Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Merlin: A Weasley?

Inspired by earlier posts, I, too, delved into my extensive knowledge of Harry Potter and came up with an interesting connection concerning dragons. Appearing for the first time in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, dragons play an essential role, both as elements of danger/ fear, adventure and as a way to identify outsiders to the human race. Harry and the rest of the competitors are challenged to defeat various dragons in order to become champions of the Twi-Wizard tournament. Hagrid, Hogwart's groundskeeper, a giant in his own right, attempts to tame the most feared dragon and fails miserably, a compassionate endeavor that only serves to highlight his separation from the human race. Finally, we get our first glimpse of the infamous dragon-wrangling, eldest Weasley brother, Charlie, who functions as an exotic within the normal wizarding world and works primarily from Romania instead of living in the United Kingdom like the rest of his family.

After re-watching the 4th film, particularly the scenes in which Harry and the rest of the competitors fight the dragons, I was reminded of Merlin's prophecy concerning the infamous battle between the red and the white dragons, or metaphorically speaking, between the British and the Saxons. For the people of medieval Britain, the dragon functions in much the same way that it does in Harry Potter. The dragon is a representative of evil, portrayed as terrible and dangerously fierce and in slight relation to the serpent.

-      Ultimately, in both cases, the dragon is used to induce fear and as the embodiment of all things monstrous, or to be more specific, the antithesis to humanity. They are incredibly power symbols not only because of their brute physical strength and connection with magic but because of their extreme otherness. Similar to the effect of giants, they heighten our awareness of our humanity, insecurity and they are the tangible representation of fragile mortality despite "divine" Arthurian power or in Harry's case, a magic wand.  

1 comment:

  1. I think many aspects of the Harry Potter series can be related to Medieval culture, but this is a very observant and thoughtful connection. I think it's really interesting that Harry's dragon is white, symbolic of purity and goodness, while the white dragon in The History of the King's of Britain represents the invasive Saxons, who were inherently evil from the British perspective. I think it's odd that the white dragon was affiliated with the Saxons while the red dragon symbolized the British nation; in much of what we have read throughout this course, the color 'white' has had a positive connotation. For instance, all the pure and good religious people depicted in Medieval texts have had pale skin, and when "evil Saracens" converted to Christianity, their skin became whiter or lighter in color. This raises many questions that I am sure have been answered in some Medieval Literature student's dissertation, but it would still be interesting to hear an explanation as to why the dragons were the depicted this way.