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An Analysis of the Marauders and Supremacy Issues within the Harry Potter Universe
Many have grown up familiar with Harry Potter’s journey, from receiving his Hogwarts letter at age 11 to defeating Voldemort at 17, and all the near-death experiences in between. Fans were beyond thrilled when Rowling announced the release of the Fantastic Beasts series. A spin-off of the original series, it centers on the Wizarding World decades before Harry Potter, on the journey of the magizoologist (magical zoologist) Newt Scamander in the U.S.A. in the 1920s, during the time of Gellert Grindelwald and the Global Wizarding War. Many fans were impressed by the Harry Potter theme parks in various locations, especially in Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, investing thousands of dollars to explore Hogwarts and board the Hogwarts Express. Capturing the interest of various audiences, Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts has introduced readers and viewers to a world beyond our vivid imaginations and introduced many of us to the intricate themes of love and war. But many have failed to notice the supremacy sentiments and real-world parallels within the Wizarding Universe due to Rowling’s unique characterization of certain characters and events.
Classism & Racism
Many researchers have done an effective job in breaking down the most crucial theme of classism within the Wizarding World. The Wizarding World is divided by the social hierarchy based on the idea of blood purity or Blood Status. At the top of the social hierarchy are Pure-bloods, wizards whose families have consisted of only wizards and witches for generations. Half-bloods, who have one Pure-blooded parent and one parent with different blood (e.g., muggles, half-blood, muggle-born, etc.) are ranked second as they are somewhat “pure”. Towards the bottom of the chain, there are Muggle-borns, wizards, and witches born to Muggles (non-magical people), and at the very bottom of the chain are squibs, those born to magical parents but have no magical powers. Muggles, or those who cannot do and are usually unaware of magic, are at the very bottom of the chain as many of the Wizarding community consider them to be ignorant, inefficient, and impure.
As observed by Tiffany Walters in her content analysis “Not So Magical: Issues with Racism, Classism, and Ideology in Harry Potter”, this hierarchy not only divides wizards through blood status but separates magical creatures, such as Goblins and House-Elves, from humans as well. Walters argues that the prevalence of classism within the Wizarding World has been embedded deep within the root of Wizarding society. Walters scrutinized the development of certain organizations within the Wizarding World, most notably the British Ministry of Magic, to avoid intervening with classism issues because these organizations were created with these supremacy sentiments in mind. Because blood-purity is somewhat akin to nobility for many established Pure-blood families, it is reasonable to infer that blood-purity has been important for centuries and has led to even further classification amongst the Pure-bloods, disrupting the balance of the wizarding hierarchy. For instance, Walters briefly cites how the Weasley family is an old Pure-blood family that others look down upon because of lack of wealth and their support for Muggle-born rights, as seen through the Malfoy family’s classification of the Weasley’s as blood-traitors. This analysis then establishes the importance of blood purity and how it has furthered the social divide between the Wizarding World, resulting in the prevalence of prejudices based on the social hierarchy.
Walter’s idea of magical institutions purposely overlooking supremacy issue due to blood-purification ideologies is correlated to Aaron D. Marciniak’s content analysis ““There is Only Power”: Surveying the Structures and Operations of Power in the Magical World of Harry Potter”. In this analysis, Marciniak focuses on the magical institutions and structures, both good and evil, and prejudices affecting the status and power of certain creatures and characters within the series, such as the Ministry of Magic (MoM) and its prejudice against werewolves. Marciniak concluded that Rowling’s characterization of certain characters and events enabled her to lightly introduce a variety of supremacy issues while focusing on the main plot of the series. For instance, Albus Dumbledore was characterized as a symbol for the light side, a beacon of hope for the Wizarding World as he embodied positive traits. Yet, despite portraying resentment towards the unfair treatment of magical creatures and beings, Dumbledore never openly expresses nor actively campaigns against the mistreatment of creatures like House-elves. On the contrary, Hermione Granger actively campaigns against the mistreatment of House-elves as seen through her establishment of the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W.) in the Goblet of Fire but does rarely mentions the move in the last few books and movies.
