{Harry Potter: A History} For Dummies

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me really well (even not so much) that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. So with the sixth film, the Half-Blood Prince, releasing on Tuesday at midnight, I’ve decided to finally dedicate a little piece of the Pink Book to my favourite book series of all time. Basically, I plan on guiding you and hopefully, if not already, converting you to a die-hard Potterhead.

So as Peter Pan says, “Get ready because here we go!”

On to the first installment, Harry Potter for Dummies

(*WARNING: Contains spoilers*)

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The world of Harry Potter is a vast universe of mythology, fantasy, a little science-fiction and a lot of life. To ease you into the journey, let me educate you:

The Harry Potter series was written by J.K. Rowling in 1997. It was first published by Bloomsbury Books in the United Kingdom, Scholastic in the United States, Allen and Unwin in Australia and Raincoast Books in Canada.

There are seven books in the series. Each book goes through one year of the main character, Harry Potter’s, life at a magical school in England called Hogwarts.

The seven books in order are:
1. The Philosopher’s Stone (The Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States)
2. The Chamber of Secrets
3. The Prisoner of Azkaban
4. The Goblet of Fire
5. The Order of the Phoenix
6. The Half-Blood Prince
7. The Deathly Hallows

They have sold over 400 million books worldwide, making it the most successful book (and series) of all-time next to the Bible.

It has been translated into 167 languages and is also the fastest-selling book of all-time.

It is estimated that the Harry Potter brand is worth $14 billion dollars (£7 billion)

The story of Harry Potter is about young Harry’s struggles against the evil wizard Lord Voldemort (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) who killed Harry’s parents and is on a quest to rule and conquer the wizarding world. Lord Voldemort also goes after non-magical people called Muggles, who he deeply dislikes, although he is a half-blood himself.

According to J.K. Rowling the major theme of Harry Potter is not good versus evil, as most people would predict, but rather death.

“My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry’s parents. There is Voldemort’s obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality at any price, the goal of anyone with magic. I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We’re all frightened of it.”

Over the 10 year period the books were in rapid publication, many academics and journalists have concluded other interpretations and themes, some very complex and others rather simple, including political satire and commentary.

Some common themes have included, but are not limited to: normality, survival, racism, oppression, overcoming the odds, adolescence, power and its abuse, love, prejudice and the freedom to choose.

Rowling has also made it clear to her audience that she was never going to leave her characters in any form of pre-pubescent stages. She outwardly acknowledges that her characters will grow, as the books grow – the stories and their content will get darker and more mature.

On the topic of choosing between what is right and what is easy, she once said, “blindingly obvious.” The key for her was the choice between what is right and what is easy, “because that … is how tyranny is started, with people being apathetic and taking the easy route and suddenly finding themselves in deep trouble.”

Quick Facts:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded a very long time ago by four of the brightest witches and wizards of their time. They are:

Godric “Gryffindor”
House Mascot: Lion
Traits: courage, daring, nerve, chivalry
Colours: Red and Gold
Ghost: Nearly Headless Nick
Element: Fire
Head of House: Minerva McGonagall

Helga “Hufflepuff”
House Mascot: Badger
Traits: hard work, loyalty, tolerance and fairness
Colours: Canary yellow and black
Ghost: The Fat Friar
Element: Earth
Head of House: Pomona Sprout

Rowena “Ravenclaw”
House Mascot: Eagle
Traits: intelligence, creativity, wit and wisdom
Colours: blue and bronze
Ghost: The Grey Lady (daughter of Rowena, and ex-girlfriend/fiancée of the Bloody Baron)
Element: Air
Head of House: Filius Flitwick

Salazar “Slytherin”
House Mascot: Serpent
Traits: ambition, charm, cunning, resourceful
Colours: Silver and Green
Ghost: Bloody Baron
Element: Water
Head of House: Severus Snape (Books 1-6.5), Horace Slughorn (Books 6.5-7)

The form of racism in the Potter books is based by blood type.
• Pure-Blood: 100 percent wizard/witch
• Half-Blood: half-Muggle, half-wizard or less
• Muggle/Muggle-born (derogatory term ‘Mudblood’ means ‘dirty blood’): born of non-magical parents are Muggleborns, and Muggles are people without any magical powers. To some Purebloods, Muggleborns are second-class citizens and Muggles are at the level of farm animals, for example.

Some Hogwarts classes include: Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Astronomy, History of Magic, Herbology, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, Quidditch Lessons and Muggle Studies.

