Madam Pince - Jul 12, 2005 11:48 am (#103 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
No, no, I don't mean that he's all-seeing or all-knowing. You're right, he is human. But he is the greatest sorceror of all time. He has a lot of things at his disposal, including what is probably one of his best resources -- the portraits. I can't believe that he wouldn't have used some of these resources to check in on Harry's growing-up years from time to time. This is why I felt he'd be aware of Harry's situation at the Dursleys'.

Anyway, whatever. I'm content with the idea that Dumbledore knows a lot of what's going on and leave it at that. Maybe he's using the old tried-and-true parental trick -- leave them thinking you know it all, and then you don't really have to, because they'll behave as if you do.

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Liz Mann - Jul 12, 2005 12:12 pm (#104 of 132)

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Lol, Madam Pince!

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Ponine - Jul 12, 2005 7:06 pm (#105 of 132)

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
I really appreciate your posts, Amanda, and I will stand right next to you with a big umbrella to ward of most of any potential dungbombs At least according to Norwegian law, the treatment of Harry would be considered abusive. He comes across as not properly fed, dressed in clothes that are waay to big, and does not, for many years, have a decent place to sleep. The whole being locked up thing and being fed through a cat flap, sort of presents a problem, too... And, of course, there is the constant pecking, belittling and obvious contempt, i.e. psychological or emotional abuse. Here, Harry would be called what we (social workers, at least) often call dandylion-kids; like dandylion can make its way through concrete and somehow flourish, some kids withstand the most horrific treatment and somehow become well-adjusted and healthy adults in every way (at least as much as any of us).

I don't see this as defending the Dursleys per se, as much as explaining or - not justifying, but, at least seeing how their reactions are not completely unfounded and merely evil in nature... **opening umbrella** We don't know whether Petunia loved her sister or not, but chances are there was at least some level of emotional attachment. Magic to Petunia equals something frightening, abnormal and dangerous. Her sister came home and did unnatural things, she later came home and spoke of horrid things (after all, Pet knew about dementors and Azkaban), and then, when Petunia thinks she has removed herself from this freakishness, settled in a pretty little neighborhood with a normal husband and a lovely son, her creepy sister and her awful husband goes and dies. From magic. And she inherits this little magical boy. And is forced to keep him. Due to magic. And the potential danger the boy is in. Because of magic. What she hates and fears the most in this world, Petunia is served on her doorstep and forced to accept it into her home with her young son. Her husband, who is a wonderfully normal man, knows only about magic what she has told him, and is not enthused either, but equally fearful. Like people who have been thought to be possessed by spirits, the devil or demons, Harry basically undergoes a neverending exorcism; their only feeble hope is to keep him down so that the dangerous magic cannot develop. Any sign of it must be immediately squashed. It seems to me they are unable to separate the boy from the magic. Harry is not Harry, and never was; he is merely a frightening creature who harbors what they fear most, and that may at any time potentially bring harm to their only son. I must admit, that if I was in Petunia's shoes, and had to take in a small baby whose little quirk was emitting teacup-sized spiders at various intervals, I would become psychotic and probably attempt some exorcism myself... **Decides to put on some waders too...**

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TwinklingBlueEyes - Jul 13, 2005 12:59 am (#106 of 132)

"Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking"
"He comes across as not properly fed, dressed in clothes that are waay to big, and does not, for many years, have a decent place to sleep."

Are homeless abused, hobos, the poor? Hmm, "dressed in clothes that are waay to big,", "a decent place to sleep." At least he had a roof. "Not properly fed". Three squares a day, one meal a day, is there a standard? What constitutes a meal? A seven course meal in a five star restaurant or a piece of moldy bread?

Tis interesting that many, many, and more many people have and continue to live in conditions far worse and do not consider themselves abused.

Methinks JKR is trying to show us that being in these conditions do not have to forever taint your life. (Read Snape). Just as it doesn't over-shadow Harry's life or hers.

Maybe a message of hope?

