?

Log in

entries friends calendar profile AT: Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn Previous Previous Next Next
Harry Potter and the Perennial British Obsession - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Harry Potter and the Perennial British Obsession

Right, then.

 

I see I have started a hare.

 

Very well.  Formidably intelligent and informed friends are already disagreeing; let us open the ball. 

 

Please answer based solely on (book-)canon and from a British perspective, please.  Adduce as much proof as you can bear to do.  I shall give my answers in due course.

 

What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks?

 

The Potters?

 

The Malfoys?

 

The Weasleys?

 

The Prewetts?

 

The Princes (not the Snapes, Muggles that they are)?

 

The Dumbledores?

 

The Lupins?

 

Ted Tonks?  Nymphadora?

 

The Grangers?

 

The Macmillans?

 

(Need I ask?)  The Finch-Fletchleys?

 

The Lovegoods?

 

The Smiths (no, not the pop group)?

 

Blaise Zabini?  (And his mother if you wish.  Good luck)

 

Horace Slughorn?

 

Lily Evans before her marriage?

 

The Dursleys?

 

Minerva?

 

Millie Bulstrode?

 

The Flints?

 

The Yaxleys?

 

The Crouch family?

 

The Diggorys?

 

Theo Nott?

 

Fudge?

 

Do you consider yourself a Good King or a Bad King?

 

NB – On no account attempt to write on both sides of the paper at once.

 

Tags: , , ,

24 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
the_gentleman From: the_gentleman Date: May 27th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks?
Upper class, reduced to a town house in London by dint of ill-thought alliances. Based on their desperate clutching to former glories.


The Potters?
Lower-upper class. Landowners around Godric's Hollow, but I get the impression they work so they have something to do with their time. Rich enough and generous enough to take in Sirius for the holidays and for Harry to inherit, but not a former political force.


The Malfoys?
Cadet line of the Blacks, one of the few able to make it out of the wreckage. Happy to take over the old Black politicking.


The Weasleys?
Country squires. Molly married up, but not by much, and she makes sure her boys know they could be better- they've got the breeding and the name, after all, if only they would apply themselves.


The Prewetts?



The Princes (not the Snapes, Muggles that they are)?
Middling, merchantile/artisan class. Worried that a Muggle in the family would just pull them back down.


The Dumbledores?
In canon, probably Pureblood, and certainly upper middle class. I see a lot of Churchill in him, which suggests at an equivalent to the Anglo-American marriage of Jennie and Randolph in the form of Muggles on one side in his generation. Politically very well known- Dumbledore seems perfectly at ease in any section of society as well.


The Lupins?
Unless they blew the family fortune on trying to find a cure, then I read Lupin as upper working class made good.


Ted Tonks? Nymphadora?
Tonks, upper working class, more the product of John Osborne's generation of angry young men, now settled down. Nymphadora is second-generation middle class, by that standard, plus the fact that she's a government official.


The Grangers?
Middle class. Dentists. They simply scream pleasant middle class who a generation ago would probably have sent Hermione off to public school anyway, although would probably be happy enough for her to be at a comprehensive if she didn't get a scholarship.


The Macmillans?
I have no idea, but I'm thinking middle class.


(Need I ask?) The Finch-Fletchleys?
Upper class. Obviously.


The Lovegoods?
Urban intellectuals. Upper middle class, of the North Oxford/Islington type.


The Smiths (no, not the pop group)?
Established shop-keepers, of the boutique type rather than the local corner shop. Possibly former upper class reduced to working for a living, but s


Blaise Zabini? (And his mother if you wish. Good luck)
Upper class, but of the foreign rich kid at English boarding school variety.

Horace Slughorn?
Lower upper class,


Lily Evans before her marriage?
Lily (and by extension Petunia) seems upper working class- father a craftsman rather than a labourer. Magic seen as a step up- Petunia sees marriage to Vernon as a much more respectable step up.


The Dursleys?
Middle class, with a family tradition of sending their boys to boarding school (Smeltings). Probably a long line of bank managers, accountants and occasional local lawyers.


