It's magic: JK Rowling and the two worlds of Harry Potter

Introduction

1. Background

2. History and Myth

a. The Myth before the Myth: A short history of Hogwarts

3. Social Structure

a. The crews as microcosms of society

b. The Women

c. The Social Outcasts

d. Homosexuality and Lesbianism

e. Inter-Racial Relationships

4. Forms of Government

a. Democracies

b. Dictatorships

c. Utopias/Dystopias

d. Other Forms

5. Politics and International Relations

a. Overview

b. Treaties and Conventions

6. Law and Order through Space and Time

a. Traditional ways of settling legal disputes and reaching verdicts

b. About the contemporary legal system

c. Examples of contemporary Legal Dilemmas

Protection of Privacy

Genetic Engineering/Cloning

Freedom of Information

d. About the futuristic legal system

The Prime Directive

Time Travel and Time Machines

Birth Control

Genetic Engineering

The use of Telepathy and Telekinesis

Criminal Law

Nanotechnology

Cryonics

Definition and Rights of Intelligent Life

Laws of Robotics

Corporate Laws

The Internet and the Control of Information

Election Laws and Procedures

7. Technology

Summary

 

It's magic: JK Rowling and the two worlds of Harry Potter

 

Introduction

 

 

1. Background

 

 

2. History and Myth

a. The Myth before the Myth: A short history of Hogwarts

Four Wizards and Witches (Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin) establish the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. Salazar Slytherin, who advocates "purity of blood", quits because of his objection to the admittance of Muggles to the school. Later on, the House of Slytherin becomes a gathering point and a haven for the Dark Forces.

Albus Dumbledore becomes Headmaster of the school.

Four very good friends are classmates in a later year - James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. By the seventh book, only one of them is still alive.

Tom Marvolo Riddle, AKA Voldemort, is admitted to Hogwarts and soon becomes He Whose Name Must Not Be Mentioned. He sets out to create the Horocruxes, which he believes will guarantee him eternal life. The following is short history of the Horocruxes, from their creation to their destruction, from the Wikipedia encyclopedia:

The first Horocrux was Marvolo Gaunt's Ring/Resurrection Stone. It was created with the murder of Tom Riddle Senior, found at Gaunts' Shack and destroyed by Albus Dumbledore with the Sword of Godric Gryffindor.Voldemort created this Horcrux not knowing the ring's jewel was the Resurrection Stone, the second of the three Deathly Hallows.

The second Horocrux was Tom Riddle's Diary. It was created with the murder of Moaning Myrtle, found in the care of Lucius Malfoy and destroyed by Harry Potter with a Basilisk fang. Lucius Malfoy planted the diary on Ginny Weasley to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, not knowing it was a Horcrux.

The third Horocrux was Salazar Slytherin's Locket. It was created with the murder of a Muggle tramp, found at the cave with the lake of Inferi and destroyed by Ron Weasley with the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. Stolen from Hepzibah Smith, along with Hufflepuff's Cup. Originally recovered from the cave by Regulus Arcturus Black and Kreacher.

The fourth Horocrux was Helga Hufflepuff's Cup. It was created with the murder of Hepzibah Smith, found at Gringotts Bank, in the Lestrange family vault and destroyed by Hermione Granger with a Basilisk fang. Stolen from Hepzibah Smith, along with Slytherin's Locket.

The fifth Horocrux was Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem. It was created with the murder of an Albanian peasant, found at the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts and destroyed with Fiendfyre by Vincent Crabbe.

The sixt Horocrux was Harry Potter. It was created with the murder of Harry's parents in 31.10.1981. When the attempted Killing Curse rebounded, a part of Voldemort's soul flew into the nearest living thing, Harry Potter. Dumbledore believed that if Harry had been killed, Voldemort would have used Harry's death for the creation of the last Horcrux.

