The Rule of Law in the Harry Potter Books

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

A central theme in the Harry Potter books is the tussle between rule of man and rule of law. While in today’s world, it is rule of law that prevails, rule of man is portrayed as a method to deal with the injustices or loopholes of the legal system in the wizarding world. This can be extended to the real world. Rule of law is an ideology that follows constitutional discourse and sticking to rules and other legalities and following everything within a set framework. While rule of man gives an individual the prerogative to choose what’s right and wrong rather than be dictated to ethically by some rule. This gives us a setting where an individual’s choice and liberty to make moral decisions is important and carries greater value over the role of a higher legal authority in social justice systems. This theme is one of the most popular themes in J.K Rowling’s books. Dumbledore is portrayed as the personification of this kind of ideology. It all begins when he makes a legal determination to leave Harry at his uncle and aunt’s place, though it is done in no official lawful capacity of his.[1] His character in the books places the quest for truth and equity above law. This is not to say that law doesn’t provide one with justice, to the contrary it cannot always ensure justice. This common misconception that law is the ultimate justice delivering system is debunked in this book series. Dumbledore in his personal pursuits of truth and justice doesn’t seek to pit law against equity and truth, but to the contrary seeks to disregard it. Dumbledore’s choice as an individual (yet with extraordinary knowledge and experience) is what is portrayed as the correct thing to do despite the fact that it is once in a while troublesome, paying little respect to the laws.

In the book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore alludes to needing more time, in order to save Buckbeak and Sirius Black. His exact words are “what we need ….is more time”.[2] Hermione, being the brainiac that she is, gets the veiled meaning of his words, and understands that he is, in fact referring to a machine called the ‘time-turner’ that can manipulate time. But use of this machine is considered dangerous and the users are considered to misuse it under the laws of the magic world. Yet he encourages them to do it on the sly, albeit indirectly in order to save innocent lives who were wrongly condemned to death. Therefore, Harry and Hermione put themselves at risk to essentially do something that is considered illegal in their world. Nevertheless, these risks are legitimized in the view of the larger picture of what they assume as ‘justice’. The question here is, is the pursuit of individual quest for what one considers justice, justification enough for breaking the law and taking matters into one’s own hands?

The ‘rule of law’ reaction, obviously, is that we would have disorder and insurgency if everybody resolved to go rogue in quest for their apparent rendition of equity. While this is unquestionably right, that truly isn’t the point. Or maybe, in a sort of deconstructionist way[3] the fact of the matter is that the rule of law is irregular and that when it comes up short, the ethical thing is to make a move to address it. Does that imply that we should resort to breaking the blameless out of prison? Maybe not, however in the correct conditions that might be supported. The complimentary of law and injustice requires the peruser to think about the ethical difficulty and to investigate its suggestions. Law does not generally prompt equity, and equity now and again requires that we violate or bypass the law. As much as it is evident in the before example, that law and moral fortitude are indeed black and white areas sometimes, there is also a lot of grey area in the criminal justice system in reality. Take for example the prosecutor’s discretion or prudence to take up a case or not, regardless of whether the evidence points towards a suitable case for ensuing trial or not. If he does decide to start trial, it would set a whole ‘machine’ into movement that can have tremendous legitimate and individual consequences. The matching of law and injustice may give the prosecutor the ethical grit to pick not to indict notwithstanding when the confirmation in fact would allow it. [4] Dumbledore though not particularly bent on breaking the laws, he often seems to ignore the existence of rules, in order to meet a certain moral standard. He also encourages is students to follow similar thinking and sometimes even aids them in activities that could be potentially illicit, as he considers it an important part of their education.

But at the same time it is not to be understood, that he makes breaking rules the norm or even actively encourages them. There are instances where students are punished for indiscipline and ‘house points’ are deducted from their respective houses for bad behaviour. Respectively, there are comparable instances of punishment in the outer wizarding world, where for example, followers of Voldemort are punished with life imprisonment at Azkaban.

What we are left with, at that point, is arrangement of principles and laws that is fairly permeable, with numerous occasions of legitimate infringement. While this is likely a long way from perfect for any society, the purpose of the Harry Potter series isn’t generally to make or portray social game plans. Rather, it is an open door for the active reader to have a fanciful enterprise in which he or she will, through character surrogates, confront numerous characters, what’s more, through them the perusers, start to comprehend the power and responsibility of people. While ‘rule of man’ isn’t the perfect, these accounts demonstrate that personal decision can be utilized to temper the treacheries that will undoubtedly exist in any legal framework.