Minerva?
Edinburgh professional middle class. If a Muggle she would have been from a long line of doctors and lawyers of Auld Reekie.


Millie Bulstrode?
Who knows? A wild guess at middle class.


The Flints?
Upper working class? I have no idea, really.


The Yaxleys?
...


The Crouch family?
Officer class. Career soldiers, politicians and policemen. Upper middle class, I suppose that would make them.


The Diggorys?
Middle class. Of the Guardian rather than Daily Mail tendency.


Theo Nott?
Professional middle class. Or possibly upper class, based on the fact that Malfoy considers him an equal.


Fudge?
Middle class through and through.


Do you consider yourself a Good King or a Bad King?

Hmm?



All of this, however, is skewed by the fact that the wizarding world doesn't seem to have a land-based economy- instead, they seem to have a service/goods economy which makes them all rather middle class as default. Not so many obvious ill-educated working class people, except the Knight Bus crew, and then of course th hidden groups that Harry only encounters in the summer holidays...
shezan From: shezan Date: May 27th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks?: Upper

The Potters? Upper middle

The Malfoys? Nouveau trying to pass as Upper - by lineage they're upper middle

The Weasleys? Arthur is a third son of a third son of a lower upper family, and married Molly who's working class. The family is lower-middle with the odd shot of lower-upper-middle at times (the Quidditch cup.)

The Dumbledores? Upper middle as the Master of Balliol. (Abernathy, in fact, has definitely upper class quirks, re: that goat.)

The Lupins? Middle, read the Independent

Ted Tonks? Nymphadora? Middle, read the Grauniad

The Grangers? Middle, read the Grauniad AND recycle everythig in sight AND Mrs Granger spent two weeks at Greenham Common in the mid Eighties

(Need I ask?) The Finch-Fletchleys? Middle-upper (not barking enough to be upper-upper)

The Lovegoods? Lower-middle gone middle à la Richard Desmond.

Lily Evans before her marriage? Weybridge middle-middle

The Dursleys? Weybridge middle-middle, read the Daily Mail

Minerva? Upper middle Scot

Millie Bulstrode? Upper, will marry Marcus or someone like him at 24 and bolt at 33 to either get shackled to a Tunisian poet in Paris, or start breeding bull terriers

The Flints? Upper, Marcus will never understood that it was because he kept asking Millicent to spank him that she bolted.

The Crouch family? slightly lower-middle

The Diggorys? somewhat upper middle

Theo Nott? lower upper

Fudge? Lower middle

Do you consider yourself a Good King or a Bad King?

I RULE, you puny mortal!
(Deleted comment)
sollersuk From: sollersuk Date: May 28th, 2007 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Er... that is what toffs sound like. You should have heard my daughter's schoolmates (or maybe not)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 28th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

U, Non-U, and U-No-Poo....

Firstly, it's the middles who 'mind their diction' - generally too much so. The upper and lower classes pee; the middles spend a penny. What's more, Ron (like Bill) and Sirius are both a bit rebellious on a generational level (as is Tonks, now that I come to it), and half-deliberate moves to declass themselves and be bloke-ish follow.

I mean, damn it all, Mike d'Abo and James Blunt are both Old Harrovains (and serves them right), and Eton now boasts, if that's the word, a 'rap artist' amongst its Old Boys.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 28th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, and -

Harro-VAINs was deliberate.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 28th, 2007 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah. Well....

In the post that precedes this, we are discussing what class to put the Weasleys in; opinions differ markedly. As to Snape, my view is encapsulated in a short fic:
http://wemyss.livejournal.com/4836.html#cutid1
nineveh_uk From: nineveh_uk Date: May 31st, 2007 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: U, Non-U, and U-No-Poo....

My grandmother spent a penny, but then she was _respectable_ working class with a big falling out with her Irish (presumably less respectable) in-laws.
serriadh From: serriadh Date: May 27th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
If I may start with a preliminary warning: almost everything I know about class is based on rather charicatured stereotypes and thing what I have Read In Books, so this shouldn't be taken as referring to Real People.

