Speaking Ill of the Dead: A Moral Exploration of Sirius Black
Alex Zauner-De Ville
Sirius Black is situated within the Potterverse as godparent to Harry Potter, which places Sirius as being morally responsible for Harry, and responsible for Harry's moral development. However, Sirius displays morally questionable behaviour throughout Harry's experience of him, and the question arises that Sirius is not the most desirable or morally correct person to fulfill this role. Sirius Black has been chosen for this exploration due to Harry's perception of Sirius as being a substitute for his parents. Sirius Black is considered as being `the next best thing' to James Potter. I will outline Sirius Black's morally questionable behaviours, and place them within a context of Harry's subsequent behaviours. Harry's behaviour becomes more reckless and emotive after Sirius Black's arrival in his life, leading to certain acts that are out of character for Harry, but can be regarded as being in character for Sirius.
`Moral questionability' will follow from the definition given by Agerstrom and Bjorklund: `behaviour that fails to be altruistic in contexts where such behaviour is highly desirable and only entails a minimal cost to oneself'. I will be using a post-structural hermeneutic method which involves analyzing linguistic constructions and textual representations within the series of books, in order to explore the frameworks that surround Sirius Black's moral character.
Alex Zauner-De Ville is working towards her PhD thesis on Evil Representations in Harry Potter at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia. She has completed a BA (Hons.) in which her dissertation was Representations of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People in Regional and Metropolitan Newspapers in NSW. She lectures at Charles Sturt University, Dubbo, in Sociology of Health.