Mudblood is an offensive derogatory slur of prejudice used to refer to wizards and witches who are closely related to muggles. While it is usually specifically targeted at witches and wizards with non-magical parents, called muggle-borns, it is also used to address people with half-blood parentage, where one of the parents is a wizard or witch. It is mostly used as an insult by pure-blooded wizards who support the cause of pure-blood supremacy.
They believe that these people have dirty blood or common blood in them and are not fit for magic. Some of the major dark wizards who furthered this cause include Lord Voldemort and Gellert Grindelwald. Pure-blood wizards or witches who do not support this cause are also often ridiculed and are referred to as blood traitors.
First Appearance of the Term ‘Mudblood’ in the Harry Potter Series
The term Mudblood is first used in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, at Hogwarts, by Draco Malfoy to refer to Hermione Granger when he is showing off the Slytherin Quidditch team’s newly bought Nimbus 2001 broomsticks. When Hermione makes a retort about how no one in the Gryffindor Quidditch team had to buy their way in, referring to Malfoy’s entry as a seeker in the team, he swiftly replies, “No one asked for your filthy opinion, Mudblood.” This enrages Ron and he pulls out his broken wand to duel Draco but instead shouts the incantation “Eat slugs, Malfoy”.
The curse backfires and Ron started spitting out slugs himself. Harry and Hermione decide to take him to Hagrid who would know what to do. Hagrid is taken aback when he hears that Malfoy used the term Mudblood to refer to Hermione. He exclaims to a confused Harry that Mudblood is a foul name used to refer to someone with non-magic parents (muggle parents).
Other Appearances of the Term ‘Mudblood’
The term Mudblood has made several appearances in the books as well as the movie series. Draco Malfoy is a major offender as he uses this term several times, almost always to refer to Hermione. He also calls the petrified people in the Hospital Wing Mudbloods when he refers to them while talking to Harry and Ron disguised as Crabbe and Goyle saying, “Well, go up to the hospital wing and give all those Mudbloods a kick from me.” Even the apparition of Tom Riddle residing in the diary uses the term Mudblood to refer to Myrtle Warren, who was killed by the Basilisk, 50 years ago.
Malfoy also uses the term extensively during the Quidditch World Cup, first when he sees Hermione at the stands and later after the attack by the Death Eaters. He also calls Hermione a long-molared Mudblood when he overhears her telling Ron and Harry that somebody has asked her for the Yule Ball. Malfoy again calls Hermione a Mublood when he is handing out ‘Potter Stinks’ badges and refuses to touch Hermione’s hand because “he doesn’t want a Mudblood sliming up his hands.”
One of the notable appearances of the term Mudblood comes in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when the portrait in Twelve Grimmauld Place shouts out several slurs whenever people pass by it. The portrait belongs to the mother of Sirius Black, who was a blood purist. Even her trusted house-elf, Kreacher continuously calls Hermione a Mudblood and refuses to respond to her questions. Once Draco becomes a part of Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad, he deducts ten points from Hermione Granger and as a result, Gryffindor, stating the cause as her being a Mudblood.
Draco again uses the term Mudblood to refer to Hermione, from whom he got the idea to poison the oak-matured mead and fool Filch from recognizing the poison in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when he talks to Headmaster Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower before trying to kill him. This is one of the last times Draco uses this term, as this scene is memorable for transforming Draco into a boy willing to make better changes.
Interestingly, this is also the book in which Severus Snape is revealed to be the Half-Blood Prince, a name he kept owing to his mother’s name being Eileen Prince and having a muggle father named Tobias Snape. Draco also called Hermione a Mudblood early in this novel at Madam Malkin’s shop when he is buying robes, after they visit the Weasley Wizard Wheezes, Fred and George’s Joke Shop. Interestingly, Malfoy’s family as a whole makes several references to this term throughout the series.
The term Mudblood is probably used the most in the last novel of the book series. One of the major instances this term is used is in the flashback scene where Snape is friends with Lily Evans in their childhood. When at Hogwarts, James and his friends bully Severus, but Lily tries to stop them from bullying him. But Snape snappily calls her a mudblood and claims that he needs no help from her. This causes a severe rift in their relationship, one that never really repairs.
The term Mudblood is also used extensively in the Ministry of Magic where loads of muggleborn and half-blooded people are brought in for questioning after the Death Eaters start controlling the ministry. Several pamphlets are distributed with specific instructions on how to stay away from Mudbloods and offensive remarks are made calling them ‘creatures of dirt’ and described as a ‘disgusting thing’ with a ‘sweaty brow’. Furthermore, several utterances of the term Mudblood also occur at the Malfoy Manor where Bellatrix Lestrange tortures Hermione to reveal where she got the Sword of Gryffindor from.
The Real World Slurs like Mudblood
It is quite evident from the usage of the term and the effect it has on people, that the term Mudblood was heavily influenced by real-world counterparts that were used to heinously ridicule people of ostracized and underrepresented races.
Several cases mirroring this one exists, but the most prominent examples would be Antisemitism in Nazi Germany and Racial Discrimination against the African-American citizens in the United States of America. Both these cases were very similar to the Pureblood fanaticism that Voldemort and his Death Eaters so venomously spewed.
While the slurs themselves were meant to somehow hamper the progress of these communities, they also served as signifiers that convinced the masses that the people from these communities were somehow ‘less than’ them. This is how structures are built with the intent to discriminate and control the thought processes of its masses – through propaganda and false claims of superiority. But interestingly enough, be it Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan, or Voldemort, none of the perpetrators of discrimination ever thrived enough. Eventually, the resistance to such claims of superiority would always vanquish it.
Is Hermione a Muggle or a Mudblood?
Hermione is neither a Muggle nor a Mudblood. Hermione is an extremely talented and powerful witch who was born to Muggle parents. However, it makes no sense to call her a Mudblood either because it is a very derogatory term that should never be used to refer to anyone in the first place. Hermione was called Mudblood on several occasions, especially by Draco Malfoy, but she never ever flinched at the mention of this term because she was also a very brave and gifted witch.
Was Harry a Mudblood?
No, Harry was not a Mudblood. The term Mudblood is offensive and a very derogatory term used by blood purists to refer to people with a muggle ancestry. However, Harry was not completely of muggle ancestry. While his mother Lily Potter was an extremely gifted witch born into a muggle family, Harry’s father was from a wizarding family with a very rich heritage, going back all the way to Ignotus Peverell, one of the popular wizards of the 13th century.
Is Voldemort a Mudblood?
No, Voldemort was not a Mudblood. Like Harry, he too was ‘Half-Blooded.’ He was born to Tom Riddle Sr., a Muggle man who lived in a mansion in Little Hangleton Village, and to Merope Gaunt, who was a descendant of the popular wizard Salazar Slytherin. However, since Tom Riddle Sr. abandoned his wife and child after he came out of the trance that Merope had set, Voldemort was very angry about his Half-Blood heritage and always wanted to reset the ways and only let pure-blooded wizards do magic.