An important thing to notice in the content analysis is that all the examples given have to do with unresolved, background supremacy issues that are not formally addressed within the series, except for a few instances (e.g., S.P.E.W.), because they are symbolic of old real-world issues that are unresolved, such as racism. However, all Harry Potter fans will notice that Rowling does not directly portray racist issues within the Wizarding society. Indirectly, Rowling’s lack of development for her diverse characters may be considered racist. For example, Kaitlin Pham introduces the notion that Rowling’s lack of emphasis on the character of Cho Chang misrepresents the Asian community. Within the series, Chang is a supporting character that has minor parts in a few of the books. A Ravenclaw, which humors the stereotype of Asians and studying habits, Chang is introduced in the books as the Ravenclaw Quidditch Team seeker in The Prisoner of Azkaban, where she is depicted as a beautiful yet skilled Quidditch player. However, she is only introduced as a beautiful girl, and later as Cedric Diggory’s date to the Yule Ball in The Goblet of Fire, with little attention to her actual personality and more focus on the attraction between Harry and Chang. As the series progresses, Rowling’s lack of focus on Chang causes readers to view Chang as a temptress, and when she later reveals to the school administration the truth about Dumbledore’s Army in the fifth book, she receives no closure despite being forced to tell the truth. Relating to Walters’ analysis of Blood Status, Chang is never tormented for her Blood Status because it is assumed that she is either Pure Blood or Half-blood, nor is she ever tormented for her ethnicity. Besides Pham’s analysis, other instances of Rowling’s failure to expand on diverse characters include Angelina Johnson, Dean Thomas, and Lee Jordan, all dark-skinned supporting characters that have limited screen time in the films and little impact on the plots of any Harry Potter books. However, none of these characters ever face discrimination for their skin color, giving the notion that the Wizarding community is essentially color-blind in terms of race. The correlation between all three of the mentioned studies showcases how Rowling created parallels to present-day supremacy issues in the background without straying from the main plot.
Gender Roles & Feminism
The Harry Potter series has gained recognition from various feminists for Rowling’s portrayal of strong female characters. As Delaney Bullinger observed, many of the female characters from the series have been depicted to be powerful, intelligent, and athletic, breaking through the traditionally feminine roles of both the Wizarding and the real world. However, at one point or another, most of these female characters do, in some way, become subjugated in following traditional gender norms. For instance, Bellatrix Lestrange, the renowned Death Eater depicted to be Lord Voldemort’s most trusted follower, was in the end subjected to do the bidding of a male character who often treats her harshly. Her portrayal as a power-crazy woman ready to please her master is intensified in The Cursed Child when it is discovered that Lestrange carried Voldemort’s daughter. At some point in the series, even the main heroine Hermione Granger is forced off her heroic pedestal as she becomes reliant on Harry and Ron on numerous occasions. It is also argued that Hermione’s feminist tendencies were overshadowed by her relationship, and reliance, with Ron, despite her becoming Minister of Magic. On the contrary, readers can view Rowling’s depictions differently. For instance, Hermione’s relationship with Ron did not keep her from becoming the Minister of Magic, showcasing Hermione’s perseverance towards achieving her ambitious goals.
On the flip side of feminism, Rowling does not do an effective job in portraying the LGBTQ+ community within the Wizarding World. In Cultural Politics in Harry Potter: Life, Death, and the Politics of Fear, the authors examine how Rowling fails to properly expand or portray LGBTQ+ characters or deviant masculinity by creating stereotypical characters that tend to follow social norms. In a society where the debate on gender representation and toxic masculinity is evident, the wizarding universe needs to be expanded accordingly in Fantastic Beasts, as Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald are the only characters confirmed by J.K. Rowling to represent the LGBTQ+ community. Of course, expanding Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald, and perhaps the Wizarding community’s response to said relationship could be an effective way to clarify the wizarding world’s stance on LGBTQ+ relationships.
The representation of feminist characters that question traditional gender norms is a refreshing theme for such an infamous series because it is relevant to today’s social climate. However, the lack of focus on LGBTQ+ characters, mixed with transphobic comments from Rowling has caused the series to receive critical comments from LGBTQ+ supporters that call for more representation as the Wizarding World is expanded, especially because the real world is in turmoil over acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community.
