Upside Down, Hanging Around and Falling to the Ground: A List

by Silver Ink Pot

I have been keeping a list of references from the Harry Potter books in which the characters are seen upside down, hanging in the air, or falling down. I feel that these incidents are part of the larger theme of reversals and mirror images, with many of the episodes foreshadowing or echoing those in other books. The ‘upside down’ and ‘hanging’ references often signify the idea of being ‘out of control’ and at the mercy of others. I decided to include ‘falling’ because it often follows ‘floating’ or ‘hanging,’ and it refers to a universal fear most people have.

I have not included every reference to ‘flying,’ since flying is generally a positive experience for most characters.

J. K. Rowling gave perhaps the best clue to the theme of being ‘up in the air’ when she said this:

I think I’d be dreadful at Quidditch, I’m not sporty, I’m not great with heights and I’m clumsy as well. Neville would be about my standard.”
(World Book Day Chat, 2004)

Of course, Neville is often seen ‘hanging around’ and eventually falling.

Also on her website, Rowling remembered a game she and her sister played after moving to Bristol:

“Now we lived in a semi-detached house with STAIRS, which prompted Di and I to re-enact, over and over again, a clifftop drama in which one of us would ‘dangle’ from the topmost stair, holding hands with the other and pleading with them not to let go, offering all manner of bribery and blackmail, until falling to their ‘death’. We found this endlessly amusing. I think the last time we played the cliff game was two Christmases ago; my nine-year-old daughter didn’t find it nearly as funny as we did.”

Clearly, JKR has thought a lot about this subject.

The ‘hanging’ references in the HP books remind many readers of ‘The Hanged-Man’ card in the Tarot. I think that is a valid reference, as the Hanged Man is the symbol of life inverted or seen from another perspective – the truth is different than it seems. Some people associate the card with the sacrifice of crucifixion, such as that of St. Peter, who asked to be hanged head down on the cross, while others see the Norse god Odin, who hung from the tree of knowledge so he could learn magical songs and runes.

I hope you enjoy reading my list and thanks to all who have encouraged me to continue with it. I realize it probably is not complete, but I’m sure I’ll revise it after Book Seven.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

    • Harry is at school trying to avoid Dudley’s gang and suddenly finds himself on top of the chimney, for which the headmistress writes a letter to the Dursleys
    • Dudley punches Harry to the floor in the Reptile House, which causes Harry to free the snake
    • Dudley offers to stuff Harry head first down the toilet as they do at Smeltings
    • Dudley knocks down Mrs. Figg with his bike as she crosses the street on her crutches
    • Scabbers “hangs off” Goyle’s finger when he bites him on the train
    • Neville’s Uncle Algie hangs him upside down by the ankles out the window and drops him; his “bounce” lets the family know he is a wizard instead of a squib
    • Neville is pushed off the Blackpool Pier by Uncle Algie and nearly drowns
    • Neville falls facedown off his broom during the first flying lesson
    • The Trio learns the levitation spell ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ in Charms class
    • Hermione is able to make her feather float four feet in the air with ‘Wingardium Leviosa,’ causing Ron to call her a “nightmare”
    • Ron uses ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ to float the Troll’s club and hit him on the head, saving Hermione’s life
    • Harry nearly tumbles off his broom after dangling in midair during Quidditch due to Professor Quirrel’s jinx
    • Neville gets a leg-locker curse from Malfoy, and falls through the portrait hole headfirst. “He must have had to bunny hop all the way to Gryffindor Tower. Everyone fell over laughing except Hermione, who leapt up and performed the countercurse.”
    • George Weasley falls off his broom when he discovers that Snape is refereeing the Quidditch Match
    • Filch threatens to hang Harry and friends by their wrists “from the ceiling for a few days.”
    • Neville gets the full body bind of ‘Petrificus Totalus’ from Hermione and falls on his face
    • Peeve’s nearly “falls out of the air with fright” when invisible Harry pretends to be the Bloody Baron
    • Harry “hangs by his fingertips” from the trapdoor hole, and then “falls down, down, down.”
    • Ron crashes to the floor when the White Queen pounces during the Chess Game
    • Quirrell-mort ties Harry’s ankles and he falls over