The other thing that's causing me a few difficulties is that I don't know when JKR's England is supposed to be set. It's definitely not quite now; it seems to be a hodgepodge of fantasy 50s type suburbia, typical public school-story school and then dickens/mediaeval things thrown in. That makes class somewhat harder to peg.

What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks?
Upper-class, deprived of their estates by a long history of consistently choosing the losing side in various conflicts.

The Potters?
Upper-middle, I should think. I don't think we've got enough information to be too precise.

The Malfoys?
The Malfoys always put me somewhat in mind of those Americans you sometimes find in Scotland, bedecked in tartan and proclaiming their clan roots loudly. Not sure where that puts them.

The Weasleys?
I find them very difficult. Percy is achingly middle-middle, Arthur possibly a little higher. Molly, I think, is/was upper working class and has married up. What's odd is that she appears neither really aspirational, nor chippy (as far as I remember), either of which would be a totally understandable reaction.

The Dumbledores?
Aristocracy, because they both appear to be stark raving mad and yet are viewed largely as amiable eccentrics. Albus is also so absolutely certain of his authority and place in life. Admittedly, that's not a unique trait of the aristocracy, but still.

The Grangers?
Middle or upper-middle. Read the Guardian but probably secretly would prefer The Times.

The Lovegoods?
I second the suggestion for upper-middle eccentric intellectuals.

Horace Slughorn?
I don't know? Upper-middle? Upper? All I know is that he makes me think of a certain, rather unpleasant, type of Anglo-Catholic (no offence intended to any ACs reading this).

Lily Evans before her marriage?
Lower middle.

The Dursleys?
Petunia lower middle (is it any coincidence that she shares a flower-themed name with Hyacinth Bucket?), Dursley perhaps a little higher, which has heightened Petunia's social paranoia.

Do you consider yourself a Good King or a Bad King?
Bad. They had more fun.


NB – On no account attempt to write on both sides of the paper at once.

shocolate From: shocolate Date: May 27th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
[degree of Muggle peerage used as comparison]

What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks? - Upper - earls - that is a shabby house and a large family-tree tapestry and well-thumbed copy of Nature's Nobility!
The Potters? minor upper - baronetcy, not titled, but married Blacks
The Malfoys? minor upper - viscounts - new and a bit too monied - but married Blacks
The Weasleys? minor upper - shabby landed gentry - but married minor Blacks
The Prewetts? also minor upper - shabby landed gentry - and also married minor Blacks!
The Grangers? very solid middle - dentists are the easiest thing to place!
(Need I ask?) The Finch-Fletchleys? actual upper!
The Lovegoods? upper middle Hampstead socialists
Lily Evans before her marriage? lower middle
The Dursleys? middle middle
alexia75 From: alexia75 Date: May 27th, 2007 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ok, I'll bite.

More interesting that seventeenth-century English common law anyway.

What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks? Upper echelons once, but presumably lost their country seat(s) and are now stuck cramming all the old furniture and knick-knacks they couldn't or didn't want to sell off in a decaying town house. I always imagine Grimmauld Place as a Georgian-type house in a bad way, so maybe the Blacks can be seen as a similar standing to the Devonshires, except not any more.

The Potters? We don't know very much about them, do we? I'm going to go with a line of yeoman farmers and, in the last few generations, one of them stepped a few rungs up the ladder - maybe married very well, or made it into professional ranks or something.

The Malfoys? Mercantile family, with definite aspirations towards filling the Black family's vacated spot and emulating over-the-top court portraits of the Blacks from centuries ago in order to do it.

The Weasleys? I see the Weasleys as a long line of middle-of-the-road clerk types. No sign of them having had masses of money in the past, and they're poor now but I think Arthur comes from a line of Ministry workers, some of whom have been much more successful than he is (hence the Lucius jibes, perhaps?).

The Prewetts? Lower middle class. I think (as do a lot of people here apparently) that Molly married up a bit with Arthur.

The Princes? I really don't know, here, I've never really thought about it. I suppose, thinking about what I can remember from HBP, I'd have to go with fairly lower class for all their pureblood, but I don't really have an opinion.

