I started this profile as a form of catharsis after reading several manipulative/evil Dumbledore stories. The stories shocked me as until then I had accepted the presentation of Dumbledore as a good, kind, wise, grandfatherly role model. (I'd been disappointed by the last book and hadn't taken note of the revelation that Dumbledore manipulated Harry to make him a martyr - skimmed over that part instead of reading.) Thinking about the points raised by the stories, I began to see where the ideas for a not-so-good Dumbledore came from. The more stories I read and the more thought about it, the more conflicts I found between that image and his actual actions and failings. As I started cataloging them, I quickly found additional problems in the books not specific to Dumbledore - plot holes, conflicting information, plot devices used in a specific instance that should have had a widespread impact - and added those. I've also identified some issues that are not fully explained, which while not a problem with the stories are interesting questions for speculation in fanfiction. (Recently I've reread sections of the last book and realized Dumbledore really did plan for Harry to be a martyr. I've begun updating to take that into account.)
The following essay is the result. It has grown over time and I continue to tweak it. Although I've rarely jumped from reading a story to adding a point here, most if not all of the points have been inspired by fanfiction stories that either directly addressed them or glossed over them. Most points have likely been touched on by multiple stories.
The essay has three parts. The first addresses the conflict between Dumbledore's presentation as a good, kind, wise, grandfatherly role model and many of his actions that appear to contradict this image. The second mainly addresses plot holes in each of the books along with some lesser issues. The third is a potpourri of issues and questions.
"The Harry Potter series has the misfortune to be children's literature that has been subject to critical review as serious literature" -- paraphrase from a comment I read in a forum some time ago (the author and forum forgotten).
The Harry Potter series has some great characters and a very imaginative world.
The stories make heavy use of unrealistic clichés and exaggerations. Clichés, exaggerated characters, and black and white situations are wonderful for children's stories. Young children latch onto them, understand them, and are amused by them. However, they are problematic when the stories are viewed with the more demanding standards of serious literature.
Added to this, there are elements of plain poor plotting and lack of consistency, forethought or backward compatibility.
As long as the books are viewed as children's stories with exaggerations and clichés created for enjoyment and effect, then that's what they are. As long as the books are viewed a set of somewhat disjoint children's stories rather than a series telling a single continuous tale of Harry's life, then the arbitrary situations created for each story and the omission of details (even somewhat major omissions) can be accepted. However, illogical story elements and omissions becomes a problem when the books are viewed with the higher expectations demanded of more serious literature or the even higher expectations of fanfiction "canon" that demands a true, literal description of a coherent magical world.
Many of these issues raise questions about Dumbledore's ethics and competence. In the early books, Dumbledore is portrayed as a wise, powerful, kind, grandfatherly old wizard. The situations setup for each book contradict this, but if one separates the setup from story, that's the image provided by the earlier books. Then the last book reveals that Dumbledore had been planning and manipulating Harry to have him martyr himself. That requires a reader to reconsider everything that Dumbledore had done both in the earlier books and the setup for each book in a new light. We don't know when Dumbledore decided Harry had to be a martyr. It could have been as early as 1980, Halloween 1981, 1993 when he realized the diary was a Horcrux, or after Harry started having visions in 1994.
Leaving a babe on a door step is a classic, but unrealistic cliché. The cliché arises from an unwed mother (or her family) leaving her newborn baby on the church or orphanage steps to protect the mother's identity, keeping her reputation and that of her family from ruin. No responsible adult would do so without a compelling reason and Dumbledore has none. Dumbledore was not hiding anyone's identity. There was no reason he could not deliver Harry to Petunia and Vernon in person at a reasonable hour. We may chose to assume Dumbledore applied charms to keep Harry warm and safe, but there was considerable arrogance presuming those charms were sufficient. There is no reason to give the appearance of risking Harry to the elements, stray animals, or the chance he would wake and wander off. Leaving Harry on the doorstep is disrespectful of both Petunia and Harry.
Dumbledore ignores Minerva's warning about the Dursleys. As the books progress this is a trend. Dumbledore makes decisions without consulting others. Others accept this seemingly based on his reputation and the assumption he has information and experience they don't. Perhaps it is his reputation that keeps them from noticing the reason he has information they don't is that he keeps it to himself. He doesn't share critical information.
Dumbledore ignores Petunia's feelings. If Dumbledore believes Petunia has familial feelings for her sister, Lily, and her nephew, Harry, he should be concerned how she might receive the news of her sister's death. He should ensure that she is not so distraught from that news that she cannot undertake Harry's care or might, rather, require assistance with her own son while she copes with her grief. Instead he leaves Harry on her doorstep with a note telling her, in effect, "Your sister is dead, here's her boy, we'll take him from you in 10 years when he turns 11 - just like we took your sister." Hardly the act of a wise and compassionate person.
The Last Will and Testaments of James and Lily Potter are not mentioned in the books, but Sirius Black had one so they are part of the social and legal structure of magical Britain. If Sirius had a Will, then the Potters certainly should have had Wills providing for Harry's care in the event of their deaths.
The only reasons Dumbledore gives for placing Harry with the Dursleys are the need for him to live with Petunia to create the blood wards and the desire have him grow up out of the lime-light. If the Potter Wills had said Harry was to be placed with Petunia, Dumbledore logically would have said so. Therefore, we can reasonably assume their Wills did not say Harry was to be placed with Petunia. If there were a legal requirement requiring placement with close relatives (overriding Wills), Dumbledore logically would have said so. Therefore,we can reasonably assume there was no overriding legal requirement dictating the placement.
It is possible Dumbledore was executor of the Wills and that they gave him discretion to override the choice of guardians specified in the Wills. In fact, given the war's environment of distrust, it is not unlikely that there was a provision to avoid custody going to traitors. How general a provision we can only speculate. It is possible the law gave him the right to override the Wills, either as executor or as Chief Warlock. It is also possible he violated the express terms of the Wills and that in doing so he broke the law.
Its possible Dumbledore was just being honest, stating his real reasons for leaving Harry with the Dursleys and omitting other justifications, but the absence of any mention of the Wills opens an avenue for suspicion. Wills really aren't a topic for children's books, so it was appropriate to omit mention of them from the first book, which was clearly a children's book. However, it becomes a notable omission as the series matures in later books and Sirius' Will is mentioned.
Harry is an abused child. The books describe the Dursleys’ treatment of Harry as abusive. He is verbally abused, housed in a cupboard, poorly clothed, poorly fed, burdened with chores, and punished for asking questions or excelling in school. His punishment includes both excessively lengthy confinement and denial of food. Their treatment of Harry may not have been physical abusive, but it was abusive. The signs of abuse are clear: ill-fitting clothes, shy, no friends, bullied by cousin, and under-performing. Harry shies from physical contact and does not remember being hugged before Hermione's hug in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PS, chapter 16).
Recognition of this abuse is mixed. Muggle teachers, who are trained to recognize abuse, do not appear to have recognized or responded to it. Similarly, at Hogwarts there is no response to the signs of abuse, though there are comments on his small size and Madam Pomfrey has trouble healing his broken arm due to previous injuries. However, Arabella Figg tell's Harry "I'm sorry I gave you such a miserable time, Harry, but the Dursleys would never have let you come if they'd thought you enjoyed it" in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (OoP, chapter 2).
So the books exaggerate the extent of his mistreatment, assume incompetence on the part of all his muggle teachers, or someone (who must be Dumbledore) or something (perhaps Dumbledore's wards) interferes to prevent the abuse being noticed. Perhaps Dumbledore's wards were designed in part to cause incidents of accidental magic to be ignored and had the unintended effect of causing Harry's muggle teachers and others to disregard signs of abuse. Could the wards have also desensitised the Dursleys to the effects of their treatment of Harry?
Dumbledore never checks on Harry himself, but he has Arabella living two blocks away and Arabella had noticed. So, Dumbledore knows Harry is not loved and is not well treated. After the battle at the Ministry, Dumbledore says to Harry "I knew I was condemning you to ten dark and difficult years" (OoP37). So, he actually anticipated Harry would not be well treated at the time he placed him with the Dursleys and would have had this confirmed by Arabella.
Harry chooses not to return home for Christmas breaks and asks if there are alternatives to returning to the Dursleys' over the summer, yet he is told he must return there. Has Dumbledore learned nothing in the fifty years since Tom Riddle made the same requests? How is it that this supposedly great, wise, caring headmaster is so blind to Harry's home conditions? Is his blindness limited to Harry, perhaps it is engendered by pride in the wards he created? Had his guilt at placing Harry in a less than ideal home led him to so thoroughly convince himself of his hope (that while not nice it wouldn't be too bad) that he ignores evidence to the contrary? Does he also ignore signs of abuse suffered by other students? Does he allow preconceived notions to govern him in other matters when contradictory facts should direct him to do otherwise? How has this affected his decisions at the school, in government, and as a judge?
Why don't others at Hogwarts take action? Various people notice how small Harry is for his age. Madam Pomfrey has trouble repairing Harry's arm due to prior injuries. Shouldn't that have caused her to investigate further and discover other signs of abuse? Didn't anyone notice that, except for his school uniform, all his clothes oversized and in ill repair? If the wards prevented muggles from noticing the abuse, perhaps they also affected Mrs Figg and the wizards and witches at Hogwarts, preventing them from reporting or acting on the signs of abuse. Perhaps they even affect Dumbledore? Many aspects of wizarding society are described as Victorian, is such treatment of children considered acceptable by those standards? Is it considered the Dursleys' right to raise Harry as they see fit? Hogwarts does not use corporal punishment, but Filch longs for the old days when chains and whips were used suggesting it was used within his lifetime and may still be acceptable elsewhere.
On the other hand, perhaps the failure of Dumbledore and others to notice and act on Harry's condition is because the descriptions of his ill-treatment are exaggerated. The books have several moments that show Harry is not completely cowed by his guardians, contradicting the more frequent descriptions and reports of ill-treatment: when Harry's second Hogwarts letter arrives and Vernon struggles to take it from Dudley, Harry jumps on Vernon's back; when Hagrid tells Harry about his parents deaths, Vernon says "I accept there's something strange about you, probably nothing a good beating wouldn't have cured" which suggests Harry wasn't beaten (other than by Dudley and his gang); after going to Diagon Alley with Hagrid, Harry asks Vernon to drive him to King's Cross Station; and before third year, Harry asks Vernon to sign his Hogsmeade permission slip. Although the Dursleys force Harry to cook and do other chores they must also have taught him to perform those chores. Moreover, if Harry were as badly treated as is stated and implied, he should have severe emotional and developmental problems. Development of language skills requires an infant to be taught to make the correct sounds, words, and phrases. Development of motor skills requires that an infant have toys or other objects to play with. If Harry lacked adequate skills, he would have required special schooling. However, Harry did not require special schooling and actually had to take care not to outscore Dudley (after being punished for doing so) and in Hogwarts he demonstrated superior motor skills. Although his glasses are taped and were gotten out of a bin, they are good enough that he can spot the elusive snitch. This contradicts indications of severe abuse or neglect during Harry's early formative years.
If one accepts the descriptions of Harry's ill treatment at the Dursleys, Dumbledore was (by current standards) negligent in keeping him there and allowing that treatment. However, if one accepts that Harry does not display the emotional and developmental problems such abuse would cause and that Harry learned to perform a wide variety of chores, one must discount the descriptions of ill treatment and criticism of Dumbledore and others may not be supported.
Harry's abuse is not unique. We know that Snape had a poor home life, Luna was bullied while at Hogwarts, the Marauders bullied Snape and other Slytherins with their pranks, and Draco and his circle of students are verbally abusive of muggleborns (or at least Hermione). Dumbledore and his faculty appear to be either oblivious to or accepting of all of this. Is this simply an aspect of the attitudes and knowledge of a culture that is a couple centuries behind muggle society?
Dumbledore ignores Harry's annual end of year emotional traumas. Year after year Harry's school year ends traumatically and Dumbledore sends Harry to the abusive environment of the Dursleys’ for the summer, without counseling - after Quirrell's death in PS, after fighting Tom and the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (CoS), after the high and low of finding and loosing his godfather in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PoA), after Cedric's death and Tom's resurrection in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (GoF), after the fight at the Ministry of Magic and his godfather's death (OoP). How does one reconcile the image of a great, wise, caring headmaster with the lack of counseling and forced residency with the hateful Dursleys. The descriptions of Harry's misery at the Dursleys’ tend to rule out any unmentioned counseling or mind healing and doesn't leave much doubt as to the miserable conditions. Did the great, wise, caring headmaster not understand what it was like for Harry at the Dursleys’? Did he not understand the trauma Harry suffered each year? Did he not appreciate his need for comfort and counseling after such trauma? Is this another aspect of the Victorian age setting?
Horrid teachers (Snape in Potions, Binns in History, and Trawley in Divination) are unrealistic exaggerations. Children tell their parents about their teachers and parents complain if they don't think their children are being well educated. They complain to the headmaster and if he ignores their complaints they complain to the board of governors about both the teachers and the headmaster.
I do not list Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) only because that position is apparently cursed. This may remove blame for inconsistent, sometimes poor instruction in the subject from Dumbledore's shoulders. However, I am sure it would increase the intolerance of poor teaching in other subjects. Poor DADA instruction is a serious matter with serious impact on the wizarding world. It reduces the number of candidates for auror positions and decreases the preparedness of the general wizarding population to defend itself against a dark lord.
Potions is an important subject. It is a prerequisite for becoming an auror or healer. Does Dumbledore really allow it to be incompetently taught? After an impressive welcoming speech, the only insights into Professor Severus Snape's teaching are the words "instructions are on the board" and his oppressive manner while the students are brewing. Does Snape provide any instruction on safety, the properties and preparation of ingredients, or the brewing process? There are assignments, but they seem to be after the fact - explaining failures, not preparation for brewing. From the absence of any preparatory instruction in the books, it appears he does not offer any. Does he ever correct students' brewing technique, not just mock their failure? Even if one assumes that he does provide such instruction and its just not mentioned, the books say few students outside of Slytherin pursue potions at the NEWT level. Is that true or is that report exaggerated? If literally true, it is an unacceptable outcome. It would significantly reduce the number of candidates for positions in healing or as aurors. Dumbledore believes Voldemort isn't dead and will return, so he should anticipate a need for healers and aurors. How then can he allow potions to be poorly taught? By doing so Dumbledore would be causing great harm to wizarding society. Perhaps Dumbledore considers this harm insignificant compared to the harm caused by poor DADA instruction, but there is only partial overlap in the harm.
History of Magic is the only subject where students might be taught about magical society. It could teach not only the facts but understanding of the development and current state of their society's institutions, laws, customs, and mores. It is the subject where muggleborns can be taught about wizarding society and where the case against pureblood biases can be made. It is the subject where students' philosophy of life and the future direction of wizarding society can be most directly influenced. If Dumbledore wants to influence the direction of wizarding society, it is a subject Dumbledore should care about. How then can he allow it to be poorly taught?
Professor Sibyll Trelawney is portrayed as a flake, constantly making worthless "predictions", including the prediction of students' deaths. The divination class is portrayed as being devoted entirely to the trappings of fortune telling. It does not apparently have any worthwhile content such as information about past prophesies and how they have influenced history and society or areas of magic such as clairvoyance or scrying that might be learnt and used by anyone. Rather, it is portrayed as a course without sufficient content for one term let alone five years. As portrayed, the course should be eliminated, as Dumbledore once contemplated. That he did not (for the sake of bringing Trelawney under the protection of Hogwarts wards) and allows students to waste their time on the course and be exposed to Trelawney's "predictions" is contrary to his duty as headmaster.
These exaggerated instances of poor teaching conflict with the presentation of Dumbledore as a great headmaster. If the exaggerations are taken at face value, he fails to ensure a quality education. Are these teachers really as awful as portrayed or is the telling exaggerated?
Again there is evidence in the books that the situation may not actually be as bad as they describe. Many of the Weasley twins' pranks appear to be based on potions. How did they become so competent if Potions is poorly taught? The OWL and NEWT examinations appear to be independently administered by the Ministry. If the teaching of these subjects was truly bad, the OWL and NEWT results would reveal it. So, perhaps the books exaggerate the students' perception of their teachers. Otherwise, the tests must have been adjusted to the level of teaching. Who would be responsible for that or might influence those who are? Dumbledore?
Snape, Binns, and Trawley's exaggerated, cliché behaviour makes for wonderful characters for children's books, but considered objectively it is unrealistic behaviour for professors or a head of house and would not be allowed. That they are reflects poorly on Dumbledore's performance as Headmaster.
