POSTS TO HPFGU
2002-2003
     
       
       
HPfGU #43024

Fred and George: The Bullies You Do Know

RE: Fred and George: The Bullies You Do Know


Jenny from Ravenclaw wrote:

Fred and George are quite the loveable scoundrels, are they not?

No, they most certainly are not!

Heh. Oh, boy. Was Jenny actually trying to bait me here? I find myself wondering. Was it possible that she just didn't know how I feel about the twins? Was she hoping to send me off on another series of snarling, spitting, foaming rants, just like the ones that I hacked venemously up onto the list the last time I expressed my opinions on the twins, way back in February?

Does she just like the smell of bile in the morning?

Hey, maybe she does. Maybe she does at that.

Well, okay, then. Happy to oblige. ;-)

Now, I know that everyone else in the entire universe just adores the twins. I know that they're popular characters. And indeed, they have been very nice to Harry -- and I do appreciate it when the characters are nice to Harry.

But I just have to say it. I do not like the twins. At all. I think that they are a pair of mean insensitive bullies, and I tend to feel that the only reason that readers don't generally perceive them as such is because we see the story through Harry's eyes -- and Harry happens to be inside of the magic circle of people the twins perceive as their in-group, and who are therefore protected from their harrassment.

The twins are indeed decent to Harry. They're the Bullies We Do Know, and that makes it a lot easier for us to overlook their bullying traits. But if I may riff a bit off of Sirius here for a minute, if you want to know what a man is like, take a good look at how he treats outsiders, not the members of his own in-group.

And how do the Twins treat those who do not fall within the magic circle of those they consider to be under their protection?

Well, what interactions have we actually seen between the twins and students from outside of House Gryffindor?

Hmmm. Well, there's Draco Malfoy and his cronies, of course. In PoA, they sneer at Draco for running into their cabin while fleeing the dementor on the Hogwarts Express. In GoF, they hex him and his (unarmed!) buddies in the back, leave them lying unconscious on the floor of a train in the middle of London, and then step on them while they're out cold. This, I would add, at a point in the tale when they have become legal adults. Not a whole lot of noblesse oblige going on there. Not much in the way of chivalry. Not the sort of behavior that represents an assumption of the mantle of adulthood.

And...let's see. Who else? Well, there's Dudley. Ton-tongue toffee, anyone? The kid is three years younger than they are, and he's a muggle besides; it is plain to see that he is absolutely petrified of magic, and the twins are passing him cursed sweets.

Very nice.

Oh, and then there's little Malcolm Baddock. Eleven years old, it's his very first day at school, the poor kid's probably scared out of his gourd to begin with, he's just been sorted into Slytherin, and on his way to the table, big strong sixteen-year-old Fred and George actually hiss him.

You know, we've never heard of even the Slytherins doing anything like that Never once has there been a mention of anyone jeering, hissing, or booing at the Sorting Ceremony. Except for Fred and George, that is, because Fred and George are a couple of thuggish cads.

They can't even manage to be nice to the Ever So Decent Cedric at the beginning of GoF. He's trying to be friendly, and they're scowling menacingly at him, just because he had the unmitigated gall to whip them once at Quidditch. What would they have been doing if their parents hadn't been around, one wonders. Beating him up?

Well, maybe not. Because, after all, he's just as big as they are. Although they do outnumber him.

It certainly is interesting, isn't it, that we so rarely see Fred and George insulting or abusing students who are actually their own age? Or their own size? I mean, they're a couple of really big kids, aren't they? Built like a couple of bludgers, and by the end of GoF, they're actually technically adults. And yet who (outside of their own family) do we see them going up against? Who do we see them hexing or hissing? Who are the targets of their practical jokes?

Yes, that's right. It's always younger kids, isn't it. Children two, three, even five years younger than they are.

Even when the twins target adults, it's always vulnerable adults. They don't hurl snowballs at Professor McGonagall, do they? No, of course not. They throw them at Professor Quirrell, whom they have every reason to believe is indeed precisely what he appears to be: a stammering, shell-shocked wreck of a wizard who is tottering right on the edge of a nervous collapse.

You know, where I come from, we had a word for big strong self-confident teenagers who spent their time picking on younger kids and emotionally crippled adults.

We called them bullies.



