Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Firey lessons

Don't know exactly why, but I've been thinking about the lessons learned in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book. Now, we expect Snape and Malfoy to act in a less-than-moral ways ... they are evil people. But Harry, Ron, and Hermione, along with Hagrid and a few others, are held up as good people, people worth imitating. So what can we learn about correct behavior from this book and these 'good' characters?

1) Cheating is ok, because everyone's doing it. Hagrid has Harry follow along (invisibily) when he takes Madame Maxime to see the dragons, the first task of the Triwizard Tournament. He specifically comments to Harry that she'll likely tell her student about the dragons (which is cheating) so it's only 'fair' that he know too (cheating). We also see Karnakov sneaking off to see the dragons so he can tell his student (cheating), which further justifies the idea that cheating is ok because everyone is doing it. Compare this attitude to recent scandals about professional athletes and their "performance enhancing" drugs. Harry is the 'professional' athlete here, but no one cares that his performance is enhanced by knowing in advance what the challenge will be. Not one person shows any guilt or hesitancy that there is cheating occuring.

2) Some groups of people enjoy slavery. The whole house-elf freedom thread is entirely unsolved by the end of the book. Having not yet read books 5-7, maybe this is addressed further. But everyone's (except Hermione's) non-chalant attitude (at best, and vehement support of, at worst) towards domestic slavery is disgusting.

3) Taking the law into your own hands is a good response. When Hermione discovers that the annoying reporter is actually an unregistered animagus (illegal), Hermione takes the law into her own hands. Rather than hand the reporter over to the justice system, Hermione imprisons the reporter in a glass jar and blackmails her. Um, yeah...very ethical there, Hermione.

Any positive lessons? Sure. I see that we're supposed to learn about friendship even under difficult circumstances, loyalty, not being prejuidiced because of genetics, and bravery.

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