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Department of Mysteries

The Only One He Ever Feared: Fear as a Driving Force in the Plot of “Harry Potter”

Tom Riddle

What if every decision, every main idea, every theme in the story of Harry Potter was driven by one emotion that is felt by everybody on the planet: fear. Fear changes everything. It warps minds, inspires bravery, sparks violence, and in this case changes plot lines. Read More »

The Congruent Lives of Dudley And Draco

Dudley Dursley

Although Draco and Dudley seem very different from each other, is there a possibility for their personal lives to be similar? Are they really as different as portrayed? Or do they actually possess quite a few similar qualities? Read More »

The Horcrux of Love

Harry Potter

An editorial noting the odd similarities between two of the most complex bits of magic in the series, in response to Brandon's essay, "The Resurrection of Harry Potter?" Read More »

The Resurrection of Harry Potter?

Harry Potter

Explaining the circumstances behind Harry’s survival in Deathly Hallows, after sacrificing himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Read More »

Hogwarts Houses: Elements Behind the Colours

Hogwarts Crest

By Chantelle Harvey Abstract: It’s a well known fact that each house is a representation of an Element in Astrology: Gryffindor symbolizes Fire, Ravenclaw symbolizes Air, Hufflepuff symbolizes Earth and Slytherin symbolizes Water. To analyse characteristics, first of all you need to understand how astrology and horoscopes work. If you don’t know your horoscope, I suggest you Google it so you can follow along as I ask the question: do the houses truly represent their Element? Every Element is linked to three astrological birth signs. The birth signs grouped together with this Element are ‘perfect partners,’ in other words, the people that you would find good friends in. However, depending on your birth sign, you have different, varying levels of characteristics linked to your Element, in the form of whether you are a Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable Sign. Every Element has one of each, and every sign is either Cardinal or Fixed or Mutable. That’s the basics and will probably make more sense once explained in terms of Hogwarts Houses. Gryffindor – Fire – Star Signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius If you belong to Aries, Leo or Sagittarius you have the typical personality traits of a Gryffindor. The key words to ... Read More »

Wailing the Dead: Dementors in Muggle Legends and Tales

Dudley Dementor

By Barbara O’Quinn Abstract: Discussing Dementors: the origins of the word, and the presence of the creatures in Muggle legends and folk tales. The Christmas homes of England! Alike in peasant’s cot, Where hath the death-wail not been heard, Where hath it entered not? –“The Christmas Homes of England,” Caroline Hayward A dark, hooded cloak of ripped black cloth, concealing a vaguely human form, towers above you – its skin grey and decaying, its breathing hoarse and rattling as it glides soundlessly across the floor. One glistening hand reaches out as it nears you, and a wave of unbearable cold fills the area. To your horror, as the hood falls back, no features can be seen… only a large black hole where the mouth should be. That is the last sight you see, as you feel a chilling emptiness fill you from the inside out – erasing all hope, all warmth, all joy, all memory. The name is the stuff of wizard nightmares across the ages, so monstrous it’s only whispered of in some circles: Dementor. Little is known of Dementors. Even the most eminent magizoologists confess themselves uncertain as to the habits of these feared and hated creatures. But ... Read More »

Harry Potter Daemons?

The Golden Compass

Abstract: In Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, everyone had a daemon. I wonder what the various Harry Potter characters would have had as their daemons, if it was part of the story? Read More »

From Books to Blogs: Harry Potter and Social Media

MuggleNet

By apwbdumbs Abstract: Originally written for a college communications course, this essay analyzes the use of social media networks, as it relates to the Harry Potter community. Through the creation of an online environment that is enhanced by social media capabilities, the fans themselves have initiated a growth of community centered around a common interest and have also helped perpetuate the Harry Potter series, even after it has come to an end. Ultimately, the creation of community and perpetuation of the series, resonates with the themes of friendship and love presented in the Harry Potter series. The New York Times has called Harry Potter “one of the most successful book publishing sensations of all time” and referred to the movie franchise, based off the book series, as “hugely successful” (“Harry Potter”). These statements are not surprising. Inspiring a huge fan-base since the publication of the first novel, the Harry Potter series has become a worldwide phenomenon, captivating fans for years. In fact, the series has become so popular that devoted fans have taken the responsibility upon themselves to create the best experience possible around this magical series. This sense of responsibility has initiated fan-led responses, ranging from midnight book and ... Read More »

Is Hagrid Prejudiced?

