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  #1  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:20 PM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
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Was Harry Potter an abused child?

Harry was raised by his aunt and uncle, who were unloving at a minimum. But if the CPS (or equivalent) were called and did an investigation on his living situation, do you think they would declare him an abused or neglected child?

Were the Dursleys just rotten to him, or did they cross the line into abuse?
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  #2  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:22 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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I'd say that if there were any sort of Muggle authorities called, they'd have considered him to be abused.
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  #3  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:22 PM
Raygun99 Raygun99 is offline
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After reading the first book, I called it "a charming tale of magic and child abuse". So you have my vote.
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  #4  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:24 PM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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I think that having to live in a broom closet under the stairs probably qualifies, and even if not, then being deadbolted into that broom closet on occasion definitely does. If I remember right, I think they also withheld meals on a regular basis, didn't they?
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  #5  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:36 PM
appleciders appleciders is offline
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Probably. There's no evidence of physical beatings of any kind, but locking a child into a room is dangerous in and of itself; what if there's a fire? Putting that aside, failure to provide proper nutrition is a major issue for CPS types. I'm sure that the Dursleys would have been in trouble, and frankly, I'm surprised his (Muggle) elementary school teachers never noticed.

Edit: I said there were no physical beatings, but now I seem to recall offhand remarks about Uncle Vernon cuffing Harry occasionally, directing Dudley to hit Harry with sticks, and Aunt Petunia swinging frying pans at Harry's head. So maybe there was some physical punishment. How much is actionable in Britain, I don't know.

Last edited by appleciders; 04-01-2011 at 05:38 PM..
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  #6  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:39 PM
eleanorigby eleanorigby is offline
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If you think Harry Potter was abused, don't read any Roald Dahl.


I think in one of the HP books, Harry says something along the lines of the Dursleys had never starved him, but had kept him short of food. He didn't have as much trouble adjusting to short rations on the run in book 7 as Ron did because of this, IMS.


The Dursleys were certainly verbally abusive and generally neglectful. Then again, Harry did own glasses and seems to have had all his teeth. Really, he was fiction-abused: the state of being treated badly but that leaves no lasting scars, entrenched rage or self-destructive behaviors. We should all be so lucky.
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  #7  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:46 PM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
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If he was beaten at all, it was minor. He wasn't starved, he just couldn't eat all he wanted.

But I think locking him up in his room (or earlier in the closet-under-the-stairs) is the biggest issue that would raise flags for a CPS investigation.
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  #8  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:50 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Couldn't he have just created all the food he wanted for himself, using magic? Sounds like Elemental Transfiguration to me!
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  #9  
Old 04-01-2011, 05:54 PM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
Couldn't he have just created all the food he wanted for himself, using magic? Sounds like Elemental Transfiguration to me!
I am like, this close to nerding out with a lengthy explanation of how wrong this is, but thankfully for you and everyone else in this thread, my pizza just showed up.

Last edited by MsWhatsit; 04-01-2011 at 05:55 PM..
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  #10  
Old 04-01-2011, 06:07 PM
Mtgman Mtgman is offline
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Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
Couldn't he have just created all the food he wanted for himself, using magic? Sounds like Elemental Transfiguration to me!
I take exception to that.

Enjoy,
Gamp
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  #11  
Old 04-01-2011, 06:22 PM
xoferew xoferew is offline
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Forget the Dursleys, the school seemed to put him in all kinds of hazardous situations without adequate supervision.
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  #12  
Old 04-01-2011, 06:41 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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I really wanted the first book to end as the escapist fantasies of a neglected and abused child. Think about it- he's orphaned and treated like dirt. So in his fantasy he's powerful (a wizard), special (the boy who lived), revered and able to destroy the evil that abuses him (Voldemort).
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  #13  
Old 04-01-2011, 06:49 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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You mean like St. Elsewhere? Maybe call him Harry Westphall?
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  #14  
Old 04-01-2011, 06:50 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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I take exception to that.

Enjoy,
Gamp
Nicely done.
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  #15  
Old 04-01-2011, 06:54 PM
The Tooth The Tooth is offline
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Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
I really wanted the first book to end as the escapist fantasies of a neglected and abused child. Think about it- he's orphaned and treated like dirt. So in his fantasy he's powerful (a wizard), special (the boy who lived), revered and able to destroy the evil that abuses him (Voldemort).
And the Dursleys live at 4 Mulholland Drive.

