Harry Potter and the Search for a Father Figure

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Harry Potter and the Search for a Father Figure

Post  Arthur Weasley on September 25th 2011, 3:48 am

This essay all started as an angry reaction to this picture; what originally was a paragraph of ranting turned into an essay of 1,312 words.



I hate this graphic so much. Because Severus Snape is not a father figure to Harry. He never tried to teach Harry anything. Yes, he did many things that helped him, but it wasn’t out of love to Harry. It was out of his desperate, obsessive love for Lily. He never loved Harry, and that is primary failing as a father figure.

Because the most important aspect of any father is the love for his child. If the father does not love the child, then they are not a father figure, end of story.

But this graphic got me thinking about the other figures in the Harry Potter series. The five men most commonly referred to as fathers to Harry are James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Albus Dumbledore, and Arthur Weasley. The first three are mentioned the most frequently; while Dumbledore tends to get more grandfather than father references, for the sake of this discussion I will consider him a father. Arthur does get mentioned as a father, but probably the least often of the five and most often with a mention of Molly as a mother.

To start with the beginning, we have James Potter. We know very little about James’ skill as a parent; while he was an arrogant bully as a teenager, it is clear that at some point he grew up and became a loving father to Harry. However, we really can’t argue anything about his effectiveness as a father figure because he died when Harry was an infant.

This is not saying that James would have been a poor father; it’s just that no one will ever know how the father-son relationship between them would have developed because it never had a chance to.

The relationship that does exist is more between Harry and his idea of James as a father. His Patronus is a symbol of this; the idea of his father’s love, which he never experienced, is manifested in his Patronus, a powerful magical form. I like the relationship between this and the magic that Harry inherits from Lily’s sacrifice; it’s powerful how their love for their son lives on through his magic.

The next father figure is Sirius Black. His relationship with Harry starts off fairly rocky; being accused of murdering a kid’s parents really isn’t going to win you any favors with the child. But Sirius loves Harry, and after learning of Sirius’ innocence, Harry immediately and fully returns the love Sirius gives him.

A lot of Harry’s love for Sirius stems from Harry’s strong desire for a father figure. As soon as one appears in his life, Harry jumps on the opportunity and clings to the idea of it. However, Sirius is not a father figure. While he loves Harry, he would not make a good parent; it is more an uncle/brotherly love than a fatherly love.

This is not meant to trivialize Sirius’ role in Harry’s life or say that Sirius was a bad person. He is just not a father to Harry; he does not act like the responsible adult in the situation. Personally, I believe that he never really matured beyond the age of 21, the age he was sent to Azkaban.

The next paternal figure is Remus Lupin. Lupin’s role as a father to Harry is given strong roots in Prisoner of Azkaban. If Sirius never came into the picture, I believe that Remus would have developed into more of a stronger father figure to Harry. As it is, Sirius is the one who Harry chooses at the end of POA; after Sirius’ death, Harry never really reaches out to Remus and vice versa.

Remus would have been better equipped to be a responsible father to Harry then Sirius; he loves Harry, just as Sirius does, but he is more mature than his friend. The most powerful argument against Lupin as a father is his disastrous incident in DH. I personally hate the scene; I don’t understand what J.K. Rowling did to his character after HBP, and I don’t agree with it. I don’t think that Remus Lupin would walk out on his wife and son, even if he didn’t love his wife.

But Remus Lupin will never be a father figure to Harry simply because he was never given the opportunity to. We will never know if he would have done a better job than Sirius.

As for Albus Dumbledore, I believe that he loved Harry to a certain extent; however, this love is the weakest of the five. He puts the war and its victory above his love for Harry. A father would never sacrifice his child that easily. But strategy and the greater good come before Harry’s wellbeing, and therefore Dumbledore is a terrible father.

He reminds me a bit of Abraham; for those without the Biblical backstory, God asks Abraham to kill his only (well, technically there was Ishmael, but everyone seems to forget him) son Issac. After great internal struggle, Abraham does go through with sacrificing his son, stopped only at the last minute by God. It was God’s test for Abraham, to see if he would put everything before God, including his family.