Quidditch is a wizarding sport that is similar to football (soccer) except with brooms.

The Dark Mark is the symbol of the Death Eaters.

Death Eaters are the loyal followers of Lord Voldemort.

Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters battle the Order of the Phoenix.

The Order of the Phoenix is a secret society founded by Albus Dumbledore during the First War to fight the Death Eaters.

Dumbledore’s Army aka D.A., is a student organization at Hogwarts in order to stand up to the regime of Hogwarts High Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge. Also so students can learn proper Defense Against the Dark Arts.

The First War ended in 1981 when Lord Voldemort broke into the home of Harry Potter’s parents, in a place called Godric’s Hollow, and killed them. It was here that when he aimed to kill Harry, with the Avada Kedavra curse, all of his power exploded leaving him barely powerful and a reflective image of what he was. Harry Potter survived with only a lightning bolt scar on his forehead.

The Second War started sometime during the fifth and sixth Harry Potter books, when Lord Voldemort comes back with a vengeance into his full mortal form. However, according to some (*cough*Keira*cough*), and those who read deeper into the books to infer when the Second War really started — it can be said that technically the Second War started at the end of Book Three when Wormtail escapes. It can also be argued that the Second War started during the Fourth Book, when Lord Voldemort decided to declare war on Harry Potter. All of that being said, according to what is written in the books, as is, the Second War starts in Book Five.

Three Unforgivable Curses as prescribes by the Ministry of Magic:
• Avada Kedavra is the Killing Curse – to kill
• Crucio is the Cruciatus Curse – to torture
• Imperio is the Imperius Curse – to control

The Ministry of Magic is the governing body that manages the wizarding world. Their supreme court is called the Wizengamot.

Notable Places:
• Burrow – Home of the Weasley’s’
• Godric’s Hollow – Once home to Harry Potter’s parents, Lily and James, was started by Godric Gryffindor
• Malfoy Manor – Home of the Malfoy Family
• Little Whinging – Where Number Four Privet Drive is located, home of Harry’s only living relatives the Dursley’s.
• No. 12, Grimmauld Place – Once home to the most “ancient and noble House of Black,” it later becomes the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix
• Shell Cottage – Where Bill Weasley and his wife Fleur (Delacour) live
• Spinner’s End – childhood and current home of Severus Snape. Area where Lily Evans (and Harry’s Aunt Petunia) grew up
• Beauxbatons – French magical school
• Durmstrang – while it cannot be exactly determined where this magical school lies, because of the students uniforms (heavy coats and fur) it is speculated to be very far in “the North” – though, most of the students have Bulgarian names.
• Diagon Alley – “good” magical shopping district
• Knockturn Alley – “bad” magical shopping district
• Gringotts Wizarding Bank – wizard’s bank
• The Leaky Cauldron – popular wizarding pub
• Ollivander’s – popular wizarding wand shop
• Quality Quidditch Supplies – popular Quidditch store
• Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes – joke shop started by Fred and George Weasley
• Hogsmeade – magical wizarding village not far from Hogwarts
• The Three Broomsticks – popular pub in Hogsmeade
• The Hog’s Head – popular pub in Hogsmeade for a more ‘dark’ crowd
• Honeydukes – very popular candy store in Hogsmeade and popular attraction amongst Hogwarts students
• Shrieking Shack – said to be the most ‘haunted place in Britain’
• Azkaban – wizarding jail (think Alcatraz times a million) guarded by souless creatures called Dementors.
• St. Mungo’s – wizarding hospital

There are too many characters to list/name so I suggest you venture here.

