Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

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Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Clumpy » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:08 am UTC

I'm spoilering the title rather than the whole post. Just a coupla possible inconsistencies that get me wondering now that I'm rereading 6 and 7:

#1: Where are Harry's grandparents? If they were killed it would have been mentioned, and they should only be in like their early 60s. J.K. Rowling insists that they all had children fairly old and died of old age, but that seems like a convenient way not to give Harry any family.

#2: If Voldemort could place a curse on a position that Dumbledore would be unable to break (Defense Against the Dark Arts) why didn't he curse the position of headmaster? Or every teaching position until there was a staff more sympathetic to him? And if he was just trying to hang around long enough to find some rare items from the school's founders, couldn't he have worked something tricky out?

#3: Why did Scrimgeour keep Umbridge on at the Ministry even though she'd admitted in the 5th book to sending monsters after Harry to frickin' suck out his soul? You'd think Harry would have mentioned that to somebody.

#4: If Barty Crouch were trying to transport Harry away from school why didn't he just turn, for example, a cookie into a Portkey and then offer it to him after a class? Not necessarily a cookie, but something easy to get him to touch?

#5: If wizards are laughably bad at dressing up as "muggles", why do several students dress in casual clothes throughout the books and moreso throughout the movies? Maybe they all have at least one Muggle parent but you'd still think that Muggle habits would be ingrained enough into society that somebody besides Crouch would have gotten it right.

More if I think of them...
Last edited by Clumpy on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:40 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Filius Nullius » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:10 am UTC

I haven't read harry potter in a long time... so my answers may be totally wrong.. but here goes.

1) I accept the authors stance on this issue
2) I think the curse on the position was more of a figurative rather than literal stance
3) I don't think many people at the ministry thought much of anything harry said.
4) I don't think magical things such as a portkey work inside of hogwarts, this is the reason the floo network had to be used.
5) Movies aren't always very accurate, although It would be keen to point out that it is perhaps only the older wizards that are bad at dressing like muggles and I also assume that some of the students are muggle born.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Kag » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:34 am UTC

Filius Nullius wrote:4) I don't think magical things such as a portkey work inside of Hogwarts, this is the reason the floo network had to be used.
You're thinking of non-magical technology (which is a retarded idea, but that's besides the point). IIRC, The Triwizard Cup trophy operated as a portkey to and from Hogwarts grounds.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:45 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:#1: Where are Harry's grandparents? If they were killed it would have been mentioned, and they should only be in like their early 60s. J.K. Rowling insists that they all had children fairly old and died of old age, but that seems like a convenient way not to give Harry any family.


That's something I had wondered as well. Perhaps they were still alive throughout the entire series, but had scattered to the winds for fear of being persecuted by Death Eaters or any other Voldemort supporters.

Clumpy wrote:#2: If Voldemort could place a curse on a position that Dumbledore would be unable to break (Defense Against the Dark Arts) why didn't he curse the position of headmaster? Or every teaching position until there was a staff more sympathetic to him? And if he was just trying to hang around long enough to find some rare items from the school's founders, couldn't he have worked something tricky out?


I don't recall reading anywhere in the books stating that Voldemort had placed a curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position. The curse thing was more of an inside joke or suspicion among the teachers and staff, than it was an actual curse. Sort of like how when a house sells, but the people who live there don't seem to stay long, people might suspect it's haunted, or to be more logical, it's valued too high.

In most cases, the instructor had turned out to be rather incompetent at teaching the subject, with the exception of Lupin and Moody, although the Moody in the class turned out to be Crouch Jr. in disguise. The only other one might have been Quirrell, although we never really saw him give instruction in the book. I'm guessing that's because the class wasn't offered to First Year students.

Clumpy wrote:#3: Why did Scrimgeour keep Umbridge on at the Ministry even though she'd admitted in the 5th book to sending monsters after Harry to frickin' suck out his soul? You'd think Harry would have mentioned that to somebody.


It's possible that there was a review performed by the Wizengamot, but there was not enough sufficient evidence to prove that Umbridge sent the Dementors out to attack Harry. I don't remember him saying that she sent them after him, and she confessed it only to him. Who would believe a teenage boy known to lie in the past (even though it was later discovered he was telling the truth), and always manages to get out of trouble that would have killed anyone else with the same amount of experience as him, or even more, as well as somehow getting away with breaking the rules? This was going on when everyone was just starting to realize that Harry and Dumbledore were telling the truth about Voldemort, so neither one could really come out with some outlandish story like that, without being made fools of again, even if it was true.

