I started this profile 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. 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 here, 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.
The following rambling 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 undoubtedly 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.
I started reading fanfiction before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published and when I first read it I did so very quickly and missed important information. It was several years before I reread portions of it and really took note that Dumbledore planned for Harry to martyr himself and that it was only after the end of fourth year (when he learned Voldemort used Harry's blood to create his new body) that he had any hope Harry would survive. Most of this essay's reflections on Dumbledore only consider the conflict between the image of Dumbledore as a wise, powerful, kind, grandfatherly old wizard that is shown to Harry and the image of Dumbledore that arises from considering his actions and inaction in the earlier books (e.g., bringing the Philosopher's Stone into the school knowing that it would lure Voldemort's wraith into the school, endangering students). That comparison raises questions as to Dumbledore's competence and motives. The revelation in Deathly Hallows answers some of those questions in an extremely negative manner, inviting the harshest interpretation of Dumbledore's motives.
"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, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (DH), 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 learned about the diary, 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. In other situations it might be done to evade responsibility for the child. No responsible adult would abandon a baby on a doorstep without a good reason and Dumbledore has none. Dumbledore was not hiding anyone's identity. Nor was he evading responsibility (he left a note identifying himself). 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 squirm in his sleep and roll off the stoop or otherwise 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.
It is odd that neither Minerva or Hagrid comment on Dumbledore leaving Harry on the Dursleys doorstep. It is near midnight, so they must realize Harry will be unattended until he is found the next morning (at least six hours away). Just as I can think of no reason to justify Dumbledore's behaviour, neither can I justify their failure to object. They are tarred by the same brush.
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 for you to look after, 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 protections 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.
It's 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 physically 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 (PS16).
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. Madame Pomfrey does not appear to have any concerns though she treats him on several occasions when she should have done a general scan (e.g., at end of PS when he was unconscious for several days). However, Arabella Figg tells 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 (OoP2).
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 protections) interferes to prevent the abuse being noticed. Perhaps Dumbledore's protections 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 protections 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 watching Harry. What did she see? What did she report? We know what she told Harry. Presumably she'd reported at least that much to Dumbledore. 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 protections 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. Harry visited Madame Pomfrey several times. Didn't she check his overall condition? Shouldn't she have noticed evidence of malnutrition? Was Hogwarts food laced with potions that removed obvious signs of problems before he got to her? Didn't anyone notice that, except for his school uniform, all his clothes over-sized and in ill repair? If the protections prevented muggles from noticing the abuse, perhaps they also affected Mrs Figg and the wizards and witches at Hogwarts from noticing their full extent, 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 (to the extent they were aware of it) 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 the Dursleys, 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 may suggest 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, clean, garden 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 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), he was frequently able to outrun Dudley's gang (not just overweight Dudley), and in Hogwarts he demonstrated superior reflexes and motor skills. Although his glasses are taped and were gotten out of a bin, 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 (at least in his early years) 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' treatment of Snape strayed into bullying on at least one occasion, 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), and 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 it's 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 of when who did what, but understanding of why conficts arose and how they changed society. It could teach 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 appear to have any worthwhile content such as information about past prophecies and how they have influenced history and society or related 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 the three years of an elective OWL course. 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) 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 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, apparently failing to detect either the wraith or the possession. Nor does it appear he is aware of the troll's presence in the school before Quirinus' dramatic announcement. Charlie's friends land on the astronomy tower to pick up Hagrid's dragon, apparently undetected. 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 Hogwarts is proven not so safe that Dementors can't swarm a Quidditch game, or can't 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 has no defense against animagi (Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black) entering and even living in the castle. The Marauders' Map is able to locate and identify everyone within the castle, including Animagi, so shouldn't the castle protections allow the staff to do so? Several tunnels leading off of the castle grounds are revealed, the use of which by the twins, Harry, and Sirius is apparently 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 nothing prevents Fudge bringing a dementor into the school to kiss Barty Crouch Jr.. Why exactly is Hogwarts considered safe? 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 enforcement of discipline. 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 commends Draco for not being able to kill him in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price (HBP), but there is no other evidence of Dumbledore had done anything previously 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 question or 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 was Chief Warlock when he 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 just 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 Bagnold or Fudge to keep it secret from Malfoy. Even if (at the end of PoA) Dumbledore believed there was a risk of jurors improperly convicting Sirius if he were to face trial with anything less that a living Pettigrew as evidence, he had a duty to inform the Minister and DMLE that Sirius had been imprisoned without trial and might be innocent. He could have attempted to have the 'kiss on sight' order changed to 'bring in for questioning and trial'. He could have informed friendly members of the Wizengamot to bring pressure on the Minister. 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 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 have 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 prophecy. It seems he may have made the decision to make Harry a martyr as early as when Harry was left on his relatives doorstep. He certainly made it before Voldemort's return, since he later said the news that Voldemort used Harry's blood gave him the first hope Harry might survive. 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, on the surface the books (baring the revelations of DH) present him as a great, highly capable, wise and caring wizard. This is not just the image Dumbledore projects to Harry, it is also reflected in the way Harry sees everyone treat Dumbledore. 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 the great, powerful, wise, kind, grandfatherly Dumbledore (and other exaggerated, cliché characters like Binns, Snape, Trawley, and Voldemort).
If you accept actions and inaction required to build the plots for the books as part of Dumbledore's character, then you must ask what other consequences were there. If Sirius died because Dumbledore would not share information, how many people died during the first war for the same reason? How many people died because Dumbledore did not seek the opinions or expertise of others?
Then you have to factor in the revelation, in DH, that Dumbledore had manipulated Harry so that he'd martyr himself. You have to ask whether his unkind intentions were limited to Harry. How many people died to ensure Dumbledore would be unchallenged as the foremost paragon of British wizarding society? What was his vision of the Greater Good? What were his goals for wizarding society? Did he have a reason for allowing poor teaching of Defense, Divination, History, and Potions?
The character that arises from this questioning can be far from kind and grandfatherly.
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) and although resistant to magic is not immune. Why send him to the site of an attack by Voldemort? Did Dumbledore know neither Voldemort nor any of his followers remained at the home? 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 presumably can't apparate (having been expelled in third year before it is taught), 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 check on Peter and then to go to the Potters? Wouldn't he apparate? Why would Sirius 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 just past midnight, early on Wednesday the 2nd (or perhaps the 4th) of November, 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? Had Hagrid returned Harry to Hogwarts (explaining why he wasn't delivered to the Dursleys’ until the next day)? In that case, Dumbledore might know Hagrid was bringing Harry to the Dursleys’ on the motorcycle, but why wouldn't Dumbledore have given Hagrid a portkey or have brought Harry himself and why wouldn't McGonagall have known what happened to the Potters?
Why did Dumbledore use the 'putter outer'? We later learn that he does not require a cloak to be invisible and (in GoF) the Order of Phoenix manages to post guards at Privet Drive who are there day and night without benefit of a putter outer. Doesn't he know putting out so many street lights is likely to be noticed and result in a call to the electric company? Perhaps he expects to be gone before the company or a police patrol will respond?
The timeline is flawed.
How did word get out of Voldemort's defeat? Vernon saw people celebrating on his way to work. 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? How did anyone know Harry had been attacked? When Hagrid picked Harry up, he (or anyone he described the scene to) would most likely have assumed the scar was from whatever damaged the house. By the time anyone else came to analyze the scene, Hagrid had already removed Harry so there would be no reason to assume he'd been struck by and survived a Killing Curse. It could just as well be that Lily and Voldemort killed each other with simultaneous attacks. Wizarding Wireless could spread the word quickly enough, but it's never explained how it the facts were established. 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 that Harry had survived a Killing Curse.
Why was Minerva waiting at the Dursleys? She already knew there was reason to celebrate (and presumably that Tuesday's classes were cancelled). She'd heard that the Potters were dead (either before she came to the Dursleys or while watching them), but wasn't sure. Dumbledore ignored her concerns about the Dursleys, so presumably he hadn't sent her there to watch them. Then why was she there? Was she guarding the house? If so, why didn't Dumbledore ask if she'd seen anyone suspicious? If she was waiting for Dumbledore, why wait there all day rather than at Hogwarts?
The conversation between Dumbledore and McGonagall at the Durley's has problems.
McGonagall asks Dumbledore if he can do something about Harry's scar and says he replies "Even if I could, I wouldn't." This implies he had examined the scar and determined that he couldn't heal it. When did Dumbledore examine Harry? If Harry was brought to Hogwarts, why wouldn't McGonagall have seen him in the hospital wing with Madame Pomfrey? If Madame Pomfrey had tried and failed to heal the scar, why didn't she get help? Dumbledore's answer to McGonagall continues with "Scars can come in handy!" Why does he think the scar may be of some use? What use does he think it may be? If he didn't fully understand what the scar was or know how to heal it, why didn't he get help? If he's concerned with Harry's fame, surely he wouldn't want Harry to carry a visible mark. Is he bowing to the prophecy's line about 'the one' being 'marked'? Shouldn't that have encouraged him to thoroughly investigate the nature of the mark rather than assuming it was an unhealable magical wound of no significance? Are either Dumbledore or Madame Pomfrey qualified to make that determination? Alternatively, perhaps he has neither examined the scar himself nor had anyone else look at it and is just spouting nonsense when he answers McGonagall.
Dumbledore leaves Harry on the doorstep and neither Minerva or Hagrid object. I can't think of any reason why any of them would consider it appropriate. Leaving the child of an unwed mother on a doorstep is cliché, but it is totally inappropriate to deliver an orphan to his aunt in that manner. Aside from the issue of leaving a child untended outdoors for over six hours (from midnight until Petunia or Vernon found him in the morning), it completely disregards how the news of her sister's death may affect Petunia and whether she is prepared either materially or otherwise to take on Harry's care. Additionally, shouldn't Dumbledore have wanted to be there to ensure Petunia accepted Harry and thereby ensured his continued protection and the extension of that protection to her home?
When did Dumbledore set the protections at Privet drive? Dumbledore tells Harry "She may have taken you grudgingly, furiously, unwillingly, bitterly, yet still she took you, and in doing so, she sealed the charm I placed upon you. Your mother's sacrifice made the bond of blood the strongest shield I could give you." So it seems Hagrid must had taken Harry to Dumbledore who set the charm on Harry to be activated when Petunia took him in and the protection was placed on Harry not the house. He did this without McGonagall being sufficiently aware to dispel her questions. Then he had Hagrid deliver Harry to Privet Drive. Did the protection transfer or expand to include the house or the Dursleys? Were they protected by some sort of indirect effect? Harry is protected therefore his relatives can't be charmed to carry a bomb into the house and blow Harry up?
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. We know he was told, but why? Wouldn't that be a violation of the Statute of Secrecy? What need did he have to know? Apparently (backstory on the Dursleys) when the couples first met James mentioned racing brooms and Galleons to Vernon and at the Dursley's wedding reception Vernon referred to James as "some magician". Was James being careless, violating the Stature of Secrecy? Did Vernon know James was a real wizard or had he been told a half truth? Did Vernon know about magic then? Semus' mother only told his father that she was a witch after they were married. Could Petunia have told Vernon earlier, even though she wasn't magical herself?
How could the Dursley's expect to look normal when they dressed Harry in ragged oversized clothes? Did they think the neighbours wouldn't notice? When he goes to Hogwarts, they say it is "St Brutus' 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 dress and behave in a manner that reflects well on them? Even if Dudley's friends are indoctrinated to look down on Harry and so not comment on the locks on his bedroom door? Perhaps they only visited on the main floor? (I haven't found the reference in the books, but theindicates that the Dursley house had a downstairs toilet, so it's possible visitors were restricted to the main floor.)
It's not clear if St. Brutus' actually exists in Harry Potter's world. If it doesn't wouldn't someone notice? Perhaps not, without the World Wide Web (which wasn't common then) it would take some work to investigate. It seems odd that "incurably criminal" students would return home for the summer holiday. It seems odd that the neighbours wouldn't question that.
• Reintroducing Harry to the magical world
Why send multiple letters? Were they expecting a reply the same day? The letter said to reply by July 31st - the first letter was several days before that. Harry handled the letter and the letter was opened (though not by him). Was the letter spelled to determine of it was read by Harry? Were all letters spelled that way or just Harry's? If just Harry's, shouldn't they have noticed it was addressed to "Cupboard under the stairs?" Why send so many letters when Harry didn't read the first? Daily letters might be understandable, if rather pushy. 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.
Hagrid sits and sleeps on the sofa? Really? If Hagrid is five times the width of a normal man, then he is wider than an normal sofa is long and wouldn't fit between it's arm rests. If he is twice the height of a normal man, then how could he sleep on it? Hagrid told Dudley to 'budge up', suggesting there was room for both of them on the sofa. That would mean the description of his size was exaggerated as he had to be less than half as wide as five normal men. It's still unlikely he could comfortably sleep on the sofa (borne out by Harry waking to see 'Hagrid asleep on the collapsed sofa'). So, wouldn't have been polite for Hagrid to offer the sofa to Harry rather than leaving him on the floor? Harry could probably have slept at one end of the couch and left room for Hagrid to use the other end as a pillow.
