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Department of Mysteries

J.K. Rowling: A Secret U.S. Performance-Car Enthusiast?

Ford Falcon

By Rod Abstract: J. K. Rowling uses numeric subtlety in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone to conceal the fact that she is an American performance-car enthusiast. Is the lady who rules the most powerful nation on earth a U.S. performance-car enthusiast? The numbers make it appear so. J. K. Rowling, reigning Queen of ImagiNation and author of the 7-volume set of the Harry Potter book series, shares her concealed enthusiasm for American performance cars of the 1950s-’70s discreetly, with subtle enthusiasm. Consider the ending of the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, known in the USA as Sorcerer’s Stone. At Harry’s first end-of-school-year banquet, when Professor Dumbledore was awarding the points to each of the four student houses at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it occurred to me that the point values are the cubic-inch displacements of four historic U.S. automotive powerplants. From page 305 of the hardcover Sorcerer’s Stone, in “The Man With Two Faces,” the final chapter: “In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty two; Ravenclaw has four hundred and twenty six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy two.” ... Read More »

Severus Snape: Shedding Some Light on This Dark Soul

Severus Snape

By Jackie Abstract: In this essay I pose the question: What drives Severus Snape? It asks the reader to go deeper than “Love for Lily Potter.” The writing discusses Snape as the product of early childhoos abuse and bullying, drawing form personal experiences that have illuminated Snape for the author. So many people on chat sites have argued about whether Snape “redeemed” himself. This essay tries to understand his actions, not discuss his redemption. It also poses the question: How much of the blame does society own for the actions of one of it’s injured? There has been a huge debate on so many Potter fan sites about the nature of J.K. Rowling’s most fascinating, subtle, (and I argue), most remarkable character: Severus Snape. I was so moved by this series, particularly the last novel, that I’ve spent some time viewing the characters, especially this murky character, through the “lumos” of my personal experiences. My questions is: What drives Severus Snape? I want to go deeper than “his love for Lily Potter.” By the time I had finished Book Two, staying up late reading many a summer night with my enthralled children, I was troubled. I was troubled because I ... Read More »

House-Elves: A History

Dobby

By Abbii Summary: I would like to question why house-elves have turned out the way they have; what is it in their history that has made them emerge, seemingly, as the perfect servants for the human race? Where exactly did the house-elves come from? It’s an easy enough argument to say that S.P.E.W. is ill-conceived, or that elvish rights are a waste of time, because house elves seemingly like being servile to humans, but every species has its own complex and rich history, and the origin of the house-elves is never considered or even mentioned. The most dominant and interesting aspect of house-elves’ traits is the servility they show to humans. I would personally question whether it is simply because ‘they like being enslaved’ (Goblet of Fire, page 211), and wonder why that would be. Is it, for example, because they are genetically predisposed to be servile and to enjoy enslavement, as an inherent part of their genetic make-up as a species; or is it because they have been selectively bred by humans (bearing in mind that humans are generally larger and stronger than house-elves) to become this? Evolution Let us consider the first argument: that elves are simply, genetically, ... Read More »

Could Nicholas Flamel Be Beedle the Bard?

Nicholas Flamel

A Quibble response to “Tales of Albus Dumbledore.” By SapphireSnidget Summary: A discussion as to whether Nicolas Flamel is Beedle the Bard. Could it be possible that Nicolas Flamel, creator of the Philosopher’s Stone, is Beedle the bard? I’ve been asking myself this question ever since I saw a previous Quibble saying that Dumbledore was Beedle, and I’ve decided that it is quite possible that Nicolas Flamel could be. First of all, in 1991, Hermione reads from a library book that Nicolas Flamel recently celebrated his 665th birthday, which, assuming this book is magically always up to date, Flamel was born in 1326 AD (PS page 161). According to the introduction of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Beedle lived in the fifteenth century and had an “exceptionally luxuriant beard”. It is true that Flamel also lived through the fifteenth century and would have been a hundred or more years old by that point hence the luxuriant beard. This introduction also says that he shared many views with Albus Dumbledore who was a good friend and alchemy partner with Flamel. This would mean Flamel and Beedle both shared views with Dumbledore. The “Flamel is Beedle” theory opens up a lot ... Read More »

