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Quotes

Quote #1

"A house-elf must be set free, sir. And the family will never set Dobby free...Dobby will serve the family until he dies, sir..."

Harry stared.

"And I thought I had it bad staying here for another four weeks," he said. "This makes the Dursleys sound almost human. Can't anyone help you? Can't I?"

Almost at once, Harry wished he hadn't spoken. Dobby dissolved again into wails of gratitude. (2.32-35)

Poor Harry. He tries to be a nice guy to Dobby, but Dobby's loud cries annoy the Dursleys. He really can't win when he's staying with his aunt and uncle. More to the point: the house-elf/wizard relationship gets more attention in the later Harry Potter novels. When it's first introduced in this book, how is it represented? How do you feel about the fact that wizards basically have a slave population to look after them? How does the existence of house-elves reflect on wizarding society?

Quote #2

"[The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office at the Ministry of Magic] is all to do with bewitching things that are Muggle-made, you know, in case they end up back in a Muggle shop or house." [...]

"But your dad – this car —"

Fred laughed. "Yeah, Dad's crazy about everything to do with Muggles; our shed's full of Muggle stuff. He takes it apart, puts spells on it, and puts it back together again. If he raided our house, he'd have to put himself under arrest. It drives Mum mad." (3.79-83)

One reason why the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office is so disrespected at the Ministry is because it deals with Muggle things, and there's a lot of anti-Muggle bigotry in the wizarding world. Mr. Weasley's fascination with Muggle things seems pretty funny at this point in the series, when he has the same glee for our things that we have in exploring the wizarding world. Later on in the series, though, Mr. Weasley's love of Muggle things becomes a political principle: Mr. Weasley is from an old wizard family, but he's standing against prejudiced pureblood families like the Malfoys. His admiration for all things Muggle shows how liberal he is.

Quote #3

"Dear me, what's the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don't even pay you well for it?"

Mr. Weasley flushed darker than either Ron or Ginny.

"We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy," he said.

"Clearly," said Mr. Malfoy, his pale eyes straying to Mr. and Mrs. Granger, who were watching apprehensively. "The company you keep, Weasley...and I thought your family could sink no lower —" (4.176-179)

It's still early in the Harry Potter series, but we're already starting to get a sense of the different politics of the wizarding world. Lucius Malfoy is a snob, both about money and about family. What other major social issues do the wizards of this series face? How much of a role do these social issues play in the plot of Chamber of Secrets?

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