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Ponine - Jul 13, 2005 2:26 am (#107 of 132)

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
TBE - I see your point, but I do not necessarily think it is a valid one. You can always find people who are worse off, or have less or suffers more. I am sure entire continents are are worse off. That, to me, is not the point. This is a young boy in contemporary England, whose caretakers are withholding food, attention, LOVE and adequate shelter, simply because they can. That act is abusive in itself.

* When Harry first came to Hogwarts, it is mentioned, if I remember correctly, how he'd never felt full.

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Vulture - Jul 13, 2005 8:47 am (#108 of 132)

It's just my opinion, but I like it !!
On whether Dumbledore knew about the Marauders _ no, I believe him when he says he didn't. It's not that surprising _ 2 of them (James and Sirius) were the best wizards in their year, with Lupin a close contender, I think. Pettigrew was the only one who wasn't. And, like many constant troublemakers who are nevertheless "likeable", it's impossible to watch them all the time.

A lot of ye are focussing on how the Dirsleys feel about magic, but I always feel that what makes JKR's books better than a lot of fantasy/magic ones is that the magic in hers is really incidental (though designed to delight), and that her main points lie elsewhere.

So, in the Dursleys' case: _ they use magic as a pretext for their snobbery and bigotry, but I feel they wouldn't be that different without it. Their neighbours have similar attitudes to Harry, despite not knowing he's a wizard ("... the type of people who thought that scruffiness ought to be punished by law"). I think that Petunia's bitterness towards her sister is a more important factor.

For all his bluster, Uncle Vernon takes much of his line from her _ he backs down and defers to her when she says Harry has to stay in Book 5. In Book 3, Aunt Marge _ not normally noted for being tactful _ is careful to exempt Aunt Petunia from all criticism involving Harry's family; she clearly is lining up with Uncle Vernon's behaviour on this.

We don't know why exactly Aunt Petunia went against all her own attitudes and took in Harry after his parents' death, "bitterly and unwillingly" as Dumbledore says. We may get surprises in Books 6 and 7 about this _ but for the moment, it certainly looks as if Dumbledore, in effect, pressurised her into taking Harry. From things that Vernon says in Books 1, 3 and 5, there's a hint that, when they found Harry on the doorstep, the idea of sending him to an orphanage was debated, and that when they took him in instead, it was on condition that they would "stamp out that dangerous nonsense" (from him).

No-one seems to have picked up on my point about the books' Muggle world being a blend of today's and that of (a certain version) of 1960s/1970s England. Does that mean ye all agree ?

(I already mentioned a couple of reasons they have a 1960s/1970s feel _ another reason is Harry, in Book 1, getting "a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig" at King's Cross Station !! I'm sorry, but no-one thinks anything they see in today's London King's Cross is outlandish !!)

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Liz Mann - Jul 13, 2005 9:36 am (#109 of 132)

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I don't think it's just that the Dursleys are frightened of magic (although they obviously are now after having more experience of it than when they first took Harry in - Dudley's tail, the fireplace etc). It's that they hate anything that they consider out of the ordinary, simply because they don't see it as 'normal' and therefore, 'unnatural' and so 'wrong'. Almost all prejudice stems from this belief. Uncle Vernon was enraged to see people wearing cloaks about town, even though he didn't connect it to wizards at the time. The Dursleys keep referring to Harry's magical powers as his 'unnaturalness'. All minority groups attract bad attention, simply because they're the minority. It's not so much that people fear them (although some do), so much as they don't think them 'normal' and so they think them rebels or, in some cases, 'unnatural'. Some people act on these opinions, others don't. The Dursleys do, and I think that's why they mistreated Harry all those years.

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The giant squid - Jul 13, 2005 11:40 am (#110 of 132)

Tis interesting that many, many, and more many people have and continue to live in conditions far worse and do not consider themselves abused.--TBE

But our point is that the Dursleys have the means to give Harry better conditions, they just refuse to do so. That is where the abuse comes in. A homeless man wears baggy clothes and skips meals because he has no other option.