Yes, I think Harry was abused. I remember being surprised (not appalled or shocked or disgusted, to be clear) at Harry's treatment after reading the first few chapters of the first book.
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  #16  
Old 04-01-2011, 07:23 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Course he was. Same as lots of kids in fantasy books are: orphaned, abused and 'special' in some way.

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Originally Posted by eleanorigby View Post
If you think Harry Potter was abused, don't read any Roald Dahl.


I think in one of the HP books, Harry says something along the lines of the Dursleys had never starved him, but had kept him short of food. He didn't have as much trouble adjusting to short rations on the run in book 7 as Ron did because of this, IMS.


The Dursleys were certainly verbally abusive and generally neglectful. Then again, Harry did own glasses and seems to have had all his teeth. Really, he was fiction-abused: the state of being treated badly but that leaves no lasting scars, entrenched rage or self-destructive behaviors. We should all be so lucky.
Woah. Your standards are a little different to mine if you consider an 11-year-old kid 'lucky' to have his own teeth. I mean, all healthcare in the UK is free, but even without any dental care, kids would generally not be toothless by 11.
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  #17  
Old 04-01-2011, 07:35 PM
Red Barchetta Red Barchetta is offline
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Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
I really wanted the first book to end as the escapist fantasies of a neglected and abused child. Think about it- he's orphaned and treated like dirt. So in his fantasy he's powerful (a wizard), special (the boy who lived), revered and able to destroy the evil that abuses him (Voldemort).
And it would also explain why almost nothing makes any kind of sense or is consistent in any way.
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  #18  
Old 04-01-2011, 07:47 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Originally Posted by eleanorigby View Post
If you think Harry Potter was abused, don't read any Roald Dahl.
I always assumed that with the Dursleys, Rowling was trying to imitate Dahl's extravagantly villainous villains.
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  #19  
Old 04-01-2011, 07:49 PM
Kim o the Concrete Jungle Kim o the Concrete Jungle is offline
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Originally Posted by xoferew View Post
Forget the Dursleys, the school seemed to put him in all kinds of hazardous situations without adequate supervision.
Wizards don't care about that sort of stuff, and let kids run off the leash.

I strongly suspect that this was one of the most appealing things to the audience of eleven year-olds who made Harry Potter a best seller.
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  #20  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:06 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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If they were a poor family the fact he lived under the stairs probably wouldn't be an issue (I've slept on worse- a sofa bed) but the fact Dudley had two bedrooms and Harry only got his hand me down too-big clothes would both speak to neglect. I'm not sure what the English criteria for abuse are, but even if they don't meet them I think the neglect would be sufficient to remove him.

You really have to wonder about Dumbledore's judgment on many issues, this being one.
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  #21  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:11 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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You really have to wonder about Dumbledore's judgment on many issues, this being one. "Let's see, growing up a different, unloved and neglected orphan among Muggles turned Tom Riddle into the most powerful mass and vicious murdering dark wizard of all time... so the odds of that happening twice are ASTRONOMICAL! So let's take a risk and try it with Harry. And after all, if some die hard Death Eater should decide to kill him as revenge for the death of the Dark Lord, the foster-parents who'd trade him to NAMBLA for a weekend for some Wendy's coupons and a powerless old squib have his back.

Last edited by Sampiro; 04-01-2011 at 08:12 PM..
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  #22  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:12 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
If they were a poor family the fact he lived under the stairs probably wouldn't be an issue (I've slept on worse- a sofa bed) but the fact Dudley had two bedrooms and Harry only got his hand me down too-big clothes would both speak to neglect. I'm not sure what the English criteria for abuse are, but even if they don't meet them I think the neglect would be sufficient to remove him.

You really have to wonder about Dumbledore's judgment on many issues, this being one.
The cupboard under the stairs would be way worse than a sofabed, and way smaller too, maximum 4' tall but more likely 3', 2' wide and 5' long, but the last couple of feet would be inches high.

