Harry Potter and the Political Predicament
From the timeless tale of Cinderella, to today’s Harry Potter, magical stories have contained political aspects, even if they aren’t at the forefront of the plot. Some types, such as satire, do this on purpose. A good example is The Faerie Queen. J.K. Rowling’s books have several political plot lines, but hers are not satire and she isn’t trying to make any political point in her book that pertains to the real world as we know it. It is merely inescapable when you deal with government and slavery in a story. She does however use politics skillfully to give us insight into characters and depth in the tales themselves. And when we ask ourselves questions about why things are how they are in the wizarding world, a good look at the political situation can speak volumes.
Power is a word often used in the Harry Potter books, and it takes many forms. People have it, other people want it. Lets look at Dumbledore and Fudge. Fudge has power politically, but Dumbledore is more powerful magically than Fudge. Dumbledore was chosen first for Minister but passed it up, so that makes him even a political threat to Fudge. Who is most powerful overall? Its a constant tug of war. Everyone’s first inclination is to say Dumbledore, of course. But we saw in Order of the Phoenix that Fudge can and will use his political power. With the gloves off at the end of the book, will Fudge back off, or will he try to make Dumbledore back off and let him take over trying to get rid of Voldemort? I believe Fudge will want to take credit and try to do it without Dumbledore’s help. Perhaps that is why it sounds like the Order of the Phoenix was on their own and not affiliated with the MoM last time. So again, its all a tug of war.
Perhaps one of the most obvious political plots in Harry Potter is the tale of the house elves. We first learned of them in The Chamber of Secrets, a race of elves, enslaved to wizards, each to serve one family forever, but usually the rich, and they can only be freed when presented with clothes. The first elf we meet is Dobby, and he is helpful and kind, and aware that his masters are "bad wizards". He is also overjoyed when he is set free, donning all sorts of clothes, especially socks. In Goblet of Fire we meet Winky, who, in disgrace, is freed by her master, turned out. She loved her master dearly and is devastated. It was no big deal to her that she was enslaved. Lastly, we meet Kreacher, the house elf of the Blacks, and he is devoted to his masters but not the "traitor" Sirius. Only the members of the family he has respect for. You can see that throughout the books we meet three house elves who all have personalities as diverse as humans, and in the books we learn to treat them as such. Hermione began SPEW in book two, the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. We know that house elves have a "powerful magic of their own" and we’ve seen it, as Dobby disappears again and again. The majority of elves do not want to be freed but it seems they can do much more than work in the kitchen. Will we see an elf army of sorts later on? That is my belief. Hermione has shown herself to be quite the activist and very political. Perhaps these skills will come into play while she is talking to the elves and she will influence them to get involved in the second war.
Now I am going to draw a parallel and you LOTR fans may or may not like it. When reading about the centaurs I am reminded of the ents in LOTR. They do not like to meddle with humans, they see the bigger picture, things move more slowly for them. They protect themselves, and are rather stubborn. In LOTR when the ents finally see that even they are being destroyed by the goings on in the world, they get things together and fight. Will we see a similar reaction with the centaurs, will the Dark Forest be threatened? The forest is an ideal place for anyone to hide and its an accessible point on the Hogwarts grounds. Not to mention home to so many creatures. And the centaurs protect it with their very lives, so I think if their home is threatened, the centaurs will have no choice but to die or join with wizards in the fight.
Politics play a big role in every world and a shift of power will shift everything in the plot. If Fudge tries to push Dumbledore away, that means things are still rough. If the elves are freed, or help the wizards fight , that will give power to someone. If the centaurs get involved, that will bring things with it. I also believe Hermione’s role will be very political. What do you think?