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Author Topic: Magical Histories and Magical Mysteries  (Read 6476 times)

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January 06, 2013, 10:48:15 PM

paint it Black

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Seven books, thousands of pages, dozens of complex characters and one amazingly woven plot.  With every reading and re-reading of the Harry Potter series, more and more tiny mysteries reveal themselves to us.  If you can still find your curiosity piqued by some Harry Potter conundrum, you are not alone!  We've all wondered these things too and would love to help you through them.  We expect that you'll return to help enlighten others as well!  So if you've been wondering about how the wand chooses the wizard, why Harry can't tell when he's speaking Parseltongue, or how Dumbledore knew what earwax tasted like when he ate that Bertie Botts Bean :P, you've found the right place to talk about it.   Ask away!



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January 23, 2013, 08:39:45 PM
Reply #1

Dreamteam

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I've sometimes wondered about Dumbledore comment to Harry at the end of OotP - "I have watched you more closely than you can have imagined".  How did he watch Harry? 

He told Harry in PS that he didn't need a cloak to become invisible, he knew about the cruelty and neglect that Harry had suffered at the hands of Dursleys.  Did he sometimes visit Privet Drive unseen (other than the occasion after Lily and James had died)? 

Something else that always struck me was that DD enjoyed music and liked to hum and there was sometimes mention of a wasp or other insect buzzing in a window, I think there was one as Harry sat waiting for his Divination exam.  That, together with dumbledore being an old name for a bee and DD's past as a Transfiguration teacher, makes me think that he sometimes transfigured himself to watch Harry.  Does this sound plausible?  Are there other times when he could have been watching?

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January 24, 2013, 12:23:06 AM
Reply #2

roonwit

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I've sometimes wondered about Dumbledore comment to Harry at the end of OotP - "I have watched you more closely than you can have imagined".  How did he watch Harry? 

He told Harry in PS that he didn't need a cloak to become invisible, he knew about the cruelty and neglect that Harry had suffered at the hands of Dursleys.  Did he sometimes visit Privet Drive unseen (other than the occasion after Lily and James had died)?
I don't think so. He does say in HBP that it has been a long time since his last visit and I take that to be referring to when he delivered baby Harry there. I suspect his information actually came from Mrs. Figg, who would know enough at least to give Dumbledore an idea of how Harry was being treated.
Something else that always struck me was that DD enjoyed music and liked to hum and there was sometimes mention of a wasp or other insect buzzing in a window, I think there was one as Harry sat waiting for his Divination exam.  That, together with dumbledore being an old name for a bee and DD's past as a Transfiguration teacher, makes me think that he sometimes transfigured himself to watch Harry.  Does this sound plausible?  Are there other times when he could have been watching?
I think Jo told us somewhere that if you are transfigured into an animal you as stuck as that animal until someone untransfigures you and you think like that animal, so the only way that would work is if Dumbledore was able to become an animagus bumblebee.

I suspect Dumbledore watched Harry sometimes by making himself invisible (as he did when Harry found the mirror of Erised) and also monitored Harry remotely at times using his silver instruments (as he does after Harry dreams the attack on Arthur by Nagini).
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January 25, 2013, 11:54:56 AM
Reply #3

ss19

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I've sometimes wondered about Dumbledore comment to Harry at the end of OotP - "I have watched you more closely than you can have imagined".  How did he watch Harry? 

He told Harry in PS that he didn't need a cloak to become invisible, he knew about the cruelty and neglect that Harry had suffered at the hands of Dursleys.  Did he sometimes visit Privet Drive unseen (other than the occasion after Lily and James had died)? 

Something else that always struck me was that DD enjoyed music and liked to hum and there was sometimes mention of a wasp or other insect buzzing in a window, I think there was one as Harry sat waiting for his Divination exam.  That, together with dumbledore being an old name for a bee and DD's past as a Transfiguration teacher, makes me think that he sometimes transfigured himself to watch Harry.  Does this sound plausible?  Are there other times when he could have been watching?
Very interesting theory, Dreamteam!

