Acromantulas and Hippogriffs and Dragons, Oh My! Hagrid’s Obsession with Dangerous Creatures
J.K. Rowling told us that, for Hagrid, owning dangerous pets is all about overcoming something that can kill him. Somehow I think that it’s more than that, subconsciously at least.
Hagrid, as we know, is half-giant. In the wizarding world, giants are regarded as violent, bloodthirsty killers (I wonder why ) and subsequently, Hagrid spends all his life trying to hide his true parentage — unfortunately for him, his secret is blown wide open in GoF. And what does Hagrid do when everyone finds out? He barricades himself in his hut, refuses to talk to anyone and spends a good deal of time crying. Clearly, Hagrid doesn’t exhibit any giant characteristics personality-wise. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore know this — they know that behind his frightening exterior, Hagrid is just an old softie.
Underneath it all, Hagrid knows this, too, which is exactly why he tries to give all those horrifying beasts he loves so dearly a second chance. Think about it — he must know that hes a little, how shall I put it, terrifying to look at. He also knows he wouldnt hurt a fly (unless it landed on Dumbledore’s hat and insulted his Headmaster qualifications). So when he looks at, say the Hungarian Horntail, he sees a creature that suffers from a bad reputation. Sure, she breathes fire, has huge fangs, and has a giant spike on her tail — but she wouldnt hurt anyone unless provoked. It’s not her fault Harry tried to get to her precious eggs — she was only protecting her young. When we look at the Hungarian Horntail we know better — eggs or no eggs — that thing would have tried to barbecue Harry alive anyway. So Hagrid pretty much thinks that these interesting creatures are his soul mates. Poor, unfortunate animals that nobody wants to take home with them because they bite and scratch (and devour and mangle). Unfortunately, Hagrid doesnt realize that hes the odd one out, that these creatures are in fact dangerous.
Not to say that Hagrid’s never right — take Hippogriffs and Thestrals for example. Hippogriffs are definitely dangerous if you provoke them, but other than that they’re ’downright cute.’ Thestrals, though we don’t see them do anything dangerous (no pun intended), they are classified as dangerous by the Ministry of Magic. We know, however, that this is just a bad reputation. They don’t seem dangerous at all — they’re more useful than anything else.
Hagrid’s obsession with these creatures might not just be a need to identify with them, but also the desire to prove to others that because something seems scary or its breed has a bad rep doesn’t necessarily mean theyre something to be frightened of. If he could have raised Norbert to be a nice, respectable Norwegian Ridgeback with manners fit for a tea-party, then maybe people wouldnt be so scared of him. Once Hagrid proved that people could put prejudices aside despite pre-conceived notions of whats dangerous and whats not, he would feel more comfortable with coming out of the half-breed closet. Unfortunately we know that dragons will never be tamed, and that Blast-Ended Skrewts should really be stomped out before they get any bigger.
So while some people might think that Hagrid’s just being a stupid oaf, who should once and for all realize that his idea of a nice pet is another person’s idea of a worst nightmare, I think we should give him a break. You cant blame the poor guy for trying to identify with these creatures, or trying to prove to people that looks can be deceiving, and that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, unless of course the cover actually bites you.