A Korean Woman in Potterverse: Claudia Kim’s Nagini

Delivered on October 16, 2020 at the Harry Potter Conference of Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA.

On September 25, 2018, Korean actress Claudia Kim was announced in the role of Nagini for Fantastic Beasts:  Crimes of Grindelwald.  Here is my five-item tweet from the moment I found out:

That was a fun morning.  I couldn’t get enough of the coverage:  Claudia Kim at a press event, saying happily, “I’m Nagini.  I’m blushing!”  Or her Instagram story, where she posted a screenshot of innocent little Neville from Chamber of Secrets with the caption, “Neville!  Ahhhh!” and a scared-face emoji and a snake emoji.  At last, a Korean woman in Potterverse.  I had never counted Cho Chang, even though her name might be Korean, because the writing of that character struck me as generic when I read her on the page:  she could have been any race.  But Nagini, the Maledictus in her human form, would first be brought to life not on the page, but onscreen, with a Korean woman’s experiences informing the actress’s reading of the character, her embodiment and her inflections and her micro-expressions.  

And then I saw some of the backlash against the casting and storyline.  Claims that it was racist, a “disaster,” to cast a Korean woman as a character who, as some people put it, ended up as maybe the pet, the slave, or even the lover of an evil white man.  That the first time a Korean body is represented in the wizarding world, it should not be in a degraded status as a doomed young woman.  That this played into stereotypes of Asian women as subservient, or sexualized, or submissive.  That this character was not exactly a “strong, independent female character.”  I understand many of the criticisms.  For example, that the filmmakers should have found another Indonesian actress to play Nagini, who was written as Indonesian, when their first choice withdrew due to pregnancy.  Or that Rowling could not be trusted to have a solid understanding of naga mythology.  However, whenever I read through this controversy, I find the comments against Claudia Kim’s casting so hurtful, I have to stop.  Many of the objections strike me as unintentionally racist, even if they purportedly call out racism.

And this was all before anyone had seen the movie.

When I finally did see the movie, I liked Nagini in it.  When I saw her two deleted scenes from the DVD, I loved her.

Let’s go through her scenes.

1.  We meet her at the traveling circus, where she’s the featured snake woman, one of the “freaks and underbeings” on exhibit, and Credence cleans the animal cages.  The circusmaster, Skender, exploits Nagini and mistreats Credence.  They’ve plotted to escape together, although Skender tries to keep them apart.  Skender sets up Nagini’s act, telling the audience that she’s “beautiful” and “desirable” but turns into a snake when she sleeps and eventually will be trapped in snake form, and commands her to change shape.  Nagini defies him, making him a laughingstock, and makes eye contact with Credence instead.  Credence releases caged animals into the crowd, Nagini transforms into a snake and bites Skender, and the two of them escape.

2.  Credence has received a tip about his biological mother, so he and Nagini go to look.  Nagini recognizes that Credence is too emotional to speak, so she speaks for him.  But the whole setup is a trap set by Grindelwald, who has sent an assassin to kill the person about to give Credence clues to his own story, as a deliberate ploy to trigger an Obscurus attack in Credence and observe it.  [clip] Nagini senses the camouflaged assassin and tries to fight him, witnesses the Obscurus explosion, then, instead of being afraid, approaches Credence to comfort him afterwards.

3.  She alerts Credence that Grindelwald has come to tell Credence to learn his identity at Père Lachaise cemetery.  The way she glares at Grindelwald, it’s clear that she recognizes him as an exploiter and manipulator.

4.  She goes to Père Lachaise with him and shields him when Yusuf Kama tries to kill him.

5.  She accompanies Credence into Grindelwald’s rally.  She warns Credence, fearfully, “They’re purebloods.  They kill the likes of us for sport.” 

6.  She tries to pull Credence back from joining Grindelwald, saying, “He knows what you were born, not who you are.”

7.  After Credence and others go over to Grindelwald, she joins Kama, Jacob, Tina, the Scamanders, and the Aurors as they report to Dumbledore at Hogwarts.