I'm wondering if a wizard can transfigure himself at all, not just what roonwit said about being stuck until someone untransfigures you.  I don't seem to recall anyone transfiguring him or herself in the books that we see or hear about, only other objects or animals or people (like Barty Jr. transfiguring Draco in GoF).  If you can transfigure yourself, then what's the whole point of becoming an Animagus and going through the trouble of getting registered and all?  Self-transfiguration could even replace the need for Polyjuice Potion, perhaps.

It's very possible that Dumbledore was an illegal Animagus though.  He certainly has the skills and abilities to become an Animagus if he wants to.  He's also someone who doesn't just blindly follow rules, so I can easily see him becoming an unregistered Animagus and for it to remain a secret his entire life.
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January 25, 2013, 05:30:05 PM
Reply #4

Evreka

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I've sometimes wondered about Dumbledore comment to Harry at the end of OotP - "I have watched you more closely than you can have imagined".  How did he watch Harry? 
I've sometimes wondered the same and used to support the theory that he watched through his Chocolate Frog Cards. (A theory Jo shot down at some point before DH was out, but if I remember correctly, she liked the theory none-the-less, for its creativeness or similar.)

He told Harry in PS that he didn't need a cloak to become invisible, he knew about the cruelty and neglect that Harry had suffered at the hands of Dursleys.  Did he sometimes visit Privet Drive unseen (other than the occasion after Lily and James had died)?
I don't think so. He does say in HBP that it has been a long time since his last visit and I take that to be referring to when he delivered baby Harry there. I suspect his information actually came from Mrs. Figg, who would know enough at least to give Dumbledore an idea of how Harry was being treated.
I agree, and I think what Mrs Figg says in OOP when she asks Harry's forgiveness for the hard time she used to give him when she baby-sat him, confirm this. It is clear they were in contact and that she already back then helped keep an eye on Harry.


I think Jo told us somewhere that if you are transfigured into an animal you as stuck as that animal until someone untransfigures you and you think like that animal, so the only way that would work is if Dumbledore was able to become an animagus bumblebee.
I am fairly certain this can be found in the beast book on Quintaped - the dangerous result of a Transfigured clan that promptly ate their rivals who Transfigured them in the first place!  ;D

ss19's idea that maybe Albus was yet another unregistered Animagus is interesting. It would explain a lot, yet why don't we ever see him transform? And further, why wouldn't he register? I think Albus seems to have taken a lot of tests and shown his unusual brilliance in many ways openly - as he wrote articles in Transfiguration Today for instance, had heaps of honours given to him and was part of the Wizengamot. Why hide it?
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January 25, 2013, 09:36:27 PM
Reply #5

BillieMac

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I think if Dumbledore was an unregistered animagus, JK would have said so by now.
Funnily enough, that's the only argument I can come up with against the theory. He has the talent and skill necessary, and it fits right into his character to have a laugh at the ministry by breaking the law while heading up the Wizengamot.
A bee would be appropriate, too, with his sweet tooth.
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January 25, 2013, 09:57:26 PM
Reply #6

roonwit

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I'm wondering if a wizard can transfigure himself at all, not just what roonwit said about being stuck until someone untransfigures you.  I don't seem to recall anyone transfiguring him or herself in the books that we see or hear about, only other objects or animals or people (like Barty Jr. transfiguring Draco in GoF).
Partial self-transfiguration is definitely possible as Krum uses it for the second triwizard task, and Harry's year were practising disguising themselves in HBP just before Slughorn's Christmas party.
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January 26, 2013, 06:41:20 PM
Reply #7

ss19

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I think if Dumbledore was an unregistered animagus, JK would have said so by now.
Funnily enough, that's the only argument I can come up with against the theory.
Hi, BillieMac. :)  Sorry but your lone argument is very easy to counter. ;D We know for a fact that JKR hasn't told us everything she has to tell about the Potterverse yet.  There are bits and pieces of new canon information coming out through Pottermore, for one thing.  Then she probably has lots of other information she's keeping until she publishes the Scottish Book, if she does ever publish that.  And even then I'm sure she'll still have more information she can't fit into that book.