Although if a sofabed is worse, then my daughter's abused, because that's what she has.
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  #23  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:12 PM
chorpler chorpler is offline
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Originally Posted by Kim o the Concrete Jungle View Post
Wizards don't care about that sort of stuff, and let kids run off the leash.
Yeah, when you can take a tumble from a broomstick that's in the stratosphere and just have an "arrested development!" spell that saves you, or when it's just a matter of annoyance to fix a couple of idiots who splinch themselves into several pieces while trying to teleport, society probably gets a lot less overprotective of children.

Wait ... "arresto momentum?" I forget...
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  #24  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:12 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Originally Posted by The Tooth View Post
And the Dursleys live at 4 Mulholland Drive.

Yes, I think Harry was abused. I remember being surprised (not appalled or shocked or disgusted, to be clear) at Harry's treatment after reading the first few chapters of the first book.
I was more appalled by Dumbledore sending him back every freakin' year for 3 months

SPOILER:

Ok, yeah there was that stupid spell that he was invulnerable if he stayed with blood relatives 'cause him mommy loved him or something, but they explictly said that it only needed to be for like 2 weeks a year.

Why not send him back...with Hagrid in tow to protect him...and only have him stay the minimum two weeks?

Answer: Because Dumbledore's a cretin.


And yeah, clearly abused. The difference between him and say James from Dahl's book is that James get out and gets his revenge by like page 12. With Harry, he has to keep going back to it every book and he never gets his revenge.*



*The "The Dursleys lived lives of quiet desperation while Harry went on to live a great life" thing is a little too existential for this kind of book. The Dursley parents needed to get run over by a herd of rhinoserouses.
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  #25  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:15 PM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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I speculated that the cupboard under the stairs was something else, like a non-space pocket crafted by the Potters as a temporary hiding space for the 3 of them if Voldemort came after them. That's why I figured Harry was safe there as a child. I fully expected at some point someone would notice, "Wait, isn't this cupboard appearing in the same place as a supporting beam?" "Not to worry, old wizard's trick, quite handy, these sorts of rooms, don't you know."

'Course, turns out J.K. just wanted to write a modern fairy tale that was a grim as, well, Grimm's. Harry's story is so much like Luke Skywalker, I'm surprised it was Wormtail who lost a hand, and not Harry.
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  #26  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:16 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
The cupboard under the stairs would be way worse than a sofabed, and way smaller too, maximum 4' tall but more likely 3', 2' wide and 5' long, but the last couple of feet would be inches high.
And--it's not just that he slept there, it's that he was locked in for several days.

Having to sleep in the cupboard is bad
Being locked in the cupboard is worse.
Being locked in for 3 days is worse than that.
Being locked in for 3 days with no food is even worse.
But worst of all is that there's no bathroom there. And they've done it to him before.

So he's not only wallowing in his own crap and piss (while being starved) for 3 days, he's forced to sleep there afterwards.

To me, the biggest thing I had about suspending my disbelief wasn't the wizards and the dragons and stuff, it's that Harry didn't grow up feral.
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  #27  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:17 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Originally Posted by Fenris

*The "The Dursleys lived lives of quiet desperation while Harry went on to live a great life" thing is a little too existential for this kind of book. The Dursley parents needed to get run over by a herd of rhinoserouses.
Actually the Dursleys seem a perfectly happy, if obnoxious, family unit when it's just the three of them. Ironically the greatest misery of their life is the kid they've neglected even though it's not revenge for the years of neglect- they'd have been just as endangered if they were the most loving foster parents since Ma and Pa Ingalls. They actually have reason to hate Harry by the end.

Last edited by Sampiro; 04-01-2011 at 08:20 PM..
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  #28  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:19 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Was he locked in? I just remember him sleeping in there- and I've actually seen twin beds in under stair cupboards and in closets before, as long as you're not claustrophobic and can fit on a twin bed it's not so bad. Now if he's locked in then that's endangerment, imprisonment, and definitely abuse.
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  #29  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:26 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Actually the Dursleys seem a perfectly happy, if obnoxious, family unit when it's just the three of them. Ironically the greatest misery of their life is the kid they've neglected even though it's not revenge for the years of neglect- they'd have been just as endangered if they were the most loving foster parents since Ma and Pa Ingalls. They actually have reason to hate Harry by the end.
I disagree---First, they were never happy--Petunia's bitterness about Lilly consumed her, Papa Dursley was quite literally hysterical about the thought of non-conforming and/or "keeping up with the Jones". There was no real happiness there. And worst of all from their POV, in the end, even Dudley left Mr. & Mrs Dursley. I didn't much like book 7, but there was a wonderful moment between Harry and Dudley in it and Dudley has grown past his parents and apologizes to Harry for his previous behavior..