Hogwarts is supposed to be safe. It is supposed to have great wards and Dumbledore is supposed to be a big factor in making Hogwarts safe. However, in PS he lets Quirinus Quirrell in with Voldemort possessing him and fails to detect the possession. Nor is he aware of the troll's presence in the school before Quirinus' dramatic announcement. In CS he fails to detect the presence of a horribly dark object (the diary) or that one of his students has been possessed. He also fails to figure out (for the second time) that Slytherin's monster is most likely a snake and of the possible snakes the most likely is the king of snakes, a Basilisk. In PoA Hogwart's famed wards fail to keep dementors off the grounds, allow them to accompany the Minister for Magic into the castle itself (despite Dumbledore's earlier statement that 'no Dementor will cross the threshold of this castle while I am Headmster', PoA9), and fail to detect the presence or entry of animagi (Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black) into the castle itself. The Marauder's map is able to locate and identify everyone within the castle, including Animagi, so shouldn't the castle wards be able to do so? Several tunnels leading off of the castle grounds are revealed, the use of which by the twins, Harry, and Sirius is undetected. In GoF, a Death Eater (DE) is admitted to Hogwarts and impersonates Dumbledore's good friend for the entire school year without being detected, Dumbledore fails to detect the powerful dark magic required to fool the goblet into accepting Harry's name and a fourth school, and once again the wards allow Fudge to bring a dementor into the school to kiss Barty Crouch Jr.. Why exactly is Hogwarts considered safe? What exactly do its wards protect against? Why is Dumbledore respected?
Dumbledore sacrifices Slytherin students to the pureblood agenda. A greater number of Slytherin students are the children of Death Eaters and other supporters of pureblood supremacist philosophy than other houses, either in fact or widespread perception. Therefore, Dumbledore should ensure a special effort is made to discourage them from following that philosophy and encourage them toward his own philosophy of inclusion and tolerance. Instead, he chose to appoint Snape as their head of house.
Snape might have been an inspired choice, if he had been positioned as a fighter who repented joining Voldemort and cunningly opposed him from within his supporters. However, that is not the case. On the contrary, he is positioned as a loyal Death Eater who escaped punishment. Rather than opposing prejudice and setting a positive example, he displays prejudice and openly abuses his position of authority. He is exhibits bias both in his teaching and in his assignment of points and detentions. Snape is the exact the opposite of the role model Dumbledore should have provided, especially for Slytherin house.
It cannot be excused that Snape's appointment was a short term action. Snape was hired to teach potions and be the head of Slytherin house around the time of Voldemort's defeat and Dumbledore hoped Voldemort wouldn't return to power until Harry was trained. So Dumbledore knowingly condemns a generation of Slytherin students by placing them in the care of someone who openly espouses attitudes and prejudice that Dumbledore supposedly opposes and should want to guide students away from.
Dumbledore talks Draco out of killing him in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price (HBP), but there is no other evidence of Dumbledore attempting to guide Draco away the becoming a Death Eater. Snape is allowed to rescue Draco from punishment for misdeeds. Despite Draco's blatant misbehaviour and disrespect toward muggleborn students, Draco is made a prefect. From what is revealed in the books, from Harry's point of view, Dumbledore does nothing to encourage Draco or other children to reject the bigoted pureblood supremacist philosophies.
Dumbledore's performance as Chief Warlock is highly questionable. One of the foundations of a free society is that its members are entitled to defend themselves in a fair trial. We don't know the details of what happened at the time of Sirius' imprisonment or whether Dumbledore was Chief Warlock at that time, but Dumbledore stood by and allowed Hagrid to be imprisoned (in CoS). Surely there is a moral, if not legal, obligation for a senior official, such as the Chief Warlock, to object when a person is imprisoned without trial.
If Dumbledore was Chief Warlock at the time of Voldemort's defeat in 1981, one must ask what part he had in allowing Sirius to be imprisoned without trial and allowing Death Eaters to bribe their way out of being charged using the excuse of the Imperious curse. Did he deliberately allow (or encourage) Sirius' imprisonment without a trial with the intent of removing Sirius' claim to custody of Harry? Did his penchant for giving people a second chance lead him to allow or encourage Death Eaters to escape the consequences of their actions?
Although he may not have wanted to alert Voldemort's Death Eaters to his survival, for fear they would act to hasten his return, Dumbledore had a duty as Chief Warlock to inform the Head of the DMLE even if he did not trust Fudge to keep it secret from Malfoy. Similarly, he had a duty to inform the Minister and the Head of the DMLE of Sirius' innocence (or at least that he was imprisoned without trial) at the end of PoA. He might not believe Sirius could receive a fair trial, so not admit knowing Sirius' whereabouts. However, he could raise sufficient doubt about his guilt to have the 'kiss on sight' order changed to 'bring in for questioning'. Why didn't he?
Further questions of Dumbledore's competence arise in OoP where Dumbledore has allowed himself to be removed from office. Surely someone with his experience could have avoided that if he wished to do so. He could have used his pensive to show people Harry's memory. Indeed he was negligent in not obtaining that memory for DMLE to use as evidence against the DEs that answered Voldemort's call.
What is Dumbledore's vision of the Greater Good? In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (DH), Rita's book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore reveals his youthful association with Gellert Grindelwald and the beliefs they shared. From the perspective of a children's book (though that classification hardly applies to DH) this can be viewed as the foolishness of youth and that Dumbledore came to a moral turning point that caused a change of heart transforming his view of the Greater Good from black to white. Children accept black and white views of the world. From a more mature perspective life and beliefs are rarely black and white, so the revelations raise questions about Dumbledore's fundamental beliefs and motives. Had his beliefs really changed? How much of his old beliefs remain?
Dumbledore manipulates Harry into being a martyr. The revelation in DH that Dumbledore planned for Harry to have Voldemort kill him to destroy the Horcrux in his scar and by his sacrifice duplicate his mother's protection to protect all the people he cares for is startling. He appears to come to this decision on his own. There is no suggestion that he sought assistance in finding a way to safely remove the Horcrux from Harry. There is no suggestion he sought assistance in interpreting the prophesy. It seems he may have made the decision to make Harry a martyr as early as when Harry was left on his relatives doorstep. That he made this decision without seeking assistance to find alternatives is astoundingly arrogant. It is the antithesis of wisdom. It shows that the loving, grandfatherly persona Dumbledore shows Harry is completely false.
Notwithstanding Dumbledore's apparent failings, the books (baring the revelations of DH) hold that he is a great, highly capable, wise and caring wizard. He has a phoenix familiar - an apparent testament to his goodness. Yet, if one tries to make Dumbledore truly deserving of his reputation, then the books' plots fall apart. A magical object Voldemort desires is not stored in a school full of children. Voldemort's possession of Quirinus Quirrell is detected. The diary (or at least Ginny's possession) is detected. Ron (or Percy years earlier) is unable to bring Scabbers to Hogwarts. Barty Crouch Jr.'s polyjuice impersonation of Alaster (Mad-Eye) Moody is detected. Fudge is unable to outmaneuver Dumbledore. And so on.
There is a contradiction between the great, highly capable Dumbledore and the plot situations that he should have been able to detect and prevent. If he knew about these situations and allowed them, then one must question his wisdom and caring. This is not a huge problem when the books are viewed as a somewhat disjoint set of children's stories (as the first books can). Children accept the exaggerations and concentrate on the characters and plot, ignoring the flaws inherent in the situation's existence. However, this is a fundamental flaw in the story line when viewed as a continuous series and with the more mature expectations raised by the later books (and the even greater demands of fanfiction writers and readers seeking an authoritative 'canon').
The phrase "he's not a character, he's a plot device" seems to apply to Dumbledore (and other exaggerated, cliché characters like Binns, Snape, Trawley, and Voldemort).
Beyond the question of Dumbledore's intentions or competence, the books are rife with plot failings. Some are simple clichés, suitable for children's books, but lacking consistency when viewed in a wider context. Others are created by the setup of the situations for the stories that children ignore, but don't stand up to critical analysis.
In the Philosopher's Stone, there are several major problem areas. First, there are the issues of the way Harry was left at the Dursleys (and the way he was treated there). Second, there is the way Harry was reintroduced to the magical world. Third, there are the issues with the school. Fourth, there are the issues of keeping the Philosophers Stone at Hogwarts.
• Leaving Harry with the Dursleys
Why was Hagrid chosen to investigate the attack on the Potters' home? Hagrid had limited magical ability (having been expelled and his wand snapped). Why send him to the site of an attack by Voldemort? Perhaps he was the only person available who knew the secret of where the Potters were located. Most likely, JKR wanted an event to bond Harry and Hagrid, the big, bumbling, friendly half-giant. However, logically, someone with more magical ability would have been a better choice.
Why did Hagrid accept the use of Sirius' motorcycle? Dumbledore sent Hagrid to the Potters with instructions to collect Harry, surely he provided a way for him to return with the child. Hagrid can't apparate, so he was either using a local public Floo connection or Dumbledore had provided him with a portkey. Are those methods of transport undesirable for a small child? For that matter, why would Sirius use his motorcycle to go to the Potters? Wouldn't he apparate? Why would he presume Hagrid needed or could make use of his motorcycle?
Why did Hagrid arrive at the Dursleys’ on the motorcycle? Did Hagrid fly straight from the Potters' to the Dursley home? Ignoring the timeline (departing the night of 31 Oct and arriving the night of 1 Nov, after Minerva has spent the whole day at the Dursleys'), how would Dumbledore know what instructions to give Hagrid when he sent him to the Potters? Did he know James and Lily were dead and that Harry survived? Wouldn't an injured child be taken for treatment? Dumbledore couldn't have known in advance that Sirius would give Hagrid the motorcycle, so how would Dumbledore know when to meet him at the Dursleys’? Surely Hagrid returned Harry to Hogwarts (explaining why he wasn't delivered to the Dursleys’ until the next day), in which case, why did Hagrid bring Harry to the Dursleys’ on the motorcycle? Dumbledore could have given Hagrid a portkey or have brought Harry himself.
How did word get out of Voldemort's defeat? The Potters were killed the night of 31 Oct and the next morning while on the way to work Vernon saw people celebrating. How was the fact Voldemort had been killed/vanquished determined so quickly? How was it determined he hadn't just apparated away in a hurry (or been banished) leaving his clothes? Wizarding Wireless could spread the word quickly enough, but its never explained how it the facts were established. How was word of Harry's survival known? If Dumbledore was concerned about his Harry growing up famous he could have encouraged the belief that James and Lily successfully defended Harry (at the cost of their lives) without mentioning Harry's involvement.
The conversation between Dumbledore and McGonagall at the Durley's has problems.
When did Dumbledore set the wards at Privet drive? McGonagall was watching the house all day, so he couldn't have done it then. He leaves immediately after putting Harry on the doorstep. Could he have set the wards on his letter and have them transfer to the property when triggered by Petunia taking Harry in? If so, what are the implications of that capability for delivering complex magic via letters?
Why did Vernon know about magic? Petunia wasn't magical and didn't want anything to do with the magical world. Vernon wasn't magical and would only know about if he'd been told. Petunia would have avoided telling him if she could. Why did he know about magic before Harry was left with them? Wouldn't that be a violation of the Statute of Secrecy?
How could the Dursley's expect to look normal when they abused Harry and dressed him in ragged oversized clothes? Did they think the neighbours wouldn't notice? When he goes to Hogwarts, they say it is a 'Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys'. Rather than excusing rare incidents of accidental magic (if that was their reason), they were calling adverse attention to themselves. Mr Dursley is the director of his firm, shouldn't he and Petunia insist that Harry behave in a manner that reflects well on them and dress him to play that part?
• Reintroducing Harry to the magical world
Why send multiple letters? Daily letters when magic detects he hasn't read prior letters are understandable. However, why send more than one at once? That doesn't make sense for either an automated or manual process. Why would Owls deliver Harry's letters to the motel desk clerk? This is clearly a comical exaggeration that cannot be taken too seriously. Similarly, the Dursley's flight from Privet Drive is comical, but not very reasonable behaviour.
Why was Hagrid tasked with introducing Harry to the magical world? He's a nice guy, but he's not a fully qualified wizard and his introduction seemed off the cuff, not prepared or experienced.
Why did Hargrid walk around Diagon Alley with the stone in his pocket? From a plot point of view, JKR wanted Harry to see the stone removed from the vault. However, from a security viewpoint, it should have been taken straight from Gringott's to Hogwarts. Walking around Diagon Alley with it in his pocket was not secure. It could have been lost.
Why don't any students talk to Harry about his fame? They books mention students watching Harry and whispering about him. Why doesn't anyone approach him? Why doesn't anyone ask if he got their letters or if the children's story books about him are true? Why doesn't anyone ask him to autograph a copy of a story book? Perhaps the story books weren't thought of until the second book.
• Issues with the school
Poor teaching and Snapes' biased treatment of students are covered above and I won't repeat it here.
The prefects lead the first year students to their common rooms and tell them the password so they can enter. The prefects presumably learn the password from the head students on the train. How do all the other older students learn the password? Were they told before they left school in the spring?
Why does Hogwarts have a non-magical caretaker? What does Fitch do aside from wandering around scaring students? Hogwarts is too big for one person to clean and we learn later that the elves clean the dorms. If you need a caretaker in addition to elves, shouldn't he be a wizard so he can actually clean and deal with students' magical mishaps? A magical caretaker wouldn't need broom closets, doing away with another 'problem'.
Sending students to their common rooms may have been a standard response to trouble, but it was hardly appropriate when all the students were safely gathered in the Great Hall and the trouble was a reported 'troll in the dungeons'. The Slytherin and Hufflepuff common rooms are in the dungeons. Moreover, while the reported location of the troll is in the dungeons, there is no reason to trust it has remained there. Nor is there any assurance that there is only one troll. With all the students already gathered in the Great Hall, it would make sense to keep them there and ensure they were all there. Indeed, the Great Hall was used as a refuge in PoA.
Why bring a troll into the school? Wasn't there a risk it would trip the school wards? Wouldn't it have been safer to plant a prank that cast the image of a troll knocking over suits of armour? An actual troll should have caused a serious investigation, a prank wouldn't. I suppose there might be questions about a DADA teacher overreacting to a prank, but there should also have been questions failure to deal with the troll himself and his fainting (not to mention his general fearfulness and stuttering problem). Of course, an illusionary prank troll wouldn't have provided the same opportunities for Harry to demonstrate his concern and bravery or for the three to bond.
Detention in the Forbidden Forest at night was totally inappropriate for first year students. Neville's grandmother and Draco's father should have roasted Dumbledore and all others involved over a slow fire. Aside from the obvious inanity of sending first year students into the forbidden forest, at night no less, there are several questions. First, why was Hagrid looking at night? Was Unicorn blood so much easier to track at night than in the day? Second, what useful contribution could first year students make? Third, how is Hagrid adequate protection? How is any one person adequate protection? All it would take is for one student to panic and run off. Fourth, what was Hagrid thinking separating the group? The forest is forbidden to students of all ages during the daytime, let alone first year students during the night. Perhaps, it was just a case of Hagrid trying to give them an easy detention (as thanks for taking care of the dragon) and he only spoke to Fitch about it (not McGonagall)? Still, even Hagrid shouldn't have separated the group and let a couple first year students wander around the forest at night alone.
How are Slytherin and Hufflepuff dormitories ventilated? Were those dormitories always in the basement, without natural lighting? Was there magical air circulation back when Hogwarts was built? Was there also central heating?
Why is Hogwarts considered safe? What do its wards protect against? Shouldn't the wards have prevented Voldemort's wraith from entering the grounds or at least the castle itself?
• Philosopher's Stone
- Why would the Flamels consider Voldemort's wraith a threat?
The Flamels have kept the Philosopher's stone safe for over five hundred years during which time there would be countless dark lords not only in Britain, but around the world. Why would they need (or trust) a relative youngster like Dumbledore to protect it from a weak wraith? Why would Dumbledore think they were unable to protect it?
There are several possibilities for how Dumbledore obtained the stone: (1) Flamel actually gave Dumbledore the real stone (2) Flamel gave Dumbledore a fake stone, but Dumbledore doesn't know (3) Dumbledore knowingly accepted or created a fake stone (4) Dumbledore stole the stone (real or fake) or recovered it from a thief. It is unreasonable to think the Flamels willingly gave Dumbledore the real stone, so perhaps it is a fake. Not knowing anything about the Flamels, it is possible they gave Dumbleldore a fake stone either to stop Dumbedore bothering them or as a distraction for anyone looking for it. They'd have no reason to expect him to place his students at risk or perhaps they knew and didn't care (we don't know enough about them to say).
Why did Dumbledore take the stone from Gringotts? It turned out to have been fortunate, but why would Dumbledore have thought it necessary? When Hagrid takes Harry to Gringott's (in PS) he tells Harry "yeh'd be mad to try and rob it." Why didn't Dumbledore think the stone would be safe there? Did he know there would be an attempt to steal it? How would he know that? How would he learn about it without knowing about Quirrell? Perhaps he just promised the Flamels to protect it personally?
Did Dumbledore think the students were not at risk? Hogwarts is supposed to be one of the safest places in Magical Britain. Its wards are supposed to keep bad things out. The fact Dumbledore finds it necessary to provide the stone with additional protections means two things (1) he expects Voldemort or some other thief to attempt to steal it and (2) he doesn't think Hogwarts wards and the normal protections on his office are sufficient to protect it. That means he expects the thief will have access to the school, which means the thief will have access to students. Students might be used as hostages to obtain the stone or escape with it. Students might be placed in danger to effect a distraction (e.g., the troll). Voldemort might harm students just to say "I'm back" and damage Dumbledore's reputation. Is it reasonable for a good, wise, caring, responsible Headmaster to bring the Philosopher's Stone into the school when he knows doing so may endanger the students?
