Major Themes

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This article is about the major themes in general. For a list of other articles that discuss major themes, see Category:Major Themes.

Major Themes are...


[edit] Blood-Purity and Racism

One could note that blood-purity and the emphasis some wizards have put on being a "pure-blood" is a reflection of JK Rowling's thoughts on racism.

[edit] Blood purity

The longstanding separation between the wizarding and Muggle worlds in the Harry Potter universe has led many wizards to advocate keeping the two apart. This view has in turn led to a minority of wizards seeing Muggles (and wizards of pure Muggle parentage) as untrustworthy, foolish, or, in extreme cases, racially inferior. The common practice of wizards marrying Muggles is viewed by such extremists as miscegenation, and they instead advocate maintaining a so-called "purity of blood."

[edit] Pure-blood

Pure-blood is the term applied to wizards and witches who have no Muggle blood, Muggle borns, or half-bloods at all in their genealogical pedigree. Although technically pure-bloods have no Muggle ancestors, the small wizarding population means that "true" pure-bloods are rare or even non-existent, with most just ignoring or disowning the few Muggles in their family.[1] Known Pure-blood families include the Blacks, the Lestranges, the Crouches, the Fudges, the Gaunts (though that line died out before the beginning of Book 1), the Longbottoms, the Malfoys, the Potters (although the blood purity of the Potters seems to stop with James, who married Muggle-born Lily Evans), and the Weasleys (although considered blood traitors because of their tolerance of Muggles; their blood purity, at least in Ron's branch of the family, stopped when Bill married Fleur Delacour as she was part-veela). To maintain their blood purity, supremacist families have been known to inbreed into their own families by marrying their cousins; this results in mental instability and violent natures.[2][3] Over the course of the books, some of the remaining families die out, while others find themselves on the brink of extinction with only one male heir, such as the Malfoys, who seem to have no one but Draco Malfoy. Some, such as the Lestranges, do not seem to have an heir (though Bellatrix and her husband Rodolphus are known not to have children,[4] and it is not impossible that Rastaban or other members of the Lestrange family have children; however, no Lestrange student is mentioned at Hogwarts). With the death of Sirius, all surviving members of the Black family are female (Narcissa Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Andromeda Tonks, Tonks being disowned and no longer considered a part of the family), meaning that the name has probably died out already. By the conclusion of the series, the Weasley family is the only known pure-blood family to have several male heirs.

Pure-blood supremacists believe blood purity is a measure of a wizard's magical ability – notwithstanding examples of highly skilled Muggle-born witches like Hermione Granger and Lily Evans, and less skilled pure-bloods such as Neville Longbottom – and Muggles to be low-life, having no magic in them. Supremacists apply the term "blood traitor" to pure-bloods who harbour no prejudice against non-pure-bloods (enjoying their presence and relations with them).

The antagonistic wizards in the Harry Potter books are almost all supremacists, while Harry and his friends disagree with this ideology. Rowling draws several parallels between the pure-blood supremacists and Nazi ideology in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the belief that pure-blood wizards have the right to subjugate the Muggle world and view themselves as a "master race", laws requiring Muggle-borns to register with the Ministry of Magic, rounding up Undesirables, etc.).[5]

Not all pure-blood wizards are advocates of pure-blood supremacy: the Weasleys and Longbottoms are old pure-blood families, but no known members of these families are sympathetic to supremacist aims.[2][6][7] The Black family, traditionally pure-blood supremacists, also seem to have produced one or two such "black sheep" in every generation, namely Sirius and Andromeda (Bellatrix and Narcissa's sister who married the Muggle-Born Ted Tonks).

Several wizards question the notion of blood purity altogether. In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Dumbledore asserts that the much-vaunted blood purity does not exist, and is only a fiction maintained by the deceptions of supremacist wizards.

[edit] The Black family

Most of the members of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black were advocates of blood purity, and many were involved with the Dark Arts. The Black family home, at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, London, contains many artifacts of dubious origin and/or dangerous powers. The family motto, Toujours Pur, is French for "Always/Still Pure," because the Black family was one of the few remaining lineages of completely pure blood. As depicted in their family tree, the Blacks intermarried with several other pure-blood families and also on occasions practiced inbreeding to preserve pure-blood witches and wizards. Because of this, it was noted that most of the remaining pure-blood families are interrelated. The Blacks are related to virtually all. The last several generations of Blacks all trace their ancestry back to Phineas Nigellus Black and Ursula Flint. The Blacks believed in Voldemort's idea of "purifying the wizarding race," but many, such as Sirius' parents, refrained from openly supporting him once they saw what he was willing to do for power. Although several living members of the family appear throughout the series, all are either female and married into other families (such as Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange), female-line distaff Black descendants (Draco Malfoy), or descendants of disowned family members (Such as Andromeda and Nymphadora Tonks), and none have the surname Black. In 1996, the last known surviving bearer of the family name, Sirius, was murdered by his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black) in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The family tree is described in the fifth book, but it came more directly to public attention in January 2006 when the author donated a version she had hand-drawn to a Book Aid International charity auction. The tree caused a considerable stir amongst fans as it provided new information about elements of the plot of the series in between publication of volumes six and seven. It was eventually purchased for £30,000 on behalf of British actor Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter in the film series.[8]

