Brownies are tame, and decidedly English in their Faerie ways, but they have dignity.... a dignity Rowling denies Dobby and his race, and the idea that a being exists not merely to serve, but to be enslaved is horrific. Then to use such a being comically..it leaves a sour taste in me that all Harry’s kindness to Dobby can’t wash out. I know Rowling does try to work her way through this problem as the series continues, but at her best she seems to manage a sort of Gone with the Wind attitude: happy slaves, well-meaning but ignorant abolitionists, loving masters, and no concept that a soul could be designed for more.She has had quite the intense (but generally friendly) discussion going on in her combox, in which I have cheerfully participated more than once, so check it out and get involved if you like! And definitely check out Seth's beautiful drawing of Dobby, included in the post.
And now, this week's reading!
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This Week in Reading Harry
Read: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, chapters 4-5
I once saw "What is This Feeling" from Wicked re-written and performed as a Harry-Malfoy hate song. The two performers—music students from WWU's Harry Potter Club; it was one of the years I played for their Yule Ball—really got into the piece, and it was hilarious and memorable. Unfortunately, I cannot find that it was recorded. This was as close as I could get. It is pretty dang awesome.
Potential Discussion Points:
1. Number Four, Privet Drive versus The Burrow, or The Dursleys versus The Weasleys... or, we might say, neatness and order (with hatred) versus strangeness and the unexpected (with love). The only problem I have with the equation is that popular American culture is so conditioned to assume that neatness and order automatically come with hatred, and to romanticize the strange and unexpected. Strangeness and the unexpected frequently make life harder, and life is already difficult for the happiest of people. Neatness and order are often the results of efforts made by someone hardworking and generous and fond of beauty.
That said, love is the crucial factor, and its presence or absence colors the whole picture. It's no wonder Harry thinks the Burrow is the best house he's ever been in. And really, it's such a fun house—the talking mirror, the explosions from Fred and George's bedroom, the magic at every turn. Most of us would—at least temporarily—take the unexpected if it were that cheerfully removed from mundane mirrors that make us look blotchy or fat or old (though the magic mirror could turn out to be sadistic, I guess), mundane attics that give us the fear of ghosts and the certainty of spiders rather than the knowledge of a bored old ghoul.
|Art by kra|
|I love this cosplaying Ginny image. By Ayakuchan.|
3. Along those lines, all the leading ladies are in obsess-over-cute-boy mode in these chapters, including Mrs. Weasley. Which is kind of annoying, even for me and my limited feminism. But it's not exactly unrealistic, nor is it wholly inexcusable of Rowling, especially since the focal point of everyone's crushing but Ginny's is a Big Bad Plot Device. I would rather live the whole of my life with the surname Longbottom than develop even a mini-crush on a grinning fame fiend like Gilderoy Lockhart. But I suppose it's not difficult to see why the girls are mostly gaga:
|Pretty is as pretty does. But it's still pretty.|
Which really just makes it all worse. Source.
4. Gilderoy Lockhart. Harry's repulsion is understandable from the beginning. We haven't got the whole of his character yet, but we do seem to have most of it: a shallow creature who is little more than a heavily-marketed brand name, with no apparent real desire other than more publicity. I also find Fred and George's reaction to the whole thing kind of honest and heartwarming.
|Art by yukipon|
I've never quite been comfortable with Hagrid's response, however. "Rotten to the core," he says, "the whole family, everyone knows that—no Malfoy's worth listening ter—bad blood, that's what it is—" It's not better than what the Malfoys believe about the poor and Muggle-born.
I always felt bad for the Grangers in this scene. The brawl is basically physical, but they probably thought someone was going to blow up the place, and here they're letting their daughter go into this world where hot tempers are backed up by supernatural powers. Terrifying.
6. Young boys and their love for big, showy rulebreaking and adventure. I just don't get why flying a car to school and crashing it into a punching tree is cool. But I am in the minority, particularly if I happen to be around a lot of very young boys. It's one of a handful of things about Harry that I don't sympathize with much, but Rowling wrote it well enough that I have to smile even as I shake my head.
7. Floo powder. It would scare me, too. I think I'd prefer Apparating, once I learned how to avoid splinching. But flying cars seem like a good idea, unless you're trying to preserve the Statute of Secrecy. Bother the Statute of Secrecy. It causes so much trouble.