Hagrid

By maurauders-legacy Hagrid is one of the most popular characters in Harry Potter. He is one of the few fans don’t have the heart to criticize – something about his warm personality, his ignorant enthusiasm and his rustic accent is very appealing. But I ask you now to set aside any preconceived notions you may have of Hagrid. Forget that he is pleasant to Harry. Forget that he saved Harry. Forget his kindness towards his half-brother, his fatherliness towards Harry, his support of Hermione. Instead turn to Chapter Four, “The Keeper of the Keys”, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Now, I am the first to admit that I love Hagrid. I truly do, despite what I observed in this chapter. But he isn’t perfectly nice all the time, as demonstrated by his behavior here. After all, the very first words he says to Dudley are, “Budge up, yeh great lump.” (Philosopher’s Stone, p.39) I was surprised by the harshness of this during my re-reading. The first time I read the words, they were lost in my joy that he had arrived to rescue Harry. I knew he was on the side of “good” – that, and his dramatic ... Read More »

The Secrets of the First Smashed Prophecy

Hall of Prophecies

By Katy This essay explores the idea that the prophecy that was smashed in the Order of the Phoenix when Bellatrix tried to stupefy Harry was yet another prophecy about Voldemort and the future of the Wizarding world. Harry and his five friends are standing inside the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic, Harry clutching the prophecy that was made about him and Voldemort and that the latter wants so desperately. It’s their only playing card to getting out alive. Then Harry insults Voldemort in front of the deranged Bellatrix who attempts to stupefy him. The spell is deflected and instead hits another prophecy, which falls to the ground and shatters. They don’t pay much attention to this prophecy, but the little that they do, it happens to reveal these enigmatic lines: “…at the Solstice will come a new… and none will come after…” (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pg. 785, US hardback edition) They seem like pretty unimportant lines, but a closer look may reveal something about the future of the Wizarding world. Let’s focus on the first part of the prophecy: “at the solstice will come a new” There are only two solstices ... Read More »

Is Johnny Maxwell the Forgotten Harry Potter?

By StuartHX Abstract: Johnny Maxwell, as created by Terry Pratchett and whose adventures are described in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, seems to have so many similarities with Harry Potter. No he’s not magical, but he finds himself in fantastical situations and he has a team of friends just like Harry and he does face life changing challenges… shouldn’t we look at the parallels? Before I go any further, anyone who hasn’t the faintest idea who Johnny Maxwell is should read the following books by Terry Pratchett: Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead and Johnny and the Bomb. They’re pretty short and shouldn’t take you too long. OK… let’s assume you’ve read the books. Who is Johnny Maxwell? An ordinary school kid, 12 or 13 years old when we meet him in Only You Can Save Mankind. He lives in an ‘ordinary’ northern town (could be Yorkshire or Lancashire) that has long since lost its industrial prowess and suffered ‘modernisation’, goes to the local school and hangs out with a bunch of slightly nerdy friends – Wobbler, who’s a computer genius, Yo-Less, a black kid who’s so straight and completely out of Yo, and Big Mac, Blackbury’s (as ... Read More »

Two Arguments Against

Lord Voldemort

By Adrienne Expanding on previous essay A Woman and a Snake: Did Lord Voldemort really Know NOTHING of Love? by explaining why the theory of Lord Voldemort’s inability to feel love due to the effects of a love potion is not only morally unacceptable, but actually destroys the fabric of the story. The readership seems to be divided equally on the question of Voldemort and love: the first half holds onto the opinion of: “Don’t question the author, stupid”, while the other half appears interested in exploring all sorts of possibilities. I’m firmly in the second camp. I choose to question. And here’s why. Few would dispute that love is integral to the human experience. Love and affection, care and attention are indispensable to a child’s upbringing. Remove those, and there would be some very serious consequences. Children are born with the need for love. If nothing else, it was essential to their survival in ages past – so much so, that it’s probably our nature. Now imagine a situation where this need for love and the ability to feel it are removed by applying an influence from the outside. Imagine that something as simple as a parent using a ... Read More »

Why Harry and Not the Cat?

