The entire Harry Potter series is now streaming for free on HBO, so naturally it’s time to binge. As I fell directly through movies 1-4, I noticed several strange quirks about the wizarding world that kid-me never saw. These aren’t movie inconsistencies or plot holes, but I do have valid questions for wizards that a muggle like me simply can’t comprehend. But I’m gonna try.
1. What is it about the aesthetics and technologies of 19th century England that made wizards stop progressing?
Explanation: In the first movies (and basically every book) Harry Potter sees wizards dressed very strangely for the time period. When Harry and Hagrid first walk into the Leaky Cauldron it looks visually as if they’ve just walked into a Charles Dickens movie.
It isn’t just that wizards are eccentric, they’re actively anti-progressive. I know the series takes place sometime before the internet (just barely) but these wizards have yet to transcend even to electric lighting. And the train to Hogwarts is steam-powered, placing the wizarding world somewhere in the industrial revolution era. Why?
My Theory: Wizard schools suck.
Any Harry Potter fan has no doubt heard the argument that, as a school, Hogwarts fails on so many levels. Not only are students forced into incredibly dangerous situations on a daily basis, but basic school subjects like math, literature, and science are essentially nonexistent.
There is something called arithmancy, it’s true. I imagine that’s the closest thing to math the students of Hogwarts have. But it’s not a mandatory class, and I know that because the only one who took it was Hermione Granger and she needed a time-turner to do it.
So my notion is that wizard students stopped learning basic muggle things like architecture, textiles, and scientific advancement. As generations of wizards grew and died out, fewer of these essential skills were passed on, until the technological innovations of an entire race of magical beings petered out in the early 1800’s. Think about it, Hogwarts was founded in 990 A.D. and 1000 years later the school is still being held in the same building.
2. How Does One Paint an Animated Picture (And Why are They Worse than Animated Photographs?
Explanation: A signature of the Harry Potter series is the way magic photographs, paintings, and doodles move of their own accord. Characters even go so far as to interact with the subjects of paintings. When a crime happens in Hogwarts and no one is around to see it, it’s often the paintings who are prime witnesses. Think about that for a second.
Does this mean artists have basically birthed real people from their paintbrushes? A few things don’t add up. Subjects of wizard paintings are incredibly in-depth people that one can have full conversations with. But subjects of wizard photographs rarely talk or do anything more than the same action over and over again. I mean, even muggles have that technology.
It’s too bad Harry didn’t have paintings of his parents– he doesn’t seem terribly keen on staying up all night and having conversations with their photograph counterparts. (Also, sorry Harry.)
My Theory: The animation process is just as extensive as the painting process.
There can’t just be one, boiler-plate incantation for animating paintings. That wouldn’t make sense. Each painting does different things. And when a painting is in its first stages it isn’t a full picture. It’s just lines on a canvas. Does the artist bewitch each line separately? Maybe it just takes a wizard artist a very long time to animate their painting into something human and recognizable.
But the reason I ask is because, in Prisoner of Azkaban, Malfoy manages to draw and animate a picture of Harry Potter in the matter of a few minutes. But this makes sense, too. The animation is as crude as the drawing. It’s just Harry falling off of his broom over and over again. So remedial animation must be within any wizard’s grasp.
And newspapers report on and cycle through stories so fast that no one could bother to animate the photographs beyond a few frames. It just wouldn’t be profitable.
3. Why do Wizards Use Locks?
Explanation: One of the first spells a young wizard child learns is “alohamora,” an unlocking charm. Clever, 11-year-old witches have proven time and again that almost no lock in the wizarding world is safe from literally anyone with a wand. There are a select few ways to charm a door shut that won’t, apparently, answer to alohamora. But those locks are saved for special circumstances apparently. So why use any locks at all, wizards? I have two theories for this one.
My Non-Horrifying Theory: Locks are a courtesy and a signal.
Most full-grown adults don’t encounter a locked door and bash through it with brute strength, so why should the wizarding world be any different? I imagine locks are something a wizard might encounter, think “Oh, perhaps I shouldn’t go in there, then,” and turn around.
My Horrifying Theory: Wizards are Racist Toward more than just Muggles.
Think about how many creatures in the wizarding world can’t use magic. Here are some stats I made up: witches and wizards make up 100% of the people in the wizarding community who have wands and can use alohamora. That might not be true, sorry. But as far as I know, the creatures with sentience in the wizarding world consist of trolls, goblins, house elves, centaurs, mermaids, and giants and none of them can use traditional, wand-based magic.
But let’s not forget about squibs.
Imagine how hateful squibs must be toward regular wizards. If squibs were real people they would have a half-underground subreddit called something like r/inmug (involuntary muggle) and they would rant about the “normie” wizards. And the number one slot in their “woe is me” manifesto would be “we can’t unlock doors whenever we want.”
4. Is it Levi-oh-sa or Levio-sah?
Explanation: I need homework help.
My Theory: I’ve Got Nothing.
If only there was someone I could ask?
Hey, meddlesome readers, thanks for hanging out. Comment if you have answers/theories to these questions. Like my post if you enjoyed it (it really helps me know if I’m on the right track.) And check out my last book rant on Madeleine Roux’s Asylum and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.