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Thread: Arranged Marriages

  1. #1
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    Arranged Marriages

    I've noticed that there's quite a few people on here who think that the likes of Bellatrix and Narcissa had arranged marriages, which something that I had never heard of before I joined these boards. I'd always assumed that they'd made their marriages willingly, and had never come across any canon evidence to suggest that parents chose their offspring's spouses.

    I never suspected arrangements as Sirius says 'they both made respectable, pure blood marriages,' or something like that in OOTP when referring to Bellatrix and Narcissa. This to me suggests that they made their own choices when it came to it, and that they weren't forced into it.

    I don't like the idea of arranged marriages, especially in that period of time in the HP universe, it just seems really old fashioned and out of place. They might have done so centuries before, but I personally don't think it was commonplace when the Black daughters married. There might have been one or two rare cases in families in which such a marriage was necessary, but I doubt this in the Black family. I think that pure-blood ideals were so well installed in Bellatrix and Narcissa, and probably their forebears, that they wouldnt' have looked anywhere else for their husbands.

    What I can see happening are nudges in the right direction. For example, a daughter being introduced to someone the parents see as a respectable suitor, and they constantly make a case for the bloke. But I don't think that they would have gone to the parents of said bloke and say, 'right, I think he should marry my daughter,' (or words thereabouts :P) without consulting either party first.

    Is there anything, either in the books or in JK's interviews that suggests that they did infact have arranged marriages and that I am totally wrong?

    What are people's takes on this?

    Do people think that later generations (aka Draco) would have arranged marriages too?


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    Arranged marriages aren't necessarily forced marriages. I think it's very much how you say that the girl (let's say Bellatrix) is introduced to some suitable pureblood and agrees to marry him for whatever reason.

    I can't see Bellatrix being forced into anything she didn't want to do, and witches do have more power than the poor Victorian Muggle girl who couldn't vote, get a job, own property without her father or husband's say so. A witch could always Apparate somewhere else after all.

    I never suspected arrangements as Sirius says 'they both made respectable, pure blood marriages,' or something like that in OOTP when referring to Bellatrix and Narcissa.
    Now, I read this in a completely different way. The fact that Sirius says 'made' makes me think they're business arrangements - otherwise he could have said 'they both fell in love and married two purebloods' or something. That's not to say that Narcissa didn't love Lucius, they were at school together after all, and I could see them being attracted to each other. Bellatrix - hmm, I don't think she loved anyone except Voldemort. But whilst she couldn't be co-erced into a marriage, I can see her marrying Rodolphus because it's either convenient or because he's rich. (and he is rich - they have impressive treasures in their vault)

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    Keep in mind that the Blacks were about as pureblood-manic as could possibly be. The Black sisters probably never even considered that a person could marry for love. You married a man with good bloodlines so you could have his pureblood children (and then have affairs later...)

    At least that's how I hear it worked in royal arranged marriages. And neither the husband or wife minded because they were both having affairs. Marriage is just about having children with the proper liniage. That is probably how it worked with pureblood families too.

    Makes you wonder who Andromeda was promised to, though. I have read a few stories where she was supposed to married Lucius, but because she ran off with Ted Tonks, the Black gave him Narcissa instead and wish Narcissa old betrothed 'the best of luck'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Keep in mind that the Blacks were about as pureblood-manic as could possibly be. The Black sisters probably never even considered that a person could marry for love. You married a man with good bloodlines so you could have his pureblood children (and then have affairs later...)
    I think you are really extrapolating a lot to assume that the Black sisters "never even considered that a person could marry for love." There is no evidence in canon that pure-bloods practice arranged marriages.

    There are a lot of cultures in the real world, past and present, in which "blood" (i.e., racial/ethnic/religious affiliation) has been considered very important, but who did not/do not practice arranged marriages. There are still people who believe the worst thing you can do is marry someone outside your group, but they also believe that love is important.

    The comparison between pure-blood wizarding families and Victorian British aristocracy, and the belief that they practiced similar marriage traditions, is mostly a fanon invention.

    I think there are two basic reasons for this:

    1. Superficially, pure-bloods do seem to be the closest thing the wizarding world has to an aristocracy, and superficially, the wizarding world also appears vaguely Victorian or Edwardian. So a lot of fans extrapolate from that (and reading a lot of Jane Austen) and come up with Victorian social rituals and arranged marriages for pure-bloods.