Methinks JKR is trying to show us that being in these conditions do not have to forever taint your life.--TBE again

On this we agree. Good people can still come from bad places.

--Mike

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Solitaire - Jul 13, 2005 12:46 pm (#111 of 132)

I agree that many good and kind people have come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect. The fact that there are kids all over the world who have it far worse than Harry does not negate the fact that he was neglected and, to an extent, abused.

I agree with Liz about the reasons: Uncle Vernon says that they vowed they would "squash" or "stamp" magic out of Harry. Those are rather violent terms, I think. He may not have beaten Harry physically, but he certainly did inflict emotional abuse upon him.

I think there may be more to the neglect issue, though, than just meanness (although he certainly was full of meanness). I suspect Uncle Vernon decided that, while he and Pet may have been forced to take Harry and give him food and shelter, they didn't agree to do anything further for him ... so he made sure they didn't do more than the absolute minimum. I believe this was the only way he felt he could thumb his nose at the magical world--and Dumbledore, in particular--for making him and Pet do something they would never have agreed to do, had Dumbledore given him the option of saying no.

Solitaire

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The Wandless Wizard - Jul 13, 2005 4:13 pm (#112 of 132)

When wands are outlawed, only outlaws will have wands.
Solitaire wrote: Uncle Vernon says that they vowed they would "squash" or "stamp" magic out of Harry. Those are rather violent terms, I think. He may not have beaten Harry physically, but he certainly did inflict emotional abuse upon him.

And the funny thing is that Vernon's efforts to "stamp" the magic out of him backfired. The main reason Harry left for Hogwart's is to get away from all of Vernon's squashing and stamping. If the situation was reversed somewhat. Let's say Harry was a Squib and Dudley was a muggle-born Wizard but they are treated just like they are in the books. Would Dudley want to go to Hogwart's? I think he would consider it a long time before hand. He would be giving up a comfortable life for the unknown. If Harry had learned the truth about his parents from a loving aunt and uncle, wouldn't he be just as fearful (or at least distrustful) of magic as they are? Ahhh, the wonders of irony.

-TWW

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Madam Pince - Jul 13, 2005 4:24 pm (#113 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
I still think there's a difference between callous indifference or lack of love combined with ignorance, and outright abuse. However, I don't have a degree in social work, so I probably don't follow the technical definitions that others may. This is just my gut impression.

I think Solitaire has a very good point above, about the fact that Vernon and Petunia decided to do the absolute minimum they could get by with, and still be in compliance with Dumbledore's direction. Sad? Yes. Disappointing? Yes. Ignorant? Yes. But I don't feel that they do it because they get a thrill out of it or something. It's as though they are resentful and are "acting out" in the only way their tiny little minds will allow them to.

And I think that was an excellent point by TBE that this is a good way for JKR to compare and contrast Snape's way of dealing with his past problems, and Harry's way of dealing with his. If we can only control our circumstances to a certain degree, then which end result is the better one for us to strive for?

I've got to stop ending sentences with prepositions.

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Denise P. - Jul 13, 2005 4:29 pm (#114 of 132)

Ravenclaw Pony
I think Solitaire has a very good point above, about the fact that Vernon and Petunia decided to do the absolute minimum they could get by with, and still be in compliance with Dumbledore's direction. Sad? Yes. Disappointing? Yes. Ignorant? Yes.

I think also, that in their minds, the Dursleys truly don't feel they are abusing Harry. He has a home, he is clothed, he is fed, he is schooled, he goes to a doctor (he must, he has glasses) and as far as we can tell, he is not beaten on a regular basis. I am sure they would be highly offended if anyone suggested they were abusive relatives. I am sure they feel they ARE doing what they should and if it is not what they do for Dudley...well, Harry is not their child and he should be grateful for what he is getting. (And no, I do NOT believe this, it is not how *I* view it but I can see how the Dursleys justify it to themselves)

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Madam Pince - Jul 13, 2005 4:33 pm (#115 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
Exactly. That's what I meant but didn't get it out properly.

