Hagrid, the Gentle (Half-)Giant
by Poorva Chakravarthy
A rebuttal to John Gilberotoes’ Hagrid the Insensitive
Okay, I have heard John Gilberotoes out. This is what I have to say:
The fact that Hagrid is a nice sweet trusting guy is exactly why he acts the way he does!
Let’s go example by example.
About the scene on the rock
One, the Dursleys grew up with the knowledge that Harry was magical, so it’s not exactly this great big secret. Two, the Dursleys kept Harry’s past from him. They insulted not only his parents and but also Albus Dumbledore, whom Hagrid venerates almost to the point of worship. To someone as loyal to his friends as Hagrid, that would have well merited a retaliation. I’m not implying that Hagrid’s some kind of saint – far from it. I just think that what he did under the circumstances, apart from making hilarious reading, was justified. And if anyone thinks that that fat whale of a cousin of Harry’s didn’t deserve what he got, there’s a bed free in St. Mungo’s at the moment.
Furthermore, Hagid’s actions are of importance later on in the story – if he hadn’t given Dudley that pig’s tail, the Dursleys wouldn’t have gone to London to have it removed, and Harry wouldn’t have gotten the ride to King’s Cross.
Hagrid’s actions don’t indicate a mean mentality – rather, they show a deep caring for a creature that the majority of the wizarding world hates and fears.
Again, Hagrid’s actions are always carried out with the best of intentions. He is ignorant of how dangerous his creatures can be, but he still loves them, and that’s saying something.
The Detention scene
If you read the detention scene closely, you’ll realize that Hagrid’s remark “Yeh’v done wrong, an’ now yeh’ve got ter pay fer it.” is directed not toward Harry, Hermione or Neville, but Malfoy, and even then after Malfoy refused to go into the forest. And yes, Hagrid splits them up, but it’s Malfoy who insists on having Fang. When Hagrid hears a strange noise, his first reaction is to push Harry and Hermione behind a tree and out of harm’s way
Finally, as for the fact that Hagrid gave away the secret to Fluffy, the fact is that he was manipulated into it by Voldemort. People do crazy things for the people or things they love (Harry in OotP ring a bell?) and Voldemort knew just how to play Hagrid – get the guy drunk, offer him a dragon egg – and Hagrid, not the most rational of people at the best of times, fell for it hook, line and sinker. (Anybody who says they are completely rational when drunk is lying. Period.)
To quote Dumbledore in CoS, “Older and wiser wizards than she [Ginny] have been hoodwinked by Lord Voldemort.” Substitute Hagrid for Ginny and there you have it.
As for the scene in Hagrid’s cabin, do you really think that Hagrid would tell the man who just sent him to prison – and a suspected Death Eater – an admittedly vague clue that in all likelihood would have gone over the Minister’s fat head? And as for Harry and Ron being “inexperienced second-years”, wasn’t it a trio of even more inexperienced first-years who saved the Philosopher’s Stone from Voldemort? Sure, Hagrid told Harry and Ron the clue in order to clear himself, and sent them into the forbidden forest, but he did so on the faith that Aragog would not hurt his friends. You can’t blame the man for the sins of the spider. Again, the spider clue proved vital to the storyline. Aragog tells Harry and Ron that the girl who died was found in a bathroom, and that piece of information leads them directly to the Chamber of Secrets.
As to how Hagrid acted in Book 3, isn’t Buckbeak, according to Harry himself, “positively cute” by Hagrid’s standards? Second, if you compare the actions of Harry and Malfoy in that class:
- Harry – listens to Hagrid’s instructions, gives Buckbeak the respect he deserves, and not only does Buckbeak not do anything to him, he actually gets to ride him!
- Malfoy – plots to disrupt class, doesn’t listen to Hagrid’s instructions, and get a minor cut on the arm for his trouble – not life-threatening by anyone’s standards!
Okay, given, I doubt that Hagrid was in his right mind when he assigned The Monster Book of Monsters, but give the guy a break – do you mean you’ve NEVER been assigned an evil textbook? (in which case, you probably answer to the name Hermione Jane Granger.) But about the Flobberworms – put yourself in Hagrid’s place. You’re a half-giant, discriminated against all your life because of what you were born, expelled for a crime you didn’t commit, able to do only the most basic of magic, and not very successfully at that. (case in point – Dudley and the pig’s tail.) Talk about a life conducive to high self-esteem….not! Half a century later, you’re given a chance to live your lifelong dream, and a prat like Malfoy comes along and ruined your first class. To top it off, his evil git of a father is threatening to sack you, and your Hippogriff, who didn’t do anything wrong, is going to be executed. In light of all this, Hagrid’s behavior is understandable – he so lacks confidence in himself that he puts the class through Flobberworms for the rest of the year. (On a lighter note, wasn’t their Care of Magical Creatures exam the easiest because they only had to do Flobberworms?) And need I remind everyone of Buckbeak’s role in getting our favorite canine to safety?
As for Book 4, I doubt Hagrid’s even aware that there’s a law forbidding the creation of new species of magical creature. To Hagrid, his “project” was just that- a project, designed to satisfy his curiosity and provide him some amusement, much like you or I might raise a goldfish or grow a plant. Second, other characters in the series threaten or do much worse things (Snape and Neville’s toad, for instance? Moody and the Ferret incident? And don’t get me started about the mutated toad…) and I don’t see anyone drawing and quartering them.. (well, with the exception of Dumbridge, but then I actually read an editorial in support of her *shudders*) To get back on track – the blast-ended skrewts are nothing but an atrociously named experiment of Hagrid’s gone wrong…and, to quote Ron, what “if they turn out to cure sea sickness or something?” JKR has proved that she never does things without a reason, and the Skrewts are a loose end just waiting to be tied up – something tells me that we haven’t seen the last of the Skrewts, whether for better or worse is another question altogether.
In OotP, Hagrid risks his life to go as an envoy to the giants, a mission that could get him killed or taken as Voldemort’s prisoner. He risks capture – and much worse – to bring Grawp home. We see Grawp as a danger to society – Hagrid sees his little brother, his only connection to the mother he lost. The fact that Hagrid risked life and limb to bring his little brother home speaks volumes about his character – he’s more human than many so-called “human beings” are. The reason that Hagrid asks Harry and Hermione to take care of Grawp is because he trusts them. Trusts them enough to tell them about his little brother and ask for their help – and let’s face it, with Dumbledore and McGonagall gone, he didn’t exactly have many options, did he? Finally, Grawp proved vital to the group’s escape from Umbridge- yet another example of how vital Hagrid is to the storyline.
Hagrid is a well-meaning, good-natured half-giant with a heart of gold – and in the end, that’s what matters. So please, let’s leave the Hagrid-bashing to the Rita Skeeters!