On Harry Potter
The Werewolf in the Wardrobe
Professor Lupin, who appears in the third book, is one of my favorite characters. He’s a damaged person, literally and metaphorically. I think it’s important for children to know that adults, too, have their problems, that they struggle. His being a werewolf is a metaphor for people’s reactions to illness and disability.
–JOANNE K. ROWLING, quoted from The Scotsman November 2002
The Big and Not-So-Bad Wolf
One of the most interesting, complex, and peculiar characters in the Harry Potter universe is Professor Remus Lupin. As you may recall, Lupin (a.k.a. “Moony”) is Harry’s Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Book Three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and he also appears in the film version of the same title. He later returns in Books Five and Six. Because Professor Lupin also happens to be a shape-shifting werewolf, he suffers to keep his condition a secret, lest others stigmatize him for it.
Often harried by his need to conceal his condition, Lupin is described in the books as sickly looking: “He looked ill and exhausted. Though quite young, his light brown hair was flecked with gray” (Prisoner of Azkaban 74). Perhaps it is his werewolf condition that makes him ill and exhausted–he is, after all, with perhaps a nod to menstruation, purported to go without sleep for four days a month. His affliction is engaging, but it is just the tip of the iceberg, and if one were to look below, it would seem that even an iceberg is …