Baby Harry Potter

By Katy This essay explores just why Voldemort’s soul latched onto Harry and why it didn’t latch onto anything else when his soul was ripped in half. We all remember Dumbledore’s explanation in Deathly Hallows during the scene in Snape’s memories about Harry being the seventh horcrux that Voldemort never meant to make; That when he tried to kill Harry, the act was so violent and heinous that his soul ripped in two and latched onto the only living thing left in the house. But why Harry’s soul? We can’t say that it was simply because Harry was the only living thing left in the house when Voldemort tried to kill him because earlier in the book Harry finds a letter from Lily to Sirius saying that Harry “nearly killed the cat” (Deathly Hallows page 180 US hardback) while riding around on the broom that Sirius gave him for his first birthday. So if the cat was there, why didn’t Voldemort’s soul latch onto him or her? We could assume that the cat died in the three month time span between Harry’s birthday and Halloween. But that would be too easy. Let’s assume that the cat was still alive when ... Read More »

The Mystery of the Paintings

Portraits

By Kayla P. “I am counting upon you to remain in Lord Voldemort’s good books as long as possible, or Hogwarts will be left to the mercy of the Carrows…” This quote was spoken to none other than Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (page 688). And you may be wondering who this was spoken by? The great man himself; Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Of course, this should be impossible; Dumbledore died in Half-Blood Prince, so he shouldn’t be able to speak as if he were really there. Even though this is the magical world of potions, spells, and enchantments, even this mystery can’t be explained clearly in the books. How can people that have died communicate through portraits or photographs? It is seen throughout the series that pictures are able to talk to living human beings. The Fat Lady, Sir Cadogan, Phineas Nigellus Black, Dumbledore…all have spoken to various characters in the books, and are treated as if they were actually there. But Dumbledore clearly stated that no spell can reawaken the dead in Goblet of Fire (page 697). The portraits may act as the Resurrection Stone did; by bringing back an essence of the ... Read More »

A Woman and a Snake: Did Lord Voldemort really Know Nothing of Love?

Voldemort

By Adrienne Summary: It seems to be a widely accepted fact that Lord Voldemort is utterly incapable of love. I disagree with that assesment. I examine Voldemort’s circumstances and his character to try and see the truth: was he really just plain evil, and if so, what drove him to become so? “That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped”. DH p. 709 That is Dumbledore’s opinion of Lord Voldemort, and it is one of the times when, I think, our favorite headmaster might be wrong. Let’s examine the character of Lord Voldemort closely. I think many agree that had Merope Gaunt survived, her son would be a very different person, a better person. Therefore, we must conclude that he was not born inherently evil. He must have become so. Voldemort had come from the Gaunt and the Riddle families. He inherited his good looks from his father, a man who was not a nice person ... Read More »

The Sorting Hat: A Vessel for the Founders’ Intentions

The Sorting Hat

By Krystal Summary: I am responding to the following question: “Mr. Weasley has said you better not trust something if you can’t see where it keeps its brain… but can the hat be trusted? Is it not indirectly responsible for producing such villains as Lord Voldemort, by placing him in a house where his hostile nature and racist beliefs could flourish?” Many may argue that the Sorting Hat is inherently flawed and thus the Sorting system is flawed; the greatest example being the placement of Tom Riddle into Slytherin where he would flourish and become Voldemort. However, it is not as simple of a matter as that. By examining the four founders and the creation of the Sorting Hat, the Hat’s songs, the nature of Sorting, Lord Voldemort, and several statements by J.K. Rowling herself, we can argue that inherent personality traits, choices, and the nature of Hogwarts’ founders are truly what decide the course of the Sorting and the future of a wizard; not the Sorting Hat. It is not a matter of trusting the Hat, but rather, of trusting each other. THE FOUNDING OF HOGWARTS AND THE CREATION OF THE HAT Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was ... Read More »