Why could first year students get past the obstacles guarding the stone? Whether Dumbledore is guarding the actual stone or setting a trap for Voldemort, the protections are ineffectual and inappropriate. If the intent was to protect the stone, the obstacles were clearly inadequate to stop Voldemort or any wizard thief he would employ. If the intent was to lure the thief to the mirror expecting him to be stopped and trapped there, the obstacles would provide only minimal delay (while defenders were alerted and prepared themselves) and were so easy they might tip off the thief to the fact they weren't meant to be effective protection.
The obstacles could easily have been made stronger:
Simply put, a series of challenges is a literary cliché and being a children's story required the young characters to be able to get through them. The series of obstacles were classic challenges and highly suitable for a children's story. It is just those tasks aren't really up to the task of protecting the stone from a fully trained wizard.
Unless there was something more to the challenges that Quirrell had disarmed. Perhaps there were wards and the challenges were not there to stop the intruder, but to distract the intruder and prevent the wards being studied and disarmed before they were triggered. If that were the case only Quirrell's previous passage allowed the trio to make their passage. (Credit: "Not Normal" chapter 34 by Radaslab).
There are also backward compatibility problems with the series of challenges protecting the stone as there are magics in later books that should have been used to guard the stone. For instance, an Age Line (from GoF) would have kept students away from stone's protections and the Fidelius Charm (from PoA and OoP) should have been included among the protections. Perhaps Dumbledore researched the Age Line in response to the need exposed by the events of PS, but his knowledge of the Fidelius Charm clearly predates the events of PS. Using the Fidelius Charm has the advantage of allowing the stone to be hidden somewhere other than Hogwarts so the students wouldn't be at risk. Of course, the availability of improved protections is moot since the children's story plot required the children to be able to gain access to the stone at Hogwarts.
Why did the mirror stop Quirinus Quirrell? Dumbledore said it was spelled to release the stone to someone who wants it but does not want to use it. Quirrell wanted it for Voldemort, not to use it himself. So shouldn't the mirror have given it to him? Maybe since Voldemort was possessing him they counted as the same person. Did Dumbledore plan on Voldemort possessing someone and going after the stone himself? How could he have guessed that? What if Voldemort had sent a thief? The thief would not have wanted to use the stone himself, only to give or sell it to Voldemort. What if Voldemort came with a helper? Snape's fire barrier didn't keep two people (Quirrell and Harry) from entering. Either there was enough potion for two people or the potion bottle refilled itself to let Harry in. Voldemort and a helper could have entered in that manner. Then the helper could retrieve the stone not to use it, but to give it to Voldemort. Hopefully, Dumbledore gave Harry a simplified explanation of the protection offered by the mirror. Perhaps it only released the stone to someone who wanted to protect it from misuse, not just someone who didn't want to use it himself.
Why did Quirrell leave the correct potion bottle? If it held more than one dose, shouldn't he have taken it with him into the next room so he could get back out? If it only held one dose, why (and how!) did it refill? What was the limit on its refilling capability? Why wasn't such a capability mentioned elsewhere, surely it would be used for healing potions. Shouldn't Hermione have worried that Quirrell (or as she believed Snape) might have mixed up their order?
Finally, what measures were taken to guard the Flamels? Nicholas created the Stone. Presumably he could create another and could be forced to do so by holding Perenelle hostage or using the imperious curse. Indeed even with the Stone in his possession, Voldemort might need their knowledge to make use of it.
Why take the dragon to the astronomy tower? Why not have Harry meet Charlie's friends on the tower and point them to Hagrid's hut. The light shining out of the hut's window should have been sufficient to guide them. If not, they could fly to the tower and wave a lit wand or shoot sparks for Hagrid to see and then Hagrid could wave a torch to guide them to his hut. At worst, Harry could go to the tower alone with his broom and guide them to Hagrid's hut. Taking the dragon through the castle was a difficult endeavor, a substantial risk, and totally unnecessary.
Why did Dumbledore have James' invisibility cloak? Why would James loan Dumbledore the cloak? James was in hiding and an invisibility cloak would have been useful as a final line of defense.
Dumbledore's absence from Hogwarts at the end of PS due to a forged message is a classic cliché, but the forged message is hardly needed. Dumbledore is Chief Warlock of Britain's Wizengamot and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards (ICW). He must need to be absent from Hogwarts on a regular, predictable basis to attend to those duties. There is no need to forge a message to get him out of the school. Of course, Dumbledore flying from Hogwarts, in Scotland, to the Ministry, in London, is nothing short of ridiculous - he would apparate, Floo or portkey and quickly discover the deception. Perhaps he flew from the castle to the edge of the wards (as in HBP), but that does not explain the length of his absence. Travel by Floo was not introduced in PS, but in the first chapter Dumbledore arrived and departed Privet drive by either apparition or portkey.
In the Chamber of Secrets, why did Dobby cast the hover charm on the cake? Why didn't Dobby just make it seem Harry was practicing magic in his room? If the goal was to have Harry expelled for doing magic at home, there was no reason to cause him trouble with the Dursleys. If the goal was to pressure Harry in to agreeing not to return to Hogwarts, then he should have given Harry a chance to conceded and should have followed up with a threat of further trouble. So it doesn't seem to have been blackmail. Dobby seems to have staged it so he wasn't seen and it seemed Harry threw or dropped the cake, so the Statute of Secrecy wasn't an issue. The only effect of doing it on the cake was to get Harry in trouble with his relatives. How did that aid Dobby's cause? If Harry was in trouble with his relatives, he would want to get away from them, which he could do by going to Hogwarts. Preventing Harry from getting to the train is an obvious very direct attempt to stop Harry from returning. Charming the bludgers to injure Harry so he has to leave underestimated Madam Pomfrey, but has some logic. Dumping the cake on his relatives' guest seems to have no benefit over just hovering something in Harry's room. It seems to have been included in the story purely for dramatic effect.
Why wasn't the Basilisk identified by Dumbledore or others? Are we really to believe that neither Dumbledore, the previous headmaster (Dippet), nor any the teachers now or fifty years ago could figure out that "Slytherin's Monster" would be some sort of snake and most likely the king of snakes, a Basilisk? Slytherin was a known parselmouth and chose a snake as the symbol of his house, so it should be obvious his "monster" was most probably a snake. Although most of the Basilisk's victims in each time were turned to stone, Myrtle was killed without a mark on her body. What snake could do that? What snake is known as the 'king' of snakes? Are we to believe no one thought to ask Myrtle how she died? No one noticed that Fitch's cat was petrified outside Myrtle's bathroom - the bathroom where Myrtle died in the previous attack? Readers may be excused from not knowing what the possibilities are, but fully trained wizards with access to information about the previous attacks?
Why did the diary have Ginny release the Basilisk? The diary did two things. It had Ginny release the Basilisk and it tried to bring back Tom Riddle. Why both? Releasing the Basilisk unnecessarily drew attention. There was the potential that Ginny's actions and the diary would be discovered preventing Tom from coming back. Why risk that? If it had waited until it was ready to bring back Tom, that could have been accomplished with complete surprise. Was it because Tom was a sociopath and saw no problem doing both? Was it because the diary initially created as a means to release the Basilisk and later made into a Horcrux later, giving it two tasks?
How could Tom Riddle survive meeting the Basilisk? How could Ginny (possessed by the diary Horcrux) survive meeting the Basilisk? If Tom could survive seeing the Basilisk, why couldn't Harry? They were both ParselMouths. The prophesy said they were equal. Of course Harry avoided looking at it, so maybe he would have survived seeing it. Would Fawkes have known?
How had Dumbledore convinced Dippet to hire Hagrid as Grounds Keeper? Hagrid had just been expelled and had his wand snapped for keeping a dangerous animal in the school. Dumbledore may not have believed that the acromantula was responsible for the student petrifications and death, but Dippet presumably did and Dumbledore couldn't deny keeping an acromantula was dangerous. By what logic is it reasonable to keep Hagrid at the school? By what logic is it reasonable for the Board of Governors or parents to have allowed it? How is it reasonable to allow Hagrid to release the acromantula into the hidden forest or to have allowed him to remain at the school after that was discovered? How is it possible for the centaurs to have friendly relations with Hagrid after he not only released one acromantula into their forest, but then obtained a mate for him? How does a colony of acromantulas survive in the forest - or perhaps the question should be how does anything else survive with them there? Were they native there before Hagrid released them? As a peripheral element of a children's story, this can be ignored. As an element of a more mature series, it is illogical.
How did the Basilisk survive in the Chamber of Secrets for a thousand years? The book says there were many animal skeletons at the bottom of the slide into the anti-chamber. Where did they come from? Did they somehow find their way in or was the Basilisk able to leave the chamber area and bring them back with it? Might the Basilisk have access to the Forbidden Forest to hunt? Probably not, since that would provide a back-door Tom could have (but didn't) use to enter Hogwarts.
How big are the pipes in Hogwarts' walls? Hermione supposed that Harry heard the Basilisk as it traveled through the pipes. Leave aside the question of why the Basilisk would be in the pipes - what food it would find in the pipes or how it would get out of the pipes to attack students - and consider the question of how the Basilisk would fit in the pipes. The Basilisk was big. When Harry killed it, the sword and his arm were in the Basilisk's maul far enough for the Basilisk's fang to strike Harry's above his elbow. The sword went through the Basilisk's brain not down its gullet. Assume the sword penetrated up to its hilt, so the Basilisk's mouth only needed to be big enough to hold Harry's forearm. That's still a big snake. So, just how big are the pipes in Hogwarts walls to allow such a large snake to slither through their twists and turns? As big as city sewers? Well, its use of the pipes was just conjecture. Maybe the Basilisk was traveling around the castle through something other than pipes. Did castles have indoor plumbing when Hogwarts (and the Chamber) were built? Maybe Slytherin had secret passages through the castle that the Basilisk used rather than pipes, but if so why did Tom use an entrance in a girls bathroom?
Why has Mr. Weasley taught Ginny 'Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain'? Other than the diary, I don't think there are any examples of things that think that aren't trusted. The sorting hat and portraits are examples of things that think for themselves. They are trusted. Were are their brains? Perhaps the mirrors that give questionable grooming advice? Other than not every seeing one before, why would anyone be suspicious of a book that wrote back? How is a diary that contains a person's memories and writes back different from a portrait that contains a person's memories and talks back?
How was the potion administered to petrified students? Sir Nick? The students couldn't drink it while petrified. Even if their mouths were open, that would mean they were breathing and pouring the potion into their mouth would flood their lungs. Perhaps it was a topical potion that had to be poured onto the surface of the petrified students. Administering the potion to a petrified ghost is another challenge. Perhaps it could be sprayed on or through him. (Robst raised the question of how ghosts were petrified and unpetrified in an author note of chapter 43 of Harry Crow he presents his explanation in chapter 44.)
Why were there no consequences for the petrified students? Colin (petrified in November) and Justin (petrified in December) should have fallen back a year. Hermione and Penelope (petrified in May) only lost three weeks, so they could reasonably make it up with the professors' assistance during the last few weeks (with exams cancelled) and self study over the summer. If Penelope had been in fifth year, her OWL marks would have suffered, however, the books have been corrected to definitely place her in sixth year with Percy (Madame Pomfrey now bends over the sixth-year girl instead of a fifth-year girl).
Why did the Board of Governors flip-flop? Malfoy has Dumbledore removed by the Board of Governors. Dumbledore says the board members reported Malfoy had threatened them. Why did they reinstate him? If the treats were sufficient to get Dumbledore removed, what changed to have him reinstated? Ginny was kidnapped, but surely the board was aware of such a possibility when removing Dumbledore. Had Dumbledore withheld information about the petrification? Was it because Ginny is pureblood? Had Malfoy influenced the board members with magic that wore off? Had they taken time to move their families somewhere safe? Had Dumbledore provided them with wards or portkeys to keep them safe?
Was Malfoy' only punishment to be removed from the board? Surely the threats he made were a matter for the DMLE. There may have been no admissible proof that Malfoy gave Ginny the diary, but there were several board members who could testify against him regarding his threats. Did Fudge let him off? What bad feeling did that cause?
Why wasn't the Chamber investigated? Was the Basilisk the Chamber's only secret? What knowledge might Tom Riddle have learned there? Dumbledore should have investigated the chamber to learn what Tom might have found there and to ensure it did not provide a back door into Hogwarts. He would also have disposed of the Basilisk's corpse, perhaps harvesting it for potions ingredients or its hide and destroying any parts that were only of use for dark magic or potions. Knowing where the chamber was, perhaps Dumbledore could create a new entrance or used Fawkes to bypass the need for a parslemouth to gain access to the main chamber, but was the chamber the Basilisk came from left open? Were there other rooms? Even if Harry's ability was not required, one would expect some mention of an investigation of the chamber in later books. Ron and Hermione's (somewhat questionable) visit to the chamber in DH indicates that the chamber was untouched. As an element of a series of somewhat disjoint children's stories, this can be ignored. As an element of a more mature, integrated series, it is a glaring omission.
In the Prisoner of Askaban, why was the response to Harry's accidental magic what it was? Harry was unaware of any response to earlier episodes of accidental magic (turning a teacher's hair blue). Why is there a different response this time? Given the speed of the knight bus, how did they react quickly enough for him to be met when he reached the Leaky Cauldron? Why was he met by Fudge (the Minister for Magic!) rather than an Auror, someone from the Improper Use of Magic Office or the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, or Dumbledore or one of the OoP members? The desire to protect Harry from Sirius Black does not fully explain the response.
Why was Harry safe, unsupervised, in Diagon Alley, but a Dementor guard was required for Hogwarts? Isn't Hogwarts supposed to be safer than Diagon Alley? Why would its famous wards need to be supplemented by Dementors? Did Lucius Malfoy support having Dementors at his son's school? Did Fudge go against both Malfoy and Dumbledore? Malfoy would want Sirius dead on the assumption that the Black estate would pass to Draco, but would he risk Draco being exposed to the Dementors?
Why would a student be entrusted with a Time Turner? What responsible teacher would request it? What responsible guardian of a dangerous technology would allow it? Were there no other students who took more than one of the courses Hermione had at the same time? Although they don't normally allow a student take all the elective courses, wouldn't there are always students taking different combinations that prevent simultaneous scheduling. Once Hermione was given a time tuner, why wasn't she counseled about the need to get extra sleep to balance her longer days. If the need for that advice wasn't obvious before the year started, why didn't a professor speak to her when it became obvious she wasn't getting enough sleep?
Why would McGonagall presume Hooch and Flitwick could 'strip down' a Firebolt? 'Strip down' implies 'take apart' and then 'put back together'. For a top of the line professional broom that requires specific knowledge and training. Hooch is a flying instructor who referees school Quidditch matches. Fitwick is a charms professor and former dueling champion. Why on earth would McGonagall presume they were capable or qualified to 'strip down' a top of the line professional broom and why on earth would they accept the assignment? Passively check the broom for hexes? Perhaps. 'Strip down' a professional broom and then restore it to its original condition? No. The broom should not be considered safe after being 'stripped down' by amateurs. Since the broom did function properly afterwards, we must assume that the use of the term 'strip down' was an exaggerated description of what was actually done.
Why is the Gryffindor vs Slytherin Quidditch match rescheduled? Draco's injury is rather minor compared to the injuries that prevented Harry playing in games in past years that proceeded without him. More importantly, Draco's claimed injury was not supported by Madame Pomfrey who said it was a minor injury that was quickly healed. If it was accepted that Draco had an injury that Madame Pomfrey was unable to recognize or failed to properly heal he should have been referred to St. Mungo's Hospital for treatment.
Don't the famous Hogwarts wards protect against Dementors? How could Dementors enter the castle grounds to attach the Quidditch game? How could Fudge bring a Dementor into the castle (to kiss Sirius) without Dumbledore specifically allowing it through the wards? Why would Dumbledore admit a Dementor into the castle?
How did Ron hold on to Scabbers when Padfoot attacked him? When Padfoot grabbed Ron, Scabbers was either in Ron's hand or pocket. If he was in Ron's hand, how would Ron keep hold of him? If he was in Ron's pocket, why wouldn't he make a run for it? There'd be a small risk of being caught if Padfoot saw him escaping, but there'd be a good chance of getting away.
Why wasn't word passed to the DMLE of Sirius' innocence? Although Dumbledore may not have been able to ensure a trial would go in Sirius' favour, he should have been able to have the 'kiss' order revoked. Fudge should not have been intransigent. He could easily (perhaps truthfully) say his 'kiss' order was based on the entirely reasonable assumption Sirius had been properly tried and convicted, an assumption he has been astonished and dismayed to learn was incorrect. By changing the order to have Sirius arrested to be held for trial, he exhibits the face of reason. If Sirius turns out to be innocent, he can put all the blame on the previous administration. Sirius was the heir of a pureblood house. It should have been easy for Dumbledore to convince a significant body of strategically placed individuals that if the heir to pureblood house could be imprisoned without trial then anyone (such as themselves) could be imprisoned and that the precedent should be overturned. Dumbledore could have used his pensive to show them Harry's memories of Peter Pettigrew's confession that he had been the Potters' secret keeper and betrayer. As an officer of the court (Chief Warlock) surely it was his duty to at least inform the DMLE of the events.
