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Old 07-13-2009, 05:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi, I was just re-watching the movies and re-reading the books in anticipation of HBP coming out and I started to wonder about something...

Harry was so badly mistreated, neglected, abused, starved, yet he doesn't turn out to be the kind of person that his upbringing says he should be ie mean, nasty etc. He had no love to show him how to be loving or any other kind examples. In fact, he is the exact opposite: kind, loving, generous etc. Was is his mother's sacrifice that not only saved him but protected him from the mess that was the Dursleys? Any thoughts?
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Old 07-18-2009, 06:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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thats an interesting thought, that he should have turned out cold i guess. However i think that he hated the Dursleys so much he in a way subconsciously forced himself to be the opposite of them. And it just happened that the opposite was nice, caring and able to love. Also i think we hav to realize that this is a fictional story and it wouldn't have been very good if our hero was as mean and evil as Draco Malfoy.
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Old 07-27-2009, 12:54 AM   #3 (permalink)


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i think that it had a lot to do with his mothers sacrifice as well as his hatred for the dursley's that kept him from turning out badly. dumbledore says to harry that the reason why voldemort cannot stand to posess him is that his mothers love run through his veins (or something along those lines). while, yes it is a fictional character, i dont believe that JK would have written him to be so genuinely kind and loving without there having been a tangible reason in her writing..... idk that is just my train of thought on the subject
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think so, that was something i thought of too, but since there is no proof.
Maybe living with so much hatred taught him to search for better.
and sort of avoid that hatred.

i mean for example, dudley didn't grow up with hatred
but he turned out selfish and mean
(being pampered constantly).

Malfoy was never treated horrid
he grew up a bit selfish and coward and mean lol.

as for voldemort, he was mistreated and never had friends, basically just like harry.
So it is very hard to wonder, maybe harrys moms love did pass on to harry making him tolerate all the anger with his aunt and uncle and make it out still happy.

It's hard to explain and there is nothing to say.
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Old 07-31-2009, 04:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I think that Harry is not the type of person who 'power-hungry' and likes to revenge unlike Voldermort. Another factor, Harry was in Grinffindor where he has friends who care about him and always help Harry from making the wrong decision. Whereas Voldermort was in orphanage, he was bullied by Muggles and he has so hatred from them, and he believes that power and evil bring him justice.
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hm... interesting . I feel that maybe because The Dursleys treated Harry so poorly, he didn't want to inflict that on others and his mother's sacrifice may have strengthened him and brought out the good in him. I am a bit unsure to why he didn't turn out to be a bitter person because as Slughorn said, he was very much like Voldemort, who was in a similar situation. Voldemort had no one, was on his own, felt out of place. Maybe, because he had the love of his mother, the one thing Voldemort did not have-love, Harry could see through the bitterness. I also think that he would have turned out differently, had it not been for the Weasleys and Hermione.
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This is an interesting thought. I've actually never thought about this before.

Dudley was constantly pampered, got everything he ever wanted, and grew up to be utterly horrid. His upbringing could have taught him to be generous or selfish. He just happened to go the selfish direction. He saw his parents bullying Harry and found it okay to do the same because he didn't get in trouble for it anyway. This is the same idea with Draco. The only difference is that his parents practically encouraged cold behavior towards others.

As for the Weasleys, they had many children, but all of them were loved. They didn't get everything they wanted, in fact it was hard to get anything they wanted. They could have taught their children to be miserable and ungrateful, but they often did things together as a family. And that taught the Weasleys to be caring and kind. Similarly, although not much is said about the Grangers, we can assume Hermione's relationship with her parents is close to what the Weasleys had as she never really complained about them.

