Friday, April 30, 2010

Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback

I don't like Norbert.

Before the rotten tomato throwing starts, let me explain.

To me, Norbert is nothing more than the biggest, most obvious McGuffin Rowling uses in the whole series. And it takes an entire chapter.

Think about it. What is the point of Norbert?
a. To get Harry into the forest.
b. To give Hagrid a reason to spill the beans about Fluffy to someone.
This is fine, I'm well-aware that McGuffins exist and I'm generally perfectly okay with them, but Norbert just grates on me and there's a couple reasons for that.

First of all, I really don't like dragons that much.


Please stop throwing food and let me finish!

I can see why some people find dragons appealing, and when they're done right I can really enjoy them (I love the dragons in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, for instance), but Norbert is down-right boring. She bites a hand, starts a small fire and ruins a teddy bear, big deal.

The second reason is that I truly don't understand why Hagrid let two first-years do his dirty work for him. Why couldn't Hagrid borrow the cloak to cover Norbert and carry him up to the tower himself?! He's an adult and a member of the Hogwarts staff, surely he's allowed to "wander the castle at night". Plus, Norbert is heavy! Hagrid is half-giant! No, probably better to let the 11-year-old boy and the 12-year-old girl carry the heavy, dangerous creature by themselves. I mean really, that's just stupid and a little bit mean! Besides, are you seriously telling me that Hagrid couldn't go to Dumbledore, tell him he made a mistake and apologize and that Dumbledore wouldn't help him? That's what they did in the movie and it made WAY more sense.

Finally, I think I'm just annoyed that Rowling just let's Norbert go, when she brings back so many other ostensible McGuffin's in later books as integral parts of the plot. She's mentioned again, specifically when Charlie tells Hagrid that she's a girl and having established the gender change I find it very surprising that she is not then one of the nesting dragons used for the Triwizard Tournament. I think that would make me like this whole thing a lot better.

So, that's my thoughts on Norbert. Rebuttals? (Do I dare hope) agreements?


  1. No food fights from me. I did always see Norbert as sort of a token dragon. Kind of Rowling's way of saying Fantasy book... Wizards? check. Spells? check. Dragon? check. But then again, at the release party I went to for Half-Blood Prince, the bookstore was selling a totally adorable little plush dragon that I bought and named "Norbie".

  2. I never really gave it much thought, but I absolutely see what you're saying. And I don't have much use for dragons, though I've had a hankering to re-read Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series just so I can read the 4th book again; I thought his dragons were quite well done.

  3. OKay, I am not throwing food! I swear but I do have a rebuttal or two.

    First, Hagrid probably couldn't borrow the cloak because of how large he is. In the coming books as the Harry Ron and Hermione grew, they could hardly fit under the cloak without stooping so their feet wouldn't show. With how large Hagrid is supposed to be there is no way that he could fit under the cloak.

    Second, Even if Dumbledore favors Hagrid and allows him to get away with things, if he was found wandering the castle at night with a dragon, there would have to be some consquence if he was found by anyone but Dumbledore, especially if it was Filch or Snape!

    I also believe that it would have been very painful for Hagrid to give Norbert up himself. When I had to move from my house to my apartment I had to give my puppy Goober away because we couldn't take him with us. I found a very loving family where he is currently being spoiled rotten, but I couldn't bear giving him up and watching someone else drive away with him so I had my aunt take him to the family instead of doing it myself. And in Hagrids case there really wasn't anyone else that could take Norbert for him.

    However, I do agree that he could have just went to Dumbledore and explained his mistake and Dumbledore would have forgiven him.

    I also believe that Norbert is one of J.K.'s many ways to show us Hagrid love for dangerous and sometimes terrifying animals. I think she wanted to show us that it was just Fluffy that he had a love for and we don't find out about many of his other creatures until later books.

    *Steps off soap box*

    But I do want to say that I am loving your new blog. You have pointed out many things that I hadn't considered while reading the book and I find your take on it all very fascinating.

  4. Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog! I just want to point out quickly that I was not advocating for Hagrid to wear the cloak, but to use it to cover Norbert and his cage, which would take care of your first two arguments (we know it could have easily covered the cage as it covered the cage and Harry and Hermione). You have a valid point that it is hard to give up a pet. I've done it, but I did it myself, because I was an adult (28) and I knew I had too. Hagrid does certainly have certain childish qualities, but the man is in his 60's at this point and I don't think immaturity is a good enough excuse.