Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
How we cite our quotes:
"Now, listen here, you lot," he said, glowing at them all. "We should have won the Quidditch Cup last year. We're easily the best team. But unfortunately – owing to circumstances beyond our control —"
Harry shifted guilty in his seat. He had been unconscious in the hospital wing for the final match of the previous year, meaning that Gryffindor had been a player short and had suffered their worst defeat in three hundred years.
Wood took a moment to regain control of himself. Their last defeat was clearly still torturing him. (7.38-40)
Lucius Malfoy's principle is that Muggles are bad and wizards are awesome. Professor Dumbledore's principles seem to be all about good vs. evil, and morality. Then there's Oliver Wood, with the refreshingly simple principle that Quidditch is the Most Important Thing on Earth. He mainly seems to feel bad about Harry's hospitalization at the end of Book 1 because it meant Gryffindor lost the Quidditch Cup. Wood is like a stereotype of the serious sports fan, for whom nothing matters except the sport. Wood's presence (and Quidditch in general) lightens things up a little. Harry Potter may be caught in the battle between good and evil, but at least there's always his favorite broomstick sport. How do you compare to Wood? Do you have a sport that makes everything else seem unimportant in comparison? Do you know fans like Wood? Which sports seem to inspire this kind of loyalty among the people you know?
"Good, aren't they?" said Malfoy smoothly. "But perhaps the Gryffindor team will be able to raise some gold and get new brooms, too. You could raffle off those Cleansweep Fives; I expect a museum would bid for them."
The Slytherin team howled with laughter.
"At least no one on the Gryffindor team had to buy their way in," said Hermione sharply. "They got in on pure talent."
The smug look on Malfoy's face flickered.
"No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood," he spat.
Harry knew at once that Malfoy had something really bad because there was an instant uproar at his words. Flint had to dive in front of Malfoy to stop Fred and George jumping on him. (7.77-82)
Draco's introduction of the word "Mudblood" is huge in terms of the overall direction of the novel. It's the first time that we hear a real epithet about magical people born from Muggles – and it's proof that Draco is a giant bigot. All of the nasty stuff he says about the Weasleys and their poverty is awful, but it's also more familiar. Even here in the Muggle world, we have snobs who think badly of people who are poor. Still, "Mudblood" is an ugly word that we don't have in the Muggle world (of course), so we're getting into a new area of prejudice here. Clearly, the whole idea of Mudbloods and wizarding supremacy is at the core of the Death Eater movement, so this expression is key to the main conflicts of the Harry Potter series.
For a few years, the founders worked in harmony together, seeking out youngsters who showed signs of magic and bringing them to the castle to be educated. But then disagreements sprang up between them. A rift began to grow between Slytherin and the others. Slytherin wished to be more selective about the students admitted to Hogwarts. He believed that magical learning should be kept within all-magic families. He disliked taking students of Muggle parentage, believing them to be untrustworthy. (9.100)
Salazar Slytherin's argument with Godric Gryffindor and the other founders of Hogwarts shows that, no matter what happens between Harry, Draco, and Lord Voldemort, these tensions between "purebloods" and "Muggle-borns" will persist. After all, the wizarding world has a thousand year history of prejudice – it's never going to disappear entirely. That's human nature, we suppose (which is disappointing). At the same time, even if you can't get rid of prejudice entirely, at least you can fight back against it. We also wonder how much of Slytherin's suspicion of Muggle-borns comes from the fact that he lived in "an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution" (9.98). So the suspicion is mutual: Slytherin hates Muggles, but Muggles in this period also hate wizards. Why can't they all just get along?!