• Essay
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Note: This piece is not about the class Charms, and I’ve left aside the vexing question of the difference between Charms and Transfiguration (e.g., why are winged keys a Charm and giant moving chess pieces are a Transfiguration?). Rather, I’m looking at Charms in the general sense, as a synonym for spells, that is,… Read More
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I’m in fact Lancashire born and bred, which is probably why I’ve always had a very soft spot for Neville, who I’m pretty sure comes from my neck of the woods (the Blackpool pier incident, the fact that his grandmother is a typical Lancashire matriach, the fact that he has a traditional Lancashire… Read More
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“Want a hand?” With these words, the character of George Weasley enters the readers’ lives and hearts. This is also Harry Potter’s first impression of George when they meet on the train. Harry Potter, a boy who can’t remember the last time anyone showed him kindness, George Weasley for the first time and is helped out by the young… Read More
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Prejudice against Muggles compared to the attitude of Arthur Weasley (“bless them”) “Muggle-baiting”—the Shrinking Keys during the Voldemort years: Muggle killing and torturing at the Quidditch World Cup—Muggle torture, connected to Death Eaters Prejudice against Muggle-borns (Mudbloods) Salazar Slytherin—argued with Godric Gryffindor about admitting Muggle-born students Lucius and… Read More
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We read from Dumbledore’s Chocolate Frog card that Dumbledore is “particularly famous for… his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel (PS6).” Later, Hermione reads from an enormous old book that Flamel is “the only known maker of the Philosopher’s Stone” (PS13). Harry and Ron continue reading “…The stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life,… Read More
• Article
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I’ve spent the last couple of days researching Diagon Alley. The result is a greatly expanded page of details about the shops there and also a map of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys. The map is of course not technically canon, but it does follow the clues given in the books very… Read More
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I’ve created a new page for Nearly Headless Nick. The artwork on that page comes from a French site which includes tons of very interesting clip art-style illustrations. I have permission from them to include more of those pictures, but since they are designed for a black background, most of… Read More
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The problem is not simply knowing who sent the Valentine, but knowing what JKR’s purpose was in this episode. Is it a red herring, designed to arouse and deflect suspicion? Or a red flag, signalling something important later in the book or in a future book? Or is it something which… Read More
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Wizards don’t use electricity for a very good reason—they don’t need it, in fact they don’t need our technology at all (except maybe for sherbet lemons). Modern Muggle technology, according to wizards, is a poor substitute for magic. And modern Muggle technology is largely based on the availability of cheap,… Read More
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The Harry Potter Lexicon has just been given permission by Warner Bros. to place scanned images of Mary GrandPré’s artwork on various pages. This means that I’ll be scanning and including some of her chapter art. I am excited to be able to include these wonderful drawings in the Lexicon. Read More
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Socks are closely related to a major, if not the major, theme in Harry Potter, namely Things Are Not What They Seem. The sock is a humble, even comical, garment, necessary but often unattractive and the archetypal boring Christmas present. J K Rowling, while getting full comedy value out of all this,… Read More
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Having recently done a GF re-read, the last terrifying and emotional chapters have been on my mind a lot. This morning, while briefly considering the What Might Have Been if Cedric had been the only one to grasp the Cup, I returned to the Eternal Question– Why make the Cup a Portkey when Harry’s toothbrush would work… Read More
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Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance. (PS1) It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge. (PS1) “I must have passed a dozen feasts and… Read More
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We don’t know at all where Godric’s Hollow is, although the fact that Harry “fell asleep…over Bristol” when Hagrid was transporting him on the flying motorcycle has been used to “prove” that Godric’s Hollow has to be in Wales. That isn’t by any means proven. In fact, I would argue that it’s highly un-likely that Godric’s Hollow is in Wales. Here’s what we do… Read More
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Witches and wizards can identify their own wands very easily, so easily that it seems to be done by a sense other than sight: Harry knew his immediately when Amos Diggory held it up in GF9. . They can also easily match up another witch/wizard and her/his wand, or at least Lupin did in the Shrieking Shack (he threw Harry, Ron, and Hermione their wands,… Read More
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“Knight Bus” is a play on “Night Bus”—Night Buses run through the night in London and, after the Tube and trains stop running (around midnight)* are the only public transport available. They are a very welcome sight when they (eventually) turn up to take you home, and are the traditional red… Read More
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Just how big is Hogwarts castle? If the Entrance Hall is big enough to hold an entire house (PS7), and the Great Hall is even bigger, it must be vast indeed. On the other hand, Harry encounters crowds in the corridors, which suggests that the students fill the space inside, and that certainly suggests a fairly… Read More
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There are actually about three hundred, it would seem, although there is plenty of debate on the subject. Here’s the evidence from the books themselves: There are more or less ten students (depending on the vagarities of the Sorting) in each House per year, five boys and five girls. There were twenty broomsticks lying… Read More
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November 15, 1995 In Attendance Headmaster Dumbledore – Hogwarts’ Headmaster Prof. Binns – History of Magic Prof. Flitwick – Charms Mr. Hagrid – Care of Magical Creatures Prof. McGonagall – Transfiguration Prof. Moody – Defence Against the Dark Arts Madam Pomfrey – Nurse Prof. Sinistra – Astronomy Prof. Snape –… Read More
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© 2000 First Things 99 (January 2000): 35-38. By now most readers in this country are aware of what has come to be called the Harry Potter phenomenon. It’s hard to be unaware. Any bookstore you might care to enter is strewn with giant stacks of the Harry Potter… Read More
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We all know the amazing things that magic is capable of in JKR’s narrative. I’d like to look at some of the things that magic is apparently unable to do in the JKR universe (as opposed to things that wizards don’t do, such as the Unforgivable Curses, for legal reasons or because of… Read More