We’ve all read/seen Harry Potter and we’ve loved everything that JK Rowling has come up with to help us understand the wizard world better. We’ve grown up with the series and we often turn a blind eye to some of these huge problems because of our undying love for this world that we’ll never be able to visit. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving it and we’ll like to bring to you some of these problems that plague the franchise.
Here are a few problematic things about the famous universe that no one seems to talk about:
1. Love potions can (and have been) used to manipulate people into non-consensual relations.
In a world that still hasn’t fully grasped the concept of consent, JK Rowling has messed with the heads of young ones with love potions. If you’re not clear about how love potions work, here’s an excerpt from The Tales of Beetle the Bard where Hector Dagworth-Granger explains its efffects:
Powerful infatuations can be induced by the skillful potioneer, but never yet has anyone managed to create the truly unbreakable, eternal, unconditional attachment that alone can be called Love.
By definition, love potions can’t induce love. Every time love potion is mentioned, they are represented as something that is extremely harmless and used for casual ‘fun’ by students. Even when Ron was under the influence of the love potion, it was shown as something nice and dandy.
We know that the love potion can be used to get someone to obsess over someone else. It can clearly be used to get past anyone’s consent and if they were to have sex, it’d be rape.
That’s how Voldemort’s mother “raped” his father. When Tom Riddle’s muggle father showed no interest in his mother, she used the love potion to keep him with her. They even had sex under the influence of the love potion, giving birth to Voldemort. That’s one of the many recorded incidents of rape by putting someone under the influence of a love potion.
Love potions are, in all effectiveness, a wizard equivalent of a date-rape drug.
2. The events during Harry Potter’s tenure at Hogwarts prove that it is a really dangerous place for students.
In my school, if a sink blew up or if kids started randomly getting paralysed, my parents most likely would have filed an official complaint against the school authorities. What happens in Hogwarts, though? Nothing. Sending your 12-year-old off to Hogwarts for class is like sending your 4-year-old to a war-zone to study agriculture, except it’s far more dangerous.
If you were a batch-mate of Harry Potter, here are the things that happened during your school: In the first year, one of the teachers was carrying the Dark Lord at the back of his head. In the second year, you had a giant basilisk almost killing your schoolmates. In the third year, you were in close vicinity of a serial killer.
In the fourth year, one of your schoolmates is killed by another serial killer disguised as a teacher. In the fifth year, your new principal would hinder your education before being dragged away into the woods by centaurs. In the sixth year, your old headmaster dies at the hands of your potions teacher.
Even the forever changing stairs must have definitely resulted into a few accidents over the years. There are dangerous creatures kept inside Hogwarts and they’ve done everything possible to put the lives of their students at risk.
I’m pretty sure that these problems would make your life miserable inside Hogwarts if you weren’t privileged enough to be born into one of the ‘bigger’ families. Our inherent desire to go to a world where magic is real has made us turn a blind eye towards the fact that Hogwarts is the most dangerous school possible.
3. Sorting children into Houses based on their undefined ‘qualities’ is the Hogwarts equivalent of casteism.
In the Muggle world, casteism is a huge problem as individuals are arbitrarily put into brackets that they have to identify with for the rest of their lives. These social structures often dictate how you’d be forced to live a life that you didn’t ask for.
Imagine being a 10-year-old who has no clue about what you want to do in life (like, you know, every other 10-year-old?). You come to Hogwarts and a creepy little hat tells you that you’re a part of one of the houses. You can’t change your house later on in your Hogwarts life.
It’s intriguing how the Sorting Hat – usually in the space of under a minute – picks out one quality which it perceives to be more important than the rest in an individual, and puts that child with other young people of a similar calibre.
It’s a lot like someone who was forced to pick a certain course by some other stimuli. We all know that parents shouldn’t shove their choices down the throats of their kids but for some reason, it’s okay for a magical hat to do to the same.
We must look at the impact being sorted has on the individual and on wider society. However, with this comfort comes a pressure: to live up to the expectations of that House. A Gryffindor, for example, who shies away from danger could be mocked, or have their position in that House questioned.
School is a stage of life when several social and economic factors turn you into an adult with a set goal in life. Here, sorting of young impressionable students over their ‘qualities’ and their family history creates the problem of social segregation and educational inequality.
4. The Time-turner and Felix Felicis become convenient plot devices instead of being actual game changers.
During the course of Harry Potter, the readers and the viewers are made familiar with the ideas of the Time-turner and Felix Felicis. We find out about Dumbledore’s greater scheme of things and how he had the knowledge about everything that was supposed to happen.
It isn’t just that Dumbledore would be absent every time shit hits the fan, but it’s also the fact that Dumbledore made some really questionable decisions with the Time-turner and Felix Felicis that puzzle us.
We see how the Headmaster tells Harry and Hermione to go back in time and save Buckbeak and Sirius from certain death during the events of The Prisoner of Azkaban. He says, “If you succeed tonight, more than one innocent life may be spared”. I see why Dumbledore would suddenly feel the need to tell Harry about this device that could turn back time but what I don’t understand is why would an intelligent wizard put this powerful device in the hands of a kid? Even with that great power, all Hermione does is study.
When Sirius dies in The Order of Phoenix, they could have used it to go back in time and save him but why would we do the obvious thing over something that’s convenient? Even when Dobby died (along with my soul), Hermione couldn’t be bothered. Because screw Dobby, grades are obviously more important.
JK Rowling might have set some rules about time-travel later on but we can clearly see through the bullshit. She was clearly caught off-guard and had to come up with some laws to cover up the logical loopholes in an otherwise simple plot.
Even if the rules about time-travel are to be believed, it’s rather disturbing how a wise wizard like Dumbledore would risk these powerful magical devices at the hands of a child, just for the sake of furthering the plot.
I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good!
PS: Someone is going to call me Rita Skeeter but if all of the above stated things are not a problem for you, maybe Rita is the journalist of the year.