* Originally posted on 6/8/2012
Bully: A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
Bullying: Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.
Prank: A practical joke or mischievous act.
Prankster: A person fond of playing pranks.
A lot of characters are up for debate right now, so I thought I'd do some analysis of my own! Now, this essay does a good job of reminding us that there is a very flawed system at Hogwarts, there is no real protection for anyone at Hogwarts. Overall, Hogwarts is a "every person for themselves" type of place; it doesn't matter if you are a student or a teacher.
That said, I put the official definitions for bullying and pranks above. I agree there is a fine line between pranks and bullying. That's why I decided to look at the official definitions. We have mentioned a lot of characters, but the ones the essay and the replies seem to be focusing on are the Weasleys, so they are the ones I'm going to focus on. In this post I'm going to look at the Twins.
The Twins: The essay this is in response to seems to be based on seeing if the Twins are bullies or not. Let's look at some quotes. All the quotes come from the Harry Potter Wikia because the information we get it filtered through Harry, and it can take a while for him to get all the facts, and the Wikia does a great job summarizing.
At the age of five, Fred transformed Ron's teddy bear into a giant spider, sparking his arachnophobia, after Ron broke his toy broomstick. Also around that age, he gave Ron an Acid Pop, which burnt a hole through his tongue. When they were seven years old, Fred and George nearly succeeded in getting Ron to make an Unbreakable Vow; their father was so angry that Fred later said "his left buttock has never been the same since."
While the teddy bear incident can be explained as accidental magic (his anger caused his magic to lash out and hit Ron's toy, which was in his arms), the Acid Pop cannot. Neither can when they tried to get Ron to make an Unbreakable Vow. Both incidents show that the Twins saw their little brother as a victim. And Ron was weaker, he was smaller and younger. Therefore, this is a time when the Twins were bullies.
There is one incident that the Wikia doesn't mention, so I am giving the quote:
“Brocklehurst, Mandy” went to Ravenclaw too, but “Brown, Lavender” became the first new Gryffindor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Harry could see Ron's twin brothers cat-calling. (PS 119)
The Twins are thirteen, and they cat-call an eleven year old. This is sexual harassment.
Fred and George got in trouble for bewitching several snowballs to follow Professor Quirrell around and hit him in the back of the head (they were, of course unaware that they were throwing snowballs in Voldemort's face).
We know that Voldemort was on the back of Quirrell's head, and I admit, I would love to hit Voldemort in the face. But the Twins? All they knew was that they were attacking a teacher who was known to be scared and, overall, weak. This is an example of bullying.
Fred and George attempted to cheer her (Ginny) up, but went about it the wrong way by leaping out at her from behind statues covered in fur or boils.
Their motive here was not to hurt their sister, but to cheer her up. That said, I found it important because it shows just how much the Twins lack empathy. Ginny is already frighted, and the Twins' actions only end up increasing her anxiety. The fact that they can't notice this says a lot about their personalities and their lack of understanding or empathy.
Fred and George began inventing magical prank items the summer of 1994, starting with the Ton-Tongue Toffee, which Fred "dropped" near Harry's cousin Dudley Dursley in order to test it out.
The Twins know that Dudley and Harry don't get along, they also know that Dudley was on a diet (because Harry mentioned it so Molly sent food). Also, their motivation wasn't to retaliate (and there was no reason for them to retaliate anyway, any problems between Harry and Dudley are between Harry and Dudley), but to test out one of their new products. If Mr. Weasley hadn't been able to reverse the effects Dudley could easily have choked to death on his own tongue. Dudley is a muggle and younger than the Twins, making him weaker than them. This is a case of bullying.
Malcolm Baddock (born c. 1982-1983) was a Slytherin student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry three years below Harry Potter. His arrival at the Slytherin table immediately after being Sorted in 1994 was met with applause from Draco Malfoy, but Fred and George Weasley hissed at him, and Harry privately wondered if Malcolm was aware of Slytherin House's sinister reputation.
This takes place at the beginning of Harry's fourth year. When Malcolm was sorted into Slytherin, the Twins hissed at him. They were hissing at someone six years younger than them because he happened to be sorted into a House they don't like. This is a clear case of bullying.
