“Fantastic Beasts” and the Muggle 1920s
Since the MuggleNet Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them set visit went live on Monday, I have been screaming with excitement at the information revealed! As such, it got me thinking, what do we know that happens in the 1920s that could have an impact on the magical world? We know JKR loves to research and take inspiration from Muggle-world events, but what could she have used as part inspiration for the latest film? To save us all dashing to the library to do research on American history (especially for our British readers), I’ve compiled notable dates from the period and how this might affect the events in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!
Now, World War I wasn’t strictly in the 1920s, but I believe that it would have affected the lives of people significantly enough for it to seep into the period that Newt Scamander arrives in New York City. World War I began in 1914, conscription in the UK started in 1916, and the United States followed shortly thereafter by joining the War in 1917. Okay, I hear you, what does this have to do with the magical world in 1926?! We know that there have always been Muggle-born children; what if these magical children lost their Muggle fathers and brothers in the war? What about half-blood children, whose fathers were Muggles and who had to go fight in the war who may have never returned? We know magical beings are not listed on Muggle registers, but surely it would have broken many rules (and been a nightmare actually to do) to remove Muggle loved ones from these registers, meaning that they would have been conscripted to fight in the War. The reality of this would mean that in 10 years, those children would have grown up without members of their families and potentially given them a very different outlook on life and conflict. Not to mention the fact that throughout Potter, JKR has emphasized the impact that the passing of a parent can have on a child!
However, there is one great thing that WWI led to across the world, and that is the development of women’s rights. Okay, so it didn’t happen overnight, and there was still a great deal of work to be done (and sadly, still is), but it was a start. Since women had to take over many traditionally male jobs and the loss of a voting public (*cough* men), politicians needed votes. Where else could they get these votes from? The women who had been holding down the fort at home while the men were fighting in France. In the UK, votes for women started to happen in 1918, and in America, this began in 1920. Now considering the head of MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) is Madam Seraphina Picquery, a black female, I feel that this may have some bearing on the magical world and the way in which politics was formed in the magical world.
The 1920s were a time of social conflict – the rise of hate groups, consumerism, the troubles in Ireland, and mass migration. But as I was researching world events in the 1920s, I came across a fascinating point: There are no remarkable world events in the year 1926! This, in my mind, can mean only one thing! JKR is up to a whole world of trouble, so bad that the Muggle and No-Maj history books had to be rewritten to destroy all trace of magic in that year! And I can’t wait to find out what that is! Is it November yet?!