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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Housewives Of Harry Potter

It's strange, really. There don't seem to be too many women in the universe of Harry Potter who are both professionals and married. Okay, Neville's parents were both aurors, but look what happened to them - both tortured into insanity. I think the author mentions somewhere that Ginny became a quidditch player, but it doesn't happen in the books themselves and frankly, I think it wouldn't be a good idea to go on playing that particular game during pregnancy and we know Ginny has been pregnant at least twice.

For now, let's talk about two housewives in this world. One is a witch, the other a very determined Muggle who's been throwing herself into Muggledom since she was turned down for Hogwarts.

I'm talking, of course, abut Molly Weasley and Petunia Dursley. Both are career housewives who make sure their homes are just right for their particular families, as they see it. Both love their husbands and children. Both are very good cooks.

But the differences are obvious from very early on and not just in the way they treat Harry.

You really wouldn't want to live in Petunia's house. It's sparkling clean, but only because she makes sure no one tracks mud on to her nice floor or lets anything go into the wrong place - a place for everything and everything in its place! It is the sort of home that would be showcased in Home Beautiful, but not because of its liveability. Dudley's second bedroom is a mess, full of his broken toys and unread books, but nobody sees this, so it doesn't spoil the look of her house. It's a house, not a home.
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I think Dumbledore is right to say Dudley has been abused. Petunia adores him, but she lets him eat himself into obesity as well as become a bully. In the first novel, when he makes a fuss over the number of gifts he has, it's Petunia who offers to buy him two more, supporting his spoiled brat nature.

If Petunia ever did anything other than run a home, we aren't told. She relies on Vernon to make the decisions and protect the family and it's his career she supports.

Molly Weasley's home couldn't be more different. It's shabby, relaxed and comfortable. Part of this is because they don't have much money, but when the Weasleys won the Daily Prophet prize, the money was spent on a family trip, not on renovations. Family doing something special together had priority over making the house look nice.

Molly loves her family, but doesn't spoil the children. She is small, plump and kind, but heaven help the child - or husband! - who does the wrong thing. Nevertheless, however frustrated she can become with them, it's only because she loves them so much and wants their best. She knows the twins are smart and could have done better in school, but eventually accepts their dream of running a joke shop. She is proud of them all, whatever they end up choosing to do with their lives.

Her kitchen is the heart of the home; the family live there and there is where she cooks her wonderful meals, food being how she shows love. There's a rubber pot which seems able to stretch to feed however many guests they have, whether it's Harry and Hermione or all the members of the Order of the Phoenix, whom she feeds regularly in 12 Grimmauld Place.

She was a founding member herself and is still sharp with a wand, after many years of running a home.

But ultimately, Molly is a mother. Her Boggart nightmare is the death of a child.  She kills evil Deatheater Bellatrix Lestrange in defence of her children, not as a warrior, though she is.

"Not my daughter, you bitch!" says it all.

2 comments:

Judy Edmonds said...

I *am* Molly Weasley. That film with that line came out at a time when, while watching it with my children, I said that line out loud and it meant so much to me. And there is so much else about Molly - we are sisters under the skin. I never cared as much about a career as I did about the well being of my children. I adore her. I feel sorry for Petunia, I can sort of understand her compromises while wishing she had had the courage not to go there.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I agree - family comes first, whoever you are. I've never understood people who put their working lives ahead of their families - or bosses who expect them to. Molly rocks!

And I can see why you'd feel sorry for Petunia. She was jealous - her sister got into Hogwarts, she didn't, so she went completely the other way, into mundanity, and in the end, it was she who lost out.