[edit] Half-blood

Half-blood refers to those wizards and witches who have magic and Muggle ancestors in their family trees.[9] Half-bloods are the most common wizard blood, far outnumbering pure-bloods and Muggle-borns. Rowling has stated that of the Hogwarts annual intake, 50% are half-bloods. Pure-blood supremacists view half-bloods as inferior to them, although superior to Muggles and Muggle-borns.[citation needed]

Voldemort is a half-blood, as his father, Tom Riddle, Sr., was a Muggle while his mother Merope Gaunt was pure-blood. Severus Snape is also a half-blood (he gave himself the nickname "The Half Blood Prince"), as his father Tobias Snape was a Muggle.

[edit] Muggle-born

Muggle-born is the term applied to wizards and witches who come from non-magical parents. According to Rowling, the average Hogwarts annual intake for Muggle-borns is 25%.[citation needed]

Supremacists typically believe Muggle-borns to be magically deficient, despite examples to the contrary, such as Hermione Granger and Lily Evans, who are exceptionally skilled in their abilities.[10]

Pure-blood supremacists refer to Muggle-borns with the offensive derogatory term Mudblood. Hagrid was shocked to find out that Draco Malfoy uttered the term to Hermione's face in order to insult and provoke her, since the slur is one never used in proper conversations. Hermione decided instead to claim and wear the term "Mudblood" with pride instead of shame, thus defusing its value as a slur.

During Voldemort's rule, Muggle-borns are legally required to register with the Muggle-born Registration Commission. During this time, the Department of Mysteries "discovered" that Muggle-borns acquired their magic by "stealing" magic and wands from real wizards. Some wizards and witches reject this notion, as Ron asks, "How is it possible to steal magic?" After the regime is eradicated, Dolores Umbridge (head of the Commission) and the supporters of this ideology are imprisoned for crimes against Muggle-borns.

In the books, it has never been explained how Muggles are occasionally able to produce magical children. However, Rowling has stated that a Muggle-born would have a magical ancestor in their genealogy, even if possibly through numerous generations back.[citation needed]

[edit] Squibs

Squib is the term applied to a child born of magical parents but lacking magical ability; they are considered to be the opposite of Muggle-born wizards/witches.[11] Squib births are rare abnormalities: the only squibs noted as such in the books are Argus Filch, Arabella Figg, and Molly Weasley's second cousin who was an accountant. The Ministry does not require them to be registered as part of the Community.[11] Squibs share some things with wizards and they are aware of and comprehend the wizarding world. They also can see Hogwarts, which ordinary Muggles cannot. However, according to Ron's Aunt Muriel, the custom with Squibs has been to send them to Muggle schools and encourage them to integrate into the Muggle world, which is "much kinder" than keeping them in the wizarding world, where they will always be "second-class". In contrast to most of the wizarding world's acceptance and even respect for Muggles and Muggle-born wizards, it is often considered embarrassing to have a Squib in the family.

The "Kwikspell" correspondence course seems to be something of a con-job that plays on Squib insecurities by suggesting that it can help Squibs acquire some measure of ability, though it never works for Argus Filch.[11]

Squibs of note include: Argus Filch, Arabella Figg and Andrew Goward, a famous squib known for his work on economic predictions in the wizarding world. There was a society named the Society of Support of Squibs (S.S.S.) established by Idris Oakby.[citation needed]

[edit] Mixed species

Some wizards are the products of unions between humans and magical creatures of human or near-human intelligence, such as Fleur Delacour and her sister Gabrielle (both part Veela) and Hagrid (half giant). In wizard parlance, a creature with human intelligence – including a person – is called a "being". Known beings capable of breeding with humans include goblins, giants, and Veela. Prejudiced wizards (such as Umbridge) often use the insulting term half-breed to refer to mixed-species wizards and werewolves, or other beings such as merpeople and centaurs (who are separate species) because of their part-human and part-beast appearances and "near-human intelligence". The Centaurs within the series prefer to exist amongst themselves, with little interaction with humans.

The only mixed species in the Harry potter books are: Hagrid (half-giant), Fleur's mother (half-veela),and Teddy Lupin (half-werewolf).

[edit] External links

Looking for more information on racism in Harry Potter? Look here ...
===Scribbulus Essays===

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[edit] References

  1. J.K.Rowling Official Site Retrieved on 24 April 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:HP5, chapter 6
  3. Template:HP6, chapter 10
  4. Template:HP6 chapter 2
  5. Retrieved on 04-24-07 Template:WebCite
  6. Template:HP5, chapter 23
  7. Template:HP2, chapter 4
  8. "Potter star buys Rowling document". BBC news 24. 22 February 2006. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2007. 
  9. Half-blood – Harry Potter Wiki
  10. Template:HP2ref, chapter 4
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Retrieved on 04-24-07

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[edit] See also