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets 

    • Petunia’s violet pudding is floated near the ceiling by Dobby, and dropped on Mrs. Mason
    • Traveling by Floo Powder is like being “sucked down a giant drain.”
    • Harry falls on his nose into Borgin and Burkes
    • Draco pauses to “examine a long coil of hangman’s rope” at Borgin and Burks
    • Draco asks his father to buy him a ‘Hand of Glory’ in Borgin and Burks
      (Note: JKR mentioned this in an interview with Larry King Live, Oct. 20, 2000: In reference to Draco’s ‘Hand of Glory,’ she said: “… there is an object in the second book, which is the Hand of Glory. This is very macabre, but people used to believe in Europe that, if you cut off the hand of a hanged man, it would make a perpetual torch that gave light only to the holder, which is a creepy, you know — but a wonderful idea. So I used that. That’s a very ancient idea. I didn’t invent the Hand of Glory.”)
    • Ron and Harry fall from the sky in the flying car, and then through the Whomping Willow
    • Errol the owl falls headfirst into Hermione’s jug of milk when he brings Ron’s Howler
    • Neville is hung from the chandelier by the Cornish pixies in Lockhart’s class
    • Neville falls from the chandelier on top of Lockhart
    • Ron falls backwards when his wand reverses the slug curse onto him
    • Filch wants to “suspend students by their ankles from the ceiling.”
    • At the Death Day Party, nasty Sir Patrick asks Nick if his head is “hanging in there?”
    • Mrs. Norris is hanged by her tail in the hallway after being petrified
    • Moaning Myrtle likes to splash head-first into the U-Bend of the toilet
    • The rogue bludger hits Harry during Quidditch and makes him fall off his broom
    • During the Dueling Club meeting, Snape uses ‘Expelliarmus’ to blast Lockhart backwards, off the stage, into the wall, and onto the floor
    • Lockhart tries to make the snake vanish, and instead, makes it fly ten feet into the air and fall back down with a “smack.”
    • Peeves is floating upside down when he finds petrified Justin and the immobilized Nearly Headless Nick
    • Crabbe and Goyle “keel over backward” after eating Hermione’s sleeping draught
    • Harry and Ron are hung upside down when picked up by the giant spiders
    • Falling into the Chamber of Secrets is like going down an “endless, slimy, dark slide.”
    • To protect Harry, Dobby makes Lucius Malfoy fly backward down some stairs into a “crumpled heap.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    • When Vernon sees Sirius Black on TV, he says ‘hanging’ is the way to deal with him
    • Harry “blows up” Aunt Marge and she floats up to the ceiling “like a vast life buoy with piggy eyes.” Vernon tries to pull her down and is nearly lifted off the ground himself, until Ripper the dog bites him
    • The floating Dementor makes Harry fall out of his seat on the train
    • Peeves is floating upside-down, stuffing a keyhole full of gum, saying “Loony, Loopy Lupin.”
    • Peeves “flips over” and talks between his legs when the Fat Lady takes “flight”
    • Harry falls fifty feet off his broom during Quidditch when he sees the Dementors – Dumbledore breaks his fall
    • Harry slides headfirst into the Hogsmeade tunnel behind the One-Eyed Witch’s Hump
    • Harry falls to the floor while practicing his Patronus with Lupin
    • Harry dreams that Draco is riding a dragon, and the flames cause Harry to fall through the air
    • Harry is knocked down by Sirius in his dog form
    • Ron is dragged headfirst under the Whomping Willow by Sirius Black, breaking a leg while wrapping it around a root
    • The Trio knock Sirius down and basically beat him up in the Shack
    • Snape knocks Lupin to the floor as he is tying him up
    • When the Trio does ‘Expelliarmus’ on Snape, he is lifted into the air, then falls, knocked out
    • As Scabbers is transformed into Peter, he is “frozen in midair” and then falls and hits the floor
    • Snape is hung “unconscious in midair” by Sirius Black using ‘Mobilocorpus.’ In the tunnel he “drifts creepily along” and “bumping his lolling head on the low ceiling.”
    • Ron falls to the ground when Pettigrew escapes
    • Harry, Hermione, and Sirius all fall down as the Dementors close in on them
    • Harry feels as if he is “flying backwards” while using the Time Turner