Did Hagrid 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. That means retrieving it in a separate trip wasn't happening. From Harry's point of view, Hagrid had the small package he retrieved from the vault in his pocket the whole time they were in Diagon Alley. From a security viewpoint, that is a huge risk. It could have been lost. If someone (such as Quirrell) had overheard Hagrid in Gringotts, they might have used a spell to locate it on his person and steal it.
On the other hand, it's possible Hagrid didn't carry the Stone around Diagon Alley. After visiting Gringotts, Hagrid left Harry at Madam Malkin's saying he was going to the Leaky Cauldron for a drink. Perhaps he really used the Floo to deliver the Stone to Hogwarts. However, that would have been much more subtle than is normally associated with Hagrid and would raise questions about his accidental disclosures later in the year.
It's also interesting that from Harry's perspective Hagrid went up to 'a free teller' and said "It's about the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen." If Hagrid expected that to mean something to the teller, then either Hagrid went to a specific teller who was expecting him or Hagrid expected all the front desk tellers to know about the Philosopher's Stone. In any event it was indiscreet to say it out loud (unless the Goblins had privacy spells in place). He should have just handed over the letter and kept quiet.
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 Snape's biased treatment of students are covered above and I won't repeat it here.
Dumbledore announces the third floor corridor is forbidden and no students investigate? It seems incredulous that Harry doesn't hear any stories about students' experiences attempting to investigate the forbidden third floor corridor.
How do returning students learn the common room password? The prefects lead the first year students to their common rooms and tell them the password so they can enter. The prefects may learn the password at the Prefects' meeting on the train. How do 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 use magic to 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' where the Slytherin and Hufflepuff common rooms are located. Moreover, while the reported location of the troll is in the dungeons, there is no reason to trust it has remained there. It may have followed Quirrell to the entrance hall. Nor is there any assurance that there is only one troll. With all the students already gathered in the Great Hall, it would seem to have been appropriate 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? Wouldn't it have been safer to plant a prank that cast the image of a troll knocking over suits of armor? An actual troll should have caused a serious investigation and new security measures, 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 about his failure to deal with the troll himself and his fainting (not to mention his general fearfulness and stuttering problem). Of course, an illusory 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 Hagrid and McGonagall over a slow fire. There are four problems - its time (at night, after curfew), its duration (until dawn), its location (in the Forbidden Forest), and the activity (tracking something that can kill unicorns).
Assuming that the note saying to meet the dragon keepers at "midnight on Saturday" meant 12:00am early Saturday and the "following morning" when they received McGonagall's note was later the same day, Saturday morning, then the detention would start at 11pm on Saturday night and was planned to last until dawn (in late May or June) Sunday morning -- when Filch said he'd be back.
Even if they hadn't been up late the night before, it aught to be considered inappropriate to disrupt their sleep by starting a detention after they would normally to be asleep. Of course, since they have a weekly astronomy lesson at midnight, Hogwarts staff obviously haven't caught on to the benefits of good sleep habits. However, an all night detention would disrupt their sleep. If the note had said the detention would last all night, they might have thought about having a rest before hand. Since it didn't, it's unlikely they would think to rest up. That means they'd be tired and ready for sleep at the start of their detention and exhausted by the time it ended at dawn. They'd probably sleep most of the day and have trouble sleeping that night, leaving them tired during their classes on Monday. Not a good start to the week. More critically, being tired means they'd be slower, less aware, and less responsive during their detention in the dangerous Forbidden Forest. Being tired in a dangerous situation is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, Harry stumbling as he backed away from Quirrell might have been due to his being tired.
The Forbidden Forest is forbidden. To send first year students there on a detention might be seen as suggesting it isn't very dangerous. Especially since the detention is a night. Older students might take this as an invitation to ignore the prohibition.
As much as I'd like to think McGonagall didn't know what they were going to be doing, she did write the note telling Harry "Your detention will take place at eleven o'clock tonight. Meet Mr Filch in the entrance hall." Its possible that she intended the detention to be with Filch, but why would a detention with Filch be after curfew? Perhaps Hagrid volunteered to handle the detention without explaining what they would be doing. Perhaps McGonagall assumed they would be working safely at the edge of the forest collecting a plant that glows in the dark. Filch said "it's into the forest you're going", but that could have been for effect, and even if Filch knew, McGonagall might not.
Even if McGonagall didn't know Hagrid was planning to take them into the forest, Hagrid should have known better himself. First, he didn't know what's killing the unicorns, but he did know it had to be something fast and powerful. Second, he's commented on shooing students away from the forest, so he knows it's dangerous for them, even if it isn't for himself. Third, what useful contribution could first year students make to his search? He'd have to split his attention between watching for danger and watching that they didn't wander off. Finally, even if Hagrid thought he was giving them an easy detention, he should have known better than to split them up! They might be safe with him, but with Fang? Hagrid had already said Fang was a coward.
Why did Quirrell/Voldemort flee Firenze? Surely a single Centaur would not be a threat to something that could catch and kill a Unicorn at night. Why would it immediately flee rather than just kill both Firenze and Harry?
How are Slytherin and Hufflepuff dormitories ventilated? Were those dormitories always in the dungeons, without natural lighting or windows? Why or why were they moved there? Perhaps they were moved temporarily during renovations and never moved back?
Why is Hogwarts considered safe? Shouldn't there be some tangible reason? Spells or charms or something to detect trouble and sound an alarm or do something about it?
• 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 wraith? Why would Dumbledore think they were unable to protect it?
There are several possibilities for how Dumbledore obtained the stone:
Given that the Flamels had been keeping the stone safe for four hundred years before Dumbledore was born, it seems 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). Would Dumbledore have known if the stone was a fake? He'd have known if it wasn't magical or some other recognizable device, but what if it was a failed effort - magical, but nonfunctional?
There are several possible motivations for Dumbledore's actions:
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 Gringotts (in PS) he tells Harry "yeh'd be mad to try and rob it." Is that true or is Gringotts' security a myth? 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. 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 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 didn't Snape alert the other professors about the problem with Harry's broom? During the Quidditch match when Harry's broom was jinxed by Quirrell, Snape cast the counter curse without alerting any of the other professors. How and why? Why didn't he alert the other professors? Even if he didn't have time to talk about it or even say "Potter's broom is being cursed" before casting the counter charm, he could have held up his wand an spoken the counter charm in a loud voice. If fact, it should have taken some effort on his part to do it without anyone noticing. Why? Also, why was there no followup with Harry? Either to ask him if he knew who might attack him (assuming Snape explained that he had been attacked) or to arrange to have his broom properly inspected (if it remained suspect).
The Pensive was not introduced until GoF, but it could have been used to examine what happened using memories of Snape and other teachers. Since it shows more than what the person saw at the time, it might have revealed Quirrell's actions. If not it would have revealed Hermione's action and they could ask for her memories. Although she focused on Snape, she probably also had Quirrell in her view. Did Snape do this in private? Is that why he suspected Quirrell later? If so, why weren't other teachers aware of the problem? Why wasn't action taken? Attempting to kill a student should not be allowed!
How could Fluffy be the last obstacle for Quirrell overcome? Snape's conversation with Quirrell suggests that Quirrell knew how to overcome all the other obstacles. However, Fluffy was the first obstacle. That means he had to learn about the other obstacles and how to overcome them from the other teachers, including Snape. Had the teachers discussed the protections with each other in sufficient detail that Quirrell could work out how to get past them?
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 challenges were classic challenges and highly suitable for a children's story. However, a series of challenges is not the same of a series of obstacles or protective barriers and the challenges were obviously inadequate to protect the stone from a fully trained wizard.
Unless there was something more to the challenges that Quirrell had disarmed. Perhaps there other protections and the challenges were not there to stop the intruder, but to distract the intruder and prevent the protections 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: Chapter 34 of "Not Normal" 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? 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 when he went through ahead of them?
Finally, what measures were taken to guard the Flamels? Nicholas created the Stone. He might be able 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? "Go to the highest tower at midnight" is certainly an easy instruction for Charlie's friends, but they don't need to collect the dragon there. Maybe Charlie thought they'd fly the dragon up on brooms the same way his friends were going to transport it, rather than carry it through the school. Taking the Dragon through the school not only risked getting caught, it risked having the Dragon get loose in the School. It would have been much easier for Hagrid to have met them there and flown with them to his hut (he flew to the hut on the sea to collect Harry, though if he was using Sirius' motorcycle it might be too noisy for a quiet night). If Hagrid couldn't do that, someone else could wait on the tower to guide Charlie's friends to Hagrid's hut or to tell them to shoot sparks to signal Hagrid who would then wave a torch to guide them.
Taking the dragon through the castle was a difficult endeavor, a substantial risk, and totally unnecessary. If for some reason someone had to take the Dragon up to the tower why didn't Hagrid? Harry could loan him the invisibility cloak to hide the dragon. That way, if the Dragon got loose, Hagrid would be there to control it.
Just as easy as "Go to the highest tower at midnight" would have been "Go to the Three Broomstick's in Hogsmeade at 9 and meet Hagrid (a really big fellow)."
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 grounds or to the Three-Broom-Sticks (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.
How was the troll being fed? The Cerberus was behind the first door and could easily have been fed by Hagrid, but what about the troll? It was past the Cerberus, Devil's Snare, flying keys, and the chess board. Were house elves able to pop in and feed it? (Wouldn't that have been an obvious weakness in the protections?) The idea behind multiple obstacles or challenges is supposed to be that it takes more than one person to get past them. How many people had to be called together on a regular basis to feed the troll? I suppose this can be forgiven, since its a common fault in many stories where there are powerful creatures guarding treasures.
Shouldn't Harry's fame play more into the story? In PoA, we learn Peter Pettigrew was awarded an Order of Merlin for standing up to Sirius Black. Why is there no mention of James, Lily, or Harry receiving any award for defeating Voldemort? Why is there no mention of them appearing on chocolate frog cards? How does Snape (a former death eater) get away with denigrating Harry both in class and in the school corridors? Even if they were too young to understand themselves, shouldn't some students have mention Harry and Snape's treatment of him in letters home to parents who would complain both to the Headmaster and the Daily Prophet? Harry might no hear of complaints to the Headmaster, but surely he'd hear of articles in the Daily Prophet that talk about him. Indeed, given his hero status, shouldn't Teen Witch Weekly have been soliciting news about him so they could have regular articles about him?
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. 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. Why didn't Dobby follow up with a threat to cause more trouble if Harry didn't agree not to attend Hogwarts? There was some logic to Dobby's other efforts (preventing Harry from getting to the train is an obvious very direct attempt to stop Harry from returning and charming the bludgers to injure Harry so he has to leave underestimated Madam Pomfrey, but has some logic). However, 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.
How did Dobby know to warn Harry? Dobby warned Harry that there would be a great danger at Hogwarts before Lucius Malfoy had planted the diary among Ginny's books. How would Dobby have known what Lucius planned? Presumably, he had to have heard Lucius talking about it with someone. Isn't it odd that Lucius would talk to someone about something potentially incriminating in sufficient detail for Dobby to understand? Who would he talk to? Another Death Eater? Narcissa? A portrait? Does he talks to himself?
Why wasn't any action taken in response to Dobby's warning? Harry told people about the warning. Why wasn't something done? In Dark Magic (chapter 2), rojekera suggests a search of the Hogwarts express for dark magic could have found both the diary and Pettigrew. I suppose it's possible they did an extra (ineffective) scan of students as the entered Hogwarts that students didn't notice and therefore wasn't mentioned.
Why use the flying car instead of the Knight Bus? This can be explained by the twins wanting to fly the car, but the twins and Ron would all have known about the Knight Bus. So, they could have taken the Knight Bus to Privet Drive to rescue Harry and Ron could have suggested using it when they were unable to get on the platform. Waiting for Mr. & Mrs. Weasley to return from the platform would have been best, but they could have taken the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron and Flooed to the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.
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?
How did the Weasley's car become able to rescue the boys and what motivated it to do so? There are other examples of thinking objects such as the Sorting Hat, Portraits, and talking mirrors, but they were all deliberately created. How did the car become able and motivated to rescue the boys from the acromantula? Was it some magic within the car? Perhaps some magic of the Forbidden Forest? Perhaps the car was moved by the magic of Hogwarts, protecting its students? (but then why didn't it act in other instances?) Perhaps it was the influence of the prophecy? This is a dues ex machina. There is no explanation of tie in to similar events that occur in the stories or are referred to in passing.
