Re-Reading Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire ch. 2-5

This is the first time and – if I remember right – the only time in the Harry Potter series that the Weasleys and the Dursleys meet. What happens when they do is fascinating!

It’s hard to imagine people with less in common than the Weasleys and the Dursleys. Apart from, obviously, the fact that one family is made up of wizards and the other proud to be muggles, the Weasleys are warm and loving, while the Durselys are cold and snobbish. The Weasleys are poor, while the Dursleys tend to judge others by how much money they have and what kind of cars they drive. The Weasleys have seven children of their own and still find room in their hearts for Harry, while the Dursleys – his blood relatives – treat him like dirt.

When the Weasleys come to pick Harry up for the Quidditch World Cup, it’s clear the Dursleys are scared out of their minds. It’s kind of ironic, given that they’ve only ever met good witches and wizards, but they really do seem convinced that all those with magic are terrifying freaks of nature. The Weasleys, on the other hand, seem bewildered, curious, and perhaps a bit appalled. Harry notices that Mr. Weasley seems to pity Dudley, while the twins just think he’s a spoiled brat and leave a piece of chocolate for him to find – chocolate that’s enchanted to make his tongue grow and grow and grow …

It’s nothing they wouldn’t have done to an unpleasant classmate at Hogwarts, but Mr. Weasley certainly doesn’t see it that way. That’s another thing that makes the Weasleys different from the Dursleys. While they know as little about the muggle world as the Dursleys do about the wizarding world, Mr. Weasley has made a career out of making sure other wizards respect muggles and leave them alone. He’s outraged to find his sons antagonizing a muggle with their joke products, even if it’s not because he’s a muggle. Later, when Voldemort’s followers use magic to terrorize a family of muggles at the Quidditch World Cup, it will become clear why he has such a strong reaction to this.

In a way, the Dursleys have a lot in common with the darker side of the Wizarding World. They’re not the muggle equivalent of the Death Eaters, by any means – the Second Salemers come closer to that – but they’re not so different from the snobby wizard families that see muggles as beneath them and muggle-borns as unworthy to learn magic. They, too, have judged other people simply for being different without bothering to learn anything about them.

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Protected by Love

Fantastic Beasts Spoilers!

The concept of an obscurus casts much of the Harry Potter series into a new light. I know I wasn’t the only person to think of Ariana Dumbledore. But what about Harry himself?

Like Credence, Harry is raised by a horrible family that hates everything to do with magic. They aren’t quite as extreme – they pretend it doesn’t exist instead of fighting it openly – but they punished Harry harshly for his childhood outbursts of magic. As a child raised in the muggle world, he would have had no idea that there were others like him, or that he would be able to leave the Dursleys for Hogwarts once he turned eleven. He would only have known that the strange things he could do made Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia very angry, and that they obviously thought there was something wrong with him. Harry could easily have suppressed his magic and let it destroy him from within, just like Credence. Yet he obviously never develops an obscurus, and I think the answer to why he doesn’t is the same thing that protects him throughout the series: his mother’s love.

Lily Potter’s love does so much to protect Harry in very literal ways. It shields him from Voldemort’s attempt to kill him and burns Quirrell when he tries to harm him. Lily’s love for Harry temporarily defeated the most powerful dark wizard of all time. It’s not that hard to believe, at least for me, that it also prevented an obscurus from forming within him, no matter how badly he was treated by the Dursleys.