Historical Figures/Events & Fiction
A content analysis by Aislyn Fredsall examined the resemblance between the modern-day Wizarding World magic and circumstances and real-world circumstances. Fredsall concluded that Rowling structured the timeline of the Wizarding World to intertwine with that of the real world. The intertwining paths of fictional and real history allow Rowling to portray symbolic supremacy issues within the Wizarding World through a correlation of realistic timing and events. For instance, in 1692, the Salem Witch Trials condemned multiple people to death because they were accused of witchcraft. That same year, the Wizarding Statute of Secrecy, which essentially shields the Wizarding World from the Muggle world to ensure the protection of wizards, was instated. The statute, however, arguably increased the rift between the Wizarding community and the Muggle society. The negative mindset behind the separation of both societies led the Wizarding community to develop a negative perception towards Muggle society, which correlates to the classism issues identified by both Walters and Marciniak.
This principle can be similarly proven by examining the characterization of certain Harry Potter characters in correlation with historical figures. A popular concept, Lord Voldemort is often identified with the historical figure of Adolf Hitler. Devin Rutter examines the parallels between the Wizarding War in Harry Potter and World War II, both wars based on the ideologies of blood purification. Rutter scrutinizes the similarity between Lord Voldemort and Hitler since they both utilize violent methods to instill their ideologies of blood purity. Rowling’s use of Hitler as inspiration for the main antagonist suggests that other Harry Potter characters may also be characterized in a specific way to intentionally create fictional instances that depict supremacy issues in the real world.
Previous research on Harry Potter and supremacy issues has found that the fictional series is often reflective of real-world issues. Most studies have predominantly drawn connections based on the themes of Blood Purity, the social hierarchy, sexism, and feminism. Although many studies also focus on the characterization of certain characters, a considerable amount of them focus on the characters of Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore, and Hermione Granger. Despite the multitude of research available, there is a lack of focus on supremacy issues and the characterization of James Potter, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and Remus Lupin (the Marauders). Through content analysis and word frequency analysis, this research paper will investigate how J.K. Rowling’s characterization of the Marauders introduces and affects different Wizarding World supremacy issues that are reflective of real-world issues.
The purpose of this qualitative study is to determine the correlation between the characterization of the Marauders and its effect on Wizarding supremacy issues, which are representative of real-world issues. Content analysis is a method that relies on the researcher’s interpretation and inferences based on the text. Because the study focused on conclusions drawn from the characterization of the Marauders, and the effect of said characterization on the plot, other characters, and other issues, content analysis was the suitable method for the qualitative aspect of this research.
The qualitative research process was divided into two parts: data collection and analyses. Because this research is a literary analysis with a focus on the characterization of each Marauder in conjunction with the supremacy issues they either reflect or introduce, the sample size was strictly restricted to the characters of the Marauder. To ensure that the collected data would yield accurate results, data was gathered from sources that were verified by J.K. Rowling, most notably from wizardingworld.com (previously known as Pottermore). Data collected from multiple websites were gathered and uploaded to Google Docs, with a separate document for each Marauder. By organizing the data into different Google documents, I was able to organize and analyze the data appropriately by time period/eras. Dividing the data into different documents allowed me to easily store information and to eliminate unnecessary data that were either irrelevant or go off tangent from this topic. The variables that were chosen to be focused on included family background, upbringing, Hogwarts life, friendships. relationships, and blood status. The character of a person, or character, in this case, is influenced by factors such as home life and social life, especially in early developmental years. For this reason, the chosen variables are a good fit for the study to understand how the Marauders were characterized based on their experiences that Rowling shaped to influence or be influenced by certain supremacy issues.
A word frequency analysis is an analysis that includes a word count used to describe the frequency of a certain word or words with a certain quality (e.g. negatively connotated). For this research, the word frequency analysis was used for two purposes: as a means to provide credibility to this research by quantifying the qualitative data; to support the concept that Rowling does characterize the Marauders in a certain way that associates the characters with supremacy issues.
