Why It Might Actually Suck to Live in the Harry Potter Universe

Some of you may regard this post as rank heresy, but I assure you, it’s all meant in good fun.

My husband and I like to play a silly and very geeky game I affectionately call, “Would You Live In That Universe?”

Okay, I don’t actually call it that, and it’s not really a game, just an ongoing discussion we pick up every few weeks or months, usually when we’ve read or watched something new and interesting. It basically just involves analyzing whether or not we’d live in a particular universe and why. Neither of us would live in the Puella Magi Madoka Magica universe, for example, but we’d both consider living in the xxxHolic world. We’re iffy on the Star Wars universe, and we’ve agreed to steer well clear of Westeros. I’d pick up and move to Hyrule, though, and Drew would probably tag along.

But the Harry Potter universe is a point of contention.

harry-potter06

I, with my Deathly Hallows tattoo and yearly reread of the books, would obviously be down with living there—at least, if I got to be a witch and not a Muggle. My husband isn’t really in favor of it, though, and after my most recent reread… well… I’ll admit he has a few points.

  1. Wizards have a shockingly lackadaisical approach to basic education and real world skills. How on earth did someone like Ron learn to read? And Mr. Weasley can’t even identify basic British currency by the numbers written on the notes? That’s some frightening ignorance, right there. We get the impression that wizard children don’t have much exposure to the Muggle world, and while I’m not a huge fan of public education, I can admit it has its values. Socializing children and teaching them to recognize basic numerals and, you know, LETTERS, is pretty important.

    And it shows, guys. It shows.
  2. Every single witch and wizard is packing. Seriously. Think about it. Wizards describe guns as a sort of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other. Wands = guns. Every single person in this universe is carrying concealed (or waving the damn thing around in the air). At any moment, someone could hook you into the air by your foot or stupefy you or silence you or much, much worse.. If that’s not a recipe for disaster and serious bullying, I don’t know what is.

    “Oops.” Yeah, right.
  3. Animal cruelty has been institutionalized and is taught in schools. We don’t hear a lot about what happens to those hedgehogs that are getting transfigured into pincushions, but we do know they feel pain—a poorly transfigured pincushion will curl up in fear. How sick is that? And what happens to the disembodied rat tails and vanished kittens? How do we know that tail isn’t feeling unbearable pain? I don’t know about you, but I’d feel really uncomfortable transfiguring another living creature without its consent or a confident, scientific assurance that it’s not feeling any pain.

    totslly barbaric
    Killer chess pieces? Barbaric. Disembodied rat tails? Totally fine.
  4. A huge percentage of wizards are classist or ableist or racist. Okay, this one isn’t that much different than our world, but it’s still disappointing. Ron is constantly bullied for being poor. Hermione is called Mudblood how many times? Squibs are essentially disowned and banished to the Muggle world. And Muggles are regarded as precious oddities at best and disgusting animals at worst. I’ll admit that our heroes are far kinder to these subgroups, but a huge number of wizards we encounter take a very poor attitude to people who don’t look and act exactly as they do. Birth is everything in this world. Pity the Mudbloods, man, but pity the Squibs even more.

    Manners matter, Malfoy.
  5. The government is everywhere. Everyone is magically tagged until they reach the age of 17, and after that point, the magical government is still watching to make sure you don’t take one step out of line. Characters are imprisoned at the drop of a hat, or just to make people feel better (Hagrid in Azkaban? SERIOUSLY?), and the government has a hand in everything from education to medical care to journalism. I know the books are set in a time of war, but the whole question of the Trace makes me feel a little iffy about just who would be watching me.

    …because we’ll sure as damn hell be listening!
  6. Everyone seems to get married, have kids, and die really, REALLY young. Lily and James were, like, 20 when they had Harry. And in the epilogue, Harry is 36ish with three kids. That’s awesome, and great if it’s what you want, but where’s the magical birth control? Are witches and wizards at least being taught how to practice safe sex? And while it seems like Hermione and Ginny go on to have interesting careers, we don’t hear a lot about what other generations are doing. What’s Fleur doing after her marriage to Bill? What did Lily Potter do? And where on earth are Harry’s grandparents? Life expectancy in this world can’t be much more than about 50—and that’s with people like Dumbledore and Bathilda Bagshot throwing off the curve. I’d be a little concerned about burning the candle at both ends, if I lived in this universe. I’m 30 and I’m not an Auror OR a parent yet. What am I even doing with my life?

    With middle age comes… bags under the eyes?

See what I mean? Would YOU live in this universe?

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9 thoughts on “Why It Might Actually Suck to Live in the Harry Potter Universe

  1. Ha! I love this. While you (or your husband) make some interesting points, on the flip side, there’s magic! Although, you could say in the real life, love is all the magic you need.

  2. Dude. I feel like this would be an awesome, all night around a pitcher of beers argument. And I want to have it!

    Yes, I would still live in this world, as a Muggle Born Witch. Totally already thought of this. I think Seamus had the best situation. He was brought up in a Muggle world because his dad is a muggle, but his mom is a witch, so he got all the schooling, but knew what he was getting into and what was going on with him growing up. You know… even if he wasn’t the best with potions.

  3. Hahah, I love this! It’s so true. The education aspect is the thing that really gets me–not only do they not go to primary school, but they actually learn very few “academic” skills (reading, math, science) at Hogwarts, and then none of them go to college or university afterwards! And they’re allowed to run around practicing magic?…Yikes.

    I actually did a blog series in a similar vein like a hundred years ago, if you feel like checking it out: http://www.lyraselene.com/2013/05/06/harry-potter-illiterate-wizards-part/

  4. Fun game. Sometimes my husband and I have conversations like these. How old are the kids when they’re invited to attend Hogwarts? Perhaps they do get some basic number sense and literacy skills before … Maybe there’s a witch and wizard primary building somewhere? 😛

  5. I like this, although some of those points you could rectify yourself and for the young life expectancy, well for one, most of them died young because of the war and another they all graduate young and start working, they don’t have college years like so many people here. You also have to think of the fact that with Harry, Ginny, and their friends, they went through a war and Harry didn’t think he was going to make it out alive. For that matter no one did, he would make some relative sense he would immediately start living his life with Ginny.
    As for Harry’s grandparents, J.K.R has admitted that they died before Harry was born and there was nothing sinister about their deaths.

  6. Great points, Kristin! I never really paid much attention to any of this. My next series re-read is going to be way more interesting because you planted these seeds in my brain. But yes, I would totally still live there.

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