Harry's upbringing wasn't at all like Dudley's/Draco's or the Weasley's/Hermione's upbringing. He was very mistreated by the Dursleys, and yet he didn't turn out miserable or horrible. He could have picked up traits from the Dursleys and treated his classmates the way Draco treated them. Or he could have become miserable and had no friends at all. But instead, he chose to not follow the Dursleys' example. This could be because he was really born a good kid at heart, less likely but possible. Or it could have been because of Lily's sacrifice.
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Old 07-31-2009, 05:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't think, if someone is mistreated as a child they automatically need to become hateful. However a child is treated, in whatever environment, with whatever kind of people they grow up, that is what's normal for them. Harry was probably so used to his situation that the idea the Dursleys should be nicer to him can have crossed his mind only very rarely before he got to know people who treated him better in the Wizarding world. And because he only realized how much better treatment he deserved at the very point when his life became so much better, when he found friends and a real home at Hogwarts, etc., he had no chance to become bitter/ hateful. He did hate the Dursleys to a certain extent during his time at Hogwarts, but he did not project his hate on the whole world because by then he had gotten to know nicer people, too.

Interestingly his upbringing with the Dursleys was good for him in one respect: It made him modest, and thus might have helped him keep a level head and not become conceited when he learned that he was the "boy who lived" and a kind of hero for the Wizards.
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Old 08-01-2009, 02:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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i think that to some extent, yes, the way you are raised does have a bit of an effect on how you treat others, but it isn't everything. at the end of the day, you are your own person and whether you were treated right or not, you either act kind or not. we all have both light and dark inside of us, the part that really matters is how we choose to act on them, and that's who we really are. harry chooses to be kind and loving, because that is who he is as a person.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think that Harry's loathing for the Dursleys and his mother's love and maybe something to do with the fact that none of us would like it if the main character was a complete jerk were all ingredients as to why Harry's upbringing didn't turn him sour.
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:25 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I think because Harry had no one for support or anyone to talk to he just kept his feelings in, all bottled up, but at the same time, he hated the Dursleys and he took it out on them and no one else. But when he found out he was wizard, he would threaten the Dursleys, but he rarely bottled in his feelings because of Hermione, and Ron, and all of his friends. I think because he knew people cared for him, he wanted to do the same, even though it wasn't toward the Dursley's. So Harry is kind of mean toward the Dursleys, but no one else.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:54 AM   #12 (permalink)
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It is rare for someone brought up the way Harry was to turn out the way he did. Of course we are influenced by our upbringing and the people we are surrounded by during our childhood. We are born with certain personalities, but they will show according to our parents/guardians.
Being bullied in our first years at school wil make us either insecure or stronger. Being treated as a servant and an inferior will mostly make us less confident.
The difference between Harry and his father is probably that Harry appreciates his friends and his new surroundings more because it all came unexpectedly. He had thought he'd be stuck with the Dursleys forever - childhood seems to last forever when you're 10.
I always admired the way Harry has been able to stand up to the Dursleys, it takes a great and strong personality to do so.
As a fiction character this also put hi in much the same position as Voldemort, Snape and Sirius, some of the most interesting characters in the books. Oddly enough not Dumbledore who grew up with loving parents and a "normal" family life - at leat until he was about 11 (?)
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Old 08-14-2009, 03:33 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I read a fic a while ago where Harry gets sorted into Slytherin and some of the stuff in there made me re-think Harry's upbringing. I mean, if you transplant the stuff he goes through to the real world, its horrific. He's kept in a cupboard for the majority of his life, sometimes locked in. He has to do chores and cook, while his cousin doesn't. He's beaten up on a regular basis at school and no one appears to have done anything about. I mean, its basically child abuse really isn't it? Pretty horrid of Dumbledore to leave Harry with people like that.

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Old 08-14-2009, 03:53 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Interesting topic I'm rereading SS and the last couple of times I've read it I've been quite appalled at Harry's treatment. I mean made to sleep in a cupboard until he was 10. They thought of leaving him IN THE CAR at the zoo, and his punishment after the zoo incident was WEEKS at least. He missed school! It's funny how I didn't really notice it til later, but that is really just awful.