I'm glad you brought up about the eyeglasses -- that was a big point for me. Yes, they aren't in the greatest shape, but they do the job. I think Vernon and Pet feel they are doing fine. And (probably at least as importantly), the neighbors will believe that they are doing fine. I think the Dursleys would refrain from outright abuse certainly for one big reason if not others: it might land them on the evening news in a negative light. Can't have that!

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Liz Mann - Jul 13, 2005 5:25 pm (#116 of 132)

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Not everybody knows the exact classification of abuse, so maybe the Dursleys do think what they're doing is okay. I think they do. I mean, do they worry that any of Dudley's friends will go home and tell their parents that Harry sleeps in a cupboard? I don't think so. And, by the way, they must have denied him that spare room outright when they took him in. Are we to believe Dudley had use of both rooms when he was a year old?

I found this definition of neglect on the internet:

Not meeting a child's need for cleanliness, clothing, emotional support, love and affection, education, nutritious food, clothing, adequate shelter or safety; Leaving a child unwatched; Leaving a child in an unsafe place or causing a child to be in a dangerous situation or place; Not seeking necessary medical or dental attention for a child; Not having a child attend school; Not seeking special services for children in need of educational support.

Clothing is mentioned and love and affection is mentioned, but apart from that Harry seems to have been given the basic care, just not much over. Unless you count allowing Dudley to beat him up as 'causing a child to be in a dangerous situation or place'.

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Ponine - Jul 13, 2005 6:04 pm (#117 of 132)

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
Emotional Abuse is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, CPS may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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Madam Pince - Jul 13, 2005 6:51 pm (#118 of 132)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
So under the "neglect" definition, the Dursleys fall short on providing emotional support and love and affection -- they seem to meet all other criteria, albeit some are marginal.

And under the "emotional abuse" definition, the Dursleys have done all of the things under "this may include," but it has not apparently impaired Harry's emotional development or sense of self-worth (at least to me it doesn't seem to have impaired it -- he knows he's an OK person and the Dursleys are the weird ones.)

So anyway, it sounds to me like Denise was pretty much on target -- the Dursleys don't in fact love Harry, and make no effort to pretend that they do. They rather resentfully provide the bare minimum that they have to in order to stay ahead of Dumbledore or any muggle authorities, and they feel Harry should be grateful to have that much rather than be in an orphanage or something.

It might be a tomato, or it might be a tomahtoe. Either way, it's not very nice, and Harry has done an extraordinary job of rising above it.

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Weeny Owl - Jul 13, 2005 9:33 pm (#119 of 132)

In the "Career Advice" chapter of OotP Hermione mentioned liasing with Muggles, and Harry said something about if someone wanted to learn to liase with Uncle Vernon, then that person had better learn to duck.

I don't think Vernon actually beat Harry, per se, but I do believe that Harry was probably backhanded now and then for pretty much nothing and that he did learn to duck at an early age.

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Kevin Corbett - Aug 1, 2005 6:25 am (#120 of 132)

I think I posted on this thread a few weeks ago, and when I found out how significant the Vanishing Cabinet was (we're aloud to talk about HBP now, aren't we?), it made me think that maybe we did let Harry and co. off too lightly for their flippancy about Montague nearly dying in that cabinet. Perhaps JKR also took the line that they all showed a definate lack of compassion, even if it was for their enemy.

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ex-FAHgeek - Oct 13, 2005 4:22 pm (#121 of 132)

Edited by Oct 13, 2005 4:23 pm
---quote--- I think I posted on this thread a few weeks ago, and when I found out how significant the Vanishing Cabinet was (we're aloud to talk about HBP now, aren't we?), it made me think that maybe we did let Harry and co. off too lightly for their flippancy about Montague nearly dying in that cabinet. ---end quote---

Oh yes! Here we've wandered off into a discussion of characters who, from the beginning, have been shown to be harsh and less-than-admirable specimens of humanity. We've always known the Dursleys' morals were suspect, and the issue here is the possibility of our more benevolent characters "falling from grace."

