Pure-blood, Muggle-born, Why Does It Matter?
I remember the night. A gathering of Harry Potter fans, all talking theories and fan fictions, enjoying ourselves as those who enjoy the magic usually do when they’re together. As the night wore on, somehow the conversation got turned toward our Hogwarts Houses and who we think we’d be in the Potterverse, specifically our blood status. Most of the gathered group declared that they would be pure-bloods, with a few half-bloods speaking up. When everyone looked at me, faces expectant, I thought for a moment and said, “I think I would be Muggle-born, honestly.”
The looks on their faces. As if I had declared that I enjoyed kicking cats in my spare time. I won’t forget those looks of horror and shock.
“But why?” One of my friends pleaded, “You’ve read all the books and seen all of the movies!”
I shrugged. The feeling that I would be a Muggle-born in the wizarding world was a similar feeling to the one I felt when the Pottermore Sorting told me that I would be in Hufflepuff. It just felt right. That didn’t stop my fellow Potterheads from trying their best to change my mind over the next few hours.
When I look back on that night, I can’t help but think about why it mattered so much. The Harry Potter books, beyond being adventure stories, were all about abolishing the old blood statuses and attitudes. So much of the plot from the books draws on how the blood status philosophy is obsolete. The whole ideology of blood status is twisted, and it’s part of what Harry, Ron, and especially Hermione fight against during the Second Wizarding War.
Bigotry is a driving force behind the Second Wizarding War. Lord Voldemort believes that only the pure-blooded should be witches and wizards, thus passing on the ideology they have. This is already a prevalent mindset in the wizarding world, as seen in the second book, when Draco Malfoy first calls Hermione a “Mudblood.” We learn for the first time that it is an awful slur, meant to degrade Muggle-borns. However, it isn’t until the fourth book that we really see what the prejudices are like in the wizarding world; a little bit more of the reader’s innocence gets stolen along with Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s. Death Eaters, the servants of Lord Voldemort, march at the World Cup, torturing a family of Muggles just because they were there.
As the books go on, it gets worse and worse, until the seventh book. When the Ministry of Magic is overthrown and a puppet-minister is installed, we finally see what the mindset of blood statuses are capable of doing. Muggle-borns are hunted. They are snatched off of the streets, tortured, killed. They’re denounced as witches and wizards, have their wands taken from them, accused of stealing them, of dirtying the wizarding world. Hermione herself is tortured in the Malfoy Manor, the slur Mudblood carved into her arm so that the scar would always be there, branded as a Muggle-born.
In a way, I get it. The blood statuses act as a way to label yourself and your place in the world. The mentality is that the purer your blood, the more of a witch or wizard you are. But that is far from the truth. Didn’t Hermione alone prove that? Blood status is no more important than the labels that we use in everyday life, the preps, jocks, nerds, and undesirables. But don’t we all agree with each other that labels suck? Then why are we so determined to label others and ourselves? We all say, “I’m not my labels,” and buck the system, but then turn right around and call someone “nerd,” or “prep,” even going so far as to call others and even friends horrible slurs. Aren’t we – shouldn’t we be better than that?
J.K. Rowling made the wizarding world to be a reflection of the Muggle world. As it stands, the parallels are a little too similar to me. We are all witches and wizards, capable of great magical feats. Even better, we are all humans incapable of being shoved into nicely labeled boxes. Take back the names, set them aside, and enjoy the world without the labels that we all despise.