Clumpy wrote:#4: If Barty Crouch were trying to transport Harry away from school why didn't he just turn, for example, a cookie into a Portkey and then offer it to him after a class? Not necessarily a cookie, but something easy to get him to touch?


Because you can't teleport inside and outside of Hogwarts. I think the only time that happened was when Dumbledore turned the teapot into a Portkey to get all of the Weasley children, Harry, and Hermione back to Grimmauld Place after Harry saw Arthur being attacked by Nagini, but it's possible that for a short period of time (just enough time to do it), Dumbledore lifted that protection charm. If you remember later in the sixth book, as Harry and Dumbledore are flying back to Hogwarts, Dumbledore begins reciting spells under his breath, releasing a lot of the protection charms (Harry's broom begins to buck violently as they got close to the school grounds, until Dumbledore lifted that charm). I think one reason why Crouch didn't send Harry away by transforming something as simple as a biscuit or even a textbook (which I would have done, or even a piece of parchment that had been his homework assignment) was that it would have been too suspicious. Harry is asked to stay after class. Moody (Crouch) talks to him, shows off some of his Auror equipment (Dark Detectors), hands him a piece of parchment that was a homework assignment, or better yet, a pass to his next class, and Harry doesn't show up to his next class, or the one after that, or for the rest of the week, month, or entire term? That would raise a few eyebrows IMHO. Besides, it would have been less conspicuous if Harry touched the TriWizard Cup and it turned into a Portkey. No one could see the cup from the stands, since the walls of the maze were at least 20 feet high. I think too that Voldemort and Wormtail needed more time to prepare for the rebirthing ritual, so that's why Harry didn't get transported until the end.

Clumpy wrote:#5: If wizards are laughably bad at dressing up as "muggles", why do several students dress in casual clothes throughout the books and moreso throughout the movies? Maybe they all have at least one Muggle parent but you'd still think that Muggle habits would be ingrained enough into society that somebody besides Crouch would have gotten it right.


And you would have thought that having been around Harry and Hermione, who have lived in the Muggle world for all their lives, someone like the Weasleys would have done a better job at it. If nothing else, they could have asked Harry and Hermione for some tips. That way they wouldn't have stood out as much. The only one (besides Crouch) who really pulled it off was Tonks, when she had the pink hair and her Weird Sisters shirt on. She looked like any other punk kid walking around the streets of London or any other major city.

I don't remember the students wearing normal clothes in the books, except when boarding the train (in a few of the books they talk about them changing into their robes before the train arrives at Hogsmeade Station), going into Hogsmeade, and when Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley kids all left Hogwarts to see Arthur. Other than that, I presumed they were in their school uniforms/robes.

As far as the movies, maybe they wore normal clothes to try to save money in the wardrobe department. Just a guess. The only time they wore their school uniforms from third year on was while they were in class, walking down the halls, or sitting in the Great Hall for meals or assemblies.

One thing that bugged me about them going into the Muggle World in the fifth book was that Sirius/Padfoot was running around loose. Even Muggles would have known something was up, since I'm sure that even in London, you're supposed to have your dog on a leash when in a public area like a train station. If you want to be less suspicious, put a leash on the dog. Go inside the smoker's booth, take the leash off, and instantly he'd turn back into his human self.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Rinsaikeru » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:49 am UTC

#1: Author's universe--they could also have been killed in the first war one way or another and JK just never bothered to mention it because it's not a directly relevant plot-point. Also--he wouldn't have been raised by Petunia if he had other living relatives.

#2: Yeah I agree. Figurative curse, it just happens to be a frequently vacated position to help drive plot.

#3: People took frequent switches between Harry: Boy Wonder and Harry: Psychopath throughout the entire series. This is not surprising.

#4: Portkeys do work on Hogwarts ground (and are used a few times in the plot) but they are not easy to make and it is prohibited to make them-also a cookie after class isn't nearly as exciting. Crazed death eaters really aren't one for subtle.

#5: There are lots of muggleborns around, the screenwriters/costume department took liberties, kids tend to be more aware of what is contemporary--it's only adults that tend to break the muggle clothing laws in the novels. Also Wizards live longer and therefore they might keep clothing around for 50 years before wearing it into muggle society.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Clumpy » Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:20 am UTC

All right - good input. Just a few things:

* I'll willing to accept the conspicuous lack of Harry's grandparents (either in the story or mention of their deaths) as literary license.

