Now, I don't like to be negative. I like to live my life as a happy, positive, and optimistic person. I don’t like to rag on things, especially things that just aren’t for me, as I believe that I am lucky to have this platform and feel like I should use it to put good things out into the world. However, one of my favorite things to do is to consume and then critically analyze media. There is nothing more fun, enriching, or entertaining than spending an entire Sunday watching as many Harry Potter films as the day allows and then analyzing everything you’ve seen on the screen.
Why is no one questioning any decision that Dumbledore has and will ever make? Why has Hogwarts done nothing to shut down or punish the students who create alt-right hate groups and fling slurs at other students? How can the press publish government-funded slander against private citizens? Since I was a little girl, I’ve been searching for answers to these and many other questions and am itching to know if the people of the world share my confusion and curiosities. So, without further ado, allow me to bring you 25 serious questions that we have about the darker side of the Harry Potter universe.
Note: all of these analyses will be framed as if Hogwarts/the wizarding world is a real place and will respect established universe canon and lore. They will not question the world itself, but will examine certain facets of the world that have sparked confusion- especially when juxtaposed with our own world.
25 Where Are The Waivers?
One of the first things we learn about Hogwarts is that it is one of the safest places in the wizarding world, at least according to Hagrid. And at first, Hogwarts does seem like a pretty safe place… that is until you realize that children are routinely taken to the most dangerous area on campus as a standard way of punishment. You've also got some steps on staircases that hover miles above the ground and just disappear, there are monsters within the school that could end the lives of any student that dares cross them, that evil people with bad intentions can easily break into the school, and there is literally the ghost of a girl who perished on school grounds haunting the girls bathroom. Why do the kids need permission to attend the happy, fun, local candy village, but there are no waivers or anything needed to attend the school itself?
24 Sins Of Our Fathers
One of the first things we learn about the Slytherin house is that pretty much every evil witch or wizard that has gone through Hogwarts was sorted into this house. We later learn that the majority of the school's bullies are in this house and that any rumored or alleged association with its founder can make you the school pariah. And for the first few books, every time one of our lead characters crosses the path of a Slytherin, they are either mocked or outright attacked.
But we know that not all Slytherins are evil.
And it seems horrifically unfair to judge eleven-year-olds for the atrocities that were committed decades before they were even born. Why do the teachers allow this sort of inter-house prejudice to exist and fester? Why couldn’t Dumbledore let them win the house cup? And, why did McGonagall send all the Slytherins to the dungeons during the Battle of Hogwarts?
23 Consent Doesn't Matter
Let’s take a moment to talk about the lack of consent in the wizarding world. First off, let us consider the unforgivable curses. The cruciatus curse exists as a way to cause a subject extreme physical pain in order to force them to do or reveal something that they normally would never do. The imperious curse turns a person (or creature into a puppet) and ava cadavra can be used to threaten people into doing your bidding as well. Consent derived under coercion is not true consent. We also must consider the polyjuice potion: a potion which allows the drinker to steal the identity of an unsuspecting victim. No one can consent to things that they don’t even know are occurring. Finally, we have the issue of the famous love potions; potions that put their victims into a lucid trance-like state where they can’t remember anything that happened while under its effects.
22 Teachers Without Boundaries
I honestly cannot even imagine what the interview process is like for Hogwarts staff positions. Sometimes I even question if there is one. Though it is mentioned in the books that fewer and fewer people apply for the defense against the dark arts post after hearing about it being cursed. So maybe these haphazard hires can be blamed on limited selection; however, that doesn’t address the issue of teachers who were hired for other positions long before the curse was placed.
Why is Snape never punished for bullying, taunting, and mistreating his students?
I know Dumbledore liked him but that shouldn’t give him a free pass to treat eleven-year-olds that way. Also, why does nobody talk about the humiliating read that Trelawny dealt Hermione in her class?
21 The All-Mighty Dumbledore
Dumbledore is one of the most powerful beings in wizarding history, but that doesn’t mean that he is always right Every morally upstanding grown-up in the series sees Dumbledore as this infallible God that can never do any wrong. They never question his decisions nor his judgments and that results in them accepting cruelty and tragedy because if Dumbledore says it’s okay then it must be okay. There is no way that the Weasley’s don’t know what Harry’s home life is like. But Dumbledore says that he has to call that terrible hole his home, so no one questions it. Doesn’t anyone else see how horrible that is? The same thing happened to Tom Riddle and we all know how that turned out. Yes, Harry needs to call the Dursleys house “home” in order to complete the love spell but I am quite sure that Dumbledore, being the all-powerful wizard he is, could figure out another plan that doesn’t involve child harm.
