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Date of Award
Thesis and Dissertation-ISU Access Only
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of English
Mary J. Moran
Whereas traditional moral theories tend to view actions in terms of right and wrong, which correlate to good and evil, and enforce the idea of a moral dichotomy, feminist care ethics acknowledges a more complex, multivariate understanding of morality. Instead of focusing on abstract theories of right and wrong, care ethics emphasizes the complex practices of caring. By understanding care, and therefore morality, in varying levels that affect and are affected by various situational aspects, ethics of care highlights the scope of moral actions available to people. The theoretical and practical distance between care ethics and the traditional concepts of right and wrong allow room to develop an understanding of the complex morality presented within the Harry Potter series. An ethics of care can help problematize the actions of literary characters and potentially disrupt the traditionally coded labels of "good" and "evil" assigned to them by presenting an alternative moral perspective from which morality is determined. While any number of characters can be examined through a feminist ethics of care lens to demonstrate this breakdown of the dichotomy between good and evil, four characters that demonstrate it particularly well are Molly Weasley and Narcissa Malfoy
as mothers, and Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore, as masculine sources of power. Each of these characters has a seemingly solid label within a traditional moral system; nevertheless, when viewed through an ethics of care lens those labels become destabilized. By evaluating each of these characters from a feminist ethics framework, I will broaden the understanding of the moral paradigm presented by the characters, and the series as a whole, through the complex, and sometimes problematic, network of caring relationships within the series.
Ragan, Shelby, "Harry Potter and the Moral Spectrum of Care: Using Feminist Care Ethics to Analyze Morality" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 364.