* There is, in fact, a curse on the DAtDA position. Prior to Rowling's statement that since the curse was lifted on Voldemort's (final) death a permanent teacher took the position (I read this in an interview but can't remember where) this was just a guess, but it's pretty clear that Dumbledore at least subscribes to that theory (as he makes a direct connection in Book 6). This explains a few things, such as why Snape was never given the position until it was clear he'd be leaving by the end of the year anyway.

* I think it's pretty clear that Alfonso Cuarón did a few things while he was directing PoA to make the movies more realistic and immersive and less silly. The use of casual clothes during student free time is probably one of those.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Simbera » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:49 pm UTC

#1: Like you said, JK said they died of old age. It's really not THAT implausible, is it?

#2: You're right that there was an actual curse on there - I CBF looking it up to provide a page number or anything but Dumbledore does say it. As to why he didn't curse the other positions etc, I'm assuming difficulty played a part, and let's not forget that some of the magic in the books relies on uncontrollable circumstances - for example, sharing blood with someone. Perhaps the job he applied for (and/or was well-suited for) was the only one he could curse because of this. Generally speaking, though: making Voldemort so uber-powerful that he could do that and things of similar magnitude would have made him indestructible, and therefore made the books boring.

#3: Very good point. I'm gonna go with 'plot hole' with a 'not believing Harry' as a retcon.

#4: To remain incognito, mostly, I'm guessing, as well as it needing to be at the end of the year for Voldemort to get ready.

#5: Firstly, ignore the movies as they don't keep very well to canon at all. Secondly, they don't really state much that they are wearing Muggle clothing much except, as aforementioned, at Kings Cross. I'm gonna go with kids being more contemporary, as someone else suggested, for how they keep up the ruse better than the adults.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Clumpy » Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:24 pm UTC

I guess the Rule of Cool carries fiction more than the idea that it must be absolutely airtight. Still, I find some of these questions pretty fun.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Azrael001 » Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

I've got a better question for you, if (spoilers ahead) the centaurs, who can do no magic, can alter the outcome of a battle with spears and arrows, why couldn't a well armed group of commandos? Or better yet, guns with enchanted bullets.

There was a picture that I saw that summed it up nicely. It showed a person holding a hand grenade with no pin, the caption read: By the time Voldermort figures out what it is, you'll have already saved Hogwarts.

I was willing to accept that there was some magical defense against non-magical weapons, but that ending blew that theory out of the water.

I'm happy with the answers that everyone else gave to the original questions.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Clumpy » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

Azrael001 wrote:I've got a better question for you, if (spoilers ahead) the centaurs, who can do no magic, can alter the outcome of a battle with spears and arrows, why couldn't a well armed group of commandos? Or better yet, guns with enchanted bullets.


Yeah - I get the impression that wand reaction time would lead to more than a few bullet-riddled wizards before they got their act together. Despite the general condemnation of ordinary human society in the novels this sort of thing couldn't really be addressed. "Why don't all of the strange magical creatures show up in ordinary human society?" would be another good question.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Rinsaikeru » Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

In terms of magical creatures in ordinary society (or evidence of magic at all):

That's what the ministry of magic is for. They cover up, prevent, modify memories, create things which deter muggles from seeing anything magical. Further, there is a subset of muggles--ie parents of muggle-borns, the prime minister etc. that do know about magic/magical creatures and are complicit in covering these things up. Beyond that, if you saw a dragon and only you saw it--who would believe you anyway?
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby jeffk » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:53 pm UTC

Rinsaikeru wrote:Further, there is a subset of muggles--ie parents of muggle-borns, the prime minister etc. that do know about magic/magical creatures and are complicit in covering these things up. Beyond that, if you saw a dragon and only you saw it--who would believe you anyway?


Which is precisely why the Ministry of Magic could count on the PM's cooperation :)

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Alder » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:23 pm UTC

I have a question, which has always bothered me, and I never spotted an answer.

When Harry is having 'flashbacks' to his parents death [in 'Azkaban'] he hears his mother begging Voldemort not to kill Harry. He says something like, "Get out of the way, you silly girl!"...and when she doesn't, he kills her, and heads for Harry.

He's the most evil wizard ever. He kills with impunity and without remorse - but "Get out of the way, you silly girl" has an almost affectionate, irritated sound, as if he'd have spared her if she'd let him pass. Why did he say that? Why did he say anything at all, instead of just swatting her like the insignificant ant he should have thought her?
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Ratio » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:01 am UTC

Alder26 wrote:I have a question, which has always bothered me, and I never spotted an answer.