Partial self-transfiguration is definitely possible as Krum uses it for the second triwizard task, and Harry's year were practising disguising themselves in HBP just before Slughorn's Christmas party.
(need a facepalm emoticon here) How did I forget about Krum transfiguring himself for the second Triwizard task?  I think we can assume that he transfigured himself instead of asking someone else to transfigure him. 

Harry's transfiguration class before Slughorn's Christmas party I had to look up to remember what they did.  They were doing very basic changes to themselves, just changing the color of their own eyebrows.  But yes, it does refer to what they were doing as "human Transfiguration", and they were doing it to themselves. 

And I just remembered that Slughorn transfigured himself into an armchair when Dumbledore took Harry to recruit Slughorn for the Potions Master position.  So yeah, I apologize and take back what I said about wizards not being able to transfigure themselves.  Thank you for pointing out those two canon examples, roonwit. :)

Now I'm wondering what the difference is between becoming an Animagus and just transfiguring yourself in a more casual manner.
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January 26, 2013, 08:24:46 PM
Reply #8

BillieMac

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Hi, BillieMac. :)  Sorry but your lone argument is very easy to counter.
I didn't like it much, either, lol. I did sort of counter it myself, after all. You just did it better. ;D

Quote
(need a facepalm emoticon here) How did I forget about Krum transfiguring himself for the second Triwizard task?  I think we can assume that he transfigured himself instead of asking someone else to transfigure him. 

Harry's transfiguration class before Slughorn's Christmas party I had to look up to remember what they did.  They were doing very basic changes to themselves, just changing the color of their own eyebrows.  But yes, it does refer to what they were doing as "human Transfiguration", and they were doing it to themselves. 

And I just remembered that Slughorn transfigured himself into an armchair when Dumbledore took Harry to recruit Slughorn for the Potions Master position.  So yeah, I apologize and take back what I said about wizards not being able to transfigure themselves.  Thank you for pointing out those two canon examples, roonwit. :)

Now I'm wondering what the difference is between becoming an Animagus and just transfiguring yourself in a more casual manner.
Your problem here, ss19, is that JKR herself has contradicted the books elsewhere. In fact, she's quite clear in ToBtB that transfiguring into an animal causes one to lose their human mind until restored. She's fudging a bit with Krum's partial transfiguration, but the flaw there is that he transfigured his head which should have left him with a shark's brain. Self transfiguration into an object, she doesn't mention other than in HBP, so we'll have to take it on canon faith that human intelligence is retained.
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January 26, 2013, 09:14:29 PM
Reply #9

Evreka

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She's fudging a bit with Krum's partial transfiguration, but the flaw there is that he transfigured his head which should have left him with a shark's brain. Self transfiguration into an object, she doesn't mention other than in HBP, so we'll have to take it on canon faith that human intelligence is retained.
On Krum: I suppose, given the canon reference, that we ought to understand it so that if you transfigure ALL of you into an animal you get the animals brain, but as long as some human part of your self is untouched, so is your brain? Would that work with existing interviews?

As for your thoughts on Self transfiguration into an object ;D I do think you must be right, and I really like the funny way you used to argue the case! :) Yes, we must certainly hope so...
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January 26, 2013, 09:19:27 PM
Reply #10

Armoracia

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I wonder, too, if there is a difference between transfiguring outward appearance and a complete transfiguration. As for the "difference" between transfiguration and animagi - well, mass for one thing. It seems to me to be an offshoot of transfiguration; a more complete form that displaces mass as well as shape. After all, the examples that we are given of class assignments all have roughly the same matter-size, no? beetles into buttons, mouse into a teacup, etc. But that is not necessarily true with animagus forms.