The Tales of Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore

By Victoria T. Abstract: Could Albus Dumbledore be Beedle the Bard? Both are strong advocates of Muggle rights, have luxurious beards, are incredibly trusting, and are connected with the Deathly Hallows. We know that Dumbledore’s past was already mysterious… would anybody have noticed if he went back in time to the 15th century, and was Beedle? Could Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledore be Beedle the Bard? When we first met Albus Dumbledore, he was portrayed as whimsical, kind, ingenious, and just a bit crazy. When Beedle the Bard was described in the introduction to the fairy-tale volume, he was mysterious; his stories were playful, curious, and sharp. Both Dumbledore and Beedle not only had luxurious beards, but similar sets of values. Beedle believed in the rights of Muggles, rather than others in his time period, who weren’t so willing to forgive-and-forget. Dumbledore had the same opinion on this subject. During Dumbledore’s time, hatred and mistreatment of muggles in the wizarding world was far less common, and such behavior was looked down upon by almost everyone. However, most wizards still thought of muggles as inferior, as the Magic is Might campaign suggested, and throughout his adult life, Dumbledore took a firm ... Read More »

I Open at the Close: How Sorcerer’s Stone Anticipated Deathly Hallows

I Open at the Close

By Conrad Triebold Summary: My essay is about Sorcerer’s Stone as it relates to Deathly Hallows, and how some of the elements of the first book were incorporated into the last. Now that all of the books and movies are finished, it is possible and very interesting to look back at how what happened in SS foreshadowed or made possible what happened in DH. My essay goes through nine of the major connections between these two books: Harry as a Horcrux, the character arc of Severus Snape, Harry and Ginny’s relationship, Ron and Hermione’s relationship, Gringott’s Bank, the Invisibility Cloak, Harry’s first Snitch, the Deluminator, and the “are you a witch/wizard or what?” quote connection. Through this essay, I hope the reader will come to a new appreciation of how amazingly well thought-out the Harry Potter series truly is. “It was after a weekend’s flat-hunting, when I was traveling back to London on my own on a crowded train, that the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head,” writes J. K. Rowling, on her website (jkrowling.com). This idea, and the books that were produced by it, would go on to have a massive impact on the publishing industry, ... Read More »

Voldemort and Harry: Connected, but Not Alike

Voldemort and Harry

By Julie Abstract: An examination of Voldemort and Harry’s similar childhoods to determine why they turned out differently. A piece of Voldemort’s soul is latched onto Harry’s soul, and Harry’s blood runs through Voldemort’s veins. They speak parseltongue, share brother wands, and can access each other’s minds and feelings. Both of them are orphans who found a home at Hogwarts. So why is Harry a good person while Voldemort is not? It can’t simply be boiled down to the choices they made. Each of them had forces driving their actions that were beyond their control. Voldemort’s conception was the start of a very torrential existence. His mother, Merope, was either very naive or completely delusional for thinking that love potions would lead to actual love. She selfishly held Tom Riddle Sr. captive; not giving thought to his feelings or the needs of their unborn child. Her plan failed, and one after the other, Voldemort’s parents abandoned their makeshift family, leaving him alone. All wizards have magic residing in their blood. But what if that magic is forged and dark? The result seems to be something like Voldemort. He’s almost like a bad experiment. His mother held his father hostage, so ... Read More »

What Would a Boggart Turn into if Your Worst Fear Was Heights?