Looking at her actual character in the movie, I don’t find her to be without agency at all.  She embodies the theme of the Fantastic Beasts series:  that the human attempt to divide living creatures into binary categories as either “beasts” or “beings” does a sort of violence that enables othering, exploitation, and dehumanization.  That this splitting, whether of the natural world, ethnic groups, individual souls, or the atom, is part of what gave rise to World War II.  Yet even in captivity, she defies her captor and becomes one of the few characters in Potterverse to manage their own prison break, which she does by forming a bond of affection with another.  They risk trusting each other and pool resources to resist together; neither of them could have escaped alone.  She relies on her strengths:  yes, she’s caged, but that protects her from the audience touching her.  Yes, she’s a Maledictus, but this means she can transform into a snake who can attack her captor.  And she’s whole enough to form a bond with someone who’s an Obscurial and can unleash destructive power in order to free them.

The screenplay says of Nagini that she “trusts nobody,” but this is not quite true:  she trusts and protects Credence, and we later see hints that she trusts Kama.  She doesn’t have that hardened suspicion that comes of blanket mistrust.  Instead, as the screenplay also says, “Nagini’s senses are hyperalert.  She can smell danger.”  Without any need to go into Maledictus lore, we can recognize this hypervigilance as her natural response to being trafficked and exploited.  The way Claudia Kim plays this alertness feels culturally familiar to me:  she’s always quietly scanning the surroundings, always the first to intuit unspoken dynamics, a skill that Koreans call “nunchi.”  I see it in her microexpressions, her stillness, the sweep of her eyes, her readiness to speak a cautionary word or extend a protective hand.  This isn’t written into the script; it’s just something the actress brings to the role that makes Nagini read Korean to me.

There are times that Rowling gives characters lines to say that lets us, the readers and viewers, know that this is where the real message is:  for example, Dumbledore saying, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  When Credence is leaving Nagini, he says of Grindelwald, “He knows who I am.”  And Nagini’s last cry to Credence is, “He knows what you were born, not who you are.”  It’s Nagini who delivers the essential message of this series:  listen to the truth in each being, no matter how powerless or how much of a freak or under-being they are.

Nagini’s actual role in the movie doesn’t accord with the backlash I encountered before the movie release.  She isn’t shown as anyone’s sexualized, submissive follower:  that description fits the wealthy white woman, Bellatrix Lestrange, not Nagini.  With the darkly funny reference to “milking” Nagini in Goblet of Fire, Rowling cast her as the twisted parody of a mother figure to Voldemort rather than a lover.  At the time of Crimes of Grindelwald, Tom Riddle is less than a year old and has lost his mother.  We don’t yet know how the two cross paths, but with Nagini’s protectiveness toward the vulnerable, it wouldn’t surprise me if she heard a baby’s cries in Parseltongue and responded.

Nagini has agency.  She has a tragic storyline, yes:  that makes her like half the characters in this universe, like Sirius losing 12 years to wrongful imprisonment or Regulus sacrificing himself as a teen with no guarantee it would work — and that was in the children’s version of this story.  Must the Asian woman character be relentlessly inspirational, even if it’s discordant with the rest of movie?  This series is an international story about the prejudices that led to World War II.  Is the Asian woman somehow not allowed to have a role?

When critics object that simply casting a Korean actress as Nagini is racist, this is what I really hear:

This role should have gone to a white woman for the comfort of viewers who are uneasy with the images in their own heads of Asian women.

What I hear is:  People were happier when there was no Korean woman in Potterverse.  They don’t want us if it makes them feel uncomfortable.

All right, let’s hear it:  What narrative for a Korean woman in 1927 would these critics suggest?  How, exactly, do they want us to be for their approval before we can enter the story?  I’ve had the visceral experience of entering the room as the only Asian woman and feeling waves of disapproval, murmurs that my presence has turned something into a disaster for reasons that have nothing to do with my worth or my performance, with nothing I can do to fix it, only that they didn’t want a Korean woman there.

There’s a different Korean narrative brought to mind by the nationality of this casting choice, though, one that I can’t imagine was intended by Rowling and Yates, who created Nagini as Indonesian.

What was going on in Korea in 1927?  For one thing, there was no Korea.  Korea was brutally colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945, and that included slavery and trafficking of Korean girls on a massive scale.  Japanese schoolteachers were recruited to select victims from Korea’s most established families in a deliberate move to demoralize and destroy the culture, similar to the Lestrange storyline with the Kama family.  This issue was silenced for decades and it remains unresolved and a source of diplomatic conflict between Japan and Korea.  A few of the survivors are still alive.  A lot of them never told their own husbands and children.

