With Mother’s Day right around the corner, the idea of creating a list of my favorite fictional moms has been swirling around in my head lately. The problem is, I can’t think of ten or even five fictional mothers that I like enough to include in such a list.
When I think of fictional mothers, the first one that comes to mind is Molly Weasley. Who can forget that epic one-liner she gave when Bellatrix Lestrange threatened Ginny during the Battle of Hogwarts?
As I was pondering the many virtues of Molly Weasley, I started to think about the other portrayals of motherhood in Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling has spoken openly about her years as a single mother and how proud she is of that part of her life. It’s clear that Rowling holds motherhood in high regard and this is reflected in the three primary maternal characters in the Harry Potter series–Molly Weasley, Lily Potter, and Narcissa Malfoy.
In many ways these women couldn’t be more different. Mrs. Weasley (an ESFJ, in case you’re into Myers-Briggs) is the stereotypical stay-at-home mom who spends her days cooking, cleaning, and caring for her bountiful brood of children. She can be a bit overly-demonstrative (that howler and those Christmas sweaters). She doesn’t immediately strike you as a sort of person to run screaming into battle.
Lily (an INFJ), on the other hand, is quieter, sensitive, and keeps much of her fire casually hidden. We don’t know if Lily briefly had a career outside of her involvement with the Order of the Phoenix following her years at Hogwarts. We do know that she married James almost immediately after graduating and became pregnant with Harry just one year later. She was only twenty-one when she died protecting Harry from Lord Voldemort, though she was portrayed by a thirty-four-year-old actress in The Sorcerer’s Stone who was forty-four by the time the final film was made. Her real age makes her sacrifice even more palpable.
Narcissa (ISFJ) is another animal altogether. She’s prejudiced, completely nasty to anyone lower on the wizarding totem pole, and seemingly at ease with Voldemort’s plans for world domination. Can you say Real Housewives of Wiltshire? And yet, despite her numerous character faults, Narcissa is absolutely, selflessly devoted to Draco and Lucius. Despite her ideology, she willingly betrays Voldemort just so that she can return to the castle to search for Draco during the Battle of Hogwarts.
Despite their vast differences in temperament, integrity, and beliefs, the mothers of Harry Potter take huge risks and make incredible sacrifices for their children. They march into battle, throw themselves in the path of deadly spells, and act against their own self-interest to protect their offspring.
I’ve never cared much for books that explore motherhood. I don’t ever plan to become a mother myself and the topic doesn’t hold much interest for me. But even I can’t deny that Rowling’s portrait of motherhood is beautiful and compelling.
What do you think about the mothers of Harry Potter? Who are your favorite literary moms?