Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the ramifications of the appearance of the Dark Mark are dealt with. There’s also a great deal of commentary on slavery, oppression, privilege, and why Percy is so goddamn annoying. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


We haven’t had one of these in a while, but I think it’s time for a (sort of) serious, pseudo-intellectual review. Shall we?

  • “He’ll be all right,” said Mr. Weasley quietly as they marched off onto the moor. “Sometimes, when a person’s memory’s modified, it makes him a bit disoriented for a while…and that was a big thing they had to make him forget.”

No, obviously, I don’t want you to tell me how much (or if at all) Rowling addresses this issue; I’ve seen quite a few of you speak candidly about the topic of wizard-caused Muggle memory loss, and I wanted to create the opportunity for us to speak more openly about it.

I’m probably reading a lot into this, but the casual way in which the many wizards use the Obliviate spell speaks volumes about wizard privilege. Rowling doesn’t spell this out for the reader, but there’s an undertone of understanding to the way she writes about these instances.

And in case I’m already frightening you away with big, scary words, allow me to step back and explain my intentions here. When I use the word “privilege” in this context, I’m talking about the advantages (legal, social, personal, etc) given to a person because they belong to a specific group, either being born into it or becoming a part of it later in life. In this case, wizards enjoy the privilege that comes with being wizards and it’s a privilege that a Muggle will never have.

You can apply privilege to your own life. I have male privilege. I benefit from living in a society that pays men more than women, that trusts our opinions, that doesn’t judge our sexual exploits, that…well, you get the idea. There’s class privilege, relating to wealth and money and how those things affect what you have access to and what you can and cannot be a part of. There’s able-bodied privilege, meaning that many people enjoy an innumerable number of benefits because they aren’t disabled, struck by chronic disease, etc.

You’ll see me talk a lot about heterosexual and cisgender privilege (cis privilege, for short). In fact, I believe I spoke a lot about those two topics back when I was reviewing Twilight. Heterosexual people benefit greatly from being heterosexual. (I feel like I don’t have to explain this one.) Cisgender privilege, meaning, in short, that you’re comfortable with the gender you’ve been assigned at-birth and you benefit from this, is of great importance to me, especially as someone who is cisgender and has seen the terrible erasure, discrimination, and extreme acts of violence (read=murder) of my transgender brothers and sisters. (Transgender = opposite of cisgender.)

Why am I talking about all of this WHILST READING HARRY POTTER? Because the wizarding world’s casual use of the “Obliviate” spell is an act of privilege. I’m glad to see that it bothered some of you how often wizards seem to rely on it. Like I said, it’s a privilege that wizard’s enjoy that Muggles can rarely, if ever, replicate. And wizards use it to their advantage constantly.

I’d like to see a bit more on this issue in-book. I don’t think this is bad, lazy, or offensive writing on Rowling’s part. On the contrary, I still feel she wrote things this way because it seemed obvious to her that the wizard culture would accept these sort of things as…well, just the way things are.

And we’ll get to more of that sort of thinking in a second.

Oh shit are you bored by my endless ranting oh god I AM SORRY.

  • “I shouted at you before you left!” Mrs. Weasley said, starting to sob. “It’s all I’ve been thinking about! What if You-Know-Who had got you, and the last thing I ever said to you was that you didn’t get enough O.W.L.s? Oh Fred…George…”

Poor Mrs. Weasley. 🙁

I’m intrigued by the introduction of the reporter for The Daily Prophet, Rita Skeeter. I like the not-so-subtle parody of media frenzy, especially given what our modern media has turned into. I imagine we’ll be seeing more of Skeeter and…hmmm. I don’t know. I have no idea how Rowling will portray her.

  • “But we don’t know where Sirius is…he could be in Africa or somewhere, couldn’t he?” said Hermione reasonably. “Hedwig’s not going to manage that journey in a few days.”

Ugh, why do I miss Sirius Black? I want to know so much more about him, yet he is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. ULTIMATE TRAGEDY.

  • “Ron,” said Hermione, in an I-don’t-think-you’re-being-very-sensitive voice, “Harry doesn’t want to play Quidditch right now….He’s worried, and he’s tired….We all need to go to bed….”

    “Yeah, I want to play Quidditch,” said Harry suddenly. “Hang on, I’ll get my Firebolt.”

    Hermione left the room, muttering something that sounded very much like “Boys.”

lol GENDER ROLES but lol I actually laughed at this.

  • “Well, Father feels he’s got to make up for his mistake at the match, doesn’t he?” said Percy. “If truth be told, he was a tad unwise to make a public statement without clearing it with his Head of Department first–”

    “Don’t you dare blame your father for what that wretched Skeeter woman wrote!” said Mrs. Weasley, flaring up at once.

Percy, what is wrong with you? Stop following rules and then maybe you won’t be such an insufferable arse.

  • “If you ask me, Mr. Crouch is very lucky no one at the Daily Prophet knows how mean he is to elves!” said Hermione angrily.

    “Now look here, Hermione!” said Percy. “A high-ranking Ministry official like Mr. Crouch deserves unswerving obedience from his servants–“

    “His slave, you mean!” said Hermione, her voice rising passionately, “because he didn’t pay Winky, did he?”

Bless your heart, Hermione. Your heart’s in the right place.

I can easily bring this back to the opening conversation: both parties are speaking from the privilege of a) not being a non-human and b) not being a house-elf. Clearly, Percy is being an entitled, privileged douche. That’s not hard to pick up.

But it’s important to note that intent DOES NOT erase affect. While it’s great that Hermione is willing to stick up for house-elves and support them, the only person who should be speaking about the house-elf experience is…well, a house-elf. No one can ever imagine or determine exactly what makes up the experience of another group, especially one without the privilege you enjoy.

Hermione’s intent is positive. But the affect she may have on the House-Elf liberation movement might not necessarily be so good.

Ever heard someone say, “Check your privilege”? That’s what Hermione needs to do: realize she’s speaking from a position of privilege and allow the actual oppressed people/creatures to speak for themselves.

oh god what has harry potter turned me into

Our heroes/friends are headed to Hogwarts again for Year Four. Shit has already gotten so real at this point and they’re not even at school.

Oh god, I am so unprepared.