It is highly likely that what Slughorn transfigured was his appearance, not himself. He didn't really become a chair, he just took on its appearance, in other words. Polyjuice potion does roughly the same thing. You don't become the other person - you still have your own thoughts and memories, etc, but you take on their appearance, right down to voice. You have to supply the mannerisms on your own. I'm thinking self-transfiguration is likely similar - what metamorphmagi can do naturally, in a sense.

However, I need to pay closer attention while I reread to see if canon backs this up!
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January 26, 2013, 09:38:44 PM
Reply #11

Dreamteam

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The difference between transfiguration and becoming an animagus is that animagi don't need to use a wand, we know that because Sirius was able to change while in Azkaban and he had no wand at the time, that's probably one of the reasons why it's felt to be a difficult thing to learn. 

We know that JKR has a lot of background information on characters that hasn't made it into the books because she's told us so, so it's quite possible that Dumbledore was an unregistered animagus.  Do we know when it became the law that animagi had to register?  Dumbledore's lived a long time and could have learned how to do it before that and I got the impression that being being in breach of Ministry rules on animagi wasn't too bad, considering the way he didn't seem too disturbed to find that three of his pupils in one year had learned how to do it but had remained unregistered, he merely seemed amused that they'd kept it from him.  I just always felt that there were too many clues to ignore and up to the end I kept expecting some kind of revelation that never came. 

Something else that struck me while reading recently was when Slughorn demanded a raise in pay.  Pupils don't appear to pay school fees - otherwise how would the Weasleys have managed to send all seven children to Hogwarts and at no point do we see Harry having to pay for anything other than his supplies in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade - so where does the money come from to pay the teachers, buy supplies, etc?

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January 26, 2013, 09:55:14 PM
Reply #12

Armoracia

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Something else that struck me while reading recently was when Slughorn demanded a raise in pay.  Pupils don't appear to pay school fees - otherwise how would the Weasleys have managed to send all seven children to Hogwarts and at no point do we see Harry having to pay for anything other than his supplies in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade - so where does the money come from to pay the teachers, buy supplies, etc?

Taxes? That's where it comes from here for schools and teachers' pay - would wizards have an income tax? Something gives them the right to interfere at Hogwarts above and beyond the board of directors...that might well be one of the reasons. But I don't know what system Jo might have been modelling on!
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January 26, 2013, 10:28:42 PM
Reply #13

Evreka

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I wonder, too, if there is a difference between transfiguring outward appearance and a complete transfiguration.
...
It is highly likely that what Slughorn transfigured was his appearance, not himself. He didn't really become a chair, he just took on its appearance, in other words. Polyjuice potion does roughly the same thing. You don't become the other person - you still have your own thoughts and memories, etc, but you take on their appearance, right down to voice. You have to supply the mannerisms on your own. I'm thinking self-transfiguration is likely similar - what metamorphmagi can do naturally, in a sense.
 
I think you have a good point here, Amoracia. :) Polyjuice Potion, Metamorphmagi, and possibly also Krum's shark head, might all be a more shell-like change. In some book we hear Minerva yelling at a student who turned a class mate into a badger, I think, by accident. Later we see the student, still with striped hair. Whereas the Animagi becomes the animal (except that they also keep their human thoughts when changing). Human --> Werewolf, however, do NOT keep the human brain unless the Wolfbane Potion is drunk. Maybe that Potion make the transformation more about appearance than the deep, all-changing condition?

The difference between transfiguration and becoming an animagus is that animagi don't need to use a wand, we know that because Sirius was able to change while in Azkaban and he had no wand at the time, that's probably one of the reasons why it's felt to be a difficult thing to learn. 
Good point.

