The Wedding

chapter eight of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry attends Bill and Fleur’s wedding, where he runs into the Lovegoods and Viktor Krum, and where Aunt Muriel spreads scandals about Dumbledore – but the event is interrupted by Kingsley’s Patronus, warning that the Ministry has been overtaken.
 

Hello Harry, by gerre

Luna rushed up. “Hello Harry!” she said.
“Er – my name’s Barny,” said Harry, flummoxed.
“Oh, have you changed that too?” she asked brightly.

(by gerre)


 

The Lovegoods, by Heather Campbell

“How wonderful! Gnome saliva is enormously beneficial!” said Mr. Lovegood, seizing Luna’s outstretched finger and examining the bleeding puncture marks…. “You may have been gifted by the Gernumblies!”


 

Bill Weasley, by Laurence Peguy

Bill… stood up at the front of the marquee…. Fred wolf-whistled and there was an outbreak of giggling from the veela cousins.


 

Bridesmaid Ginny, by lberghol

Ginny… looked even prettier than usual.


 

Happy Couple, by Emily Benson

“…then I declare you bonded for life.”


 

The First Step, by Catching-Smoke

“Come and dance,” [Ron] added abruptly to Hermione. She looked taken aback, but pleased too, and got up.


 

Dancing, by Maria Abagnale

They vanished together into the growing throng on the dance floor.


 

Krum Disgustedly Discusses Xenophilius' Questionable Accessories With Barny, by Drew Graham

Krum cracked his knuckles menacingly and glowered at Xenophilius. Harry felt perplexed. It seemed incredibly unlikely that Luna’s father was a supporter of the Dark Arts.


 

Aunt Muriel, by Sarapsys

Auntie Muriel… seemed to be enjoying herself hugely…. “His heart wasn’t the only thing. Didn’t Aberforth break Albus’s nose halfway through the service?
If Doge had looked horrified before this, it was nothing to how he looked now.


 

Fallen, by TBranch

Graceful and gleaming, the lynx landed lightly in the middle of the astonished dancers. Then the Patronus’s mouth opened wide and it spoke in the loud, deep, slow voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
“The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming.”

(by TBranch)


 

about the chapter

 

Something You May Not Have Noticed

Bill and Fleur’s wedding is a rather strange event for Harry, but that’s got to be even stranger for Ginny. Weddings are typically very romantic events for couples in attendance, after all, but while her quasi-boyfriend is there… he’s disguised as her cousin. So when she winks at Harry from the front of the marquee, he actually looks like Barny. Of course, it’s probably good that Harry swore to Ron that he wouldn’t do anything with Ginny, because all of that would be nothing compared to the scene it would make if Ginny were dancing romantically with her cousin on the dance floor….
 

The Wizarding World

Religion in the wizarding world is one topic that is consistently ignored in the books – there are a few references to biblical ideals but we never get a sense that any wizards might be of one religion or another, or indeed that any of them might be religious at all. Of course it’s possible that it’s simply Harry and his friends for whom this is the case; for all we know other Hogwarts students may be attending religious functions led by other students or even teachers, and it’s simply happening off of Harry’s radar. But there are two events that we see which would traditionally be religious events, in Dumbledore’s funeral and Bill and Fleur’s wedding, and there isn’t a hint at either that the “tofty-haired wizard” who leads them is a minister of any sort. In fact Bill and Fleur’s ceremony passes so quickly it seems more likely that he’s some kind of wizarding equivalent of a justice of the peace; the service has no homily and no readings or hymns and is over before Harry even really realizes what’s going on. In some ways, this makes the books more accessible – there’s nobody, anywhere in the world, who’s reading about Harry Potter having a religion that’s different from their own. But it’s still fairly interesting.
 

The Power of Magic

It’s rather fascinating the way Fleur’s beauty is described on her wedding day: “While her radiance usually dimmed everyone else by comparison, today it beautified everybody it fell upon.” I can’t help but wonder, is this something that veela can control? We heard Harry once before mention that he suspected her of “turning on the old charm” as well (and Ron “getting a blast of it”). If Fleur can control it, it’s interesting to look at other scenes where guys are tripping all over themselves for her – for example, was she deliberately flirting with Ron while staying at the Burrow? And if she can’t control it, it’s a fascinating insight into how easy it must be to read veelas’ emotions. I wonder how that all *works*….
 