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 (or given the ability to revive Tom) 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 prophecy said they were equal. Of course Harry avoided looking at it, so maybe he would have survived seeing it. Would Fawkes have known? If it wasn't related to being a Parselmouth, maybe he used a spell or enchanted glasses to protect himself and Ginny - would Dumbledore have known? Where would Tom have learnt it? Maybe a book in the Restricted section?
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 maw 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'? Consider the list of magical items that think - the sorting hat, portraits, and bathroom mirrors. Where are their brains? The sorting hat is trusted to look into students minds and sort them. Portraits seem to be mostly treated as gossips, but the 'Fat Lady' is used to guard the Gryffindor common room. Bathroom mirrors appear to be more of an amusement than anything else, would they be an example of why Ginny shouldn't have trusted the diary? Other than not having heard of 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. If their mouths were open when petrified it's probably 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 or rubbed 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.
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 they wait until their own mandrakes matured? Couldn't they have purchased supplies to make the potion sooner? Did they consult St. Mungo's? If it was a problem with the time of year mandrakes matured, perhaps they could have been obtained from the southern hemisphere (June in north = December in south).
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 protections or portkeys to keep them safe? I can understand that it's not an important enough issue for JKR to dwell on, but it's a loose end.
Was Malfoy' only punishment to be removed from the board? This is more important than the flip-flop, since logically if the governors had been made to act using threats and/or magic compulsion it would be a matter for the DMLE and the punishment should not, logically, have been limited to expulsion from the Hogwarts board. 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. It's possible Fudge gave him a pass and Harry just didn't hear the details, but that means Fudge has and exercises an awful lot of discretionary power and favours Malfoy over the other board members.
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. If he couldn't get in by himself (knowing where it is), then he could get Harry to open it up. 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.
If the Horcrux in the diary could use Ginny's soul to return as Tom Riddle, why couldn't Voldemort's wraith have done the same in PS? Why would it have Quirrell try to steal the Philosopher's Stone if it could just drain Quirrell's soul to regain a body? Why would a Horcrux have such a significant ability that the main soul doesn't have? Perhaps Voldemort's wraith knew of some flaw in the process that the younger Tom did not?
In the Prisoner of Azkaban, 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? Was it because he'd started Hogwarts or because his Aunt was affected? How would they know someone was affected? How did they know none of his per-Hogwarts incidents didn't affect anyone? 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? Did Lucius Malfoy support having Dementors at his son's school? 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? Did Fudge go against both Malfoy and Dumbledore?
What happened on the train? Who was in charge of the search of the train? What control were the Dementors under? Did a Dementor enter any other compartment? If so, what happened to students in those compartments? If not, why did it single out Harry? Some possibilities are the Horcrux, his mother's protection, some magical residue of the Killing Curse. It is unlikely to have been due to seeing his mother die since others would have had similar experiences (e.g., Luna seeing her mother die, Neville if he saw his parents tortured, and Remus being attacked by Greyback). I'd add that at fifteen months old, Harry's brain wasn't developed enough to retain a memory of his mother's death, except the Dementors did somehow restore it.
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? Perhaps they aren't actually as dangerous as Hermione was led to believe? 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 should require specific knowledge and training. Harry is quite correct to be concerned about 'what shape it would be in once it had been subjected to all sorts of anti-jinx tests.' While such tests might not affect the broom, isn't there a risk they would? 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 they could safely do that, but would that be adequate to detect a carefully placed curse? '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 a game 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, why wasn't he sent to St. Mungo's Hospital for further treatment?
Why would the twins give Harry the map? They may have memorized their way around the castle, but the ability to spot patrols would be critical to their after hours trips to the kitchen or to set pranks. Why wouldn't they just made an ordinary copy of the map? Had they succeeded in making a working copy of the map?
Why did it fall to Hermione to help Hagrid defend Buckbeak? Shouldn't Dumbledore have assisted Hagrid or put him in contact with a solicitor? Even if Buckbeak was living wild, wasn't he living on Hogwarts land? Even if he wasn't, he was brought in as part of a Hogwarts class. Doesn't that make his defense a Hogwarts' responsibility?
How could Dementors attack the Quidditch game or enter the castle? Weren't the Dementors under any supervision? Hogwarts is supposed to be the safest place in Britain. Isn't it safe from Dementors? Dumbledore promised that no Dementor would enter the castle while he was there, but they did. It appears Fudge was bringing them in to Kiss Sirius and he did bring them to arrest Crouch Jr.
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.
How could Remus forget it was the night of the full moon? Remus is a werewolf. The full moon is central to his life. Is it possible that he'd forget it was the night of the full moon? Is there any chance that he wasn't waiting for Snape to arrive with his potion? More likely he was anxious because the full moon was getting close and he'd have to lock himself up in some secure location if Snape didn't arrive soon? Sure he'd be looking at the map to look for trouble, but really he'd just be occupying his time until Snape arrived with his Wolvesbane potion and the full moon would be weighing heavily on his mind. Remus is the level headed marauder. He had other options. He could have contacted the Headmaster or other staff by Floo or a messenger Patronis. The staff would have talked about the chance of discovering Sirius again and how to summon help. It's nigh on impossible that he'd have forgotten about the full moon and run after the trio instead of alerting someone else.
Wouldn't Sirius or Remus think to stun and disarm Pettigrew? They were both members of the Order who fought in the war. I suppose if Remus had forgotten about the full moon he wasn't thinking and Sirius might still be suffering from Azkaban. The trio wouldn't know the proper precautions and would defer to the adults. Still, it's a bit shaky.
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 not be allowed to stand. 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 it's an omission that it was never explained.
There is no followup on the Wolfsbane potion. This is not a problem with this book, but later books should have explored the consequences of the potion. It is a fairly recent development and quite difficult to brew. It would only be available to a few werewolves lucky enough to have the means to afford it or a generous patron. But, what about Fenrir Greyback? For most werewolves the potion would allow them to be safe. For Greyback and his ilk, it would allow them to intelligently stage attacks while transformed and infectious! Snape is known to have brewed the potion for Remus, so we can expect Voldemort might require him to brew it for Greyback and others. (Source: The Acidental Animagus by White Squirrel)
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.' That statement of the rules may be accurate when the author's assumptions are true, but what were those assumptions? Even if the goblet were functioning properly (which it wasn't), the rule book likely assumes that candidates entered their names into the goblet. Even if the rule book unambiguously says the chosen candidates are bound to compete regardless of how their name was entered, how accurately does it reflect the actual enchantments on the goblet? How accurately does it reflect the malfunctioning behavior of the goblet as influenced by whatever was done to it?
• What version of the rule book are they using? Are they using the original from 700 years ago (Latin? Old English?), a translation in use when the contest was last held at the end of the 1700's (Early Modern English?), or a modern translation of one of those that was prepared for this tournament? Could some details have been lost in translation?
• Why is Harry willing to accept the word of Barty Crouch? Dumbledore might accept the political reality of Crouch's position or trust him based on overall past performance, but Harry is a teen who's primary knowledge of Crouch is that he was Head of the DMLE when Sirius was imprisoned without trial.
• Why accept that the Goblet selected Harry? Perhaps the goblet really went out after the third name, but then it was made to seem as if it lit again to eject Harry's name. All it requires is a disillusioned parchment with Harry's name being levitated into the goblet, an illusion of the Goblet spitting fire, and then cancelling the disillusionment and levitating the parchment to have it appear to have been ejected by the Goblet. It would probably be easier than actually overpowering the Goblet's enchantments. Definitely easier than having the goblet create a binding contract if the contestant had to have entered their own name to be bound by a contract.
Dumbledore could have said "Harry, we will conduct a thorough investigation to determined whether or not a binding magical contract has formed and if it has what the requirements of the contract are and whether you can be extricated from it. Until then it is best not to say or do anything that could break the contract." If the contract had not formed due to lack of consent, there is a risk that Harry agreeing to compete would provide the consent required to allow the contract to form, but it's reasonable for Dumbledore to have assumed that was the lesser risk. Instead, Dumbledore appeared to accepted the argument that Harry had to compete "because the rule book says so" when things clearly were not going the way the rule book said they should. Worse, he defers to Barty Crouch making it seem he hasn't read the rules himself.
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. Harry is never offered any reason to believe a contract exists other than that the rule book says one is formed. 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.
Why aren't they concerned about other changes? If someone has been able to change to cup to select four contestants, they should be concerned that other changes might have been made. They need to determine what the contract is now - as opposed to what it was supposed to be. Since there were now four contestants, perhaps they will need to compete in four events or loose their magic. Perhaps all but the winner will loose their magic or die.
There are immense societal implications of being able to form a binding magical contract without the consent of the principle. Why imprison criminals, just bind them to an agreement to obey the law or loose their magic. 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. 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. Winky was also freed when her owner gave her clothes. Hermione is a student. Does she think any student can free a Hogwarts house elf? That doesn't seem very practical. Does she think she could free the Hogwarts elves by leaving gifts of clothes where the elves will come across them? If that were the case, wouldn't any student (or professor) leaving an item of clothing laying around where an elf worked free it? Does it matter that she left them as a gift? Lucius didn't intend to free Dobby. Why doesn't Harry or Ron (or any student that knows what's going on) point this out to Hermione? What has Hermione read that makes her think she can free the elves? Has JKR goofed by having Hermione do something that should contradict her experience or has JKR been a tease not supplying an explanation?
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 at least 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 84 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.)
There is a conflict between Arthur's attitude toward the report of Mad-Eye's disturbance at the start of GoF and his high reputation as an auror. It's inconsistent for a cautious, even overly cautious, Auror to be habitually creating nuisance disturbances that attract police attention. Tonks who graduated from Hogwarts in the spring of 1991 was Mad-Eye's protege, a priveledged position. Either he's a crack Auror or he's a delusional paranoid. There can be some middle ground, but he can't be both as he seems to be portrayed.
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. For the first task, there were dragon handlers on hand at the first task, watching and ready to help out. For the second task, how did they know Fleur needed rescuing? How was she rescued? Were there disillusioned Mermen following the champions? For the third task, how did professors rescue the champions who sent up (or had sparks sent up for them) rescued? It appeared the professors were on foot. Wouldn't have made more sense to have professors on brooms, watching from above the maze so they could quickly get to anyone in trouble? For that matter, how would a Champion call for help if their wand was lost?
Who chose the tasks? When Hagrid showed Harry the dragons, Charlie and Harry both seemed to think the headmasters didn't know about the task until they saw the dragons. Does that mean the Ministry defined and prepared the three tasks without any input from the headmasters? What about choosing the hostages for the third task and spelling them to stay safe underwaters? What about Dumbledore talking to the mermen after the task? Who talked to them before the task? There seems to be some inconsistency.
Why didn't any older Gryffindors help Harry? I understand that Harry was angry that no one believed he didn't put his own name in the goblet. I don't understand why none of the older Gryffindor students didn't force their aid upon him. "Look. It doesn't matter if I or anyone else believes you put your name in. That's past. You are a Gryffindor. You are in the tournament. You need help. I'm offering it and I'm not taking no as an answer."
Why didn't more information about the tasks leak? Hagrid showed Harry the Dragons. Why didn't he offer any hints about the later tasks? Why didn't Harry and Hermione visit him seeking information or to give him an opportunity to give them hints? "It's ok, Hagrid, I'm not asking about the tournament. I'm asking about Care of Magical Creatures. I'm asking if there are any creatures discussed in the next few years that shriek or what books you'd recommend for learning about creatures that shriek." Later they could say "I'm not asking about this maze. I'm asking you as COMC professor if obstacle filled mazes have been used in other contests, what creatures have been used as obstacles, and what are good books to read about that." Hagrid had identified himself as a willing source of information and they knew from first year that even if he wasn't willing he wasn't good at keeping secrets. They knew the other champions were getting help from their headmasters, so cheating shouldn't have been a concern.
The rule was the teachers couldn't help champions. Did it say anything about helping other students who were helping the champions? If Gryffindor House had accepted Harry as their champion wouldn't they have tried to help him? Even if they weren't specifically helping him, weren't any students betting on what the tasks would be? Wouldn't they be seeking out information? Wouldn't some of that reach Harry or Cedric?
When Charlie was seeing Ginny off at King's Cross Station, he told her he might see her sooner than she thought. Didn't anyone (Ginny, Fred, George, Mrs. Weasley) think to tell Harry? Maybe Charlie suggested Hagrid bring Harry to see the Dragons. "We're bringing the Dragons in in two days. I sure hope Harry isn't around hiding under his cloak." Even if they were told to keep the tasks secret, they owned Harry for rescuing Ginny from the diary. -- See chapter 18 (outtake) of Harry Potter and the Power of Paranoia by arekay for Harry's possible anger at the Weasleys for not helping him, which inspired me to think about this issue.
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 those who wanted to put their names in? 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? It's not vital to the plot or story line, but it's something that would interest Hermione.