The Dumbledores? Agreeing with whoever it was who said that DD would have had a mixed background involving Muggles and whatnot. Sounded perfect.

The Lupins? Academics, intellectuals. Middle-class, not very wealthy but well-resepcted.

Ted Tonks? Nymphadora? See, Ted Tonks is often represented as lower class because of the sneering of the Blacks but I don't see why he has to be working class. And he's turned out Tonks who seems very well spoken and all that- no trace of an accent in the written speeches. And "wotcher"!? I say Ted from an army line and Nymphadora picked up the phrase from him.

The Grangers? Upper middle class. Dentists.

The Macmillans? Upper-to-middle middle class. Ernie's pomposity, and the family's staunch support of Dumbledore. Guardian readers.

(Need I ask?) The Finch-Fletchleys? I don't think so, though I imagine you could make an interesting case for upwardly-aspiring family of a very successful businessman a la Chelsea, or Kate, or which ever it was. But I think probably gentry, really.

The Lovegoods? Similar to the Lupins, I imagine.

The Smiths (no, not the pop group)? Eh, middlish-middle, but Zacharias at least fancies himself higher.

Blaise Zabini? (And his mother if you wish. Good luck) Upper. Probably mercantile money.

Horace Slughorn? Lower than he'd like, hence his weaving of webs. If he came from an influential family he wouldn't have to manufacture influence amongst his students. In fact, I'll go the whole hog - working class complete an accented dialect, once upon a time.

Lily Evans before her marriage? Lower middle class. Married up into the Potter family, but not by a huge amount. Petunia's also a bit of a give-away here. So very Margot Leadbetter I think.

The Dursleys? Upper middle class.

Minerva? Eh, pass.

Millie Bulstrode? Pass.

The Flints? Pass.

The Yaxleys? Pass.

The Crouch family? Like the Weasleys, only more consistently successful, at least in the Ministry influence.

The Diggorys? Lower middle class. Dunno why, really.

alexia75 From: alexia75 Date: May 27th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Damn two comments

Theo Nott? Upper class. The position the Malfoys aspire to, really. Based on that snippet JKR talked about on her website but never made it into the books - the conversation where Theo can get Malfoy to shut up and listen.

Fudge? Lower than the Malfoys, hence the allowing the Malfoys to flatter and cajole him - he's flattered by the attention. I'd be tempted to go low middle with him.

Do you consider yourself a Good King or a Bad King? That would depend on whether I was Henry IV Part I or Part II.

1066 and All That. Do I win a prize?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 29th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Points mean prizes.

You win a surfeit of Pomfreys, from Sellars & Yeatman plc.
j_lunatic From: j_lunatic Date: May 27th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ok, I'll bite.

The Dursleys? Upper middle class.

Am I the only one who thinks Aunt Marge is straight out of French & Saunders' "Fat Aristocrats" sketch? Based on that impression, my theory is that Vernon's grandfather or great-grandfather started the company, made a fortune, and married a distressed daughter of the landed gentry.

The Diggorys? Lower middle class. Dunno why, really.

Perhaps because Amos seems to be sinking a lot of aspiration into Cedric's successes?

Is no one going to take a guess at the Longbottoms? Admittedly, we have even fewer indications for them than we do for the other families.
alexia75 From: alexia75 Date: May 27th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ok, I'll bite.

The Longbottoms? Purely aristocratic. Doesn't the stuffed bird on Augusta's hat just scream the Marquis of Bath?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 28th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Come, come.

Augusta is far too sane to be a connexion of the Thynnes's.
From: kaskait Date: May 28th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a Yank so this was my general impression of the social classes in the books.

What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks?
Old Family and as close to aristocracy as the WW gets. Although from the looks of things in OOTP, they took a big fall.

The Potters?
Respectable and good marriage stock. At least that is what the Black Tapestry shows, if they are the same Potters as Harry. So I would say they are upper middle or were wealthy for a good amount of time which shows they were responsible people.

