Harry Potter: Hagrid as a parental figure.


It is no secret that the only thing bigger than Hagrid’s body is his compassion. The half-giant doesn’t think twice about taking on a fatherly role to anybody and anything in need (especially to his precious fluffy and Norbert).

Norbert (Right) Fluffy (Left)

This first becomes apparent to me when Hagrid had a hard time saying goodbye to Harry while they were at the doorstep of Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. With vivid images such as Hagrid howling like a wounded dog, it is easy to imagine that Hagrid had great remorse for the tragedy that had happened to Harry, but I also suspect that Hagrid was upset that he couldn’t do more to take care of Harry than just lay him on the doorstep of his muggle relatives (Rowling, 14)

The Dursleys (muggle relatives)

While in the custody of Vernon and Petunia Dursley, Harry, unfortunately, suffered from severe neglect and abuse. As soon as Harry arrived at their doorstep, he was “rewarded” with a less than adequate room under the stairs. Not only was it a cramped space, but the cupboard was full of spiders that would often camp out on Harry and his belongings (Rowling, 19). The neglect didn’t stop there, but as Harry grew older, he was forced to wear his cousin’s old clothes, which emphasized his malnourished frame (Rowling, 20). Although I understand that sometimes families aren’t always able to afford new clothes for their children, the Dursleys are more than financially stable, especially if they can afford to buy Dudley thirty plus presents for his birthday (Rowling, 21). They also neglect Harry in the form of enabling Dudley’s abusive tendencies towards Harry. Whenever Dudley would throw a fit over something “Harry did”, more often than not, Dudley would be reward with remarks such as, “Atta boy Dudley!”

Unfortunately, the neglect didn’t stop until Hagrid stepped in to take Harry to Hogwarts. After the thousands of acceptance letters went unanswered, Hagrid tracked them down to the shelter in the middle of the lake. With that scenario, I can’t help but wonder if Hagrid not only stepped in as a guardian for Harry but symbolized a caseworker from a child protective service?

Hagrid also helps Harry get used to his new surroundings and powers by becoming the supportive parental role that he never once received while living with The Dursleys. To help Harry adjust to the wizarding world, Hagrid is more than eager to help Harry with important childhood milestones such as buying his first pet, taking Harry to buy his first wand, and even taking him to buy his first set of robes, which I can assume to be his first set of new clothes in general. By taking Harry to a place where being a wizard is more than okay, in fact quite normal, Hagrid is allowing Harry to have a social development within the wizarding world before he enters the even more unknown world of Hogwarts.

Through promoting Harry’s social development, Hagrid is taking an important and crucial step as his guardian by establishing normalcy for Harry. The establishment of normalcy is not only important because it helps Harry with transitioning from a world of muggles to the wizarding world, but it will also help him grow in regards to his maturity ((Illinois government 2019).
Although acting as if Harry was having in his legal guardianship, Hagrid allowed himself to look over Harry’s every need. I suspect that he wanted to do this not only because he is aware of Harry’s neglect from the Dursley’s, the emotional stress of becoming aware of what truly happened with his parents, but having this form of nonlegal/informal guardianship over Harry allowed him to fulfill his need to nurture.

Works cited:

“A Very Ordinary Family.” Pottermore, http://www.pottermore.com/image/dursley-family-portrait. http://“A Very Ordinary Family.” Pottermore, http://www.pottermore.com/image/dursley-family-portrait.

“Hagrid Family.” Harry Potter Wiki, http://“Hagrid Family.” Harry Potter Wiki, harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Hagrid_family.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” IMDb, IMDb.com, http://“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” IMDb, IMDb.com, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241527/mediaviewer/rm3837658112.

“Normalcy.” http://“Normalcy.” Normalcy – Normalcy, www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/lovinghomes/Normalcy/Pages/default.aspx.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potterand the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York, Scholastic, 2008.http://Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York, Scholastic, 2008.

“Wandmaker.” Harry Potter Wiki, harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Wandmaker. http://“Wandmaker.” Harry Potter Wiki, harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Wandmaker.