Jenny asked:

Has anyone ever thought of their pranks as a bit mean-spirited?

Yes. Take Ton-Tongue Toffee, for example...

Oh! Oh, you already have. Well, all right then.

When I first read GoF, I delighted in the Ton-Tongue Toffee scene. Boy, did I love picturing Dudley on his hands and knees in the living room, scooping up as many of the "brightly colored" toffees as his greedy hands could find.

Really? I just plain hated that scene. I thought it cruel. Dudley had been on a diet all summer long, for heaven's sake! The poor kid had been being given lettuce leaves and grapefruit halves to eat. If I'd been eating like that for two months and then someone dropped a pocketful of toffees at my feet, I'm sure that I'd be down there grovelling around on the carpet for them too.

Never mind the fact that from the instant the Weasleys arrive in the Dursley's home, Dudley is cringing away from them, and he's got his hands clamped across his buttocks, and he's backed all the way up against the wall, he's so terrified of what they might do to him, and...

Oh, well. Ugh. Just made me sick, that scene did.

My mother, however, didn't think it was so funny. She thought Fred and George were mean.

Well, whether one found it funny or not, I'd say that it certainly was mean. It was hardly a good-natured joke. It was malicious. And quite properly, their father chastised them for it, although he did misascribe their motive.

I did not find their excuse in the least bit impressive. "Oh, but Dad, he's a big mean bully!"

Yeah. And the twins are even bigger and meaner and more powerful bullies. So? And? Their point was?

Jenny:

How popular should they be? I wouldn't call them bullies like Draco and his cronies...

Oh, I would. And I suspect that quite a number of the younger members of House Slytherin would probably agree with me. I think that Fred and George are every bit as big a pair of bullies as Crabbe and Goyle are. We just don't see quite as much of it, because the story isn't told from the point of view of the kids they choose as their victims. But we see enough of it. We see enough of it to get the picture. I think that they're quite clearly bullies.

...but how must Neville feel about them?

Oh, living with them is probably giving Neville ulcers. But still, you know, it could be a whole lot worse. Neville's in their magic circle, which means that he's only likely to fall victim to their callous thoughtlessness, rather than to their outright bullying. And I'm sure that they'd protect him, if they were around when someone outside of their group were hassling him.

One man's bully is another man's bodyguard.

Jenny asked if people like the twins. HF queried in response:

When you say 'people', are you talking about the reading audience or the wizarding world? The WW seems to approve of them on the whole, with the exception of Mrs. Weasley.

Yes. The twins are charismatic, and they are well-liked. This probably contributes to my sense of anger about them. They remind me far too much of so many bullies I have known: the charismatic bullies, the popular ones, the ones who are always favored by those in authority, the ones who are widely believed to be all-round "nice guys" -- by everyone, that is, except for their victims.

But hey. Their victims deserve whatever they get. Right?

HF wrote:

To sort of divide this up a bit, the twins seem to ply their trade on two levels: retributive, and for the hell of it.

Read: "bullying" and "callous thoughtlessness."

Most of what falls into the category of "retributive," I read as plain and simple bullying.

HF:

Percy's stuffed-shirtedness and Malfoy's arrogance are natural targets (such traits are, after all, the target of pranksters and satirists the world over); they're practically begging to be taken down a peg or two by having Head Boy badges enchanted to read 'Bighead Boy' or be hexed into oblivion.

Yup. Percy and Malfoy were begging for it, all right. Much in the same way that Snape was just pleading to be fed to a werewolf, by virtue of being so nasty and sneaky, and of having oily hair.

See, this particular logic really hits all of my hot buttons, because in my experience, it's the logic that bullies always use to justify their actions. "If he weren't so snotty, we wouldn't have been forced to shove him in the locker." "She was really asking for it, the way she always dressed so badly and never stood up for herself."

It reminds me most uncomfortably, in fact, of those gruesome excuses that people sometimes offer for committing sexual assault. "She was asking for it, wearing a short skirt like that!" "She just thought that she was IT, so she needed to be taken down a peg."

I don't find it compelling. To say the least. In what way is being somewhat stuffy and pompous a request for constant harrassment? In what way is arrogance a petition for physical assault?

