Monday, July 31, 2017

Harry Potter and Divorce

Today is JK Rowling's 52nd birthday. In her honor I'm reposting an observation I had a long time ago about the Harry Potter series. 

In the series - young readers are exposed to death, murder, torture, theft, lying and I'm pretty sure that if there was an eighth book the line over heavy snogging would have been crossed. The only thing JK Rowling seems to have been very careful to protect young readers against by not bringing it up is divorce.

It hit me that none of the adult characters in the book are divorced.

Think about it. 

Any adult character that gets married stays married till death does them part. The Weasley's, the Granger's, and Fleur's parents are all happily married. Even the Dursley's and Malfoy's - as unlikable as they may be to the reader - are all-in-all pretty happily married. Harry's parent's and Neville's parents were happily married till tragedy struck. Luna Lovegood's parent's loved good till tragedy befell her mother. Heck even Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange seem to have been a happy couple in their twisted way.

If an adult is unmarried in the series - it is pretty much because they are a widow(er) or a spinster (or bachelor). McGonagall, Snape, Dumbledore and most of the teachers at Hogwarts seem resigned to living the celibate life. No divorced adults or children of divorced parents are mentioned. 

There seems to be three exceptions to this rule of thumb - Dean Thomas, Hagrid and Voldemorte himself. Dean Thomas shouldn't count because according to Rowling his father was killed by Death Eaters when he was an infant - unbeknownst to either Dean or his mother who later remarried. Hagrid's mother was a giant and thus probably exempt from the normal rules. That leaves only Voldemorte as an example of some sort of "broken home."

Merope Gaunt, Voldemorte's mother cast an enchantment on Tom Riddle Sr. (first a love potion but then other things) to get him to marry her. Once Merope let the enchantments lapse - Tom Riddle became disgusted at what had happened and left the pregnant Merope to her fate. Did the one truly "bad egg" somehow become what he was because of the sins of the parents?

When you consider that JK Rowling was a single mother when she started writing the series - it doesn't take much of a psychologist to wonder if her situation played a major role in how she portrayed marriage in her books. A magical world where people who fall in love never get divorced.

Happy birthday JK and thanks for creating such a magical world.