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Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society

"It's a disgusting thing to call someone... Dirty blood, see. Common blood."
— Explanation of the term “Mudblood”[src]

Mudblood was a highly derogatory term for either a Muggle or a Muggle-born[1] or half-blood[2] wizard or witch; that is, individuals with close Muggle relatives. While there did not appear to be any difference in the magical power of Muggle-borns and half-bloods compared to those who were pure-blood, pure-blood supremacists still considered them to be of "lower breeding"/"third-class citizens" or worth. Mudblood itself was a term meaning that Muggle-borns had "dirty" blood and were a big disgrace to the wizarding world, and thus had no right to be a witch/wizard and were undeserving of magic.

The slur implied that the individual has "dirty blood" and was considered extremely offensive.[1] There were apparently other, less commonly used terms with a similar meaning, such as "creature of dirt".[3]

History of use

"Blood traitor is next to Mudblood in my book."
— Pure-blood Bellatrix Lestrange using the slur[src]

Bellatrix Lestrange carved the slur into Hermione Granger's arm

Many older wizarding families placed great emphasis on blood purity and rejected association with Muggles and Muggle-borns, both of whom they considered greatly inferior to themselves.[4] The notion was foremost in the minds of Dark Wizards, Death Eaters, and other followers of Lord Voldemort. It is possible that some well-meaning pure-blood families espoused this prejudice as well, but to a less virulent degree. Notably, some pure-bloods, such as members of the Weasley family, rejected these prejudices and were considered "blood traitors" or "Mudblood-lovers" as a result.

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The term "Mudblood" was generally not used in polite society, as it was considered highly offensive and vulgar, on par with the racial epithets often heard in the Muggle world.

However, when Voldemort was in control of the Ministry of Magic in 1997, the term became more prevalent, appearing even in the Daily Prophet and Ministry propaganda. A witch working for the Muggle-born Registration Commission used the term freely and without fear of backlash. This was in line with Death Eater ideology being disseminated to the general public, which claimed that Muggle-borns were not "real" wizards and witches.[5]

Use by Draco Malfoy

"No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood."
— Draco Malfoy throwing the slur at Hermione Granger[src]

Ron Weasley tried to curse Draco Malfoy after he called Hermione Granger a "Mudblood"

When Draco Malfoy called Hermione Granger a Mudblood in 1992, he was nearly attacked by several members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and was nearly cursed by Ronald Weasley.[1] When the Chamber of Secrets was opened he stated "You'll be next, Mudbloods!".[6]

When Harry Potter and Ron Weasley disguised themselves as Crabbe and Goyle (with the use of Polyjuice Potion) Malfoy felt comfortable in front of them, saying “Saint Potter, the Mudbloods’ friend. He’s another one with no proper wizard feeling, or he wouldn’t go around with that jumped up Granger Mudblood”.[7] Draco also used the term to refer to those who had been petrified and taken to the Hospital Wing, telling whom he thought was Crabbe, “Well, go up to the hospital wing and give all those Mudbloods a kick from me”.[7]

At the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, Malfoy called Hermione a Muggle. When Harry responded that she was a witch, Malfoy said “Have it your own way, Potter. If you think they can’t spot a Mudblood, stay where you are”.[8] Weeks later, Malfoy handed out "Potter Stinks!" badges and said “Want one, Granger? I’ve got loads. But don’t touch my hand, now. I’ve just washed it, you see; don’t want a Mudblood sliming it up”.[9] When Hermione told Harry and Ron that someone had asked her to the Yule Ball, Malfoy overheard and said “You’re joking, Weasley! You’re not telling me someone’s asked that to the ball? Not the long-molared Mudblood?[10]

As part of Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad, Draco Malfoy took ten points from Gryffindor because Hermione was a “Mudblood”.[11] In Madam Malkin’s shop in 1996, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked in Malfoy said, “If you’re wondering what the smell is, Mother, a Mudblood just walked in”.[12] When confronting Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower, Malfoy bragged about his attempts to murder the Headmaster. He said he got one of his ideas from Hermione and called her a "Mudblood" in the process.[13]

Use by Muggle-borns

Hermione Granger: "I’m hunted quite as much as any goblin or elf, Griphook! I’m a Mudblood!"
Ron Weasley: "Don't call yourself —"
Hermione Granger: "Why shouldn’t I? Mudblood, and proud of it!"
— Hermione's refusal to let the word bother her[src]

There were some Muggle-borns who refused to allow the term to be degrading to them. For example, Lily Evans told her former friend Severus Snape that if he was going to refer to other Muggle-borns as "Mudbloods", then he had to use the term for her as well. Hermione Granger declared that she was proud to be a "Mudblood" in 1998.[5]

Usage of the term

"Mudblood's a really foul name for someone who is Muggle-born — you know, non-magic parents. There are some wizards — like Malfoy's family — who think they're better than everyone else because they're what people call pure-blood."
— Ron explaining the term to Harry Potter[src]
Person Who Used the Term Referring to Notes
Ron Weasley Term itself Explained its meaning to Harry Potter and Hermione Granger in 1992.[1]
Tom Marvolo Riddle/Voldemort All Muggle-borns His soul in the diary used the term the Chamber of Secrets in 1993 while speaking to Harry Potter.[1]

