Fascinating Questions About the Harry Potter Universe

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The Harry Potter universe captured the imaginations of children and adults around the world, and continues to do so with spin-off material. The idea of a world where magical people not only exist under our feet, but use their own way of doing things and eschew most modern technology is certainly a novel idea. However, it also raises a lot of interesting questions about the world itself due to the way they interact with magic and technology, and there are some fascinating unanswered questions around many of the characters as well. 

10. Would A Gun Be Something Lord Voldemort And Other Wizards Are Prepared For? 

This is something that has bugged many fans for some time, and is a question that may never be entirely put to rest. We all know that Voldemort hates technology of all kinds, despises Muggles, and thinks them stupid and incapable. However, the question is: how much he has researched how to protect himself, even though he thinks them that idiotic? In Prisoner of Azkaban, a man named Sirius Black escapes, and an ad sent out to the Muggles calls a wand a “gun.” Later on in the book, someone from a wizarding family refers to a gun as “a kind of metal wand Muggles use to kill each other.” In other words, he has absolutely zero clue how it works. 

Now, this leads people to wonder if Voldemort, or for that matter any wizard of consequence, is prepared for this kind of threat. A bullet fires very quickly, so many people would argue even a prodigious wizard would hardly even be able to get off a nonverbal spell with a quick hand gesture in time. However, if Voldemort knew about the threat properly, he may have some kind of spell that keeps him constantly shielded from such Muggle threats. It’s also possible he simply underestimates Muggles and does not imagine ever being in a situation where he could be threatened by them, or their technology. 

9. Did Dumbledore Hide His Homsexuality Because It Was A Stigma, Or For Other Reasons? 

In an interview after the seventh book had already been published, J.K. Rowling shocked much of the world by telling the audience that the wizard who wore high-heeled boots and flamboyant purple robes was gay. Many parents were upset because it challenged their personal views, and others were simply upset because they felt she was changing a character after the fact. Now, the truth is that Rowling always planned for him to be gay — we know now that he was in love with the dark wizard Grindelwald. 

However, you don’t need that as evidence to know this was not a retcon. All of the hints were already there long ago, and many of the more well-read fans were not at all surprised. The question many fans had was why Dumbledore seemed to keep it a secret in the books. Now, some might suggest it simply wasn’t brought up, but Dumbledore seems to take flirtatious comments from women occasionally in the books, and he tries to politely deflect without being too flirty back. This would suggest these women were not aware. Now, the question is whether wizards have an issue with homosexuality, or perhaps Dumbledore just hid it because he didn’t want anyone to ever realize his romantic connection to Grindelwald.

8. Did Professor Umbridge, Being Evil In Every Other Way, Also Torture Her Cats? 

Professor Umbridge is one of the most evil characters introduced in the stories. She starts out abusing schoolchildren and making one of them repeatedly scar his hand by writing in his own blood, and eventually graduates to a point in the series where she is in charge of an inquisition to root out people who are not pureblood wizards, and have their souls sucked out by dementors. She takes absolute joy in this job, and has a dark and vicious glee in her voice as she repeatedly mocks people and claims they “are not really wizards” and never have been, because they are not pureblood. At the end of the series, she was apparently tried and found guilty of crimes against humanity, but some people may wonder more about the fate of her cats. 

In the Harry Potter stories, we learn that Umbridge has a lot of cat pictures, and likes to display them regularly. This is a woman who likes to keep her surroundings absolutely pristine, and has a nasty personality that can be both passive aggressive — and just plain aggressive — depending on her mood and the situation. It’s hard to imagine such a woman being kind to animals, or putting up with any mess they might make. And according to secondary sources Umbridge hated the cleanup and mess. However, if she learned to hate the mess, did she at one time try to care for live cats? And what kind of horrible person would she have been to a live animal? 

