Exploring animal cruelty and mistreatment in “Potter”
It’s a well-known fact that throughout the Potter series we’re introduced to a number of different animals, both “Muggle” and magical, each of which are uniquely portrayed by Rowling in their own way. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Rowling expressed that she typically liked to derive many of these creatures from folklore and mythology, and many, even the seemingly “normal” ones, exemplify magical properties (think owls delivering mail). Further, though, I think it’s important to recognize that a lot of the different creatures in the Potter series haven’t necessarily been given happy endings, or stories for that matter.
Nowadays, it’s no secret to anyone that Rowling created Dementors to facilitate and embody that which she had been feeling in her life outside of Potter – depression. Look at house-elves, too; their lives are certainly miserable if enslaved by the ruthless (e.g., the Malfoys). Werewolves are declared evil, and their human forms see much discrimination in the wizarding world – and although we have Lupin to thank for slightly bending those stereotypes, he is met with none other than death in the end. Buckbeak is immediately sentenced to death when his provoker is rid of any ridicule, and I won’t even mention Hedwig and Dobby, for I am sure it causes many pain to recall.
Interestingly enough to add, Care of Magical Creatures class is an elective at Hogwarts, not a requirement – why? Hagrid, who loves nothing more than to care for these beasts, is laughed at by many and portrayed in the series as, some would argue, naïve and weak. And what about the dragon that was kept prisoner in the depths of Gringotts protecting the most valuable of vaults, only to fall victim to terrible pain and mistreatment by goblins and wizards alike when one thought a visit to their private stash was necessary?
There are a ton of other scenes in the books and movies that seem to support this (e.g., the torturing of a spider by Barty Crouch, Jr. by use of the Cruciatus Curse or the slaughter and drinking of unicorn blood in Philosopher’s Stone). We’re taught to fear “The Grim” (a large, bear-ish-sized black dog) in Professor Trelawney’s class, and the centaur colony found in the Forbidden Forest is known to have poor relations with most wizards and witches. Some argue that the transfiguration of the animals in the series is cruel – do you?
The list goes on and on, and despite there being many individuals and groups associated with caring for magical creatures (Hagrid, Luna Lovegood, SPEW), one simply cannot ignore the signs of mistreatment and suffering endured by animals in the Potter series.
What do you all think? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!