Sirius Black Is a Hypocrite
Sirius Black is one of the most warped characters in Harry Potter. He was broken by his best friend’s death and twisted by his 12 years in Azkaban. He was also a complete hypocrite.
In J.K. Rowling’s words,
Sirius is very good at spouting bits of excellent personal philosophy, but he does not always live up to them. For instance, he says in ‘Goblet of Fire’ that if you want to know what a man is really like, ‘look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.’ But Sirius loathes Kreacher, the house-elf he has inherited, and treats him with nothing but contempt. Similarly, Sirius claims that nobody is wholly good or wholly evil, and yet the way he acts towards Snape suggests that he cannot conceive of any latent good qualities there.
I would hazard that there are several other significant moments when Sirius spouts a personal philosophy that is at complete odds with his actions.
One of the most obvious is his advice to Harry during the tumultuous fifth book to “keep your head down and nose clean.” It was good advice, except that Sirius himself risks his own life by doing the exact opposite – transforming into a dog where any Death Eater could’ve seen him – and indeed, one did.
But there are two points where Sirius’s hypocrisy makes him a much less sympathetic character.
The first time Sirius’s hypocrisy is revealed is when Sirius decides that “the rat” in their circle is Remus Lupin, not Peter Pettigrew. What are his reasons to suspect Remus? Personally, I would imagine those reasons stem from the stigma associated with being a werewolf.
If that’s the case, Sirius – who always tried so hard to shake off his parents’ traditionalist and bigoted opinions – stigmatized Remus because he was a werewolf, like his parents stigmatized Muggle-borns.
The second point pertains to this quote:
THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED! DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!” – Prisoner of Azkaban, 19
This is one of Sirius’s lines that indicate the crux of his character. His loyalty after the big reveal in Prisoner of Azkaban seems utterly beyond reproach.
But Sirius is the first Marauder to betray one of his fellows, long before Peter was recruited by Voldemort. Sirius played a potentially lethal joke on Snape, by telling him how to enter the tunnel under the Whomping Willow. Even after many years Sirius still believed it “served Snape right.”
He had absolutely no thought for Remus Lupin.
If Snape had succeeded in coming into contact with Remus in his werewolf form that night, and Remus had bitten him, or even worse killed him – it is not difficult to imagine the consequences. Remus would have been expelled and possibly even imprisoned – not to mention the psychological scars he would have sustained in passing on his lyncanthropy. Sirius thought of none of this – had 16-year-old Sirius’s plans succeeded, it would have been a bitter betrayal indeed. Sirius’s superiority and outrage concerning Pettigrew, in this light, seems much less sympathetic.
Sirius Black seems the epitome of loyalty at first, but delve a bit deeper, and it’s clear he’s one of the most morally ambiguous characters in the entire series.
Do you think Sirius was a hypocrite?