Lupin's Boggart

By Susanna Dodds ABSTRACT: This essay describes a flaw in a boggart. 5 in 100 people suffer from acrophobia (the fear of heights) so how does a boggart represent that? There are many things that people fear that isn’t a thing but a feeling. Heights aren’t a thing, they are a sensation. Boggarts, as we know them, are shape-shifting creatures that take on the form of the viewer’s worst fear. Well, what if the viewer’s worst fear was heights or drowning? What would it turn into? For heights, supposing it would turn into a high building or a cliff edge, how is that going to scare you? Besides the fact that the building or cliff edge would be in miniature (proved by the fact that Professor Remus Lupin’s boggart was a miniature full moon) you are clearly not standing on a high area so why would you be scared? Being afraid of heights doesn’t mean you will be afraid of high areas if you aren’t even on them. It may show you in miniature falling off a high area but again how would that scare you? You aren’t really falling and you do not feel the sensation of falling. For ... Read More »

A Theory on the Origins of House Traits

Gryffindor Sword

By InfiniteDrake Abstract: Random browsing of the various essays published on MuggleNet led to a thought about the traits that the four houses are known for. This, in turn, led to comparisons between medieval jobs and their relevance to the four Hogwart’s houses. I was reading through Chantelle’s “Hogwarts Houses: Analysis of Characteristics” (recommended as a companion piece to this) here on MuggleNet and my thoughts turned to the question ‘why would certain houses even have particular traits?’. That question kept bugging me for a while, tugging at the back of my mind (I’m sure that most of you have experienced this at some point in your life). This led to my remembering that the four Founders determined these particular traits, due to their habit of only taking those with desirable traits into their own house. Now, it is mentioned repeatedly throughout the books that Hogwarts was created by the founders approximately 1000 years ago. This means that the castle was constructed in the late 900’s – right in the middle of the Medieval period. Now, castles in that period (being primarily militaristic structures) would have groups of people to oversee all the day to day defenses and keep things ... Read More »

Hogwarts Houses: Analysis of Characteristics

Hufflepuff Crests

By Chantelle Abstract: This essay puts forward some overlaping characteristics on the four hogwarts houses, along with different theories of ‘the darker side’ of a personality trait. Is Slytherin deserving of the ‘dark wizard’ label? Is Hufflepuff really full of duffers? Just which house would work better in the society we live in today? The majority of the Harry Potter fandom believes they would be placed in Gryffindor. But how would we really know? This is an essay which looks at the finer details of the Hogwarts four houses and will conclude with which house is practically better and should be given more credit. Gryffindor – the house of courage, bravery, chivalrous attitudes with a daring and reckless nature. Most people aspire to be placed into the Hogwarts house of fighters, and this is probably because the three main characters found themselves wearing red. However, there is a severe problem with this house. How do we define the difference between “bravery” and sheer “stupidity?” I think I can answer this. If someone chooses to do something reckless and daring, it is said only to be “brave” when it went well for them in the end. Yet, if someone chooses to ... Read More »

We are Family! – A study of Family Trees and Inter-marriage of Pure-Blood Families

The Malfoys

By Casey Abstract: I start out with my inspiration, and go on to talk about the Black family tree. I get into the Weasley’s connection to the Blacks and how that works out on a tree. Then I get into the fact that all pure-bloods are related, and if it would be possible to map out the pure-blood families on a tree. I go into how the Blacks are near extinction, and I give scenarios explaining possible ways the female line would continue. I then switch over to the favorable views of being a blood-traitor, and how blood-traitors are better off for survival in the long run, and then I close up my essay. I spend a lot of my free time lost in thought, (and I will admit, I consider science class free time. . .) and Tuesday was no different. I was on the computer, looking at the page on Harry Potter Wikia about Gamp’s Elemental Law of Transfiguration in order to prove to my friend that you can’t conjure food out of thin air, when I got sidetracked and decided to take a look at some Pure-blood family trees. I started by searching The Black Family, and ... Read More »

Harry Potter from Harry Potter: Character Analysis

Harry Potter

By Madi Abstract: A character analysis essay of Harry Potter. This essay describes how Harry grows throughout all seven books. It describes his growth through friendships, trust, strength, and so much more! It explains how he grows from a child, to a teenager, to a student, and a man. “Dumbledore’s man through and through, aren’t you, Potter?” (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 348). Harry Potter has always trusted his Headmaster, Dumbledore. He knows that Dumbledore is right – most of the time – and he has put his trust in him so much that if Dumbledore tells Harry to do or not do something, he obeys. Harry has learned many things from Dumbledore and trust is only one of them. He has grown so much from the time he was eleven to the time he turned seventeen. His growth is impacted by the decisions he makes starting out as a child, turning into a teenager, as he becomes a good student, and as he turns into a man. Harry Potter starts out as a friendly and curious child. He gets to know people who become very close to him. His two best friends, Ron and Hermione, and his godfather, ... Read More »

