POSTS TO HPFGU
2002-2003
     
       
       
HPfGU #52624

Grindelwald, Voldemort, and other dark folks

RE: Grindelwald, Voldemort, and other dark folks


The Catlady provided a list of non-ideological reasons which might lead people in the WW to throw in their lot with Voldemort:

Some are seeking wealth (their share of the loot), slaves, sex (from the slaves), a paycheck, or just think they're less likely to be killed if they're on the winning side (like Pettigrew). Some seek a position of power ("Lord Voldemort will make me supervisor of traffic enforcement for this town") which they can use to "punish" the people they don't like. A Dark Wizard can offer more than a Dark Muggle can, magic things, of which a potion of immortality would be tops ...

Immortality is the biggie, I'd say. The very first book in the series emphasizes the temptation of immortality. Harry's internal struggle largely revolves around his need to accept his parents' deaths. Voldemort is "Voldemort" and his followers "Death Eaters." I really don't think that's all accidental.

To the above list, though, I would also add the restoration of ancient class privilege, which I believe to be Lucius Malfoy's main interest in Voldemort and which I don't view as either purely ideological (although it can be framed that way) or as precisely the same thing as the issue of purity of blood (although the two issues are obviously closely related). I believe that the exchange between Malfoy and Borgin in Knockturn Alley at the beginning of CoS serves to highlight issues which might have led so many members of the WW's older families to throw in their lot with Voldemort the first time around.

Ffred is more concerned with ideological issues, though. He wrote:

So where do you go if you are a wizard with political ambitions for change? The only place seems to be into conspiracy.

::slow smile::

Well...yes. That really is one of the more troubling things about the developing backstory, isn't it? It certainly is for me. I find that the more we are told about the Ministry, and about wizarding society as a whole, the more sympathy I feel for the Death Eaters, particularly for those who signed on when they were quite young.

It's hard for me as a reader to believe that all of them were as cynical or as purely self-interested as Lucius Malfoy seems to be, especially given that each passing volume seems to paint the WW's status quo in darker and darker shades. GoF gives us that sickening account of the WW under Crouch, tells us about an attempted genocide of the giants, and then provides, in the figure of younger Crouch, an example of a servant of Voldemort who, while he does seem to have been rather severely emotionally disturbed, is also presented as a highly idealistic personality type.

It gets harder and harder for me as a reader to believe that there were no misguided—but nonetheless quite legitimately aggrieved—idealists among Voldemort's followers. It would be very nice, IMO, if this really were a symptom of the series' transition from a focus on the concerns of childhood to one on the concerns of adolescence. Sadly, though, I strongly suspect that it is accidental, that JKR really has no idea just how well she's laid the groundwork for future examination of the problems of misguided idealism in her series.

Such a pity.

Of course, one can always hope. To my mind, the introduction of Snape's old Slytherin classmates, certain aspects of their characters as depicted so far (Fanatic!Lestranges, hints of ambivalence in Avery), and the implied authorial promise that they will be brought into the plotline as figures of more importance in the next volume or two, all provide us with by far our best hope that JKR actually might be planning on touching on a few of these issues in later canon.

—Elkins

Posted February 20, 2003 at 5:20 pm
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