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 (from the dueling club!) 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, either by itself or by sacrificing a victim to a Horcrux? (Aside from it eliminating the plots for needing the stone in PS and kidnapping Harry in GoF.)
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 Peter there to rescue it? 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 had been 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? 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.
Also, Olivander says Fawkes only ever gave the two feathers used in Tom's and Harry's wands? How would he know that? Perhaps they were the only feathers Fawkes had given him, but that would still allow Fawkes might have given feathers to someone else. Perhaps they were the only feathers Fawkes had provided while a companion to Dumbledore, but Phoenixes are immortal. Unless Fawkes is a new Phoenix, hatched from the egg in Dumbledore's company, then Dumbledore couldn't say how many feathers Fawkes had provided before they became companions. Perhaps the two feathers had a magical quality that Olivander detected? Did he known how the wands would react together when he made them?
Why did Harry break off with Voldemort? Harry had driven the magic back to Voldemort'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 Voldemort's killing curse have killed Voldemort? Would Voldemort's wand have exploded, destroying his wand hand? Harry broke off because the 'ghosts' said to, but why?
Why didn't Voldemort break off? Having a Killing Curse pushed back at oneself doesn't seem safe. Did Voldemort understand what was happening? Surely if Harry could break off the engagement then Tom should have been able to do so. He'd hit Harry with earlier spells, so why wouldn't he break the connection and fire another curse.
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 before confronting their dragon.
Why wasn't Harry rescued? Harry and Cedric were gone for quite a while. Hadn't anyone noticed? What if a champion had needed help and not been able to shoot sparks? Fawkes demonstrated the ability to travel to an unknown location in CoS. The graveyard may have been warded against apparation and port-keys (by anyone but DEs), but so is Hogwarts and Fawkes has no problem flaming there. Couldn't he have taken Dumbledore to Harry? What about house elves? Wouldn't Dobby have been secretly watching Harry in the tasks? Wouldn't he have noticed when Harry disappeared? Might he not have followed and either helped or called for help?
How could Fudge bring a Dementor into the castle (to kiss Barty)? Hogwarts is supposed to be safe and in PoA said Dementors wouldn't enter the castle. Is it safe or isn't it? ... 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 and he wanted Sirius Black kissed.
Why does Fudge say Voldemort is dead? In PoA10, Harry overheard Fudge saying "You-know-who met his downfall in little Harry Potter. Powers gone, horribly weakened, he fled." Not only did he know Voldemort wasn't dead, he anticipated he would return "You-Know-Who alone and friendless is one thing ... but give him back his most devoted servant, and I shudder to think how quickly he could rise again." Now Fudge thought that servant was Black, not Pettigrew, but Fudge thought having a devoted Death Eater free would lead to Voldemort's return. This is an inconsistency between the books. (Credit: My attention was draw to this quote from PoA by the a/n at the end of chapter 14 of Forging the Sword by Myst Shadow.)
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 ask Rita not to write about students (i.e., Harry or her) in exchange for not exposing her animagus form. 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. It may also have been counterproductive.
What Dumbledore didn't do at the end of GoF is significant. Dumbledore reactivated the Order of the Phoenix, he sent Snape to spy on Voldemort, he sent Remus to the werewolves, 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.
How was Cedric's death explained away? Cedric's father is a department head within the Ministry. The Triwizard tournament was a major international event. An international audience saw Harry return with Cedric's body. Surely there would have been people asking questions about how it happened.
Why did Arthur Weasley have the Dursley's fireplace connected to the Floo? Perhaps Arthur wasn't capable of side-along apparation (I don't recall if he demonstrated the ability in the books), however, Dumbledore could have provided a portkey. Given the ease Dumbledore demonstrates at making portkeys (e.g., to send Harry back to Hogwarts at the end of OoP), that would seem much easier than having the fireplace first connected then disconnected from the Floo network. It would also seem a security breach to have someone in the Ministry know how to make that connection. It is certainly quite amazing that the connection could be made remotely without anyone present at the Dursleys to identify the fireplace to be connected.
Why did Arthur bring Fred and George to the Dursleys'? Was there any reason he couldn't have picked Harry up by himself? The twins clearly argued to be allowed (since they wanted to prank Dudley), but why would Arthur allow it?
Why was the World Cup located in a site where there were muggles? Gag value aside, what logic is there in locating the stadium in an area where muggles will see the assembled wizards and witches and not erecting appropriate notice-me-not charms? If they had to build a stadium why not build it in Hogsmeade which already has protections? If they had to use a farmer's field, wouldn't it have been simpler to have the farmer sleep or stay in his house during the cup? Better to obliviate the farmer and his family once than after each odd looking wizard arrives.
Why did they need to fetch water? Isn't there a spell for creating water? Doesn't that spell create real water? Is it dangerous to drink it? Is it good for anything except washing? Is it dangerous to use it to water plants? How long does it last? Short enough time not to cause problems?
Why would Molly order "three ordinary Muggle taxis" to take everyone from the Burrow to King's Cross Station?It is several hours by car from Devon to King's Cross Station and would cost a considerable amount. Molly could not afford new dress robes for Ron, how could she afford three taxis? Surely they aught to either take the Knight Bus or Floo to somewhere in London (e.g., the Leaky Cauldron) and proceed from there - saving several hours and considerable expense.
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 supposedly a respected, experienced member of the wizarding government. Was he really only given the position due to his fame? Has he kept it despite (or perhaps because) he was ineffectual (perhaps inadvertently helpful to someone's cause)? 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 prompted Dumbledore to send his "Remember my last" message? The message arrived timely, just as Vernon was going to throw Harry out of the house, but what prompted it? We know from Mrs. Figg that the Order's guard was missing and she'd gone to Floo Dumbledore. Did that prompt the message? How would a message about Harry driving off dementors prompt that message? Is Dumbledore a seer? Did he have some other way of knowing what was happening? How? Was he standing outside the door? Could he monitor the house any time he wanted? How often did he do so? How much did he know about the happenings at Privet Drive?
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 tucked into Harry's blankets in 1981 nearly 14 years ago. 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 asking them to do so? Does he say it's for the Greater Good? Does he assume they will respect him because he is the great Albus Dumbledore? Does he tell them Voldemort is back and will kill them if they aren't protected?
What use is the Order of Phoenix guard at the Department of Mysteries? Only Harry or Voldemort can remove the prophecy, so what use is having a single guard at the DoM? If Voldemort doesn't come himself, the prophecy 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, it's 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?
How and why does the Department of Mysteries collect prophecies?
Why isn't Harry in regular contact with Sirius? 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 mail - Lockhart gets fan mail in CoS, Hermione gets hate mail in GoF, but Harry doesn't get 'Boy-Who-Lived' fan mail). 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 Occlumency teacher or is something else at play? Both in the descriptions of the lessons and Harry's relation of them to Hermione, it's clear Snape just tells Harry to "clear your mind." No explanation, no notes, no reference book. Is he trying to teach the art, hurt Harry, 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.
If Dumbledore can't teach Harry Occlumency, why can Snape? If Dumbledore is concerned about Voldemort learning that he is teaching Harry, shouldn't he be equally or even more concerned about Voldemort learning that Snape is teaching Harry. Isn't almost certain Voldemort would take advantage of such an opportunity? It'd be different if Snape could show Voldemort that Dumbledore were checking on Harry's lessons or progress, but it seems Dumbledore has left it entirely to Snape. Dumbledore should anticipate Voldemort would take advantage of the opportunity. That means either Harry's lessons are compromised or Snape's status as a spy is compromised.
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 view them in Snape's mind. However, Dumbledore has a collection of memories from himself and other people. Would he have have collected those memories if they were the memory itself rather than a copy? 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, it's odd the memory Harry finds is about his father rather than Snape telling Voldemort about the prophecy, 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 just to store a memory? Was the memory placed there for Harry to find? (A story that takes this line: Chapter 4, Snape Goes too Far, of Harry Potter and the things that could have happened, a collection of one shots by arekay).
Why would Harry fly all the way from Hogwarts to London? Why would they think of flying when they needed to get to London right away. Sirius was being tortured and they'd already spent considerable time trying to contact Sirius and dealing with Umbridge. They should have been thinking about using the Floo not flying. With Umbridge out of the way why wouldn't they Floo from Hogwarts or Hogsmeade? Why not take the knight bus? Perhaps Luna knew Thestrals were extraordinary fast flyers?
How long did it take to fly from Hogwarts to London? The Hogwarts Express takes over 9 hours (11am until after sunset at 8pm) to travel from London to Hogsmeade on Sept 1. According to Google Maps Directions, it takes 8-8.5 hours to travel from London to Inverness (456 miles in a direct line). I assume Hogsmeade to London is about that distance. While flying on a thestral, “Harry did not think he had every moved so fast” (OP34). Assuming that is accurate, it provides a maximum time to fly to London of a little over 3 hours, since Harry is familiar with the Firebolt (150mph). Assuming the Thestrals don't exceed the speed of sound (761mph), it would take a minimum of 40 minutes. Since Harry only thought he hadn't traveled so fast, it probably took closer to 3 hours.
Why did it take the Order so long to get to the Ministry? It may have taken Snape an hour to notice and confirm that Harry was missing from Hogwarts, but even without contacting Dumbledore they should have sent someone to the Ministry to intercept him at the entrance. Perhaps they assumed Harry had used the Floo and it would be too late to intercept him. Assembling a fighting group may have taken some time, but even then they probably should have gotten there first if the thestrals took close to 3 hours to fly from Hogwarts to London. The thestrals must have been quite a bit faster than a Firebolt for them to get to the Ministry before the Order.
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. Then Harry's group went in. They weren't sneaking and weren'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? It's not terribly believable.
What happened to the Order of Phoenix Guard? Aside from Ministry and DoM security, the Order of the Phoenix was specifically guarding the prophecy. What happened to their guard? Did both Malfoy's and Harry's groups get past without the Order's guard noticing? Did Malfoy's group remove the Order's guard? Didn't the Order have some way of knowing their guard was OK? Why don't the books mention what happened?
Dumbledore's revelations following the battle in the Department of Mysteries are disturbing.
In the Half-Blood Prince, why does Snape take an unbreakable vow for Narcissa? Why would Narcissa expect him to make a vow? Is it common to request and give such vows? If it is reasonable for Narcissa to expect Snape to give such a vow, why hasn't Voldemort obtained vows from all his followers? Such an vow would prevent betrayal, such as Snape's and Regulus'.
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.
From Dumbledore's memory of going to the orphanage to tell Tom about magic we learn he did two very surprising things. First, he pretended to set fire to the locker containing all of Tom's belongings. Sure it wasn't a real fire, but wasn't it rather cruel? What effect did that cruelty have on Tom? Second, he allows eleven year old Tom to go to Diagon Alley without an escort. What independence was allowed eleven year olds in that age? Shouldn't Tom at least have had an escort to show him around on his first visit (no matter if he wanted one or not)?
Couldn't Harry and Dumbledore have taken the basin containing the locket? Even if the basin was carved from stone that was part of the cavern, couldn't it have been broken off and removed for extended study at Hogwarts?
Why does Draco repair the vanishing cabinet? Has Dumbledore activated additional 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. This has the advantage of evacuating the children of his followers before the fight begins.
What happens to the rest of the luck potion? Slughorn had a cauldron full of it, presumably much more than he gave Harry. There are limits on its use and we don't know what it costs to brew, but surely it would have some presence in Wizarding society beyond what we see in this book. Both Dumbledore and Voldemort should include it in their strategies.
How does magical society deal with love potions and other "date rape" techniques? The books treat love potions in a very lighthearted manner, starting with Gilderoy in CoS, Molly's remarks in PoA, Romalda's attempt to potion Harry in HBP (which caught Ron), and including potions sold by the twins. The combination of love potions or other forms of compulsion and obliviation is an obvious problem. How do wizards and witches defend themselves? Was any action taken against Romalda? Why weren't Harry and Ron counseled on means to protect themselves? What happened to the cauldron full of amortia Slughorn brewed to show his class?
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. The lack of development between Harry and Ginny is exasperated by the fact JKR glosses over what little time they spend dating, so despite the fact the books are written from Harry's perspective there is no record of them having any conversations together. Fanfiction stories often pair Harry & Hermione (HHr) rather than HG or another pairing, perhaps because (despite Hermione's problems) 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 tells Ginny and Hermione about a love potion she used to court Arthur, and in HBP they are shown amortia and Romanda Vane (2 years younger than Harry) give Harry chocolates laced with a love potion. 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 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. There are two parts to it - erasing their existing life and implanting a new life. 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. Implanting new memories would be problematic, too. I can accept trained obliviators creating and implanting a short memory to cover the erasure of a memory of a magical event, but a teenager creating and implanting a memory covering years? 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? Another compulsion could help them maintain their cover story. Hermione might want to forget where they are to keep them safe, but not the other way around. Perhaps a variant of the Fidelius Charm would be appropriate to guard their location or their relationship with Hermione or their knowledge of the magical world.
