Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
How we cite our quotes:
[Rita Skeeter's] hair was set in elaborate and curiously rigid curls that contrasted oddly with her heavy-jawed face. She wore jeweled spectacles. The thick fingers clutching her crocodile-skin handbag ended in two-inch nails, painted crimson. (18.121)
J.K. Rowling is not subtle in indicating the characters that we're supposed to hate. Rita Skeeter is a great example: every detail about her appearance indicates how two-faced and cruel she is. Her "curiously rigid" hair contrasts oddly with her "heavy-jawed face" – in other words, she's trying to appear as something other than what she is. Her "thick fingers" are clutching a "crocodile-skin handbag." This description of her hands (elsewhere "large, mannish" (18.157)) indicates her strength and her toughness, while "crocodile" suggests trickery and cruelty. Even her "two-inch" fingernails are like crimson claws – not a gentle or attractive image at all. Every aspect of this woman's appearance shows that she is vicious and a liar. Appearances are occasionally deceptive in the world of Harry Potter – but not often.
Albus Dumbledore, eccentric headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has never been afraid to make controversial staff appointments, writes Rita Skeeter, Special Correspondent. In September of this year, he hired Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, the notoriously jinx-happy ex-Auror, to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, a decision that caused many raised eyebrows at the Ministry of Magic, given Moody's well-known habit of attacking anybody who makes a sudden movement in his presence. Mad-Eye Moody, however, looks responsible and kindly when set beside the part-human Dumbledore employs to teach Care of Magical Creatures.
Rubeus Hagrid, who admits to being expelled from Hogwarts in his third year, has enjoyed the position of gamekeeper at the school every since, a job secured for him by Dumbledore. Last year, however, Hagrid used his mysterious influence over the headmaster to secure the additional post of Care of magical Creatures teacher, over the heads of many better-qualified candidates. (23.32-3)
We all believe that the press is supposed to be fair and balanced, but there are plenty of ways that legitimate news stories can twist a reader's opinion about content, without that person realizing it. Rita Skeeter's articles for the Daily Prophet are great examples. Just look at the term "part-human" that Rita Skeeter applies to Hagrid. Even if that term is factually correct, the sneering edge is impossible to overlook. As newspapers struggle to find readers, articles in the real world often adopt Rita Skeeter's method of blurring the line between entertainment and information. And it's damaging, for exactly the reasons that Rowling outlines in this chapter on poor Hagrid. The damage done to Hagrid's reputation by Rita Skeeter's biased article is horrible. Are there newspapers or news agencies that you believe to be guilty of similar kinds of bias? What kinds of word choice or style can these media use to influence the opinions of their consumers?
[Hermione] Banished a cushion and it flew across the room and landed in the box they were all supposed to be aiming at. Harry looked at Hermione, thinking ... it was true that Snape had save his life once, but the odd thing was, Snape definitely loathed him, just as he'd loathed Harry's father when they had been at school together. Snape loved taking points from Harry, and had certainly never missed an opportunity to give him punishments, or even to suggest that he should be suspended from school. (26.10)
We know we've already talked about Snape in this section, so we're not going to take apart Harry's specific observations of his character here. Instead, we're going to ask: why should it be so hard for Ron to believe that you can truly detest someone but not want them to die? What's the connection between personal hatred and violence? Where do you think Snape would draw the line in his private campaign to make Harry miserable?