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“Harry! Good-o!” said Bagman happily, looking around at him. “Come in, come in, make yourself at home!”

Bagman looked somehow like a slightly overblown cartoon figure, standing amid all the pale-faced champions. He was wearing his old Wasp robes again.

(p349, Harry Potter 4, US edition)

According to a dictionary at hand, ‘overblown’ means ‘exaggerated’. I’m thinking ‘overblown’ in the above quotation is used to contrast against ‘pale-faced’ champions. However, I can’t get what is exaggerated for sure; The color of robes? His happy face? Therefore, I can’t imagine such cartoon figure at all.

What does “a slightly overblown cartoon figure” mean? What kind of picture would you get from it?

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in short, your dictionary "exaggerated" - I would say rather "excessive". Again an example, one might say In the USA, things are often overblown; in Japan things are usually not overblown, everything is just right. Just personally, for me, the word does not really exactly precisely hit the right tone usage there. it's a little awkward. It could be she literally meant "overdrawn" and it's a typo. That's one man's opinion. You now know what it means (excessive), but the examples I have given you are more typical usage. –  Joe Blow Jul 12 '11 at 8:20
    
Finally in closing it'd like to say the "exaggerated " is just plain not a good definition. It's more like pretentious, excessive, inappropriately expensive/complex, brash. If you're familiar with the phrase "over the top" -- that is pretty much exactly what "overblown" means, IMO!! Cheers –  Joe Blow Jul 12 '11 at 8:26
    
@Joe san – Oh, hi! I’m Totoro Eigo Muzukashi. Nice to talk to you. Your detailed examples really impressed me. Thanks for your helpful info. –  user7493 Jul 13 '11 at 11:02
    
@everyone – Thanks for joining me. To be honest, I’m not sure which answer is right. I got Bagman’s detailed description first at p.86, which made me confused about what overblown means. It might refer to his clothes, his carrer (now gone to seed), or his fat body, or three of them. At some time, I was thinking I should stick to a nearby context, his clothes. At other time, I was considering it refers to deformation typical of cartoons. Then I got lost. I never thought your answers would be different from one another like this. –  user7493 Jul 13 '11 at 11:06

3 Answers 3

overblown also has the meaning

of unusually large size or proportions: a majestic, overblown figure.

By itself, an "overblown cartoon figure" to me would be someone huge in size, typically like Obelix

In the context of Ludo Bagman being a former Quidditch player with a broken nose, I would say you are right in contrasting this against the other "pale-faced" champions.

.. whose good looks have gone a bit to seed; his nose is squashed in (apparently having been broken by a stray bludger) and he is quite a bit thicker around the middle than he was in his Quidditch days ..

So it all fits in with a bit absurd and comical looking image which is what the author is trying to conjure up.

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I think it's his clothes, the "old Wasp robes". It's making him look ridiculous, and cartoonish, and so the author writes "a slightly overblown(exaggerated) cartoon figure".

A cartoon figure is always a caricature of the real thing; It's a humorous sketch or drawing depicting something. enter image description here

This cartoon of a cat doesn't look like a real cat, it's humorous, out of proportion, slightly ridiculous, but we know it's a cat.

In the context of Harry, Bagman's clothes is making him look like a "slightly exaggerated cartoon figure".

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@totoro, @ham. You know what, Ham. You could easily say that is specifically not an overblown piece of cartooning. Rathar, it's simple, delightful. One could easily say for example The recent Disney animation is so overblown - crap like Tangled - whereas of course Gibli is never overblown, it's flawless yet naive and simple. for example. As a piece of cartooning art, that example is definitely not overblown, it's more like the Spot books, you know? In contrast something like a ridiculously detailed, "over the top" "wildly over-dramtic" sci-fi anime frame, might be "overblown." –  Joe Blow Jul 12 '11 at 8:24

It is Bagman's whole personality that is overblown, larger than life, exaggerated to the point where it seems artificial. Even in the short extract you quote we see him speaking enthusiastically, in a style which Rowling's British readership will immediately identify as English Public Schoolboy. Bagman is written to fit better into the early twentieth century upper classes as portrayed by P.G. Wodehouse, or Harry Enfield's character Tim Nice-But-Dim, rather than the early twenty-first century that he is supposed to live in.

In other words, Bagman is being portrayed as someone who doesn't quite fit into the same reality as the rest of us. He acts like a caricature, a cartoon character, rather than a real person.

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