When Harry is having 'flashbacks' to his parents death [in 'Azkaban'] he hears his mother begging Voldemort not to kill Harry. He says something like, "Get out of the way, you silly girl!"...and when she doesn't, he kills her, and heads for Harry.

He's the most evil wizard ever. He kills with impunity and without remorse - but "Get out of the way, you silly girl" has an almost affectionate, irritated sound, as if he'd have spared her if she'd let him pass. Why did he say that? Why did he say anything at all, instead of just swatting her like the insignificant ant he should have thought her?



I think that's more due to personallity than evil levels.
In the last book, we find Voldemort's only killed a handful of people himself, it's not about what he does that makes him evil, it's how he thinks.
Alternatively, he was mocking her.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby annals » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:43 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:
Azrael001 wrote:I've got a better question for you, if (spoilers ahead) the centaurs, who can do no magic, can alter the outcome of a battle with spears and arrows, why couldn't a well armed group of commandos? Or better yet, guns with enchanted bullets.


Yeah - I get the impression that wand reaction time would lead to more than a few bullet-riddled wizards before they got their act together.

That was a big problem for me, the whole thing where all the magic at Hogwarts wasn't really as effective as the technology that I have in my bedroom. Especially various times when they were reading every book in the whole library to find the information they needed: imagine the problems that could have been solved had the school budgeted for a computer with a catalog and search engine.

Oh, and how, exactly, are the Weasleys poor? Why can't they just transform dust into money, or something?

And why why why are these children not given lessons in basic Latin? Sectumsempra? Lupin? Come on people.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Azrael001 » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:50 am UTC

Also, spells can be achieved without speaking, or even without knowing the words at all. Imagine what someone who trained the "wild magic" or what ever could do. Harry disappeared a large pane of glass by accident (in the first book, with the snake). That thing could have been upwards of fifty pounds. Why even have words at all?
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Kag » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:40 am UTC

annals wrote:And why why why are these children not given lessons in basic Latin? Sectumsempra? Lupin? Come on people.
On the same note, how are we supposed to believe that roman society would last more than a few seconds with people saying magic words all the damn time?
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Azrael001 » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:45 am UTC

They didn't have wands. Or they weren't magic, or something. Also, if Latin can be used for magic, why not English? I'm sure you can't cast a spell by accident if you know what you are doing, the intent seems to matter as much as the words.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby i_ll_winn » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:47 am UTC

Azrael001 wrote:Also, spells can be achieved without speaking, or even without knowing the words at all. Imagine what someone who trained the "wild magic" or what ever could do. Harry disappeared a large pane of glass by accident (in the first book, with the snake). That thing could have been upwards of fifty pounds. Why even have words at all?


I believe some other books touched upon this, if your mind wanders, or if you just happen to think something like "I wonder why my breakfast was so weird tasting?" in the middle of trying to do a non word spell, you could seriously F things up.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Azrael001 » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:51 am UTC

But that would have made a much more interesting book. Magic became almost mundane. If there were actual penalties for failed spells it would have been much better. Magic was all reward and no risk. It was so easy that a child could do it...
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:22 am UTC

annals wrote:Oh, and how, exactly, are the Weasleys poor? Why can't they just transform dust into money, or something?


IIRC, in the world of Harry Potter, and in the real world for that matter, there are restrictions and rules that regulate what you can and cannot do, should and should not do, with magic(k). One major thing was that you could not use magic for was as a benefit only to yourself. Certain things, like making money appear out of thin air, would have been seen as a selfish act. Such actions, if I'm not mistaken, could be punishable. I think it was also understood that using magic for your own selfish gain brought about evilness in you, hence Voldemort having turned evil. He only thought of himself. He enjoyed the attention and loved bossing people around, and only became concerned when something went wrong for someone if it impacted on his plans. He even punished those who failed him, or did away with the obstacles himself, if needed.

The Weasleys were poor because they had so many children, and Arthur never really advanced in the Ministry of Magic, mainly because of his actions in regard to Muggles.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Lax » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:35 am UTC

Alder26 wrote:I have a question, which has always bothered me, and I never spotted an answer.

When Harry is having 'flashbacks' to his parents death [in 'Azkaban'] he hears his mother begging Voldemort not to kill Harry. He says something like, "Get out of the way, you silly girl!"...and when she doesn't, he kills her, and heads for Harry.