And I'm pretty sure he was locked in--I specifically remember the 3 day period part. (Or was it the bedroom?
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  #30  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:27 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Was he locked in? I just remember him sleeping in there- and I've actually seen twin beds in under stair cupboards and in closets before, as long as you're not claustrophobic and can fit on a twin bed it's not so bad. Now if he's locked in then that's endangerment, imprisonment, and definitely abuse.
You're thinking of much bigger 'cupboards under the stairs' than you get in Britain - there's no way you'd be able to fit a bed under there unless you lived in a mansion or something. Like I said, 3 or possibly as much as 4' at the highest point, 5' long but the sloping roof means that's not all usable, and about 2' wide.

That's standard in the type of house the Dursleys were described as having and it's the kind shown in the first movie, too.
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  #31  
Old 04-01-2011, 08:44 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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For those who don't know, I thought it was interesting that one reason Dudley wasn't featured in the 7th film, even out the window like his dad, is the actor's weight loss. The producers didn't think anybody would recognize him.
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  #32  
Old 04-01-2011, 09:32 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is online now
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In the first book, it was common, when the Dursleys wanted to discipline Harry (for being in the vicinity of "odd" goings-on, as often as not, AIUI) for him to be confined to his cupboard at all times that he was not expected to be seen in school. Such as the time he levitated himself to the roof of the school cafeteria (or whatever) in making his escape from Dudley's gang. And his longest one, after setting the snake on Dudley at the zoo.

In Chamber of Secrets, after he was already ensconced in the Smallest Bedroom, he was physically locked in by Vernon, in a bid to prevent him from going to Hogwarts for a second year (when he learned that Harry was not permitted to use magic outside of school).
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  #33  
Old 04-01-2011, 10:44 PM
Balance Balance is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
Was he locked in? I just remember him sleeping in there- and I've actually seen twin beds in under stair cupboards and in closets before, as long as you're not claustrophobic and can fit on a twin bed it's not so bad. Now if he's locked in then that's endangerment, imprisonment, and definitely abuse.
From Sorcerer's Stone:
Quote:
The Dursleys had received a very angry letter from Harry's headmistress telling them that Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he'd tried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his cupboard) was jump behind the big trash cans outside the kitchen doors.
and
Quote:
Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go--cupboard--stay--no meals," before he collapsed into a chair....
Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch. He didn't know what time it was and he couldn't be sure the Dursleys were asleep yet. Until they were, he couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen for some food.
Clearly, he was locked in the cupboard sometimes, but not always (since he had the option of sneaking out to the kitchen). It's possible that the Dursleys were too freaked out over the boa constrictor incident to remember to lock him in that time, or maybe they normally relied on fear of worse punishment to keep him in the cupboard without locking it. In the latter case, he was denied food as an additional punishment--more than just the classic "sent to bed without supper"; Vernon said "no meals", plural.

Yeah, I'd say he was abused and neglected. It doesn't rise to the horrific levels of abuse we read about all too often in the real world, but it was still abuse.
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  #34  
Old 04-01-2011, 11:10 PM
appleciders appleciders is offline
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'Course, turns out J.K. just wanted to write a modern fairy tale that was a grim as, well, Grimm's. Harry's story is so much like Luke Skywalker, I'm surprised it was Wormtail who lost a hand, and not Harry.
Both stories are textbook "Hero's Journey" stories. In both, a boy grows up poor and distant from anything important until he's whisked into the thick of things by a mentor (Obi Wan/Dumbledore) who gives him a magical relic that belonged to his father (lightsaber/Invisibility Cloak), trains him to fight the big giant evil that's oddly related to him and that it has been prophesied that only he can defeat, until the Big Bad's number two guy kills the mentor, forcing Harry/Luke to seek to defeat the evil, where the number two guy betrays the Big Bad at the end.