The seventh Horocrux was Nagini. It was created with the murder of Bertha Jorkins, Not necessarily hidden, but is with Voldemort, who is often in hiding. In the Deathly Hallows, it was hidden from harm in a glass orb. Destroyed by Neville Longbottom with the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. Dumbledore believed that the Horcrux was created through the murder of Frank Bryce, but author J. K. Rowling has stated that the Horcrux was actually formed earlier, with the murder of Bertha Jorkins.

In the first war against the forces of evil, led by Voldemort, the forces of good win and Voldemort loses his powers and his body, but not his thirst for blood and vengeance.

Harry Potter spends the first ten years of his life hidden in the house of his obnoxious Aunt Uncle and Cousin, the Dursleys (another Uncle who plays a central role in the life of the mythological hero, even though here the role is a negative one), where he was left as a baby. His ordinary world is gray, dour and tedious, almost Dickensian. Harry knows his parents are dead, but he does not know (because his Uncle and Aunt hide this from him) that his parents there were rich magicians, that they were murdered by an enemy whose name is unmentionable, and that he survived the murder attempt which left on his forehead a lightning-shaped scar, the true meaning of which is unknown to him; all these things becomes gradually become clearer as the series progresses, mainly in the seventh book.

Harry's good fortune is well deserved. The natural talents he was born with are just waiting to be discovered and nurtured (see Dumbledore and McGonagall).

Harry will never abuse his gifts. Even when he is tempted to punish and oppressors and his enemies (such as the Dursleys and the Malfoys), nobody is really heart and the only real damage caused is to their pride.

And since Harry is a 1990'es boy, he finds a good friend in Hermione, not and dumb empty headed Blond and not a babe, but opinionated, smart, brave and talented in her own right, whose skills complement his.

And of course we have the comic sidekick, in the person of the Wheasley brothers (and sister, and parents…) both collectively and individually…

3. Social Structure

The wizarding society is divided into two main groups - pure blooded and half-blooded (born to one or two Muggle parents). Up to Dumbledore death, both groups enjoyed full equality even thought there were those who opposed to it and favored purity of blood.

a. The crews as microcosms of society

Harry, Ron and Hermione

b. The Women

See Hermione, see McGonagall

 

For an (almost) complete list of the women in Harry Potter's world click here. **women in heroes**

c. The Social Outcasts

The Mudbloods

d. Homosexuality and Lesbianism

Non-Existent (the issue never comes up)

e. Inter-Racial Relationships

Non-existents

4. Forms of Government

According to an article entitled Harry Potter and the Separation of Powers: A Law and Literature Review of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by Colette Spanyol, the constitution of the wizarding society is fundamentally unjust because of its ignorance of the doctrine of the separation of powers. This lack of separatiof powers leads to tyranny, and this tyranny is exemplified when the principles of natural justice are threatened in the trial of Harry Potter. But it also makes this system of government similar to many others futuristic systems described in Sci Fi and Fantasy.

See:

Article in Wikipedia

Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy, Benjamin H. Barton, University of Tennessee College of Law, Michigan Law Review, Vol. 104, May 2006

Harry Potter and the Separation of Powers: A Law and Literature Review of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Colette Spanyol, Hertfordshire Law Journal 3(1), 12-16

a. Democracies

Ministry of Magic

The Ministry of Magic succeeded the earlier "Wizards' Council," the earliest-known form of government for the wizarding world. It acts as the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial authority of the wizarding community in Britain (separate governing bodies for the wizarding community exist in other countries too, such as Norway).

The Ministry's employees appear to be a largely unelected body. The post of Minister itself, however, is an elected position. Who has the power to elect or dismiss ministers is never explained. Nevertheless, both the Minister and the Ministry as a whole are seen throughout the series to be highly sensitive to (and reliant on) wizard public opinion, which they attempt to influence via the Daily Prophet, the wizarding newspaper. Employment with the Ministry can be obtained right after completion of a wizarding education, though different offices require different levels of education and sometimes specific exam results. The government sometimes appears malicious, and often woefully incompetent, to the point of being unable to detect or prevent an assault on the Department of Mysteries, apparently its most heavily guarded department.

