Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Harry Potter And The Muggle Struggle Part Five: Moral Disobedience

Yep. I went and did it again. Here is the next installment of that old essay of mine.

Also, in case you have not been following along from the beginning or if it has been too long for you to remember what you have previously read and you want to freshen up the old memory bag, here is a link to the first part of the series.
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Next it is important to look at the story itself and see what morality may be found there. One of the complaints against Harry is his disregard for rules. That complaint is extremely credible; Harry and his friends are constantly breaking rules throughout the stories. However, Dan McVeigh argues that "to break a rule, leading to demerits for your house or a dangerous attack by a troll, is both a reflection of real life and a part of growing and learning" (204). Harry also demonstrates an understanding of "higher rules"--such as fairness and honor--when he knowingly breaks a tournament rule by giving an opponent information that will equal the odds for all contestants (McVeigh 205). Harry's rule breaking isn't as motivated by self-indulgence as it is by the sense of responsibility he has to save others' lives. In a Christian light, Harry's disobedience shows a deeper understanding of and respect for higher laws. Which shows the greater morality: obedience to man-made rules (such as a curfew), or obedience to eternal or higher laws (such as saving the life of another)? McVeigh argues that "wise adults...understand that for Harry to break a Hogwarts' rule for a larger purpose, and at serious personal risk, is no more to practice self-indulgence than if he were to cure a paralytic on the Sabbath" (205). So the question is whether or not Harry's rule-breaking is moral. Many would argue that under no circumstances is it moral. They wouldn't be the first in history to argue that. The Pharisees argued that same point against Christ when He broke their incorrect interpretation of Sabbath Law and morality to cure the paralytic. The point here is NOT to compare Harry Potter to Christ; instead it is simply to say that perhaps there is a time and a place for rule-breaking when lives are at stake. Harry and his friends show a far greater respect for the rules than do many others in the story: the Weasley twins, the villains, and--perhaps most importantly--than even Harry's own father. The Marauders (Harry's father's group) showed little respect for the rules for no better reason than they were bored and wanted some fun. Harry and his friends on the other hand, usually only break the rules when they are trying to stop whatever evil is most recently plaguing their school, and are then willing to accept whatever consequences follow. Their motives are very moral; they don't want people to get hurt. The rule-breaking in Harry Potter is very moral in that sense, because it teaches us to value life more than man-made laws and rules.

Previous: Part Four
Next: Part Six