Do we know when it became the law that animagi had to register? 
I don't think we do? But Hermione checked who was registered in the last century and depending on how that list works, and whether Albus age should be determined by his Choccolate Frog Card (that indisputably has the wrong death year) or interviews with Jo, he might have been registered and still not be on that list. If she checked the list of people who became Animagi 1893 and forwards, and Albus was about 150 years in 1993, he would have been able to register long before then, and hence not show up there.

However, if he was less than 100 years when he died (according to the chocolate frog card) or the list included every witch and wizard alive who was an Animagus, he would have had to be unregistered.

On the other hand... If he could turn into a bee, why didn't he just disappear into a bee at Hogwarts after the DA was found out? Why did he need to go with Fawkes?


Something else that struck me while reading recently was when Slughorn demanded a raise in pay.  Pupils don't appear to pay school fees - otherwise how would the Weasleys have managed to send all seven children to Hogwarts and at no point do we see Harry having to pay for anything other than his supplies in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade - so where does the money come from to pay the teachers, buy supplies, etc?
Well, it might be that poorer children are submitted for free and wealthier ones need to pay, think scholar ships and such. Or else it could be that Hogwarts own a fortune and can afford to pay its staff out of own funds. Or, of course as Armoracia suggests: taxes. Elegant suggestion indeed!
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 10:30:55 PM by Evreka »
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June 17, 2013, 11:17:06 PM
Reply #14

paint it Black

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I've been wondering lately: In JKR's world, what differentiates a warlock from any other wizard?  Arthur's office-mate Perkins is described as a warlock, and I remember a reference at one point to some "rowdy warlocks" in one of the wizarding pubs.  So, what effect is JKR trying to create when she refers to someone as a warlock?  Are they to be revered or mistrusted?

Likewise, what exactly are hags?  Do they come from wizarding families or are they their own being?  Gilderoy Lockhart wrote a book about them -- are they something to be feared?  :scared:

Cuppa is discussing Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.  Please join us!
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June 18, 2013, 12:07:15 AM
Reply #15

Dreamteam

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I've been wondering lately: In JKR's world, what differentiates a warlock from any other wizard?  Arthur's office-mate Perkins is described as a warlock, and I remember a reference at one point to some "rowdy warlocks" in one of the wizarding pubs.  So, what effect is JKR trying to create when she refers to someone as a warlock?  Are they to be revered or mistrusted?

Likewise, what exactly are hags?  Do they come from wizarding families or are they their own being?  Gilderoy Lockhart wrote a book about them -- are they something to be feared?  :scared:

According to Freedictionary.com a wizard is " One who practices magic; a sorcerer or magician" whereas a warlock is "A male witch, sorcerer, wizard, or demon" but particularly one who practices black magic.  So a warlock seems to be a wizard with a dark side, or at least one with dubious tendencies.  However, I didn't get the impression that Perkins was a dark wizard and rowdiness in pubs is something which is more or less expected when groups get together for a night of drinking to excess so perhaps the old meanings have become a little blurred and exaggerated. 

The same site says that a hag is a witch or sorceress but also gives "female demon" as a definition.  This would fit more with the suggestion that a hag is someone who should be avoided - wasn't there a suggestion of a hag eating raw liver or something at some point? 

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June 18, 2013, 12:23:05 AM
Reply #16

roonwit

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I've been wondering lately: In JKR's world, what differentiates a warlock from any other wizard?  Arthur's office-mate Perkins is described as a warlock, and I remember a reference at one point to some "rowdy warlocks" in one of the wizarding pubs.  So, what effect is JKR trying to create when she refers to someone as a warlock?  Are they to be revered or mistrusted?
JKR defines warlocks in her world in the notes after The Warlock's Hairy Heart from Beedle the Bard.
Likewise, what exactly are hags?  Do they come from wizarding families or are they their own being?  Gilderoy Lockhart wrote a book about them -- are they something to be feared?  :scared:
I get the impression that hags are separate creatures - Fantastic Beasts mentions them a couple of times in the discussion of what a beast is, implying they are a separate species to witches and wizards.
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June 18, 2013, 09:09:09 PM
Reply #17

Evreka

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...
Likewise, what exactly are hags?  Do they come from wizarding families or are they their own being?  Gilderoy Lockhart wrote a book about them -- are they something to be feared?  :scared:
According to Freedictionary.com ...