During the Second War, the Ministry of Magic became totalitarian, which led to the close surveillance of those suspected of treason and the establishment of the Muggle-born Registration Commission, putting Muggle-borns on trial for trumped up charges of stealing magic from the wizarding community. After Voldemort's final demise, however, the Ministry was reformed. Among the leaders of the reform were Harry Potter and Ron Weasley in the Auror Office, and Hermione Granger in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and later in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement

Incidentally, Dumbledore was offered the post of Minister of Magic four times, and enjoyed a large support for his candidacy, but he rejected the offer due to his concerns about abuses of power (rings a bell…?

Department of Magical Law Enforcement:

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement, the largest in the ministry, is a combination of police and justice facilities, located on the second level of the Ministry of Magic, and divided into the following Offices:

1. Auror Office

The Auror's mission is to pursue and apprehend Dark wizards. According to Minerva McGonagall, the Auror Office takes in new recruits with a minimum of 5 N.E.W.T.s (with marks no lower than "Exceeds Expectations"). Potions, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, and Herbology N.E.W.T.s as the most appropriate for someone who aspires to be admitted to the training program. A potential recruit also has to pass "...a series of character and aptitude tests.")

Nymphadora Tonks mentions two of the program's courses of study as "Concealment and Disguise" and "Stealth and Tracking" and that the training is hard to pass with high marks (a requirement).

During the First War against Voldemort, Aurors were authorised to use the Unforgivable Curses on suspected Death Eaters. Aurors are also used to protect high-profile targets such as Harry, Hogwarts, and the Muggle Prime Minister

After his victory over Voldemort, Harry joined this Office, follows by Ron. One of the most famous heads of this Office was Amelia Bones.

2. Improper Use of Magic Office

The Improper Use of Magic Office is responsible for investigating offences under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy.

3. Wizengamot

The wizard high court of law is known as the Wizengamot. The word derives from the words "wizard", and "Witenagemot" (the Old English word for "meeting of wise men") which was a council of powerful people summoned to advise and appoint kings in Anglo-Saxon England.

 

During the First War, death-eater trials were held by the Wizengamot.

Dumbledore has held the position of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot for about 50 years, but he is removed during the period coinciding with Order of the Phoenix.

4. Other Offices

The Magical Law Enforcement Squad, which pursues day-to-day law offenses; the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office (Arthur Weasley is first seen in this capacity); the Detention and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects Office (Arthur Weasley is promoted to be its head).

Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes

The Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, located on the third level of the Ministry of Magic, is responsible for repairing accidental magical damage and houses the following offices: The Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, The Obliviator Headquarters (charged with modifying the memory of a Muggles who witnesses incidents belonging to the Wizarding world) and the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee (charged with explaining any major magical accidents to the Muggles by creating a non-magical reason for the accident).

Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures

The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, the second largest in the Ministry, is located on the fourth level of the Ministry of Magic. It is divided into three divisions (the Beast Division, the Being Division, and the Spirit Division) and contains the Goblin Liaison Office and Centaur Liaison Office. Hermione began her post-Hogwarts career here before transferring to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in this office.

Department of International Magical Cooperation

The Department of International Magical Cooperation, located on the fifth level of the Ministry of Magic, is similar in function to the real-life British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and various organs of the United Nations. It is an agency that attempts to get wizards from different countries to cooperate in wizarding actions both political and public and it includes the headquarters of the International Magical Trading Standards Body, the International Magical Office of Law, and the British seats of the International Confederation of Wizards.

The Department of International Magical Cooperation by was headed by Barty Crouch Sr. until his death. Percy Weasley started his illustrious career in this department.

