Character Analysis: Mr Weasley
One of the most popular bumbling dads in modern fiction, Mr Weasley is a colourful and easy to envision character alongside the other families and societies surrounding Hogwarts. In a series rife with the virtue of hidden nobility and the common kind of good, Arthur is interesting to discuss on account of his noble values being so understated beneath a kindly and excitable demeanour, that you can miss the different, deeper and more challenging aspects of personal choice, much as Harry Potter itself is a transition from the joys of childhood, friendship and co-operation to enduring tyranny, living with terror, and finding the depths of who we really are.
While Molly Weasley is the head of the family, in the sense of organisation and a fierce sense of will, Arthur’s industry, capriciousness, and government work in varying ways translate to each of his children too. Bill is bold like his mother, but clearly encouraged at some point to pursue goals and dreams that may seem outlandish. A touch such as his deliberately long hair, much like Fred and George’s joke business is a clear inspiration from their ‘mad’ father, mad for different things.
What I find fascinating about Arthur is that in a habit of showing similar appearances and quirks of personality covered from generation to generation. I think Chamber of Secrets introduces Arthur and his parental brilliance in a joke I still laugh at to this day. when told about the boys stealing the car and to free Harry; his first response is asking “How’d it go?!”
Arthur is engrossed in his curiosity. He clearly has good rapport and encouragement of his children as an automatic reaction, and as we see in his later activities, when confronted with law or a moral imperative, the latter is of more importance. No one was harmed with the car, or Muggle studies, and they saved Harry whom he happily engages in conversation, asking questions and respecting a 12 year old from the very start. I draw attention to these details because of how understated I find them.
Aside from anything else, JK Rowling popularised the notion of a malevolent journalistic press before it became an accepted obvious reality, at least to millions of my generation who grew into reading as they grew up with the series. And a man who suffered much more than most others in the saga and took it stoically is Mr Weasley. The classist prejudice and passive hostility becomes deeper and more poisonous when the man’s own son turns on him, throwing his lack of success and poverty in his face. I can scarcely imagine the pain that would cause, when we’re told, Harry feels the rage for Percy as keenly as the reader does. Mr Weasley continues to do his job. He feeds his family, puts himself at risk as part of a secret organisation. As the interference of corrupt government becomes invasive, the parental freedom and love based nurture Arthur wanted in his household with the support of his wife bears more and more merit.
In a cast of characters that help raise Harry, Arthur is supportive without pushiness or liability to argue with others as part of his arc, Arthur is the rare Rowling male role model who does not usurp others or take the limelight. On a personal level, instead of a riot or demagoguery, Mr Weasley opposes prejudice by serving a government, and government I should say specifically because that is of true importance. Despite being ill thought of by his Prime Minister, seeing his negative counterpart Malfoy elevated despite sharing pure blood (another interesting and underrated point about the Weasleys, sharing this status the villains pride themselves upon, appearing more fragile and inauthentic on account of their classist and baseless logical dislike for the family). Where all of Rowling’s villainous characters have the habit of demanding expectations of others, often lacking personal ability and acting parasitically upon those they manipulate or abuse, her heroes and heroines are made strong through growing through their flaws with a coterie of friends, family, and surrogates.
While not as matronly as Mrs Weasley, virtuous as Lilly or wise as Dumbledore, Mr Weasley possesses a loyalty that is seemingly assumed, as much a part of him as his haphazardness and hilarity when earnestly engaging with what he does not understand. This affability is contrasted with the severe shock of being attacked in Order of the Phoenix, it very clear despite his pleasant manner and experimentation with ‘stiches’ that his loss or threat of loss is utterly devastating to his family. Hiding in a government building to protect its contents, viciously wounded and hospitalised, his fortitude is never in doubt and that humour may even be a defence mechanism he uses to keep his family happy and unconcerned for him. Arthur appreciates the gravity of a situation and acts bravely, but not impetuously in contrast to a vast majority of the extended cast.
By continuing, making his eccentricities and hobbies work for him he rises to the position he deserves. While not immediately apparent, in a way this trait went on to inspire his sons, the entrepreneurial twins being the most visible example, but also against this are the highly ambitious elder sons. In fact; when compared to other wizarding families all of the Weasley’s aspire and achieve rather impressive feats, far more so than those who are above them in the peace time or stagnant culture, but ultimately lacking as anything but terrorists during times of war.
While the corrupt authorities of the setting either destroy themselves or are overthrown, by following their dreams and being known as good people, the Weasleys upend the established order heavily due to their familial and community focused clan, members of a hidden Order during a cold war and government members during reform, and in such a manner that enriches them and does not break with reality or possibility. In a world where the negative example is explicit with the Black family tree or House of Gaunt, without pretention or family abuse Arthur enables his wife to have the prosperous family she dreams of with him, and he supports an enormous household with no mention of ever receiving charity from others, The Burrow being an opposite in setting and sentiment to Malfoy Manner.
Both homes are both large and memorable buildings and its people have a history: but cold austere decoration is what concerns the Malfoys, and utility, family attention and expression of individuality are what truly matter to Mr and Mrs Weasley in their home. Titles, artefacts, and the declaration of bloodline are the preoccupation of Death Eater families who lack the compassion or emotional intelligence to realize family and community does not exist when used as a tool or certification. For Arthur and Molly, their first priority was the keystone for any family including those of power; to actually raise and nurture their children as ends in themselves and provide emotional support and genuine devotion, rather than sums of money or stressing genealogy alone replaces merit and ability.
When living within a corrupt system, holding to one’s principles takes a great deal of moral fortitude, and by not surrendering to apathy or pessimism prevents a post or position being taken by another corrupt or malevolent individual. The status of his blood or perceived ineptitude never stops Mr Weasley from continuing to do what is right in his eyes, serving in a corrupt system out of a sense of responsibility for the overlooked muggle populace, and then politically and physically fighting a war in a sense he always had been fighting since leaving school.
In a series depicting the nature of family, friendship, and loyalty; Mr Weasley by the end of the series remains as one of the few living fathers of his generation. Unconcerned by the ridicule throughout his lifetime, ultimately his passions created not only personal triumph, but set an example and kindliness which enabled his sons and daughter to approach the opportunities and challenges of life confidently, and his example as a loving family member is a positive example to others, fictional or reading the story he plays a part in.
All the best, see you next week.