Back to the main topic: for me, the "red flag" issue in OotP was when Harry attempted to use a Crucio on Bellatrix. It seemed the ultimate expression in the books of what's easy vs. what's right - and Harry was dangerously on the edge of not choosing what's right.

I had expected Harry's experiments with Unforgivables to turn out to be an important issue in HBP. While a big deal wasn't made about it, he tried to use Crucio again (although Snape deftly countered it.) Unfortunately, it seems his early experience with Sectumsempra hadn't tempered a distaste for the nastier curses.

Perhaps we'll see this issue come to a head in the final book - as of yet, there have been no witnesses (other than Harry's targets) to his two Crucios. I think if someone (perhaps Hermione, McGonegall, or Lupin) sees him try one, he'll be forced to think long and hard about the consequences.

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Liessie - Oct 13, 2005 6:58 pm (#122 of 132)

I think you're right, they'll be disappointed in him and under different circumstances he'd probably feel guilty about it in the cold hard light of day. However, the two times he has tried an unforgiveable have been in very extreme circumstances - both times just after a very significant person in his life had died (or not!). I think he may be cut a little slack because he is still young and has not mastered his emotions, unlike someone like Dumbledore who in the OOP scene didn't try to hurt LV, just contain him. I'm not sure that Harry can ever learn to completely control his emotions anyway, that's the difference between he and DD and why Harry can defeat LV in the end. I think its significant though that Harry chooses Crucio and not AK.

Harry however did say in HBP that he would want to take out LV and as many DEs as possible, I took that to mean to kill them, Dumbledore in response approved. I understand the situation they were discussing and the sentiment but is that DD condoning killing someone?

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Paulus Maximus - Oct 14, 2005 7:03 am (#123 of 132)

DD knew that either Harry or Voldemort had to die.

He had no choice but to condone Harry killing Voldemort, or else Voldemort killing Harry.

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Solitaire - Oct 17, 2005 3:45 pm (#124 of 132)

Are the characters becoming too harsh? War is harsh. Wars are not won by being gentle and kind. Voldemort and the DEs are a "cancer" in the Wizarding world, and it is possible that the only way to keep it from spreading is to deal ruthlessly with those "cancerous cells."

Solitaire

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kingdolohov - Oct 18, 2005 7:28 am (#125 of 132)

Don't forget about when everyone finds out that Snape will be DADA teacher, Harry says he's hoping for another death.

He was definitely angry at Snape and in general at the time, but it still shows how bitter he can be.

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Liz Mann - Oct 19, 2005 3:55 pm (#126 of 132)

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I don't think Harry really meant that. People say that sort of thing when they're bitter. It's like when you're mad at someone and you shout, "I'm going to kill you!" You don't actually mean it.

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kingdolohov - Oct 19, 2005 4:59 pm (#127 of 132)

I think that Harry thinking so quickly of Snape dying when in reality his biggest problem of the past hour had been with Malfoy shows that he is being harsher. Although Harry created his own problems by spying on Malfoy and causing himself to be late, he blames Snape. His unreasonable hatred of Snape (at that point in the book) shows that his character issues. Instead of accepting what Dumbledore said about Snape trying to protect him in many instances, including Sirius's death, he takes the easy way and just blames Snape for everything.

Liz Mann - had you read the second line, you would have sees that I wasn't saying that Harry necessarily meant that he hoped Snape was going to die. "it shows how bitter he can be" - unreasonably bitter at Snape in this case

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Solitaire - Oct 23, 2005 9:57 am (#128 of 132)

I don't think blaming Snape for Sirius's death is necessarily taking the easy way. I don't think Harry is being completely honest with himself, it is true. But we must remember that he does not see things as Dumbledore does.