The first step in performing the quantitative research was to finalize what novels were to be used within the word frequency analysis. Due to time constraints and the lengthiness of the research, the amount of text that was analyzed had to be limited. Ultimately, it was decided that to draw the most relevant conclusions, the chosen chapters had to have direct correlations with the Marauders. Thus, each chapter featured at least one living Marauder and discussed the other Marauders. The only exception to this was the inclusion of chapter 33 from Deathly Hallows, which features Harry Potter exploring the memories of Severus Snape in the pensive. In this scene, all Marauders are dead; however, this chapter was essential to the development of the Marauders because it explicitly discussed their childhood, which was a component used in the qualitative research. Overall the following chapters were used: chapters 10, 17, 18 (Prisoner of Azkaban); chapters 28,29 (Order of the Phoenix); chapter 16 (Half-Blood Prince); chapter 33 (Deathly Hallows).
The second step was conducting the word frequency analysis. To fulfill the goal of achieving accurate results, the credible web application Tagcrowd was used to count word frequency. The chapters were copied from online versions of the novels and pasted into the Tagccrowd, which provided a breakdown of the word count. The settings on Tagcrowd were changed to provide the word count of the entire chapter right underneath the box where each chapter was pasted. I then recorded the total amount of negatively connotated words within each chapter that were used either directly by the Marauder or used in relation to the Marauders (e.g. such as through a conversation between different characters). The numerical data was recorded into a Google document and was used to calculate the overall average negative word frequency within chapters featuring Marauders. A critical factor in the procedure was that within the Google documents, the data was organized according to the time period (either during the Marauders Era (aka pre-Harry Potter era) or Post-Marauders Era (aka during the Harry Potter series)) to show a change and continuity in the characterization or personality of the Marauders. The data was then analyzed to understand and conclude how the chosen Marauder was characterized based on his upbringing, life struggles, ideologies, and actions throughout the series. The conclusions made from this analysis were used to further analyze how Rowling correlated the Marauders to the dark reality of inequality within the Wizarding society by inserting these characters into situations that have some connection to bigger inequality issues.
The original research design involved only a content analysis focusing on multiple scenes from the movies and the books being taken and analyzed to understand how a Marauder influenced either the characters or the plot. However, due to the procedure being lengthy, as this would have required taking specific scenes from the books and the movies, the research was redesigned to focus on scenes or actions in general. For example, instead of citing specific interactions between Remus Lupin and the other Marauders to explain the prejudiced and misleading views regarding werewolves, I focused on the more general interactions between them, such as the Marauders helping Lupin with his transformations by becoming illegal animagi. The word frequency analysis was included in the design after it was decided that this research would need to be quantified in order to solidify this project as research.
Results & Discussion
James Potter was introduced in the Wizarding Universe as the father of Harry James Potter, the “Boy-Who-Lived”, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. As a minor character that is killed before the setting of the book, Potter’s character lacks the intricate character development as the other Marauders. Despite this, Potter plays a vital role in defining some of the social issues explicitly present within the Wizarding World, as will be discussed within this section. To analyze his character, and the following characters, I scrutinized the history of his family as well as his childhood to understand factors that influenced his characterization and his relationship with supremacy issues. The Potter family is a family descended from the wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe in the twelfth century, whose name was corrupted by Muggles into “Potter'' over time for his eccentric tendencies of “pottering” in his garden and curing Muggle diseases. One of Linfred’s descendants, Lolanthe Peverell, the granddaughter of Ignotous Peverell, the owner of the Invisibility Cloak from The Deathly Hallows, married Linfred’s son. The merging of the Peverell and Potter family indicates that the Potter family is not only magically powerful but politically as well. Because of the Muggle-tainted origins of the Potter family surname, the Potter family was excluded from the Sacred Twenty-Eight, a list of original Pure-blood families, and lost a significant amount of respect and power due to their status.