Sачяэ, Эlэиa. “Fluffy, Cerberus and the Thunderbirds | Harry Potter Amino.” Harry Potter |http://Sачяэ, Эlэиa. “Fluffy, Cerberus and the Thunderbirds | Harry Potter Amino.” Harry Potter | Aminoapps.com, AminoApps, 23 Aug. 2016, aminoapps.com/c/harry-potter/page/blog/fluffy-cerberus-and-the-thunderbirds/5KTV_uLZXgvrwZGGQ1dvY25DzGRMX.

19 thoughts on “Harry Potter: Hagrid as a parental figure.

  1. Mariah, you raise some very good points about Hagrid’s role as a parent. I didn’t consider the point you raise about his intrinsic motivations, specifically the need to nurture. When Hagrid is introduced and throughout the book, he usually functions as an extension of Dumbledore/member of the school faculty. But, his job is gamekeeper; he is tasked with raising and protecting the animals on the grounds of Hogwarts. He employs the same traits and skills he uses with Fluffy and Norbert in his interactions with Harry.

    • Although I mentioned that I think Hagrid’s protective nature may have been fueled by intrinsic motivation, I hope I didn’t come across as labeling Hagrid as selfish. I also agree that the primary focus of Hagrid seems to be an extension and dare I say pawn of Dumbledore’s, especially when he takes such great offense to someone merely even insulting the wizard. Such as in the time where Mr. Dursley calls Dumbledore something along the lines of a crackpot fool, in which Hagrid responds, “NEVER–” he thundered, “–INSULT–ALBUS–DUMBLEDORE–IN–FRONT–OF–ME!” This moment proves that even outside of Hogwarts, Hagrid is loyal to the people he considers family.

  2. I like how you draw a comparison between Hagrid and a caseworker for social services. I never really thought of his role from that perspective but it fits quite well in the context of the story. I also agree with pmcevilly regarding how Hagrid uses his skillset for taking care of unique magical creatures to help care for Harry both in the beginning when he is just a baby and then again later when he returns to Hogwarts. How do you think Hagrid feels when he gets to be reunited with Harry after over a decade? Do you think he feels responsible for Harry and feels the need to help raise him, or do you think that falls more with Hogwarts as a whole?

    • I think Hagrid is overjoyed when he is reunited with Harry, although that overwhelming feeling of joy is soon replaced by anger when he sees how Harry’s relatives treated him. I think he feels responsible or Harry’s mistreatment, although I doubt that Hagrid had any knowledge of how abusive the Dursley’s were going to be. I have a suspicion that if he were to know, he would have begged Dumbledore to raise Harry. A question I have for you/everybody is that, how do you think Harry would have turned out if he was raised by wizards instead of by the Dursleys? How much different do you think he would be? And do you think he would be as reckless in his motivation to save everybody?

    • I feel that, after a decade, Hagrid must be ecstatic to see Harry again, and he totally must feel that he is at least *somewhat* responsible for raising him. Hagrid is a very wholesome man, and I think he would do quite honestly anything for Harry, which completely explains his anger at the Dursley’s, and why he is so excited to get Harry out into the wizarding world. I always read Hagrid as some overjoyed, laughing school child as he introduces Harry to Diagon Alley, running him through the shops and letting him see everything. Hagrid just seems so excited to help Harry and get him going in the world.

  3. To take us completely out in left field: what are our thoughts about the role of magical creatures and animals in Harry Potter? How do they fit into the wizarding hierarchy and what does their position tell us about the wizarding world and our own?

    • The interactions with the animals in this novel are another thing that I kept noticing while reading. In the novel, there are several types of animals that become companions to the students. Neville has a toad, Harry has an owl, and Ron a rat. At first, I thought they were essentially pets like how we treat animals in our world. But, as the novel progresses, we see that the animals are more companions and friends than your average pet. The students don’t seem to see the animals as “below” them. Furthermore, there’s the whole scene with the unicorn and how it was basically a sin to kill it. I felt like the animals in the novel made me wonder how different our worlds are in terms of our perspectives on animals. While we see them as separate from us, Hogwarts doesn’t seem to do that. They’re almost like equals.

      • You say they are “almost like equals”, how do you think the animals are different from the social status of wizards? When Harry gets his owl, Hedwig, Haggrid described owls as “dead useful, carry yer mail an’ everythin'” (Rowling, 81). Perhaps animals are meant to enhance a wizards capabilities as well as provide companionship? What do you think is the main purpose of having an animal as the wizard students do in this story? How do the benefits of having an animal change depending on which animal you pick? Which would you pick if you could and why?