Department of Magical Transportation

The Department of Magical Transportation, located on the sixth level of the Ministry of Magic, is responsible for various aspects of magical transport, including the Floo Network Authority, the Broom Regulatory Control, the Portkey Office, and the Apparition Test Centre, that grants Apparition licences to witches and wizards.

Department of Magical Games and Sports

The Department of Magical Games and Sports, located on the seventh level of the Ministry of Magic, is seen as the most relaxed department, responsible for organizing sports events such as the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament. The department includes, inter alia, the British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters, Official Gobstones Club, and the Ludicrous Patents Office.

Department of Mysteries

The Department of Mysteries, located on the ninth level of Ministry of Magic , is responsible for studying particular enigmas (death, time, space, thought, and love) and stores copies of old of prophecies. During Voldemort's regime, the department was forced to lie and claim that Muggle-borns actually steal magic from Pure-bl, making them "illegal magicals" and allowing their arrest. The reason as to how Muggle-borns acquire magic remains a mystery in the books

Because of the covert nature surrounding this particular branch of the Wizarding government, the Department of Mysteries can be likened to real-world intelligence agencies like the CIA or MI6, in that most of their operations are kept in total secrecy from the general wizard populace. However, the primary operations of the department seem to be more like those of scientists, in attempting to uncover the sources and rules that govern magic.

b. Dictatorships

Can Voldemort and his Death Eaters be see as a Shadow government trying (and twice almost succeeding) to overthrow the government (which although legitimate, whether it was it elected is unclear?)

c. Utopias/Dystopias

 

 

d. Other Forms

 

 

5. Politics and International Relations

The wizarding world maintains strict separation from the Muggle world. Contacts between the Ministry of Magic and the Muggle government take place only in times of emergency or when a new Prime Minster is elected. The Minister for Magic then contacts the Muggle Prime Minister via a wizard's portrait in the Prime Minister's office. The portrait cannot be removed from the wall because of a Permanent Sticking Charm in place. It notifies the Prime Minister of the Minister for Magic's arrival. The Ministers for Magic tend to act in a somewhat patronizing manner towards the Muggle Prime Minister.

a. Overview

 

 

b. Treaties and Conventions

 

 

6. Law and Order through Space and Time

 

 

a. Traditional ways of settling legal disputes and reaching verdicts

 

 

b. About the contemporary legal system

 

 

c. Examples of contemporary Legal Dilemmas

 

 

Protection of Privacy

 

 

Genetic Engineering/Cloning

 

 

Freedom of Information

 

 

d. About the futuristic legal system

 

 

The Prime Directive

Any use of magic in the presence of Muggles is strictly prohibited, except in life-threatening situations. When such an incident occurs, the memory of all Muggles involved must be erased at once (see Men in Black...)

Clause 73 of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy reads: "Each wizarding governing body will be responsible for the concealment, care and control of all magical beasts, beings, and spirits dwelling within its territory's borders. Should any such creature cause harm to, or draw the notice of, the Muggle community, that nation's wizarding governing body will be subject to discipline by the International Confederation of Wizards."

Time Travel and Time Machines

There is no prohibition against time travel (using the Time Turner), but there are some rules that that must be obeyed – You cannot be seen, you cannot meet yourself, and you must be at the point of departure exactly on time.

Birth Control

 

 

Genetic Engineering

 

 

The use of Telepathy and Telekinesis

 

 

Criminal Law

We witness 3 criminal cases, in all of which the accused was wronged and in all of which the wrong was redressed thanks to the intervention of Dumbledore, the supreme moral authority and the guardian of the Separation of Powers and Justice in general.

The defendants were Buckbeak the Hippogriff (a trumped up assault charge by Draco Malfoy), Sirius Black (wrongfully accused of murder) and Harry Potter (violation of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery).

The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery is one of the strictest laws of the wizarding world, forbidding underage wizard and witches (under 17) to perform magic outside of Hogwarts. Since the Ministry of Magic cannot tell who exactly uses magic in a given area, only that it has been used, Muggle-born wizard minors are more likely than others to be caught if they use magic, and wizard and witch parents are expected to enforce the ban on underage magic within their homes.