20 Highway To The Danger Zone
When Filch leads the children to the Forbidden Forest in the first film/book, he laments for the good old days where children were strung up by their thumbs in lieu of a standard detention. We all breathe a breath of fresh air, knowing that our beloved characters won’t be subjected to something as horrible as what he is describing.
However, we can’t forget the fact that these kids are being taken into the danger zone at night time.
You know, one of the areas that Dumbledore specifically forbade during that concerning welcome speech. You know, the place where children must never ever go under any circumstances… except at night… when all the creatures are on the prowl….while they are “accompanied” by Hagrid and Fang? Yeah, that seems pretty legit.
19 Face Stealing Magic
In the ‘consent’ entry, I briefly mentioned the face-stealing polyjuice potion but I wanted to take a moment to fully delve into the horrifying implications that this potion has. This potion allows something to steal your identity without your knowledge or consent. Yes, I know that this potion is in the restricted section of the library but obviously it is very easy to access that section as the potion is used throughout the books. What are the implications of this potion? What would happen if I were to take on the identity of my best friend and their girlfriend kisses me, not knowing that I’m not actually their partner? When the gang all turned into Harry, they changed in the open (an action that embarrassed Harry deeply) without any regard for his modesty. And that is only considering the PG aspects of this potion...
18 Free Press
One of the most bizarre and concerning aspects of this series is the fact that the government seems to completely control the newspaper and can use this paper to spread slander and promote a specific political agenda. I mean, we all know that news stations are biased and that their sponsors can attempt to veer them away from certain topics. However, the idea that the government is using a universally trusted news source to push forth a certain agenda is terrifying.
The government is literally taking control of the media.
And they are doing so to convince the public to turn their backs on a 15-year-old boy who has dared to say something that they didn’t like. And it works. Seamus turns his back on Harry due to the things he reads in the paper. The government should not be allowed to slander private citizens who say things that they don’t like. That should be illegal.
17 Isle Of Misfit Wizards
One of the most harrowing aspects of the series is the mental health wing of St Mungo’s hospital. Since it was left out of the films entirely, allow me to explain what exactly happens to wizards who find themselves having lost their grip on reality… Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The victims of mind breaking spells end up tossed into a fairly large room in the hospital with all the other people they don’t know how to fix. And they are left there. Sure, they are fed, given beds, and kept alive. But they are not being treated or helped. No one knows what to do for them, so they are just left in this room to suffer until they perish. Gilderoy Lockhart and Neville Longbottom’s parents are doomed to spend eternity staring at those four white walls with no idea how they got there… or where “there” is.
16 No Home For The Weary
I touched on this briefly when I was questioning Dumbledore’s actions, but I wanted to delve into the idea of children being sent back to homes in which they are not wanted. I know that the wizarding world doesn’t understand mental health or the long-term effects of trauma on the brain. So they might not question these conditions in the same ways that we would.
But compassion could have saved Tom Riddle.
After seeing Tom Riddle take his childhood out on the wizarding world, they might be inclined to search for ways to prevent that sort of thing from ever happening again. And a great way to do that would be allowing children in terrible homes to spend the summer at Hogwarts. Neville, Harry, and Sirius would have benefited greatly from being able to call Hogwarts their true home while growing up and this arrangement could have honestly saved Tom from himself.
15 Corruption At All Levels
Look, I know that a government that thinks that it is perfectly okay to manipulate the press into pushing a slanderous narrative isn’t really all too concerned with what is morally okay, but I have to talk about those trials… or lack thereof. Note: everything I know about law I learned from Legally Blonde, so it may not be the best knowledge but I am willing to wager that I know more about fair court proceedings than Cornelius Fudge. Even when presented with a seemingly open and shut case, the government should still be required to hold a trial complete with a jury of the accused's’ peers before the guilty party is shipped off to “prison.” Also, Fudge changed the time of Harry’s trial without informing him in the hopes that he would miss it so that he wouldn’t be able to defend himself. That is some middle school level nonsense. Elle Woods would be appalled.
14 Graduation Requirements
As a university student, I find myself wishing each semester that all of my professors will just cancel my exams and allow me to pass my classes without having to write additional essays to make up for lost marks. But I have to question the fact that Dumbledore continually cancels the Hogwarts end of year exams. In the first book, Harry mentions that he is disappointed that both Crabbe and Goyle managed to receive the grades needed in order to advance to the next grade. So how is everything adjusted in order to make up for these canceled exams?
