The Burrow: The Bright Side of Life
by Tammy Nezol
…Harry frequently heard students saying things like, “Honestly, some days I just feel like jumping on my broom and leaving this place,” or else, “One more lesson like that and I might just do a Weasley…” (OotP p676, US version)
I have yet to meet someone that does not love the characters of Fred and George Weasley. Why do we love them? Is it because they are rebellious or funny? Perhaps we enjoy their team spirit or easy going attitude? Whatever it is, there is something about these boys that draws us to them. We love to hear about their latest invention, trick, or rule breaking scheme. We laugh when they knock authority off of its feet. But what does all of this amount to?
One of the great things about all the Weasley children is that they are all different. We have the opportunity to see how much their choices affect their lives and how important upbringing can be. Fred and George are almost indistinguishable as twins, but together they teach us some amazing lessons. They are faced with many of the same questions Percy is faced with, yet come to very different conclusions. Last month, I discussed how Percy naively believes that those who have power and follow the rules are upright and honest men. If anything, Fred and George are the antithesis to this line of thought. They recognize the invalidity of some rules, the need for laughter and enjoyment over hard labor, and they go to great lengths to invent new lives that are far from the status quo society wants them to follow. Whereas society teaches us to compete as individuals to make it up the ladder and improve ourselves, Fred and George teach us the power of two people over an individual, and the joy in helping those in need.
This is why I believe we love them, or at least why I do. Beyond being funny or creative, Fred and George generally love their lives. Though they don’t get high grades or work for the ministry, or do anything else society would claim is essential for a good life, they are happy. I think we all can look at Fred and George and say to ourselves, I wish I could do that or why can’t more things make us smile?
It is true that there is danger in defying the regulations to the extreme that Fred and George take it. I think that graduating will prove more useful in their futures than they realize, but I fully support them opening a joke shop (as inventing is clearly what they do best). How far Fred and George take things can be too much and hurt others. Look at poor Ron who feels helpless in standing up to his brothers because sometimes they can be mean and overbearing (even if they think it is only a light joke).
Realizing that Fred and George are story characters and that reality can be held on hold for a while, I dream of having the guts Fred and George are willing to show. Who didn’t cheer when they flew from their broomsticks away from Hogwarts, turning their backs on a corrupt bureaucracy and going to chase their own dreams? Who didn’t laugh when they made Dudley’s tongue grow? Granted, it was cruel and they probably shouldn’t have done it (even if it was to Dudley), but it sure was funny!
That is the place that Fred and George, my two favorite twins, hold in this story. They make us laugh, and they make others laugh. They find the new in the old, teaching us to chase our own dreams and work together. They are always willing to help when others are in a bind, and they sometimes do so by creating large, hilarious distractions. When death is lurking in the background, and evil is increasingly showing its face, Fred and George scare it away with a smile. For even when times are hard, everyone needs to laugh. The twins teach us the importance of enjoying life, even when things are hard. A little laughter can go a long way.
Percy may be losing himself because he cannot lighten up. He doesn’t really laugh, he turns his back on his family, and even power and prestige seem to escape him. Yet, the two boys that do everything wrong in Percy’s eyes are the two that end up with everything that truly matters. They do laugh, they have close familial relations, and they have some power and prestige: the exact opposite of what society would have told them would happen.
Now Fred and George are finding their fortune in the very thing that makes us love them. They are bringing laughter to a world that lives in terror. They shine as a light that things will improve. They teach us that even in the darkest times we all need to smile. They show us the importance of really living life, not just following a straight course. For this we love them.