Archive for December 7, 2008
Let me continue my examination of the values in Harry Potter:
(12) We should most fear—that is, to be on our guard against—fear itself. Professor Lupin said to Harry, “I’m impressed. That suggests that what you fear most of all is – fear. Very wise, Harry.”
(13) Personal hurt should not keep us from showing mercy.Harry stepped in to prevent the killing of the man responsible for his parents’ death. When Harry later doubted whether he had done the right thing, Dumbledore told him, “Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt. When one wizard saves another wizard’s life, it creates a certain bond between them … and I’m much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter (…) This is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable, Harry. But trust me … the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew’s life.”
(14) Compassion is much better than malicious glee. Even though Harry himself fairly often indulges in malicious glee, the following passage shows that compassion is a more mature response: “He and Ron exchanged glances and then quickly looked away from each other; the temptation to burst out laughing was almost overwhelming. Dudley was still clutching his bottom as though afraid it might fall off. Mr Weasley, however, seemed genuinely concerned at Dudley’s peculiar behaviour. Indeed, from the tone of his voice when he next spoke, Harry was quite sure that Mr Weasley thought Dudley was quite as mad as the Dursleys thought he was, except that Mr Weasley felt sympathy rather than fear.”
(15) Toadying up to men of power is contemptible: “When Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic himself, arrived, Percy bowed so low that his glasses fell off and shattered. Highly embarrassed, he repaired them with his wand, and thereafter remained in his seat, throwing jealous looks at Harry, whom Cornelius Fudge had greeted like an old friend.”
(16) Racism is evil. As already mentioned, one of the main characteristics of evil wizards is that they are racists: “The Malfoys prided themselves on being pure-bloods; in other words, they considered anyone of Muggle descent, like Hermione, second-class.”
(17) One should count the cost before making a commitment, because commitments are binding. Dumbledore told the students, “Finally, I wish to impress upon any of you wishing to compete that this Tournament is not to be entered into lightly. Once a champion has been selected by the Goblet of Fire, he or she is obliged to see the Tournament through to the end. The placing of your name in the Goblet constitutes a binding, magical contract. There can be no change of heart once you have become champion. Please be very sure, therefore, that you are whole-heartedly prepared to play, before you drop your name into the Goblet.” Now this quotation is taken from a very specific situation, and it is not necessarily a principle that you can see throughout the Harry Potter books. Still, it is a good value and worth mentioning.
(18) Trying to be popular with everyone will cripple your life.When Hagrid stashed himself away because some people did not like him as a teacher, Dumbledore told him wisely, “Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time… Not a week has passed, since I became Headmaster of this school, when I haven’t had at least one owl complaining about the way I run it. But what should I do? Barricade myself in my study and refuse to talk to anybody?”
(19) Our character is most plainly shown in how we treat our inferiors, not our equals. Sirius told Ron, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
(20) It is the evil side that does not forgive; the good one does.Voldemort said to one of his servants, “You ask for forgiveness? I do not forgive. I do not forget. Thirteen long years (…) I want thirteen years’ repayment before I forgive you.”
(21) The right path is better than the easy path. The following are Dumbledore’s words about a student who had been killed by Voldemort: “Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
(22) Gulping down gossip is bad—and worse when it is being done hypocritically. One time the Dursleys were watching the news which showed something about “a famous actress’s divorce from her famous husband. (‘As if we’re interested in heir sordid affairs,’ sniffed Aunt Petunia, who had followed the case obsessively in every magazine she could lay her bony hands on).”
(23) Vandalizing is not just an outward problem but an attitude problem: “It’s not so much having to repair the damage, it’s more the attitude behind the vandalism.”
(24) It is good to honestly look at our own hearts. Harry’s repeated inner struggles show the importance of examining one’s motives.
(25) There are more important matters than thinking about what others think about you. On one occasion, Harry walked past people who “gave Harry airy, overly-friendly greetings that made him quite sure they had stopped talking about him a split second before. He had more important things to worry about, however…”
(26) Discord can only be overcome by a bond of trust:“Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is great. We can fight it only be showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust.”
(27) We should take responsibility for our action if we have caused problems for others. Hagrid said about the giants, which in Harry’s time had almost become extinct: “Eighty left, an’ there was loads once, musta bin a hundred diff’rent tribes from all over the world. Bu’ they’ve bin dying’ out fer ages. Wizards killed a few, o’ course, bu’ mostly they killed each other, an’ now they’re dyin’ out fast than ever. They’re not made ter live bunched up together like that’. Dumbledore says it’s our fault, it was the wizards who forced ‘em to go an’ made ’em live a good long way from us an’ they had no choice bu’ ter stick together fer their own protection.”
(28) Arrogance tramples on other people and utterly disrespects them: “What was making Harry feel so horrified and unhappy was not being shouted at or having jars thrown at him; it was that he knew how it felt to be humiliated in the middle of a circle of onlookers, knew exactly how Snape had felt as his father had taunted him, and that judging from what he had just seen, his father had been every bit as arrogant as Snape had always told him.”
(29) Indifference is a great sin. Said Dumbledore to Harry, “Sirius did not hate Kreacher… He regarded him as a servant unworthy of much interest or notice. Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike … We wizards have mistreated and abused our fellows for too long, and we are now reaping our reward.”
(30) Peace of mind and happiness are secondary to truth and the cause to fight evil. As so many times before, this value is taken from what Dumbledore told Harry: “I cared about you too much … I cared more for your happiness than your knowing the truth, more for your peace of mind than my plan, more for your life than the lives that might be lost if the plan failed.”
I think you get the point. If you do care about values in literature, Harry Potter certainly provides a lot to think about.