James Potter is a character representative of change, growing out from his child-like bullying behavior to a loyal and protective man. In the Order of the Phoenix, Severus Snape’s memories in the pensive scene, Potter is depicted to be a bully with prejudiced views towards Slytherins, considering them to be aspiring Death-eaters and a threat to the Wizarding World. Growing up in a relatively respectable and wealthy family, Potter was introduced to the First Wizarding War as a young child, which played a role in his prejudiced views towards other Pure-bloods and Slytherins. However, Potter arguably grew out of his prejudiced views as seen through his strong bond with Sirius Black, the heir of a renowned dark Pure-blood family. Potter is also described to be fiercely protective of Muggle-borns and half-bloods, as supported through his love for Muggle-born Lily Evans and his initiation in joining the Order of the Phoenix to fight in the First Wizarding War.
Rowling’s depiction of Potter’s character allows Rowling to explore supremacy issues within the Wizarding Universe. The exclusion of the Potter family from the Sacred Twenty-Eight because of a Muggle-tainted surname indicates the classism issue as Muggles are considered to be impure. Furthermore, the childhood bullying phase shows the prejudiced views that Pure-blooded children are raised to believe in, with Dark families believing in blood-superiority and light families opposing blood-superiority and associating Slytherins with the Dark Arts. Moreover, James Potter’s relationships show the extent to which acceptance of blood status plays a major role in terms of respect. For instance, James Potter was scorned by Slytherins for loving Lily Evans, a Muggle-born considered a “Mud-blood” (of dirty blood) while he was a Pure-blood. His relationships then symbolize the “light” side of the Wizarding World that is generally more open-minded and acceptive.
Sirius Black is one of the complex characters of the Harry Potter franchise. The heir to the Black family, which is renowned for its association with the Dark Arts and is among the Sacred Twenty-Eight, Black was expected to be the “perfect Slytherin”, with an interest in the Dark Arts and eventually as a servant to Lord Voldemort. One of the factors adding to Black’s complex character is his opposition to the Black family. The Black family has a motto of “Toujours Pur '' or “Always Pure”, referring to the importance of blood-purity of the Black family. Yet Black not only rebelled but fought against these ideologies. Black’s tragic backstory garnered sympathy from most of the Harry Potter fandom. Although it is still unconfirmed, many speculate that Black was a victim of child abuse, which led to his rebellious nature to escape his family. His sorting into Gryffindor house, the fundamentally opposite of Slytherin, worsened his strained relationships with his family and increased tension within the family, resulting in his disownment from the Black family and running away to the Potters at age 16. Black’s insistence on betraying his family’s beliefs may stem from the concepts of etymology and astrology that characterize him through his name. Sirius translates from Greek as “glowing”, and the dog star Sirius is known as “the protector” in many cultures. The historical significance of his name illustrates why Black defied the general Blood-purity mania of the Black family and tended to protect those he loved.
An important factor in Black’s lack of characterization may be credited towards his imprisonment at age 22 led him to a state of “arrested development” or the prevention from Black’s mental development. Black was arrested right after the death of his best friend, so he was in a state of mourning and grief which led to his chase after Peter Pettigrew. Moreover, Black blamed himself for the death of the Potters because he indirectly caused it by instating Pettigrew as the Secret Keeper rather than himself, as irrational as the guilt may be. Thus, Black’s irrational actions, such as his comparison of Harry to James and his need for action, after his escape from Azkaban (Wizarding prison), are accredited to his lack of proper mental development.
Black’s character is a factor in revealing supremacy issues within the Wizarding World as he provided insight into the reality of dark Pure-blood families and their expectations. The classism issue regarding hate for “impure” blood is highlighted by the impression several high-profile Pure-blood families have regarding Blood-purity. This notion is only supported by the fact that Black was disowned for questioning his family’s beliefs, showing the extent to which Pure-bloods would go to keep their blood, and by extension power, “purified”. Although previous characters, namely the Malfoy and Weasley families, may have introduced the idea of Pure-blood families supporting or rejecting Pure-blood ideology, Black’s past opens the Pandora Box of Pure-Blood mania.