I can understand not trusting Rowling and Warner Brothers to portray Korean women during the time before World War II.  However.  It is a destructive trap to hold that it’s somehow wrong or improper to tell in public the stories of women of color who endured slavery and trafficking.  Don’t people who died while enslaved by others deserve to have their stories told?  We’re not the only ones that happened to — not even in this movie series — and the survivors and their younger generations continue to pay the cost, like a blood curse.  Shame and silence only lead to more damage, with the greatest burden on the people who have suffered most already.

When the Crimes of Grindelwald DVD was released, the two beautiful deleted scenes featuring Nagini deepened her story.  I wish the filmmakers had kept them in the film:  putting them in the DVD extras means the fullness of this woman of color’s character was relegated to the margins.  Credence and Nagini are clearly lovers in these scenes.  In one, she encourages him to release his Obscurus peacefully and proves that it can pass through her without harm.  In the other, she is ashamed and sorrowful that the skin on her hand is turning scaly, but Credence sees it and kisses it.

Nagini gives Credence the most affection and acceptance he’s ever experienced.  He sleeps with his arms around her, but we see she has stayed awake the whole time, forgoing rest because she wants to be with him in human form.  She coaches him to control his Obscurus and not be afraid of it, recognizing that it’s a part of him and has its own beauty.  The scene is called “Murmuration,” in keeping with the series theme of birds and flight.  When she has the Obscurus pass through her, she demonstrates that this integral part of Credence is not destructive in itself, that she accepts it, and that she has the strength to know how Credence feels.  Credence reciprocates in the later scene, countering some of her shame and despair about her irreversible loss of humanity, showing his acceptance of her whole self.

Rowling has been working toward the concept of the Maledictus for some time, the blood curse through the female line that strengthens over time.  Draco Malfoy’s wife, Astoria, dies of a blood curse in Cursed Child.  I hope very much that we get to see more of the middle of Nagini’s story.  We know how it ends, and so, to an extent, does she.  But from what we’ve seen, it’s in her nature to meet her destiny as Harry Potter did, knowing “the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high.”

Discussing Nagini with Parinita Shetty of the Marginally Fannish Podcast

Ph.D. student Parinita Shetty is the creator of the Marginally Fannish podcast, in which she uses an international lens to examine fan podcasts as sites of public pedagogy.  For a delicious break from quarantine life, she invited me onto her show for an hour of talk about how much I love the character of Nagini in Crimes of Grindelwald, and why.  The Marginally Fannish website includes not only the episode, but a transcript as well!  Check it out.

 

 

Review: When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

I didn’t intend to see Snape parallels when I picked up this book, but they’re plentiful.  The narration alternates between a middle-school Korean girl, Sun-hee, and her young adult brother as they live with their parents through Japan’s colonization of Korea during World War II.  The story is set a decade or two after the events of Fantastic Beasts:  The Crimes of Grindelwald, but Japan was already occupying Korea by then, so it does provide some context for anyone who saw Claudia Kim’s Nagini and wondered what life might have been like for a young Korean woman at that time.

Literacy and reading are at the core of this resistance story.  Sun-hee’s uncle goes into hiding and runs an underground printing press.  The Japanese army sends people to search Korean homes for seditious writings, and of course all post is monitored.  Sun-hee’s brother tells her that when he writes her letters, she must learn to read between the lines.  The most thrilling passages of this suspenseful book come when we witness Sun-hee becoming an expert close reader.  It’s a beautiful example of fiction that demonstrates how close reading is one of the most essential skills for survival.

As for the Snapeyness of this book:  Sometimes, what looks like acquiescence or collaboration may not be.  Sometimes, personal friendships can survive bad politics.  Sometimes, people commit themselves to resistance while knowing that they will be thought, in life and even after death, to be collaborators or traitors.  You don’t always have to lose faith in your loved ones.  Sometimes it’s not safe for them to tell you everything they’re doing.

Notes on Claudia Kim’s Nagini

I was honored to be part of the keynote panel at MISTI-Con 2019 alongside Bayana Davis, Constance Gibbs, and Lawrence Neals, “Evanesco Representation, Accio Inclusion:  Diversity in Harry Potter.”  Moderator Robyn Jordan of Black Girls Create sent out questions in advance.  Here are the answers I prepared to a couple of those questions.


I’m going to focus on my love for Claudia Kim’s portrayal of Nagini in Fantastic Beasts:  The Crimes of Grindelwald.

