I quite enjoyed reading this essay! It got me thinking about other moments from the books/films that could be used to back the argument that Sirius and Lupin represent aspects of the homosexual male figure.
When I think about the first one-on-one conversation that took place between Lupin and Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban, I recall that Lupin's exact words to describe Harry's mother were "Oh yes, I knew her. Your mother was there for me at a time when no one else was." I know that this conversation went a little differently in the book, but when Lupin said that line it made me think of how a young, gay man who is confused or unsure of his sexuality is more likely to confide in a close, understanding, female friend than one of his male friends because he's usually afraid that the male friends will grow uncomfortable around him and shy away from him.
When viewing Sirius Black in this way, I go back to the image of him at 12 Grimmauld Place. As the essay explains, he rebels against his family's ideas of what it means to be "acceptable" and who is it or isn't okay to mix with. Not only that, when Harry visits his godfather's bedroom in Deathly Hallows, he notices that Sirius's bedroom walls are covered with (among other things) posters of bikini-clad muggle girls. This could be seen as an attempt at overcompensation. It could be said that these pictures of half-naked women are his way of trying to convince his family and friends (or quite possibly himself) that he is attracted to women. Also, the image of Sirius skulking around his old, decrepit house in Order of the Phoenix is (in my opinion) reminiscent of Grey Gardens, which shows a mother and daughter living out their eccentric lives as shut-in's in their decaying mansion.
I also agree that Lupin is more representative of the pre-1980's homosexual male with all the stigmas attached to him because of his condition that prevent him from finding employment or indeed making many friends. This comparison makes the ending to Prisoner of Azkaban seem much more bitter.
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I also thought it might be worth noting how (although I don't agree with this) some people might automatically assume you're a pedophile if you're gay. Because you've pointed out that Lupin is like a gay man from the past it is a bit ironic that he gives out chocolate to the trio when he doesn't really know them. Like a pedophile luring children in with the promise of candy. Just thought that was a bit funny.
One point made is that as Tonks can turn into a duck and a pig, surely she can turn into a man.
On the contrary, Tonks cannot turn into a duck, a pig, or any other animal for that matter. She can change her hair colour, she can give herself animal features at will, but there is no mention of her physically being able to change herself into an entirely new animal. Nor can she change her gender.
This was really, really interesting. I never thought about analyzing it like this, and I'm blown away. My one question is what does it mean that Sirius was able to choose to become a dog?
Sexuality isn't a choice, which I'm sure you know, so I'm wondering what you're hinting at.
Do you mean that the modern homosexual has the choice to come out/be themselves in today's world while the past homosexual (Lupin) was forced to keep it a secret but live in self-hatred?
If so, it seems relevant that he bit HIMSELF instead of biting others... he hated himself instead of bringing the "sin" of homosexuality into the open and went through torture while transformed.
Also, I'm wondering if the potion he took to subdue his werewolf self fits into this analogy or not...
And the idea that Lupin and Tonks are together because they both want Sirius... that's interesting and again, something I didn't think about before.
Your conclusion is wonderful!
While I don't intend to "prove" anything either, I thought that I mise well discuss whatever discussion you have started through this essay.
First off, I would like to clear any suspicions that you may develop before they start: I am not homophobic.
To an extent, I can understand where you are coming from, particularly about Lupin's general distaste of himself, as well as how he comes across to society.
However, it should be noted that Rowling once said on November of 2002 that "His being a werewolf is a metaphor for people's reactions to illness and disability."
Well, that's all I have to say. Good read!
Interesting take and well written, but probably incorrect. I think the similarities between their lives (especially Lupin's werewolfness) to the lives of homosexuals of today and of the past is quite interesting, but simply coincidental.
Very interesting essay that was supported by clear and precise examples; I enjoyed reading it immensely. I also appreciate the bravery it took to publish this; homosexuality in the HP fandom (including slash) seems to be an extremely divisive issue.
I'd like to mention that regarding Tonks abilities as a metamorphmagus, it is likened to the effects of the polyjuice potion; while it would seem that the physical appearance can be changed to appear as of the opposite gender, I don't see that it would make the internal hormones, thoughts etc change to that of the opposite gender, especially as it seems to be focussed on appearance.
I think it is also worth thinking about how people of a school age act with their peers in a boarding school environment; it is natural for groups of friends of the same gender to form lasting friendships in such an environment, and when Harry and Ron need to find a partner for the ball, it is noted that the girls all seem to go around in packs, echoing in a minor degree the friendship of Padfoot, Moony, Wormtail and Prongs.
There may also be a case as well that canines are pack animals at heart, and because of this would possibly enhance the friendship between Remus and Sirius - another logical explanation of their behaviour.