        On the topic of the unicorn, I believe it was representative of purity and innocence and reenforcing the importance of magical creatures in this world. When Harry is talking with Firenze in the forest after confronting Voldemort Firenze asks him if he knows the uses of unicorn blood and Harry replies, “‘No,’ said Harry, startled by the odd question. We’ve only used the horn and tail hair in Potions” (Rowling, 258). The wizards utilize things these magical creatures create, and in turn wizards try to present an attitude of respect and caring towards the creatures. This paired with all of the animals that Haggrid takes care who he acted as a mother for make me think that the relationships towards animals are symbiotic. What do you all think? How do the relationships between wizards and animals play off of one another? What benefits do each side receive? Drawbacks?

        • I think the relationship between wizards and animals reflects the real-world relationship between humans and our pets. The animals that the students get to keep mirror that of us taking care of our pets. The only difference is, of course, the magical properties of the animals, which benefit the master in a more evident way (owls delivering messages, for example). In the real world, our pets may not be useful to us in an obvious way, but they do fill the need or want of companionship, something everyone desires. In addition, certain characteristics that our pets possess can be useful, such as when a dog barks at a disturbance in the home, alerting his owner that someone is present. I’m going to jump ahead in Harry’s later years, but in them, we find that Hedwig is Harry’s only real connection to the wizarding world during his summers in Privet Drive. It reminds him that he’s not alone, and in that sense, much like in reality, Hedwig fills the need for companionship in the way that our pets fill our need for companionship. In return, Harry and the students (and the rest of us in the real world) take care of them. Having said that, I agree that the relationship between wizard and animal in the novel is symbiotic.

      • Even the owl that Hagrid had at the beginning seemed to feel more than just an average “owl/pigeon messenger.” After the owl dropped off Hagrid’s Daily Prophet to the Hut-on-the-Rock, it started attacking his coat for payment, which Harry didn’t understand at first. Finally, Hagrid explained, and “Harry counted out five little bronze coins, and the owl held out his leg so Harry could put the money into a small leather pouch tied to it” (Rowling 62). I know that I’ve read this before, but rereading that scene immediately made me wonder what an owl would do with coins. Like would he be giving it all to the Daily Prophet? Or does he get some sort of payment in food? Or does he keep it? It made me realize how much more personality the animals have and are acknowledged for in the books than what most humans stop and see in real life.

    • I think that the use of pets in Harry Potter is an essential part of establishing normalcy, although some kids may have grown up in wizarding families. Even though some may have had the privilege of growing up surrounded by people who know magic or at least accepting of it, it is often the children’s first time going away from home on such an extended stay, especially without their parents. With these pets, they are not only carrying on taking care of a pet which is typically considered a homely chore, but the allowance of pets can be used as stress animals during often lonely and stressful times. Although some of the powerful animals are considered to be near equals, I still feel like there is a small amount of power imbalance. Let’s say dragons for example. They are obviously powerful creatures, but they are still kept as pets within Harry Potter. (Although banned) To go ahead a little bit in the series, I think that the House-elves are treated unequally, although they are fully capable of magic, even though it may not be the extent of wizards. I feel like house-elves only received better treatment after Hermoine launched her S.P.E.W campaign ( Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). I think that the wizarding world in Harry Potter acknowledges that other creatures are powerful, but if they see a use for the create/fear it, they will find ways to domesticate them.

    • Animals play such a huge part in the Harry Potter series, especially as the series goes on. Animals and creatures come off as nearly equal to the humans, especially when you see how even plants are treated in the botany class, and creatures are both feared and respected in defense against the dark arts.
      Hedwig is more of a companion/best friend, rather than an animal, and I’ll always love that relationship. It’s like, slightly above a human/dog relationship.

    • Animals in the HP Universe always seemed right on par with human life. Though we see comical moments with the animals like Scabbers biting Goyle, mostly the animals are depicted as important companions and, like others have said, they even represent deeper thematic points for some of the characters.

  4. I found your comparison to Hagrid as a child case worker super interesting. I didn’t think of it that way mainly because I didn’t think of Harry as an orphan. He had his uncle and auntie and cousin, and although they were downright abusive, they took him in and gave him the bare essentials. It might not mean anything, but that just caught my attention.