On September 25 of last year, they announced her character’s name.  Here is my five-item tweet as soon as I found out:

 

A Korean woman in Potterverse! *instant identification*

  1. Neville killed me, oh noes
  2. “milk Nagini” GROSSSSSS
  3. Impersonating Bathilda Bagshot’s corpse? That was a lot to ask of a snake!
  4. Ugh, I had to eat Charity Burbage
  5. OH MY GOD I ATE SNAPE

 

That was a fun morning.

I followed Claudia Kim’s Instagram with the video of her at a press event, saying, “I’m Nagini!  I’m blushing.”  She posted about running to watch Chamber of Secrets when it was on TV and captioned a screenshot of innocent little Neville with “Neville!  Ahhhh!” and a scared-face emoji and a snake emoji.  On her posts about the character, she wrote, “I love you, Nagini!”

Then I saw some of the backlash against the casting and storyline.

I tried looking through the arguments again for this panel, and they were so hurtful, I had to stop.  Many of the objections struck me as unintentionally racist, even though they were from people who seemed to think of themselves as allies.

After all that, when the movie was released, I liked Nagini in it.  I loved her two deleted scenes from the DVD and wish that both of hers had been kept in.  I know Nagini is not written as Korean, but she feels very Korean to me.

1.     What has been your experience as a non-white Harry Potter fan?

Some people objected to showing an Asian woman with such a tragic backstory or so unempowered, subservient to a white man.  One viral tweet said something sarcastic about Nagini not being a “strong independent female character.”  This confused me because this is Voldemort we’re talking about, right?  Who possessed people and killed babies?  Within a universe where magical people commonly have magical familiars, including Wormtail pretending to be a rat.  This fandom has handled tragic stories like Sirius losing 12 years to wrongful imprisonment and Regulus sacrificing himself as a teen with no guarantee it would work — and that was in the children’s version of this story.  The adult version, Fantastic Beasts, is about the treatment of humans and beasts — about “freaks” and “underbeings.”

Nagini’s story seems to fit right in, to me.  Is the Asian woman somehow not allowed to have a role in this story about the prejudices that led to World War II?

Here is what I really hear:

This role should have gone to a white woman for the comfort of viewers who are uneasy with the images in their own heads of Asian women.

What I hear is:  People were happier when there was no Korean woman in Potterverse.  They don’t want us if it makes them feel uncomfortable.

What “strong, independent” narrative for a Korean woman in 1927 would these critics suggest?  How do they want us to be for their approval?  Because we have an example like that, with its own issues, in Seraphina Picquery, who seems to be the only black woman holding high office in magical New York, and yet somehow she’s president.  The white characters in Fantastic Beasts have some degree of real-life historical context, but this black female character doesn’t seem to.

Some people objected to making an Asian woman into a “slave.”

Don’t people who died while enslaved by others deserve to have their stories told?

Some people objected that a character identified as Indonesian should not be played by a Korean actress.  I can see that.  But here’s how I saw that play out in real time:

A Korean actress joined the Potterverse, turned in a performance about resisting dehumanization and escaping trafficking, and then faced criticism, even mockery, on the press tour.  It made my stomach hurt to watch her go through that.  I’ve had the visceral experience of entering the room as the only Asian woman and feeling waves of disapproval, murmurs that my presence has turned something into a disaster for reasons that have nothing to do with my worth or my performance, with nothing I can do to fix it, only that they didn’t want a Korean woman there.

I hope more people take a minute to see more of the character Claudia Kim created.  I liked Nagini in the movie, but I loved her in her two beautiful deleted scenes with Ezra Miller.  They’re on the DVD extras — meaning the fullness of her character felt relegated to the margins.  They’re clearly lovers in those scenes.  In one, she encourages him to release his Obscurus peacefully and proves that it can pass through her without harm.  In the other, he sees the skin on her hand turning scaly and he kisses it.  They’re about the core of this Fantastic Beasts story.

2.    What are some examples of how the quest for representation negatively impacts true inclusion and equity?

I believe there were Korean fans recoiling from the thought that the first time a Korean body is represented in the wizarding world, it’s in a degraded status as a doomed young woman.  I can see that it might be better to be safely invisible to this Western film franchise, as usual, than to be portrayed on an international stage according to stereotype and fetish.  There’s plenty of Korean media doing a better job of projecting the image that Koreans want represented to the world.

There’s a different Korean narrative going on there, though, one that I can’t imagine was intended by Rowling and Yates, who created Nagini as Indonesian.