Why does Harry use #12 Grimauld Place? The trio talk about the danger of meeting Snape there, but with Dumbledore dead Snape is free to tell others the location. They don't just have to worry about Snape, they have to worry about Voldemort and all his Death Eaters. They eventually abandon it when Yaxley is accidentally brought there, but the same concerns should have applied to Snape.
Why did Voldemort take Kreacher to the cave? Why would he need to empty the basin to put the locket in? Couldn't he have just dropped the locket into the potion filled basin? Was he testing the potion or that the bowl would refill except when the potion was drunk? Surely he'd have done the enchanting elsewhere and tested it before moving it to the cave and surely he'd have tested the potion on a human. If he had to test it in situ, wouldn't he use another human victim? If he'd foreseen a house elf coming to the cave, wouldn't he have guarded against them popping in and out? Wouldn't he have verified that Kreature was dead? It seems that Voldemort logically would not have required Kreature's services or if he'd thought about the risk of a house elf being brought to the cave he'd have guarded against it. So, it appears the entire incident was just a rather transparent plot device to provide Regulus with the information and loophole needed to steal it.
The Deluminator allowed Ron to hear what was being said by and around Harry and to travel to where Harry was located (despite extensive magic 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 couldn't know where in the forest. Theis more than 42.5 square miles (110 sq km). 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. For that matter, what about Dumbledore's use of the sword to destroy the ring? Didn't Harry just hand it to him after getting out of the Chamber of Secrets? 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. Even if Dumbledore had some reason for withholding the information, someone else should have mentioned it. 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?
Dumbledore won the Elder Wand which he from Grindlewald. How? The Elder Wand cannot be defeated. If Grindlewald was using it, how could Dumbledore defeat him?
Harry wins the Elder Wand by defeating Draco. Leave aside the logic of Draco winning the wand even though he didn't actually ever catch it or pick it up or otherwise touch or hold it when he disarmed 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).
Bill and Arthur Weasley are their own secret keepers! When the trio escape to Shell Cottage, they learn Bill is its Secret Keeper and that Arthur is the Secret Keeper for the home where the rest of the family is staying. If a person can be the secret keeper for the place where they live, why wasn't James or Lily the Secret Keeper for their home? There is no explanation for this anomaly.
How could Ron imitates Harry's command to open the chamber? Wasn't it was established (in CoS) that Parselmouth is an inherited magical ability? Evidence of this is that when Harry hears or speaks Parseltounge, he hears English. 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.
JKR has said (in a, 2007-07-30) "Dumbledore understood Mermish, Gobbledegook and Parseltongue." It's not clear if he could speak Parseltongue ( say's not, but only cites the web chat). I'm not sure what evidence there that Dumbledore could understand Parseltongue in the books for this other than his repeating in English a phrase Morfin spoke in Parseltounge in a memory they viewed in HBP17. An easier explanation might be that Dumbledore obtained the translation from Morfin when he obtained the memory (perhaps using Legilimancy). So, maybe Parseltounge is easier to learn that was indicated in CoS and only consists of human producible sounds.
Alternately, perhaps access to the Chamber of Secrets isn't charmed to require Parseltongue. Perhaps it only requires the human producible audible portion of the language. This is a significant assumption, but would minimize the requirements for Ron to adequately imitate Parseltongue without being a Parselmouth.
JKR has also said (Carnegie Hall, 2007-10-20): "I don't see it really as a language you can learn. So few people speak it that who would teach you? This is a weird ability passed down through the Slytherin blood line. However Ron was with Harry when he said one word in Parseltongue, which I do not know so I cannot duplicate for you, but he heard him say "Open," and he was able to reproduce the sound. So it was one word. Whether he could learn to speak to snakes properly is a separate issue. I don't think he could. But he knew enough, he was smart enough, to duplicate one necessary sound."
I'm still skeptical. 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 several very eventful days ago and once five years previous. Most people take a quite a while to learn to speak a foreign language, even one that's closely related to their native tongue. To learn one that uses different sounds and inflections is much harder. A human learns to hear and produce sounds at a young age. It's increasingly difficult to learn to understand or speak another language that uses different sounds after that. It's unlikely Ron would have the 'ear' to accurately remember Harry's 'open' command. So could Ron realistically imitate Harry's Parseltongue 'open' command? Not totally impossible, but I think it's a very long stretch.
This leads to another idea. Is Ron a parselmouth himself? It would explain his ability to get into the chamber in DH. His reaction to learning Harry was a parselmouth might not be thinking Harry is evil (being a parselmouth himself), but annoyance that Harry has an ability he'd thought set himself apart.
Harry's scar is an accidental horcrux. There are many problems with this.
The only thing clearly stated about creating a Horcrux in the books is that a person has to split their soul, which requires a cold blooded murder. This is somewhat contradicted by Myrtle's death appearing to be accidental. Tom may have intended to have the Basilisk kill someone, but there is no evidence he was targetting Myrtle.
JKR listed all the murders used to create Horcruxes in the*. She states that Myrtle's and Hepzipah Smith's deaths were used to turn the diary and cup into Horcruxes. From this we may deduce that some time is allowed between whatever advanced preparations may be required and the murder, and that some time is allowed after the murder before the making of the Horcrux. This is because in both cases some time had to pass before and after the deaths. It would take time to bring the Basilisk up to the bathroom where Myrtle died and to return it to the Chamber afterwards. The memory Dumbldeore obtained from Smith's elf shows he had tea with her before she showed him the cup and that he left after murdering her - so some time passed both before and after her murder.
One idea on how a Horcrux could be created accidentally is that it wasn't entirely accidental. Perhaps, Voldemort had planned to use Harry's death to make a Horcrux that night. He had already killed the Potters, so when the killing curse he fired at Harry backfired his soul was primed to split and did so, with the fragment taking roost in Harry's scar. (Source: Tournament Hilarity, Chapter 8, by loverofeevee) This might partly explain why Voldemort waited until Harry was fifteen months old to attack the Potters. It might take some time to prepare to make a Horcrux; however, you'd have to figure that time in the preparation of other Horcruxes, such as the diary and Ring. Tom murdered
Having been produced accidentally or having been affected affected by the magic protecting Harry, perhaps the soul fragment in Harry's scar is unable to harm or possess Harry and therefore doesn't trigger the protection thereafter. This could be because it is crippled or because a Horcrux is normally passive and Tom added the aggression to the ones he deliberately created. Perhaps it isn't even a proper Horcrux and does not serve to anchor Voldemort. It would be interesting if Dumbledore was mistaken in his belief that it had to be destroyed (through Harry's death) before Tom could truly die.
Some stories (written before DH or rejecting Horcruxes) theorize the scar isn't a soul fragment at all, but some other form of anchor or leach Voldemort cast when he saw his killing curse rebounding. However, if that were the case we'd need another explanation for the 'baby' that was at King's Cross in Harry's afterlife experience with Dumbledore (DH35).
Dumbledore planned to have Harry martyr himself! It's not exactly clear when Dumbledore made this decision. There appear to have been two reasons for it: to destroy the accidental Horcrux and to extend Lily's protection to his friends and perhaps the whole of wizarding Britain. There are several issues with the decision:
• The evidence for the accidental Horcrux seems rather thin. Despite his cryptic words to McGonagall about scars being useful, it doesn't appear Dumbledore identified Harry's scar as a Horcrus in 1981 -- if he had then he should have started investigating them back then. It appears that it was Harry's destruction of the diary in 1993 that started Dumbledore on that route of investigation. Even then, there is no mention in any of the books of Dumbledore examining Harry's scar. So the idea that the scar is an accidental Horcrux appears to be purely deduction on the Dumbledore's part. Deduction based on what? The scar hurting when Voldemort was near? That could be a reaction from his mother's protection. Harry having visions? Couldn't that be from the powers-that-be that gave Sybil her prophecy? Why would Dumbledore suspect Harry's scar contained a Horcrux? Are accidental Horcruxes a common side effect of creating one? Did Dumbledore have a book discussing the possibility? Did Dumbledore have a book describing the effects of a person hosting a Horcrux? What information would Dumbledore have to base his deduction on?
• Dumbledore thought Harry sacrificing himself for his friends would replicate his mother's protection for them. Seriously? Dumbledore was betting the safety of the Wizarding world on a long shot like that? First, we know Dumbledore came up with his theory of Lily's sacrifice rather quickly, since he placed Harry with the Dursleys within a day (or perhaps three) of her dying. We don't know if he examined either Harry or the site of her death. Was his theory backed by any facts or just a guess? Second, assuming his theory is correct and compete what's the chance, given it has never happened before, that Harry's death would replicate it? Third, It would seem the chances of this working would be significantly lower if Harry actually survived (as Dumbledore said he had some hope after Voldemort used Harry's blood to create his new body).
• This is completely contrary to the image of Dumbledore as the kind, wise, grandfatherly figure established in the earlier books. It forces a reinterpretation of everything he has said and done. While off-screen background setup may have implied that he was less competent or thoughtful than his on-screen presentation, now his on-screen presentation explicitly states that he deliberately manipulated Harry throughout his life so that he would be willing to sacrifice himself. This leads to the conclusion that a wizard does not need to use dark magic to be evil.
• The plan worked -- at least, to the extent of getting Harry to martyr himself, I'm not sure that there's evidence of his mother's protection being duplicated (and one could say too many people died for that to be the case). Despite all odds (to ensure ownership of the Elder wand, Voldemort should have killed Snape himself rather than having Nagini bite him), Harry sacrifices himself to Voldemort's Killing Curse and the Horcrux accidentally created in his scar is destroyed. 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? If it wasn't magic, was it experience? Did Dumbledore have so much experience manipulating people to act against their own interests that he was supremely confident in his ability to have Harry martyr himself?
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. It could have done it by accident, by the hand of fate, because the Wand couldn't strike its true master, or because that's what Harry wanted. Intent is important in magic and although Harry willing accepted the curse his intent was get rid of the Horcrux in his scar. He didn't really want to die. Since Harry was the true master of the wand, it could very reasonably have followed his intent and targeted the Horcrux. I assume Harry's willingness is the only reason Voldemort could strike him with a curse cast with the Elder Wand -- later in the Great Hall it backfired when Harry resisted.
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. It also raises the question of why Harry didn't serve as an anchor for Voldemort when the killing curse rebounded in the Great Hall.
There is also the issue of Harry's conversation with Dumbledore at "King's Cross" (DH35) when Harry says 'He killed me with your wand' and Dumbledore replies 'He failed to kill you with my wand.' If Voldemort failed to kill Harry, then Voldemort's blood isn't needed as an anchor.
Harry casts "protego" to shield Molly Weasley from Voldemort's raised wand after Molly kills Bellatrix in the Great Hall. Why? Why a cast a shield spell that is sure to be ineffective against the Killing Curse or Torture Curse that were Voldemort's most likely attack? If it had not distracted Voldemort, Molly would have died. Why not conjure a stone wall that would be effective protection? Why not use the element of surprise to attack Voldemort directly?
Harry remains master of the Elder Wand after Voldemort 'kills' him in the forest. How does that make sense? Harry became master of the Elder Wand when he disarmed Draco. How does Voldemort killing Harry not make Voldemort the new master of the Elder Wand? I suppose you can say Voldemort didn't 'defeat' Harry, since Harry surrendered and willing stood and took the killing curse, but that seems rather thin. There's also the issue of Voldemort having used the Elder Wand itself to 'kill' Harry, which shouldn't be possible, but then you might say Voldemort didn't really 'kill' Harry only the Horcrux.
Voldemort uses the Elder Wand to curse Harry after Harry explains its ownership. Why? Voldemort may not have believed Harry, but why chance it? Didn't he have another wand? Harry no longer had his holly wand, so Voldemort could have used his own wand against him. If he hadn't noticed Harry no longer had his own wand, Voldemort could certainly he summon another wand from a fallen death eater. Harry's monologue served the purpose of explaining the plot to readers, but the explanation could have been given afterwards rather than giving Voldemort the chance to kill Harry without using the Elder wand. (Source: The Perils of Monologuing by White Squirrel)
It is not clear that the prophecy is fulfilled. We are told that prophecies are usually vague and cryptic and not easily understood before they are fulfilled. This prophecy is no exception in being vague and cryptic, however, even after Voldemort has been defeated it is not clear how events match the prophecy. Consider the sections of the prophecy.
The last section of the prophecy is the clearest:
"the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord
This clearly states "the one ... will be born". Future tense - the one has not been born yet. However, this is only known to Dumbledore, not Voldemort.
Other than that detail, the last section is a partial repetition of the first section:
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ...
