Madam Puddifoot’s: Harry Potter and the World of Shipping

by Bella Strigg

Harry Potter has a very, very large fan base, and each of those fans has different theories, hopes, and dreads about the upcoming books. And a surprising amount of those theories and hopes are about so-called “ships.”

Let’s start with what ships are. Ship is short for relationship. A person can choose to promote one or more ships, usually in fanfiction. Some popular ones include HarryGinny, HarryHermione, RonHermione, Draco (Malfoy is always called Draco, never Malfoy) anyone, and Harry pretty much everyone. If the books went according to the fanfiction, Harry would have kissed (and more) every Weasley, Hermione, Malfoy (both senior and junior), Parvati, Padma, Lavender, Dean, Seamus, and Sirius. I could go on and on. So by now you have the idea of the preposterousness of many of the ships.

But what makes a ship attractive? First of all, it can’t be a perfect fit — there has to be some trouble that can happen to the couple. Jealousy, family intervention, and pure- vs. full-blood prejudice are all very popular ones (can you match the ships with the troubles?).

Second, it has to in some way make sense. Parvati and Sirius Black, for example, don’t make much sense because a) they’’ve never met, b) the last time we saw her, she still thought he was guilty, and c) he is old enough to be her father. Now, that might not put off some writers, but most wouldn’’t write a Parvati and Sirius fic.

Third, it has to at least appeal to the writer’s sense of romantics. A not very romantic pairing is, for example, Molly Weasley and Peter Pettigrew at Hogwarts. First of all, we’ve come to hate Wormtail and think of Molly in a motherly way. Second, Arthur and Molly are married in the books, and no one really wants to start a fic with a pairing that EVERYONE knows is doomed.

But there has to be a reason why shipping is so popular. My theory? Romance. A lot of people who read and write fanfiction are teens. It is well known that teens, especially girls, enjoy a bit of romance. And because Harry Potter, wonderful though it is, doesn’t really supply the necessary romance, these teen writers feel the need to spice it up themselves. Romance appeals to us because it is the way we wish our lives to go, and the Harry Potterverse is how we wish life could be. In a way, to some, it fits together.

Fanfiction is becoming increasingly popular. More and more read and write it, on everything from Shakespeare to the TV show “Friends.” Fanfiction’’s most popular area is romance, and shipping is becoming a hot topic with Harry fans everywhere.

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