He's the most evil wizard ever. He kills with impunity and without remorse - but "Get out of the way, you silly girl" has an almost affectionate, irritated sound, as if he'd have spared her if she'd let him pass. Why did he say that? Why did he say anything at all, instead of just swatting her like the insignificant ant he should have thought her?


He would have spared her if she'd let him pass because Snape begged him to spare her. Which is how her death was a willing sacrifice. Which is how the killing curse backfired. Which is how Harry survived. And which is how he beat Voldemort at the end. Snapes love for Lilly enabled her love for Harry which in turn enabled Harry's love for everyone else which ended Voldemorts reign even if he wasn't killed at the end. Love. It's a vicious cycle.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:44 am UTC

Re. Latin: Perhaps latin words are used for wizarding spells not because the words themselves are magic but because of the "latin is so awesome" obsession during the 18th century in Britain. Also, making the words strange with particular emphasis would help to keep them separate from daily life. And, the reader is also not so likely to have a latin background but they can probably glean clues from what they do know about latin like Remus Lupin (Dream wolf). It's not uncommon for characters in fiction to have pretty literal character descriptive names.

The Latin words are not magic, other wizard cultures don't use the same focus words. They just happen to be the commonly used method in the UK in the novels.

Re. Voldy's words to Lily: Tone is important here too. I'm pretty sure that silly girl in the right tone could be pretty terrifying. Also, is your particular understanding of silly the same as the one implied? I do know that silly is slighly less negative in north america for instance.

Re. Weasleys: No you can't just make money--the goblins who control the bank would know. Fake money eventually stops existing (ie. Twins winnings from bagman). None of the magic makes something from nothing, there's always a source and always a cost for the magic done. It's not a law against doing something for yourself--because Molly gets the dishes done without getting her hands wet--it's that there is always a price, material or otherwise.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Clumpy » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:25 am UTC

Alder26 wrote:I have a question, which has always bothered me, and I never spotted an answer.

When Harry is having 'flashbacks' to his parents death [in 'Azkaban'] he hears his mother begging Voldemort not to kill Harry. He says something like, "Get out of the way, you silly girl!"...and when she doesn't, he kills her, and heads for Harry.

He's the most evil wizard ever. He kills with impunity and without remorse - but "Get out of the way, you silly girl" has an almost affectionate, irritated sound, as if he'd have spared her if she'd let him pass. Why did he say that? Why did he say anything at all, instead of just swatting her like the insignificant ant he should have thought her?


Voldemort is a more subdued sort of evil. He has no problem with killing but generally doesn't go killing all willy-nilly. Several of his followers are sadists but it's pretty clear that Voldemort himself doesn't value other people at all, not respecting them enough even to enjoy causing pain.

That was a big problem for me, the whole thing where all the magic at Hogwarts wasn't really as effective as the technology that I have in my bedroom. Especially various times when they were reading every book in the whole library to find the information they needed: imagine the problems that could have been solved had the school budgeted for a computer with a catalog and search engine.


The few times that very modern technology is mentioned in Harry Potter (PlayStation, etc.) it tends to kill immersion rather than add realism. Harry Potter's world is sort of a neo-Medieval sort of construct which relies on Muggle primitivism - referencing the awesome achievements of humanity would kill some of the fun. (Especially since a couple of jets could probably level an entire wizard town given the traveling speed of their spells, necessitating Unplottable charms and the like).

Oh, and how, exactly, are the Weasleys poor? Why can't they just transform dust into money, or something?


My theory is that wizard money has been made unduplicable through a variety of enchantments and you can't really transfer from Muggle money to wizard money. This explains why Harry is pretty poor when living at Privet Drive (holes in his jeans, etc.).

Azrael001 wrote:They didn't have wands. Or they weren't magic, or something. Also, if Latin can be used for magic, why not English? I'm sure you can't cast a spell by accident if you know what you are doing, the intent seems to matter as much as the words.


It's strange that people can invent spells and magic that can then be used by everybody else. I suppose without J.K. inventing some kind of construct for the ways that magic works in her books we can't really answer this and similar questions.

IIRC, in the world of Harry Potter, and in the real world for that matter, there are restrictions and rules that regulate what you can and cannot do, should and should not do, with magic(k). One major thing was that you could not use magic for was as a benefit only to yourself. Certain things, like making money appear out of thin air, would have been seen as a selfish act. Such actions, if I'm not mistaken, could be punishable. I think it was also understood that using magic for your own selfish gain brought about evilness in you, hence Voldemort having turned evil.


