3

“What does your dad do at the Ministry of Magic, anyway?”

“He works in the most boring department,” said Ron. “The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.”

“The what?”

“It's all to do with bewitching things that are Muggle-made, you know, in case they end up back in a Muggle shop or house. Like, last year, some old witch died and her tea set was sold to an antiques shop. This Muggle woman bought it, took it home, and tried to serve her friends tea in it. It was a nightmare - Dad was working overtime for weeks.”

“What happened?”

“The teapot went berserk and squirted boiling tea all over the place and one man ended up in the hospital with the sugar tongs clamped to his nose. Dad was going frantic - it's only him and an old warlock called Perkins in the office - and they had to do Memory Charms and all sorts of stuff to cover it up—”

"But your dad ... this car ..." (Harry said)

Fred Laughed. "Yeah, Dad's mad about everything to do with Muggles, our shed's full of Muggle stuff. He takes it apart, puts spells on it and puts it back together again. If he raided our house he'd have to put himself straight under arrest. It drives Mum mad. "

As I understand, Fred is saying that his dad takes Muggle stuff apart, puts spells and puts it back together again and If anyone broke into their house, he would be put straight under arrest. But I don't understand why it drives Mum mad?

Maybe I just got something wrong from the original passage?

-- Excerpted from Harry Potter.

  • I think the word "it" in the last sentence in the paragraph you excerpted from Harry Potter can refer to the situation of Dad is arrested. I mean Mum would be mad if Dad were arrested. Is that what you did not figure out? ( I haven't read the book so I cannot give elaborate answer.) – Mrt Oct 24 '18 at 2:48
  • 1
    @Mrt No, Dad doesn't hate Muggles, he loves Muggle stuff. According to Oxford Dictionary: mad - very enthusiastic about someone or something. – RubioRic Oct 24 '18 at 6:01
  • 2
    "Mad about" in this context means "Fanatical about". Like the old song, "Mad about the boy", it means to be in love with something, to like something very much. To like it so much, that you feel crazy! – Karl Oct 24 '18 at 6:23
  • 4
    However, when it "drives Mum mad" it makes her angry. These are the two different ways of using the word. mad about something :: like something very much; be a fan –– something drives me mad :: something makes me angry – Karl Oct 24 '18 at 6:24
  • 2
    BTW, the passage does not say "he would be put under arrest" but "he would have to put himself ... under arrest". He would have to arrest himself, if he ever raided his own house, that is. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 24 '18 at 11:11
15

Mad has two meanings. Angry and crazy, in this case it is probably both.

The dad has an incessant hobby that the mum finds annoying.

and If anyone broke into their house

You are misreading that, he is saying if dad were to "raid" his own house... raid in this sense means "police raid", which is where police make a surprise search/arrest at a property. Fred is saying his dad breaks the laws he is supposed to be enforcing.

  • 4
    Yes. Using "mad" in two different senses in the same paragraph is not designed to make things easy for non-English readers. The fact that both usages are colloquial doesn't help either. The passage is brilliantly written, because this really is the way teenage boys talk about their parents, but it's not "literary" English. To re-state the answer: Dad is "mad" because he is irrationally enthusiastic about his hobby; Mum is "mad" because she is angry with Dad because of the possible consequences. – Michael Kay Oct 24 '18 at 12:12
9

Mum is mad because the shed and house are overflowing with "Muggle stuff." Dad is bringing all his work home, and he's making a big mess with illegal things. It's unkempt and unseemly, and it might be a source of embarrassment to Mum -- not to mention potentially dangerous to anyone who comes in contact with the contraband.

  • 4
    @dan "He" refers to Dad. If he, as a sort of Wizard Cop, raids HIS OWN house, he'd have to put HIMSELF under arrest because he keeps ilegal Muggle stuff. [Not shouting, using caps to emphasize some words] – RubioRic Oct 24 '18 at 6:04
  • 3
    Yes. @RubioRic is right here. It is hypothetical. Imagine a Police officer who is also a criminal and has a house full of stolen items. IF he were to do his job and raid his house, he would have to arrest himself! – Karl Oct 24 '18 at 6:21
  • 1
    @dan No, Magic Law does not apply to Muggles. It's illegal for a wizard to enchant Muggle objects or to possess such enchanted objects. I think. I have read the books but I'm no expert in Magic Law ;-P – RubioRic Oct 24 '18 at 6:39
  • 3
    @dan Well, I think that it has already been established at that point of the book. Ministry of Magic is responsible of Magic Stuff. Muggles are "magic-less" by definition. Dad investigates wizards and witches that possess enchanted Muggle objects and if some of those objects get loose in the normal world they have to flash, like in Men In Black, the Muggles to make them forget. They don't arrest Muggles. – RubioRic Oct 24 '18 at 6:55
  • 1
    Doesn't really have anything to do with the english language as such, but the basic explanation is this: Both for Statute of Secrecy and humanitarian reasons (muggles coming in contact with magic items risks revealing wizard society, and the enchanted items themselves are often dangerous to muggles) it's generally illegal to bring enchanted muggle artifacts into circulation. Enchanting muggle artifacts itself is highly frowned upon and possibly illegal without a license as it's quite easy for such things to accidentally end up in muggle hands. – Cubic Oct 24 '18 at 11:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.