The stranger with the pink umbrella: what Chapter Four can tell about Rubeus Hagrid
Though we met Hagrid in the very first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we learn a lot more about him in ‘The Keeper of the Keys’. But how much do we learn about Hagrid’s past and personality from Chapter Four? Best wait until you’ve finished the whole Harry Potter series before reading this one though, it’s got some serious spoilers…
He’s has a big heart and a kind soul
In ‘The Keeper of the Keys’ we start to understand that Hagrid’s heart is just as big as him, and that he has kindness in giant-sized spades. His arrival at the hut-on-the-rock might be slightly alarming – he breaks the door clean off its hinges – but his every word and action towards Harry is full of warmth. He explains as gently as he can about Harry’s parents, about Voldemort and about Harry being a wizard. He even brings Harry a birthday cake.
And Hagrid’s big heart is a key part of his personality as the stories progress, and his kindness often manifests itself in making a student a giant mug of tea, offering them inedible cake and just being there to listen.
It’s Hagrid who offers shelter, help (and a bucket) to Ron as he vomits up slugs in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hagrid comforts Hermione and offers her companionship when Harry and Ron refuse to talk to her, as well as comforting her when she’s called a Mudblood. Humans aside, Hagrid also shows great kindness to the magical creatures in his care – from giant spiders to Blast-Ended Skrewts…
Fundamentally, Hagrid always makes time to listen, to explain, to advise and the beginnings of this facet of Harry and Hagrid’s friendship are clear from Chapter Four.
He doesn’t suffer fools gladly
In Chapter Four, Hagrid has absolutely no patience with the Dursleys, telling them to ‘go boil’ their heads, and ignoring all their protests that Harry is not to be told he’s a wizard, or learn magic at Hogwarts. As we get to know Hagrid better, it becomes clear this is a deep-rooted part of his personality. He isn’t afraid to tell people what he really thinks of them, and isn’t prepared to entertain those he doesn’t approve of.
We wish we’d seen the moment in Chamber of Secrets when Hagrid tells Gilderoy Lockhart that Harry is ‘more famous than him without tryin’’. And the part of that conversation where Hagrid tells the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher that he hasn’t read any of his books. In fact, Hagrid doesn’t even hold his tongue when it comes to his opinions on the Minister for Magic:
'They wanted Dumbledore fer Minister, o’ course, but he’d never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge got the job. Bungler if ever there was one.’
That’s right, Hagrid really does say it like it is!
He’s not afraid to bend the rules
When Hagrid turns up to deliver Harry’s Hogwarts letter in person, he brings with him a pink umbrella, and it becomes clear it’s not just a fabulous accessory when he uses it to give Dudley a curly pig’s tail.
‘Be grateful if yeh didn’t mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts,’ Hagrid says, ‘I’m – er – not supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin’’.
This is the first time we see Hagrid bending or breaking rules, but it is certainly not the last.
From keeping an illegal dragon in his hut in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, to throwing secret ‘Support Harry Potter’ parties in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hagrid never seems particular bothered about following school rules – or often – actual magical laws. And don’t even get us started on Aragog! Truth be told, Hagrid’s disregard for rules often gives Harry, Ron and Hermione a lot more to worry about during their school year. But we’re glad we don’t miss out on any of the adventures his rule-breaking brings about.
His loyalty to Dumbledore knows no bounds
In Chapter Four we see our first glimpse of Hagrid’s loyalty to Dumbledore. In response to Uncle Vernon calling Dumbledore ‘SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL’ Hagrid ‘seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head. ‘NEVER –’ he thundered, ‘– INSULT – ALBUS – DUMBLEDORE – IN – FRONT – OF – ME!' The result? A curly pig’s tail for Dudley Dursley, and our realisation that Hagrid’s loyalty for Dumbledore is one of his fundamental characteristics. In Chamber of Secrets when Lucius Malfoy tells Dumbledore that the governors have asked for him to step aside as headmaster, Hagrid defends him, despite his own painful history with the Chamber of Secrets:
‘Yeh can’ take Dumbledore!’ yelled Hagrid, making Fang the boarhound cower and whimper in his basket. ‘Take him away, an’ the Muggle-borns won’ stand a chance! There’ll be killin’s next!’
This loyalty is not undeserved on Dumbledore’s part. Dumbledore gives Hagrid his gamekeeper job at Hogwarts, he gives him the Care of Magical Creatures job as soon as Hagrid’s name is cleared, he tries to protect Hagrid’s Hippogriff Buckbeak, he defends him when others do not. It is not surprising therefore, that Hagrid describes Dumbledore as a ‘great man’ whenever he gets the chance. Ron sums up Hagrid’s loyalty to Dumbledore nicely in Philosopher’s Stone: ‘And Neville will play Quidditch for England before Hagrid lets Dumbledore down’.
Sorry Neville, this one really is a long shot.
He likes a good old cup of tea
In Chapter Four, one of the first things Hagrid does after he introduces himself, is ask for a cup of tea. And once Harry starts Hogwarts, tea with Hagrid becomes one of the most stable and reliable parts of his school year. Whatever is going on in the wizarding world – escapes from Azkaban, Daily Prophet articles full of falsehoods, Dementor attacks – the door of Hagrid’s hut is always open, with his copper kettle boiling on the open fire. And wasn’t it so comforting to read that 19 years later, Hagrid was still there for Harry, inviting his son, Albus over for tea during his very first week of Hogwarts:
'Bye, Al,’ said Harry, as his son hugged him. ‘Don’t forget Hagrid’s invited you to tea next Friday.’
We just hope poor Albus doesn’t try Hagrid’s rock cakes…