Hogwarts: Home of Wizards, Witches, and Leaders

Neville Longbottom

By John Abstract: Even in the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we see the potential in the little students, the teachers, and the darker characters. This essay is all about the different styles, motivations, and other qualities that make each character a leader. In the first scene of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry gets placed on the doorstep of his wicked aunt and uncle’s house. A letter was lying on top of the bundle of blankets surrounding the one-year old and the letter explained that Harry Potter’s parents had just been murdered by the evil Voldemort, the darkest wizard of all time, and that Harry had just survived and destroyed the Dark Lord by mysteriously resisting Voldemort’s killing curse. Ten years later, Harry finds out he is a wizard and the truth about his parent’s death unfolds with the arrival of a half-giant named Hagrid, who has come to take the boy to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he will be taught all about the Wizarding World. Harry quickly joins Hagrid and runs away to a fantasy world, where he meets his best friends, Ron and Hermione, and finally finds a home. It ... Read More »

Bellatrix’s Secret

Bellatrix Lestrange

By Melissa Abstract: The writer explores the possible relationship between Bellatrix and Voldemort. Let me begin by saying I knew Snape’s secret before Deathly Hallows came out. I have read and re-read the Harry Potter series over and over many times. If there is one thing that I know about Jo’s writing is that nothing is an accident. If Jo has made a point of saying something at least twice, then there is a reason. What gave away Snape’s love of Lily was actually something that Jo never explained in DH. But it was Slughorn mentioning in HBP that Lily was a Potion’s whiz. That started the wheels turning and made me re-read everything with the idea that Snape’s relationship with Lily was the key. With Jo’s tendencies in mind, I read into something interesting about Bellatrix. In reading Half-Blood Prince, there were two things that stood out to me. The minor warning bell to me was in Spinner’s End and the conversation between Bellatrix and Narcissa. When discussing Draco’s mission Bellatrix went on to say that had she had sons, she would have gladly handed them over to Voldemort’s service. It was her choice of the plural that got ... Read More »

A Theory of Magic

Hermione

by Taure Contents Introduction What is Magic? Magic as a force Magic as energy Magic as matter Magic in the Wizard What is a wizard’’s magic? Where is a wizard’’s magic? Magical Strength Magical Exhaustion Casting and Spells Components of Wizarding Magic Focus Incantation Mental Components Magic as Intelligent Techniques Non-verbal and Non-focal magic Conclusion and credits Introduction There is no simple answer to the question, “what is magic?” Many theories have been developed, usually treating magic as a kind of quasi energy-matter combination that can be quantified. We shall call these people Neo-Merlinists (NMs), in tribute to the large quantity of amateur literature in which Merlin appears to the famous wizard Harry Potter and explains magic in this way. However, I would like to propose an alternative theory. This is not to say that one theory is right, and another is wrong, they are simply alternative theories, in the same way that Newton and Einstein’’s theories are alternative theories, but both provide accurate predictions. For the sake of taxonomy, we shall call those who decide to follow this theory Taurists (sorry Yarrgh). In this short essay, I hope to cover all questions related to the theory of magic, providing ... Read More »

A Measure of Humanity

stone

by David Scott A pervading theme of Frank Herbert’s brilliant sci-fi book, Dune, is the question of what makes one human. The opening chapter of the book pits our hero, Paul Atreides, against the test of the Gom Jabbar, administered by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. The test is deceptively simple; Paul must put his hand in a box, and he must not withdraw it despite increasing pain, or the Reverend Mother will kill him with a poisoned needle, the Gom Jabbar or “high-handed enemy” (8). As the pain increases in Paul’s hand, the Reverend Mother reveals to him the difference between an animal and a human: “‘You’ve heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? There’s an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind'” (9). Needless to say, Paul survives this test by proving to be a human. The book goes on to show us how the other characters, by their actions, reveal their natures, either animal or human, according to this standard. Because traps are such an important element in the Harry ... Read More »