After a first minor violation - a Hover charm that was actually performed by Dobby the House-elf - Harry is let off with a mere warning.

After the second violation, blowing up his Aunt Marge, he is forgiven by Fudge because the Minister believes that Harry's actions were justified under the circumstances and his safety after running away from the Dursleys takes precedence.

After his third offence (creating a Patronus to protect himself and Dudley from two Dementors), Harry is threatened with expulsion from school and the destruction of his wand, and is summoned to a disciplinary hearing. Dumbledore reminds Fudge that the Ministry doesn't have the power to expel students from Hogwarts or confiscate wands without benefit of a hearing.

Harry was originally supposed to be interviewed solely by Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Instead, he is tried by the entire Wizengamot court. Such proceedings are highly unusual, however, for a simple case of underage magic; but eventually, Harry is cleared of all charges upon Dumbledore's intervention.

Nanotechnology

 

 

Cryonics

 

 

Definition and Rights of Intelligent Life

See the house elves (Hermione created the student organization S.P.E.W. - Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare – to promote their liberation, sometimes against their will), and see the treatment of Centaurs and giants (and half-giants like Hagrid and Madame Olympe Maxime).

Laws of Robotics

 

 

Corporate Laws

 

 

The Internet and the Control of Information

No Internet in the wizarding world (see technology).

Election Laws and Procedures

 

 

7. Technology

Note the almost blatant absence of modern technology in Harry Potter's world; There are no computers even in Muggle homes, (only in the seventh is Dudley's computer mentioned in passing), and the design of cars and trains (except the Hogwarts Express) is a little backward and seems closer to the 60ies that to the 80ies. Only in the fourth book do we find out the first time that Harry does know what electricity, Radar and computers are (and also electronic wiretapping), but these are mentioned in passing, as Muggle substitutes for magic. However, in the fifth book, Arthur Weasley, the only Wizard who actually tries to bridge the gap between the two worlds (and is harshly criticized for it), gets a first hand lesson in the disadvantages of Muggle medicine…

Summary

I will try to summarize Harry Potter saga (at least temporality…) with a few general remarks.

1. The persons who cast the actors, especially the three main stars (apparently intending to use them in all the Movies of the series...) took a big risk. They might have lost one or more of them in very early stages of the production. Fortunately, they all reached physical maturity more or less at the same time; none of them grew all of suddenly to be 6 feet tall (like the young actor who plays Neville Longbottom, for instance), and none of them dropped out because of various problems associated with adolescence, especially since I’ve always had a problem with people over 20 who have to play 15-16 year olds.

This problem was already apparent in the third Movie, in which Harry was no longer a cute boy, but rather an angry teenager, and even Dudley Dursley seemed more like a ordinary contemporary street punk, instead of the disgustingly spoilt brat described in the books. This is also highly visible in the seventh Movie (incidentally, Daniel Radcliff turned 22 in July 2011, Rupert Grint is a year older, and Emma Watson is the youngest).To deal with the problem, the fifth and sixth Movie were shot back to back, just like the seventh and the eighth.

The casting of late actor Richard Harris (born 1930) as Dumbledore was also a risk, because of his health, but fortunately, his replacement with actor Michael Gambon in the third Movie did not cause any problems.