That's probably true philosophically, but not necessarily specifically in the books. My impression is that hexing people for no real reason isn't punished in the way that we'd punish something like an assault. Many wizards are petty and use magic for their own benefit. Still really harming somebody or screwing around with their mind too much is considered Dark Magic, which is why relatively mundane spells are accepted in society. Thus the evil is more in the spell than the person performing it.

He would have spared her if she'd let him pass because Snape begged him to spare her. Which is how her death was a willing sacrifice. Which is how the killing curse backfired. Which is how Harry survived. And which is how he beat Voldemort at the end. Snapes love for Lilly enabled her love for Harry which in turn enabled Harry's love for everyone else which ended Voldemorts reign even if he wasn't killed at the end. Love. It's a vicious cycle.


Pretty much everything Snapeworthy is awesome. This is a nice addition to stuff we've all thought about.
Last edited by Clumpy on Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:07 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby annals » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:09 am UTC

I guess the answers regarding money and technology make sense. Really I think my annoyance at them is more a reaction to the Harry Potter books always being described to me as immersive and well written (sort of Tolkien lite) and then being...not.

So, I don't know if this question fits the thread, but did J.K. Rowling really mean the name Xenophilius to be a reference to Dr. Strangelove? Because that would be kind of cool.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby ameretrifle » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:07 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:My theory is that wizard money has been made unduplicable through a variety of enchantments and you can't really transfer from Muggle money to wizard money. This explains why Harry is pretty poor when living at Privet Drive (holes in his jeans, etc.).
In book something-or-other, Hermione's parents have to change their money in Diagon Alley so they can buy her school supplies, yeah? So there is an exchange system of some sort. Maybe just a carefully regulated one.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:14 am UTC

ameretrifle wrote:
Clumpy wrote:My theory is that wizard money has been made unduplicable through a variety of enchantments and you can't really transfer from Muggle money to wizard money. This explains why Harry is pretty poor when living at Privet Drive (holes in his jeans, etc.).
In book something-or-other, Hermione's parents have to change their money in Diagon Alley so they can buy her school supplies, yeah? So there is an exchange system of some sort. Maybe just a carefully regulated one.


The goblins at Gringotts regulate the exchange of wizard money, so I would imagine that with their special kind of magic (supposedly a bit more powerful than most wizard magic), they can trace every single Knut changing hands, and have more than likely put some kind of curse or protection spell on the money to prevent them from being duplicated (counterfeit).

As far as the money the twins had won from Bagman, that was leprechaun gold he gave them (the mascots for the Irish rained the entire crowd with leprechaun gold), which was known to disappear after a while. They were overheard later in the book talking about ways to try to get back at him, including blackmail, and Hermione asks what they were talking about.

Not only did Hermione's parents have to exchange Muggle money for wizard money, but Arthur Weasley had to do the exact opposite when he had to take Harry to the Ministry of Magic for his hearing. When they were at the subway station, Arthur had to ask Harry which note was which, and he sort of figured it out from the numbers printed on the front and back. Harry ended up having to handle all transactions, to keep the Muggles from suspecting too much.

Harry was poor not because he didn't have any wizard money (in fact, in the first book, his own vault that his parents left for him was loaded with Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts.), but because Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia didn't give him any Muggle money to spend on his own. All of their money was spent on sweet little Duddy-kins, who was their own flesh and blood. Since Petunia had distanced herself from Lily when they were children, she saw Harry as some smudge on a window that just couldn't be wiped away. All of Harry's clothes were hand-me-downs from Dudley. Dudley had ripped them while playing, or just sitting down and them becoming too small for his fat ass.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:30 pm UTC

Clumpy wrote:
Azrael001 wrote:They didn't have wands. Or they weren't magic, or something. Also, if Latin can be used for magic, why not English? I'm sure you can't cast a spell by accident if you know what you are doing, the intent seems to matter as much as the words.
It's strange that people can invent spells and magic that can then be used by everybody else. I suppose without J.K. inventing some kind of construct for the ways that magic works in her books we can't really answer this and similar questions..

Well, of you operate under the assumption that the words are just a focus to get your mind locked on to what you're doing, that's fine. Invention of new spells works too. Just because something is possible doesn't necessarily mean someone has thought of doing it - see: The Steam Engine. The Greeks had the Steam Engine but had no idea what to do with it. It wasn't until someone thought to strap it to a wheel and see if it could move stuff around that it became useful.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Azrael001 » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:32 pm UTC

I did not know that. Now I am imagining an alternate history where they did...
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoiler Ahoy!)

