HPEF presents Infinitus 2010, a Harry Potter conference            TEXT  MENU

July 15-18, 2010
Orlando, Florida

"Piggy Little Eyes" and "Sausage-like Fingers": Fat in Harry Potter  
Elizabeth Murray  

The role of fat characters in the Harry Potter series has only been explored during a short fat feud in the Potter fandom in 2006. However, this discussion of fat characters failed to examine the implications of fat in Rowling's universe since it only resulted in the placing of fat characters into the categories of “good,” “bad,” and “evil.” I argue that to examine the implications of fat in Harry Potter, we need to make a gesture to the past by beginning with Charles Dickens.

For awhile now, J.K. Rowling has been favorably and unfavorably compared to Dickens. For example, comparisons range from the popularity of the authors' novels to more detailed links between both authors' use of father figures, the importance of birth in their novels, and their representations of adolescence and growing up. However, the similarities between the two authors and their representations of fat have yet to be explored.

Through an examination of Mrs. Weasley and the Dursleys, I argue that Rowling's representation of fat characters as either cheery or bloated mirrors Dickens. Cultural anxieties about consumption and fat are expressed in the works of both authors by equating the cheery fat characters with “proper” consumption and the bloated fat characters with “improper” consumption. For Rowling and Dickens then, it is not just the size of the body that marks one as either cheery fat or bloated fat, it is about the way an individual inhabits a fat body as a consumer.

Elizabeth Murray is a doctoral student at Ball State University studying nineteenth-century British literature. She also teaches English courses at Ball State and at Ivy Tech Community College. In addition to Harry Potter, her research interests include the Gothic novel, Jane Austen, and fat studies.
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