Female Villains in Contemporary Popular Culture. Bellatrix Lestrange in the "Harry Potter" Series

Term Paper, 2013

11 Pages, Grade: 2,0


1. Introduction ... 3
2. Why are there so few female villains? ­ Stereotypes in literature and movie ... 3
3. Molly Weasley - The flagship mother ... 4
4. Molly Weasley ­ a racist? ... 6
5. What makes Bellatrix Lestrange evil? ... 7
6. Conclusion ... 8
Works cited: ... 11

1. Introduction
In contemporary popular culture the most villains are men. It is very unlikely that the main villain
could be a woman. Mostly men are the villain and the hero in popular culture and literature.
What is the reason for that? What is the reason for such a sexist image of women? Why are
there so few female villains? Why are there so few female heroes?
I want to find an answer to these questions by taking a closer look on the death eater Bellatrix
Lestrange of the Harry Potter series. She is the most evil character, not only in the Harry Potter
series, but also of all fictional female villains one can imagine.
I am going to compare her character to the one of Lord Voldemort, the most powerful male
villain of the Harry Potter books. Not only will I compare the male to the female villain, but also
take a closer look on the relation between Bellatrix Lestrange and another female character of
Harry Potter, that takes an important role in the plot. Bellatrix Lestrange compared to Molly
Weasley, who killed the death eater during the final battle of Hogwarts. After having compared
Bellartix Lestrange with the other female character, I will come to the final comparison of Bel-
latrix and Lord Voldemort; the comparison of a female and a male villain. I will use all the Harry
Potter books in which Bellatrix is staring as well as secondary literature to help me with my
2. Why are there so few female villains? ­ Stereotypes in literature and movie
First of all it is necessary to deal with the question, why there are so few female villains, before
focusing on the particular situation of the characters in Harry Potter. The fact, that women are
not particularly seen as evil is a matter of evolution. From the beginning of the human race
until now men has always been the strong gender, while women were always seen as weak.
Men were responsible for hunting and protection back then, to guarantee their families survival.
Today's society hasn't changed at all. Men are still in charge to "feed" their families throughout
going to work and earning money ("hunting"). Women had to take care of their families in a
different way; they took care of their children, protected their infants while men protected them.
It's a hierarchy, which has lasted until today and didn't change at all.
When we take a closer look on the stereotype of a woman as the loving, forgiving mother and
caring housewife, we recognize that this is without a doubt a natural image. This is still the way
women are seen in our century and society. Even though women have gained more rights
throughout time (emancipation), they still aren't equal to men. It is absolutely common that
men are the persons of charge or the CEOs at companies. Men usually earn more money than
women, get more often promoted and are physically in better conditions.
That is why men are seen as the strong gender. And that makes women automatically to the
weak one. Our society even promotes this image; with commercials that stare the happy

housewife whose aim is it to offer her family the best living conditions by using the best washing
We are born and raised. In this time our mother is usually the person who symbolizes love and
care, while our father, who is working a lot and pretty handy with crafts, symbolizes strength.
We grow up without knowing that the stereotype of the loving mother is stuck in our head. It
confuses us to see a female villain as this doesn't fit with our image of the weak woman. It
frightens us to see a female villain, as we've always seen our mother and women in general
as weak, which can only transform to persons of protection when it concerns their children's
When we are growing up we live in the faith, that our family will always be there for us no
matter what happens, and that our mothers will always love us without conditions. We are
living in a world that is full with dangerous threats like war, terrorism, famine, existential fears
and so on.
Our mothers balance the evil of this world. We cherish our mothers and unconsciously women
in general, as the good ones, which protect us from the demons. Seeing a woman doing evil
deeds offends everything we've learnt about gender and society. We want to feel safe and
knowing that even women can perform evil deeds, doesn't help. It makes a woman even more
dangerous, when she is obviously acting against her nature. Concerning the Harry Potter se-
ries Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange are the probably best examples of the loving, caring
mother and, in comparison to that, the female villain of contemporary popular culture.
Especially as these two characters clash in the end of the series.
3. Molly Weasley - The flagship mother
There are many mothers in the Harry Potter series, but none of those can be compared to
Molly Weasley. As a mother of seven children "she cooks, knits, bakes, makes candy, sorts
socks [and] does laundry [...]. Her family is poor, but she does not even consider working
outside the home." (Asher, Mary. The Power of Women in Harry Potter. Saarbrücken: VDM
Verlag Dr. Müller, 2010. 20. Print.).
She is the flagship mother and for the main character Harry Potter, she becomes kind of a
second mother, as his birth mum was killed when he was a little baby.
The Weasley family stands in contrast with everything Harry has ever gotten to know in his life.
He was raised at his aunt Petunia's and his uncle Vernon's, after his parents got killed by Lord
Voldemort. His childhood was characterized by hate and mistreatment. His aunt and uncle
would "close him in a cupboard under the stairs [...] and lock him in, and then put bars on his
room. They starve him and leave him behind when they go out, and treat him as if he doesn't

exist when they are in" (Wolosky, Sheira. The Riddles of Harry Potter: Secret Passages and
Interpretive Quests. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 6. Print.)
The atmosphere at the Weasley's is completely different. This family symbolizes the ideal one.
The family Harry has always wished for.
However, Molly Weasley "plays a traditional female role. She is sustainer and nurturer physi-
cally as well as emotionally." (Flotmann, Christina. Ambiguity in Star Wars and Harry Potter ­
A (post-)structuralist reading of two popular myths. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2013. 253. Print.)
She symbolizes how society sees women. She and her family offer warmth and comfort and
she is important for the story, as she symbolizes hope. She shows Harry that, even he had to
endure ten horrible years at the Durseley's, there is still a loving and caring family that would
adopt him in a second if it could. More important; there is a loving and caring mother, which he
never had, and that loves him as if he was her real son.
Even "the seven Weasley siblings are strong contrasting images to the seven Horcruxes of
Voldemort" (Wolosky, 9.).
Molly Weasley is the silent hero. She is exactly the mother that has been mentioned before;
the woman who can transform to a person of protection when it comes to her children's safety.
Molly Weasley is going through a change. One got to know her as the caring mother but during
the final battle of Hogwarts she kills the death eater Bellatrix Lestrange, when she tried to
attack Mollys youngest child and only daughter Ginny Weasley. (Rowling, J. K.. Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows. London: Bloomsbury, 2007. 589. Print.).
She would sacrifice her life to her children just like Harry's mother Lily did.
In this scene she shows that she is more than a housewife and that she masters more than
"household spells." (Flotmann, 253.).
The reader realizes that Molly Weasley chose to be a housewife and mother as she is powerful
enough to do something different (Flotmann, 254).
She even can be seen to be as powerful as Harry Potter himself, after all did she kill Volde-
mort's most important ally and was the last one besides Harry to fight in the battle of Hogwarts.
After Molly Weasley killed Bellatrix, there were only Harry and Voldemort left. Her's and Bella-
trix's fight was the last one before the actual showdown began.
She kind of took revenge for everything Bellatrix has done: the torture of Neville Longbottom's
parents Frank and Alice, who lost their minds, the death of Harry's godfather Sirius and the
death of Bellatrix's niece and Order of the Phoenix ­ member Nymphadora Tonks..
Excerpt out of 11 pages


Female Villains in Contemporary Popular Culture. Bellatrix Lestrange in the "Harry Potter" Series
University of Paderborn
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female, villains, contemporary, popular, culture, bellatrix, lestrange, harry, potter, series
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Julia Merten (Author), 2013, Female Villains in Contemporary Popular Culture. Bellatrix Lestrange in the "Harry Potter" Series, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/375459


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