What was going on in Korea in 1927?  For one thing, there was no Korea.  Korea was brutally colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945, and that included slavery and trafficking of Korean girls on a massive scale.  Japanese schoolteachers were recruited to select victims from Korea’s most established families in a deliberate move to demoralize and destroy the culture, similar to the Lestrange storyline with the Kama family.  This issue was silenced for decades and it remains unresolved and a source of diplomatic conflict between Japan and Korea.  A few of the survivors are still alive.  A lot of them never told their own husbands and children.

For its many flaws, Fantastic Beasts is an international story about the oppressions that led to World War II.  The two films we’ve seen so far have been about the stories that those places don’t want to acknowledge:  witch hunts and politicized capital punishment in the U.S., racism and colonialism in France.  I can understand not trusting Rowling and Warner Brothers to tell the story of Korean women during that time.  However.

It is a destructive trap to hold that it’s somehow wrong or improper to tell in public the stories of Korean women who endured slavery and trafficking in the first half of the 20th century.  We’re not the only ones that happened to – not even in this movie series – and the survivors and their younger generations continue to pay the cost, like a blood curse.  Shame and silence only lead to more damage, with the greatest burden on the people who have suffered most already.  This is part of the global story that Fantastic Beasts is telling about then and about now.

Nagini! Thoughts on Horcruxes, Possession, and Dark Magic

Warning:  This discussion gets dark.  (I mean, this whole series is dark.  And it certainly looks as if the Fantastic Beasts series, freed of any concerns about being intended “for children,” is going to go darker.  But yes, this discussion gets dark.)

On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, the final trailer for the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:  The Crimes of Grindelwald revealed that Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, was a Maledictus:  a human woman born with a blood curse, inherited through the maternal line, that doomed her to turn eventually into an animal.

Rowling announced via tweet that she had been keeping quiet about this backstory for Nagini for “around twenty years.”  She described the ethnic context of the Nagini character in a different tweet:  “The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini.’ They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi.”

Some fans were repelled at the darkness of a storyline in which a human woman becomes a snake who is beheaded by Neville Longbottom; some expressed skepticism that Rowling could have come up with such a backstory for Nagini 20 years ago.  But this is not the first time we have seen such a dark ending for a being possessed by Voldemort or part of his soul.  In fact, this is a standard outcome for anyone Voldemort possesses, in whole or in part.

On pages 653-656 of Goblet of Fire (U.S. edition), Voldemort addresses the Death Eaters and discusses what powers he had while he was bodiless in the forest:

“Only one power remained to me.  I could possess the bodies of others.  […]  My possession of them shortened their lives; none of them lasted long…”

Of Quirrell, he said, “I took possession of his body…  The servant died when I left his body.”

He explained that once Wormtail offered his services, “Wormtail was able to follow the instructions I gave him, which would return me to a rudimentary, weak body of my own, a body I would be able to inhabit while awaiting the essential ingredients for true rebirth…”

We know that for most of Goblet of Fire, Voldemort resides in a rudimentary body the same size and shape as a baby.  He stays in that form, small and weak, until he can obtain ingredients for a magic potion that includes the maternal nurturing from Lily Potter’s blood protection of Harry, which enables him to grow to adult size.  All of the other ingredients are readily available to him; that’s the only one he lacks.  Until he has it, he remains in his rudimentary and stunted form, all year.

We know from the diary Horcrux’s possession of Ginny that Voldemort, even a fraction of him, could draw life out of the person he possesses and take them over.  Dumbledore, Snape, Lupin, Sirius, and Hermione were all afraid that Voldemort would start to use the scar connection with Harry to possess Harry, and the only time Harry ever heard Dumbledore sound frightened was at the Ministry battle in Order of the Phoenix, when Voldemort possessed Harry and tried to goad Dumbledore into attacking him and thereby killing Harry.

In the Forbidden Forest in Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry learns that Voldemort drinks unicorn blood to stay alive, Firenze tells him that “it is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn…  You have slain something pure and defenseless.”

Rowling has never revealed exactly how Voldemort got himself into corporeal form at the beginning of Goblet of Fire.  She said in interview:  “There are two things that I think are too horrible, actually, to go into detail about. One of them is how Pettigrew brought Voldemort back into a rudimentary body. ‘Cause I told my editor what I thought happened there, and she looked as though she was gonna vomit.”

