“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 19: “The Marauders”
This month we go marauding with Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs – and with the contributing authors of Harry Potter for Nerds II.
Katy and her co-host Emily Strand discuss these fan favorites with guests Katherine Sas (University of Pennsylvania) and Robb McDaniel (Middle Tennessee State University). We take a deep dive into the characterization and group dynamics of Harry’s father’s generation. Are they really “marauders”? Are they bullies? Why did things go so badly for their friendship in the past, and what role does this play in the unfolding story in the present?
Kat explains that they add depth and a “dark, pagan” past (in Tolkien’s sense) to the Harry Potter story, and Robb evokes Aristotle’s concept of the beast/god dichotomy of man without a city or civil community. Friendship is one of J.K. Rowling’s highest ideals, and in some ways the Marauders uplift the power of friendship. However, Snape’s perspective on their bullying is a troubling part of their story. This affects not only Snape but also Peter, and we consider who might be most to blame for this part of the group dynamic. The Potters’ decision to switch their Secret-Keeper reveals tensions and perhaps also prejudices that linger within this group. Why did they do it?
The Marauders had powerful magic. We talk about transfiguration: the significance of it in general and also in the particular animals that James, Sirius, Peter, and Remus become. The other great piece of magic readers know them for is the Marauder’s Map; we talk about what that magic means, what it reveals about these characters, and the (problematic) importance of this dangerous magical object. Finally, we talk about the fate of the Marauders and what we’d like to see in a Marauders-era prequel, which we all sincerely hope JKR will consider writing about in the future.