Why were the dementors withdrawn from Hogwarts? Since Fudge didn't believe Harry that Sirius was innocent and Sirius was still at large, Sirius was presumably still considered a threat and his interest in Harry and/or Hogwarts had been confirmed. Perhaps three Dementor attacks on Harry was sufficient to have them removed, but shouldn't they have been replaced with some other form of guard? Especially with the tri-wizard tournament happening the following year? Maybe Fudge was convinced Sirius had fled abroad, but its an omission that it was never explained.
In the Goblet of Fire, we are required to believe that a magical contract can be formed without the participation of the person involved, that there is no way to call off the contest after the Goblet malfunctions, and that there is no way to determine who manipulated the Goblet (or that Dumbledore didn't try himself after Mad-Eye impersonator Barty Crouch Jr. reported no success).
• Why would Dumbledore accept that Harry is bound by a magical contract just because the rule book says so? The rule book says the goblet will choose three champions, but it chose four. The rule book describes the proper function of the goblet. The goblet has clearly malfunctioned so why would they accept anything the rule book says until the extent of the malfunction has been determined?
• Why would they assume the rule book was completely accurate? Crouch Sr. says the rules dictate that 'candidates are bound by a magical contract when they are chosen by the goblet' and that may be accurate when the author's assumptions are true, but what were those assumptions? Even if the goblet were functioning properly (which it isn't), the rule book likely assumes that candidates entered their names into the goblet.
• What version of the rule book are they using? Are they using the original from 700 years ago, a translation in use when the contest was last held at the end of the 1700's, or a modern translation of one of those that was prepared for this tournament? How closely does the rule book reflect the actual enchantments on the goblet? Isn't it possible that some details of how the cup works have been lost in translation?
• Why aren't they concerned about other changes? Since there were now four contestants, perhaps they now need to compete in four events or loose their magic. Perhaps all but the winner would lose their magic.
• Why is Harry willing to accept the word of Barty Crouch? Dumbledore might accept the political reality of Crouch's position and trust him based on overall past performance, but Harry is a teen who's only knowledge of Crouch is that he was Director of the DMLE when Sirius was imprisoned without trial.
Perhaps they checked the Goblet later in Harry's absence and found evidence of four contracts, but there is certainly no mention of checking Harry to confirm he was bound by a contract rather than the person who put his name in. We are required to believe there is no way for the judges to call off the contest or exclude a contestant who is ineligible or unable to compete. Is that reasonable? How about fixing or even destroying the Goblet? It has obviously malfunctioned and can't be trusted to be used again.
There are immense societal implications of being able to form a binding magical contract without the consent of the principle. Why use the imperious curse or blackmail, just establish a binding contract and let the person know what they have to do. If you want them dead or without magic, set up a contract and don't let them know. Why imprison criminals, just bind them to an agreement to obey the law or loose their magic. This is clearly a simple plot device created without thought to the broader implications.
Why would Hermione think she can free Hogwarts house-elves? Harry couldn't free Dobby, he had to trick Lucius into freeing Dobby. Hermione knows this. Why would Hermione think she could free the Hogwarts elves by leaving gifts of clothes she's knitted around for them? She is a student, not a staff member, not the headmaster. Why wouldn't Harry or Ron be able to quickly convince her of this?
How did Barty Crouch Jr. maintain his supply of polyjuice potion? He stole ingredients from Snape's supplies, so it appears he was brewing at least some of it himself. We know from CoS that it takes a month to brew and that each dose lasts one hour. Hermione brewed enough for three doses. How many doses can be brewed at once? Barty would have required enough to last through the day (breakfast, morning classes, lunch, afternoon classes, dinner, meetings, and evening patrols). Say ten to fourteen doses each weekday and half that on weekends (60 to 80 doses a week) for nine or ten months; that's well over 2000 doses. Being generous, suppose one cauldron could produce a week's supply, he'd need to have at least 4 cauldron's brewing all the time without any mistakes and without being detected over a period of nine months. That requires a lot of potion ingredients. Presumably what he stole from Snape was only to cover for a delay in his unmentioned regular supplies as the theft of ingredients for over 2000 doses would be rather obvious and not something that could be attributed to a student wanting to brew a few potions.
Successfully impersonating Mad Eye for most of a year with no one noticing is quite a feat. Mad-Eye was well known to Dumbledore and some of the other staff. Harry and Ron had trouble with their polyjuice impersonations in CoS. How did Barty Crouch Jr. pull it off? (NB: At least one fanfic story suggests Mad-Eye was held under the Imperious Curse and Jr. only impersonated him occasionally.)
Why bother entering Harry into the triwizard tournament? Just pick a Hogsmeade weekend and go to Harry in the Three Broomsticks at lunch and tell him "Something's happened to your relatives, Dumbledore wants to see you in his office; this sock is a portkey to take you there, just tap it with your wand and say 'sugar plumb'." You don't need to impersonate a professor long term, just get some hair from a professor or prefecr and keep it until needed and a single dose of polyjuice is sufficient. (NB: A good idea for why they entered Harry in the tournament is found in chapter 30 of "A Marauder's Plan" by CatsAreCool, which suggests the rite required nine months of preparation during which the 'enemy' must "be tested and challenged for the majority of the nine months thus living in fear of his life".)
The events of the tournament aren't a plot flaw, but the first event was rather dangerous and the second two offered little for the spectators who couldn't see what was happening underwater or in the maze. Also, it is not explained how contestants who sent up red sparks were being rescued. It appeared the rescuers entered the maze on foot which means they had to take time to navigate the maze and face its hazards. It would make more sense to use brooms so they could avoid the obstacles and more easily and quickly locate and assist the endangered contestants.
Why were tournament events a surprise?
How were students of the other schools taught? The books only mention the presence of the school Headmasters. Were all their seventh years students present or only some? Seventh year is a very important year for a student's eduction, they'd want the best instructors available to prepare them for their NEWTs. Did they attend classes with Hogwarts' seventh year students? Wouldn't language be a problem, since their first language wouldn't be English? Wouldn't they complain about Hogwarts' cliché teachers? Wouldn't it strain the Hogwarts professors? This is a strange omission from the information provided in the books.
What was Harry learning for the tournament? He only used the stunning and impediment curses against the spider at the end of the maze and he only recalled the disarming curse to use in his fight with Voldemort. Hadn't Hermione made up a list of spells for him to learn to help when facing the challenges, including getting past Hagrid's creatures that they'd been told would be in the maze?
Why did Voldemort need an elaborate rite to regain a body? In CoS, the diary was creating a body by draining Ginny's life force. Why couldn't Voldemort's wraith do that? (Aside from the story plot needing to Harry kidnapped and that it would make a mess of having needed the stone in PS.)
Voldemort's abuse of his followers is cliché, but is it realistic? Would a smart man like Lucius Malfoy submit to such abuse? If Regulus and Snape could rebel, so could Malfoy.
How did Voldemort get his old wand back? He had it at the Potter home when he was vanquished on Halloween 1981. Was it left there? Was it rescued by Peter Pettigrew? Was it taken to the Ministry? Surely it wasn't just left there. If Peter rescued it, did he hide it somewhere or keep it on his person? Was Peter disarmed when he was captured in PoA? Both Remus and Sirius fought in the first war, did neither think to disarm Peter? Remus was DADA professor, wouldn't disarming prisoners be part of the curriculum for one of the years? If it was taken to the Ministry, wouldn't its removal have been noticed?
The 'brother wand' phenomenon with Harry's and Tom's wands is problematic. Does it only apply to wands with phoenix feather cores from the same phoenix? What about wands with unicorn hair cores from the same unicorn? What about wands with dragon heart string cores, is there only one heart string per dragon? So what's special about Harry's and Tom's phoenix feather wands? Is it because Fawkes phoenix only gave two feathers? If he gave feathers for more wands would the wands not have been brothers? On that subject, where does Olivander get a supply of phoenix feathers to use as one of his few chosen types of wand cores? The only phoenix we know of is Fawkes.
Why did Harry break off with Tom? Harry had driven the magic back to Tom's wand causing the 'ghosts' of his victims to emerge. He was winning. Why didn't he continue? What would have happened if he had? Would Tom's killing curse have killed Tom? Would Tom's wand have exploded, destroying his wand hand? Harry broke off because the 'ghosts' said to, but why?
Harry escapes Voldemort by summoning the cup. Why could he do that? In the first task he summoned his broom - presumably the egg was protected against summoning. Shouldn't the cup have also been protected against summoning? Bagman said "The third task's really straightforward. The Triwizard Cup will be placed in the centre of the maze. The first champion to touch it will receive full marks." If the Cup wasn't protected against summoning, a champion could have summoned it from the entrance of the maze to win. Maybe the eggs weren't protected against summoning either and the champions could have summoned their egg without confronting the dragon. Surely, even if it wasn't mentioned, one of the champions would have tried summoning the egg.
Don't the famous Hogwarts wards protect against Dementors? How could Fudge bring a Dementor into the castle (to kiss Barty) without Dumbledore specifically allowing it through the wards? Why would Dumbledore admit a Dementor into the castle? ... also, how did Fudge get the Dementors there so quickly? He seemed to get them there more quickly than the previous year when they had been guarding the castle.
Was Hermione's blackmail of Rita reasonable? Catching Rita and accepting a reasonable quid pro quo in exchange for not turning her in, ok. It would have been reasonable for Hermione to catch Rita and immediately turn her over to the Headmaster. It would be reasonable to suggest Rita releasing her without charges in exchange for her not writing about students (i.e., Harry or her). But holding her captive for a lengthy period and then demanding she not write anything for a year? That seems rather excessive, risky, and out of character.
Its excessive, because writing is Rita's livelihood. What will she live on for that year? Won't people be suspicious, especially if she takes another job?
Its a big risk because unlawful confinement and blackmail are serious offenses. Rita could make a deal with Fudge to charge Hermione and implicate Harry. She could probably get immunity and non-disclosure of the blackmail subject. Fudge was in a mood to make a deal that would hurt and discredit Harry.
Its also out of character for Hermione to do something so blatantly unlawful. Breaking school rules is one thing. Serious crimes (not in self defense or saving an innocent's life) is another.
It may also have been counterproductive. Rita had overheard a lot in the Hospital Wing. She might have chosen to turn her pen against Fudge and written about his denial of Voldemort's return. She might also have written about Sirius' innocence and imprisonment without trial.
What Dumbledore didn't do at the end of GoF is significant. Dumbledore reactivated the Order of the Phoenix, sent Snape to resume his position spying on Voldemort, he sent Remus to the warewolves, and he sent Hagrid to the giants. However, when he failed to convince Fudge of Voldemort's return, he didn't try to inform anyone else within the ministry. He didn't obtain a copy of Harry's memories to show to the DMLE, ministry leaders, or members of the Wizengamont. This is a significant failure for the Chief Warlock.
In the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore is portrayed as politically ineffectual. He apparently fails to do anything substantial to force Fudge or others in the Ministry or Wizengamont to acknowledge Voldemort's return or to counter the slander leveled against Harry and himself, even allowing himself to be removed from the office of Chief Warlock. Why? Dumbledore is an experienced member of the wizarding government. A simple pensive memory of Harry's experiences at the end of the third task would have gone a long way to ending such slander and mobilizing the forces of light. If Dumbledore is the great, wise, experienced wizard he is supposed to be, it is ridiculous for Fudge to be able to walk over Harry and Dumbledore unless Dumbledore deliberately allows it. Clearly this is yet another simple plot device to set up the plot for Umbridge's placement in Hogwarts; a case of expediency over consistency and reason. Suitable for children's books, but failing when examined in a broader context.
What does "Remember my last" refer to? What communication has Dumbledore had with Petunia? When Petunia found Harry on her doorstep in 1981, she screamed. Obviously, she wasn't expecting him. Surely he's not referring to the letter he left in the basket with Harry in 1981 nearly 14 years ago. Harry hadn't seen an owl deliver mail before his Hogwarts letter. Perhaps Dumbledore sent a letter before Harry went back at the end of each year? Is that why he's confident Harry will be treated reasonably? Because he sends them letters each year telling them to do so? Does he say its for the Greater Good? Did he tell them Voldemort was back and would kill them if the weren't protected?
What use is the Order of Phoenix guard at the Department of Mysteries? Only Harry or Voldemort can remove the prophesy, so what use is having a single guard at the DoM? If Voldemort doesn't come himself, the prophesy sphere is safe. If he does come, what good will it be to have a single guard in place? What happened to that guard on the night of the battle? Did Malfoy's group waylay the guard? If so, its not mentioned. Didn't Dumbledore provide any safeguard for the Order guard after Arthur Weasley was attacked? If Malfoy's group snuck by the Order guard, why didn't Harry's group encounter the guard?
Why isn't Harry in regular contact with Sirius, either directly or indirectly through Remus or others? Sirius and Remus are Harry's links to his parents. Sirius is Harry's hope for getting away from the Dursleys'. He should be in regular contact with them throughout GoF and OoP. Why would Sirius only ask Harry to contact him about Snape? Sirius should want contact with Harry for much more than that. When Harry didn't use the mirror a message should have been sent to him to do so.
Is interception of owl post common? We have examples of owl post interception by Dobby in CoS and Umbridge in OoP (as well as the unmentioned lack of fan post other than one instance in GoF). Does the Ministry of Magic often use this tool? Is the post of all students being intercepted or just Harry's? Does magic identify and intercept only messages of interest? If only Harry's post was being intercepted, why didn't he ask friends to forward messages. Imagine the response of Neville's gran or Susan's aunt if they'd received a request to forward messages from Harry.
Is Snape just a really bad Occumacy teacher or is something else at play? Both in the descriptions of the lessons and Harry's relation of them to Hermione, its clear Snape just tells Harry to "clear your mind." No explanation, no notes, no reference book. Is he trying to teach the art or open Harry's mind to Voldemort? Is JKR just playing up the nasty Snape cliché or sowing reason to doubt Snape's loyalty? Does Snape think he is actually making a reasonable effort to teach Harry - without notes or a text? Is he being just a little rough to stay in character for reports to Voldemort? Being a bad, vengeful potions teacher is not directly harmful. Viciously attacking and attempting to weaken or damage a student's mind would be quite another thing.
When using a Pensive, do you extract the memory itself or a copy? At the start of Harry's Occlumency lesson, Snape extracts memories from his head and places them in Dumbledore's pensive supposedly so that Harry can't accidentally access them in his mind. However, Dumbledore has a collection of memories that don't seem the sort to have been removed from someone's mind, just copied. Also, Slughorn provides two copies of his memory of talking to Riddle about Horcruxes (one tampered with, one genuine). Snape's use of the pensive seems at odds with other references. Perhaps there are two methods of using it.
Also, its odd the memory Harry finds is about his father, rather than Snape telling Voldemort about the Prophesy, foul deeds Snape committed as a Death Eater, or other secrets. Perhaps Snape had long practice protecting other memories from Dumbledore or Voldemort, but hadn't previously guarded memories of James. Perhaps he thought seeing Harry who looked so much like James was likely to bring the memories of James to the surface. Was Snape trying to keep the memory from Harry to protect himself from embarrassment or to protect Harry from a negative memory of his father?
Finally, why place the memories in the pensive? Dumbledore has a collection of memories in vials. Slughorn gave Harry the memory of Tom asking about Horcruxes in a vial. Why would Snape use Dumbledore's pensive?
Why would Harry fly all the way from Hogwarts to London? Its over 300 miles from Scotland to London. Unless thestrals are incredibly fast it would take several hours for them to reach the Ministry. Harry's vision showed Sirius being tortured. Harry has already lost time trying check whether Sirius is at Grimauld Place and dealing with Umbridge. With the additional time to fly to London, there'd be a good chance Sirius would be dead or have been moved to somewhere he could be tortured at length without fear of discovery. Surely, they'd have thought of that and considered alternatives. They could have flown to Hogsmeade and taken the Floo from the Three-Broomsticks or Hogshead. If nowhere with a Floo was open in Hogsmeade and they couldn't break in, they could at least try to summon the Knight Bus. They might also have gone back to Hogwarts and used the Floo to call for help, since Umbridge was no longer an obstacle.
Is security at the Ministry and the Department of Mysteries really so poor? First Malfoy's group either snuck past or disabled both the Ministry and DoM security without setting of any alarms. Harry's group didn't sneak past anyone and wasn't stopped by any security, which suggests Malfoy's group disabled the security. Shouldn't there be regular checks where security is supposed to call out or answer incoming calls? Aren't there evening staff (cleaners, DMLE) who would notice if the security was breached? Its not terribly believable.