The Malfoys?
New people! Lucius just screams "STRIVER" and he had the bad taste to show his angling. Harry thought Narcissa had her nose turned up at all the people in that Quidditch box. He was right, her husband would have been included with them. The power Lucius had that night was using his wife's name and social standing. Draco is a confused product of two very different families. He wants to be the slick, canny operator that his father is but he also has the Black "code" nailed into him by Narcissa.

The Weasleys?
I would say they were up there with the Blacks, perhaps not too equal. But they've been falling for quite some time and doing so in a genteel manner. Arthur seems to treat his job as some form of hobby. It isn't something that he thinks he needs to do. He seems surprised every day that a gentleman such as himself has a job. It is unfortunate that none of his children have inherited that sense of place or position. So they have taken on very large step down. It makes me wonder if Arthur wasn't meant for a more important match. Was he meant for a Black? Narcissa, even? It makes Molly's prattle about Love potions and staying out past Hogwarts curfew so suspect.

The Prewetts?
Social climbers but without the benefit of the "new money" like the Malfoys. Molly seems to be raising her children on her "notion" of how the power class raise their children. She lacks that polish that her husband or Narcissa have. She also puts a large emphasis on school work and good jobs which are middle class ethics. But the middle class at least try to learn the noblesse oblige code. Molly hasn't and doesn't see any need to because she married a Weaseley. Which indicates to me that the Prewitts may have just pulled themselves up from working class.

The Princes (not the Snapes, Muggles that they are)?
I don't really know but I know Snape. So that indicates to me that the Princes weren't all that shabby a family.

The Dumbledores?
Old. Perhaps older than the Blacks.

The Grangers?
Professionals with aspirations. Which makes it strange that Hermione is such a bull in a china shop like Molly.

(Need I ask?) The Finch-Fletchleys?
Well Justin had the poor taste to brag about Eton to Harry. That strikes me as a family that just got to where they are in life.

The Lovegoods?
Well Molly certainly shunned them. So I would say they weren't as important as the Weaseley family. But Luna seems to have manners bred into her lunacy. So I would say the profession class, middle class.

Horace Slughorn? He strikes me as being from the same stock as the Lovegoods, Professional class. Again unlike Snape or Molly, he has learned the code, inside and out, backwards and forwards, up and down. This gives him big room to maneuver and get him where he wants to be in life. If Hermione wasn't impressed with her real family's aspirations, she certainly knew that Horace could help her WW social standing.

Lily Evans before her marriage? I would say a respectable middle class.

The Dursleys? The same as the Evans but maybe a bit better (moneywise). But they have absolutely no real sense of social class as shown by Aunt Marge and Uncle Vernon. However what I find strange in the first book is that Hagrid was more annoyed that Vernon kept secrets from Harry rather than Petunia.

The Crouch family? They were good people and probably the same class as the Weaseleys. Maybe they were even taking that next step up to power class since Crouch Sr. was groomed for MOM. Riddle thought them enough of a threat that he destroyed them twice.
goddlefrood From: goddlefrood Date: May 29th, 2007 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)
The Blacks - Landed gentry perhaps would be the nearest equivalent. The reason behind this is the statement that the Blacks are practically nobility, which suggests there is no nobility as such in the wizarding world. The French motif also suggests this as they would, in certain circles anyway, be considered usurpers.

The Potters - Not much to go on but in real world terms they impress me as tradesmen. As Godric's Hollow (the house, not the village) has always struck me as a somewhat basic country cottage with few additions, even though James is said not to have had to work, my view is reinforced. I believe that somewhere back in the Potter line there was an inventor who got rich.

The Malfoys - As per the Blacks, albeit slightly less wealthy initially, a little nouveau as far as I am concerned.

The Weasleys & The Prewetts by extension - Solidly middle class.

The Princes - Again, not a lot to go on, but due to Severus himself I believe they were of the wizarding counterpart to the professional classes, but only more recently and from a lower class background.

The Dumbledores - If only due to the brother's occupations I'd say they were from a middle class family, similar to the Weasleys.