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

  • In the town of “Little Hangleton” near the pub called “The Hanged Man” is the Riddle House, home of Tom Riddle’s father and grandparents
    • When the caretaker, Frank Bryce, is unfairly accused of the murders of the Riddles, he is questioned in “Big Hangleton” by the police, but released when no evidence is found
    • Winky the House Elf, though terrified of heights, is forced to sit in the top stands of the World Cup
    • Viktor Krum moves through the air as though “unsupported and weightless.”
    • Krum’s opponent, Lynch (note: the ‘hanging’ reference) crashes to the ground during the Wronski Feint
    • Even though they are both injured, Lynch and Krum do the Wronski Feint again, and this time Krum gets the Snitch, with Lynch falling to the ground
    • At the Quidditch World Cup, a Muggle family is levitated in the air, and “contorted into grotesque shapes” by the Death Eaters, who are laughing and pointing at the “floating bodies.” The people are hanging upside down in the air; the mother’s gown falls down to expose her knickers while the crowd “hoots with glee,” and the smallest child’s head “flops limply” as he spins upside down, prompting Ron to say, “That’s sick.”
    • While they are hiding from the Death Eaters in the woods, Draco threatens to turn Hermione upside down in the air to show her knickers. He tells her to “hang around.”
    • Fake Moody turns Draco into a Ferret, bouncing him ten feet into the air and higher, letting him land each time with a “smack.” Squealing in pain and helpless, the bouncing Draco is rescued by Professor McGonagall. Draco’s eyes water “with pain and humiliation.”
    • The ‘Imperious Curse’ gives Harry a “floating sensation, as if every thought and worry was wiped gently away.”
    • Harry fights off Imperio, trying to jump in the air and not jump at the same time, falling and landing on his head
    • Professor Trelawney describes ‘death’ as a vulture hanging in the air and circling over the castle
    • The Fat Lady’s portrait offers to just “hang here wide open” while Hermione takes the boys to the kitchen to meet the elves
    • The kids practice the ‘Banishment Charm,’ which sends things flying through the air the opposite of the ‘Summoning Charm.’ Neville makes “heavier things” such as Professor Flitwick fly through the air. Ron makes a cushion fly and knocks Parvati Patil’s hat off. Then Ron sends the cushion spinning into the air to hit a chandelier. Harry’s cushion merely does a belly flop on the desk. Hermione banishes her cushion through the air and into the box where it belongs
    • During the second task, the hostages of the Merpeople are tied up and hung from a statue
    • Harry has a dream during Divination that he is riding on the back of an eagle owl, and swooping through the window of the Riddle House
    • Falling headfirst into the Pensieve is like “being sucked into a black whirlpool.”
    • Harry’s “world turns upside down” in the Maze during the Third Task. Inside a strange mist, “Harry was hanging from the ground, with his hair on end, his glasses dangling off his nose, threatening to fall into a bottomless sky.” The blood rushes to his head, and he rights himself by moving his foot
    • Harry is hung with ropes on a tombstone by Peter Pettigrew, and a gag is stuffed into his mouth. Then Peter takes some of Harry’s blood to enable Voldemort to return
    • Voldemort and Harry are raised into the air and floated to an area “free of graves” during Priori Incantatum
    • The real Mad-Eye Moody has been thrown down into a pit by Barty Crouch, Jr.