    2. Rowling did say in an interview that Bellatrix married Rodulphus because it was "what was expected of her." Now, that to me sounds more like family pressure -- the "nudging" the OP mentioned -- than an arranged marriage that was fixed without any input from the couple. But a lot of fans who like arranged marriage stories have assumed the latter.

  5. #5
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    I always assumed that "arranged"/respectable marriage meant that they had to marry in their group, i.e. there were 5-10 acceptable suitors/wizards, purebloods, roughly the right age. I can see there being balls and social get-togethers in the pureblood community, where the ladies would meet all those wizards that were elegible to her, or vice versa.

    I always felt that especially between Narcissa and Lucius, there was something like love. With Bellatrix, it seemed to me that Rodolphus was trying to win her heart, and she married him to shut he parents up, because she knew she would be able to live her life and practise magic the way she was used to etc with Rodolphus – he wouldn't expect her to be a stay at home wife and mother. Something like that. But I definitely see them choosing or being chosen, and freely agreeing to the marriage.
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    Maybe if there were no real 'arranged' marriages, the pureblood elite made sure to only associate with other purebloods so their children would only know other purebloods and only marry other purebloods.

    Still, the idea of at least unoffical arranged marriages seems possible. It wasn't that long ago that they died out in Muggle Europe, with them still excisting in certain countries. Probably more likely what would happen his that two families decided it would be 'nice' if their children got married one day and just really pushed the idea of the children being friendly with one another.

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    I'm with you - pureblood children would be expected to marry other purebloods, and also perhaps be pressured into looking for suitors in the right places, but I don't think they would have been forced onto an assigned partner; an average member of the Black family (say, one who isn't Andromeda or Sirius) would have never even thought of marrying someone other than pureblood, so I find it unlikely that there would be any need to force a marriage. However, I can see parents associating themselves with the 'right crowd' and dropping subtle hints at gatherings/parties - there probably weren't that many children of the same age group anyway, and I do think the two Black daughters chose who they were going to marry. Andromeda, I think, is a different case - it's possible that Mrs. Black could have been more aggressive after realising Andromeda didn't believe in pureblood beliefs, i.e. actively arranging dinners with a random suitor. But I don't think Mrs. Black chose Rodolphus for Bellatrix and Lucius for Narcissa.

  8. #8
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    I think it is important to remember that the main priority of pureblood marriages is to preserve the bloodline. Obviously, not all pureblood families are like that, but the Blacks disowned Andromeda for not marrying a pureblood. I don't think marriages are necessarily 'arranged,' but like others have said, it's obvious that families might approve of one suitor over another.

    I think it's feasible to say that in earlier times, arranged marriages might have been the norm. Even in the real world, there was a time when arranged marriages were the most common option. And since the wizarding world seems to be a bit behind on the times in areas like technology, it wouldn't be completely unreasonable to say that it's old-fashioned in terms of social conventions as well.

    Now, it's true that there is little (if any) evidence for arranged marriages in the actual books. But there isn't anything that explicitly states, "Arranged marriages do not exist." I think it's clear in some cases, like Lucius and Narcissa's, for instance, that there is love there. Especially towards the end of the series, the Malfoys are represented as a more close-knit family, and their priority in the final battle is ensuring Draco's safety. In other cases, though, it's not so obvious. Look at Bellatrix and Rodolphus. Bellatrix shows more love for Voldemort in the series than she ever does for her husband. Maybe it wasn't an arranged marriage, per se, but I have a feeling that Bellatrix would have been just fine without Rodolphus. Maybe she's not quite the best example, as she is a bit unbalanced, but I think that's a relationship where love wasn't the main factor in the marriage.
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    Probably a century ago, arranged marriages might have been a lot more stict in the sense we are all thinking of, but over time, it just became a lot less ridged of an idea, I think by the time the Black sisters all got married, but I always got the impression that Draco likely married Astoria because he chose to, even though the Greengrass' are certainly one of Britian's well-known pureblood families as well.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    but I always got the impression that Draco likely married Astoria because he chose to, even though the Greengrass' are certainly one of Britian's well-known pureblood families as well.
    Are they? The Greengrass' always seemed pretty obscure to me - we pretty much never hear anything of Daphne Greengrass in the series, and her sister Astoria is never even mentioned until Rowling's interview after Deathly Hallows. Having Draco marry a some girl we've never heard of gives me the impression that the Greengrass family does not draw attention to itself.

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