HF called this "retributive," but it just doesn't read that way to me. To me, it reads like bullying. A case can be made for the twins' assault on the Slyths on the train at the end of GoF as "retributive" to be sure, but what about Malcolm Baddock? What about Professor Quirrell? And what about Percy? The twins aren't picking on Percy because he has injured them terribly through any particular action he has taken against them. They're picking on him because he is vulnerable, and because they have identified some trait that makes him, to their mind, "fair game," thus enabling them to rationalize their behavior. In Percy's case, that trait happens to be pomposity. But what if it had instead been ugliness? Or intellect? Or talent? Or timidity?

After all, Harry's way too talented, don't you think? He desperately needs to be taken down a peg or two. It's for his own good, really.

And the same goes for Hermione. She's just asking for trouble, with all of that reading and studying, and sucking up to her professors, and being such a swotty little know-it-all.

And Neville? Well, my goodness! Neville was actually down on his knees to Malfoy in that corridor, don't you know. Yeah, he was just grovelling for a good old fashioned leg-locker curse. He needed it, you see, because he's so ridiculously timid and non-confrontational. Malfoy was doing him a favor, really. And so is Snape, every week in Potions class.

No, I'm sorry. When bullies are called to account for their actions, I'm sturdily unimpressed by the claim that their victims were "asking for it." That's the excuse that bullies always use. It doesn't get either Draco or Snape off the hook with me, and it doesn't get the twins off the hook with me either.

I don't like bullying.

Then, I readily admit there are times when the twins mean no harm. There are times when they mean well. They're just so appallingly insensitive that they end up causing harm in spite of themselves. Here we have HF's "for the hell of it," which I suppose we might also classify as "lads will be lads."

HF:

On the other hand, you have things like wanton Puffskein destruction, turning poor Ron's teddy bear into a spider, and salamander torture -- although, with regards to the last point, salamanders are immune to fire (yet I'm sure the salamander didn't appreciate flying around the room while fireworks were going off inside it.)

Hmmm. You know, much as I dislike the twins, I think that I may have to agree with Olivia when it comes to the spider incident. Fred couldn't possibly have been old enough to be held accountable for that one. He had to have been very young at the time, so it was probably just a case of that spontaneous magic that wizarding children do. So I guess that I'll give him a (reluctant!) pass for that.

But the Puffskein incident really horrified me, and I didn't much care for the twins' treatment of the salamander either. Nor did I think much of their cavalier attitude towards Scabbers' "death" in PoA. Even taking into account the whole "boys will be boys" thing, the twins still strike me as exceptionally callous when it comes to animals, and that's really not a trait that I find at all endearing.

Nor is it only animals. Into the "callous thoughtlessness" category, I would also place the twins' remorseless teasing of Ginny in CoS. Now, I understand that the twins actually didn't mean to be upsetting her that badly. They were genuinely trying to cheer her up. They really did mean well. I appreciate that. But they were so ridiculously insensitive that they didn't even notice that she was heading straight for a nervous breakdown until Percy pointed it out to them, at which point (to their credit) they did indeed cease and desist.

I'm not much impressed with that degree of insensitivity either. The twins really do strike me as a pair of thuggish brutes.

Back to Jenny again:

Many people dislike Snape, Draco, Rita Skeeter and some aren't even crazy about Ron - all because of their attitudes. Fred and George are funny and fun, and obviously talented wizards, but are they nice?

No. They're not. And personally, I don't find them particularly funny, either.

Should we applaud them for their prank inventions and encourage them to do more? I for one would love to see them open a new jokes shop, but maybe they should be steered away from their current passions for practical jokes.

Nah. As much as I dislike the twins, I think that they should definitely open their joke shop. It's what they really want to do, it's what will make them happy, they certainly have both the drive and the hustle to succeed in business, and their joke items are obviously very well-crafted. Indeed, the twins so strike me as exceptionally talented.

And besides, selling their gag products would be a productive outlet for their sadistic brand of humor. Harry's right: the WW is going to need its yuks, and apparently a lot of people in the WW actually find the twins' sense of humor funny. (Go figure.) So yeah, they're serving a useful purpose.

Besides, maybe if they got that shop opened, they'd be far too busy running it and making their items to have the time to make other people's lives stressful and unpleasant.