Wow. I knew they were similar, but I didn't realize just how much until it's laid out like that.
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  #35  
Old 04-02-2011, 12:25 AM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is offline
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Both stories are textbook "Hero's Journey" stories. In both, a boy grows up poor and distant from anything important until he's whisked into the thick of things by a mentor (Obi Wan/Dumbledore) who gives him a magical relic that belonged to his father (lightsaber/Invisibility Cloak), trains him to fight the big giant evil that's oddly related to him and that it has been prophesied that only he can defeat, until the Big Bad's number two guy kills the mentor, forcing Harry/Luke to seek to defeat the evil, where the number two guy betrays the Big Bad at the end.

Wow. I knew they were similar, but I didn't realize just how much until it's laid out like that.
You aren't the first to notice the similarities.
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  #36  
Old 04-02-2011, 01:06 AM
expectopatronum expectopatronum is offline
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I take exception to that.

Enjoy,
Gamp


bravo!
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  #37  
Old 04-02-2011, 01:19 AM
Sr Siete Sr Siete is offline
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Haven't read the books, but in the movies, let's be fair, he once threw their kid into a snake pit, and tried to kill a relative by inflating her like a balloon. Who knows what else lil' Harry had caused before the first book that made them so distant and scared of him?

In fact, the biggest source of abuse I can remember from them is sending the lad to an unregulated school where daily lethal danger is not only common, but part of the curriculum.
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  #38  
Old 04-02-2011, 01:33 AM
dwyr dwyr is offline
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Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
...In Chamber of Secrets, after he was already ensconced in the Smallest Bedroom, he was physically locked in by Vernon, in a bid to prevent him from going to Hogwarts for a second year (when he learned that Harry was not permitted to use magic outside of school).


As it happens, I've been listening to the audio book of Chamber of Secrets whilst commuting to and from work. Dursley does lock Harry up in the bedroom after finding out that Harry is forbidden to do magic away from Hogwarts (and after Dobby causes the dinner party mess). There is a cat flap in the door through which small meals get pushed. Harry isn't starved but he is hungry all the time. The narration also relates that he's allowed out twice a day to go to the bathroom.
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Old 04-02-2011, 03:15 AM
Sr Siete Sr Siete is offline
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As it happens, I've been listening to the audio book of Chamber of Secrets whilst commuting to and from work. Dursley does lock Harry up in the bedroom after finding out that Harry is forbidden to do magic away from Hogwarts (and after Dobby causes the dinner party mess). There is a cat flap in the door through which small meals get pushed. Harry isn't starved but he is hungry all the time. The narration also relates that he's allowed out twice a day to go to the bathroom.
But I don't think that that makes any sense. If they hate the kid so much, why aren't they happy he's leaving for a good chunk of time?

Now, if they wanted him to stay to keep him safe, and even had to resort to starve him a bit until the school deadline passed, just so he would have less energy to escape, that would make some sense.
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  #40  
Old 04-02-2011, 03:45 AM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
SPOILER:

Ok, yeah there was that stupid spell that he was invulnerable if he stayed with blood relatives 'cause him mommy loved him or something, but they explictly said that it only needed to be for like 2 weeks a year.

Why not send him back...with Hagrid in tow to protect him...and only have him stay the minimum two weeks?

Answer: Because Dumbledore's a cretin.
SPOILER:
Strictly speaking, if "staying with blood relatives" is all you need to fulfill the invulnerability spell, then all you'd need after Harry was about 12 or 13 is a willing but partially infertile foster couple—and strictly speaking, that's optional—some kitchen glassware, a copy of Playboy, and a few months lead time. There, problem solved. "Unconventional and slightly awkward" still beats "abusive": a net gain!

Of course, if you thought the pundits had trouble with the "witchcraft" angle, think of what they'd do with "Harry Potter and his Two Mommies and 'Little Sister.'"


...and this is why you don't let mad scientists write children's books.
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  #41  
Old 04-02-2011, 05:08 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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For those who don't know, I thought it was interesting that one reason Dudley wasn't featured in the 7th film, even out the window like his dad, is the actor's weight loss. The producers didn't think anybody would recognize him.
That's silly. Not just that people would recognize him, but that, if it was important for the character to be fat, Hollywood can do that easily.

