Harry Potter and the Nature of Evil

 Posted by on 13 August 2005 at 12:47 pm  Uncategorized
Aug 132005

While reading the latest Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), I was struck by the following passage, in which Dumbledore describes the early career of the evil wizard Voldemort, and the first followers Voldemort assembled while he was still a student at Hogwarts Academy:

They were a motley collection; a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish gravitating toward a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty (361-362).

What struck me was how nicely author J. K. Rowling captured the nature of the kinds of persons drawn towards evil. As Objectivists would put it, they are all second-handers of one variety or another. The “weak seeking protection” reminded me of the lackeys in The Fountainhead who depended on Ellsworth Toohey for career and life guidance, whereas “the ambitious seeking shared glory” and “the thuggish [interested in] more refined forms of cruelty” were the more traditional power-seekers who are dependent on other people (such as their victims) for their self-esteem.

But what members of all three categories lack is the virtue of independence.

Although I’m sure that Rowling is not an Objectivist, I thought it was interesting that her obviously firm grasp of human nature allowed her to reach this very astute observation on the nature of evil.

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