And then maybe poor Percy would finally be able to relax a little bit, rather than being driven into such a state of exhausted insecurity from their constant harrassment that he finds himself unwittingly aiding the forces of evil yet again! ;-)

I mean, should we like them as much as we do? Why do we like them so much more than we like Snape or Draco?

What "we," Jenny?

—Elkins, who really will feel very bad for the surviving twin if one of them is to die. Honestly. She will. And that won't be a smirk you'll be seeing on her face either. It will just look like a smirk, but it will actually be an...um, er, an attempt to, uh, to choke back her sobs. Really.

Posted August 22, 2002 at 2:13 pm
Topics: ,
Plain text version

Comments and References

Azalais Malfoy wrote:

Bravissimo!

seraphina_snape wrote:

Finally someone says it!

I thought they were funny, at first. I laughed at their jokes in the first books, and I loved them since their Gred & Forge crack. But them I read that scene with Malcolm Braddock, and I actually paused and read it again. I couldn't believe that they'd hiss at an eleven year old boy, just for beiong Sorted into Slytherin. No wonder there is that much hatred between the houses, if people keep acting like that. However, I started thinking about the general attitude of the twins, and I tried to imagine them in RL. My life, for example. And I came to the conclusion that I would have hated the twins. They pick on people who can't defend themselves, and if they can, well, there's one major advantage: The twins always come in pairs... naturally. So it's always the two of them against whoever is available. And I can tell you, being alone, facing two tall boys a few years older than you are... you'd be terrified. Poor Malcolm.

However, (I'm losing my point again... not sure I had one to begin with...) I still think that some of their jokes are funny, but I'll won't neglect looking at it from the other side before laughing.

~ sera

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References:

rosiegalbasi: Tree MEME:Oct 24 to Nov 11 - Walnut Tree

Tree MEME:
Oct 24 to Nov 11 - Walnut Tree
Walnut Tree (Passion) -- unrelenting, strange and full of contrasts, often egotistic, aggressive, noble, broad horizon, unexpected reactions, spontaneous, unlimited ambition, no flexibility, difficult and uncommon partner, not always liked but often admired, ingenious strategist, very jealous and passionate, no compromise.

Don't know about "noble" unless you mean "acts like royalty." Everything else is accurate though...

FictionAlley Park - Evil Fred or evil George?

Here's another request. They say with twins, there's always an evil one. Does anyone know of any stories where either Fred or George is evil?

If no one knows of any of those, I'll take stories where they're both evil, or they go insane. . . .

hp_essays: Jung and Harry Potter - Spoilers for all books

This essay was born in my last semester of college for my 'literature criticism and theory' class. So be prepared for 1) longness and 2) academic dryness. It'd be interesting to update this for HBP, but that means dragging out Jung again and I'm not particularly fond of reading him so that project can wait. I ended up getting an excellent grade for this paper so I thought it worth sharing.:-)


Perhaps J. K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was unaware of her prophetic words in her first book of the popular Harry Potter series when one of the characters mentions that “every child in our world will know [Harry Potter’s] name!” (Rowling, Stone 17). . . .

SPCNET - New Harry Potter on sale in summer

Here's is a not very favourable article on the Fred and George character. It points out a side of F & G many people miss because of their other likable traits. . . .

side_order: November 1st - 7th

November 1st - 7th...discussing Chapter One: Dudley Demented

Let the posting begin

firebird5: Oh catharsis!

Here's the essay which compared Percy to Barty Jr and the "disappointing father figure" concept. And remember it was written before OotP so this insight is particularly... astonishing. The quotes are made by others and the replies by Elkins, who wrote all those essays. . . .

dierondie: Give me a break...please

The question I ask is why do people care?

die_dierondie

What's the big deal? We aren't trolling for members. We aren't going to other sites bashing ron.

We don't like Ron's character.

Why do you care?

Someone ON MY YAHOO GROUP posted a 'I'm very disappointed in you" message. You would think that I was promoting white supremecy or dabbling in child porn.

Let me just give a bit of a reality check to everyone that comes over here and takes any of this seriously...

THIS IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER!!!

People really need to get a grip.

dietwinsdie: Links to Elkins's Posts on the Twins

Links to Elkins's Posts on the Twins
Fred and George, the Bullies You Do Know...

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