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Originally Posted by MsWhatsit View Post
I am like, this close to nerding out with a lengthy explanation of how wrong this is, but thankfully for you and everyone else in this thread, my pizza just showed up.
I still would like a short version. I'm not likely to read the books anytime soon, and I want to see which of my guesses (if any) is right on why this is impossible.

SPOILER:
If he does magic outside of school, he'll get in trouble when he returns. Magic can't be used to make muggle stuff like food. Magic expends energy. Magic food will not sustain. Harry needs his wand and doesn't have it. Disobeying his guardians will get him in magical trouble. There's just not enough stuff to convert to food. Harry will turn evil if he uses magic selfishly.

Last edited by BigT; 04-02-2011 at 05:08 AM..
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  #42  
Old 04-02-2011, 07:01 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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That's silly. Not just that people would recognize him, but that, if it was important for the character to be fat, Hollywood can do that easily.



I still would like a short version. I'm not likely to read the books anytime soon, and I want to see which of my guesses (if any) is right on why this is impossible.

SPOILER:
If he does magic outside of school, he'll get in trouble when he returns. Magic can't be used to make muggle stuff like food. Magic expends energy. Magic food will not sustain. Harry needs his wand and doesn't have it. Disobeying his guardians will get him in magical trouble. There's just not enough stuff to convert to food. Harry will turn evil if he uses magic selfishly.
I don't think it needs a spoiler, but one of your guesses is correct - magic can't create food, muggle or otherwise. Hermione explains once that it's governed by Figgum's Law or something.
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  #43  
Old 04-02-2011, 09:30 AM
Balance Balance is offline
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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
I don't think it needs a spoiler, but one of your guesses is correct - magic can't create food, muggle or otherwise. Hermione explains once that it's governed by Figgum's Law or something.
Well, two guesses, actually--he will (and does) get in trouble for using magic away from school.

There was also a handwave (Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration) about not being able to make food at all, but I didn't particularly like that; even in magic, I don't care for arbitrary handwaves. I'd have been happier with an explanation that magic can't actually create anything (I think every conjuration in the books could be explained by transfiguring existing things or transporting something from elsewhere), and that transfiguration spells tend to come undone when the transfigured object is broken down. Thus, you could turn a handful of pinecones into a steak if you knew how, but when you cut off a bite (or worse, when you started digesting it), it would turn back into bits of pinecone.
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Old 04-02-2011, 09:36 AM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Originally Posted by Sr Siete View Post
But I don't think that that makes any sense. If they hate the kid so much, why aren't they happy he's leaving for a good chunk of time?
They'd probably be happy to have him go to an ordinary boarding school, but Uncle Vernon hated anything that wasn't "normal" and was afraid of magic. Aunt Petunia felt much the same, and had also been jealous and resentful of her sister (Harry's mother) for years because she got to go to Hogwarts and their parents were proud of how special she was. Neither one was going to be happy with the notion of Harry going off to school to learn magic.

As you mentioned yourself upthread, the Dursleys actually do have reason to be afraid of Harry learning magic. He does cause trouble with his magical powers even before he's been trained, and even if they had a good relationship with Harry then the thought of an adolescent boy with supernatural powers is rather scary.

ETA: As for the OP's question Harry was definitely abused, but in a way that I could believe would go unnoticed by teachers and administrators. He wasn't showing up at school with obvious physical injuries, and apparently wasn't telling people about the way he was treated at home.

Last edited by Lamia; 04-02-2011 at 09:41 AM..
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Old 04-02-2011, 10:25 AM
Sr Siete Sr Siete is offline
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Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
They'd probably be happy to have him go to an ordinary boarding school, but Uncle Vernon hated anything that wasn't "normal" and was afraid of magic. Aunt Petunia felt much the same, and had also been jealous and resentful of her sister (Harry's mother) for years because she got to go to Hogwarts and their parents were proud of how special she was. Neither one was going to be happy with the notion of Harry going off to school to learn magic.
But that's pretty awful writing. They go to a lot of trouble just out of irrational fear and petty jealousy. If they didn't care about the boy, they would let him go anywhere he wanted, since keeping somebody prisoner takes some effort, and you don't go through such pains just because.

However, if you consider their actions as attempts at keeping Harry from a dangerous place, that makes sense.

Misunderstood heroes, clearly.
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Old 04-02-2011, 10:35 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Originally Posted by Balance View Post
Well, two guesses, actually--he will (and does) get in trouble for using magic away from school.