Postby Clumpy » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:38 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Clumpy wrote:
Azrael001 wrote:They didn't have wands. Or they weren't magic, or something. Also, if Latin can be used for magic, why not English? I'm sure you can't cast a spell by accident if you know what you are doing, the intent seems to matter as much as the words.
It's strange that people can invent spells and magic that can then be used by everybody else. I suppose without J.K. inventing some kind of construct for the ways that magic works in her books we can't really answer this and similar questions..

Well, of you operate under the assumption that the words are just a focus to get your mind locked on to what you're doing, that's fine. Invention of new spells works too. Just because something is possible doesn't necessarily mean someone has thought of doing it - see: The Steam Engine. The Greeks had the Steam Engine but had no idea what to do with it. It wasn't until someone thought to strap it to a wheel and see if it could move stuff around that it became useful.


Yes, but wizards do spells that they don't understand all the time. "Sectumsempra" anybody? I think it's pretty clear that your analysis works for the most part (people can do magic without spells or even wands if they're particularly focused and feeling suitably intense), though the necessity of using standardized spells is pretty clear in the books.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:35 pm UTC

I could just be indoctrination. Case in point, a firestarting spell. You learn to wiggle the wand in a certain way (say, up and to the left) for a little fire while saying "FuckMe Stupid!" or whatever. You are told that this will result in a fire not unlike that from a lighter, and it's useful in starting campfires. You're also taught that if you wiggle the want in another way (down and to the right) while saying "FuckMe Sideways!" or whatever, it will result in a fire that's more useful in taking a bonfire from 0 to Marshmallows Toasting at 20 Feet Away.

If you aren't taught these things and simply will fire into being, it's possible that you'll get too focused on it and draw in a huge gout of flame when you were just trying to light your cigarette, burning your face and your house to a cinder.

Pretty much, I'm saying it runs off belief. If you believe that wiggling a wand in a certain way and saying "Fuckass Cockmonkey" will cause your opponent to turn into a horrible sodomizing penis simian, then by wiggling your wand in a certain way and saying "Fuckass Cockmonkey" at your opponent, they will indeed become a horrible sodomizing penis simian.

And everyone around you will wonder just what the fuck is wrong with you.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Flying Betty » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:42 pm UTC

I think the words are more a way of controlling how you do things. It's pretty clear that you can do the motions of the spell (words and wand gestures) all you want but if you don't have the power nothing will happen. It's also pretty clear that you can do things out of sheer, raw talent (Harry and the snake, Harry and some other random things before he came to Hogwarts, Neville and being "tested" for magic by one of his relatives and bouncing instead of dying or something). I would surmise that the words give people a way to focus their activities and control the power. I also don't find it unbelievable that people could have been casting certain spells for so long that the words didn't become sort of infused with magic. So if the original, Latin speaking wizards said "Fire!" to set something on fire just because it felt natural, eventually with enough repetition then it might become more inherently magical to say "Fire!" in Latin to do this because the magic had worked that way so many times before.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:32 am UTC

Really, Rowling may have done herself a favor by hiding the magical mechanics so well. She's not bound to very many true systems.

As for weapons tech, I would assume that most wizards just haven't even considered it. Where are you going to get those weapons? Walk out into the street? And deal with Muggles? The Death Eater's sure aren't going to do that. And while there are lots of muggleborns, I don't seem to recall any of them being anywhere in power. Not that they're not allowed in pre-Voldy Ministry jobs, just that they don't advance. Think African-Americans in the Presidency. When it happened, a lot of people were happy about it, but the fact was that for a long time there was enough of a bias to stop it from happening even if it was legal. So you've got the average guy who doesn't know what an escalator is, let alone a gun.

Or, maybe guns were adopted by wizards when they first came out....and counter-charms were quickly developed. Bullet-proof protegos and gunpowder neutralizing charms. (Arthur C Clarke's The Trigger, anyone?) Maybe shrapnel is trivial to wizard medicine. So it's fallen out of practice.