This may seem clear, with lots of details, but it actually is quite ambiguous and remains ambiguous after the fact:
Dumbledore and Voldemort both assumed that the "Dark Lord" was Voldemort. Perhaps there is something in the unstated lore of prophesy that constrains the prophecy to refer to the current, acknowledged local Dark Lord.
Dumbledore, who knows the full prophecy, will have combined the word "approaches" (from this section) with "the one ... will be born" (from the last section) to conclude that "the one approaches birth" and that his mother was likely pregnant when the prophecy was given. Without benefit of the last section of the prophecy, Voldemort might only consider those who were "born as the seventh month dies" and now approach in some fashion; e.g., on a sail boat. Voldemort might not have considered children who were about to be born - after all, what power could a new born babe have to vanquish him? This may explain why Voldemort took so long to attack the Potters.
The word "defied" seems vague and open to interpretation. Does defiance require combat? Does it require refusal of a demand, such as a request to join him or perform a service for him? Would making a speech denouncing him count? What about passive resistance? Must the defiance have occurred after Tom became the Dark Lord or could defiance have occurred earlier - in the orphanage, at Hogwarts, or shortly after leaving Hogwarts?
It is unknown whether Dumbledore and Voldemort independently identified the same children as candidates for the prophecy or whether Voldemort targeted them after learning of Dumbledore's interest in them (perhaps informed by a spy). If they did independently identify the same children, we must accept that either there was an accepted meaning of the word "defied" in the lore of prophesy or a limited number of candidates by any definition. They also appear to have both concluded "seventh month" refers to the current year of the commonly used (Gregorian) calendar rather than some other calendar (such as a lunar calendar) or seven months from the time the prophesy was given (assuming that wasn't Dec 31).
(In concluding 'the one' must be Harry of Neville, Dumbledore must have concluded they will be born that year and not the next. This implies that they must already have been conceived to be approaching birth. However, given wizards accept the existence of some form of life after death might there not also be life before conception during which 'the one' might spend some time approaching that event? In that case the one could be born a year or more after Harry and Neville.)
The words "with" and "approaches" are of note. It seems to say "the one" already has "the power" while approaching. That is quite restrictive. About all a person has before birth is his lineage, potential, and his parents' love.
In retrospect, Voldemort was defeated by a fluke of wand ownership. Aside from that being very unsatisfying as a prophesied "power", Harry didn't have ownership of the Elder wand while he approached his birth. Indeed, he did not gain that ownership until after he had had several encounters with Voldemort, long after he could reasonably be considered to be "approaching" anything. This does not seem to match the prophecy's statement that "the one with the power ... approaches".
The second section of the prophecy is:
"and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal,
This raises four questions: what is the mark, are they actually equal, what is the power, and in what way the Dark Lord knows not of it. The mark could be a literal mark (such as Harry's scar) or it could be figurative (identifying him). "Mark him as his equal" could imply a transfer of power or it could be a figurative mark identifying him as a potential equal - an assessment that may or may not have been true. The power remains unidentified, but is constrained to be something the "Dark Lord knows not". This may mean it is a power the Dark Lord has never heard of, one the Dark Lord does not have himself, or one he doesn't know "the one" has.
This is mostly clear in retrospect. Before the fact it could have many interpretations, but after the fact it's 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 (power of) ownership of the Elder Wand. It's less clear that the "Dark Lord knows not" of the ownership. Voldemort thought he had gained ownership of the wand coming into the battle, but Harry explained that he didn't before the final confrontation. The Dark Lord may not have believed Harry, but he had been told the truth of the ownership. Perhaps it refers to an understanding of the significance of the wand's ownership rather than the plain knowledge of who owns it.
It is possible the power was something else, that Dumbledore was wrong and the curse did not rebound because of the Elder Wand's ownership. For instance, it is possible that using Harry's blood (in GoF, for his new body) did not negate Harry's protection from the killing curse and it rebounded for the same reason (though with different effect) as it did in 1981. If that is the case, it is not revealed in the books.
It's 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 of personal magical power and his mother's protection in earlier books neither played a significant 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 prophecy that, in retrospect, best matches events.
The third section of the prophecy is:
"either must die by the hand of the other
This seems clearer beforehand than in retrospect. The first half of this section seems clear. Either Harry or the Dark Lord must die by the hand of the other. There is considerable room for interpretation as to whether it requires actual physical contact (e.g., Harry's touch burning Quirrell), an action taken by one or the other (e.g., the protections on baby Harry repelling the Killing Curse), or perhaps even by someone acting on behalf of one of them (e.g., the King's Hand). For the second half of the section to have meaning the words "live" and "survive" must have different meanings, such as 'live = thrive' vs 'survive = is not dead'. There is a third aspect of the section. The word "for" establishes that the first is required by the second. You have to consider the two two parts of the section together. An alternative word to use as a conjunction instead of "for" is "because". Thus, the section appears to say that one of them is going to kill the other because as long as they are both alive (not dead) neither will be able to live as they wish (thrive).
It's not clear why the death of one must be by the hand of the other rather than by some other means, but this may be taken as inevitable because of the conflict between them. Voldemort is going to pursue Harry as a threat and embarrassment and even if he doesn't Dumbledore is going to be throwing Harry in Voldemort's path, so a confrontation between them is inevitable. Neither will be free to live (thrive) as long as the other survives (is not dead) so one will (inevitably) by die the hand of the other.
The problem is that in retrospect it never happens. It's true that Harry was freed to live his life as he wished (thrive) after Voldemort died a final and permanent death, but Voldemort didn't die by Harry's hand. Voldemort died by his own backfired curse. It wasn't even Harry or his mother's protection that deflected the curse back at Voldemort (as happened in 1981), it backfired due to an accident of wand ownership.
There are several confrontations between Harry and Voldemort when one appears to die:
• Voldemort mostly dies on Halloween 1981 by a curse that bounced off Harry, but Harry doesn't thrive as a result.
Some say the first phrase of this section refers to Harry's temporary death in the forest, because his death was necessary to get rid of the accidental Horcrux before Voldemort could be killed and Harry could live as he wishes (thrive). There are several problems with this.
It bears repeating: a fluke of wand ownership is really very unsatisfying as a prophesied 'power'.
I'm not sure it's possible to satisfy the terms of the prophecy's first and last phrases if they mean "the one with the power approaches birth". In OoP, Dumbledore suggested the power was Harry's ability to love. That would fit if the ability to love is inborn. However, even if Harry's feelings of love drove off the Dark Lord's possession of Harry (OoP), I don't know how the Dark Lord would die by Harry's hand due to the power of love. 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 when she sacrificed her life for his.
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 in the books. 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 good 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), and the accidental fluke of wand ownership. Is good luck a power the Dark Lord knows not? Is Tom unlucky? There's no suggestion in the books either that Harry's power is good luck or that good 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 section of the prophecy 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 prophecy and if there was some background laid for it in the first six books. Harry owning the Elder Wand despite never having held it, by virtue of defeating Draco who had also never held it (having disarmed Dumbledore without catching the Elder Wand as it flew over the ramparts) is rather convoluted. Fanfiction has provided many less arbitrary alternatives some that try to adhere to the prophecy, some not.
What happened to the power of love? What happened to the locked room in the Department of Mysteries where the greatest power in the universe is studied? Was Dumbledore wrong? Why isn't there any discussion of this by the characters?
There is a pleasing symmetry to having Voldemort being killed by a backfired killing curse the same as happened on Halloween 1981. However, it would be more symmetrical if the curse backfired again for the same reason (perhaps giving Harry a second scar). Voldemort killing himself due to a fluke of wand ownership matches neither the terms of the prophecy nor the expectations raised by Dumbledore's comments 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 was supposed to be using it to look for Sirius and that should have included checking 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.
To a lesser extent, 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 because he was only a wraith and was hidden within Quirrell) 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, 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.
Indeed, if one assumes that the Map did not tap into some existing magic that was specific to Hogwarts castle and grounds then it may have tapped into the magic ofwhich covers Britain and be able to identify people.
This is a plot hole, a magical device introduced to fill a specific purpose without considering wider applications of the magic.
Why isn't space expansion more widely used? Why aren't all the shops in Diagon Alley bigger inside than outside? (Perhaps the entire Alley is an expanded space?) Why does the Burrow have any small rooms? Why aren't all students told to buy a book bag that's enchanted to hold all their books?
There are only a few examples of magically expanded spaces in the books:
Is there use curtailed by some practical limitation? Perhaps the expansion charm wears off or becomes unstable over time?
What are the limits? How large a space can be expanded? How much can a space be expanded? Can a fixed location (room or cave) be expanded more than a portable item (bag or trunk)? Is the weight of the contents a factor? Can a smaller space be expanded more than a larger space? Can a rigid space like a trunk be expanded more than a flexible space like a bag or tent? Could a fixed space like a room in a house or a cave be expanded more than a portable space?
Can you have an expanded space inside an expanded space? Could you place Hermione's magically expanded book bag inside Moody's magically expanded trunk inside a magically expanded tent? Could a multi-compartment trunk have more than one expanded compartment? Could the expanded compartments be connected to each other? Can an object that is expanded inside be shrunk? Are interior expansion and exterior shrinking independent or is there a combined limit? Could a mobile trailer (20'x40') be expanded 10 fold inside (200'x400') and shrunk 10 fold (2'x4') outside for easy transportation?
How much can a space be expanded? Is the limit ten times in each direction? One hundred times in each direction? A 3'x2'x1' trunk expanded ten times would be 30'x20'x10' - a large room. Expanded the same trunk one hundred times would be 60,000 square feet (1.37 acres) with a one hundred foot ceiling (or multiple levels) - large enough for a manor house with extensive garden or an apartment building. Expanding a larger space just five or ten times would also be impressive. A 20'x80'x8' mobile home expanded five times would be 100'x400'x40' - 40,000 square feet, almost an acre. A 500' wide barn expanded ten times would be almost a mile wide.
A one acre cave (66'x660') cave expanded ten times in each direction would 100 acres. Expanded one hundred times it would be 10,000 acres (over 15 square miles). There are caves up to a half mile wide and miles long; expanded ten fold that would be five miles wide and tens of miles long. Such spaces would be large enough for a village with extensive fields. You would need to enchant the roof to provide an artificial sky, provide cooling (it's warm underground), air purification, and rain. Of course there might be a problem importing soil - presumably the expanded cave floor would be a solid barrier, not tillable. Perhaps silt could be gathered from the seabed at the mouth of a large river. This would allow magical communities to live apart from the non-magical world.
Even if expanding large spaces is impractical with the Beauxbatons carriage and the Durmstrang ship being extreme extravagances and Moody's trunk being a costly luxury, Hermione charmed her bag herself. If she could do that, then why aren't all Hogwarts students advised to buy featherweight expanded book bags.
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. It explains why Tom's use of Morfin's wand at the Riddle mansion wasn't identified as underage magic. However, one has to wonder why anyone's use of magic in a non-magical area doesn't raise some alarm of a possible violation of the Statute of Secrecy.
How does the Ministry distinguish magic cast with a wand from accidental magic? When Dobby hovered the cake (CoS), it was detected as underage magic. When Harry cast the Patronis (OoP), it was detected as underage magic. Both these incidents resulted in a letter being sent to Harry. However, his accidental magic - inflating his aunt (PoA) - did not result in a letter. How would wandless magic be treated?
Could Harry have safely used magic at Privet Drive while there was an adult guard outside? There were several instances when adults used magic at Privet Drive, so the Ministry was clearly aware when an adult Witch or Wizard was present and did not send notices to Harry when the adults used magic. Presumably Harry could have used magic any time a guard was present.
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 watching. They might not do so around Ron or Ginny to avoid giving them blackmail material, so it's reasonable we don't read about it in the books. However, it's 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, unbreakable vows, 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.
Clearly legilimency is not sufficient. We know that Snape practices occlumency to protect his mind from Voldemort, so we can assume Voldemort uses legilimency on a regular basis -- presumably before they receive the Dark Mark and periodically thereafter. However, that does not prevent Snape from being disloyal nor did it prevent Regulus from rebelling.
Why doesn't he require an unbreakable vow? An oath of fealty similar to a knight's pledge to his liege lord would seem appropriate, especially as the Death Eaters were formerly the. That would require an overt declaration terminating service before the Death Eater could act against Voldemort. It's hard to imagine there would be greater negative stigma associated with an unbreakable vow than with being branded with the Dark Mark. Perhaps Voldemort was unwilling to make the reciprocal pledge equally binding.
Then there's the Dark Mark itself, which we know is powerful magic that cannot be removed. Voldemort can use it to call Death Eaters (GoF) and Death Eaters can use it to call Voldemort (DH). Why wouldn't Voldemort include a compulsion to ensure loyalty or obedience?
Regulus' defection was sudden and complete. He didn't spend time with Voldemort or other Death Eaters after he made his decision. Probably, nothing short of an unbreakable vow could have prevented it, but what about Snape? What means could Dumbledore use to determine Snape's true affiliation that Voldemort could not use to discover his disloyalty?