Insights from Pottermore

Pottermore

Warning: Spoilers below regarding content on the site and questions from the Sorting quiz. The Sorting Hat is one of the cleverest enchanted objects most witches and wizards will ever meet. It literally contains the intelligence of the four founders, can speak (through a rip near its brim) and is skilled at Legilimency, which enables it to look into the wearer’s head and divine his or her capabilities or mood. It can even respond to the thoughts of the wearer. (J.K. Rowling, Pottermore) Other than this short section from Pottermore, (and a paragraph about “hatstalls,” when the Sorting Hat takes longer than five minutes to make a decision), Jo doesn’t give us a whole lot of new information about this perplexing magical object – though she does give some fans the chance to try it on. Perhaps by looking at some of the questions the Pottermore Sorting Hat put to beta-users we can draw a few more conclusions about how it operates. In no particular order, here are a few out of the 200 questions beta-users encountered on the Pottermore Sorting quiz, the possible answers, followed by a brief analysis. After you have died, what would you most like people ... Read More »

Time Travel: How it Works

Buckbeak

Time travel is a very complex area of magic–so complex that we presume it is completely regulated by the Ministry of Magic. Going back in time, however, is not the complex part. The difficulty arises in the ability to leave everything as it is. This is discussed in more detail in the “What Can’t Happen” section. After finding a way to go back in time, we must go back. Some people find this difficult to understand, so see the figure below:   As you can see, the normal time line is the top line, and the original group is indicated by the red line. When they go back in time at point B to point A, they turn to a blue line. Because of the mixing, the purple section of the line is where both the past and future person are existing at the same time. They continue to exist at the same time until the past person goes back in time at point B, and the future person continues to exist where they left off on the original time line. Because the past can be affected greatly, care must be taken not to change anything, especially changing something that ... Read More »

Time Travel: Methods of Going Back

PoA Time Turner

In terms of methods of time travel, we must first think about who has access to time travel. Is making a time travel object just like setting up a Portkey or do you need special privileges, perhaps even special powers to set it up? Time Turners So far, the only method of time travel we know about is the use of Time Turners. Hermione says in POA that Professor McGonagall had to write lots of letters to the Ministry for her to use the Time Turner. This raises two issues: Is the use of a Time Turner kept down in records, like it is when an underage wizard uses magic outside of Hogwarts? Are the Time Turners completely Ministry controlled or is there a way to acquire them from elsewhere? If the Ministry does have complete control over time travel, then would they be able to alter all time? If this is the case, then if Fudge is, as many people believe, under the control of Voldemort, there may be serious time travel implications in future books. If the people who make Time Turners can create them on demand, they have a lot of power. Assuming they can also refuse ... Read More »

The Seven Explained

Tom Riddle's Diary

Below is an analysis of the seven Horcruxes Voldemort created. Each contains a brief description, the individual abilities of the Horcrux, and a timeline detailing the appearences of each in the series. The Diary: (1943 – 1992) Description: This malicious journal was made into a Horcrux when Voldemort was a student at Hogwarts, and most likely produced from the death of Moaning Myrtle. Before he met Harry, Voldemort entrusted the book to Lucius Malfoy, hoping it could be used to release Slyterine’s monster once more. It worked, until the diary met Harry Potter, who would destroy the thing and, in effect, a spectral Tom Riddle Jr. with a basilisk fang. Abilities: 1) Could converse with a reader through writing on blank pages. 2) Could make a person see memories originally written. Much like a pensieve, perhaps, though the visions might be altered by the Horcrux. 3) Could draw energy from a human source and create a body exclusively for its piece of soul. Timeline: Created during Voldemort’s time at Hogwarts -> Given to Lucius Malfoy -> Slipped into Ginny Weasley’s Transfiguration textbook -> Used by Ginny to discuss her boy troubles (Harry!) -> Thrown at Moaning Myrtyl -> Discovered by ... Read More »