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

    • Dudley knocks Harry to the ground when the Dementors attack, and then the Dementors do the same to Dudley. The stag Patronus knocks the Dementor into the air
    • At Grimmauld Place, there are shrunken elf heads mounted and hanging on the wall
    • Cleared by the Ministry, Harry turns his money bag upside down, pouring coins into the fountain
    • George turns Ron’s school envelope upside down to see his Prefect’s Badge
    • On the train, Luna Lovegood has The Quibbler turned upside down to read the ancient runes
    • Harry and Ron spend an hour and twenty minutes playing the game “Hangman” in Binn’s history class**
    • When Harry tries to send a letter, Nearly Headless Nick warns him that Peeves is lurking to drop a statue of the alchemist Paracelsus on someone’s head
    • When Ron tries to enter the girls’ dorm, he slides backwards on his head when the stairs melt together
    • Hagrid gets hung upside down by the followers of the evil Giant King; he is rescued by Olympe
    • At St. Mungo’s Hospital, a father is holding a little girl by the ankle while she “flapped around his head using the immensely large, feathery wings that had sprouted right out the back of her romper suit.” The father holds her like “an oddly shaped balloon.”
    • Harry’s Christmas present from Dobby is a painting so awful that he holds it upside down to see if it looks better that way
    • Trelawney gets thrown down the stairs headfirst by evil Dolores Umbridge
    • Draco hides under a dragon-shaped vase and does the ‘Trip Jinx’ on Harry when he tries to flee the Room of Requirement with the DA. Harry falls and skids for six feet
    • Dumbledore uses a “streak of silver light” to knock down Fudge, Umbridge, Kingsley, and Dawlish when they try to arrest him. Fawkes circles the room “singing softly.”
    • James performs ‘Levicorpus’ twice on teenage Snape in “Snape’s Worst Memory,” and then washes his mouth with ‘Scourgify.’ Though Lily Evans comes to his rescue, the scene ends with Snape upside down and James threatening to “take off Snivelly’s pants” in front of everyone
    • Snape also has ‘Impedimenta’ and ‘Locomotor Mortis’ performed on him by James and Sirius, making him fall down in front of the crowd. Just before “hanging” Snape, Sirius “had become very still, like a dog that has scented a rabbit.”
      (Note: See “rabbit” references listed under HBP.)
    • Grawp the Giant grabs a bird’s nest and turns it upside down, making the eggs fall on Harry and Hermione
    • During OWLs, Draco’s levitating wine glass crashes to the floor
    • During OWLs, Harry’s ‘Levitation Charm’ goes better than Malfoy’s
    • Hagrid is attacked during the Astronomy Exam, and when the Aurors attack Fang, Hagrid throws one man ten feet through the air, while another one trips over Fang’s body and falls down. Harry notes that “none of them had seen Hagrid in a real temper before.”
    • Coming to Hagrid’s rescue, Professor McGonagall is hit by four stunning spells and lifted off her feet, “illuminated by an eerie red glow.”
    • Lee Jordan has been levitating Nifflers through Umbridge’s window
    • Harry falls out of his desk during History of Magic when he has the vision of Sirius being tortured at the Department of Mysteries
    • Umbridge is lifted into the air by the Centaur named Bane and carried into the forest
    • Harry and others use ‘Petrificus Totalus’ and ‘Expelliarmus’ as they fight the Death Eaters at the Department of Mysteries. Many characters, including Tonks, Moody, Dolohov, Malfoy and the children fall down due to curses thrown at the Department of Mysteries during the battle
    • Luna says that in the Planet Room part of the time they were just “floating in the dark.”
    • Sirius Black falls backwards through the Veil at the Department of Mysteries

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

    • Dumbledore makes three glasses of mead float in the air and tap the Dursleys on the head
    • Fred and George have a game for sale at Weasley’s Wizards Wheezes called “Reusable Hangman – Spell It or He’ll Swing.” A group of ten-year-olds watch “a tiny little wooden man slowly ascending the steps to a real set of gallows.”
    • Ginny trips Ron while he is walking towards Fleur for a kiss, and he falls flat on his face
    • Harry falls headfirst out of the train’s luggage rack and onto the floor after being “paralyzed” by Draco
    • Harry accidentally turns a sleeping Ron upside down with the ‘Levicorpus’ spell from the Prince’s potions book
    • When Hermione hears about it, she says, ‘Maybe your Dad did use it Harry… but he’s not the only one. We’ve seen a whole bunch of people use it… dangling people in the air, making them float along, asleep, helpless.”
    • Ron defends Harry’s use of ‘Levicorpus’ as “a laugh” and says the Death Eaters were “abusing” the spell
    • Katie Bell touches the opal necklace in Hogsmeade and floats high into the air “not as Ron had done, comically, by the ankle, but gracefully, her arms outstretched, as though she was about to fly.” Six feet into the air, she starts to scream and her friend, Leanne, tries to pull her down by the ankle. She falls, “writhing” and screaming on top of the trio, unable to recognize them
    • As a boy, Tom Riddle hangs Billy Stubbs’s rabbit from the rafters of the Orphanage, after an argument the day before
    • Peeves hangs upside down from a chandelier while making fun of Luna and Harry, shrieking “Potty loves Loony.”
    • Lupin tells Harry that ‘Levicorpus’ was a “popular” spell when he was at school, and “there were a few months in my fifth year when you couldn’t move for being hoisted into the air by your ankle.” He remembers James talking about Lupin’s being a werewolf as a “furry little problem” and other students thinking he had a “badly behaved rabbit.”
    • Dobby offers to “throw himself off the topmost tower” if he fails to spy on Draco
    • Harry tries to turn Draco upside down with ‘Levicorpus,’ but Draco blocks it
    • Snape casts ‘Avada Kedavra,’ and Dumbledore flies headfirst off the Tower to his apparent death
    • After attempting ‘Levicorpus’ on the fleeing Snape, Harry is sent “soaring backwards, hitting the ground hard.” Snape bends over him and says, “You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them! I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you’d turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don?t think so… no!” Then Harry’s wand flies away from him, and Harry is “slammed backward” again, as he hears a “rush of wings” from Buckbeak

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

  •  ** On the front page is a “Hangman” game that spells out “Acromantula” (the giant spiders) and the words “YOU DIE WEASLEY.”