ELLIE PITHERS: “Hogwarts is just a glorified version of the Eton School of Twatcraft and Snobbery.”
Bumbling Tory toff Lord Young got it right when he claimed that most Britons “have never had it so good.”
He was obviously anticipating the release of the new Harry Potter film, which is out this weekend. No wonder Lord Young loves HP and Hogwarts: for what the series represents is not a multi-cultural, politically-correct, we’re-all-in-it-together jolly, but a good old dose of Public School.
Harry Potter is a classic public school boy. He has an owl for a pet, unruly hair that refuses to be tamed, and wants to stay in his boarding house over Christmas, despite desperately missing his Mummy. He has a trunk and a best friend called Ronald. He lives in a castle and his bed is a four-poster. Is it a coincidence that Harry shares a first name with the Etonian-educated (younger) Prince of Wales? I think not.
The triumph of the Tories in May has been inevitable since 1997. That was the year when public school went mainstream, when it became acceptable to bestow on your children posho names like Hermione, when wearing a gown to school didn’t seem quite so alien anymore. 1997 was the year in which ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was published, and the world was consumed with nostalgia for the traditional English public school.
Hogwarts is just a glorified version of the Eton School of Twatcraft and Snobbery. Hogwarts only takes the elite, and so do public schools. A wand and a signet ring are symbolic of the same thing – blue blood. House elves are basically a magical version of the fagging system that ensures that ‘things get done’ in houses. Butter beer is code for Coke. What is Quidditch, if not a hybrid of lacrosse and the Wall Game? What are spells, if not latin matriculation oaths? The archetype fits so closely, in fact, that muggle-born Justin Finch-Fletchley tells Harry: “My name was down for Eton, you know, I can’t tell you how glad I am I came here instead. Of course, mother was slightly disappointed.”
It’s pretty rich that J.K. Rowling considers herself to be a stalwart Labour supporter, when she is clearly a closet Tory. The entire hierarchical system of the Potter world is based on the aristocracy of magic. Dumbledore is basically Prince Philip, albeit with more homosexual urges (classic Radley). The great wizards and witches on the back of chocolate frogs are like the old Etonians serving in the House of Lords; Harry, Hermione and Ron are the middle classes, desperately trying to form pressure groups like ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ to support them; and then there are the Muggles, the ignorant lower echelons of society who read the Daily Mail and watch inordinate amounts of television.
And if Oxbridge is an extension of Public School, then Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin are just colleges in disguise. Magdalen College, Oxford, spotted the similarity long ago; they changed the official name of their JCR to ‘Gryffindor’ last year. The Great Hall of Christ Church, Oxford, was used to film various dining scenes in the first film, such as the sorting hat episode in the first film. All those feasts, all that meat – the Hogwarts experience is just formal hall at Corpus.
Is it any wonder that we Cambridge students can’t get enough of Potter? Don’t tell me you didn’t move into your set of rooms this year without taking a quick peek at the fireplace, to see whether the letter telling you that you were going to platform 9 ¾ rather than 9b, to Hogwarts rather than Homerton, had finally arrived? We’re on the brink of realising the dream, as close to Hogwarts as is possible, but still not quite there. It could be worse, though; we could be at Anglia Ruskin.