There is also Pettigrew's replacement hand to consider. It killed Pettigrew when he hesitated after being reminded of his life debt to Harry. Voldemort had the means to enforce loyalty, so why didn't he do so to a greater extent? Regulus rebelled, Snape spied on him, and Karkaroff fled. Why was this allowed when the magic existed to prevent it?
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 unbreakable vow, 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?
We know very little about how the magical society is governed.
We know the "Minister for Magic" heads the "Ministry of Magic" which administers the magical world and enforces the Statute of Secrecy. We know the Minister for Magic provides updates to the British Prime Minister (who was largely ignorant of the Magical World). We know the Minister for Magic is elected. We know the Ministry has various departments and units. We know the Minister for Magic came to arrest Hagrid. We know Umbridge was responsible for werewolf legislation. We know Umbridge, as High Inquisitor, issued notices of new rules "in accordance with Education Degree number such and such." We know Mr. Weasley championed muggle protection legislation. We know the Wizengmot is a court which was summoned by the Minister to try Harry and that Mr. Weasley was surprised by this.
We don't know who elects or 'sacks' the Minister of Magic. We don't know if the Minister for Magic reports to the Prime Minister or merely has a courtesy duty to keep him informed. We don't know if the Minister of Magic can enact laws by himself or if there is a legislative body. We don't know if the Wizengamot has any functions in addition to its judicial role. We don't know what territory the Ministry of Magic governs.
The("No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.") dates from 1215. The procedure for issuing a writ of was first codified by the , but there are instances of its use as early as the 12th century. Given that the Statute of Secrecy wasn't officially established until 1692, one would think the Ministry of Magic should have inherited a more substantial right to trial. Alternately, one might wonder what happened in the succeeding years to have it evolve as it apparently has.
It's also of note that the(1642-1651) and the (1688), key events in establishing the supremacy of the House of Commons, occurred before the Statute of Secrecy was established. This was about the time (sometime in the 1600s) the Ministry of Magic was formed as a successor to the earlier (which had existed since at least the 1200s).
However, the word “Wizengamot” may come from “” which operated from before the 7th century until the 11th century. The witenagemot predates the Norman invasion (1066) which occurred shortly after Hogwarts was founded. It raises the interesting question of what traditions the magical world follows. Did its government and judiciary develop completely independent of the muggle world from that far back? Ollivander's claims to have operated since 382BC, predating the Roman occupation of Britain.
The Ministry of Magic is located in London, England and it's jurisdiction includes Hogwarts in Scotland. Beyond that, we don't know what territory it governs.was annexed to by 1535 when the " " created a single entity known as England. After the " " in 1603, England and Scotland were joined by the " " in 1707 to form the . The " " added , creating the , but they had shared a king since the " " in 1542. By Harry's time, the had separated and only remained in the . What then was the territory governed by the Ministry for Magic in London?
From 100BC to 1100AD thegrew from 1.5 million to 3 million. From 1100AD to 1800 it grew from 3 million to 7 million. Since then it has grown to over 50 million and the population of the UK is now over 64 million. If the magical population is only a small fraction of the overall population, perhaps less than one per thousand, this may effect the territory governed.
The wizarding justice system appears disjointed.
Hogwarts is also part of this. From Hagrid's expulsion and Snape's repeated attempts (or pretense) the Headmaster has the authority to expell a student and snap their wand (and apparently prevent them getting another wand). This seems to be rather considerable power to rest in one person. It is also rather harsh punishment for an underage child who is presumably still learning what is and is not acceptable behaviour.
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 "it's 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 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? Perhaps they didn't want to offer him a reduced sentence.
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. Sirius said that he 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, does the Dementor's kiss destroy the immortal soul, denying the person passage to the 'next great adventure'?
Third, in PoA, 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. 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 are 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 (PoA) 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 protections 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? Perhaps 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.
If the Dementors served Voldemort during the war, why were they trusted to guard Death Eaters? Why weren't the suspected of aiding Black's escape. Even if they appeared to be upset by it, wouldn't there be some suspicion that it was a pretense or that there are rogues that helped with the escape?
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.
In CoS Dobby accompanies Lucius Malfoy to Hogwarts - why? There are three issues. First, why would Malfoy bring Dobby to Hogwarts. What service would Malfoy expect to require from Dobby? Second, why would a house elf ever accompany a wizard somewhere, rather than coming when called? Third, why is this the only time Harry sees a house elf accompanying a wizard. It's never mentioned that he ever sees a house elf in Diagon Alley.
Can House Elves pop anywhere regardless of protection charms? In CoS, Dobby is able to pop into and out of both the Dursleys' home and Hogwarts, despite the protections on those places. In DH, we learn Kreacher was able to pop out of Voldemort's cave and Dobby is able to pop into and out of the well warded Malfoy mansion after he had left their service. Had Malfoy failed to remove Dobby's clearance? Dobby was also able to take the prisoners from Malfoy manner to Shell Cottage. Can house elves just go anywhere? Are we to assume no wizard ever thought of sending a house elf into a foe's home to spy or deliver mischief or thought of calling them for help when imprisoned? Can house elves pop into Azkaban?
Are House Elves sometimes used to deliver mail?
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. Charms protecting a home would only have to hold long enough to allow evacuation. Anti-apparation and anti-portkey charms would only be effective to trap someone who couldn't call a house elf. If the Potter family didn't have a house elf, why didn't Dumbledore ask a Hogwarts house elf to listen for their call so they could be rescued?
How were house elves enslaved? Why don't house elves (except Dobby) want freedom? Do house elves gain any benefit from their service? How many households have house elves? How many house elves would belong to a typical household with house elves? How did Hogwarts come to have so many house elves (GF12)?
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? Dobby has a hero worship for Harry and has a history of independent action to help him. Harry might worry about Dobby using his magic while at Privet Drive, but he knew Dobby could come and go without causing a problem. Harry might also have called Dobby when he was tied up in the graveyard, in GoF, either to help him get loose or to go and bring help. Dobby was probably watching the tournament tasks. Why wouldn't he have gone to find Harry when he heard Harry was missing?
What families besides the Malfoys, Blacks, and Crouches have or had house elves? Do the Longbottoms? Did the Potters? Does the Ministry? Neville accepted a SPEW membership, does that means his family doesn't have house elves or did he accept it to humor Hermione despite his family having them?
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 perhaps it 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. We have to wonder if Percy or Ron ever accompanied their mother or father to their Gringotts vault while carrying Scabbers. Did this never happen? Did the Goblins notice and not say anything? Did the Goblins not notice? If they didn't notice, would they notice an animagus with an innocuous form (like a rat or beetle) breaking in? 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 its security 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 it's just torches and lamp light, how do they stand the bright daylight within Gringotts? Do they ever 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?
Vampires are only peripherally mentioned. How are they created? What is their need for blood? Are they immortal? If so, what do they 'give up' in exchange (i.e., why wouldn't everyone want to be one)? One attended a meeting of the Slug Club, so they are able to interact with normal (non-vampire) humans.
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 his protection 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 from Snape's killing curse negates this, but until then it was possible Dumbledore was the Dark Lord of the prophecy and that Harry and Dumbledore were protected from Voldemort because 'either must die at the hand of the other' meant that neither of them could be killed by anyone else until that happened. Dumbledore marked Harry when he decided Harry must be the one mentioned in the prophecy. 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 held positions 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. The revelation in DH that Dumbledore was manipulating Harry to become a martyr cements this view.
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 protections 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 (or at least Padfoot) were all able to locate him there without Dumbledore's approval and Umbridge was able to send Dementors into his neighborhood. Mr Weasley was able to remotely connect the house to the Floo network and use it to access the house, but Dumbledore may have known 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. Voldemort was also able to cast spells on Harry - the torture curse and something to force him to bow. Why did Harry still have to return to the Dursleys' to renew the protections? 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 protections 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 he 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. One destroying the accidental Horcrux and the other rebounding. Could his mother's protection have still been active? After all, the Death Eaters couldn't attack him at Privet Drive until the protections 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? Maybe Voldemort could only touch Harry without being burned because he intended no harm at that moment.
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 PoA10 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 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. Even if Sirius had been 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 and 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 portkey? 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 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, 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 Dementors might have been weakened by charms protecting Hogwarts grounds (if there are any). 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? Perhaps it's a coincidence driven by the stories coming to a climax at the end of each school year, but one has to wonder. Perhaps there are no examples of him appearign powerful earlier in the year. For instance, perhaps recharging the protections at the Dursleys' drains 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? In the books Harry has a Gringott's vault which contains "mounds of gold coins", "columns of silver", and "heaps of little bronze Knuts" (PS5). Is that everything Harry inherits? When asked () "How much money does Harry have in the wizards' bank", JKR answered "Lots. Enough for all the things he will need at Hogwarts for the next three years". Elsewhere ( ) JKR has said "James inherited plenty of money, so he didn't need a well-paid profession". Those are quite different answers. Enough for seven years tuition at Hogwarts, including room and board, (assuming there are tuition fees and its not paid by an endowment or the Ministry) plus school supplies and clothing (if he ever bought any) is one thing. Enough to support a family indefinitely is quite another.
If Harry only has enough money for three years, then he is presumably living of the capital. If Hogwarts charges tuition and that is paid from that vault (vs Harry's tuition having been prepaid at birth or Hogwarts being supported by endowments or the Ministry), then that would be his major expense. His other expenses seem limited to school books and supplies, perhaps including clothing (or at least school robes). The book's statement that "Hagrid helped Harry pile some [coins] into a bag" (PS5) isn't very helpful in understanding that year's expenses. Going by the Tri-Wizard tournament winnings (GF), a "small bag" could contain 1000 Galleons, far more than Harry aught to need for a year's non-tuition expenses with no summer room or board expenses.
A family living off family wealth indefinitely is probably living of the income generated by investments rather than spending the capital. If James was living off his capital, he was either unwise or he had a great deal of capital. If James was living off investment income, what happened to the investments and that income stream? The investments may remain in place or have been sold and the resulting funds deposited in Harry's vault. One might expect that to be at least twenty-five times the income James received. If the investments weren't cashed in, then the continuing income stream might either have been deposited in Harry's vault, another vault (James') or reinvested.
Harry's vault might contain funds set aside for him by his father, ten years income from the family investments, or the whole cash value of everything he inherited.
According to the short lived, a (£42,000/year @ £5/G) and the (£2520/year)*. Of coure those are 1998 salaries, they might have been lower in 1981. Lets assume James drew a rather modest 200G per month (£12,000/year). To generate that income on investments by drawing four percent per year would require capital of 60,000G. If the income were placed in Harry's vault rather than being reinvested, after nearly 10 years the vault it would added nearly 24,000G to whatever was there initially. Quite the mound of gold. However, this is not based on the information in the books and if it wasn't placed in Harry's vault Harry wouldn't know about it.
So, what was in Harry's Vault?
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 (in CoS) 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 Dursleys'] horror of anything connected to magic would stretch to a large pile of gold.”
The film (PS) showed a walk-in vault and one group of columns of gold coins. By my count, the columns was 12 coins wide and the tallest columns were about 80 coins high at the peak. It seemed to have about the same hight and width, about one foot (304.8mm). A one foot cube would contain 11,520 coins (12*12*80). However, the mound shown in the film was round, not square, and only the columns at the centre were 80 coins high. Using a cylinder rather than a cube reduces the number of coins by 3.14/4 to about 9000 coins. Only the centre columns being a foot high reduces the number of coins roughly a third to about 6000 coins. It wasn’t clear if what was shown was the peak of a much larger mound of gold or if it showed most of the mound that was sitting on a table. It may also have only been one of the mounds mentioned in the book. Certainly the 'columns' of Sickles and 'heaps' of Knuts were not shown in the film.
The Galleons shown in the film were thicker than most muggle coins of that size:
UK50p = 27.3mm diameter, 1.78mm thick
including the British Gold Sovereign (22.05mm diameter, 1.52 mm thick).
Discounting the overly thick coin as a visual effect of the film, if the Galleon were one inch (25.4mm) in diameter and a more typical 2mm thick, then a one foot cube would contain 21,600 (12*12*150) Galleons. A peaked column would contain about 12,000G -- about half the 24,000G that would amass from deposits of 200G per month over 10 years.
Although the film shows Harry having a walk-in vault, the book says “the cart stopped at last beside a small door in the passage wall.” The next summer, “Mrs Weasley felt right into the corners” of her vault suggesting a smaller vault whose corners are within arms reach. This suggests the book's vaults might be just a cubby-holes, perhaps no more than a cubic meter in size. She'd have had to get down on her hands and knees to reach into the corners of a walk-in vault. However, the Lestrange vault in DH was certainly a large walk-in vault.