Will that be the end of the career for Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and their friends? As for Daniel Radcliff, this question was already answered, at least partially. As for the others, we'll just have to wait and see…

2. Note the almost blatant absence of modern technology in Harry Potter's world; There are no computers even in Muggle homes, (only in the seventh is Dudley's computer mentioned in passing), and only in fourth book do we find out the first time that Harry does know what electricity, Radar and computers are (and also electronic wiretapping), but these are mentioned in passing, as Muggle substitutes for magic. However, in the fifth book, Arthur Weasley, the only Wizard who actually tries to bridge the gap between the two worlds (and is harshly criticized for it), gets a first hand lesson in the disadvantages of Muggle medicine…

3. The relationship between the three protagonists becomes more complex as they grow older - Ron has a much more significant role than "Harry’s friend", the scenes in which he and Hermione try to probe and determine the nature of their relationship, like any normal teenage couple, are most entertaining – it can’t be helped, some things can work only in a Movie... Dobby and Kreacher, the house elves, also play more significant roles, and their design is very reminiscent of Gollum-Smיagol from the "Lord of the Rings" Movies.

4. And what about the Movie adaptations?

When you try to analyze Movies based on books, the question of "which is better, the book or the Movie" always arises When it comes to a successful series like "Harry Potter", that question a little more complicated, especially as all the Movie adaptations were true (some say, too much so) to the spirit of the books.

Still, the design of cars and trains (except the Hogwarts Express) is a little backward and seems closer to the 60ies that to the 80ies, but starting with the fifth Movie, the design of the Muggle city becomes all of a sudden a lot more modern (or is it only my imagination?) and this trend continued in the sixth movie too, mainly in the segments where the Death Eaters attack the Millennium Bridge (not described in the book), and former Minister of Magic Fudge meets the Muggle Prime Minister (omitted from the Movie?) and in the seventh Movie, in which a part of the chase takes place in Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of London’s theatre district. It should be mentioned, though, that after the release of the fifth book, to the tune of 900 pages, the critics started to hint carefully that it might not meet the high standards set by its predecessors. To that I can only add that after the first book came out, I really wanted to be Rawling. After the fifth I wasn't so sure anymore…

Which brings me to the discussion of the seventh (and eighth) Movie. There were lots of wild rumors on the Internet about the seventh book, Deathly Hallows, which was supposed to be also the last (Rowling said yes, her agent denied it, who would you believe?) regarding its title, the identity of the character who dies, and the end of Harry Potter. This is also already behind us.

 

So did the division benefit the Movie, or achieve anything other than stretching the limit a little more? Here too the answer is a little more complex. Ask anyone who watched the Movie, and they will tell you which scenes should have been cut. Naturally, I have my own personal opinion in the matter. The problem is that no two viewers will point out the same scenes. Was it really possible to cram it all into one Movie? I’m not sure. It is true that the division allows us to focus a little more on the details and deepen our acquaintance with the characters - including some we never got to know, such as Hermione's Muggle parents, the older Weasley siblings, Luna Lovegood’s father, etc’ - but in general, the divided Movie feels long and a bit too slow.

To summerise, in the past, I made some assumptions of my own regarding possible conclusions to Harry Potter's exploits, and I quote - will Harry become one of the many ghosts dwelling in the ancient halls of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Or perhaps the new Headmaster of the school (possibly with Hermione at his side, as McGonagall's replacement)? Or maybe an Auror, like Professor Moody, or the Minister of Magic? Or perhaps there are greater things in store for him? Or maybe with Voldemort gone, Wizards and Witches will become obsolete, platform nine and three quarters will be closed forever, and Hogwarts will disappear into oblivion? And as is customary in mythology, the Age of Man (or in our case, Muggle) will begin? And maybe, just maybe, Harry will actually turn out to be a reincarnation of Voldmort? If you've already read the seventh book, you know which of these possibilities came true (one way or another). Now I have only one last assumption to add - it won't be long before Harry finds his way to the small screen too…

And the rest, as they say, is history.

In an interview published the Wizard of the Month section of her website, and during her 2007 U.S. Open Book Tour, Rowling revealed additional character information that she chose not to include in the book.

Sources:

Hero's Journey - Cycle of the Monomyth

**Harry Potter: Ready-Made Mythology of the Media Hero

**Lessons In Life: Harry Potter as the Modern Myth

For Harry Potter’s Hero’s Journey click here.