The Lupins - No comment, as Remus is Mr. bland and difficult to get a handle on.

The Tonks - Tradesman and his wife was a bit of a rebel from the Blacks so Nymphadora has ended up being a bit of a sloan, but with a reasonable basis in reality.

The Grangers - Dully professional

The Macmillans - No comment, not a character I've given any thought to.

The Finch-Fletchleys - Well, Justin could have received a scholarship, but why need his parents be any more than professionals? One Cave-Brown-Cave was, after all from such a background and at one's school (a background I share, btw)

The Lovegoods - Again, solidly middle class.

And the rest actually, all characterisations very much based on JKR's own experience, it seems, mainly her characters have traits of the people from her own youth, which from her biography would probably be considered middle class (although she may claim otherwise). Grew up not a million miles from myself, so she did (the Irish part coming up there).

Your own views awaited, will keep an eye.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 29th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Right, then. My doubtless overbearing opinion.... Part I

What class (this is a base-line) are the Blacks?

Upper. Canonically so (just as, for the baseline of what JKR conceives as being lower or working class, we have Stan Shunpike, Ernie Prang, and the Creeveys – although I expect that the coming war will gentle Colin's and Den's condition). Ancient family, once famed, decaying, and skint: which describes half their Muggle counterparts. More Ribblesdale than Redesdale despite the Black sisters's being obviously modelled on the Mitfords. Would prefer to have been more like the Cavendishes, speaking of Mitford marriages. Act as if they were Howards.

The Potters?

By extrapolation from canon, upper. It is generally conceded that the Blacks were extremely influential. Their heir, Sirius, runs away whilst still underage and amenable both to parental and legal intervention. The Potters take him in and the Blacks say and do nothing whatever. The obvious conclusion is that the Potters were more than merely collaterals, they were sufficiently powerful and important in their own right that the Blacks feared to challenge them. Additionally, the young James, in canon, is the only person to whom Sirius defers; is a complete rah (yet capable of nobility and reformation); and achieves apotheosis as the perfect public school boy turned Great War subaltern.

The Malfoys?

Judging from Lucius, complete parvenus.

The Weasleys?

The_gentleman makes an excellent point, above: the Wizarding world seems not to consider a family's being landed in assessing class, and may just possibly not have any prejudice against being In Trade (as witness the Burke-Black marriage around the turn of the last century: the Burkes are counterjumpers, shopkeepers). Nonetheless, canon tells us that they are an old and well-respected family; that they have Black marital ties; that they have been Old Hogwartsians since the Year Dot. Currently they include two civil servants, a banker, a son who thinks he's Peter Scott or Gerry Durrell or David Attenborough, and two budding tycoons. Looked at as provincial gentry, despite the apparent indifference of the Wizarding world to being landed or not, they seem to be impoverished minor (very minor) County – and a Service Family at that.

The Prewetts?

Complex (quite as much so as the Longbottoms). I tend to agree with sollersuk that Molly is not 'common'. There are mixed signals in canon: 'Great Auntie' Muriel, say. That's a rather non-U description, unless it's a hand-worn family irony that no longer registers as such through overuse. On the other hand, we do know of Muriel that she had a goblin-made tiara, which is not precisely a lower-class article of adornment. Wizarding nomenclature is such that it is impossible to presume anything from such Christian names as 'Fabian' and 'Gideon'. But if Molly (and Muriel of the tiara), and the Prewetts as connexions of the Blacks, cannot be therefore qualify as working-class, they must be presumed minor, rural, shabby provincial gentry, 'backwoodsmen', for Molly certainly is free of the middle-class dread of robust speaking, loud voices, and not caring who hears you shout. Provisionally, I put her in the same class as her husband, but a bit more rustic and unpolished by London (or Diagon-and-the-Ministry) manners. Molly reminds me, frankly, a bit of the late Baroness Strange, who kept her seat as an elected peeress in the Upper House after 'reform', in part because everyone so looked forward to her bringing fresh flowers and veg from Megginch Castle whenever there was a sitting. (Lady Strange's aunt, of whom she became the biographer, was one of Queen Victoria's goddaughters – and went on to be an engineer for the Blue Funnel Line of steamships for four decades. Never assume anything about the upper classes.)

