As I mentioned in a previous blog post, for my first assignment for my Harry Potter class, I argued that “Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers, are proud to present, the Marauders Map” was the most important quote in the series, and I thought I’d share what I wrote. Now, I can’t exactly copy and paste my essay, but I can give a run down of why the Marauders are incredibly important to the Harry Potter universe.
The quote comes from page 144 of Prisoners of Azkaban and provides the first mention of the Marauders as a group. My main argument for this quotes importance was that it introduced the reader to another generation of magic which is intrinsic to the world of Harry Potter.
Names of the Marauders:
Like the majority of Rowlings characters, the names of the marauders have a great deal of significance.
Remus Lupin (Moony): The name Remus, comes from Greek Mythology, referring to one of the twins who were raised by a she-wolf.Remus’ namesake is referenced in Deathly Hallows when Remus is featured on the radio programme ‘Potter Watch’ under the code name ‘Romulus’ (side note: if the Death Eaters couldn’t crack these codes then there weren’t particularly bright…). The name Lupin, refers to the latin ‘lupus’ which means ‘wolf’. So both of Remus’ names provide foreshadowing to him becoming a werewolf.
Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail): The name Peter is possibly a reference to one of Christ’s apostles who denied Christ similar to the way that Pettigrew betrays his friends during the first wizarding war. His surname can be divided to form the words ‘Pet I Grew’ which may be a reference to his time as Ron’s pet rat; being the pet that grew.
Sirius Black: The name Siriusis a reference to the ‘dog star’ of the constellation Canis Major (the Greater Dog). In Scandinavia, the star is referred to as ‘Lokabrenna’ meaning ‘Loki’s torch’. The connotations with the trickster God of Norse mythology is certainly relevant for the trouble maker.
James Potter: The name James is a Hebrew name meaning “he who supplants” or the one who replaces. This seems an apt name for the man who replaces Snape in Lily’s eyes. Supplants can also means supersedes; indicating that he was actually better than Snape, in that Lily returned his affections. This also provides irony, as Sirius uses Harry as a replacement for James.
Three of the marauders can transform into animals at will and each of their animals is particularly indicative of their personalties. ‘Rat’ is a slang word used to refer to snitches, which is suggestive of Peters deceitful nature, whereas dogs (such as Sirius) are known for their loyalty. The stag is symbolic of someone proud and noble, and was an image often used by old English kings. This imagery is particularly relevant to James, the leader of the Marauders.
The Marauders were all sorted into Gryffindor and each of the characters displays the traits of his house in different ways, the house associated with the class of Transfiguration certainly seems a fitting home for the three animagi. However Gryffindor is regarded as being the house of the ‘good guys’ and later Peter is revealed as a traitor, making him a bad wizard who came from Gryffindor, proving that the houses the characters are placed in aren’t the sole indicator of personality.
The Good Guys?:
The reader views the Marauders through the eyes of the protagonist and this begins with Harrys hero-worship of his father, his god father Sirius and his professor Remus. However, this perception is shattered once Snape reveals the nature of the boys during their time at Hogwarts. James and his friends are revealed as bullies “every bit as arrogant as Snape had always told him”. Both James and Sirius repeatedly bullied Snape, cheered on by Peter and although Remus never directly took part in the bullying, he did allow it to happen. There is further evidence of the boys bullying students other than Snape during their time at Hogwarts. It could be argued that this bullying represents an adolescent weakness of the Marauders and that it is something which they grew out of as they matured. Their time in the Order of the Phoenix may provide redemption from the morally questionable past-times of their childhood. However, there is still evidence of the boys bullying nature in Sirius’ bigoted treatment of the house elf, Kreacher.
Friendship is Magic:
Friendship is a reoccurring theme throughout Rowling’s novels and is a trait upheld diligently by the Marauders. This is particularly evident in their treatment of Remus after learning that he was a werewolf, instead of ostracising him; James, Sirius and Peter become unregistered animagi. In Deathly Hallows Remus states that James “would have regarded it as the height of dishonour to mistrust his friends” and in Prisoner of Azkaban, Peter says that he would have been killed if he hadn’t betrayed Lily and James and Sirius responds; “THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED! DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”
Legacy of the Map:
The title “purveyors of aids…” makes it seem like the Marauders once planned to open a joke shop of their own. This is a goal shared by the next owners of the map; Fred and George Weasley who find the map in Filches drawers. The map was then coincidentally passed down to Harry, the son of one of the original creators. Rowling stated that at some point Harry’s son James would steal the Marauders Map from his father’s desk drawer. It seems apt that the child to steal the map is James Sirius Potter, named after two members of the marauders, providing a sense of circularity to the maps ownership.
Those are just a few points about how symbolic the Marauders are, and how important they are to the storyline. Unfortunately, they don’t really get the love they deserve. The flashbacks to their childhood in the films was pretty minimal and the actors looked nothing like they were supposed to (did anyone really believe that Lily and James were 21 when they died in the films?). Thankfully, the fan-base is there to fill the void and there’s a wealth of fan made literature about my favorite pranksters. I will still sign any petition to get JK to write something more about them though…