Combined with the original crime at the heart of the HP series, Voldemort’s attempt to kill a baby, it seems reasonable to guess that Voldemort stole a body by possessing a human infant, kidnapped for him by Wormtail.  The infant didn’t die during the year of GoF, since it seems that Voldemort leaves the bodies of beings he possesses if they die.  So the original human infant within that body either still lived and was overpowered by Voldemort’s stronger personality, or became subsumed into Voldemort’s self, perhaps gradually to disappear or become indistinguishable.  Perhaps once Voldemort rebirthed himself in the cauldron and arose as an adult, the infant body and soul died; that would be a more merciful fate than the possibility that some vestige of the original infant lives on within Voldemort.

Which leads us to the question of whether or not Neville Longbottom, in the Battle of Hogwarts, actually beheaded a human woman.  And I would think that the answer is no.  Based on the glimpses we get into Nagini’s thoughts, her urges to strike in Order of the Phoenix or her advanced acting as Bathilda Bagshot in Deathly Hallows, it seems that by the time she is a Horcrux, Nagini is very much a magical form of snake, no longer thinking like a human.

On page 506 of Half-Blood Prince (U.S. edition), Dumbledore tells Harry that he thinks Nagini is a Horcrux.   Harry asks, startled, “You can use animals as Horcruxes?”  Dumbledore replies that it’s inadvisable “because to confide a part of your soul to something that can think and move for itself is obviously a very risky business.”  We know that this is a set-up for the eventual revelation that Harry is an unintended Horcrux, but this also resonates with some themes from the first Fantastic Beasts movie.

There are similarities between Horcruxes and Obscuri.  An Obscurus is a semi-sentient entity that cannot survive independent of its human host; the burden of having an Obscurus kills most Obscurials in childhood.  Newt Scamander is the first person to successfully separate an Obscurus from its Obscurial, keeping it protected in a magical container, which is perhaps similar to the container for a Horcrux or the enchanted bubble around Nagini.

The ability to isolate an Obscurus is of great interest to Grindelwald, who would like an Obscurus to use as a weapon without the pesky inconvenience of fighting the will of the host Obscurial; Credence, for example, proves to be obstinate in resisting Grindelwald’s exploitation.  We know that Voldemort was the first wizard to make more than one Horcrux and that he invented Dark Magic more advanced than any wizard before him.  My guess is that Grindelwald may eventually conclude that it is impossible to harness an Obscurus for himself.  He may turn to Horcruxes as an alternate way of splitting off and containing power, but if he succeeds in making a Horcrux at all, we know it will not be more than one.  This would set the stage for Voldemort to go further than other Dark wizards by embracing the Horcrux strategy wholly, depending only on himself, as Voldemort does, considering himself powerful enough to sacrifice segments of his own soul without loss of power.

But the more Voldemort splits his soul, the more unstable he becomes, which results in his final two soul fragments being encased in living beings.  By the time he goes to create the sixth and final intended Horcrux, he fails to generate the requisite energy by splitting his soul through murder, and he accidentally creates a sort of Horcrux without even noticing.  How embarrassing.  By the time he creates the Nagini Horcrux, he is desperate and settles for this unstable container.

As seems to happen every time Rowling releases new information about Potterverse, many fans object to this expansion of Nagini’s story.  Some argue that it is disturbing to think that Nagini, the human Maledictus portrayed by Claudia Kim, may have joined Voldemort as a sort of slave or lover.  But based on what we see of the Voldemort-Nagini relationship, it seems clear that he has positioned her as a surrogate mother.  In the opening chapter of Goblet of Fire, Voldemort and Wormtail enact a ghastly parody of Hagrid carrying baby Harry to the Dursley home, and Voldemort instructs Wormtail to “milk” Nagini so he can drink snake venom from a baby bottle during the night.  In a book about adolescent metamorphosis, in which Voldemort suffers uncontrollable physical conditions and then rebirths himself at the tomb of the parent he murdered, it is easy to imagine that he might repudiate the memory of the “weak” mortal mother who abandoned him by dying and reinvent himself as the offspring of a magical beast.

Many fans have seemed to resist the human Maledictus backstory for Nagini, but perhaps this is primarily an initial reaction of horror at the darkness of the story.  Rowling has been working up to hereditary blood curses for a while; they played a significant part in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and they are characterized by inevitability and blamelessness.  They fit well into the general Potterverse concept of Dark Magic as harm that strengthens over time (as with the curse that withered Dumbledore’s hand).  Perhaps this kind of hereditary blood curse is too dark for a children’s series, but not too dark for a PG-13 film series for adults about the evil and hate that led to World War II.