The Princes (not the Snapes, Muggles that they are)?

From what canon gives us of Eileen, all gloom and Gobstones, and based on her marrying Tobias and giving the world Severus Snape, I'd put her firmly in the working classes.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 29th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

My doubtless overbearing opinion.... Part Two

The Dumbledores?

'Dumbledore' is a West Country surname. Albus and Aberforth enjoy all the privileged eccentricity and licensed lunacy of the upper classes. For this combination of factors and Albus's academic position, I'd class them with their Muggle counterparts, the Aclands. Definitely an upper-class, County family.

The Lupins?

Genteelly middle-class, if Remus is at all representative, and probably fairly urban though not, presumably, Londoners ( pace Warren Zevon, I cannot see Greyback at large in, say, Highgate).

Ted Tonks? Nymphadora?

What we know of Ted in canon is almost solely by reflection, with Andromeda and Nymphadora being the lights. That said, by extrapolation, I cannot conceive that a rebellious Andromeda would marry a Muggle-born who was not in some way out of the same stable as the boys she was accustomed to. Similarly, being a slangy rebel would not be half so satisfying to Nymphadora were not both her parents rather conventional. Outside canon, 'Tonks' is West Midlands name, and faintly amusing-sounding. I therefore posited something similar to the Hoggs / Hailshams for Ted's family: provincial middle-class professionals who did well for themselves, perhaps with a law lord or at least a good silk in the recent lineage. Additionally, it's upper-middles and uppers who tend to his canonical shabbiness and sloppiness. I am guessing that Ted is, and his daughter teeters on the edge of being, lower-upper to upper-middle and thoroughly Londonised.

The Grangers?

Genteel bluestocking liberals. Clearly. Perhaps Mr and Mrs Granger are, say, the third generation of middle-class professionals in the Smoke.

The Macmillans?

Ah, Ernie, the Dave Cameron of Hufflepuff. A bit of a poon, but decent enough. Certainly has a Family. (The Squib line are all publishers and PMs – just joking.) Somewhere between very minor lairdling and upper-middle provincial-urban (not Edinburgh, that is, but perhaps Aberdeen, Dundee – or Perth).

(Need I ask?) The Finch-Fletchleys?

Upper. Justin's remark regarding Eton may be read as non-U, but more probably was an attempt to express, to a Muggle-raised friend, how excited he was to be at Hogwarts, having turned down even Eton for it.

The Lovegoods?

Provincial middle-professional. Crankish enough to be gentry of a sort; Luna's father seems based on the University-moulded editors of odd publications in days now past.

The Smiths (no, not the pop group)?

Upper-middle, a bit vulgar (Zacharias and Hephzibah both).

Blaise Zabini? (And his mother if you wish. Good luck)

God knows. You can never tell with foreigners.

Horace Slughorn?

A very particular sort of longstanding middling situation, there, that of the don by breeding. Doubtless the descendant of generations of University Worthies and Oxford Characters (or the Wizarding equivalent). Practically a Michael Innes character. Upperish-middle academic. Like his Innesian avatar, Mark Bultitude, collects the eminent not as a means of social climbing but as a form of political chess-playing – typical of a specific sort of don (and some senior civil servants who are equally likely to aspire to a fellowship of All Souls).

Lily Evans before her marriage?

There's very little guidance in canon. Petunia is hardly any just measure of her sister. Some will find it hard to imagine that a lower-middle or working-class family would be proud and delighted to be told they've a witch in the family. I suppose in the end it comes to how much a rebel you think James was (see above regarding Ted Tonks). My guess is that the Evans were much like the Grangers or the Tonkses.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 29th, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Christ. Part Sodding THREE of my doubtless overbearing opinion.

The Dursleys?

