On Pains Of Our Extreme Displeasure

I’ve been slowly working my way through the Chronicles of Narnia. “Slowly” being, I started over a year ago and I’m about halfway through The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I’m also reading Goblet of Fire. This is my fourth read of the series, but I wouldn’t call this “working my way through,” as for almost two years now, I’ve just been in a perpetual state of reading Harry Potter.

But anyway, I read the World Cup chapters today, up to the bit with Winky being dragged off to receive clothes. (Spoilers?) And it reminded me of a Tumblr post (which of course I can’t find) that talks about how you shouldn’t be surprised by how the Ministry of Magic handles Voldemort’s return (?) when they also condemned an innocent man to Azkaban on the basis that they found a severed finger – in spite of the fact that they have the ability to see the last spell a wand has cast. Like, oh, look a severed finger the rest of him must be gone, let’s not even check the suspect’s wand to see if it’s the one that blew the street apart.

These are people who shoot first and ask questions later, or even more accurately, never ask questions at all.

These are the people who try to expel Harry for using magic in self-defense and who send the literal worst human into the school to interfere with what is currently the most important subject being taught there.

This is the government that collapses without even putting up a fight.

But I was reading the scene with Winky, and I started wondering what percentage of the rage against the Ministry posts are written by Americans. Like, is it an even split? Do Americans get angrier about Voldemort or about Fudge? How much are Potterheads’ reactions to the Ministry affected by their own governments? I’m not quite enough of a Potterhead to know if the Minister for Magic is appointed, but I don’t get the impression that he’s voted in.

What does this have to do with Voyage of the Dawn Treader?

So, the first island they weigh anchor at, the crew of the Dawn Treader discover that the governor of the island is allowing the island to host slave traders. Caspian, of course, will have none of that. He storms onto the island and confronts the governor. It goes down like this:

“But that would be putting the clock back,” gasped the governor. “Have you no idea of progress, or development?”

“I’ve seen them both in an egg,” said Caspian. “We call it ‘Going Bad’ in Narnia. This trade must stop.”

“I can take no responsibility for any such measure,” said Gumpas.

“Very well, then,” answered Caspian, “we relieve you of your office. My Lord Bern, come here.” And before Gumpas quite realized what was happening, Bern was kneeling with his hands between the King’s hands and taking the oath to govern the Lone Islands.

I know this is a moment of triumph, of the right sweeping in and doing away with the wrong.

But this scene terrifies me.

We love stories about great kings returning to right all wrongs, but it’s pretty rare for princes to grow into good men. Imagine living under a government where the world turns on the palm of a single man’s displeasure.


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