Remus Lupin was first introduced as a laid-back, albeit poor, Defense against the Dark Arts professor in The Prisoner of Azkaban, a façade Rowling quickly ripped away by showing Lupin’s alternate side. The truth behind Lupin’s opinions is quickly revealed to be his “monthly illness” as a werewolf.
A half-blood child of a Wizard and a muggle, Lupin was born into a somewhat scorned blood status. Around this time, werewolves were not only feared and disliked but shunned from society as the Wizarding World tried its hardest to classify all werewolves through werewolves laws and a registry that would track down werewolves. The purpose of this classification was to prevent the assimilation of werewolves into society as they were considered barbaric. The description may be remotely true in some cases, such as the case of Fenrir Greyback, the notorious werewolf that attacked children and adults, biting Lupin at the age of five after a small dispute with his father. The reality of life as a werewolf is illustrated by Lupin’s childhood. Lupin was practically isolated for almost his entire childhood due to a lack of acceptance for werewolves, causing the Lupin family to shift from house to house to keep Lupin’s secret safe. His monthly transformation also meant a lack of education because schools were discriminative against werewolves, preferring to keep their students safe and not tainting their school with half-breeds. Hogwarts was the only place of real acceptance, as it was the only place that gave Lupin a real chance at life and gave him new, loyal friends.
Lupin’s close friendship with the Marauders highlights Lupin’s longing for acceptance and friends, things constantly denied in his childhood, which supports the idea of werewolves being shunned at every aspect of their life. Furthermore, this highlights the issue of unacceptance towards magical creatures as magical creatures, including werewolves, goblins, etc., are not accepted but rather feared and disliked by even Half-bloods and Muggle-borns. Regardless, Pure-bloods will agree with groups of other blood-status on the matter regarding werewolves and anti-werewolf laws.
Peter Pettigrew was the most baffling Marauder to analyze due to lack of information despite his heavy impact on the series. Pettigrew was once a friend to the other Marauders, even going as far as to become an unregistered Animagi to help with Lupin’s transformation. However, all of that comes to head when Pettigrew ultimately betrayed the Potters to the Dark Lord, resulting in their death and the eventual Second Wizarding War.
A major component of Pettigrew’s characterization is not affected by outside influences, rather it is how Pettigrew affects the characterization of others. A prime example would be Pettigrew and Black. As previously stated, Black’s irrational behavior is credited towards his state of “arrested development” or stunted mental growth due to his imprisonment at age 22. Because Black’s imprisonment was technically the fault of Pettigrew, Pettigrew is indirectly responsible for Black’s mental state, and the brash actions that lead to Black’s eventual death. The issue of power, paired with classism, is then revealed through the character of Peter Pettigrew, whose betrayal had a bigger effect than intended.
The general trend in data suggests a correlation between the character development of the Marauders and an effect on supremacy issues and ideologies within the series. For each character, a noticeable trend is that all the characters are exposed to a negative or toxic environment, whether the environment was at home or Hogwarts.
The results from the word frequency analysis showed an overall negative word frequency within the seven analyzed chapters of .46%. While this may seem like an insignificant number, this figure enhances the idea that Rowling did utilize negative words to characterize the Marauders and associate them with supremacy issues. This is seen through the use of the most frequent words: Kill (22), Werewolf (20), Danger (8), Mudblood (6), Bitter (5). For example, the word “werewolf” is an obvious reference to the lycanthropy of Remus Lupin and his monthly transformations. This term has obvious negative connotations because of the association between werewolves and classism issues within the Wizarding World. Because werewolves are rejected from wizarding society due to their blood “impurity” and their presumably dangerous nature, the term associates the Marauders with the concept of classism.
Similar connections can be drawn between the word “Mudblood'' and Sirius Black. Black’s family history and ideology were explored within this research, and it was explained how supportive the Black family was of the Dark Arts and Blood Purity. The term “Mudblood”, a derogatory term that refers to the “impure” blood of non-Pure-bloods who were considered undeserving of magical powers, was used regularly by dark families and enhances the idea of classism and discrimination. Black’s rejection of his family ideologies and his embrace of progressive perspectives that were accepting of different blood-statuses, though not necessarily other creatures, can be associated with the term “Mudblood'' as Black was one of the progressive characters within the Harry Potter universe that experienced a change in his archaic ideology of classism.