I think it's a nature versus nuture deal here. Dumbledore said it; with how Harry was treated in both worlds, with how much he's been through, his ability to love and feel and choose what's right makes Harry very special. On the Hogwarts Express, Harry suddenly has all this money to spend on sweets, and stuff to share with Ron, and it never occurs to him to be greedy. He's not "Ooh this is all for me." He shares with Ron, because that's his instinct. He's a good kid, that's how he is on the inside, and regardless of anything happening around him (and boy did a lot of stuff happen) his true nature remained constant, always.
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Old 09-11-2009, 12:26 AM   #15 (permalink)
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That is a very good observation, and I too have thought the same a couple of times vaguely.
What I think in the end, it's his personality that makes him generous, kind etc. which he inherited from his mother, and yes even though he had been treated in such an appalling way, Harry's true persona stuck around.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:16 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Why would you expect someone to become mean and nasty, just because they're abused? While there are some abuse victims, who get so accustomed to it, or so disturbed, that they treat others the same awful way, I would rather expect spoiled brats like Dudley and Draco to be mean and nasty (and they also became "bullying gits", like Fred and George put it).
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:42 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I don't think people always get influenced for the worse that way. Some of them can stay true to themselves. and if Harry hated them so much, he wouldn't want to be like them. maybe he should have been mean to them, but not other people.
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:27 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Thinking about it though, it's actually remarkable, that harry became as normal as he did. Not being loved by anybody, not having a single friend... That could mess anyone up.
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:49 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Hm...this is an interesting contemplation, that Harry should be mean, nasty, etc...in short, just like the Dursleys, what with the upbringing they gave him. However, I agree with Fawks 4Ever: that Harry consciously made the decision that he did not want to be anything like the Dursleys. It may also have had something to do with Lily's protection, i.e. that she instilled in him, through magic (however accidentally or not), the values and morals that she and James would have raised Harry with.
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Old 12-31-2009, 11:29 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I don't think you have to become mean because you're abused, but you can become disturbed in some way or another. But thankfully, Harry (as far as we know) turned out fine in the end.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:13 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Great topic. While upbringing does have a profound impact on you, it doesn't mold who you are. I believe Harry made the right choices because of who he was, James and Lilly's son. He was a nephew and treated horribly, but he wasn't a Dursley. He made the choice not to join the "cool crowd" when given the opportunity and that belief in self was what guided him throughout. When you have no one as Harry didn't, all you have is yourself and he formed a solid idea of who he was based on his treatment, how he wished he were treated and what he felt in his heart. I do believe some of his temper is rooted in his upbringing, which comes out throughout the series as does his feeling of alone. All of which is understandable.
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:28 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Perhaps, it was Lily's sacrifice, that she died for him, that subconsciously helped mould him into a person that was able to love.
Although, statistics have shown (by God I feel like Hermione saying that) the likelihood of infants surviving without love in their lives is practically on the ground. Sometimes even a couple of feet below the ground too, if that makes sense. Which it probably doesn't.
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:38 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I think that maybe going through all that just made him stronger as a person. I also think that some of his mom and dad's personality lives within him, thus making him an amazing and strong person. I know some people that have been through neglect, abuse, and things like that when they were younger, and they are some of the nicest people I know personally. It's like none of the bad stuff ever happened to them, yet you can still see that they have been through an extreme situation by the way they act. Bad things happen to good people, but it only makes you stronger in the end. I think this is the case for Harry. He is so strong, and even though he really doesn't exist (as much as we wish he did) he's an inspiration to people who have been through bad things and have come through and prevailed.
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:44 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I think this is more of a Nature Vs. Nurture type argument.

So by nature, I think that Harry took to the Dursley's upbringing differently than say, Malfoy would. He knew that how they treated him was wrong, and he worked especially hard to not be like the family he resented. Instead of inflicting what the Dursley's made him feel onto others, he turned his resentment into something good.

Or, it could be something completely magical. This is Harry Potter, you never know.
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:17 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I think this is like where for example, if a child doesn't like his or her parents, then they make a vow to themselves that they would do all that they can to not turn out like them. But I think the Weasley family also helped, because I don't think Harry alone would have been able to keep that promise to himself when the time passes, so when the weasleys showed him how it felt like to be loved, he realized that he liked the feeling, and would someday love to pass the feeling on to somebody else.

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