The Three Broomsticks Centenary: Regulars at the Pub
There’s a lot that intrigues us about the Harry Potter books, but in many ways, it all comes down to the characters. If Dumbledore weren’t so enigmatic, Snape weren’t so controversial, Luna weren’t so likable, Voldemort weren’t so psychotic, and the trio weren’t such an inviting group of friends, what would we even be doing here? Goblins and ghosts and magical feasts are all well and good, but really, loving Harry Potter often comes down to wanting to hang out with our favorites in the Gryffindor common room. So if you wish to read about some particular character, odds are, they have visited our pub.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
This really comes as no surprise to anyone: Dumbledore is the MVP of the Three Broomsticks. This was never planned – but the enigmatic headmaster had left me with so many questions to ponder, I kept returning to the well. My oeuvre concerning the headmaster developed organically in the column’s early days, where one essay built on the next. Finally, it became clear that a book was a better format for discussing Albus than a series of endlessly hyperlinking essays.
Many of these essays found their way into my book, Dumbledore: The Life and Lies of Hogwarts’s Renowned Headmaster. However, after discussion with my publishers, we have left up the original essays. While most of my writing is left unedited, for better or worse, upon being published on MuggleNet, the following should be considered superseded by my book but can serve as a preview for those curious about Dumbledore.
In the core quartet of essays focused entirely on Dumbledore, the first was Three Broomsticks (TB, from now on) #11: “Dumbledore’s Decoy.”” It looked at what Dumbledore was up to in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and little did I know that the exercise would soon expand to the other books. This essay is the true humble beginning of my book.
The second was TB #14: “What Did Dumbledore Know of Horcruxes?” While the contents of this essay all made their way into Dumbledore, they were scattered throughout the text, so this essay may still prove helpful in zeroing in on the titular question. This was also the first essay of mine that I heard was being used in college courses about Harry Potter, so it holds a special place in my heart.
The third was TB #18: “Dumbledore’s Deadly Plans.” This essay, more than any other, has been wholly superseded by my book. It was my first attempt to untangle everything Dumbledore had going on behind the scenes in the last two books, clocking in at nearly 5,000 words – I believe the Word doc I originally sent in was named “dumbledore magnum opus.” And frankly, this analysis fits much more comfortably in a book.
The final one was TB #27: “Albus Dumbledore and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Looking at what Dumbledore was up to in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, this editorial probably changed the least from initial publication to inclusion in Dumbledore. In fact, it can serve as a helpful taste of what my book is like, a “look inside and read Chapter 1” type of teaser.
A fifth article, TB #39: “Severus… Please…,” focused on the relationship between Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape – and was the last to later be included in Dumbledore. In this case, one of the commenters helpfully corrected me and pointed out a scene I had overlooked when building my case – this was corrected in my book, and I’m grateful the oversight was caught.
Finally, after the book was published, I released a bonus chapter from it here at the Three Broomsticks connecting Albus Dumbledore to the hit play Puffs – available at “Headmaster of the Puffs.”
I’ve occasionally checked in with the headmaster from time to time, usually in the context of the Fantastic Beasts films (as discussed in my upcoming article “Beyond Harry”), but for now, I think I’ve said my piece on Albus Dumbledore.
The controversial Potions Master always seemed like a topic I should leave well enough alone. Emotions tend to run high when Snape comes up, and the breadth of existing scholarship on Snape was intimidating. So when I got a MuggleNet column, I intended to mostly steer clear of Snape… and have failed miserably at doing so.
Right off the bat, even before the Three Broomsticks became a column, I wrote about Snape in TB #7: “Snape’s Anger.” (This is actually the earliest of the essays that would later be incorporated into Dumbledore.) The discussion therein would prove important to the crucial relationship between Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore. That relationship would later take the spotlight in the aforementioned TB #39: “Severus… Please…”
Other than those two, I’ve only written about Snape in response to other editorials published on the subject. When I was first given a column at MuggleNet, I piled on to an anti-Snape editorial in TB #10: “My Damnation of Severus Snape.” (The comments were expunged among MuggleNet’s migrations and updates over the years, but suffice to say, a lot of Snape defenders took up arms.)
Many years later, I was inspired to respond to an editorial by Sophia Jenkins in TB #76: “Wormwood & Wolfsbane: The Snape/Lupin Relationship.” And most recently, I offered a rebuttal to an article that I felt was focused on the wrong flaws in condemning Snape – TB #91: “The Secret Flaws of Severus Snape – A Rebuttal.” I’m honestly surprised at how often Snape has come up over the years, but he’s such a great character that no editorialist can stay away from him.