How did the petrified students catch up?
Also, the second years who had Gilderoy will have learned something entirely different than the second years before and after them. How do they fill those gaps in their education? How does this affect the post-grad world?
13 All Out Of Sorts
Look, I know that we all love and identify with our houses. I, myself, am a Hufflepuff and am very proud of that fact. House pride can be both fulfilling and incredibly awesome; however, I wonder if the sorting process might do more harm than good. House stereotypes can lead to students being ostracized if they don’t “fit in,” I mean look at the way that some of the other Ravenclaws treated Luna. They stole her things and hid them all over the campus, called her “Loony,” and did everything they could to try and make her feel like she didn’t belong. And I would be willing to argue that both Draco and Regulus would have had entirely different lives had they been sorted into different houses. Draco would have unlearned his father's teachings at a much earlier age and could have avoided some bad life choices. I have no ideas for a better system but I feel like it could be improved.
12 Hatred Of The Masses
Why do the people of the wizarding world seem to love angry mobs? It seems like wizards are more likely to grab their pitchforks and descend on those who have dared to offend them than the people of the internet. When Remus’s true “identity” was exposed, he had to preemptively quit before the swarm of hate mail reached Hogwarts. He knew that his true identity would incite rage in the parents of those he taught and got out before things got real. Why does the wizarding world hate anything different from the “norm?” Remember how Hermione was treated (by strangers and by her future mother-in-law) when Rita Skeeter published lies about her relationship with Harry? Or how the public (and his peers) reacted when the Daily Prophet slandered Harry?
11 No Money In The Truth
I can understand people trusting what they read in the Daily Prophet. It is, seemingly, the only concrete news source that the wizarding world has so it would make sense for witches and wizards to trust it (unless proven otherwise.)
However, I just don’t understand the faith that they had in Witch Weekly.
I mean, I do not know a single person over the age of 8 years old that believes a word published in any tabloid in the muggle world. Why would the wizarding world be any different? Why are they so convinced by what they read that Molly Weasley would question her own experiences based on the things that Rita wrote? Muggle tabloids can get away with being outlandish because we know they are fake, so how can Rita get away with outright lying (about minors I might add) when her audience believes every word she writes?
10 "Dirty Blood"
I know that the teachers of Hogwarts are not known for putting a stop to things that could present a danger to their students and they seem to turn a blind eye to bullying; however, I cannot understand how they allow hate groups to fester on campus. How can students go unpunished for calling each other slurs? How can teachers allow the death eaters to not only be formed under their noses but to continue to recruit generations of children for decades? How did no teacher step in when they saw Luna walking around without shoes? How was James never punished for the way he treated other students in his earlier years? Or when they saw Malfoy handing out those taunting buttons during the Triwizard tournament? How did neither Malfoy nor Snape face any consequences for what they called Hermione and Lily?
Where are the wizard cops? Can the Aurors be considered wizard cops, or are they more like a defensive squad that keeps wizards safe from external dangers? Who holds the government accountable for their actions? We’ve already examined several aspects of high-level corruption in the wizarding world but who punishes those who are supposed to protect us?
Why wasn’t Umbridge punished for twisting her role as a teacher?
What about for nearly executing an unforgivable curse on a minor? Barty Crouch Jr./Mad Eye Moody says that the use of any one of those curses will earn you a “one-way ticket to Azkaban.” So how is she allowed to continue to hold a high up position in the government? After the corruption was weeded out, post-war, what happened to those who abused their power? Did they go to Azkaban or is there a lesser level punishment? It seems like either nothing happens or you spend life in Azkaban. How is there no in-between?
8 No Help For The Emotionally Scarred
Speaking of the war, what happened to all those who survived through it? As we can see from the previous generation, wizards did very little to prevent this sort of thing from happening again and made judgment calls mainly out of fear. Lucius clung to Riddle to keep both himself and family safe and Dumbledore was ready to sacrifice Harry for the greater good.
Since the wizarding world had no idea how to handle mental health and trauma, they looked to the muggle world. I like to think that they formed group therapy sessions and that they leaned on each other for support in the days, weeks, months, and years after the battle of Hogwarts. I hope that they learned from their parent's mistakes and figured out ways to both prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again but also how to survive what they’ve already lived through.
7 Are You There God? It's Me, Harry.
One thing that I am genuinely curious about is how religion factors into the wizarding world. Though I assume Rowling left any mention of religion out of the series in order to prevent angering those who hold such things dear to their heart, I can’t help but wonder about how it plays into the universe.
