This week’s guest post was written by Kelly over at mischiefmanaged. Kelly is a graduate of Durham University and took a course on Harry Potter. She is a Gryffindor, and maker of fandom jewellery and props.
The theme of mothers is prevalent throughout the Harry Potter series, and this is arguably influenced by JK’s close connection with her own mother. In the year that JK Rowling started to write Harry Potter, her mother Anne died and this heavily effected the plot of story. As a result, the theme of death became much more prevalent in the book, which begins with the death of Harry’s mother, something that JK could easily emote with at the time. Harry loses his own mother but throughout the narrative he is saved by Lily’s love, as well as the love of the other motherly characters–even those without children of their own. Lily’s continual protection of Harry is clear through the series. By sacrificing herself to protect her baby, Harry is protected in a way that means for a while, Voldemort can’t touch him without being burned by it. And although he loses this ability, Lily’s love is still a driving force and she manages to keep him safe even after her death.
Although she took him into her home when Lily died, Harry’s Aunt Petunia wasn’t much of a motherly figure. Harry was an abused child and Petunia did nothing to stop it or do anything to make his life any easier. Instead, Petunia’s devotion and love was entirely focused on her own son.
This is perfectly juxtaposed by the love and affection of Molly Weasley. Molly has an incredibly large family but still adopts Harry and shows him unconditional love throughout the story. She does become his mother in law later in the books but she practically adopted him since they met at Harry’s first visit to Kings Cross station. The Weasleys are the polar opposite of the Dursleys and the Burrow becomes like a second home for Harry. Molly is the archetypal mother and is invaluable to making Harry feel happy and loved after years of abuse.
Another mother who has a large impact in Harry’s life is Narcissa Malfoy. Narcissa is an incredibly dedicated mother who dotes on Draco and makes an unbreakable vow to ensure his safety. She is also prepared to defy Voldemort in to protect Draco and in doing so, she also saves Harry’s life. Narcissa, Molly and Petunia all protect Harry. In Narcissa’s case to save her own son, for Petunia it was familial duty and Molly acted purely on motherly instinct.
Arguably, Minerva McGonagall is another motherly figure for Harry. His head of house always looked out for Harry and openly objected to leaving Harry with the Dursleys, deciding that they were unfit to look after the baby. Her vigilant watch of Harry and the advice that she gives him during his school years definitely makes her a prime motherly figure.
But by far the most motherly of all of the characters was Rebeus Hagrid. (I’m firmly in the camp which believes that Harry should have named his child after Hagrid. Albus Severus Potter, you were named after a man who kept me alive just to sacrifice me at the right time and another man who was crazily obsessed with your grandmother. Good luck with that.) Despite being a male character, Hagrid displays the most stereotypically feminine traits. From the pink aprons to the outbursts of tears, Hagrid is presented as a feminine and maternal figure. Hagrid instantly takes Harry under his wing, getting emotional when he has to leave Harry at the Dursleys doorstep, then baking him a cake when they’re final reunited on Harry’s 11th birthday and Hagrid a definitely the perfect parental figure for Harry; maternal or otherwise. It’s clear how the death of JK Rowling’s own mother impacted on Harry’s development. He may lose his own mother early in the narrative but the love of his own mother and the motherly figures around him keeps him safe during a very dangerous time in his life.
Featured Image by Hung Chieh Tsai via Flickr