The previous conclusions from the quantitative research are intertwined with the qualitative conclusions as well. This research has delved deeper into the ideas presented within previous research by understanding how the Marauders were used to introduce and influence supremacy issues presented within the series. As seen through the collected data, by creating characters with a history of negative environments, Rowling was able to subtly manipulate supremacy issues within the plot. The most obvious example to prove this claim would be Black. Black’s childhood, from his early years till the day he ran away at 16, was primarily affected by his family’s expectations of the Black heir to be ruthless, the perfect follower of Voldemort, and a strong advocate for the Dark Arts. Black’s avoidance of these influences would lead him to become the fan-favorite Godfather character introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban that sacrificed himself for the greater good of the war and his godson, Harry Potter. But before the character reveal of Black, the issue of Pure-blood ideology and the extent of its effects are rarely discussed. The first glimpse into Pure-blood mania feuds was depicted in The Sorcerer’s Stone when Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley refused to treat each other civilly due to class differences and lack of acceptance for one another. However, the true extent to which these issues existed or how they truly affected characters was rarely shown until the third installment. Black’s character not only allowed Rowling to reveal and build upon the issue of blood superiority issues, but also helped her develop other characters that were revealed to have been affected by similar issues, such as Draco Malfoy in Half-Blood Prince.
Similarly, Rowling expanded upon supremacy issues through the characters of Pettigrew, Potter, and Lupin. Focusing on the character of James Potter, Rowling can introduce the notion of combating supremacy issues and children being affected by supremacy issues. Potter grew up in a family that rejected any notions of blood superiority. However, like Black being exposed to the idea of hating non-Pure Bloods and “Blood traitors'', Potter was influenced to reject Death Eaters and any association with the Dark Arts, which led to his notorious bullying streak against Slytherins. While it could be argued that this is technically not a supremacy issue, it is important to understand that Potter’s prejudiced opinions against all Slytherins based on a single perspective are indirectly representative of oppression and hate crimes. Rowling used Potter to describe the effects the war had on children of all ages as well as the social stigma that had arisen against all Pure-bloods based on a general perspective of oppression.
Lupin was used directly to develop supremacy issue development as Rowling uses him to illustrate the effect of social stigmas ad the extent to which discrimination has led to an imbalance within society. Lupin grew introverted after being bitten due to fear of being discovered as a monster and being harmed due to the biased opinions of the public that prevented werewolves from generally mixing with the Magical community. Rowling used Lupin to set the stage for discrimination issues by introducing the new concept of werewolves and lack of acceptance in Prisoner of Azkaban, both concepts previously not mentioned in previous books. This can also be seen through Lupin’s constant strive to be accepted within society, especially by his brothers within the Marauders, who went as far as to become unregistered animagus to help Lupin with his monthly transformation, which again shows Rowling used Lupin to showcase the issue of discrimination.
Because Pettigrew’s character lacks development, it is questionable how Pettigrew has influenced or introduced supremacy issues. However, Pettigrew does play an essential role by becoming an active figure that fell into peer pressure and joined Voldemort’s ranks after being overlooked, betraying his brothers for a war that would cost him his own life. Pettigrew is used to set supremacy issues by showing the effects of classism and how inferiority, regardless of blood status, can be destructive as Pettigrew’s destruction stemmed from his jealousy against his comparatively popular friends. Pettigrew was classified to be a “lesser wizard”, meaning he was viewed as the weak link of the Marauders and led to Pettigrew seeking power within the Dark Arts, highlighting the disparity between not only different wealth classes, but blood classes as Pettigrew is presumably half-blood compared to Potter’s and Black’s pure-blood.
