Vampires in Harry Potter
by Katherine Messier
I have recently been re-reading the Harry Potter books, and I’ve realized that the series is lightly sprinkled with mentions of vampires, without ever giving us much reason to wonder more about them. This made me curious – knowing Jo’s style, it must be important – so I decided to go back through the books and catalogue every mention of vampires there was, and see what I could glean from the information. Here is my complete list:
(All editions are UK hardback.)
1) At the Leaky Cauldron, Quirrell says he is going to Diagon Alley to buy a book on vampires; Hagrid tells Harry that Quirrell met vampires in the Black Forest. (55)
2) Quirrell’s classroom smells strongly of garlic, supposedly to “ward off a vampire he’d met in Romania and was afraid would be coming back to get him one of these days.” (100)
Chamber of Secrets:
3) Voyages with Vampires by Gilderoy Lockhart is one of the items on Harry’s book list. (38)
4) Hermione reads Voyages with Vampires at breakfast. (68)
5) Hermione stops reading Voyages with Vampires. (70)
6) Hermione begins reading Voyages with Vampires again. (75)
7) Hermione shuts Voyages with Vampires “with a snap.” (76)
8) A vampire is unable to eat anything but lettuce after Lockhart deals with him. (122) (*author’s note: HA!)
9) After several attacks by the basilisk, when Harry is under suspicion, George pretends to ward him off with a large clove of garlic- “seriously evil wizard coming through.” (157) (Not a direct reference, but still…)
Prisoner of Azkaban:
10) Harry thinks the picture of Sirius Black, with his “waxy white skin,” looks like pictures of vampires he has seen in his DADA classes. (34)
11) Ron and Hermione examine a tray of blood-flavored lollipops. Hermione says “…they’re for vampires, I expect.” (147)
12) Neville talks about a vampire essay for Lupin, saying “I don’t understand that thing about the garlic at all- do they have to eat it, or-” then he is cut off. (204)
13) Lupin says he needs a word with Harry and Ron about his vampire essay. (213)
Dean Thomas hopes their next DADA teacher will be a vampire. (313)
Goblet of Fire:
14) A young man trying to impress a Veela says he is a Vampire Hunter, and that he has killed about ninety so far. (113)
15) Percy says of Rita Skeeter, “[She says] we should be stamping out vampires! As if it wasn’t specifically stated in paragraph twelve of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans-” at which point he is cut off by Bill. (131-132)
16) Vampires are not on the list of creatures Lupin’s letter to Moody says Harry’s class has covered, even though a vampire essay is mentioned twice in PoA. The list includes, “…Boggarts, Red Caps, Hinkypunks, Grindylows, Kappas, and werewolves…” (186)
Order of the Phoenix
17) Hagrid had a “sligh’ disagreement” with a vampire at a pub in Minsk. (426)
18) Harry has a feeling that vampires were part of the answer to the O.W.L. question, “How was the Statute of Secrecy breeched in 1749 and what measures were introduced to prevent a recurrence?” (725)
What We Know
So what did I learn? Not overly much. This is concrete information about vampires in general in the Harry Potter universe that we can be sure of:
- Vampires live in the Black Forest (Germany), Romania, and Minsk (Belarus). (1, 2, 18)
- Garlic wards them off. Exactly how remains a mystery; see below. (2, 9, 12)
- They have “waxy white skin.” (10)
- They like the taste of blood. We don’t *know* that they drink it. (11)
- They are reanimated corpses. This is such an essential part of vampire-hood (even more than blood-drinking) that it is impossible for it to not be a fact.
- They are considered beings, not beasts. (Not mentioned in FB, 16)
What We *Think* We Know
Here’s what we can assume, given our cultural insight and more subtle clues:
- Vampires live all over central and eastern Europe.
- They drink blood. (Again, though, we don’t absolutely know this for sure.)
- Since a young man told a Veela he was a Vampire Hunter to impress her, we can assume that being such is very dangerous – probably, in the days of yore, men marched off to kill vampires to prove their courage and masculinity. However, in modern times, it seems to be an illegal practice (15, 16)
- If Harry is correct about his History of Magic O.W.L question, perhaps the Statute of Secrecy was breeched by vampires feeding on Muggles?
What I *Wish* We Knew
There are two instances that stand out to me at coming tantalizingly close to giving information – number 12 and number 16 – and one other group of references that I also find interesting. In number 12, we almost learn how vampires are warded off with garlic, in the form of Neville asking about Lupin’s essay. If other circumstances hadn’t interfered, Harry might have told Neville how it’s done, and we, therefore, would have known. We could assume that the mere presence of garlic is enough, due to number 2. But we really don’t know how vampires are warded off with garlic in the HP world.
In number 16, in we come very close to learning about laws regarding vampires, through Percy (Paragraph Twelve of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans). Given the context of his comment, it seems that killing vampires is illegal, but we never find out what the contents of paragraph twelve are, because Bill cuts in at that point. (Sigh) I do think it is interesting that Percy’s comment comes so soon after the young man’s comment the night of the Quidditch World Cup (15). It seems that Jo wanted to leave us in no doubt about the legality of vampire-hunting. Again we come so close to learning something of substance, and yet so far. (Bigger sigh)
The group of references- numbers 12, 13, and 17 – I find very interesting indeed. In 12 and 13, it is very clear that Lupin assigns an essay on vampires in PoA. However, in 17, vampires are clearly left off the list of studied creatures. This could be a mistake, or it could be intentional. There is speculation that, since a werewolf essay was assigned by Snape, the vampire essay assigned by Lupin is proof that Snape is a vampire. If the omission in 17 *is* intentional, I would say this is additional proof for those who support this theory, because it makes it look like Lupin is covering up his act. I don’t doubt that this omission is an accident, and I think that Snape being a vampire is unlikely (all those students, and no deaths unaccounted for!), but I find this interesting all the same.
What (I Hope) Is Going to Happen
In my mind, it is unquestionable that vampires are part of Voldemort’s “army of Dark creatures whom all fear.” After all, we know that vampires are considered Dark creatures (10) and we know that they are feared. I hope they will make an appearance in future books, perhaps as part of this army, so we can learn more and get a first-hand account from Harry about them. What I most want to know, even more than what I mentioned above, is whether vampires have magical powers in the HP world, and if so, what kind and how strong.
One more thing before I wrap this up. I read in Esther Kleinig’s editorial Death in Half-Blood Prince, that in Van Helsing, werewolves could kill vampires (if she remembers correctly). Now if this holds true in the HP world, and Lupin is indeed recruiting other werewolves for the Order, as many people think, then I am absolutely positive that vampires will be in Voldemort’s army. In lore, vampires are always hard to kill, and if you’re the Order, and only werewolves can easily kill them, what do you do? Get werewolves on your side! The Order already has an advantage with Lupin to do the recruiting for them. These pieces all seem to me to fit together so nicely (Thanks, Esther!).
What’s my (very profound) conclusion? Vampires are going to play a more central role in the future books. Werewolves were continually alluded to in books 1, 2 and even 3, to be brought to the front in PoA, and I believe the same will happen with vampires. The werewolf references were often ignorant and stupid- perhaps vampires will turn out to be more sympathetic characters than is obvious so far. Or perhaps Dean Thomas’ wish will finally be fulfilled with a vampire as the next DADA teacher.
If you have any feedback or additional thoughts, please email me. If you feel that this editorial “screams of mediocrity”, e-mail me anyway, but be constructive in your criticism, please. I’m not very experienced in writing editorials and dislike overt insults!