The Boy Who Lived

On one level, it’s sort of funny that Harry is so bothered by the stories that Rita Skeeter and Aunt Muriel tell about Dumbledore. Dumbledore was his teacher; why should Harry have expected him to divulge his life story? Harry certainly never thought it odd while taking lessons from Dumbledore that Dumbledore wouldn’t be talking about his family, for example. But when you think about it, it really goes deeper than that. Because Harry is getting ready to set out on a mission given to him by Dumbledore – despite the fact that he doesn’t fully comprehend why he’s the only one who can undertake that mission. In other words, Dumbledore has consistently asked Harry to trust him, with his life and with his direction in life; and these stories are showing that Albus may not have been quite so trustworthy as Harry wanted to believe. It’s no wonder it makes him uncomfortable.
 

Full Circle

We’ve only ever seen two wizarding dances, but the parallels and contrasts between them are very neatly done (and certainly deliberate). At the Yule Ball, just two and a half years ago, Ron sulked at the table, refusing to dance while Hermione danced with Viktor Krum – and here, at Bill’s wedding, Krum sits instead, moping about how all the good-looking girls are taken, while Ron and Hermione twirl on the dance floor (at Ron’s invitation, no less!). Two and a half years isn’t all that much time, but Ron has really matured a lot over that span, and it’s cool that Rowling presents this fact to us in such a clear way.
 


46 Responses to “The Wedding”

  1. The section of “The Boy Who Lived” is pretty well summed up in this quote from the book.

    Hermione: Harry, I’m sorry, but I think the real reason you’re so angry is that Dumbledore never told you any of this himself.

    “Maybe I am!” Harry bellowed, and he flung his arms over his head, hardly knowing whether he was trying to hold in his anger or protect himself from his own disillusionment. “Look what he asked from me, Hermione! Risk your life, Harry! And again! And again! And don’t expect me to explain everything, just trust me blindly, trust that I know what I’m doing, trust me even though I don’t trust you! Never the whole truth! Never!”

  2. I wonder if any of the guests noticed Ginny wink at Harry. If they did I wonder what they thought about her winking at her cousin after Aunt Muriel’s comment.

  3. I always wondered about the religion myself. But as far as I can tell,the Weasleys aren’t religious so they wouldn’t have a religious wedding but maybe other wizards do?
    I love the Bill and Fleur picture, but I wish there had been more of them.

  4. “The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming.”

    An admirably succinct and accurate summary, Kingsley.

  5. Yes, I noticed the religious aspect as well. I was particularly paying attention to the funeral and wedding, which traditionally are led by clergy.

    I wish JKR had put more in about that in general, but then of course the books would have been even longer. :)

  6. I don’t think Fleur can control it, I think it’s affected by her emotions – but you’d have to really be paying attention to notice. For example, when Harry says she “turned on the old charm,” I just think that was was naturally flirting with Cedric, and when she starts behaving like that her powers kick into overdrive. Also, I love the full circle bit – I never picked up on the symmetry there!

  7. Re: The Wizarding World

    It’s quite amazing how religion is generally “ignored” in the books–the wizarding world seems like a secular place in many ways, but has a spiritual side at the same time with ghosts floating around and dementors that can “suck out your soul” (which seems a fate worse than death). It’s interesting though that the same “tufty-haired wizard” presides over both Bill & Fleur’s wedding and Dumbledore’s funeral. I wonder what office this wizard holds… I know people often visit a JP for a wedding, but I’ve never heard of it for a funeral. The officiant’s choice of words is also interesting: “We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls…” — this definitely has a spiritual ring to it.

    Despite the lack of “religious” content in the books, it is interesting that Rowling chose to have the British wizarding world observe and celebrate Christmas & Easter holidays, alhtough this might just be in keeping with the British school calendar. The only blatant biblical references I can think of are the gravestone inscriptions Harry & Hermione discover in Godric’s Hollow later in the book. They are taken directly from Matthew 6:21 and 1 Corinthians 15:26. These quotes are obviously foreign to Harry, but he contemplates that they would have been chosen (and thus known) by Dumbledore.

  8. (Warning–longish)

    I liked your “Power of Magic” comment on Fleur, as that was a passage I particularly enjoyed in the book. Up til Book 7, Fleur’s been portrayed as a VERY self-centered, arrogant, superior person (it’s the classic caricature of the French), aware of her looks, and ability to knock guys sideways.