Since Harry does not know the reasons for Dumbledore's trust in Snape, he finds it hard to believe that a person who has treated him so despicably and unfairly in the past can possibly have his good at heart. I don't blame him; I'd feel the same way. Snape himself initiated the circumstances which created Harry's distrust and hatred of him.

Every single thing that Snape has done with Harry could have been handled in a different manner. Even if he was not gentle and encouraging in his teaching style, as Remus was, he could have been neutral and detached. Instead, he has seized every opportunity to criticize, humiliate, and hurt Harry.

As far as Sirius is concerned, Snape's behavior in OotP is ambiguous enough that it gives Harry reason to doubt his allegiance. A lot of his actions can be interpreted more than one way. Because he does not have any evidence to make him trust Snape, he interprets things based on Snape's treatment of himself ... not just "taking the easy way," but rather behaving understandably. Remember ... Harry is an adolescent. Snape is an adult and should, after five years of daily contact, understand his student better.

Solitaire

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Liz Mann - Oct 23, 2005 12:06 pm (#129 of 132)

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When something bad happens, like someone they care about dies, people often look to lay the blame on someone or something. And that blame can often be put on someone unfairly, in a desperate attempt to account for what has happened. It's easy for Harry to put that blame on Snape because he hates him anyway (which, as Solitaire said, is Snape's own fault for treating Harry so bad, which in turn is James's fault for treating Snape so bad). This only goes away when the pain does. I've only read HBP once but I don't recall any mention of Harry still blaming Snape, so maybe he has come to his senses about that. But he still hates Snape for all of the other reasons that he had prior to Sirius's death.

Harry is a human person and humans are imperfect. Despite all his bitterness and anger and displacement, he is still a good person.

Sorry, kingdolohov, I misunderstood you.

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Detail Seeker - Oct 23, 2005 12:32 pm (#130 of 132)

Quod tempus non sanat, sanat ferrum,... so prepare
Liz, while agreeing with most of what you said, there is just a small point:

(which, as Solitaire said, is Snape's own fault for treating Harry so bad, which in turn is James's fault for treating Snape so bad).

We have no evidence whatsoever, that it was James, who started the battle between both. In the only conflict, we became witness of, James cursed Snape with a spell invented by Snape himself. Who bets against James having learnt this by Snape using it against one of the Marauders.

On the other hand, we have no evidence whatsoevr, that it was Snape, who started the feud, either

So, the question, whose fault it is, that there is a Harry-Snape-hatred, remains in the dark of JKR´s phantasy.

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wynnleaf - Oct 23, 2005 1:30 pm (#131 of 132)

I've only read HBP once but I don't recall any mention of Harry still blaming Snape, so maybe he has come to his senses about that.

In HBP "Snape Victorious"

Whatever Dumbledore said, Harry had had time to think over the summer, and had concluded that Snape's snide remarks to Sirius about remaining safety hidden while the rest of the Order of the Phoenix were off fighting Voldemort had probably been a powerful factor in Sirius rushing off to the Ministry the night that he had died. Harry clung to this notion, because it enabled him to blame Snape, which felt satisfying and also because he knew that if anyone was not sorry that Sirius was dead it was the man now striding next to him in the darkness.

So, Liz, while I think you're right in your assessment of why Harry blamed Severus, it's clear that he hadn't got over it by Book 6.

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Mrs Brisbee - Oct 24, 2005 6:21 am (#132 of 132)

Both Solitaire's and Liz's posts were good, but I have to disagree with the following statement by Liz:

which, as Solitaire said, is Snape's own fault for treating Harry so bad, which in turn is James's fault for treating Snape so bad

James might possibly be at fault in the feud between James and Snape, and Snape's hatred of him, but James is not at fault in how Snape treats Harry. Snape might think that way, but he himself is responsible for attaching his feelings for James to a child he didn't even know.

Other than that, I agree with both Solitaire and Liz. Harry's dislike and mistrust of Snape are based on the real events of their interaction, and Harry wants to blame Snape for Sirius's death because it makes him feel better.
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