I find your thoughts about Remus's moustache amusing too, partly because it's a stereotype, and partly because that's what I think too, however, I don't recall reading that he had a moustache (not saying he didn't, just that I can't remember reading about it!) and that it may be a product of the films to differentiate him from other characters.
Excellent reasoning adding depth to the books. I must say I am not sure regarding Lupin thinking him to be less a sexual being than one searching simply for acceptance. Spot on about Sirius although I personally think the object of his adoration was James. I have always found his abandonment of the role of secretkeeper strange and even stranger that he suggested the weaselly Pettigrew to replace him. Thwarted love is very powerful even undermining our better selves and in this context it offers the only reasonable answer I have come across for what Sirius did.
Compelling take on some of my favorite characters, though I sometimes feel we overanalyze plot points that may be used simply to drive the story forward-- such as Lupin's being a werewolf. It serves purpose in the leading the plot, and Sirius being a common dog allows him much more capabilities in later books than if he had been, say, a panther or deer. Nicely written, though I would love to see arguement made for Pettigrew's homosexuality, especially in a group of straight men (or with Sirius or Lupin being the second homosexual role model for him to cling to).
Considering the sensitivty of the essay, you handled it very well! I'm not sure if I agree with you but you back up your evidence with example of the book and make an interesting connection. Great work!
I like the way you think. :)
I agree with the reviewer 'Azkaban' that perhaps the links to homosexuality are more figurative than literal, but I think this essay is wonderfully thought out. The application of queer theory / a homosexual reading to Harry Potter is a great idea and I think it can be explored in other ways besides with Lupin and Sirius.
You have done a fine job, and certainly you could expand even more on the points you've already made with a close reading of the passages where Lupin and/or Sirius are discussed! I don't think it's a stretch at all to suggest you submit this for publication in a scholarly journal.
I've just now shared this piece in a few places. There is a link to this page directly in the essay section and it will stay there. Thank you for your submission and I'll look forward to other content from you in the future!
I really enjoyed your essay. Remus and Sirius are two of my favorite characters. Remus facing discrimination due to him being a werewolf and the beliefs of Sirius' family always reminded me of situations in our own world. It's one of the many ways in which I think the series really makes readers think about real life while we're enjoying the story, and it's why it has so much meaning.
Some of the points you brought up, such as the reference to the moon, I would not have thought of.
Overall, I really enjoyed it and am glad there are people writing about LGBTQIA topics and symbolism in books.
A very interesting essay. Very well written (which is a pleasant change from some essays here). I think that the examples that you have cited are very accurate in their relevance to your argument however have you considered that perhaps the parallels between homosexuality (which you are arguing) and Sirius and Lupin's animal forms are meant as a representation of the stigma that our 'muggle' world places on gay people as opposed to either men literally being gay.
What I mean is that perhaps Jo was in fact alluding to homosexuality in these passages but intending them to be more symbolically representative of real world homosexuals rather than literal manifestations in Sirius and Lupin.
Just a idea =] Love to hear your thoughts
I love this. I never really took that into consideration when I was reading the books. But it adds a whole different dimension to the books.
This is brilliant. Considering Lupin's mistreatment in society, his burning secret, and the fact that the parents call for his immediate discharge from Hogwarts certainly call to mind a gay professor dealing with his internal excitements yet alienated in culture.
Excellent tie to the moon - I remember when reading this myself that this seems to tie him (and all werewolf kind) to the feminine in strange ways.
It's worth noting that Lupin didn't have a choice to become a werewolf. Is Jo commenting that being gay, if we read it this way, is also not a choice? Or is she suggesting homosexuality can be transferred... like a disease? This latter reading is problematic!
stu_bradley, would you mind if I feature this essay in the MuggleNet Quibbler? http://www.mugglenet.com/editorials/essaycontest.shtml
Author's Response: Noah, that'd be awesome - thanks for the kind words! I'd love for you to enter it, can you let me know that you've done so? Otherwise I'll follow that link and add it myself :) Thanks again!
We've talked a lot about where the curse of unicorn blood comes from, but just what exactly is the curse?! That's what this Quibble seeks to find out!
I'm back with more of my thoughts and questions that I had while re-reading the Harry Potter books. This time from Chapters 1 & 2 of Chamber of Secrets.
I pair up characters with magical creatures that are like them.
In which I try to explain my views on prejudice in the Wizarding world, and connect it to certain areas of the muggle world as well. The category is Fantastic Beats and Where to...
This is an essay I wrote for school comparing and contrasting the lives of Harry and Voldemort. It starts with their childhoods and continues until the end of the books.