Why did it take the Order so long to get to the Ministry? While they were flying from Hogwarts to London, there was plenty of time for the Order to have taken action. Umbridge was no longer a problem, so Snape had time to contact the Order and let them know Harry thought Sirius was in trouble at the Ministry. The Order had time to verify that Sirius was safe at home. Someone from the Order should have been waiting for them at the entrance to the Ministry to tell them Sirius was safe at home.
In the Half-Blood Prince, it takes Dumbledore a full year to brief Harry on Voldemort's past and the horcruxes. It could obviously have been done in a much shorter time period and one would think that Dumbledore would want to ensure Harry received the information as soon as possible. Dumbledore knew he was dying from the curse/poison on the ring and that Draco had been ordered to kill him. His life could have been unexpectedly cut short by either of those causes.
Why does Draco repair the vanishing cabinet? Has Dumbledore activated additional wards or other protections since Voldemort's return? It isn't mentioned. If he hasn't, then Voldemort would know Death Eaters can easily access Hogwarts, just as Barty Crouch Jr. did. All they need to do is wait for a Hogwarts weekend and detain some students and enter the school polyjuiced as the returning students.
The romantic pairings of Harry & Ginny (HG) and Ron & Hermione (RHr) lack development. One wonders if any thought was given to them prior to HBP. Relationships develop. That development may be before two people become a couple or afterward, but it is required and is not present in the books. The poor development of the relationships might pass for children's books, but the later books where the relationships are exposed invite a higher standard. The HG paring is possible, but simply isn’t developed. In two weeks at the end of sixth year, it unrealistically progresses from inklings of desire to love strong enough to survive an extended separation. The RHr pairing is more problematic as their interests and personalities appear to be in conflict.
The books don't show any credible development of a relationship between Harry and Ginny. It goes from a kiss to snogging to love in a couple of weeks. If you assume that Ginny has grown out of her crush (which isn't clear) there is no obstacle to the HG pairing, but it needs to be developed. Because Harry is the hero who's flaws are pluses, he could be successfully paired with almost any girl. However, the relationship would not be credible without some effort to develop the girl's character and the relationship. Fanfiction stories often pair Harry & Hermione (HHr) rather than HG or another pairing, perhaps because it is easy to build a credible relationship from their strong established friendship and well developed characters. That established character and friendship isn't present for any other girl - including Ginny.
The books portray Ron and Hermione as having incompatible personalities. Ron is portrayed as self-centred, lazy, and prone to jealousy. Hermione is impatient, academically inclined, driven, and ambitious. They frequently argue and their arguments are not just frustrating, but hurtful to Hermione. Ron's character could be developed to grow out of his flaws, but that doesn't happen in the books. Indeed, the epilogue of DH reveals that even years later Ron is still self-centred, lazy, and disrespectful of muggles as he (then an Auror!) admits confunding the examiner to obtain an unearned muggle drivers licence. It is hard to imagine a harmonious relationship between Ron and Hermione's parents or Ron being comfortable visiting them. Another girl might accept Ron's faults, but from what we see from Harry's point of view Ron and Hermione are incompatible.
Added to the failure to develop the relationships, there is the presentation of love potions. In CoS Lockhart mentions them on Valentine's day, in PoA Molly relates that she used a love potion to attract Arthur's interest, and in HBP they brew a love potion in class (why would that be on the curriculum?). This opens the possibility that the relationships were potion induced. Prime suspects are Ginny, Ron, Molly, or Dumbledore. Ginny because she is a fan girl who dreamed of marrying the 'boy-who-lived' long before she met Harry. Ron because he's jealous of Harry and doesn't want Harry to have Hermione, to support Ginny in her desire, or just to distract Ginny from someone 'worse'. Molly to get Ginny her dream husband (could be either Ginny's dream or Molly's dream), just as Molly got Aurthur. Dumbledore because he manipulates everyone for the Greater Good and if the 'power he knows not' is love Harry needs to be encouraged to love someone & who better than the daughter of his stanch supporters, the Weasleys.
The poor development of the relationships might pass for children's books (and they lived happily ever after), but does not pass the higher standard of the later books where the relationships are exposed. The best a reader can do is assume that after Voldemort's defeat, the Harry and Hermione retreated to the Burrow to hide from their fame and that their relationships developed there, with events within the books being mere hints of what would be.
In the Deathly Hallows, there are several arbitrary new plot devices and questionable events.
Oblivation is not an entirely new plot device, but Hermione's use of it on her parents is astounding. She made them forget about her, their 17 year old daughter. Parents' lives revolve around their children. Raising a child completely changes a person's life. Just how does oblivation work that such a huge memory alteration is possible? Aside from when they are working, she would have been a constant part of their lives from pregnancy through her leaving for Hogwarts. After that, she'd still have been a major part of their thoughts. They'd have to forget about friends and colleagues or they'd try to keep in touch and the name change would be a problem. The memories that they keep would have to be changed to contain their new names. It would be important that they not forget too much or they might forget dental skills and harm patients. How does oblivation work that Hermione thought she could perform such an all encompassing oblivation without a life time's experience with the spell? Then there's the practical issue of how her parents are supposed to open a dental practice without either local qualifications for Australia or any certification in Britain under their assumed names. Not to mention the need for money for the trip and to establish themselves in Australia. Selling their practice would take time and there would likely be a paper trail for the money.
Technical and practical issues aside, why obliviate them? There is no reason to make them forget anything, just a need to make them hide and stay in hiding without blowing their cover by trying to contact her or friends or colleagues. Why would a brilliant girl like Hermione choose to Oblivate them? Wouldn't she think to use a compulsion charm to convince them of the danger and make them decide to move away? Hermione might want to forget where they are to keep them safe, but not the other way around. Perhaps a varient of the Fidelius Charm would be appropriate to guard their location or their relationship with Hermione. (Prophecy Smophecy by DriftWood1965 contains a very nice, short exposition on this issue - Hermione's parents go into hiding with their memories intact, she obliviates herself leaving herself the memory of obliviating them and sending them to Australia & leaves herself a clue to follow to find them.)
The Deluminator allowed Ron to hear what was being said by and around Harry and to travel to where Harry was located (despite extensive wards hiding his location). We don't know when Dumbledore enchanted it with this ability beyond that it was done before his death at the end of sixth year. Was it done while Harry was at Hogwarts? Was it done when Harry was placed with the Dursleys? Did Dumbledore use it to spy on Harry or did it exist just to allow Ron to rejoin Harry and Hermione? The implications of the device are concerning. Think of it being used by the Ministry or Voldemort to spy on persons of interest. It could be combined with a dictation-quill to create a written record of everything said by or in the presence of a person.
How did Snape find Harry to deliver the Sword of Gryffindor? Phineus' portrait reported that they were looking for the sword and that they were in the forest, but it didn't know where in the forest. He could have left the sword miles from where Harry was camped. Did he follow the patronis closer to where they were? Could anyone have done that? (Could the ministry have located Sirius that way?) Why did Snape wait so long to deliver the sword to Harry? Hadn't Dumbledore anticipated the need? Why did Dumbledore's portrait say 'it must be taken under conditions of need and valor'? Is that why Snape placed in the pool under the ice? Was it a deliberate challenge? Would the conditions have been met if Harry used warming and bubblehead charms (as Fleur and Cedric did on the second task). Harry didn't use the sword. Harry gave the sword to Ron to destroy the locket and he gave it to Neville to destroy the snake. Why couldn't Snape have given the sword to Harry or (since Snape was untrusted) left it where it could easily be retrieved by Harry?
The Taboo on the name "Voldemort" isn't mentioned before DH. If it existed during the first war, it would explain why everyone is afraid to say or hear his name. However, if that was the case shouldn't Dumbledore should have mentioned it to Harry when he encouraged Harry to always say the name as "fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself"? Dumbledore expected Voldemort to return and should have expected the taboo to be re-established. Harry should have been warned. If it did not exist before, the reluctance of anyone to say or hear Voldemort's name prior to the taboo remains unexplained. It appears the taboo was introduced in DH as a plot device to get the trio captured. It may also have been intended to explain the fear of the name throughout earlier books, but if so it is inconsistent with Dumbledore teaching Harry to use Voldemort's name and the fact the Ministry didn't fall in the first war (which begs the question why it fell so quickly in the second war). If the ministry had this capability, why didn't it set a taboo on the three unforgivable curses?
Why was Ron insistent on not using Voldemort's name before he knows about the taboo? He put up with Harry using Voldemort's name for years. Why does he suddenly insist on using euphemisms? Why does Harry agree? After he abandons Harry he finds out about the taboo and he tells Harry and Hermione about it when he returns, but why did he insist on euphemisms before that?
Harry wins the Elder Wand by defeating Draco. Leave aside the logic of Draco winning the wand even though he didn't actually take it after disarming Dumbledore. Leave aside the logic of Harry winning the wand by defeating Draco even though Draco didn't have the wand. How likely is it that Draco hadn't annoyed any of the other death eaters between the time he disarmed Dumbledore and Harry disarmed him? How likely is it that some Death Eater hadn't defeated Draco in the meanwhile?
Dobby's ability to transport people with him when he "pops" is introduced to get the trio and others out of an impossible situation. Why wasn't a house elf used to transport Harry out of Privet Drive at the start of the book instead of the silly use of polyjuice? There are also many instances in earlier books when this ability of house elves could and should have been used (transporting injured students to the hospital wing). People could call their elves to transport themselves places, especially children who are too young to apparate and may not be trusted to use the Floo without misspeaking the destination (as Harry did his first time).
Ron imitates Harry's command to open the chamber. How? It was established (in CoS) that Parselmouth is an inherited magical ability that can not be learned. How then could Ron open the chamber by imitating Harry's Parseltongue command? Are the sounds (or vibrations) a snake makes even within the range of what a human can either hear or produce? When Ron demonstrated his 'Open' command for Harry all Harry heard was hisses. Ron suggests he made several attempts and got lucky, but maybe he didn't need to actually speak Parseltounge. If Parseltounge can't be taught, maybe the door couldn't be enchanted to require it. Maybe the door was enchanted to respond to the human audible portion of the Parseltounge command. However, there's a big difference between imitating someone else speaking either your own language or even a similar foreign language and credibly imitating a meaningless noise you've only heard twice, once recently and once five years previous. A human learns to hear and produce a limited sounds at a young age. Its increasingly difficult to learn to understand or speak another language that uses different sounds after that. So could Ron realistically imitate Harry's Parseltongue 'open' command? Not totally impossible, but I think its a long stretch.
Harry's scar is a horcrux. There are many problems with this. First, a horcrux is serious magic and we are asked to believe one could be created by accident? If Voldemort had been in the middle of creating a Horcrux when his killing curse backfired this would be more believable, but we know from Harry's memory that he wasn't. Without a better explanation, its stretch and definitely says something about the instability of Voldemort's soul and that raises questions about why there aren't any other consequences. Second, Lily's protection caused Voldemort possessed Quirinus Quirrell to be burned by Harry's touch (in PS). So, how could a horcrux attach itself to Harry or once attached survive extended contact with him? Third, how could Harry survive extended contact with a Horcrux? Horcruxes have an effect on their bearers. The Diary possessed Ginny (in CoS). The amulet had a strong influence on each of the trio (in DH). Neither Ginny nor the members of the trio were in constant contact with those horcruxes. What chance would a fifteen month old child (with limited magic and reasoning ability) have against a Horcrux imbedded in his head? Fourth, wouldn't either the Basilisk venom or phoenix tears have destroyed it (in CoS)?
Having been produced accidentally, perhaps the soul fragment in Harry's scar isn't a proper Horcrux. Perhaps it can't harm or possess Harry and therefore doesn't trigger Lily's protection. If that's the case, would it serve to keep Voldemort alive or would it be pulled away with him if he died (without a proper Horcrux anchoring him)? It would be interesting if Dumbledore's theory of Harry needing to die to get rid of it was bogus.
Harry sacrifices himself to Voldemort's Killing Curse and the horcrux accidentally created in his scar is destroyed. This is according to Dumbledore's plan and Dumbledore has delayed his journey to his next adventure to talk with Harry afterwards. By what magic has Dumbledore anticipated the success of the incredibly unlikely chain of events leading to this outcome? Was Dumbledore a closet seer? If so, why would he think of discontinuing the Divination course or tolerate a poor curriculum or teaching of the course?
Voldemort serves as an anchor for Harry, because he used Harry's blood to create his new body. It is much easier to believe the Killing Curse killed the accidental Horcrux that was in Harry and left Harry alive. Having Harry's blood in Voldemort's new body act as an anchor begs the question why Voldemort couldn't have used blood to create his anchors instead of splitting his soul to make Horcruxes. Having the Killing Curse target the Horcrux rather than Harry would explain why Voldemort could cast it at Harry using the Elder Wand in the forest. Otherwise, wouldn't the curse have backfired, the way it did later in the castle? Unless he wasn't using the Elder Wand in the forest, but why wouldn't he? He'd already killed Snape to supposedly become its master. Harry's conversation with Dumbledore at "King's Cross" confirms this when Harry says 'He killed me with your wand' and Dumbledore replies 'He failed to kill you with my wand.'
It is not clear that the prophesy is fulfilled. The prophesy is understandably vague and hard to understand before the fact, but it should be clear after the fact. It isn't. Consider the three lines of the prophesy:
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...
This is reasonably clear in retrospect. Before the fact, one might wonder what calendar it refers to and might think it is more apt to mean 'the one who now has the power' than 'the one who will eventually gain the power'. Taken literally it seems to say he already has the power while he approaches, before he is even born. That is very restrictive. About all a person has before birth is his lineage, potential, and his parents' love. In retrospect, the latter interpretation must be accepted as an imperfect match since Harry certainly did not approach his birth with the ownership of the Elder Wand. However, a fluke of wand ownership is really unsatisfying as a prophesied 'power'.
"and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal,
This is quite clear in retrospect. Before the fact it could have many interpretations, but after the fact its fairly clear that the Dark Lord marked Harry both figuratively (identifying him as a potential equal) and literally (with a scar) and that Harry had the ownership of the Elder Wand that Voldemort thought he owned (even though Harry explained that he didn't). Its rather unsatisfying that the supposed equality of Harry and Voldemort was only important as a reason for Harry to be marked and that despite indications in earlier books it didn't play a part in the conflict after GoF. On the contrary, in the final three books, Voldemort increasingly demonstrated his superiority. Nevertheless, this is the line of the prophesy that, in retrospect, best matches events.
"either must die by the hand of the other
This seems clearer before hand than in retrospect. The first half of this phrase seems clear. Either Harry or the Dark Lord must die by the hand of the other. For the second half of the phrase to have meaning the words "live" and "survive" must have different meanings, such as "live = thrive" vs "survive = is not dead". Taking the two haves of the phrase together, it appears to say that one of them is going to kill the other, because as long as they are both alive neither will be able to live as they wish (thrive). This may be self-fulfilling in that Voldemort was going to try to get rid of Harry as a threat and embarrassment and if that weren't the case it appears Dumbledore would push Harry into the way of anything Voldemort tried to accomplish.
The problem is that in retrospect it never happens. Neither dies by the hand of the other. Harry is only freed to live as he wishes (to thrive) when Voldemort is finally killed by his own backfired curse. Voldemort did not die by Harry's hand, so this line of the prophesy is not fulfilled.
There are several confrontations between Harry and Voldemort when one appears to die:
• Voldemort sort of dies on Halloween 1981, but Harry doesn't thrive as a result.
It could be said that Harry's temporary death in the forest satisfies this line of the prophesy because his death was necessary before he could live as he wishes (thrive), since got rid of the accidental Horcrux which allowed Voldemort to die. There are three problems with this.
The other problem with this line is that there's no symmetrical explanation for one of them needing to die "by the hand of the other". It might have been because no one else was their equal, but it turned out they weren't actually equal. It might have been that Harry had to die by Voldemort's killing curse to get rid of the soul fragment, but that doesn't provide a symmetrical reason for Voldemort needing to die by Harry's hand.
It bears repeating: a fluke of wand ownership is really unsatisfying as a prophesied 'power'.
I'm not sure its possible to satisfy the terms of the prophesy's first phrase that he has the power while approaching his birth. The ability to love would fit, but I don't know how that would allow him to defeat the Dark Lord. Even the protection granted by his mother's sacrifice is a bit of a stretch, because although his mother's love existed before birth the protection itself was bestowed later.
Something to do with his lineage would fit. For instance, it could be that his ownership of the wand was reinforced by being a descendent of Ignotus Peverell (having inherited the Invisibility Cloak). However, there was no suggestion of this. Alternately, Harry drew the sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat in CoS, but the books don't provide any followup on that or any other indication there was anything special about Harry's lineage. There's no indication Harry is respected for his lineage, people only want to shake his hand because he's the boy-who-lived.
I suppose the power could be luck. That might be something a person could be born with. It would fit with his mother accidentally invoking old magic with her sacrifice, his success with the Basilisk, and many other lucky escapes including the accidental fluke of wand ownership. Is luck a power the Dark Lord knows not? Is Tom unlucky? There's no suggestion in the books either that Harry's power is luck or that luck is a power the Dark Lord knows not. (Luck as an inherited trait is discussed in the science fiction book Ring World by Larry Niven, part of his Known Space universe.)