Montague joined the Inquisitorial Squad in April of 1996. During morning break on his first day as a member, he tried to take House points from Fred and George Weasley, but the twins shoved him into the Vanishing Cabinet before he could finish speaking. While trapped inside, Montague could occasionally hear goings-on at Hogwarts, as well as at Borgin and Burkes, where the Cabinet's counterpart was located. He managed to Apparate out the next day, despite never having obtained an Apparition licence, but ended up lodged inside a toilet on the fourth floor.
The Apparition nearly proved fatal to Montague. He was left in a disoriented state for weeks afterwards. In May, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Montague, came to the school, looking furious. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger watched the couple arrive, and Hermione suggested that they should tell Madam Pomfrey what had happened to Montague, in case it would help her treat him. However, both Ron and Harry dismissed this idea, so Hermione apparently let the matter drop. Several weeks later, during the O.W.L. exams in June, Harry went to the hospital wing, where he saw Madam Pomfrey spoon-feeding a vivid blue potion to Montague.
While Montague had done things against Gryffindor's in the past, particularly in Quidditch, he didn't do anything but try to take points. We don't know why, but knowing the twins they were probably doing something. Also, as a member of the Inquisitorial Squad, he is allowed to take points. The Twins had no idea where the vanishing cabinet went and they had no idea when, or if, Montague would ever show up. Also, he almost died because of the Twins' “prank”. To me this is as bad as Sirius trying to feed Severus to a werewolf. This is serious, and goes even beyond bullying. Granted the Twins didn't know what would happen to Montague and Sirius knew that Severus would be facing a werewolf, but is callus indifference to the thought you might cause someone severe harm better than deliberately trying to severely harm or murder someone? Maybe slightly, but it still is not okay. It's not even close to being okay. He was still being spoon fed medicine over a month later!
Fred and George Weasley once experimented with feeding fireworks to a salamander, which caused it to rocket around the room, emitting multicoloured sparks. The salamander ended up running back into the fireplace in the room, looking scared.
I wouldn't call this a prank or bullying because the victim is an animal. That does not mean I approve! This shows callousness and cruelty. They have no compassion for an innocent animal. An animal that did nothing to them. They hurt an animal and scared it into fleeing back to it's home as soon as possible. It's animal cruelty (definition: Cruelty to animals is the infliction of suffering or harm upon animals, other than humans, for purposes other than self-defense.) and it does not speak well for their personalities.
Fred and George resumed testing and selling their products at Hogwarts in their seventh year, though Hermione Granger managed to prevent them from testing out Skiving Snackboxes on unsuspecting first years by threatening to tell their mother.
The bolded part is the important part. Yes they paid the first years, but they never told the first years what the candy would do to them. If someone asked me if I would like a dollar for testing out a piece of candy, I would probably accept, and I would never expect it to make me ill. The fact they used first years only makes it worse. They are seven years younger than the Twins, and are not able to protect themselves against two tall, athletic seventh years.
Ron Weasley owned a Puffskein at one point. Its demise is attributed to Fred, who supposedly used it for Bludger practice.
This was written in by Ron in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I am including it because it is a Harry Potter book written by JKR. Like with the Salamander, this is cruelty against an animal. I will spare you my rant on animal cruelty, because what I would say here is pretty much the exact same thing I said for the salamander.
There is also their continued attack on Percy. Now, since Percy is both older and a prefect, he is not necessarily weaker than the twins. He is different, however, and does not seem to have many friends. Also, the twins target him because of his personality, not because he did anything to them. Add in the fact that the Twins continually target him without letting up, I see this as a case of harassment (definition: the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands). Each prank by itself may not be an example of bullying, the fact that they never stop makes it harassment.
So, overall, the Twins come out as bullies. We don't see them just retaliate (like we do with Ginny) and we don't see them show any recognition for their victims, whether human or animal. There are, of course, more examples where the Twins are part of a group, like when the DA left Draco and his group severely injured on the train. That, however, is a whole other discussion.