Now this is a facer. Marge at least wishes to be tweedy and provincial and breed bulldogs, and she clearly has Colonel Fubster fooled – or terrified. Vernon is a Smeltings Old Boy and at least would like you to consider that as being a public school, however minor (doubtless in fact a private fee-paying Late Victorian sham of a place). On the other hand, ' Vernon' is hardly an upper- or upper-middle name, really, and blackcoated employment and a pebble-dashed detached in the arse-end of Staines are no fit aspiration for a man. Quite possibly a family in freefall from upper-middle status, and proof that Petunia backed the wrong horse.

Minerva?

Genteel professional middle-class family, of course. Baillies, dominies, Writers to the Signet, and ministers o' the Kirk, with perhaps a Senator of the Court of Justice thrown in (which last may apply to the Macmillans, too, now that I think of it).

Millie Bulstrode?

To have survived this long in the current climate in Slytherin as a (quasi-canonical) half-blood would require more than brawn or even brains. The Muggle half would want to have some status, particularly given the Black-Bulstrode marriage. Provisionally at least upper-middle. However, sufficiently Marge-like that I for one would be moved to Homeric laughter if it transpired that she was related to the Dursleys.

The Flints?

Brutal, backwoodsmen minor gentry. (How else to explain Marcus's survival at Hogwarts and in Slytherin, thick as he is?) At least good enough to marry a Black….

The Yaxleys?

Same again, landlord, please.

The Crouch family?

Upper-middle Service Family.

The Diggorys?

Upper-middle Service Family with some land and rural gentry ties: slightly grander than the Crouch lot, despite the Crouch-Black marriage.

Theo Nott?

Upper-middle or lower-upper, possibly newly so but less newly or more discreetly than that utter oik, Lucius, based upon Theo's interactions with Draco Malfoy.

Fudge?

Provincial middle-to-lower-middle. A climber via the civil service.

Do you consider yourself a Good King or a Bad King?

A Bad King but a Good Thing.
nineveh_uk From: nineveh_uk Date: May 31st, 2007 10:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: My doubtless overbearing opinion.... Part Two

Justin's remark regarding Eton may be read as non-U, but more probably was an attempt to express, to a Muggle-raised friend, how excited he was to be at Hogwarts, having turned down even Eton for it.

Indeed - it's a "this is how fantastic I think Hogwarts is, mark me as a good egg" remark, rather than a Considerably Richer Than Yow remark. (And also on the part of JK Rowling; all other fictional boarding schools stand aside, THIS one tops them all).
nineveh_uk From: nineveh_uk Date: May 31st, 2007 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
It’s a bit tricky, because the reader comes – naturally – from a Muggle perspective. We do not have enough information about the subtle differences in the wizarding world: we can place people pretty well, with minor differences of opinion, on a Muggle scale, but the WW does throw up other issues. Are the Malfoys nouveau riche, or is Draco just old (not oldest) money and vulgar (by no means mutually exclusive categories) or old money and naïve/insecure about it in the modern world? They were investigated at the time of Voldemort’s first downfall, whereas the Lestranges were not, but was this because the Malfoys lacked the established influence that the Lestranges had, or because they were stupid enough to get caught? Both have French names, neither is as old as the Blacks. There’s also the whole issue of blood. Surely no-one Muggleborn can, even through marriage, political power, and being Headmaster of Hogwarts, actually reach the _top_ echelons of wizarding society? So that, and the smallness of the pureblood gene pool throws in a certain complication here. There must be a point beyond which blood trumps everything else.

I’ll admit that a certain amount of my class-placing of characters is down to reaction against the “they’re x so must be y”, especially when this comes from Americans who don’t know what they’re talking about. The Guardian-reading Grangers (who reluctantly handed in their CND badges in the early 1990s havig never done anything more than buy Christmas cards from the catalogue in the last 10 years) are equally plausible as the latest in a long line of upper middle class professionals, or first generation middle class product of post-war social mobility.

I hold firmly to the belief that Ted Tonks is not a Cockney cheepy chappy, but the weather forecasting “Ted” of HP1, and that his daughter is massively overcompensating. There’s no way the daughter of a Black actually talks like that without it being a deliberate choice.
24 comments or Leave a comment