Although having the power be something Harry had while approaching his birth may be difficult, it should be possible to better satisfy the third line in a way that both satisfies its meaning and is open to a symmetrical explanation had Voldemort won. Some dues ex machina may be necessary, but it would have been nice if it better fit the prophesy and if there was some background laid for it in the first six books. Fanfiction has provided many less arbitrary alternatives some that try to adhere to the prophesy, some not.
What happened to the power of love? In OoP, Dumbledore told Harry he thought the power was his ability to love. What happened to that? What happened to the locked room in the Department of Mysteries where the greatest power in the universe is studied?
There is a pleasing symmetry to having Voldemort being killed by a backfired killing curse the same as happened on Halloween 1981. However, Voldemort killing himself due to a fluke of wand ownership does not match up with either the terms of the prophesy or the expectations raised by Dumbledore's comments about the power of love. There's not even any discussion by the characters about Dumbledore being wrong about the power of love. It's pure, out of the blue, dues ex machina. What a let down!
The details of the magical world and story plots do not appear to have been planned in advance. New elements are introduced in later books that should or could undo the plot of earlier books. Elements that are used for specific limited purpose have wider implications that should significantly affect the story, but are ignored. Elements are used, but not fully defined leaving logical gaps where they likely should have had applications.
The marauders map is introduced fairly early in PoA. The marauders created it while they were at Hogwarts. The twins found it sometime in their first year. It serves to allow Harry to visit Hogsmeade and for Remus Lupin to spot the confrontation with Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew at the end of the year. However, the map should have had a bigger impact. First, Pettigrew should have been spotted earlier, but more importantly the magic of the map should have shown up elsewhere.
The twins found the map sometime in their first year, so they had the map for more than a full year before Harry came to Hogwarts and two years while Harry and Ron were there. Why didn't they notice Pettigrew before Harry started Hogwarts? Surely they'd check out Percy's location on the map from time to time and notice Pettigrew? Perhaps Percy didn't bring Scabbers to Hogwarts (after all, only toads, cats, and owls are mentioned in the acceptance letter). However, it doesn't explain why they wouldn't notice Pettigrew when they checked up on Ron who did bring Scabbers to Hogwarts. Nor does it explain why Harry never noticed Ron was frequently accompanied by Pettigrew. Finally, once Remus got the map, he should have been using it to check Harry's location for threats and as Harry is often with Ron and Scabbers, Remus should have seen Pettigrew on the map.
One way or another, Pettigrew should have been spotted on the map long before the end of third year unless there is some additional factor not mentioned in the books. Perhaps Pettigrew learned the twins had the map before they learned to use it and did something to hide his name. If so, why didn't he just steal it and why could Remus see him on the map when others couldn't? Maybe Pettigrew didn't need to do anything; maybe the map didn't originally show animagi and Remus had to activate an added feature to search for Padfoot? However, there was no mention of Harry or the twins having problems or worry about avoiding Minerva in her animagus form, but perhaps she didn't patrol in that form or it just didn't come up. In any case, Remus had the map long enough he should have spotted Pettigrew before he actually did.
The same issue may exist for the twin's failure to notice Tom's presence with Quirrell (though perhaps Tom's presence wasn't recorded by the map) and does exist for Harry's failure to notice Barty Crouch Jr presence and/or Alister Moody's absense from where Moody is supposed to be or Moody's constant presense in his quarters when he should be elsewhere.
The bigger problem is that the magic of the map should have shown up elsewhere in the story. If the map was based on magic unique to Hogwarts, such as an identification feature of the wards, then Dumbledore should have had access to it. He should have been looking for would be thieves in PS and noticed Tom (if Tom's presence registered). He may not have been looking for Pettigrew, but he should have been watching for Sirius Black (in PoA) and Barty Crouch Jr. should not have been able to successfully impersonate Moody (in GoF). If the map is not based on magic unique to Hogwarts, the marauders should have suggested making maps for other areas to aid the Order of the Phoenix in the war on Voldemort. Maps should have been developed for places likely to be attacked by Death Eaters. This would allow them to identify the Death Eaters present when an attack occurs and then they could watch for any assembly of Death Eaters. This should have included a map of Hogwarts, which would have given Dumbledore the ability to undo the plots of various books.
This is a plot hole, a magical device introduced to fill a specific purpose without considering wider applications of the magic.
The detection of underage magic is unclear. In HBP17, Harry asks why the ministry didn't know Tom Riddle had used spells on Morfin. Dumbledore replies that the ministry only knows where magic has been used, not by whom. That explains why Harry received a warning when Dobby used magic at Privet Drive and why Tom's use of magic at the Gaunt cottage didn't raise an alarm, but doesn't explain why Tom's use of magic at the Riddle mansion (a muggle area) didn't raise alarms. Why can Wizards and Witches ever use magic outside a magical area without raising an alarm? Why didn't Harry and Hermione get notices when adult wizards and witches came to their homes and used magic? Maybe they can detect what wands are present but not what was wand was used or by whom and a notice is only sent if magic is used where the only wand present is that of an underage wizard. That would allow children to use magic whenever a magical adult is nearby, but not when they are alone at home unless they are known to have house elves or there is a collection of old family wands. Could Harry have safely used magic at Privet Drive while there was an adult guard outside?
How could this be in any way secret from students? Some Hogwarts students from magical families would know and would speak about using magic at home during the summer. Therefore (since there are no secrets at Hogwarts), all students would know it could be done. Mrs. Weasley might enforce the rule, but Ron should have complained about it being unnecessary. The twins definitely would use their wands when she was not present. They might not do so around Ron or Ginny to avoid giving them blackmail material, so its reasonable we don't read about it in the books. However, its likely Ron would speculate about it. How else would the twins have made their order forms? Without magic they'd have had to hand write each form.
The Age Line used in GoF would have been an ideal protection to keep students away from the third floor corridor in PS. If they were possible, timed age lines could be used to keep students from leaving their common rooms after curfew. A bed check would then be all that was required to do away with the after hour patrols. For that matter, simply having the portraits report when a student enters or leaves after hours would deter after hours roaming.
The disloyalty of certain Death Eaters is problematic. With truth serums, wizards oaths, legilimency, and the dark mark, there should be no possibility of a Death Eater betraying Voldemort (at least, not for long). This problem is due to the exaggerated cliché nature of these elements. Voldemort is power hungry and (for all his huff and puff) insecure. Before Voldemort makes anyone a Death Eater, he's going to probe the person's mind. Then the ceremony probably includes a wizard's oath pledging "service" or "loyalty", if not blind "obedience". Then there's the dark mark itself, which we know is powerful magic. It can be used to call DEs and is impossible to remove. What's the chance it doesn't have a compulsion to ensure loyalty or obedience? How then can Snape be an undetected spy for Dumbledore? What means could Dumbledore use to determine Snape's true affiliation that Voldemort could not use to discover his disloyalty?
Snape's behaviour is contrary to his mission. Snape is supposed to be spying on Dumbledore for Voldemort. His excuse for not appearing in the graveyard (in GoF) was that he had to maintain his cover as he had since 1981. However, his behaviour at Hogwarts is exactly opposite what it should be to maintain that cover. He should give the appearance of being reformed. He should visibly support Dumbledore's vision. He should behave in a way to earn the confidence of Dumbledore's supporters. Away from Hogwarts in the company of Voldemort's supporters or potential supporters, he may espouse quite different views bemoan the need to act the way he does to maintain his cover. At Hogwarts, he might underhandedly undercut his visible support for Dumbledore, but not openly, not in a way Dumbledore would notice. If he's actually a double agent (really working for Dumbledore) he should then ensure that undercutting is ineffective. Openly playing favourites and allowing the pureblood students' bigotry to flourish unpunished does not maintain his cover as a reformed Death Eater. It should have him ejected from Hogwarts, ruining his ability to spy for Voldemort or his supporters. That it doesn't should have people wondering why it doesn't.
Dumbledore believes Snape is truly remorseful and trust him, but no reason is ever given for that. Even the later books that attempt to redeem Snape don't explain why Dumbledore believes Snape is reformed. They explain Snape claims he was motivated by his regret Voldemort was targetting Lily, but they don't explain why Dumbledore believed that. Hopefully, regret about one person (Lily) isn't enough to earn Dumbledore's blanket forgiveness and trust. Hopefully, Dumbledore believes the consequences to Lily opened Snape's eyes to the full consequences of his and Voldemort's action. (Snape only asking Dumbledore to save Lily weighs against that.) If Dumbledore is relying on only Legimency, he's a fool. If Snape is a good guy, he has to be a good enough Occlumencer to fool Voldemort, so Dumbledore should assume Snape could also fool him (and still be a bad guy). If Snape hasn't given Dumbledore an oath, one could wonder if Snape has potioned Dumbledore to gain his trust.
Clearly, JKR attempted to be ambiguous and keep readers guessing until the end when she finally disclosed that Snape was really a good guy. She balances his exaggerated cliché bad guy character against Dumbledore's trust. However, the supposition that he has to act bad at Hogwarts to have DEs believe he is on their side doesn't make sense. He is supposed to be a spy. Overtly he should appear to be worthy of Dumbledore's trust. His open bias in favour of the pureblood agenda is contrary to this. His actions and lack of clear benefit from his spying do support him being a DE agent who has hoodwinked Dumbledore and maintains his position under Dumbledore's protection.
The requirements to cast the Cruciatus Curse are unclear. In the OoP, Bella told Harry that to successfully cast the Cruciatus curse he needed to really want to cause a person pain, to enjoy causing a person pain and that Harry could never successfully cast it because he was too good a person and righteous anger was insufficient. Apparently one had to be 'dark' to successfully cast it. However, in GoF, Barty Crouch Jr., posing as Mad-Eye Moody demonstrates all three unforgivable curses using spiders. If casting the curse requires true hate, wouldn't Dumbledore and other faculty (esp., Snape) be suspicious of Mad-Eye's ability to cast it? Also, during the third task, Barty places Victor under the Imperious curse and has Victor use the Cruciatus curse. How could Victor cast it? Could the Imperious curse enable Victor to cast the curse when he didn't have the required dark emotions?
The wizarding justice system appears disjointed.
The description of this aspect of Wizarding society suffers from the presentation of cliché elements (imprisonment without trial, horrid conditions of imprisonment, last minute rescheduling of trials, heavy handed prosecution, lack of informed representation for the defendant, use of bribes to avoid prosecution) without any balance.
How was Sirius committed to Azkaban without trial?
Who was responsible?
We know Death Eaters apprehended after Sirius received trials (Lestranges, Barty Crouch Jr.). The Lestranges got a trial even though they gave clear confessions, so Sirius couldn't have been denied trial based only on his babbling 'its my fault' statements. If Sirius was imprisoned on a temporary incarceration order, why didn't anyone notice when there was no follow-up? Sirius not only said that he was not brought to trial himself, but that had no visitors. That mans means he couldn't have provided information to anyone who might have acted at trial on his behalf. Why wasn't he tried?
We know Karkaroff was released in exchange for identifying other Death Eaters. Why wasn't Sirius questioned?
Why didn't Dumbledore ensure a trial? Was he Chief Warlock in 1981? Was he too busy? Did he assume Sirius was guilty and prefer he be imprisoned than Kissed? Was he worried that information about the Order of the Phoenix would be exposed? Was he worried Sirius would interfere with Harry living with the Dursleys?
Was Sirius' incarceration without trial deliberate? Perhaps the discovery that Barty Crouch Jr. was a Death Eater caused Barty Crouch Sr. to loose his job before he could prepare the paperwork for a trial and his replacement assumed the trial had already been held.
Azkaban and Dementors are not well explained and the information given is contradictory.
First, imprisoning a convict to Azkaban appears to be equivalent to imposing mental torture and eventual insanity. It is said that Sirius only retained his sanity by transforming into his animagus form. However, Voldemort freed several equally long term non-animagus prisoners who were functional after their release.
Second, Remus tells Harry that dementors can only be controlled with the Patronis charm, which only chases them away, and that is all Dumbledore is seen to use to control them. Curiously, Umbridge also has a Patronis controlling the Dementors in the courtroom in DH15. However, in most cases they seem to be under some other form of control: they guard Azkaban, they are sent to search the Hogwarts train, they are stationed to guard Hogwarts, they accompany the Minister into Hogwarts, and Umbritch sends them to attack Harry in Surrey. Sirius told Harry that Dementors brought Barty Crouch Jr. to his cell and that Dementors buried 'him' (actually his polyjuiced mother). Either it is possible to exercise far greater control than is provided by the Patronis charm or they generally willing cooperate to perform their tasks - except when they don't, such as trying to kiss Harry on the train and swarming the Quidditch pitch. Dumbledore's warning to students at the opening feast also suggested they were under less than perfect control (whether imposed or self-control).
Are they intelligent and obey orders? Why? Why would a race that can't be killed and can only repelled (not controlled) by a spell few wizards can cast agree to obey orders and limit their feeding and breeding? What could either the Ministry or Voldemort offer them that they couldn't take on their own?
Another issue relating to Azkaban is whether its wards block house elf magic, specifically their ability to "pop" from place to place. House elves can "pop" from place to place within and to and from Hogwarts which is supposedly one of if not the best warded location in Britain. Are they then able to "pop" in and out of Azkaban? What's to stop prisoners calling their elves for assistance? Lets assume only Hogwarts house elves and the personal elves of Hogwarts faculty and governors (to include Dobby) can "pop" within the school and that only Azkaban house elves (if there are any) can do so within the prison.
House elves and their magic are poorly defined and inconsistently presented.
From their name and their duties at Hogwarts, one expects them to perform household chores of maids, kitchen workers, and possibly grounds staff. However, in CoS Dobby accompanies Malfoy to Hogwarts; what services would he perform in that capacity? Why are there no other references to wizards being accompanied by their house elves?
In CoS, Dobby is able to pop into and out of both the Dursleys' home and Hogwarts, despite the wards on those places. In DH, Dobby is able to pop into and out of the well warded Malfoy mansion. Had Malfoy failed to remove Dobby's clearance? Can house elves just go anywhere? Are we to assume no wizard ever thought of sending a house elf into a foe's home or calling them for help when imprisoned? Can house elves pop into Azkaban?
It is only revealed in DH that Dobby can take people with him when he "pops", why isn't that ability used in earlier books? Why weren't elves enlisted to help Harry leave Privet drive instead of flying away on brooms?
The ability of house elves to take people with them when they pop means it would be hard to trap someone who has a house-elf. Wards protecting a home would only have to hold long enough to allow evacuation. Anti-apparation and anti-portkey wards would only be effective to trap someone who couldn't call a house elf.
How were house elves enslaved? Why don't house elves (except Dobby) want freedom? Do house elves gain any benefit from their service? How did Hogwarts come to have so many house elves? If Hogwarts has so many, how common are they among magical families?
Why doesn't Harry think to call Dobby to Privet drive (e.g., to get food)? Why doesn't Dobby do so on his own or volunteer? The summer after third year, Harry might worry about Dobby's magic being mistaken for his own, but surely he would check that out and be able to call on Dobby in later summers.
Goblins are similarly ill defined.
Their main activity appears to be running the bank where Wizards deposit their money in vaults. In GoF, Ludo Bagman owes them money so they must offer loans. What funds do they loan? Money stored in vaults can't be loaned out. Do they offer investment services in addition to vaults? Since the Goblins can't loan money from vaults, do they charge a rental fee for vaults? Why would the Weasley's rent a vault for only a few coins? Perhaps it comes with Arthur's job or is required so his pay can be deposited there?
We know that the Goblins once made powerful magical objects, such as Gryffindor's sword. Do they still?
Given the emphasis placed on Goblin revolts in the History of Magic class, why are Goblins trusted with wizarding banking? A banking monopoly gives them the ability to control the wizarding economy. Especially if they are a major source of business loans.
Another issue relating to Goblins is the security of Gringotts. In PS, Hagrid says you'd have to be crazy to try and rob Gringotts, but later that day a robber successfully violates Gringotts security and gains access to the vault Hagrid had emptied. In DH, Harry and crew gain access to the Lestrange vault using polyjuice and the assistance of a goblin. So, is Gringotts secure or is it just a myth?
Do goblins only live underground in caves and tunnels under Gringotts? How do they grow food? Do they use space expansion charms? What light do they have underground? If its just torches and lamp light, how do they stand the bright daylight within Gringotts? Do they every venture outside their caves, tunnels, and Gringotts? Are there Goblins in other countries? If so, what relationships exist between goblins in different countries? How does the population of goblins compare to the human population (magical & non-magical)?
Finally, considering that Binns spends all his time lecturing about Goblin revolutions, why do Goblins control the only bank used by Wizards? That would seem to give them a tremendous ability to influence and potentially harm the Wizarding economy.
Dwarves are a complete mystery. They appear in CoS to deliver valentines, but nowhere else. They are not part of the statue in the Ministry. Why not? If they are available for something as trivial as delivering valentines, why don't we see more of them?
Why do centaurs live in a forest? Horses live on plains where they can run freely. One would expect centaurs to prefer the same and living in a forest is not ideal for viewing the night sky. How are they affected by the presence of the acromantula colony?