Purple Orchids and Muggleborn Wizards: A Theory of Wizard Genetics

Voldemort

by T Brightwater A working theory of magical inheritance should be able to account for both Squibs (non-magical offspring of magical parents) and Muggleborn wizards (magical offspring of non-magical parents) since both appear in the Potterverse. At first glance, it would seem impossible to account for both of these occurrences by the normal Mendelian rules of inheritance. If magic is the result of a dominant gene, Squibs are easy to explain but Muggleborns are not; if the gene is recessive, the reverse is true. However, if two genes are involved, the solution becomes much easier. A real-world example of a two-gene complex can be found in orchids of the genus Cattleya. White flowers are a recessive trait, but sometimes the offspring of two white-flowered parents have purple flowers. This was discovered by the English scientist C.C. Hurst in the late 19th and early 20th century. Simply stated, two genes, both dominant, are required to produce the purple pigment; if a plant is missing either of them it will have white flowers. However, if a white-flowered Cattleya which is missing one gene is crossed with a white-flowered one which is missing the other gene, the progeny may have purple flowers! If wizard ability ... Read More »

The Inheritance of Magic: What it Means to the Wizarding World

campsite

by Beansprout Wilkins Introduction This particular editorial has been brewing in my mind since JK Rowling first added a section on Squibs to the Extra Stuff section of her official website many months ago. It was one line in particular that has led me to formulate my thoughts on the subject of wizarding genetics into a semi-coherent, organized editorial: “Squibs are rare; magic is a dominant and resilient gene.” Due to the importance of heritage in the Harry Potter series (and my own status as an extreme science nerd) I had actually contemplated the inheritance of the magic gene before Jo had issued a statement on the subject. Jo’s assertion that “magic is a dominant and resilient gene” turned the theory I had formulated completely upside down. A basic understanding of Mendelian genetics is required in order to follow this editorial, so it seems a brief science lesson is in order. For those of you scared off at this point, rest assured, I really do mean basic; no remarkable scientific aptitude is required. In fact, those of you with even a vague recollection of high school biology can scroll past the next section. A Quick Genetics Lesson When we are attempting to evaluate ... Read More »

If I Only Had a…

dadm

by Brittany As a fan fiction writer, one thing I enjoy is to try and classify characters according to their strengths, so as to work out how they would react to specific challenges. Oftentimes, though, it’s hard, mainly because the characters are so extremely complex. You have to take into account their personality conflicts—each little quirk that makes them unique. For characters in Harry Potter, you must remember that Hermione is brilliant, but not so good at thinking under pressure (i.e., in Sorcerer’s [Philosopher's] Stone against the Devil’s Snare). Also, people’s pasts shape them, and the way they respond to other characters is very telling of a character. I once found a good reference by which to classify characters, but certain aspects of the reference made it hard to use. For example, there were classifications according to his or her alignment with light or darkness, personality, and whether the character’s strength lies in body, mind or soul. I found it excellent, but as I examined the characters in Harry Potter, I realized a more general classification worked to determine how characters complemented one another, so I adopted the “mind, body, soul” one. The difference was that I changed it to “brain, heart, courage,” based ... Read More »

Orphans in the Literary Tradition

harry

by T. Ritchie Harry is the latest in a long line of literary orphans. The line is so long, in fact, that it has almost become a cliché — all we need to do is look at the most popular fairy tales to see the tradition. Snow White’’s father is strangely absent and her mother is dead; Cinderella is the same; Rapunzel is the ward of a witch. The list goes on and on. While this lack of parents is more obvious with female characters, it is equally true for the boys: consider perhaps the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, who is cursed without the least parental intervention. The Potterverse is extremely well developed and complex, so it’s impossible to map it exactly onto any one fairy tale, but this one element sets Harry firmly among the fairy tale heroes. So, why all this parental death and absence? Very simply, an orphan has what other children do not — they have autonomy. While they may be directionless or more vulnerable than others, it is their very lack of parental guidance that causes most of their adventures, making them extremely convenient protagonists. Often, our orphans live with step-families or with vicious ... Read More »