    The change comes, I think, at the end of HBP, when she suddenly turns on Molly, and the two are suddenly in tears and hugging each other. In that moment, Fleur has learned about–well, the sacrificial nature of love. She’s no longer trying to trap the hottest guy around; she’s learning to give of herself. And to someone who’s lost (at least some) of his good looks! I think that’s what changes her beauty from “look at me” to spreading it to everyone in attendance.

  9. Whoops, I goofed! I saw after a quick reread, that Fleur’s personality probably changed somewhere between Chapters 16 & 29 (HBP). Still, it’s a really heartening thing when Fleur changes from beauty queen to a woman who looks beneath scars and sees, well, say it Fleur–“zey prove zat my husband is brave. AND I SHALL DO ZAT!” (Grabbing medication from MWeasley and mopping up Bill)

  10. I wonder if Hermione every spilled the beans on Rita Skeeter.

  11. *edit* ever

  12. @Don: I didn’t take that as Fleur changing, myself. I took that as Harry and the Weasley’s assumptions about Fleur changing. Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, and Hermione assumed that Fleur was vapid and shallow, because she was beautiful and haughty and different from them. They were proven wrong. I don’t think Fleur needed to learn anything –she already knew why and how she loved Bill, surely! It was the Weasleys (and us) who needed to learn, and about her.

    Just because Fleur was beautiful doesn’t mean she wouldn’t look beneath the surface of things. In fact, assuming so means that WE (and the Weasleys) are refusing to look beneath HER surface! :)

  13. RE: Something You May Not Have Noticed…
    It’s true Harry is disguised as a “Weasley cousin,” but he’s actually wearing the body of a muggle from the nearby village. So while it would look strange to the other guests if Harry and Ginny were to dance or kiss, from Ginny’s point of view I imagine he’s just Harry-in-disguise. It’s not like she actually has a cousin Barny to confuse him with!

  14. hazelwillow, yeah, I thought of that too… but I still think it would be weird for her to know that Harry is the random redheaded boy, too, cousin or no. :)

  15. I loved Muriel! She made me want to laugh and hate her at the same time. She seems so odd in the Weasely family as the eccentric matriarch with the sharp tongue or was it because she was drinking? Either way, I could clearly picture her as she systematically blew Harry’s dreams of Dumblebore to kingdom come with her snide remarks and innuendoes, and I discovered that Harry wasn’t the only one that was destined to a life full of heartbreak.

  16. John Kearns –yeah, true. I always think it must be weirder to interact with polyjuiced people than the characters let on. I’d expect more moments like Ron’s when he forgets what Harry looks like in the lift when they break into the ministry.

  17. John, forgive me for this is OT, but from the way you read and extrapolate and find fascinating clues in the details, you should really try Megan Whalen Turner’s books. They are really, really suited to your style of reading (the narrative practically built of extrapolation from detail). They also have good worldbuilding, are exciting and have good characters… I think you’d have a lot of fun with them. The first is called “The Thief,” and like HP they mature as they progress from Children’s to YA.

    Sorry for the OT… every time I come to your site I think of it!

  18. Good looks is an attribute that JKR gives to her characters sparingly, and it’s not an entirely positive trait. Consider the veela!

    Tom Riddle’s good looks mask a thoroughly evil nature. His looks and charm enable him to deceive many people regarding his true character.

    Sirius, Bellatrix and Narcissa are all described as good-looking. It seems to be a Black family characteristic, along with their seemingly unlimited wealth and their historical association with the dark arts. The Blacks are portrayed as people who have everything anyone could want and (for the most part) use their resources badly.

    Cedric and Fleur’s good looks are barriers to our trusting them – the assumption of many characters is that if they’re so attractive they must be shallow and vain. We recognize Cedric’s essential decency pretty quickly, but it takes us until the end of book 6 to see it in Fleur.

    Cho Chang is a different story. There has to be a reason why Harry would develop a huge crush on a girl he hardly knows and rarely sees, so JKR gives her good looks. We never suspect her of being vain or treacherous. Similarly, Madam Rosmerta is good-looking primarily to give Ron an opportunity to make a fool of himself!

    It’s interesting that we know Ginny is very good-looking because Pansy Parkinson, Blaise Zabini, Victor Krum and Harry tell us so. JKR never tells us directly as the narrator.

