There have been many protests by conservative groups against Harry Potter, primarily because of its espousal of magic. However, what these groups fail to recognize is that the series actively supports traditional family values.
Rowling’s conservatism is especially noticeable in her descriptions of family life. Nowhere is her support of a nuclear family clearer than in the portrayal of the characters Tonks and Lupin.
Remus Lupin- Werewolf
Remus Lupin is first introduced in Book three of the Harry Potter series, Prisoner of Azkaban. By the conclusion of the novel, Lupin has been revealed as a werewolf and an old school friend of Harry’s dead father, James.
It is Lupin’s werewolf status that makes him reluctant to marry Tonks who is introduced in book five, Order of the Phoenix. Finally at the urging of Mr and Mrs Weasley, Lupin agrees to marry Tonks at the end of book six, Half Blood Prince.
Mr and Mrs Weasley are characters that represent Rowling’s family values; it is their contention that looks do not matter that convinces Lupin to marry Tonks.
Harry Potter Supports Fatherhood
In book 7, Deathly Hallows, Tonks becomes pregnant, a situation that horrifies Lupin as he is convinced the child will be a werewolf. Lupin’s distress causes him to propose leaving his family and helping Harry Potter in his quest to find horcruxes.
Harry, as the hero, is another spokesperson for Rowling’s themes, he refuses the help saying.
“My father died trying to protect my mother and me, and you reckon he’d tell you to abandon your kid to go on an adventure with us?”
Harry represents the author’s view of a father’s responsibility. Remus as a father has a higher obligation to his own child than he does to Harry. This confrontation emphasizes Rowling’s view of the primacy of family.
Lupin returns to Tonks and they have a child. Lupin is shown to be deliriously happy with the situation. His faithfulness to his wife and to the values of family rewards him with happiness.
However, this happiness does not last, and it is the abandonment of a child that leads to the ultimate tragedy.
Abandoning a Child Leads to Death
The climax of the Harry Potter series is the Battle of Hogwarts. Lupin arrives to fight Voldemort, and joins other members of the Order of the Phoenix for the final confrontation on the grounds of the school.
However, unexpectedly, Tonks too appears at Hogwarts, willing to do battle. When Harry sees her, her pointedly says,
“I thought you were supposed to be with Teddy at your mother’s?”
Teddy is Tonk’s newborn son and Harry, again expresses the author’s viewpoint by emphasizing the primacy of the child and duty to the family.
Tonk’s response to Harry is so casual it is almost shocking.
“She’ll look after him. Have you seen Remus?”
Tonks acts on her emotional feelings for her husband, rather than staying dutifully at the side of her son. Her responsibility is abandoned for passion.
In the world of Harry Potter, motherhood and family are the premier responsibilities so it is no surprise when Tonks is one of the casualties of the Battle of Hogwarts. Her husband too lies dead beside her. Both had at one stage abandoned their familial roles, and thus in the Harry Potter world are condemned for these actions.
It is clear that J K Rowling promotes a family friendly agenda in the Harry Potter series. Her advocacy of motherhood and the responsibilities of fatherhood are clear in the case of Tonks and Lupin. This theme is appropriate for a series targeted at children, and actively conforms to traditional family values.