7. Were The Dursleys Evil Because Of The Piece Of Voldemort Inside Harry? 

Some people have pointed out that, in the final book, Ron got upset and awful because he was wearing a horcrux, and that even Hermione and Harry got more irritable while it was on them for an extended period of time. We also know that Harry himself was a horcrux. This has brought some people to speculate that the Dursleys were so evil, and so mean, because Harry — being a horcrux — brought out the worst in them. 

To its detriment, the house was supposed to be well defended magically to protect Harry, so it is hard to imagine how much even seeping influence his presence could have over time. It also begs the question of how the horcrux didn’t turn Harry’s dorm-mates evil or nasty, over time, simply by being around him. In support, though, it is possible it just amplifies existing traits. If Harry’s roommates were normal people it would have no undue influence on them; however, Ron — in a state of heavy resentment while wearing one regularly — could not take the pressure. And the Dursleys were already said to be pretty nasty people, but it does seem plausible that Voldemort’s presence within Harry could have helped amplify their already evil traits. 

6. Should Hermione Have Really Gone With Ron, Harry, Or Someone Else Entirely? 

Not long ago, J.K. Rowling both shocked the world and made a lot of people facepalm by suggesting that Hermione should not have wound up with Ron because she would simply never be happy longterm with him, and should have gone with Harry instead. Now, Rowling is being a little silly here because, well… she already wrote it one way. And also, if Harry goes with Hermione this kind of leaves Ginny out in the cold. Even sillier, it was Rowling herself who used to adamantly be against all of the ‘shippers who kept claiming it should really be Harry and Hermione up until the end. 

Now, she claims she wants to change the outcome of her own story, but just like Rowling herself not being happy with the ending, perhaps the real answer here is that Hermione would not have been truly happy with either of them, or perhaps anyone in the books. Hermione likes being around people to an extent, and she likes having friends and she can talk up a storm, but overall she is a loner and a bookish type. She likes to study, learn and succeed on her own and she is incredibly invigorated by working alone. Such an introverted person, who would also run circles around most people in the room in terms of intelligence, would likely find it difficult to really get along with anyone long term as a partner. Perhaps somewhere deep down, Rowling knows this, because there are a lot of similarities between her and Hermione. 


5. Can Anything Ever Really Redeem Severus Snape For Being So Unapologetically Evil? 

Some people like to romanticize Severus Snape, partly because he was played by a man who was truly kind and charming in real life. Also, people tend to see Snape’s final memories in the story and come away with a touching picture, while many of us just see the sad, wasted life of a messed up person. The memories show Snape knew Lily from a young age, always loved her, and fought Voldemort all along (in secret) in order to keep his love of Lily alive, and even sacrificed a few times to protect Harry himself. 

However, the truth is that Snape was not just a tortured lover — who “lost” a girl he never even had — and used that love to bring him back to the “good side.” He was nasty, and Dumbledore used him to get as much good out of him as he could, but he was never a “good” man. Rowling herself has been pretty clear on this, but some people do not seem to get it. He claimed he loved Lily, but it was a selfish, evil, possessive (and extremely one-sided) love, because he did not truly care about her wishes or her memory. No one could say a mother would want her son abused in such a way, simply because his father was a different man than the man who once courted her. This doesn’t mean he was pure evil, though, and Rowling has said as much. But can any sacrifice make up for so much awful behavior? 

4. What Exactly Happens To The Soul That A Dementor Eats, And What Is Your Afterlife Fate? 

In Harry Potter, we learn in the third installment about horrible beings called dementors. They suck the happiness out of the air around them, and it slowly makes you weaker and weaker. They feed on your despair and sadness, and if they manage to get close enough to you and truly grab a hold of you with their rotting hands, they can give you something called the “dementor’s kiss” where they literally suck out your soul. Now, perhaps to not scare children, Rowling doesn’t really go into details here, so we are left to speculate. 

We know that the afterlife exists in Harry Potter — Sirius Black accidentally enters it through a one way curtain in the fifth book, but that still leaves a lot of details unclear, especially when it comes to dementors. Is the soul “killed” and sent on to the afterlife? Or is it somehow consumed and actually destroyed? Is the person in question killed, their body now just being a husk, or is there some kind of life to it now, being only an animal existence? While it is a kids’ series, and we cannot expect Rowling to address these things in too much detail, it would be interesting to know how it is all really supposed to work. 