Do wizards know how the world came to be?
Do they have their own creation myths and ideologies? What about their own religion... or do they follow muggle theology? Was Jesus a wizard and does that explain his miracles? If wizards have no established religion, what happens to Muggle-borns who were raised in religious households? Do they abandon those beliefs when they enter the wizarding world or can they co-exist?
6 Everything Involving House Elves
Look, I’m not going to pull a ‘Hermione’ and break my back advocating for such high levels of elvish welfare that it ends up upsetting the elves themselves. But there has to be a middle ground between Lucius kicking Dobby down a hallway and trying to liberate those who do not want to be free. How are wizards okay seeing their friends treat their house-elves like trash? Even Sirius, who is generally regarded as a moral man (and who judges Barty Crouch for mistreating Winky) treats Kreacher like scum on the bottom of his shoe. They like serving wizards but that doesn’t mean that they have to be treated like dirt. They should be considered one of the family. They should be given nice rooms, be allowed to eat with the rest of the house, and be respected as one of the family.
5 But What About The Muggles?
One thing that really struck me about Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them is how progressive certain aspects of wizarding society can be (if you ignore the way that the creatures are treated.) Women of all races held high up government positions (including President) in the 1920's.
So how did they navigate the relatively backward world that was 20th century America?
How were people able to occupy muggle filled spaces and witness their peers treated like second-class citizens knowing that, had those people been wizard born, they would not be subjected to such treatment? Did the wizards participate in equal rights rallies or did their harsh rules involving intermingling with muggles prevent them from being allowed to get involved? Tina nearly lost her job when she tried to help Credence. Did others break the law and try to intervene? If so, how were they punished?
4 Get With The Times
Let’s take a momentary break from the heavy content and think about the lighter side of things. Do you think that the wizarding world reflects the trends and changes of the muggle world? I mean, we know that a lot of aspects of the wizarding world seems stuck in the Victorian era. However, I believe that the younger generation will have taken strides to bring the wizarding world up to par with the world that their muggle-born peers. What sort of memes would the wizarding world have? Would Harry become a meme eventually? Would wizard orientated social media sites develop? What about dating sites? Since there are not a lot of wizards around that aren’t somehow related to each other, dating sites could unite wizards across the globe. If there is social media in the wizarding world, would they have their own versions of vloggers? What kind of brand deals would they get? There is no reason for the wizarding world to be permanently trapped in 1871.
3 On Your Own
Alright, this complaint can apply to pretty much every single young person and middle-grade novel of all time but it still stands. Why are the grown-ups so useless 90% of the time?
When the children run to the grown-ups with a clearly laid out problem, it is rarely solved.
Whether it is something extreme, like the reappearance of Riddle, or something mundane, like routine Hogwarts-style bullying, their cries fall on deaf ears. Every time things go belly up it’s up to the kids to save the day. From day one these kids have known that they can’t rely on anyone to help/save them but themselves. And it just breaks my heart. These kids are just that- kids. They should get the chance to just be kids. Why do they have to be in charge of saving the world?
2 Second Class Citizens
Who decided which creatures get to be equal to wizards and which ones have to live like animals? I always thought that the centaurs lived in the forest because they liked it, but after seeing the way that Umbridge reacted to them, I worry that they may not have had another choice. I know what you’re thinking, Umbridge is an extreme example of prejudice. What about the everyday wizard? Well, one only needs to look at the public's reaction to Rita Skeeter’s “expose” on Hagrid’s lineage to know just how accepting they are. When Rita revealed that Hagrid was part giant, even reasonably compassionate people like Ron Weasley expressed some hesitancy and prejudice. Though wizards don’t fall victim to the same race-based prejudices that muggles do, they still have a long way to go with accepting other creatures and even other wizards (let’s not forget about all of that ‘pure blood’ nonsense.)
1 The Statute Of Secrecy
Imagine if someone had taken a video of Aunt Marge floating over Surrey after Harry inflated her like a birthday balloon. I have to wonder how wizards would handle being captured on film and uploaded to social media. Back in the day, it would have been so easy to perform magic in front of muggles. You didn’t even have to obliviate them because who would believe their story about the magical man who appeared out of thin air?
But now people can provide concrete evidence of your witchy ways.
How would the wizarding world deal with viral videos? Would they have to develop new spells and magical technologies in order to combat this new threat? Are the trolls that expose all viral videos as “fake” or “staged” actually just wizards covering their tracks?