Warning: some spoilers for those who have not read/watched up to 6th Harry Potter book/movie!
It’s amazing, for all the stories centered about kid/teen protagonists that’s out there, how few of them have mother characters. Sure, there may be a side reference thrown in there about some deceased mother or kind mother, but how many solid, involved mother characters can you name? Disney fairy tales? Dead. The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon)? Dead. For those of you who read manga, specifically shonen manga, it was pointed out that in many major series such as Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece the mothers are either long since deceased or never even mentioned. Ok, so maybe we don’t want parents in every story we read, but this trend is reminding me a bit too much of Neverland–a bunch of kids running around without a parent in sight.
That’s where the Harry Potter series stands out for me (or at least, one of the many things that stand out for me); Harry Potter has moms and lots of them! From the normal mother to the mother who picks up a wand and fights, there are moms a plenty from the get-go. What’s more, these moms play a very active role in the story.
I think I can safely say that many of us Potter fans think of Molly Weasley, the tough, but loving mother of all those Weasley kids, when the topic of Harry Potter moms is brought to the table. Mrs. Weasley is certainly one of the main mother figures not only to Harry, but to the readers and watchers of the series. In many ways, she’s the typical mom–fretting over her kids (and Harry), sending them away with a kiss and a snack, sending them a Howler when she can’t be there herself to give them a talking to–which gives her a warm, homey and loving feeling, something that is far more important than some realize.
But Mrs. Weasley can also use that toughness and perseverance that got her through taking care of seven kids to get them through hard times. Mrs. Weasley does not sit idly by when the others start a resist against Voldemort, but actually becomes heavily involved in the Order of the Phoenix. And when Molly Weasley can, she will fight to save her children as many of us know from the famous scene in which Bellatrix Lestrange attempts to kill Ginny Weasley in a fight and Mrs. Weasley rushes forward, hurling curses, screaming, “Not my daughter, you bitch!” Don’t underestimate the fierce protectiveness of mothers.
Then there are characters who appear little or not at all until later in the series such as Narcissa Malfoy. Mrs. Malfoy is very different compared to Mrs. Weasley–prim and stiff to Mrs. Weasley’s slightly frazzled and warm–but her love for her child is no less than Molly Weasley’s. When her son Draco becomes the unlucky target of revenge on the Malfoy family from Voldemort after the failure (yet again) of Draco’s father and Narcissa’s husband, Lucius Malfoy, she snaps into action. Though the Malfoy family have supported Lord Voldemort (if only out of fear) for years and protecting her son at this point means going against Voldemort, Narcissa would break her pact with and even betray the most feared wizard in the world rather than sacrifice her son.
Finally, there’s Lily Potter, one of the most influential characters in general in the series. Yes, she’s dead and is dead from the very first page of the series, but Lily Potter is different from all those other dead moms of protagonists. Lily Potter could have saved herself, but instead sacrifices herself to save her son, Harry. Her influence doesn’t stop there though; her sacrifice and love protects Harry more than just that one time and her actions embed themselves deeply into Harry. Lily Potter represents a mother’s love and sacrifice for her child. She’s not a small side note in the story, she is at the very heart of the plot and meaning of the Harry Potter books. I also appreciate that, unlike some fiction where the male protagonist is said to take after only his father, Harry takes after both his father and mother. Furthermore, Lily Potter is not the only mother long since deceased who holds great influence over the characters of the series. Voldemort’s mother molded the life of her son in ways as well.
Mothers play a great role in the Harry Potter series and are one of the embodiments of the theme of love throughout the story. So, with the last Harry Potter movie coming out this week, go see those amazing mothers in action (and maybe bring your mother with you).