Rather like with Snape, I’m mostly happy to leave the analysis of Voldemort to the experts – there have been incredible psychoanalytical pieces written about him across the years, kick-started by Dumbledore’s own analysis in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. But especially over the last few years, Voldemort has started showing up in this column, often discussed in the context of other villains in Jo’s works.
Most surprising to me is that I have become an active proponent of some really gross theories about the formation of Babymort that involve Bertha Jorkins and Peter Pettigrew. These are about as NSFW as things get here at the Three Broomsticks, and I encourage readers to peruse these essays on an empty stomach. It began in TB #63: “Nagini and Voldemort’s Twisted Relationship” (just ignore all the Fantastic Beasts speculation) and continued in TB #75: “Two Voldemorts Are Better Than One.” I like it because it has never been confirmed or denied one way or the other by Jo, so it is left open for debate but offers up such an elegant answer to a long-gestating mystery that I will eagerly defend it.
Voldemort has also popped up in TB #46: “The Big Bads: Grindelwald vs. Voldemort” and in TB #52: “Lord Voldemort’s Happy Ending.” Lastly, his leadership was also discussed in contrast to the villain of The Ickabog in TB #81: “Roderick Roach and ‘The Lightning-Struck Tower.'”
The Golden Trio
Considering Harry, Ron, and Hermione are the main characters… there’s just not all that much to say about them. In fact, with one exception, they haven’t been the focus of any editorials here in a decade.
That said, I got my “controversial columnist” bona fides with an article back in 2009, with TB #2: “Ron or Hermione? Harry’s Truest Friend.” I never quite forgave Ron for walking out in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so I showed up with an ax to grind. Discussion back then happened on the Chamber of Secrets forums, and it raged furiously. A year or two later, I attempted a more empathetic look at Ron in TB #8: “Ron’s Jealousy,” but his defenders were not satisfied.
In a less controversial vein, I looked at what a key moment in Deathly Hallows – when each member of the trio thinks a different Hallow is an obvious choice – says about their characters in TB #4: “The Trio’s Hallow Choices.”
Having said my piece, I pivoted away from Ron. Harry and Hermione came up in my Revenge trilogy, in TB #25: “Hermione’s Revenge” and TB #26: “Harry’s Mercy,” respectively. Much more recently, I delved into how awful the Christmas holidays always are for Hermione in TB #71: “Hermione’s Horrible Holidays.”
I really wish I had more to say about Luna Lovegood because she is my favorite character in the series. I tried to articulate my deep appreciation for her in TB #23: ‘Why Luna Is Loved.” She’s basically the best.
I do have a theory about how Luna’s role as the Cassandra of the Potter books was meant to tie into the presence of Fiendfyre, discussed in TB #73: “Heliopaths, Fiendfyre, and a Cassandra Complex.”
I was most intrigued by the question of who Luna’s love interest should be. It’s far more open-ended than the obvious pairings of Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny in the text, so I’ve taken a page out of MuggleNet’s old Madam Puddifoot’s column and zeroed in on romance.
A reasonably popular theory back in the day was that Luna was romantically interested in Ron, and I shut that down in TB #56: “The Dying of the Red Moon.”
But I was never a fan of Jo’s apocryphal revelations that Luna marries Rolf Scamander because my OTP always was and has remained Neville/Luna. It is the one book-to-movie change that I celebrated! I firmly believe they should end up together, and I laid out my case early in this column in TB #7: “Neville and Luna: The Ship That Should Have Been.”
There are plenty of supporting characters in the series that are well worth writing about, and I’m working my way through them.
Draco Malfoy has not been featured in my essays nearly enough, considering how much I think about his motivations and situations, but he has appeared in TB #74: “Draco and Some Naughty Little Plans” and in TB #81: “Roderick Roach and ‘The Lightning-Struck Tower.'”
Minerva McGonagall, and what Harry’s first year looked like for her, is discussed in TB #92: “Minerva McGonagall and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
I did a deep dive into Lavender Brown in TB #43: “Lav-Lav the Misunderstood.”
Many of the Hogwarts faculty don’t quite measure up, which I addressed in the provocatively titled trilogy “Did Umbridge Have a Point?” (Really, I can’t imagine why anyone would consider me controversial!) In the first part, TB #19: “Dumbledore’s Giant Mistake,” I talk about the many reasons I dislike Hagrid – he is my least favorite character in the series by far, and that’s recently become a running gag on Alohomora! after a contentious character episode. I turned my savage quill to the other faculty in the second part, TB #20: “The Other Professors,” which addresses Trelawney, Firenze, Slughorn, and Filch.
And I’m sure there are plenty more characters I’ll be doing a deep dive on in the coming years because the characters of Harry Potter are among its biggest strengths. And if you want my two Knuts on a specific character, please don’t hesitate to let me know! That was part of what prompted the Lavendar Brown deep dive, and I’m always excited to find new material to write about.