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Ruminations on Dumbledore, and Ferret Humour in Wilts.... - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Ruminations on Dumbledore, and Ferret Humour in Wilts....

‘But he’s only the headmaster’:


One of the themes one sees all too often in Potterfic – particularly in ‘Dumbledore-bashing’ fics, whose name, alas, is legion – is the claim that Albus Dumbledore, who is ‘merely’ the headmaster of Hogwarts, is Up to Something Devious simply by virtue of his having too much influence for a mere headmaster.   As is so in far too many instances of Potterfic tropes, this betrays an ignorance of the tales’s British setting.


Thomas Arnold was ‘merely’ the headmaster of a public school (and only of Rugby, at that).   Cyril Alington was ‘merely’ the Head at Eton, as, in their time, were Birley, that lunatic Chenevix-Trench, Michael McCrum, and Eric Anderson – who, having taught HRH the Prince of Wales at Gordonstoun, then been Tony Blair’s housemaster at Fettes, and then been the Head at Eton during part of ‘Dave’ Cameron’s time there, holds an unprecedented position as having helped to mould the Heir Apparent, the PM, and the Leader of the Opposition.   Heads of Harrow include men who went on to become bishops, deans, or Archbishops of Canterbury and of York; Sir Cyril Norwood; ministers of state; heads of colleges at Oxford and of that place in the fens; and All That.


In addition, of course, as there is currently in canon no Wizarding university, the headmastership of Hogwarts has parallels in the heads and fellows of the Oxford colleges.  ‘Mere’ academic figures, you see: Jowett, Browning, Archbishop Temple, Gilbert Murray, Lord Cherwell, John Locke, Hugh Trevor-Roper (Lord Dacre)….


And, of course, unlike these Muggle exemplars of the Great and the Good, Dumbeldore is, or, rather, was, not ‘only the headmaster’: he held in plural several political positions as well, in contrast to the Muggle equivalents who proceeded from academic post to public office and, on occasion, back again.   Given how few Wizards and Witches seem to exist in canon, I’m surprised that there aren’t more instances of people filling multiple posts at once: there are more offices than available holders, really.


The moral of the tale?  The Potterverse is a funfair mirror’s reflection of British life, not American – a point that cannot be made often enough.


There were ferret races in Swindon last week.  Oddly enough, there are no reports of Malfoy-fen attending.  Imagine if they’d had it on the grounds of the Christian Malford CE Primary School, in the village of Christian Malford, Chippenham, Wilts SN15 4BW….  (Well, where did you think Malfoy lived in Wilts, really?)


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4 comments or Leave a comment
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: May 13th, 2007 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
The moral of the tale? The Potterverse is a funfair mirror’s reflection of British life, not American – a point that cannot be made often enough.

Precisely! The "Americanisation" of the Potterverse in fanfiction drives me mad as well.

Your points about Dumbledore's position as Headmaster of Hogwarts make sound sense. British life today is still ordered by these subtle networks of influence despite us trying to pretend it isn't. So much for John Major's "classless society".

As for the ferret racing - surprised Swindon council didn't try and have it banned on Health and Safety grounds :-).


wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 13th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks, love.

As for the ferret races, it was in aid of charity, I believe, thus avoiding the strictures of the Ministry and the Department of Elfin Safety.
woman_ironing From: woman_ironing Date: May 14th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, what hope can there be for the fanic when canon is americanised too. Lemon drops, indeed.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 15th, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Think of it as 'translation', dear.

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