What protected Harry from the Killing Curse? Harry was the first person known to have survived the Killing Curse. Dumbledore says it was accidentally created due to his mother's sacrifice, but surely she's not the first person to sacrifice him/herself for another who was then attacked anyway. True Voldemort offered her a choice, but would she be the first person to have stood in front of a loved one and been told to get out of the way? Even if she was, what about people throwing themselves in the path of a Killing Curse to protect a loved one? Surely that has happened and represents the same choice.
Rather than being created accidentally, mightn't it have been something James and Lily deliberately setup to protect Harry? Perhaps some charm or ward that lay dormant until empowered by their deaths?
Dumbledore's death at Snape's killing curse negates this, but until then it was possible Dumbledore was the Dark Lord of prophesy and Harry was protected from Voldemort because 'either must die at the hand of the other' meant that neither (Harry nor Dumbledore) could be killed by anyone else until that happened. Dumbledore marked Harry when he decided Harry must be the one mentioned in the prophesy. It can be argued that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were friends with a shared vision and it was only Grindelwald's methods Dumbledore disagreed with. Dumbledore has been in a position of power since Grindelwald's defeat, yet has been inexplicably ineffective in countering prejudice. Placing Harry with magic hating relatives and not checking on him, using the Philosopher's Stone to lure Voldemort's wraith into Hogwarts, forcing Harry to participate in the tournament to flush out whoever entered his name, these are not the acts of a good, wise leader of the Light.
Harry's protection (whatever its origin) sounds nice, but what protection is actually provided? Apparently, 4 Privet Drive and Harry personally are protected, but to what extent?.
Harry is not restricted from venturing outside, visiting the park or attending school prior to attending Hogwarts. It is true that 4 Privet Drive is not attacked while the wards are in place and he wasn't swamped by well wishing witches and wizards or their owls, however, Dobby, Ron and the twins, and Sirius were all able to locate him there without Dumbledore's approval and Umbridge was able to send Dementors to his neighbourhood. Mr. Weasley was able to remotely connect the house to the Floo network and use it to access the house, but Dumbledore knew about that.
Harry was protected from Voldemort's Killing Curse on Halloween 1981. Quirinus Quirrell (while possessed by Voldemort) is burnt by Harry's touch, however, just prior to that physical confrontation, Quirrell was able to bind Harry. Harry's protection didn't react when he wrote in the diary or viewed its memories, but perhaps the diary wasn't trying to possess him then. Not quite solid Tom Riddle was able to cast spells on Harry in the CoS, but Harry dodged so we don't know what would have happened if they hit and Harry didn't try to touch him. Harry was not protected from the effects of Dementors in PoA or OoP. At the start of GoF, Barty Crouch Jr. (a marked Death Eater actively working for Voldemort) cast an imperious curse on Harry and Harry's ability to throw it off appeared to be due only to a strong mind; there was no indication it was due to his mother's protection. However, Barty may not have had any intention to harm Harry with the curse. Wormtail (a marked Death Eater actively working for Voldemort with immediate hostile intent) was able to successfully stun him and assault him with a knife in the graveyard in GoF before Voldemort's return. However, Wormtail was not trying to kill Harry.
After Harry's blood was used to create Voldemort's new body in GoF, Voldemort was able to touch Harry without being burned. Why did Harry still have to return to the Dursleys' to renew the wards? Hadn't Voldemort touching and casting spells on Harry demonstrated that the protection had failed? Apparently there was something left since DEs attacked Privet Drive as soon as turned 17 and the wards fell, but what? Was that his his mother's blood protection or something added by Dumbledore? If their only benefit after GoF was to keep Privet Drive safe, couldn't Harry have been spared the Dursleys' torment by having him relocate to Grimauld Place sooner?
If we accept that his mother's protection is only activated by lethal threats (Killing curse in 1981 and Quirrell in 1992), then did Voldemort neutralize it by using Harry's blood in GoF? After Voldemort was reembodied in GoF, Voldemort cast the torture curse on Harry and forced him to bow, but his Killing curse never reached Harry due, we were told, to the prior-incantum effect of their wands. Voldemort didn't land any Killing Curses on Harry in OoP and in DH both Killing Curses failed. Could his mother's protection have still been active? After all, the Death Eaters couldn't attack him at Privet Drive until they fell on his seventeenth birthday. If the protections had been neutralized by Voldemort's use of Harry's blood, shouldn't he have been able to attack him at Privet Drive before his seventeenth birthday?
Finally, if Harry's touch burned Quirinus Quirrell because he was possessed by Voldemort, how could one of Voldemort's Horcruxes survive while lodged in Harry's forehead? For such an important plot element, this is really not presented very well.
The operation of the Fidelius Charm is unclear. To start with, the use of the Fidelius Charm to hide #12 Grimauld Place in OoP and other locations in DH seems at odds with the description in PoA (chapter 10) where Professor Flitwick says "As long as the Secret-Keeper refused to speak, You-Know-Who could search the village where Lily and James were staying for years and never find them, not even if he had his nose pressed against their sitting room window!" In OoP, the house itself is hidden. Are there two different ways of using the charm one to hide people and another to hide a building? Did Lily and James have to stay in their home to be hidden or were their identities hidden wherever they they went? Did JKR forget what she'd written in PoA when she wrote OoP?
In DH24, we learn that Bill is secret keeper for Shell Cottage and Arthur is secret keeper for Muriel's. Why wasn't James or Lily secret keeper for their home? Then the only way Voldemort could have found them is if they wrote the secret down and the note was lost.
When Sirius says they changed secret keeper, does he mean he was the secret keeper at first and they later transferred the secret to Peter or that they changed the plan at the last minute and made Peter the secret keeper instead of Sirius? Who cast the charm?
Why was it assumed Sirius betrayed the Potters? In OoP, Moody showed Harry a piece of parchment on which Dumbledore had written the address. So even though they believed Sirius was the secret keeper, that didn't mean he was the only person who could have betrayed the secret to Voldemort. Someone else who obtained a written copy of the secret could have done so. If the practice was to show someone the secret then burn the parchment, a spy could use a switching spell to swap parchments just as the secret was about to be burnt.
In OoP, Harry had to read and concentrate on the secret before he could see the house at 12 Grimmauld Place. Was this concentration only needed to learn the secret or each time someone went to the house? How was the secret given to baby Harry? More generally, how would you communicate the secret to a baby who can't speak, a small child who doesn't understand what an address is, or an adult who didn't understand the language used for the secret?
Specifically, how could baby Harry live within a secret location? Was he able to be there only because he was there before the charm was cast? If the Potters took him away from their Fidelius Charm protected home, could they have taken him back in? Would they have needed their secret keeper, Peter, to bring him back in? Perhaps people who are present when the charm is cast granted knowledge of the secret by being there, even if they are too young to read or to understand or remember it if told.
Can the secret keeper give you the secret by bringing you to the secret location (without you hearing or reading the words of the secret)? Perhaps baby Harry was given the secret by Peter having brought him into the house? In DH, Hermione accidentally brought Yaxley with them when she apparated to Grimauld place with Harry and he thereby learned the secret without actually being told the words of the secret. Would that have worked before the original secret keeper, Dumbledore, was killed? If Rita had used her animagus Beetle form to hide in Dumbledore's pocket while he visited Grimauld Place, would she have learned the secret?
Is it possible for someone other than the secret keeper to bring someone who doesn't know the secret to the secret location? Leading them (perhaps blindfolded) by hand? Using side-along apperation or a port-key? How about if the person were in their animagus form? How about if the person is unconscious or has been transfigured into a non-human or inanimate form? Presumably not, given the charm's reputation as almost perfect security, but what happens when someone tries?
If you need to concentrate on the secret to find the protected location, can someone who knows the secret but is unconscious be brought into the protected location?
How do you Floo to a secret location? Does the charm allow you to say the location to Floo, but not allow it to be overheard or told to someone else? If someone were told or overheard the address could they Floo to the secret location? Presumably not.
How do owls deliver to a location protected by the Fidelius Charm? For that matter, how do owls deliver to locations that are non-plottable?
Why don't all wizarding homes have a "safe room" protected by the Fidelius Charm?
Could there be a secret room inside a secret house with different secret keepers? Could a multiple compartment trunk have an expanded compartment protected by the Fidelius Charm (i.e., a three compartment trunk appears to have two compartments to anyone who doesn't know the secret)? Could such a trunk be brought into a house that is protected by the charm?
Could a secret keeper take an unbreakable vow not to reveal the secret without permission?
Dumbledore both cast the Fidelius Charm on 12 Grimauld Place and was the secret keeper. Would there have been different consequences if he hadn't been both?
Why was Harry isolated at Privet Drive? Although owls might have been intercepted or tracked, the house was guarded by members of the Order of the Phoenix who could have either hand delivered messages either to Harry or deposited them in the mail slot (with charms to ensure they reached Harry). Alternately, house elves could have delivered messages (or better, messages and food).
How powerful is Harry? At the end of third year, Harry casts a patronis that chases away a huge number of dementors. At the end of fourth year, after being injured in the maze, bled by Pettigrew, and tortured with the pain curse, Harry matches the recently re-embodied Voldemort in a pure test of power. At the end of sixth year, Harry apparates from the cave on south coast of England to Hogsmeade in Scotland bringing Dumbledore side-along. However, these are isolated incidents and at least the first two can be said to have occurred under extenuating circumstances and the third may merely require an above average wizard. In third year, he was filled with the confidence of knowing he had already succeeded and the Hogwarts wards may have weakened the Dementors. Also, Harry's success in teaching the patronis charm to other students in fifth year may suggest that it is a spell that it isn't as difficult as reputed or is easier to learn when young (but no one tried before). In fourth year, Voldemort had just been re-embodied and may not have been at full strength. Nevertheless, why isn't Harry's power more evident throughout the stories? Is it a form of hysterical strength, only accessible under extreme duress? Is it significant that Harry's demonstrations of power are at the end of the school year? Does recharging the wards at the Dursleys' drain Harry such that it takes most of the year to recover? How powerful is Harry?
A related question is why isn't Harry more advanced. He is supposed to be Voldemort's equal. However, Voldemort was consciously using magic to torment his fellow orphans before he entered Hogwarts and when in his sixth year he enchanted the diary. Severus was improving on the instructions in the sixth year's potions text and inventing spells. The Marauders became animagi and developed their map. Both the Marauders and the twins were inventing pranks. Harry has certainly had distractions, but doesn't seem to have made the same achievements.
How much money does Harry have? When Hagrid take Harry to his Gringott’s vault (in PS), “Harry gasped. Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts.” The next summer when the Weasleys were discussing the cost of school supplies, Harry reflected on the “small fortune” in his vault and “he didn’t think that [the Dursley’s] horror of anything connected to magic would stretch to a large pile of gold.”
The movie (PS) showed a walk in vault and containing a pile of gold. The pile gold we saw was by my count 12 coins wide and about 80 coins high at the peak. It seemed to have about the same hight and width, about one foot (304.8mm). It wasn’t clear if what was shown was the peak of a much larger pile of gold or if it showed most of the pile that was sitting on a table. In contrast, the book (PS) says “the cart stopped at last beside a small door in the passage wall.” This suggests the vault might be just a cubby-hole, perhaps no more than a cubic meter in size. The next summer (in CoS), “Mrs. Weasley felt right into the corners” of her vault suggesting a smaller vault whose corners are within arms reach.
If the movie is correct and Harry has a walk-in vault, then it would require a lot more coins to look impressive than if the vaults are much smaller as may be suggested by the book.
Assuming the movie got the size of the Galleon coin correct and didn't show more gold than Harry has, then if my counts and estimate of the size of the pile of gold are correct, the Galleon would be 25.4mm (1”) in diameter and 3.81mm thick. This is quite a thick coin compared to similar diameter muggle coins:
UK50p = 27.3mm diameter, 1.78mm thick
Estimating that the pile we saw was a cylinder one foot (304.8mm) in diameter and six inches high topped by a cone with the same diameter and height (14,826,653.6808mm3) and that it contains half its volume in Galleons, then it would contain about 4000 Galleons worth £20,000 (at £5 per Galleon).
There might have been a lot more gold under what we saw or there may have been more mounds of gold in the vault, so this is a minimum estimate of the gold in Harry’s vault. However, the book referred to “columns of silver Sickles.” Its unlikely a column of coins would be more than a foot high and there’s no reason to think the mound, columns, and heaps were hugely different in hight. A mound of gold coins a foot across would also be appropriate for a vault the same size as the Weasley’s into which Molly could reach the corners.
Is 4000 Galleons a small fortune? Not compared to the Weasleys spending their 700 Galleons prize on a summer vacation, but maybe compared to the twins opening their shop using 1000 Galleons. Of course, Harry had never had money of his own and we don’t know what sense of money he may have learned at the Dursleys (did Vernon discuss business or home expenses where Harry would overhear?).
Of course, this doesn't consider the value of the actual gold content of a Galleon...
The wizarding currency is a mystery.
• What is a galleon worth?
In her March 2001 Comic Relief interview, JKR said a Galleon was worth "about five pounds, though the exchange rate varies". At some points in the books, prices seem to be in line with that valuation, but in other places its value seems to be much higher.
On the train in PS, Harry purchased "some of everything" from the cart for eleven sickles and seven knuts (about three pounds thirty), which seems to be in line with that exchange rate and period prices (there was still penny candy then, right?). Then in PoA, Ron writes to Harry saying their prize of seven hundred galleons was mostly spent on their vacation. With a bit of fudging, seven hundred galleons (thirty-five hundred pounds) isn't unreasonable for a vacation for six assuming cheap travel and lodging (maybe using the tent from GoF).
However, Ollivander makes a living selling wands and the twins set up shop using Harry's Triwizard tournament prize. Barring breakage, it appears buying a wand is normally a once in a life time purchase. (Ron received Charley's old wand, but Charley may have used a hand-me-down until he could buy his own.) Harry paid seven galleons for his wand. There were about forty students in his year at Hogwarts. Seven galleons times forty students is two hundred and eighty galleons (under fifteen hundred pounds) - less than half what the Weasleys spent on a vacation. Even if sales were ten times that, it doesn't seem like much for the gross annual sales of a specialty shop's primary product. Ollivander didn't even push any secondary sales like a wand cleaning kit. Perhaps sales of wands are massively subsidized, but what about the twins setting up shop using Harry's Triwizard prize? Even assuming they do not pay themselves, have free room and board at home, and use transfiguration for renovations and to create display cases and other furniture, one thousand galleons (five thousand pounds) doesn't seem enough for the twins to purchase inventory supplies and pay first and last month's rent on a shop (not to mention that said rent actually included an apartment above the shop).
• Impact on muggleborn vs pureblood issue
The value of the Galleon is not just an academic issue limited to the consistency of prices. If the seven galleons price of a wand and one thousand galleons cost to setup a business are representative of the magical economy, then middle or upper-class muggle parents with a bit of cash to spare would be able to setup their muggleborn children very nicely. Wizards and witches who are comfortable in the muggle world could take a job there to raise capital. This would put pressure on traditional purebloods who do not have that advantage.
• How large is a gold Galleon?
If a Galleon is an actual gold coin (not just gold coloured), then its face value must be greater than the value of the gold it contains. In the 1980s the price of gold varied from £200 to £300 per troy ounce. For a Galleon to have less than £5 of gold in it, it couldn't contain more than one sixtieth of a troy ounce (0.518 grams) of gold. Clearly, the Galleon cannot be pure gold. The less pure, the more it can weigh. About the lowest purity that could still be called a gold coin would be 9 karat (9/24 gold by weight). A 9 karat coin could weigh up to 1.37 grams. So, a gold Galleon containing no more than £5 of gold will be a very small coin.
By comparison, British 1p, 5p, and 20p coins weigh 3.56g, 3.25g, and 5g respectively; American 1 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, and 25 cent coins weigh 2.5g, 5g, 2.368g, and 5.67g respectively; and British Sovereigns weigh just under 8g.
British Sovereigns are 22 karat gold and measure 22mm (.87 inches) in diameter. Using 1980s gold prices, a Sovereign's value as gold would vary from £50 to £75. If a Galleon were the same weight but made of 9 karat gold, its gold content would vary from £20 to £30.
The tri-wizard tournament prize was 1000 Galleons. It was delivered in a small bag that was light enough for Minister Fudge to toss to Harry and for Harry to forget about having in his pocket. If the small bag was enchanted, it could contain any size or weight coins. If it wasn't enchanted, individual Galleons must be small light coins and the "little bronze Knut" (PS) would be a very small coin indeed if it is "little" when compared to a gold Galleon containing less than £5 worth of gold.
Perhaps all the Galleons in circulation were minted long ago when gold wasn't worth as much? In 1300, gold was about £1 per troy ounce. However, £1 in 1300 is equivalent to £500 now. In 1900, gold was about £4.25 which is equivalent to £228 now. So, a £5 gold coin makes no more sense in the past.
• Cheap Gold?
