Wow. It’s Harry Potter’s (and J.K. Rowling’s) birthday again, and it just hit me for the first time that I’ve now had this blog for over a year. It’s amazing how much has happened since then in the Wizarding World. Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts, a patronus quiz on Pottermore, the 20th anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone, and the epilogue date quickly approaching … Harry Potter is always relevant to me, but it’s been a long time since Deathly Hallows, and this year it’s like someone opened the blinds and dusted away the cobwebs a bit.
That’s not to say everything this past year has been well-received. Cursed Child in particular – I personally enjoyed it, but yeah, Voldemort having a daughter is going a little too far. And I don’t think Newt and Tina will ever take Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s place in my heart, but they don’t have to. That’s not the point.
If nothing else, it’s nice to have an excuse for the nostalgia.
Happy birthday, Harry. And happy birthday, J.K. Rowling. Thank you for creating a world that means so much to me and to many, many others.
- Because most wizards don’t have a clue how to interact with the muggle world. Even those, like the Weasleys, who are not prejudiced and do not see muggles as their inferiors, still do not understand the muggle world. Mr. Weasley, whose job involves working with “muggle artifacts”, does not know how to use a telephone and asks Harry about the function of a rubber duck. Other wizards show no understanding of muggle clothing, dressing themselves in unique costumes such as a kilt and a poncho, a flowery nightgown, or a frock coat over a swimsuit. If wizards are required by law to keep their existence secret from muggles, and yet sometimes need to interact with the muggle world, it only makes sense that they should learn enough about that world to be able to blend into it.
- Because the wizarding world is behind the times. That’s true on many different levels, but let’s talk about the most obvious, practical one. Can you imagine the shock of a muggle-born student arriving at Hogwarts and realizing they’re expected to write with a feather quill and inkwell? That might seem exciting at first, but paper and pen – or better yet, word processing software – would grow more and more appealing after late nights doing homework. Yes, I know that magic and muggle technology don’t mix, but Hogwarts has indoor plumbing, and the Weasleys have a radio. Those were both new inventions at one point, and have clearly been adapted to work with magic. I bet, if there was more awareness of the muggle world, someone would figure out magical equivalents to computers, internet, airplanes, and all kinds of other things that the wizarding world seems to be without. But with very few kids gaining any exposure to the muggle world, the wizarding world seems to have stagnated.
- Because there are other things wizards can learn from the muggle world, besides the joys of modern technology. Specifically, our history. They could learn that prejudice and discrimination are never acceptable. They could learn that putting the wrong person in power can lead to disaster. They could learn that those who seek to control people usually begin by limiting their knowledge, and so people like Umbridge must be opposed. Those are things that sadly are still problems in our world, and lessons that we can learn from the Harry Potter books; within the stories, they are lessons the wizarding world could learn from studying muggle history as well as their own.
- Because despite the International Statute of Secrecy, the muggle and magical worlds do overlap. Muggle-borns find out they are wizards at age 11 and become part of the wizarding world, also bringing their families into that world to some extent. Witches and wizards fall in love with and marry muggles. Children from wizarding families do not always have magical powers. Many witches and wizards do have to exist between the two worlds in one way or another.
- Most importantly, because ignorance breeds intolerance and understanding makes peace a more realistic goal. Would Voldemort have been able to get the support he did if he had not been able to draw on an existing hatred (and fear) of muggles and muggle-borns? Would that sentiment have been as strong as it was if all magical children were taught about the muggle world and taught to respect it? Perhaps the reverse is also true, and the magical world will not allow their children to be taught about telephones and electricity until they have gained more respect for those without magic. It’s hard to say, but I feel sure that the series’ villains’ intolerance of all things muggle goes hand in hand with their ignorance.
The name is a whisper
That quivers and shakes
And hangs in the air like a bomb
About to explode
The name is a secret
That everyone knows
But all refuse to say
And we all do
But no one forgets
The fear those three words hide
The name is a darkness
That lurks all around
And threatens all who oppose it
Too dangerous to put into words
The name is a lie
To hide from the shame
Of – possibly
Casting aside Tom Riddle
To take on another identity
The name is a trap
For all who dare speak it
And bringing our enemies here
Swallow your pride
Keep the word inside
A matter of safety, not fear
The name is a power
Too great to be spoken
The Dark Lord whose army may
Conquer the world
The name is a voice
Rising over the silence
Refusing to go on in fear
A head held high
A heart at last daring
To say what all need to hear:
Can’t believe we’ve come this far
It should have been seven, but
Sometimes you can’t help it
Exams are passed
Trunks are packed
The old school train is ready
To take us back
One last time
Our scarves around our necks
House colors proudly displayed
Red, green, blue, yellow
The traits we value
The choices we’ve made
The family we’ve found in this castle
This time last year, chaos
The ruins of a battle
That built up over the years
Like a shaken bottle of soda
Or a potion grown stronger with age
There was no ceremony
In the aftermath, it would have seemed silly
But life goes on
And here we are
Most years, they say graduation
Means finally joining the real world
But the real world came for us early
What is graduation?
A slip of paper
We’ve already fought for our lives
Who we are
What we stand for
It’s that night that defined us
Not the shell-shocked year that followed
Thestrals pull the carriages
We all can see them now
But they don’t scare me
Through danger and chaos and wrong
We’ve made choices
No child should face
And chosen the right thing anyway
Like a phoenix, we’ve risen to fight
Again and again
Whatever life brings
This is the first time and – if I remember right – the only time in the Harry Potter series that the Weasleys and the Dursleys meet. What happens when they do is fascinating!
It’s hard to imagine people with less in common than the Weasleys and the Dursleys. Apart from, obviously, the fact that one family is made up of wizards and the other proud to be muggles, the Weasleys are warm and loving, while the Durselys are cold and snobbish. The Weasleys are poor, while the Dursleys tend to judge others by how much money they have and what kind of cars they drive. The Weasleys have seven children of their own and still find room in their hearts for Harry, while the Dursleys – his blood relatives – treat him like dirt.
When the Weasleys come to pick Harry up for the Quidditch World Cup, it’s clear the Dursleys are scared out of their minds. It’s kind of ironic, given that they’ve only ever met good witches and wizards, but they really do seem convinced that all those with magic are terrifying freaks of nature. The Weasleys, on the other hand, seem bewildered, curious, and perhaps a bit appalled. Harry notices that Mr. Weasley seems to pity Dudley, while the twins just think he’s a spoiled brat and leave a piece of chocolate for him to find – chocolate that’s enchanted to make his tongue grow and grow and grow …
It’s nothing they wouldn’t have done to an unpleasant classmate at Hogwarts, but Mr. Weasley certainly doesn’t see it that way. That’s another thing that makes the Weasleys different from the Dursleys. While they know as little about the muggle world as the Dursleys do about the wizarding world, Mr. Weasley has made a career out of making sure other wizards respect muggles and leave them alone. He’s outraged to find his sons antagonizing a muggle with their joke products, even if it’s not because he’s a muggle. Later, when Voldemort’s followers use magic to terrorize a family of muggles at the Quidditch World Cup, it will become clear why he has such a strong reaction to this.
In a way, the Dursleys have a lot in common with the darker side of the Wizarding World. They’re not the muggle equivalent of the Death Eaters, by any means – the Second Salemers come closer to that – but they’re not so different from the snobby wizard families that see muggles as beneath them and muggle-borns as unworthy to learn magic. They, too, have judged other people simply for being different without bothering to learn anything about them.