Sunday, December 15, 2013

HPP: When Worlds Collide--er, Overlap

In chapters 2 through 4 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the first instance--at least the first in my notice--that the Muggle world and wizarding world have modern, real-time overlap.

The Ministry of Magic sees fit to inform the non-magical media of the escape of a murderous maniac.  To be honest, I'm surprised they haven't had more problems of this kind.  There must have been bad wizards and witches, like our common thugs and petty criminals, who didn't care to keep their mischief confined to their own kind.  But then, that's what memory charms are for, I suppose!

It's an interesting thought to entertain--how often and how many times have happily oblivious Muggles happened upon magic only to have their revelations erased and their life's events rearranged for them--and how does that jive with ethics, wizards' or otherwise?

It's a perfect parallel with Mr. Weasley's dilemma in wanting to tell Harry the truth about Black.  Mrs. Weasley believes Harry would be happier protected from the knowledge that a sinister, escaped prisoner has him marked for murder.  But dear Arthur insists that Harry has a right to know.  Once again, Arthur Weasley steps forward as champion of common sense and decency.  He has more the heart of a human being than either Muggle or wizard, and every time I read about him, my respect for him grows in leaps and bounds.

This also whets an appetite that has been stirring in me from the first pages of the first book: a thus far unfulfilled hunger to see how the world of magic, veiled from the ordinary world, can go on in secret; and wishing to see what would happen if someone--either by choice or by force of hand--were to reveal to the majority of the world on a mass scale that magic is real and exists all around us, in a parallel society, since the beginning of the beginning.  The build-up to the mortal struggle with Voldemort we are heading toward is a perfect opportunity for this; for wizards to throw down their wands and say, "We all have to work together if we're going to defeat the Dark Lord" and "It's just as much their fight as it is ours because it's their world--it's their lives--too."

In a similar vein, I'm looking forward to seeing Hogsmeade, a real, live, in-the-world wizard village.  I wonder, what do unsuspecting Muggles who wander into Hogsmeade think of it?  Is it cloaked or concealed somehow from non-magical people?  I do want Harry to go there, but I've a bad feeling that he's not going to make a legitimately allowed visit.

If not for Jenna's saying so, I wouldn't have ever put Aunt Marge and Margaret Thatcher together; but then, I'm not knowledgeable about politics and any history more recent than the Reformation.  Even if this is a jab at conservationism, the labels mean different things for Americans than Brits, and I've never been a fan of labels anyway, except for the one Big One (it's obvious enough if you read around here closely).  The only way conservatism vs. liberalism would interest me is in the details--how they rate or what stances they take on particular issues or with certain real people who have names, jobs, and children . . . and not in the abstract generalizations.  So a "no" to that, I think, Masha?

I won't add to Masha's commentary about Harry's anger and the consequences thereof because I believe I've made my discomfort regarding that clear already, and repeating myself gets old, especially for readers!

I'm curious and looking forward to omens and fortunetelling in the book.  I don't have much personal opinion about it and experience with it myself, so discussions around that I'm looking forward to as well.  At any rate, Rowling is playing a bit with death omens herself, with the black wolf sighted by Harry and its affiliation with the book subtitled "what to do when you know the worst is coming."

Chapters 2, 3, and 4 take their time baiting and building up the main conflict that is to come, which allows the charming world of Harry Potter to open further fore exploration.  The Knight Bus is fun in the way that much of Rowling's inventions are: unbalanced in favor of pun more than for practicality.  The Leaky Cauldron's got rooms!  Crookshanks, Scabbers, Percy's promotion to Head Boy, Ginny, and a mirror that gives unhelpful feedback.  And there's been mention of some sinister guards placed around Hogwarts to keep watch for the also-sinister murderer.  We're well on our way to another interesting school year.



  1. Isn't Arthur wonderful?? I love him! <3

    This is a lovely post, and I enjoyed all your speculations, but everything I can think of to say is spoilerific. :P

    Rowling's puns, as far as I'm concerned, are great fun. Some people find them terribly over the top (how can you not know that a boy called Draco Malfoy is going to be bad news?) but I find wordplay endlessly hilarious.

    I'm not a fan of labels, either! Well. Except for the Big One. I'll accept the Big One, gladly. ;)

  2. I agree that there are some serious ethical issues at stake when wizards routinely wipe Muggle memories! Such wiping also can't decrease the contempt that many wizards feel for Squibs and Muggles, since it clearly implies that Muggles don't deserve the same basic rights as wizards.

    1. I'm sure some of them, like Mrs. Weasley, believe they're protecting them, but the fact that who gets to decide all that rests in the hands of morally imperfect beings makes me nervous! :p Ya know?

    2. Ethical problems abound.. but I'm sure the good wizards think they're "making a better world..all of them, better worlds" ;) creepy thought, right! Power is dangerous and corrupting, especially when it's used to preserve ignorance and dependence among the powerless..There are actually, now that I'm thinking about it, a lot of parallels between the Alliance (firefly) and the wizarding world in it's official policies..though maybe it's just the similarity of all bureaucracies; It's something I do wish Rowling had brought more to the forefront in her books.

      Christie, I LOVED your hope for muggle-wizard Alliance against Voldemort! I hope for it too..the same way I hope to win the lottery..but it's still hope, right!


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