So I have seen the final Harry Potter movie. I laughed, I cried, I bitched about the epilogue. Harry Potter is and always will be a huge part of my life. But for me, loving the series also means seriously examining its many flaws and inconsistencies. With the end of the films, I’ve decided to reread the entire series. Reading the series through an adult lens makes the series’ plot holes, flaws and just plain weird moments all the more obvious to me. So, as I read each book I’ve decided to write and share my bitching and griping about the series! I’m writing these under the assumption that the people reading will have a more-than-cursory familiarity with the series; in other words, spoilers ahead! Also, know that this is strictly about the bookverse, no movieverse stuff (that would be a completely different series of blogs on its own).
Things That Confuse and Anger Me About the Harry Potter Series: Philosopher’s Stone
1. How could the Dursleys get away with that level of abuse? After Harry accidentally sets the Brazilian snake free, he gets his “longest ever punishment”—a month in his cupboard. Maybe I’m reading it too literally, but it makes it seem like he’s not allowed out for ANYTHING, even school; he has to sneak food in the middle of the night and by the time he’s allowed out, summer has started. No school officials noticed that this thin, scraggly, obviously abused young child is missing for the entire last month of school?
2. When Harry asks about Wizard banks, Hagrid replies that there’s “just the one—Gringotts”. Really, Hagrid? So, magical folk from Egypt, Africa, America or ANYWHERE else have to Apparate all the way to London to take money out of the bank? It’s little things like these that make me feel like J. K. Rowling loses grip on the absolute breadth of the world she’s created; she’s from Britain so it makes sense for things to be concentrated in Britain (and Scotland, where Hogwarts is). But even as the series progresses and the world expands and we’re even introduced to foreign witches and wizards we’re still lead to believe that the core of the entire magical community is Britain, specifically London, and Hogwarts. Is there really just ONE magical government, and one person is the leader of an entire world of people? And that person is Cornelius Fudge? (In book four, some of these issues with the government are, thankfully, addressed.)
3. When the little First Years are gathered outside the Great Hall, Harry and Ron are wondering about what kind of test they’ll have to pass to be sorted into their houses. Really, Ron? It’s unbelievable that this kid who has had five siblings and both parents go to Hogwarts before him has no idea about the Sorting Hat. And even if he didn’t, some other first years from Wizarding homes would know about it and would be talking about it with their peers. I get that it’s a device to create suspension for the readers but…come on.
4. This is something that’s always bothered me ever since I was a kid. When Harry and Ron save Hermione from the troll and she lies to McGonagall, saying that she went searching for the troll. What the hell, Hermione? Why not just tell the truth: you were in the bathroom, didn’t know about the troll and Harry and Ron helped you? Either way, Harry and Ron look like the saviors but in the lie she tells, it makes her look like a glory-seeking fool. I’ve never understood this lie and I don’t think it was necessary for Harry, Ron and Hermione to become friends.
5. This is a recurring theme in this book: Harry being unjustly rewarded and favored. The first major example is when Harry chases Malfoy down on his broomstick; McGonagall catches him and at first we’re led to believe she’s going to punish him (because she’s McGonagall and she doesn’t play favorites and she’s very straight-lace) but instead she rewards him with a spot on the Gryffindor Quidditch team and a high-end, expensive broomstick (even though the rule is that first years aren’t allowed their own brooms). The second is a less egregious example: when Harry has spent the past three nights roaming the halls after hours to sit in front of the Mirror of Erised. This one is a little more understandable; Dumbledore finds him and reprimands him in his kind, old-man way, teaching him a valuable lesson about dwelling on dreams. So, it’s not quite as bad but the first example in the series of Dumbledore’s obvious favoritism towards Harry. But then, the doozy of all favoritism doozies, perhaps in the entire series: the end-of-year feast in the Great Hall. Due to points lost for Harry and Hermione getting caught getting rid of Norbert the dragon, Gryffindor is in last place for the House Cup and Slytherin has won for the seventh year running. However, Dumbledore unloads a boat-load of last minute points on Gryffindor house for Harry, Ron and Hermione’s actions while going after the Philosopher’s Stone. He gives the three of them just enough points to be neck-in-neck with Slytherin and then awards Neville an extra 10 points for his courage, which pushes them ahead and then win the House Cup. All the green and silver decorations instantly turn to red and gold and the rest of the school celebrates Slytherin unexpected and humiliating loss.
What the fuck, Dumbledore?
This is a huge problem in the entire series, which I’ll probably touch a lot: it’s completely confusing in its sense of morality and right and wrong. The whole series is supposed to be about good vs. evil but save for a few complex characters (Snape, Dumbledore, the Malfoys), we’re stuck with this version of black and white morality. And in this instance, the headmaster of the entire school—who is supposed to care for all his students and foster inter-house civility and camaraderie—is basically saying to the entire school, “Yeah, fuck Slytherin.” Why couldn’t Gryffindor have come in a triumphant but humble second and then actually won another year, like with the Quidditch Cup? But oh, no, Dumbledore had to restore the points and repair Harry’s damaged reputation within the school. Do you think any of the Slytherin students, especially the ones who have just finished their first year of school and are really excited about having won the House Cup, will ever trust Dumbledore again? Man, I wonder if this could possibly come back to fuck them over, when like, a war starts or something.
If you have some plot holes, inconsistencies or just things that anger or confuse you about the Harry Potter series or you want to try to defend the things I’ve brought up here, please feel free to comment! I’m always up for some rousing Harry Potter discussion.
Read the rest of the series as well: