The next article in the June 2012 Harry Potter and Philosophy collection is “House-Elves, Hogwarts, and Friendship: Casting Away the Institutions which Made Voldemort’s Rise Possible,” written by Susan Peppers-Bates and Joshua Rust (both philosophy professors at Stetson University, FL).
This essay begins the collection’s journey toward an exploration of some of the darker themes present in the Harry Potter series (though with the ray of hope that is friendship!). For an abstract of their article, please read below the jump. As always, questions and comments on the full article and its topic are welcome in the comments box below.
In “House-Elves, Hogwarts, and Friendship: Casting Away the Institutions which Made Voldemort’s Rise Possible,” Peppers-Bates and Rust develop the theme of “elf justice,” which is Hermione’s special crusade. They argue that the Harry Potter series demonstrates how the power of identity politics and friendship across difference can replace the false universalism of hierarchical societies that privileges one group by rendering others deviant and invisible. After contrasting Voldemort’s “pure blood” racial politics with the seemingly progressive house model of Hogwarts, they reject the house model and separation from the Muggle World that characterize the novels before and after Harry’s triumph over Voldemort. True friendship that sees difference as a cause for celebration, as opposed to domination, would reject the old model for a more truly egalitarian vision—where muggles and magic-folk of all sorts mingle, and house-elf slavery has been abolished.