On "inventing spells" and words. Yes, I'm pretty sure incantations and the like are focus as much as anything else, although perhaps incantations only become tied to certain spells after the spell has been developed--somehow becoming magically bound or something. Why Voldemort doesn't just bind some kind of explosive spell to the word "Dumbledore" or something, I don't know, I'm sure we could get some Magic Technobabble in on this. Of course, incantations are not required by good wizards and in later books--though it pains me, I'm reminded of the scene in (cringe) Eldest where the guy goes on a rant about how sound waves have no relevance to magic.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:04 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:On "inventing spells" and words. Yes, I'm pretty sure incantations and the like are focus as much as anything else, although perhaps incantations only become tied to certain spells after the spell has been developed--somehow becoming magically bound or something. Why Voldemort doesn't just bind some kind of explosive spell to the word "Dumbledore" or something, I don't know, I'm sure we could get some Magic Technobabble in on this.


Well, he did do something similar to that. In the last book, after he had pretty much regained power and control of the Wizarding world, he had put a trace on his own name, so that anyone who said it would immediately be found, and "dealt with" by the Death Eaters. This was a ploy to capture anyone from the Order, since they were the only ones who said his name. Everyone ended up having to say "The Dark Lord" or "You-Know-Who" in order to prevent being captured. There was the one scene in the last book when Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet up with Luna Lovegood's dad at his home, and he said the name "Voldemort," knowing the Death Eaters would arrive, and capture not only him, but the most wanted bounty of all, those three.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby eightysevendegrees » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:35 pm UTC

There's one thing that bothered me about the books. They had a potion that forced people to tell the truth. How come Sirius got wrongfully sent to prison? I know there's a comment in one of the books about him being sent to Azkaban without trial, but it wouldn't take that long to make him swallow a drop and ask, "Do you work for Voldemort?"

Similarly, in Harry's hearing, they could have instantly found out if he'd been attacked by Dementors or, for that matter, if he'd really seen Voldemort come back. Umbridge was happy enough using veritaserum at Hogwarts later in the book, so it can't have been all that rare or difficult to make.

And how come nobody caught Wormtail? They knew there was a spy in the Order. Couldn't someone have slipped a bit into the food before a meeting and asked if anybody in the room was a spy?

As for the thing about technology, I'm sure there's a reference in GoF to technology not working at Hogwarts due to the high concentration of magic. Maybe if you're surrounded by enough magic, guns would just stop working.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Azrael001 » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:41 pm UTC

Guns aren't all that high tech though, I would imagine it is electronics that get disrupted.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Rysto » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:41 am UTC

eightysevendegrees wrote:There's one thing that bothered me about the books. They had a potion that forced people to tell the truth. How come Sirius got wrongfully sent to prison? I know there's a comment in one of the books about him being sent to Azkaban without trial, but it wouldn't take that long to make him swallow a drop and ask, "Do you work for Voldemort?"

JKR covered this on her website. The short version is that Veritaserum is not infallible(Occlumency, for instance, can defeat it). So if Sirius insisted on Veritaserum and told the truth, the Ministry would have just said that he'd used Dark Magic to defeat it.

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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:54 am UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:On "inventing spells" and words. Yes, I'm pretty sure incantations and the like are focus as much as anything else, although perhaps incantations only become tied to certain spells after the spell has been developed--somehow becoming magically bound or something. Why Voldemort doesn't just bind some kind of explosive spell to the word "Dumbledore" or something, I don't know, I'm sure we could get some Magic Technobabble in on this.


Well, he did do something similar to that. In the last book, after he had pretty much regained power and control of the Wizarding world, he had put a trace on his own name, so that anyone who said it would immediately be found, and "dealt with" by the Death Eaters. This was a ploy to capture anyone from the Order, since they were the only ones who said his name. Everyone ended up having to say "The Dark Lord" or "You-Know-Who" in order to prevent being captured. There was the one scene in the last book when Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet up with Luna Lovegood's dad at his home, and he said the name "Voldemort," knowing the Death Eaters would arrive, and capture not only him, but the most wanted bounty of all, those three.


Well, yeah, but being able to track people who don't use euphemisms is thinking small. If you can really bind magical effects to words, I would think you could do something more destructive. As I said, I'm sure there's something technical about it.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Rinsaikeru » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:56 am UTC

I'd also assume, that through training one could become immune to the potion. You could think of it as analogous to the reason polygraph is not permitted as proof at court.
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Re: Unanswered Harry Potter Questions (Spoilers Ahoy!)

Postby Clumpy » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:42 am UTC

Yeah, somebody mentions that a skilled wizard could transmute veritaserum before it reached their lips, or do any number of things to avoid the potion. It's probably regarded similar to a polygraph test.


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