The same site says that a hag is a witch or sorceress but also gives "female demon" as a definition.  This would fit more with the suggestion that a hag is someone who should be avoided - wasn't there a suggestion of a hag eating raw liver or something at some point?
I think that in one of the Narnia films, possibly the second one(?) there is a hag as one of the mean figures. I think it was in relevance to this that I saw the description of it being a woman who had a bird or vulture head. .... Yes, found it. The description (supposedly from the books) doesn't fully match the film interpretation, so it's anyone's guess how they "usually" look.

Main Wikipedia on hags

As for a HP reference, we have this:

Quote
From POA, start of chapter 4, page 42 in British Edition Paperback
Harry ate breakfast each morning in the Leaky Cauldron, where he liked watching the other guests: funny little witches from the country, up for a day's shopping; venerable-looking wizards arguing over the latest article in Transfiguration Today; wild-looking warlocks; raucous dwarfs; and once, what looked suspiciously like a hag, who ordered a plate of raw liver from behind a thick woollen balaclava.
(My colour.)
I think the balaclava is meant to suggest that the one wearing it is keen not to show their face, which might indicate that Jo, too, sees them as rather more strange looking than an old woman.

While Lockhart's  :lockhart: books, often featured scary or violent species, like Trolls and Yetis and Banshees, for example, at least one featured a sub group of humans: the werewolves. A transformed werewolf, for sure is scary and dangerous - and Greyback is always lethal - but they are still all human too. So the pure fact that Hags are featured in a Lockhart book doesn't necessarily make them their own species, I think, but....

I get the impression that hags are separate creatures - Fantastic Beasts mentions them a couple of times in the discussion of what a beast is, implying they are a separate species to witches and wizards.
.... this do, I think.  :harry:
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July 24, 2013, 12:59:42 AM
Reply #18

Misssyblantsybil

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Something else that struck me while reading recently was when Slughorn demanded a raise in pay.  Pupils don't appear to pay school fees - otherwise how would the Weasleys have managed to send all seven children to Hogwarts and at no point do we see Harry having to pay for anything other than his supplies in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade - so where does the money come from to pay the teachers, buy supplies, etc?


Harry had to get money from his vault to pay for school. He was relieved to find he was rich, because Uncle Dursley had said, "I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!” [Excerpt From: Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.” Pottermore Limited. iBooks.]

So, maybe students DO pay fees.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 01:06:05 AM by Misssyblantsybil »
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July 24, 2013, 07:46:07 AM
Reply #19

Evreka

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Something else that struck me while reading recently was when Slughorn demanded a raise in pay.  Pupils don't appear to pay school fees - otherwise how would the Weasleys have managed to send all seven children to Hogwarts and at no point do we see Harry having to pay for anything other than his supplies in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade - so where does the money come from to pay the teachers, buy supplies, etc?
Surely there are schools in Britain without fees? How else could poor families afford them?

Since the wizarding World is keen to keep itself a secret while teaching its young about magic, it ought to be in the general interest of everyone that the wizardig school is essentially open to all magical students. As such it would make sense to me if it was funded directly from the Ministry of Magic, or some other govermental way. With school fees, it would always risk to loose students. And what if a Muggle-born witch or wizard is born into an extremely poor family? Surely they would much rather send their kid to the local, free, state school than to a boarding school with fees, teaching subjects the parents have never Heard of and might not care for?  :mcgonagall2: A good, free boarding school which relieves the parents of one mouth to feed during terms/semesters when their kid learns to master their unique skills might be Another thing entirely.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 07:48:53 AM by Evreka »
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