Its possible that Goblins are able to produce gold so abundantly and cheaply that it has much less value in the wizarding world than the muggle world. For example, Hogwarts has gold plates (PS). However, such a price difference would create an opportunity for arbitrage: buy gold in the wizarding world, sell it in the muggle world, convert pounds to galleons, repeat until rich!
• Magic Galleons?
It is possible that galleons are protected against being melted down so they can't be sold for the value of the gold from which they are made. That would allow a galleon made of gold worth £100 in the muggle world to have a face value equivalent to £5.
• Currency Fluctuation?
Given the archaic milieu of wizarding society, it would not be surprising if their currency was on a gold standard. However, without some magic to prevent arbitrage, that would require the exchange rate of the Galleon to the British Pound to fluctuate with the value of gold. Given the substantial changes in the muggle price of gold, that would affect the prices of anything purchased from muggles and the ability of muggle parents to purchase school supplies. It should have been noticeable in the stories.
There are many issues that are not clear.
What about Arcturus Black? According to the(donated to auction January 2006, ), Sirius' parents (Orion, 1929-1979, and Walbura, 1925-1985) were outlived by his grandfather, Arcturus (1901-1991). Kretcher appears to have been Walbura's elf after Orion's death, living alone in 12 Grimmauld Place with her portrait after her death. There is no indication that Arcturus lived there or that Kretcher served Arcturus after Warlbura died. So, where did Arcturus live? Was there a Black Manor? More house-elves? Although the Black Family Tree is partially described in OoP, additional details like Arcturus's date of death aren't strictly canon. Maybe he died earlier.
Does 12 Grimmauld Place seem appropriate as the seat of a "noble and most ancient" house? From its description in OoP, it sounds like a (once) posh row house. Wouldn't a row house in London have muggle neighbours? Is the house an indication that the Blacks didn't always shun muggles?
How could Walburga disown family members? She is the wife or daughter-in-law of the head of house (depending on when Arcturus died or passed on the title to Orion). How does that qualify her to disown anyone? A "noble and most ancient" house sounds rather patriarchal. She apparently could blast them off the tapestry, but could she legally (or magically) disown anyone? Surely that could only be done by the person's father or head of house.
Why does Draco appear on the Black Family tree? In OoP, Harry sees Draco's name on the. Why is his name there? No names are given for the children of any other Black daughters who married outside the family. Is it because he is heir after Sirius? Is it because the relationship between the Blacks and Malfoys is different to the relationship between the Blacks and the other families?
What was the relationship between Charlus Potter and Harry? Theshows Dorea Black (1920-1977) married Charlus Potter and that they had one son. What relation was Charlus Potter to Harry's family? Was Charlus or his son alive? Dumbledore said that the Dursleys were Harry's only relatives, but is that true? Given the intermarriage of pureblood families, most are related if you go back far enough. Might Dumbledore have ignored Harry's Potter relations due to his desire to use Lily's protection?
Could Harry's father, James (1960-1981), have been the son of Charlus and Dorea? JKR has said "James's parents were elderly, were getting on a little when he was born" (, 16 July 2005). Dorea would have been 40 when James was born and 57 when she died in 1977. Forty is fairly old to have a child, but 57 is not elderly. James' parents died no earlier than 1977 (Sirius moved in with them in the summer of 1976 when he was 16 and got his own house the next year when he was 17) and no later than 1981 (preceding James). Muggle women usually enter menopause between ages 42 and 58 (Wikipedia). If witches are the same, she could have been at most 79 (58 plus 21) years old at her death. Is that elderly for a witch? If not, we can presume JKR mispoke and Dorea could be James' mother.
Its interesting speculation, but there are several other points against it. First, Sirius and Harry would be second cousins (via Sirius' mother or third cousins via his father) and Sirius should have told Harry when they were looking at the Black family tree if not before when they met at the end of third year. Instead, when Harry expresses surprise that Sirius is related to the Malfoys (OoP6), Sirius "Molly and I are cousins by marriage and Arthur's something like my second cousin once removed." So, Molly's mother was Ignatius Prewett who married Sirius' aunt Lucretia and Arthur's father must have beenwho married Cedrella Black (Dorea's cousin). Second, Arthur and James would have been second cousins and we'd expect the Weasleys to have mentioned the relationship. Third, its likely Walburga would have blasted Dorea from the family tree for allowing Sirius to live with them when he ran away, just she did to Alphrad Black for leaving money to him. Fourth, the says James' parents died between 1978 and 1981, which rules out Dorea who died in 1977. I haven't figured out why it puts 1978 as the lower bound. Their deaths in 1977 could be the reason Sirius got his own house and James smartened up becoming suitable for Lily. However, I assume there is a reason the lexicon puts 1978 as the lower bound.
For James' mother to be 58 when he was born is really pushing it (if witches are the same as muggles), but she could reasonably have been 48 when he was born ('getting on' for a having a child) and 66-69 when she was died ('elderly' if that's defined as 'over 65'). That would make her 12 years older than Dorea.
If Charlus and Dorea were not James' parents, what relation was Charlus to James and Harry?
What happened to the Potter family home where James grew up? Sirius moved in with James when he was 16. The other marauders visited. The cottage in Godric's Hollow doesn't sound big enough to be that family home. Did James sell it after his parents' deaths? Why? Although canon makes no claim the Potters are a "noble and most ancient house" as the Blacks describe themselves, it is said James came from a long line of pure-bloods. Given that and the generally dated attitudes of the magical world, one would have expected great value to have been placed on a family home.
Did the Potters have a house-elf (or elves) as the Blacks, Crouches, and Malfoys did? Was there anything more to the Potters' estate than the gold in Harry's vault and the invisibility cloak? Were there any magical portraits of any of Harry's ancestors?
What happened to Sirius' own house? Sirius moved in with the Potters in 1976, the summer he was 16. He moved out when he 'got' his own house the next year (the US edition says he 'bought' it with money left to him by his Uncle Alphard). Its quite possible it was sold for back taxes while he was imprisoned. It's also possible it's still his, but he couldn't use it because he was wanted by the Ministry. The books don't say.
Hogwarts' educational experience is extremely narrow, focused exclusively on magic. There are no classes on English literature, languages, social studies, etc. How are students taught society's philosophical values and standards? History of Magic is not portrayed as filling that role. Recreational opportunities appear almost non-existent. The only sport is Quidditch and that is played by perhaps 1 in 10 students. What about other physical activities? What about magical contests? How about two people standing at opposite ends of a room (behind goal lines) using magic to try and fetch a ball or push it across the opposing goal line?
Hogwarts is understaffed. It is a good thing Wizards and Witches are a healthy lot, because many of the staff are overworked and the only known potential substitute among the non-teaching staff is the Headmaster who may not always be available since he is also Chief Warlock (and did not substitute for Remus). One would think that the positions of Headmaster and Chief Warlock would both be full-time jobs, but Dumbledore does both along with being Supreme Mugwump.
The teaching load for elective subjects seems reasonable. It appears students have three hours per week in each class and that for years 3, 4, and 5 there are two classes per year with a single NEWT level class in years 6 and 7. So elective teachers have three hours of class for each of 8 classes each week or 24 hours of teaching, plus class preparation and marking. Not too bad, especially considering the class size of twenty students in Harry's year. Of course, that class size may not be average. A post-war baby boom may have greatly increased class sizes for the following years.
The teaching load for core subjects is not reasonable. Two classes for each of first and second years adds an additional 12 hours of teaching for a total of 36 hours of teaching. That doesn't leave sufficient time for class preparation and marking, let alone after-hours patrols. The only professors mentioned conducting patrols are Minerva and Severus, both of whom teach core subjects.
The four Heads of House have those duties on top of teaching core subjects. The time requirements of the Heads of Houses are not clear. One would assume they would require some amount of time both working with students and administrative work (reviewing student performance, corresponding with parents). This is on top of an already excessive teaching load.
Three of the four Heads of House have additional duties. McGonagall is Deputy. Snape has to maintain potion supplies and brew potions for the Infirmary. Sprout has to maintain the greenhouses. It is no wonder that the books do not show much interaction between students and their Heads of Houses.
Hagrid has two full time jobs. Hagrid is Keeper of Keys and Grounds. In the third book he also becomes the teacher of an elective subject, Care of Magical Creatures. There is no mention of a new Keeper of the Keys and Grounds, so it appears he does both.
The Library appears to be staffed by a single librarian from before breakfast until curfew seven days a week. When does Madam Pince eat? Impossible.
The flying instructor has the only position that appears to be less than full-time. The books only mention a single flying lesson. Although it is clear Harry could have been passed out of the class, it is odd that there is no mention of further classes for students who are not natural flyers such as Hermione or Neville. There must be more than one class, otherwise there would be no reason to forbid first year students their own brooms for the entire year. Aside from those classes for two sections of first year students (up to six hours per week), she referees Quidditch matches and supposedly books the pitch for practices. I say supposedly because Snape overrode the Gryffindor booking without seeming to consult either McGonagall or Hooch. It does not even appear she attends practices.
Snape covered Remus' third year DADA class in PoA, but one must wonder how he could do so with 36 hours of his own potions classes and other duties. Perhaps it is not so surprising Minerva thought to provide Hermione with a time turner in her third year. Many teaching staff must make extensive use of them. Alternately, we can assume the staffing described in the books was simplified for purposes of story telling.
Perhaps instead of three hours of each class per week, its three forty-five minute sessions (or one single and one double session). That would reduce the teaching load for elective subjects from 24 to 18 hours and for core subjects from 36 to 27 hours. That would be more reasonable for teaching core subjects, but still does not allow time for head of house and other duties.
Is Hogwarts the only school of Magic in Britain? There is no mention of other schools in Britain and the significance placed on receiving an acceptance letter from Hogwarts suggests that it is the only magical school. There are two indications not all potential students attend Hogwarts.
In OoP (chapter 28), Harry sees the memory of Snape's DADA OWL with over 100 students. There are only about 40 students in Harry's year. The war with Voldemort would have resulted in some drop in the birth rate, but probably would not account for a more than 60% decrease. That suggests the OWL exams at Hogwarts may taken from home schooled students or students of other schools.
Another indication that not everyone attends Hogwarts is the number of Quidditch teams. Britain has 13 professional Quidditch teams () and once had more. Thirteen teams require several times more players than Hogwarts supplies. Hogwarts has only four Quidditch teams and each team has only 7 starting players and no reserves are mentioned. That's not enough to supply players to Britain's 13 professional teams. The impression from the books is that few house team players are invited to play for professional teams, perhaps one or two each year. However, 13 professional teams with both starting and reserve lineups require a total of 182 players. Scanning the lexicon I only see the length of two players careers, which are Karl Broadmoor (1958-1969) and Darren O'Hare (1947-60). Generously assuming an average career of 20 years, the teams would need, at least, 9 new players a year. The four Hogwarts house teams only have a total of 28 starting players from 6 years. If they were distributed equally by year, 4-5 would graduate each year. Assume double that (because the teams favor older students) and the professional teams would need every graduating player rather than inviting at most one or two players each year. That suggests there are, at least, four times that number of players chosen from other sources unless the average Quidditch career is 80 years. Alternately, British Quidditch teams could import most of their players from abroad.
How large is the magical population? If we assume the normal life expectancy of wizards is 100 to 150 years (based on Dumbledore's age, though the Black Family Tree suggests it may be lower than that), then the population will be 100 to 200 times the number of children of a given age. If we assume everyone attends Hogwarts, the we can extrapolate Harry's class size of 40 students to a population of 4000 to 6000.
Its possible that not all students attend Hogwarts. As noted above, the number of Quidditch teams suggests only a fourth attend Hogwarts. Indeed, the memory Harry saw of Snapes DADA OWL showed over 100 students - probably 100-150 students. Extrapolating that gives a population of 10,000 to 22,5000.
On the other hand, the PS says Christmas dinner had a "hundred fat, roast turkeys" for the relatively few students who stay at the school for Christmas. If that isn't hyperbole it suggests a much larger student body than 40 students per year. If we assume each turkey would feed at least 8 students, a hundred turkeys implies about 800 students remained for the holiday. If only one in ten students stayed for the holiday, that means there are at least 8000 students or more than 1000 students per year. More than twenty-five times Harry's apparent class size and ten times the number of students writing the DADA OWL with Snape. If life expectancy 100 years or more that means there are more than (perhaps many more than) 100,000 witches and wizards in Britain.
Ignorance of the muggle world is a cliché theme that runs through the books. However, we are told that Hogsmeade is the only all magical town. If that's the case most magical folk must live in isolation or in non-magical or mixed communities. If they live in non-magical or mixed communities, they must be somewhat familiar with non-magical society. More so than is suggested in the books which relate magical people being unable to dress muggle style and Mr. Weasley's ineptitude with Muggle technology, despite his position dealing with muggles.
If we add the information from theto the information in canon, we find five Muggle-borns, twelve half-bloods, thirteen pure-bloods, and ten students whose status is difficult to deduce. This suggests that Muggle-borns comprise about 20% of the student body, while pure-bloods and half-bloods are 40% each. (source: HP Lexicon essay " " by Diana Summers).
Given that the war targeted muggleborn and halfblood families, one would expect those percentages are, if anything, lower than normal. Even if only 17 out of 40 witches and wizards (forty-two percent) are muggleborn or halfblood, how can the magical population not be generally conversant with the non-magical world, including its fashions and technology? How would Semus and Severus' mothers have met their muggle husbands if wizards and witches did not mingle with the muggle world?
Why hasn't the language diverged? This is entirely forgivable as there is a long tradition of fictional communities speaking English ranging from Gulliver's Travels to Dr. Who. However, if the magical and non-magical societies had truly been substantially isolated since 1692 (International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy) or before, there should be noticeable differences in their language. Just as US and British English have diverged over that time span using different words for common things like jumper and sweater and spelling like colour and color, there should be noticeable differences between magical and non-magical British English. Yet, except for the word "muggle", unique magical terminology, and unfamiliarity with modern technical terminology, there seems to be no difference. Certainly, the characters make no mention of it.
Why did Tom take so long to make his sixth Horcrux? We know he planned to make 6, so that his soul was split into (magic number) 7 pieces. The diary contained the memories of 16 year-old Tom Riddle. It may have been made into a Horcrux at that time using Myrtle's death. He was seen wearing the ring while he was still in Hogwarts after that, which may have been made into a Horcrux using the deaths of his father and grandparents (1945, age 17). After he left Hogwarts (1946, age 18), he went to work for Borgin and Burkes and while working there stole the cup and amulet from Hepzibah Smith, whom he murdered. It is suspected he learnt the location of the Diadem from the Grey Lady while a student and obtained it after leaving Borgin and Burkes. We do know he most likely placed it in Hogwarts after Dumbledore became Headmaster (1955, age 27) and while the term Death Eaters was still relatively unknown, but he may have made it a Horcrux much earlier. It is believed he didn't turn the snake into a Horcrux until after his return, so why hadn't he made a sixth Horcrux before 1981? He appears to have made the first four (diary, ring, locket, and cup) between the ages 16 and perhaps 25. The fifth (diadem) was probably in place by age 30 and certainly well before the start of his campaign to take over the wizarding world in the early 1970s (age 45). Yet Dumbledore believes Nagini wasn't turned into a Horcrux until after Voldemort's return in 1995. Why would he have started his campaign before he had made all his Horcruxes? Surely his desire to use significant objects didn't overcome the goal of having the magically powerful 7-way split before engaging in a campaign that exposed him to serious risk.
Alternately, why would Dumbledore accept the idea that Tom hadn't made all six Horcruxes before starting the war? He thinks Nagini is a Horcrux because of Harry's vision through its eyes, but why assume Nagini was a newly made sixth Horcrux rather than having been made prior to the first war or having been made recently as a replacement for the diary?
The Ministry's ability to detect magic (underage or otherwise) is scary -- in a '1984' way. Combine wizards oaths, truth serum, legilimency, imprisonment without trial, taboos, and obliviation squads and the wizarding society of Harry Potter begins to sound very unpleasant. That's without the Deluminator which (aside from the function for which it was named) apparently allowed Dumbledore to listen to whatever was being said by or around Harry. To complete the 1984 scenario, give the ministry the equivalent of the marauder's map for major wizarding areas, tie the maps into the magic detectors and add a thirty day recording and playback feature. Of course, with these types of magic it aught to be possible to keep better track of dark wizards.
The heavy use of exaggeration and clichés clearly have not been an impediment and undoubtedly contributed to the success of the early Harry Potter books. Children like exaggerated characters and clichés. However, these elements and the various flaws are problematic as the later books move out of the purely children's book category. Fortunately, they provide wonderful challenges for fanfiction authors trying to provide greater depth to the Harry Potter stories and create many opportunities for divergent or alternate universe story lines in which exaggerated situations bring appropriate responses or are cast in new contexts. They create a tapestry that is so flawed that it begs fanfiction authors to write stories showing the way it should have been.
My greatest disappointment with the HP books is the Deathly Hallows. While I question the cliché of love as the greatest power translating into an effective weapon and wonder what JKR had in mind when she had Dumbledore suggest that in OoP, DH has Voldemort defeated by his own backfired spell due to a fluke of wand ownership. Bah.
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