Why I Wouldn’t Want to Live in the Wizarding World
As a child, I envisaged Hogwarts as a utopian sanctuary. My later adolescence was devoted to ruminating on the realization that as each year slipped by, I was too old to attend Hogwarts. Nevertheless, I wishfully hoped that the universe in which the Harry Potter books took place existed tangibly in parallel to our own. I so badly wanted the wizarding world to be real that I convinced myself that J.K. Rowling must be a Squib in disguise. I even thought to myself, “Well, the only reason I’ve never seen the wizarding world is that, even if I had, a Memory Charm would have been placed on me.” The line that resonated with me most in the entire series for many reasons, not just this, was “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
If you had asked me a few years ago whether I would have wanted to live in the wizarding world, I would’ve leaped at the chance. Now, when I stop and reflect on what being a wizard would mean, I think that I would be more than content enough to remain a Muggle. The main deterrents to leading a life in the wizarding world include a lack of technology, a lack of career choices, primitive financial systems, and a discriminative and nondemocratic political system.
Since the Harry Potter series was conceived and set in the 1990s, some of the lack of technology in the wizarding world is a consequence of time. However, the technological disparity between Muggles and wizards is also a built-in feature of Rowling’s universe. According to Hermione, “All those substitutes for magic Muggles use — electricity, and computers and radar, and all those things — they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there’s too much magic in the air” (GoF 28).
The use of owls by wizards to correspond with each other seems archaic given how far Muggles have come technologically. In fairness, wizards have some cool forms of communicating with each other, such as using Patronuses and the Floo Network. Despite the ingenuity of these two methods of communication, the former does not work instantaneously and the latter… well, sticking your head inside a fireplace would be uncomfortable in any given situation. The method of communicating that most resembles what we’re familiar with is one that is scarcely mentioned – two-way mirrors. Sure, wizards can Apparate wherever they want, but for goodness’ sake, they still access most of their news in print form.
In terms of jobs, upon graduating from Hogwarts, the majority of wizards seem to end up working for wizarding institutions such as the Ministry, Gringotts, or St Mungo’s. There are hardly any other jobs in the wizarding world that offer stable or safe employment, and if you decided to apply for a job in the Muggle world, well, your Hogwarts education would be completely useless.
Financially, there is an inadequacy of systems and institutions within the wizarding world. As our world transitions into a society that is digital and cashless, the wizarding world clings to a primitive monetary system. Wizards don’t even use bills – their currency is based on a gold standard of Galleons, Knuts, and Sickles. Since money is an exception to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration (if it were not, there would have been no reason for the Weasleys to be poor), this means that all of the cash in existence in wizarding Britain must be either held at Gringotts or otherwise physically held by people at all times.
Politically, my perception of the governmental system in the wizarding world is less than favorable. Although our own political systems are hardly unimpeachable, the segregative politics of the wizarding world are steeped in “fear and control.” For example, it appears that owning a Gringotts vault is a privilege afforded to pure-blood families. This assumption is based on Harry’s conjecture that Voldemort (who grew up in the Muggle world) “would have envied anyone who had a key to a Gringotts vault.” Furthermore, the International Statute of Secrecy is detrimental to Muggle-borns wanting to maintain their lives and relationships with family and friends in the Muggle world.