The study sample for this research only contains four characters that are not constantly present throughout the series, which is why this research focused on supremacy issues directly impacted or revealed through the actions, history, or character development of specifically the Marauders. Although previous research has delved into the topic of supremacy issues within the Wizarding Universe, no previous research has explicitly focused on the characters of the Marauders. Because this study can be considered a “Pilot study” as most studies have not considered these characters within the study sample, this study does have limitations in terms of limited previous background knowledge. For instance, much of the information regarding the characters and their background/family history came directly from the official Harry Potter website, Wizardinguniverse.com. However, there are limited articles that explicitly tell about the effects the Marauders had on other characters, plot, or supremacy issues. Because of this, the research had to be altered a little to include information straight from the books, such as actual scenes like the Pensive scene between Severus Snape and the Marauders from The Order of the Phoenix.
The research itself was lengthy and required much analysis. I first gathered data from sources that were verified by J.K. Rowling, to ensure accurate results, regarding the Marauders. This information included background knowledge on the character’s family, their status within society, their relationships/friendships, and their overall role within the series. Each character was analyzed separately to distinguish their personal views, how they interacted with different characters, and how their characters either introduced new supremacy issues, such as Black’s family supporting dark arts within the Order of the Phoenix, or how they affected the issue by introducing a new perspective, such as James Potter’s marriage to Muggle-born Lily Evans. The Marauders were then analyzed as a group by studying and understanding how their friendship with one another, and their actions, affected each other as well as surrounding characters, thus affecting supremacy issues throughout the entire series. There was the quantitative aspect, which included a word frequency done by pasting chapters into Tagcrowd and calculating the average negative word count per chapter and the overall negative word frequency from all seven chapters combined. A general trend in data revealed that Rowling characterized the Marauders in a way to introduce or expand upon supremacy issues by exposing the Marauders to toxic or negative environments at early ages. By exposing them to toxic environments, Rowling could introduce different supremacy issues that are compliant with the settings of the series.
On a larger scale, this study does have relevant information regarding today’s social climate. Discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and wealth has been prominent within society for decades. Hate crimes against Asian Americans, for instance, saw a surge of about 169% during the Covid-19 pandemic and is a prime example of hate crimes associated with current events. On a larger scale, this study was meant to identify how the supremacy issues that were developed or revealed through the characters of the Marauders are not only relevant to the Wizarding world but the real world as well. For example, during the first wizarding war during the Marauders’ era, hate crimes against Muggle-borns and Muggles were at a prime due to the ideology of blood purification, specifically by those with a dark background, such as members of the Black family (e.g., Bellatrix Lestrange nee Black was an infamous Death Eater known for killing and torturing Muggle-borns, Muggles, and “Blood traitors”).
Hate crimes against non-Pure-bloods during a war that supported the notion of Pure-blood mania is parallel to hate crimes against certain groups of people because of certain ideologies, like the previous example of hate crimes against Asian Americans. As an infamous everyday name within households across the world, captivating an audience of varying backgrounds and ages, this series, through the characterization of characters, does alert the audience of supremacy issues within the real world by drawing subtle connections to hate crimes. On a broader spectrum, this study was then not only important because it addressed correlations between supremacy issues within the literature world and the real world, but it also addressed a new research gap as hate crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic have not yet been connected to the Marauders from the Harry Potter series.
Further research on this topic may be done by specifically focusing on either the books or the movie, as this research did more of an overview of both rather than specifically focus on either one. Another interesting topic to consider is the character of Sirius Black and the notation of possible child abuse and/or psychological/emotional abuse and its effects on the character development of Sirius Black as it has been suggested through many articles that Black’s opposing stances with his dark family may have caused issues. The character of Remus Lupin also raises an interesting topic regarding the idea of loneliness/isolation and its impact on not only the character development of Lupin but other characters as well, including Harry Potter who has been hinted at being lonely throughout his early childhood while living with his aunt and uncle. Further research may also focus on the scientific aspect by scrutinizing the effects of Black’s arrested development on surrounding characters, such as Harry Potter, and whether that had a lasting impact on any of their characters or their choices. Any further research on this topic could potentially introduce the importance of everyday series such as Harry Potter because of the subtle yet meaningful glances of real-world lessons regarding supremacy issues, which can help the audience, especially younger fans, build a moral compass that is empathetic towards the victims of supremacy issues.
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