Welcome back to Muggles and Mocha!
Guys, I’m so excited we have our first edition out and under our belt—now we can get down to the nitty-gritty. I hope you enjoyed the article and video from last week; it’s a good model for how both will be laid out moving forward.
I have a fun announcement to make. Every week, the beginning of our YouTube video will include a spotlight on a comment from one of you, whether that’s on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the article itself… anywhere! So many of you sent in such great, encouraging comments—thank you! There were a lot of insightful ones, too, that really had me considering new ideas. I love hearing what you guys think, so keep ’em coming!
Also, this is important to note: Next week, we’ll be discussing both chapters three and four. I couldn’t help myself… “You’re a wizard, Harry” was right on the horizon, and I wanted to talk about it. So be sure to read those two chapters for next week.
Here’s our video discussion this time around:
This week, we’re jumping into chapter two of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone—“The Vanishing Glass.” We finally get a glimpse of our protagonist and are able to see what his life is like with the Dursleys. As you’ll see throughout Muggles and Mocha, I’ll be doing some character profiles from time to time, where I’ll dive into a character’s personality and break down who they are and what they’re going through. Since many of our characters grow up during this series, there may be times I’ll come back and reanalyze who they are based on their experiences up to that point. For instance, the Harry we meet in the first book is much different from the Harry we see in the fifth (“Angsty Harry,” as I like to call him).
For this article, we’re going to begin by focusing in on our protagonist—Harry! As we start the book, it’s important for us to get a handle on who he is and what drives him. We’ll also be discussing why Harry never became an Obscurial, a creature mentioned in the Fantastic Beasts movies… a really interesting question! Stay tuned.
At this point, Harry is a ten-year-old, and although he has a terrible home life, he still has the innocence that comes with being that age, which makes him even more likable as a character. As J.K. Rowling developed her series, I love how we see the books mature along with Harry. I’m sure it would have been tempting to make it darker and a little more mature from the beginning, especially with Harry’s tragic background. However, Rowling still keeps it light even with the grim subject matter, gradually introducing more mature ideas as Harry encounters them. It’s pretty clever, especially when you consider that we, her audience (which were children for the most part), were growing alongside Harry, too… but I digress.
What I really want to examine today is the optimism our young Harry is able to maintain even while living with the Dursleys.
The Dursleys. Who lock him in a cupboard, deny him meals, and insult him at every turn. How does this kid have any happiness?
Just in this chapter, we see only a couple of the things Harry encounters on a daily basis. On Dudley’s birthday, he’s bullied by every member of the family for no reason; they talk openly about him as if he isn’t there. He’s ignored and mistreated at the zoo, then after the fiasco with the escaped boa constrictor, he’s locked in his cupboard until the summer holidays. We also see he has to sneak out to get enough food.
As adults, we can see the seriousness of Harry’s situation—he was literally abused. With that being said—Harry is able to keep in good spirits for the most part! Instead of intense hatred for the Dursleys, we see an almost exasperated response from Harry. His inner voice is actually pretty funny! He’s used to what life is like here and has accepted it. But how?
In this chapter, we learn Harry finds hope in the small moments. This is mostly due to the strangers he meets when he’s out and about. These strangers who bow to him, wave, shake his hand—the witches and wizards who have realized who he is—give him the feeling there may be something more for him, that these people somehow know him. He seems to cling to these moments in the face of abuse from his less-than-loving family members.
Along with this, we see Harry’s first bits of magic. In these instances, he experiences confusion and bewilderment more than fear and horror—even with the punishments he receives as a result! He’s a kid who has learned to hang on to optimism at every turn. And don’t we know kids like that today? Children who have experienced horrible things and yet are thrilled at the thought of a lemon ice pop? I’m glad Rowling’s given us this picture of Harry as we start because it tells us a lot about the type of child he is. And honestly, I think his time with the Dursleys really helped him develop a tough skin when it comes to the scrutiny he receives in his Hogwarts years from the student body, professors (I’m calling you out, Snape!), and the wizarding community as a whole.
I want to end on an interesting conundrum I considered as I was planning this article—with all Harry endured in his early years, how did he not develop an Obscurus? This concept was introduced in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies. Basically, they are created when children are forced to stifle their magic, usually under abusive circumstances. There are only two we possibly know of in Rowling’s world, and one of those is a big maybe. We know Credence Barebone (or Aurelius Dumbledore? Ah, the questions…), one of the main characters in the movies, developed an Obscurus as he struggled through a childhood with his adoptive, witch-hating mother. The second could be Ariana Dumbledore, who was violently attacked by Muggles when they witnessed her powers. This one is just my opinion! But don’t worry—we’ll definitely come back to the topic of Ariana’s past later.
So, some of you may have wondered… with the Dursleys’ hatred of magic and their treatment of Harry, how did he not become an Obscurial?
Well, J.K. Rowling has actually answered this question on her website. She said,
“An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalized hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it.
The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so.”J.K. Rowling
Along with being the author (so I guess she’s right), I think Rowling makes some excellent points here. Although Harry was in a terrible living situation, he never tried to suppress his magic. In fact, he was never actually aware that he was the one making those things happen—as we read, he seems to think it’s just bad luck that constantly follows him. Also, think about the Dursleys’ view of magic—they detest it to the point that imagination isn’t even talked about. They would never have mentioned it to Harry; it seems they didn’t want him to know about it at all. I agree with J.K. on this and think she presents a could reason for why Harry escaped becoming an Obscurial.
What do you think? Feel free to discuss in the comments below! Spirited debate is definitely encouraged.
Alright, folks, that’s all we have for today! Don’t forget—we’re covering chapters three and four next week right here. Same time, same place! And be sure to leave me a comment with your thoughts for a chance at our comment spotlight next week.
For any questions, reach out to me through the contact button below and follow me on social media for any Muggles and Mocha updates. If you like the videos I post, too, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel on YouTube!
See you later, Muggles!
Disclaimer: I do not own any element of the Harry Potter series.