3. Did Snape Hate Neville For Being Weak, And A Gryffindor, Or For More Insidious Reasons?

In the early Harry Potter books, we quickly notice that apart from picking on Harry for being himself, and picking on Hermione for being a know-it-all, Snape really seems to enjoy tearing Neville Longbottom into tiny little bits and dissolving him into tears on a regular basis. Now, most people always assume that this was just because Neville was clumsy and stood out as an annoying and awkward Gryffindor, and many of us went through the entire series believing this. But some have read more closely and noticed something interesting that makes Snape even more despicable as a human being. 

In the fifth book, we learn about a prophecy that caused Voldemort to think Harry would have the power to destroy him, so he attempted to murder Harry and his entire family. We also learn this prophecy could have also applied to Neville, but it ended up applying to Harry instead because Voldemort essentially chose Harry as his nemesis. Snape was always well aware of this, and it may have driven his insane hatred of Neville. If Neville’s parents had been attacked, Lily would never have been killed, and if Harry hadn’t been born, Lily wouldn’t have been killed either. According to this theory, as far as Snape was concerned, Neville and Harry were both to blame, with the bonus of Harry being half the kid he wanted to have with Lily, but looking so much like the man who got to be with her instead. What this meant to Snape, of course, was that both boys needed to be systematically punished for as long as they were in his power. 

2. Does The Ministry Know, Or Care, How Ridiculous Their Underage Magic System Is?

In the second Harry Potter installment, we find Harry dealing with a visit from some people Uncle Vernon is trying to get a big drill contract with, and Harry himself being hustled out of sight. A house elf who wants him to stay away from Hogwarts gets him into big trouble with both his aunt and uncle, and the Ministry of Magic as well, by making it look like he used magic in the house. The Ministry warns him that if he uses underage magic again without permission, they will boot him from school. This makes things even worse for him, as he then gets punished severely with his aunt and uncle knowing he cannot retaliate against them with magic. 

Now, Harry is aggrieved because he did not actually use magic, and wonders if the system is not actually very well designed. He later finds out that he is entirely correct. It turns out that the Ministry’s system cannot actually tell who used the magic, just that it was used in the household. That means — presumably — if it was a wizarding household, you could get away with underage magic all the time and no one would ever know. The only people who would get caught are orphans, and they are the ones most likely to panic and use magic because they are vulnerable and have no one to protect them. Instead of sending a Ministry representative to ask why an underage child in a non-wizarding household was using magic, they just send a letter and threaten expulsion after just one little levitation charm. 

1. Is There Any Way To Force Someone To Make An Unbreakable Vow?

In the Harry Potter novels, we learn early on about something called the unbreakable vow. Two people clasp hands while holding their wands and go through an oath about their actions. The vow is literally unbreakable, in that if you cannot find a way out of the wording and you break the oath, you simply die. Ron mentions once that when he was a little kid, his older brother Fred almost got him to do one, and then his mom noticed and came and gave his older brother a spanking he would never forget. We are never told what he wanted him to agree to in this oath. Snape also takes an oath in book six, agreeing to kill Dumbledore if needed instead of Draco — something Snape had already agreed to with Dumbledore in the first place. 

However, apart from these instances, we don’t really know much else about it. It seems unlikely that using the imperius curse would work to force someone into an unbreakable vow, but other methods seem plausible. A big question would be how much the vow “understands” intent, as it talks about Ron being almost tricked into it as a very young child. Also, we don’t know how smart magic is, and whether the spell would recognize conditions of duress or not. Obviously the imperius curse would not work or a dark wizard would have tried that one, but what about simply waving a gun in someone’s face, or threatening their family? Would the unbreakable vow allow such threats to work, and give you life and death control over another human being?


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