There was also a handwave (Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration) about not being able to make food at all, but I didn't particularly like that; even in magic, I don't care for arbitrary handwaves. I'd have been happier with an explanation that magic can't actually create anything (I think every conjuration in the books could be explained by transfiguring existing things or transporting something from elsewhere), and that transfiguration spells tend to come undone when the transfigured object is broken down. Thus, you could turn a handful of pinecones into a steak if you knew how, but when you cut off a bite (or worse, when you started digesting it), it would turn back into bits of pinecone.
I think the other person was talking about when Harry was younger, using magic without realising it. Why didn't he magic up food even when he was starving and probably wishing hard for food? Because you can't create food. Your explanation seems like a fuller (and better) explanation of Gamp's Law.

None of the magical things Harry did were intentional, and there were hardly any at all - Harry's reaction to the glass breaking indicated that this was the first time anything as big had happened. Petunia's sister did die because of magic, and the sisters weren't always enemies, so there's a justifiable reason to dislike it. Still, odds are they abused Harry simply because they enjoyed it.
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  #47  
Old 04-02-2011, 11:07 AM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balance View Post
Well, two guesses, actually--he will (and does) get in trouble for using magic away from school.

There was also a handwave (Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration) about not being able to make food at all, but I didn't particularly like that; even in magic, I don't care for arbitrary handwaves. I'd have been happier with an explanation that magic can't actually create anything (I think every conjuration in the books could be explained by transfiguring existing things or transporting something from elsewhere), and that transfiguration spells tend to come undone when the transfigured object is broken down. Thus, you could turn a handful of pinecones into a steak if you knew how, but when you cut off a bite (or worse, you started digesting it), it would turn back into bits of pinecone.
You might enjoy reading a fanfiction called Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Chapter 15 here explains just how right you are about that.
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  #48  
Old 04-02-2011, 11:30 AM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Originally Posted by Sr Siete View Post
But that's pretty awful writing. They go to a lot of trouble just out of irrational fear and petty jealousy.
You are entitled to your opinion about the quality of the writing, although I thought you said you hadn't read the books. Regardless of how well or badly they might be written, people in real life do often go to a lot of trouble out of irrational fear and petty jealousy. And since the Harry Potter stories take place in a world where it is possible to torture and kill people via magic, fear of magic actually seems quite rational.

Quote:
If they didn't care about the boy, they would let him go anywhere he wanted,
Even to a terrorist training camp run by a cult of perverts and psychos? Because that seemed to be Uncle Vernon's general opinion of Hogwarts and wizards. Even had he not been concerned about Harry disgracing the family, he had his own safety and that of his wife and son to consider.

Quote:
since keeping somebody prisoner takes some effort, and you don't go through such pains just because.
If only that were true. There have been a number of real cases of children who were treated as prisoners by their parents or guardians for no apparent reason. Here's a recent article about a little girl who was kept locked in a bathroom for years and only allowed out for school. A few years back there was a high profile case involving a brother and sister who were locked in a bathroom, starved, and beaten for years. In both cases the adults responsible for the abuse had other children in their care who they did not abuse, so they weren't motivated by some general hatred of children.
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  #49  
Old 04-02-2011, 11:41 AM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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I love the Harry Potter books for the most part, but the one part I didn't care for was the over-the-top cartoonish nature of the Dursleys in the first couple of books. (In my opinion, this improves significantly from book 3 onward.) Their behavior toward Harry did cross the line into abusive, in my opinion, and without any particular good reason. It was almost enough for me not to even bother finishing book 1. (Although in the end, I'm glad I did.)

That said, it certainly (and sadly) isn't unrealistic for people to abuse kids for no good reason, particularly kids that aren't their own biological children. And, that part didn't leave me cold on the books as a whole. It was just one spot of writing that I didn't really enjoy, amidst a lot of stuff that I very much did enjoy. But, different strokes for different folks, etc.
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  #50  
Old 04-02-2011, 12:27 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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Originally Posted by appleciders View Post
...failure to provide proper nutrition is a major issue for CPS types. I'm sure that the Dursleys would have been in trouble...
Have you seen this thread, where the prevailing view seems to be that a gross failure in this regard is not abusive?
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