Mentioned the term several times throughout the Second Wizarding War and referred to Lily Evans this way when taunting Harry Potter about death and during their final duel in 1998.[5]

Severus Snape Lily Evans Snape lashed out after Lily came to his assistance when he was being bullied by James Potter and Sirius Black in 1975. It resulted in the loss of his friendship with Lily, and would forever be his worst memory. Afterwards, Snape disliked even hearing the word "Mudblood" and at times forbade its usage.[14]
Lily Evans After Snape tried to apologise for calling Lily a Mudblood, she retorted: "But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?”[5]
Herself
All Muggle-borns
Kreacher Hermione Granger In 1995 and 1997 at 12 Grimmauld Place.[5] "Mudbloods and traitors and scum…”.[14]
Portrait of Walburga Black All Muggle-borns Screamed on multiple occasions at the members of the Order of the Phoenix.[14]MUDBLOODS! SCUM! CREATURES OF DIRT!'”
Marvolo Gaunt When Ogden, a Ministry official, came to the family home to arrest Marvolo's son, Morfin Gaunt.[15]
Draco Malfoy Hermione Granger Malfoy first called Hermione a "Mudblood" in 1992; this was also the first time Harry Potter ever heard the term.[1] Malfoy also called her a "Mudblood" on many other occasions.

After cornering Albus Dumbledore in the Astronomy Tower in 1997, Draco explained that he got the idea for poisoning mead after he heard Hermione Granger, whom he referred to as "the Mudblood Granger" talking about Filch not recognising potions. When Dumbledore told Draco not to use the word in his presence, Draco questioned if Dumbledore cared about him using "Mudblood" when he was about to kill Dumbledore. Like many pure-blood wizards, he is accustomed to using the term to degrade the muggle-borns.

Term itself
Bellatrix Lestrange Ted Tonks Bellatrix told Voldemort in Malfoy Manor in 1997 that she and Narcissa have never seen their sister Andromeda since she married "the Mudblood". She also used the term multiple times when torturing Hermione for information in 1998[5]
Hermione Granger
Harry Potter Term itself Harry angrily forbade Kreacher from using the word after the house-elf referred to Hermione Granger as "the Mudblood".[5]
Pamphlet maker witch All Muggle-borns This individual, an employee of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission wondered aloud if Dolores Umbridge was going to be interrogating "Mudbloods" all day.[5]
Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society This pamphlet was printed by the Ministry of Magic when it was under Voldemort's control in 1997. It was written by Dolores Umbridge.[5]
Pius Thicknesse While under the Imperius Curse, the puppet Minister for Magic commented that he believed “the blood traitors are as bad as the Mudbloods” to Harry Potter disguised as Albert Runcorn".[5]
Corban Yaxley Mary Cattermole Mentioned in reference to Mrs Cattermole's biased trial at the hands of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission.[5]
Portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black Hermione Granger The portrait referred to Hermione this way while speaking to Severus Snape, who snapped at him not to use that word.[5]
Daily Prophet While the newspaper was under Voldemort's control, it described Hermione as "the Mudblood who is known to be travelling with Harry Potter".[5]
Fenrir Greyback All Muggle-borns While Greyback was working as a leader of a gang of Snatchers, he used the term multiple times.[5]
Hermione Granger Herself Hermione referred to herself as a Mudblood while arguing with Griphook in 1998; when Ron Weasley said not to call herself that, she rejoined, "Mudblood, and proud of it!"[5]
Vincent Crabbe Hermione Granger Crabbe referred to Hermione as "that Mudblood" just before attempting to use the Killing Curse on her in the Room of Requirement during the Battle of Hogwarts.[5]

See also

Behind the scenes

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after Draco Malfoy calls Hermione Granger a "filthy little Mudblood", it is shown that Hermione is already familiar with the term, which is odd, considering that it would be unlikely for her to hear it anywhere, and she and Rubeus Hagrid explain it to Harry Potter. Though it is possible that she could have learned about the word while doing research. In the novel, Hermione had never heard the word before, and Ron Weasley explains it to her and Harry.
  • In the first part of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Bellatrix Lestrange tortures Hermione Granger by carving the word "mudblood" on her arm. No such event ever happens in the novels. However, the scene reflects an event during the Holocaust wherein identification numbers were tattooed on the arms of Jews in the concentration camps. This is due to J.K. Rowling being influenced by the horrors of Nazi Germany.
  • Much like other ethnic slurs in real-life, Hermione in self-reference used the term ironically. This is similar to how many members of certain ethnic minorities use slurs that were previously used to degrade and insult them as a form of self-identification in their respective cultural lexicons, while looking poorly upon those outside their ethnic backgrounds who still continue to use such terms derogatorily.

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 7 (Mudbloods And Murmurs)
  2. Twitter favicon.png J. K. Rowling on Twitter: "Non-bigots in the wizarding world would say half-blood. Pure blood supremacists would say mudblood."
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black)
  4. In the F.A.Q. section of her website, J. K. Rowling stated that "As far as somebody like Lucius Malfoy is concerned, for instance, a Muggle-born is as 'bad' as a Muggle."
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)
  8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 9 (The Dark Mark)
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 18 (The Weighing of the Wands)
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 23 (The Yule Ball)
  11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
  12. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 6 (Draco's Detour)
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 27 (The Lightning-Struck Tower)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  15. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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