Rough Guide:
• Harry Potter – Gryffindor, parents Lily and James Potter. Best friends with Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley
• Hermione Granger – Gryffindor, parents are dentists in London, exceedingly smart, favourite book is Hogwarts: A History, part of an ongoing joke in the book series
• Ron Weasley – Gryffindor, met Harry Potter on the first train ride, Hogwarts Express, to Hogwarts. Parents are Arthur and Molly Weasley. Has 5 brothers and one sister.
• Albus Dumbledore – mentor to Harry Potter, ex-Hogwarts professor and main Headmaster. The one wizard Lord Voldemort ever feared. Also is gay.
• Severus Snape – Slytherin, ex-Hogwarts Potions professor, head of Slytherin House, became Headmaster after Dumbledore’s death. Was best friends as a child with Lily Evans (Lily Potter) and eventually fell in love with her. Trusted by Dumbledore, who requested that Snape end his suffering and kill him. Double-agent, works for Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters
• Lord Voldemort – dark wizard, Slytherin, is a half-blood. Father was a wealthy handsome Muggle, mother was last descendent of Salazar Slytherin
• Minerva McGonagall – Gryffindor Head of House, serves as mentor and guide for Harry and his friends. Teaches Transfiguration.
• Hagrid – Gamekeeper of the Grounds at Hogwarts. Friend to Harry, Hermione and Ron. Is half-giant and half-human. Is a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Teaches Care of Magical Creatures.
• Draco Malfoy – Harry Potter’s main nemesis. Slytherin, introduced in the first book before Harry meets Ron, comes from a wealthy, long lineage of Pure Blood wizards. His Godfather is Severus Snape. Father is Lucius Malfoy, renowned Death Eater.
• Black Sisters – Andromeda, Bellatrix and Narcissa. Cousins to Sirius Black.
• Luna Lovegood – Ravenclaw, friend of the trio. Obsessed with Nargles.
• Bellatrix Lestrange – loyal Death Eater, Slytherin, close to Lord Voldemort. Aunt to Draco Malfoy
• Marauders – All Gryffindors, grew up at time with Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Consists of James Potter (Prongs), Remus Lupin (Moony), Petter Pettigrew (Wormtail — later turns into Death Eater) and Sirius Black (Padfoot).
• Dursleys – Harry’s aunt Petunia (sister, and non-magical to Harry’s mother Lily), his uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley (who he saves from Dementors in the Order of the Phoenix)
• Neville Longbottom – Gryffindor, befriends ‘Golden Trio’ in first novel, kills Nagini, parents were tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange during First War
• Nagini – Voldemort’s pet snake and spy
• Nymphadora Tonks – cousin to Sirius Black, Order of the Phoenix member, married to Remus Lupin, son is Teddy Lupin whose godfather is Harry Potter
• Dobby – house elf, used to work for Malfoys, friend of Harry Potter
• Hedwig – Harry Potter’s owl, gift from Hagrid
• Weasley family – Headed by Arthur and Molly — kids include: Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron and Ginny

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Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. I disagree — Year Four is where Voldemort’s plan to regain his power is realized. At the end of Year Four, Dumbledore sends Remus and Sirius out to inform past members of the Order of the Phoenix that the war has begun anew.

    Voldemort now has his body, and his followers, and a plan.

    The next year, Voldemort sets much into motion by laying low and allowing the general public of the wizarding world to believe that Harry Potter and Dumbledore are lying about his return. It’s at the end of Year Five, when Voldemort is detected in the Ministry of Magic by the Department of Mysteries, that the truth of his return is acknowledged.

  2. great post for those who haven't found time to read the books (or re-read them)!

  3. great post for those who haven't found time to read the books (or re-read them)!

  4. I disagree – I know the chapter Second War shows up in book 5, but…

    Technically, the Second War starts when Peter Pettigrew escapes and travels as a rat towards Romania at the end of Year Three. It is there he provides the key information for Voldemort’s next (and successful) attack.

    Year Four is where Voldemort’s plan to regain his power is realized. At the end of Year Four, Dumbledore sends Remus and Sirius out to inform past members of the Order of the Phoenix that the war has begun anew.

    Voldemort now has his body, and his followers, and a plan.

    The next year, Voldemort sets much into motion by laying low and allowing the general public of the wizarding world to believe that Harry Potter and Dumbledore are lying about his return. It’s at the end of Year Five, when Voldemort is detected in the Ministry of Magic by the Department of Mysteries, that the truth of his return is acknowledged.

  5. great post for those who haven't found time to read the books (or re-read them)!

  6. I disagree – I know the chapter Second War shows up in book 5, but…

    Technically, the Second War starts when Peter Pettigrew escapes and travels as a rat towards Romania at the end of Year Three. It is there he provides the key information for Voldemort’s next (and successful) attack.

    Year Four is where Voldemort’s plan to regain his power is realized. At the end of Year Four, Dumbledore sends Remus and Sirius out to inform past members of the Order of the Phoenix that the war has begun anew.

    Voldemort now has his body, and his followers, and a plan.

    The next year, Voldemort sets much into motion by laying low and allowing the general public of the wizarding world to believe that Harry Potter and Dumbledore are lying about his return. It’s at the end of Year Five, when Voldemort is detected in the Ministry of Magic by the Department of Mysteries, that the truth of his return is acknowledged.