It's unlikely a column of coins would be more than a foot high and there’s no reason to think the mounds, columns, and heaps were hugely different in height. A mound of gold coins a foot or two across would also be appropriate for a vault the same size as the Weasley’s into which Molly could reach the corners. However, Harry's vault also has to have room for the gold he inherited from Sirius.
Is 6000 or even 24,000 Galleons a small fortune? Not compared to a Hit Wizard's salary of 700G/month, 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 (overhearing Vernon discuss business or home expenses or reading in the school library) or since.
On the other hand, if Harry's vault contains enough gold that James was living off it without worry of substantially depleting its contents, then Harry would need a large walk-in vault and the mounds of gold would be much larger was visible in the film. Certainly the Lestranges had a huge walk-in vault. In that case, the "mounds" of gold would be much larger than the columns of gold coin shown in the film.
The wizarding currency is a mystery.
• What is a galleon worth?
In her, 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 @ £5/G), 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*. It takes a bit of fudging to stretch seven hundred galleons (thirty-five hundred pounds) for a vacation for six, but it's doable if you assume magic makes some expenses much less than in the muggle world; for instance international travel by Floo or portkey might be cheaper, a borrowed magical tent might provide accommodation, or they might be able to eat some meals at the camp mess. The use of house elves or magic for house keeping and heating or cooling charms could greatly reduce the cost of hotel/motel operations.
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 Charlie's old wand, but Charlie 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).
If we go outside the books and consider the salaries of a(£42,000/year) given in the , then there is a definite inconsistency with Olivander only charging 7G for a wand and the twins setting up shop for 1000G.
• 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-income 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 aught to 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 (£6.435 to £9.65 per gram). 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 £5 coin could weigh up to 1.38 grams. So, a gold Galleon containing no more than £5 of gold will be a very small coin. Perhaps, too small for the DA to have used for communications in OoP.
This is in conflict with the vault scene of the PS film where the Galleons appeared to be quite large - about an inch in diameter and quite thick (only about 80 in a foot high column).
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.
Confirmation that the Galleon is a fairly small coin may be provided by the Tri-Wizard tournament prize. Minister Fudge to tossed a small bag containing the 1000 Galleon prize to Harry and Harry forgot about it in his pocket. Unless the bag was enchanted to be light weight and hold more than its size, the Galleon must be a fairly small light coin for 1000 of them to be tossed around in a small bag. However, the Galleon can't be too small if the "little bronze Knuts" (PS5) are significantly smaller.
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.
In recent years (early 2010s), the value of gold has exceeded £900 per troy ounce. This is triple the peak 1980s price and would have caused considerable disruption if the exchange rate for the Galleon was strongly linked to the price of gold.
• Cheap Gold?
It's 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, Harry observed that Hogwarts has gold plates (PS). However, such a price difference would create an opportunity for arbitrage: buy gold in the wizarding world, melt it down, 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.
• Gold Colored, Not Gold?
Perhaps the Galleon is only gold colored and doesn't contain any actual gold. For instance, the Canadian one dollar coin is gold colored, but is made of nickel (91.5%) with bronze plating (8.5%). It weighs 7g and is 26.5mm across (diameter) and 1.75mm thick.
I've since found an essay on this topic in HP-Lexicon:
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 while Sirius was growing up or that Kretcher served Arcturus after Warlbura died. So, where did Arcturus live? Was there a Black Manor house? Perhaps he was confined to St. Mungo's Hospital? 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, so 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 tapestry of the Black family tree? In OoP, Harry sees Draco's name on the tapestry. Why is his name there? Thedrawn by JKR for auction shows Draco, but does not name the children of any other Black daughters who married outside the family. Is the tapestry the same? Is Draco shown 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? Perhaps, it has no significance other than his being a character in the books.
Why is Draco the Black heir after Sirius? According to the Black family tree, Sirius' great-grandfather Sirius (1877-1952) had three brothers: Arcturus Black (1884-1959), Cygnus (1989-1943), and Phineas (who was blasted from the tree for supporting muggle rights). Although the younger siblings appear on the tree from right to left (so Walbura will appear next to her husband Orion), Arcturus was second eldest shown. Arcturus had three daughters Callidora (1915-) who married Harfang Longbottom, Cedrella who married Septimus Weasley (), and Charis (1919-1973) who married Caspar Crouch. Cedrella was blasted from the tree, but Callidora had a son and a daughter and Cedrella had a son and two daughters. Draco is the great-great-grandson of Arcturus' younger brother Cygnus. Shouldn't Arcturus' line be senior? What rule of succession places Draco first?
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, we can presume they are all 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? The dates appear to work. Dorea would have been 40 when James was born and her death in 1977 (at age 57) might have been the impetus for James growing up enough that Lily agreed to date him. However, Dumbledore's statement that the Dursleys were Harry's only relatives, lack of any mention in the books of Dorea or relationships through her, and a statement by JKR weigh against it.
There are several places in the books when Dorea being Harry's grandmother should be mentioned:
When JKR was asked about Harry's family (, 16 July 2005), she didn't mention Dorea. She said "it was more interesting, plot-wise, if Harry was completely alone." From this it's clear she did not intend Dorea to be Harry's grandmother, since it would give him living relatives among the Blacks. This appears to confirm Dumbledore's assertion that Harry had no relatives other than the Dursleys.
JKR went on to say "James's parents were elderly, were getting on a little when he was born [...] They were old in wizarding terms [when] they died." This appears to rule out Dorea as James' mother. Although she would have been 'getting on a little' to give birth to a first child at age 40, she could not be considered 'elderly' or 'old in wizarding terms [when] she died' at age 57 (nor in non-wizarding terms).
However, James was 21 when he died. Could a witch give birth 21 years before being classed as 'elderly'?says that "in the Western world, the most typical age range for menopause ... is between 40 and 61 and the average age ... is 51 years." If witches are the same, James' mother would be at most 61 when he was born (1960) and between 76 and 81 when she died (between 1976 when Sirius moved in and 1981 when James died). A muggle of age 76-81 could certainly be called "old" or "elderly" in a general sense, but 81 is the in the UK. One would think that to be "old in wizarding terms [when] she died," she would have to be older than that, especially if you consider the ages of Albus Dumbledore ( , 116) and (>133, since she administered Dumbledore's NEWT exams)*. In that case this may indicate witches are able to have children later in life than muggle women or else JKR's known problem with numbers is at play (which would make it possible for Dorea to have been James' mother, except for the lack of mention of it in the books).
If Charlus and Dorea were not James' parents, what relation was Charlus Potter to James and Harry? Why did JKR put a Potter on the Black Family Tree if there was no relationship? Given the relatively small size of the magical population, could they be unrelated?
Did James grow up in the cottage in Godric's Hollow? 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. Was there a Potter family home? Why is there no mention of it? 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. It would not be unexpected for them to have an old family home.
Did the Potters have a house-elf (or elves) as other old families, like the Blacks, Crouches, and Malfoys, did? If so, what happened to it that Lily couldn't call it to rescue her and Harry? 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? If so, why wasn't Harry informed? If not by Dumbledore, then by Gringotts or whomever else was responsible for it.
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). It's 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 (less if there's a post war baby boom). 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? How about magical paint ball?
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? Does she get any days off? Impossible.
The Hospital Wing is staffed only by Madame Pomfrey. Is she required to be in the castle 7/24 for the entire term? Does she get any days off? Who covers for her when she is off?
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, it's 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.
The minimalist staff is reasonable for children's stories, but is unrealistic when examined more closely.
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. Also, the description ofin Pottermore suggests Hogwarts may be unique in being able to locate students, or at least muggleborn students. However, there are two indications not all potential students attend Hogwarts.
In OoP28, Harry sees the memory of Snape's DADA OWL with over 100 students, but there are only forty students in Harry's class*. The war would have caused a drop in the number of students both through deaths and a lower birth rate, however, it seems rather incredible that it would account from a drop from over 100 students to just 40 students. That suggests the OWL exams at Hogwarts may include home schooled students or students of other schools. On the other hand, there is no mention of non-Hogwarts students coming to Hogwarts to write their exams and we might expect Hermione, at least, to have commented on that.
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, those of 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. Another possibility is that the list of 13 teams comes from Quidditch Through the Ages which was written for charity and may not be Canon.
How many other magic schools? Thehas a population of 64 million, 742 million, and the 7 billion. Assuming the magical population is proportional to the non-magical population and Hogwarts is the only school in Britain, then proportionally there should be about eleven schools in Europe about one hundred ten in the world. I've read a quote citing Pottermore that "Durmstrang once had the darkest reputation of all eleven wizarding schools." Not having read the it directly on Pottermore, I don't know if it was referring to eleven schools in the whole world or some smaller group of schools (e.g., Europe). I've read enough sites saying there are 11 in the world to suspect that's what Pottermore says. That suggests that the other schools are much large than Hogwarts, that there is a disproportionately high magical population in Britain, that there's a lot of home schooling, or that Britain is able to identify much more of it's magical population than other countries (perhaps due to ).
Does Hogwarts charge tuition? Britain has both government funded "comprehensive" schools and "public" schools that charge tuition. Public schools may offer scholarships and bursaries. There is no indication in the books whether Hogwarts charges tuition or whether it is funded by the government or from an endowment (perhaps the rents on Hogsmeade valley). The parents of muggleborn students don't learn about Hogwarts until June or July before their first year, how could they be expected to pay? If parents were expecting to send their children to a comprehensive, they wouldn't have budgeted for a boarding school. Harry has his inheritance, Hermione's parents are both dentists, and Justin was planning to attend Eton. What about the Creeveys? Colin's father was a milkman. It's unlikely he was planning or could afford to send his boys to a boarding school. There was a school fund that provided for Tom Riddle's supplies. Did that also pay for his tuition? If that fund only pays for for muggleborn students, might it be a reason for resentment? Are Hogwarts tuition fees the reason for the Weasley's apparent lack of funds? The books are silent on the issue.
Does St. Mungos charge patients? Britain has National Health, but it's a fairly recent institution (founded 1948). Is this why no notice is paid to Harry's implied malnutrition?
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 150 times the number of children of a given age. If we assume everyone in Britain attends Hogwarts, the we can extrapolate Harry's class size of 40 students to a population of 4000 to 6000. Britian's population is around 60 million, so this would be one magical person per 10,000 to 15,000 overall population.
It's possible that not all students attend Hogwarts. As noted above, the number of Quidditch teams suggests only a fourth could come from Hogwarts and the memory Harry saw of Snape's DADA OWL showed over 100 students - probably 100-200 students. Extrapolating that gives a population of 10,000 to 30,000. That would be one magical person per 2,000 to 6,000 overall population.
In one interview, JKR suggested there would be about a thousand students (about 142 per year). That matches Snape's class size with over 100 students writing their OWLs and extrapolates to 14,200 to 21,300 population which is roughly one magical person per 3000 to 4000 population.
Abother way of looking at the question is to consider the number of schools in England vs its population. According to aEngland's population in 2012 was 53.5 million and according to a , there were 3,268 state-funded mainstream secondary schools in England in 2012. Assuming the number of non-state-funded and non-mainstream school is negligable, the calcuation 53.5m/3268 = 16k gives the population served by each average sized school. If wizarding life expectancy is 100-150 years vs 80 years for the genral population, this figure would increase to 20k-30k population per average sized school. If Hogwarts has 1000 students (average size), then this might be the magical population it serves. If it has under 500 students (as suggested by the 40 studnets in Harry's year) then the population it serves would be correspondlingly less.
The PS says Christmas dinner had a "hundred fat, roast turkeys" for the relatively few students who stay at the school for Christmas. This must be hyperbole, an exaggerated impression from Harry's point of view. If that isn't hyperbole it suggests a much larger student body than 40 students per year. If we assume that, despite being fat, they were very small turkeys only feeding 4 students each, a hundred turkeys implies about 400 students remained for the holiday. If only one in five students stayed for the holiday (and the books imply far fewer stay), that means there are at least 2000 students or close to three hundred students per year. More than seven times Harry's apparent class size and considerably more than the number of students writing the DADA OWL with Snape. This is far more than the Hogwarts faculty could possibly teach. However, if there were that many students at Hogwarts a life expectancy 100 years or more that means there are more than (perhaps many more than) 100,000 witches and wizards in Britain. That would be more than one magical person per 600 population.
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 and living close to a non-magical community. Indeed, if all Hogwarts students and their families have to pass through the barrier to platform 9&3/4 at King's Cross Station then there is clearly some expectation that magical families can pass in a non-magical environment.
"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: 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 you assume the ten students whose status is unknown are pureblood and that, then 5 out of 40 witches and wizards (12.5%) are muggle-born and 12 out of 40 (30%) are halfblood. If over 40% of witches and wizards are either muggle-born or half-blood, 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? That 30% of the population who are half-bloods came from somewhere.
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 unbreakable vows, 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 marauders' 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 being 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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