Discipline, Punishment and Rewards

Yet another theme that is visible to the reader is that of punishment, as seen both in the school, Hogwarts and among the other citizens of the wizarding world, as dictated by the Ministry of Magic. For example in the school system, awarding and deducting house points is a common way of punishing students for bad conduct or misbehaviour. This is followed strictly and can be implemented by any of the teachers of the school[5]. Criminal punishment is also extensively talked about but this is limited to few chapters from books 3 through 6, especially when Azkaban is mentioned and Voldemort’s followers, also known as death-eaters are put on trial. While in some instances, as mentioned above, the portrayal of punishment is clear, it is largely vague what kind of punishment system (whether modelled behind retributionist or consequentialist ideology etc. ), Rowling depicts in her books, the kind of crimes committed for which sanctions are imposed, or even who has the authority to impose such sanctions (Ministry of Magic/ wizenmagot). As mentioned earlier, punishments at school are explained in great detail in the book but it is not clear, how or by what criteria such punishments can be doled out. Giving and taking away of house points is an important part of the schooling life, since it decides which house gets the House Cup at the end of the academic year. Detentions also play a vital role in the punishment methodology. Or instance, in book 2, the protagonists are given detention and made to shine an armour albeit the use of spells. In Order of the Phoenix, Harry is made to write using his very own blood as ink, for a detention given by Dolores Umbridge.

Outside of school, the stories depict the criminal equity framework as subjective, yet in addition in some cases as inefficient. The Ministry of Magic can perceive when unlawful utilization of enchantment happens, however can’t decide dependably who is responsible for it. This prompts out of line discipline for Harry in two vital cases. In Chamber of Secrets, Dobby’s utilization of the ‘hover charm’ brings about Harry getting a notice letter from the Ministry disallowing underage wizards to utilize enchantment and furthermore an infringement of segment 13 of the Worldwide Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy.[6] In Order of the Phoenix, at Harry’s trial, Minister Fudge does not choose to believe Harry’s assertion that a house elf had perpetrated the wrongdoing until the point when Dumbledore offers to bring Dobby to show up as a witness to the trial. Nor did the Ministry realize that he had utilized enchantment to counter the presence of dementors in Little Whinging until the point that Harry called attention to out rather commandingly and Dumbedore viably shields him.

On the other hand, punishment for crimes, lands one in the prison house called Azkaban. Punishment in this regard seems rather arbitrary not to mention, incompetent. Voldemort resorts to the usage of memory spells to make an innocent Morfin admit to murdering for which he is wrongfully convicted, this is shown as hugely unfair, to bank only on the accounts of the accused to assert his hand in the crime, principles of “one cannot be a witness to his own crimes” are disregarded. Also, use of a certain category of curses called the Unforgiveable curses, can land one in prison directly, for their entire life. The same applies to Death –Eaters, who are followers of Voldemort. They are imprisoned for life because then, the society is protected from the threat they pose, on accord of their past criminal behaviour and also works, to curb future criminal activities. When Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, it is considered as a threat to the society and Harry’s life, until it is discovered that he was wrongly framed for the crime for which he was convicted. Even then his name is on the Ministry’s ‘wanted’ list, and Harry is denied an opportunity to vouch for his godfather’s innocence as he is an underage wizard. On reflection, this can be noticed in today’s world too. But now, due to advancements in law, we are witness to new improvements in the system, where a wrongfully convicted person can be released if DNA profiling provides enough proof of his innocence.

Taking everything into account, the Harry Potter stories depict a framework that endeavours to confine trouble making through the rewards and disciplining. The implementation or these awards and disciplines, be that as it may, is very subjective. Educators have huge disposition in giving disciplines and rewards. In the criminal domain, the Minister of Magic can take after or then again twist the law relying upon how he identifies with particular individuals. The utilization of enchantment might be rebuffed relying upon who the individual is who performs a specific unlawful act. Along these lines, readers come to comprehend that law-breaking or criminal conduct might possibly be rebuffed in view of an unreasonable organization of equity by those responsible for the framework. Such a depiction leaves the peruser open to scrutinizing the present criminal equity framework as well.


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