    I also liked how you pointed out that Hagrid was crucial in helping Harry develop a sense of normalcy in his introduction to the magical world. I was so fixated on Hagrid’s role when Harry finally arrived at Hogwarts that I overlooked the significance of Hagrid establishing Harry into the community of wizards and witches. Everything was overwhelming to Harry, from learning the truth of his parents’ past and discovering that he had the ability to harness magical powers to learning that he was famous! That’s a lot for an eleven-year-old to process! With Hagrid in his initial steps into a new world, Harry managed to navigate the newness of it all okay, and Hagrid helped Harry in realizing that everything new to him would one day be normal.

  5. I love the way you describe Hagrid! If there’s one thing I remember about Harry Potter–though I hardly ever paid much attention in my childhood–it’s the scene where he comes to get Harry from the Dursley’s home! I think that your comparison to him being like a social worker is a fairly good one. However, I’d go so far as to say that Hagrid is more the Ms. Honey–Matilida–figure for Harry. He shows up and seems to be the first adult to genuinely care and find something special in Harry. Ms. Honey does the same. What’s interesting is that while the two being magical are both something that seems to make both adult figures more lured to the two, it doesn’t seem like that’s the sole reason for their care. Hagrid, especially, seems to truly care about Harry’s well being and creating a stable and supportive system for him–something I don’t think he’d had done if all he cared about was getting the famous Harry Potter to Hogwarts. Instead, he takes Harry on this little back-to-school shopping trip that is especially important as it introduces Harry to his, and his parents, legacy and the new world he’s entering.

  6. Hagrid’s position as groundskeeper and someone trusted-by-Dumbledore is important. He’s not quite a fully embodied and understood wizard, which makes him the perfect person to introduce the first-years to their experience at Hogwarts. Hagrid also has so much compassion and kindness that he feels fully invested in Harry’s story from the beginning when Harry’s parents are murdered. When it’s time to introduce Harry to the wizarding world, this not-quite-a-wizard Hagrid is perfect. He cares for Harry and he understands the wizarding world from the inside AND the outside. Hagrid is a great device for the author to slip information to Harry and the audience without it looking intentional. Also, Hagrid truly cares about Harry, so he’s such a great character. All young people need some older individuals with unconditional love around them. I loved the comparison to a social worker–isn’t that the exact role a social worker is supposed to play in a child’s life? To see issues and help? No judgment and no condemnation, just what’s best for the child.

  7. It’s funny to think of Hagrid as a case worker. (Mostly just because he’s a giant) But that is pretty much what he was to Harry, he was someone he could rely on and be his “savior” of sorts. Hagrid cared so deeply for Harry that he took him under his wing throughout the whole novel. Hagrid is a great character.

  8. I love Hagrid’s role as a surrogate parent for Harry. He seemed to be instantly attached to Harry when he was a baby and as he delivered him to the Dursleys. This attachment grew upon Hagrid’s return to deliver Harry his invitation to Hogwarts. Hagrid provides support for Harry throughout the novel and falls somewhere between a parental figure and a friend. He provides Harry with unconditional love but is unable to always give him the guidance he may require. Regardless, Hagrid has a big heart and is a constant, unchanging figure in Harry’s life.Though he is flawed and far from perfect, he is loyal to Harry and would do anything for him, which makes him a successful parental figure in my eyes.

  9. I love Hagrid’s character, not only because of his fierce loyalty and deep compassion but also because it reminds us once again that appearances are deceiving. At first glance this monstrosity of a man may be quite intimidating, but he really is just a giant teddy bear with a keen love for animals. While I don’t think that he looked over Harry as a way to fulfill his need to nurture I can definitely agree that he has a naturally nurturing demeanor.

    What really struck me was the love this man had for these fierce and dare I say ugly animals, not giving a flying fig what they looked like and treating them all as his babies. I think that is also why he acknowledges Harry for who he is, because he is not interested in status or appearances, as he demonstrates by saying that sometimes the best wizards and witches came from Muggle families. He readily steps in as a (clumsy yet loving) parental figure for Harry and does indeed help smooth out the transition from what Harry considered as normal into the what was the wizarding world.

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