The parallel between Dumbledore and Abraham comes in their priorities. Abraham puts God first; Dumbledore’s God in the “greater good” and he will sacrifice anything for it.

Now to the last, but certainly not least, Arthur Weasley. Arthur Weasley is a man with seven children of his own, who, with his wife Molly, opens his heart to let another son, Harry Potter in. If you were to ask me who I thought acted the most like a father to Harry, my answer would be Arthur Weasley. Because Arthur both loves Harry like his child and acts like a father to him.

Most often, you will hear Molly lauded for her role as a mother, and Arthur will barely be given a mention. Yes, Molly is easily one of the best mothers in the series, her only equals Lily and to a certain extent Narcissa. She is really the only mother figure in Harry’s life, and therefore she gets a lot of well-deserved attention for it.

But Arthur loves Harry, just as Molly does. He, with Molly, opens his house to Harry. He worries about Harry when he gets lost in Knockturn Alley; he goes to Privet Drive with the rest of the Order to rescue Harry. He worries about Harry when he goes to look for Horcruxes; he may not be overprotective and coddling like Molly, but he does what he can to aid Harry. Arthur would be the perfect father figure.

To those who argue that Arthur already has six sons and how he can love another boy just as much as them, Molly also has six sons and yet she can love Harry as a son. A father’s love is just as a powerful as a mother’s and be shared and expanded just as a mother’s can.

Where Arthur fails as a father figure is that Harry never reaches out to Arthur in that way. While Molly tends to be more pushy and aggressive in her love, Arthur is not. Arthur is the type who will be a father to Harry only if Harry asks. However, Harry is too proud and does not. That does not stop Arthur from loving Harry like a son; however, that does prevent him from being a true father, for his son does not view him as one.

I imagine after the war, the relationship between the two would develop as Harry begins to date Ginny. He would let Arthur in more, and eventually, I imagine Arthur becoming the father Harry never had; not truly replacing James Potter, just stepping in when James couldn’t be there himself.

But we will never know if this happens. I can only hope it does.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Search for a Father Figure

Post  Lily Evans on September 25th 2011, 12:23 pm

AGREE AGREE AGREE.
Especially with the parts about Snape not being a father's arsehole, and Arthur being an unsung father figure. I think Arthur is the best, and most underrated father we see in the series, and even if he wasn't particularly forthcoming with Harry he did really demonstrate his regard. I think you see it most in the early chapters of POA, and then again in HBP - he sort of took a step back when Harry was turning to Sirius, but never disappeared.
*nods*

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Re: Harry Potter and the Search for a Father Figure

Post  Arthur Weasley on October 26th 2011, 6:18 am

Quote by JK Rowling herself:

“If there's one character I couldn't bear to part with, it's Arthur Weasley,” Rowling admitted for the first time publicly in an interview with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira. Hence, in “Phoenix,” Mr. Weasley survives a snakebite … just barely.

“I think part of the reason for that is there were very few good fathers in the book,” said Rowling. “In fact, you could make a very good case for Arthur Weasley being the only good father in the whole series.”

from http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/20026225/ns/today-wild_about_harry/t/rowling-i-wanted-kill-parents/

I feel validated. Arthur just feels slightly embarassed by the whole thing.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Search for a Father Figure

Post  Lily Evans on October 26th 2011, 12:45 pm

Arthur Weasley wrote:Quote by JK Rowling herself:

“If there's one character I couldn't bear to part with, it's Arthur Weasley,” Rowling admitted for the first time publicly in an interview with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira. Hence, in “Phoenix,” Mr. Weasley survives a snakebite … just barely.

“I think part of the reason for that is there were very few good fathers in the book,” said Rowling. “In fact, you could make a very good case for Arthur Weasley being the only good father in the whole series.”

from http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/20026225/ns/today-wild_about_harry/t/rowling-i-wanted-kill-parents/

I feel validated. Arthur just feels slightly embarassed by the whole thing.

Arthur was the best father in the entire series. And TBH I think it might've killed me if he hadn't survived. >.>

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