    Have I left anyone out?

  19. A couple more good-looking characters:

    Madame Maxine – describing her as handsome emphasizes her humanity and makes her seem less monstrous.

    Tom Riddle Sr. – his good looks serve the same function as Cho’s: they give Merope a reason to attach herself to a man she hardly knows.

    And Bill Weasley – probably to make his scarring by Greyback more meaningful.

  20. John, a couple of comments on British culture that round out your remarks.

    (1) It is both legal and socially acceptable for a Brit to marry a first cousin. Queen Victoria did it, and so did Benjamin Bunny. It happens at slightly above chance level. The guests would not think it odd that Ginny flirted with her supposed cousin.

    (2) British society is far less religious than American. Christians are probably one person in forty. Although most people prefer a religious wedding/funeral, secular ceremonies are also fairly common. I think the celebrant who marries couples in a Register Office is called a Registrar, but don’t quote me there.

    Having said that, JKR does state that Harry was christened (presumably in an Anglican church) and that he has a godfather (not merely a guardian). So it would seem that wizards do in fact have the same religions and non-religions as Muggles. It’s just that the Weasleys are agnostic. (The Dursleys are probably atheists, and Hermione’s knowledge of the Bible is more likey to spring from her general reading than from any personal beliefs.)

    I believe JKR made her main characters secular for a very deliberate reason, i.e. that she didn’t want the cultural or spiritual pratice of her characters’ religions to interfere with the spiritual analogy that is her central plot-point. You can’t comfortably have a Christ-figure who is a Christian, and it’s even less plausible that he’d be anti-Christian!

  21. So to sum up – Voldemort takes over the world whilst Harry is at a wedding! The Death Eaters finally did something noteworthy, but the reader is stuck following Harry who is stuck at a wedding. This chapter showed how much the series had gone downhill. What use was Harry going to be at a wedding?! All he did was babysit an offensive old aunt of the Weasley clan and get angsty about his old headmaster’s family history!

  22. Jonathan, I’m a little perplexed by your statement. In what book has Harry been in the thick of the action? Order of the Phoenix, where he spent the whole time angry about how nobody was telling him anything? Or Philosopher’s Stone or Chamber of Secrets, where he had no idea what was going on the whole time? The books have never been about the wizarding world. They’re about Harry and his journey. And you can say “what use was Harry going to be at a wedding…” but for that matter, what use was he going to be at the Ministry? His only power over Voldemort is over Voldemort himself, and from what we’ve gathered he wasn’t even at the Ministry. From Harry’s perspective, the only thing that matters about the Ministry was that it fell. But at the wedding he learned several things that would be key pieces of information for the journey ahead of him. That’s a heck of a lot more useful than watching Scrimgour get killed firsthand and then getting captured and taken to Voldemort.

  23. I have always enjoyed reading (and re-reading) the wedding scene. I noticed the “minister” states Fleur and Bill are “bonded for life” and we never hear of a divorced witch or wizard. (One that maybe killed off her husbands, but not divorced:)

    I wonder if there is a magical contract which does not allow for divorce? Of course, this may reflect J.K.’s own views of marriage and her own pain of being divorced, but I do like the idea of a permanent commitment as an important element.

  24. naah he didn’t mature XD He just read the right book ^^

  25. Grace has victory: I could totally see Hermione reading the Bible purely because it’s a book!

  26. Grace has victory: This statement is not intended to cause offence to non-atheists, as non-atheists are not necessarily less intelligent than atheists, but I don’t see the Dursleys as intelligent enough to be atheists (for me, atheism is a set of principles in themselves; certainly not the disdain of spirituality I can see the Dursleys having). What makes you say that they probably are? Also, I find the image weird on a personal level as for me, an atheist, one of the most important aspects of life is compassion. And I don’t see much of that in the Dursleys, as you might imagine.

  27. Just wanted to say that the drawing of Kingsley’s Patronus at the end of Bill and Fleur’s wedding is very powerful imagery. It shows the beginning of the darker side of Deathly Hallows, which is depicted more by the end of such a beautiful event of Bill and Fleur’s wedding as well as the other moving scenes before they depart from the Weasley’s

  28. rtozier, my assumption that the Dursleys are atheists comes from JKR’s description of Uncle Vernon, who doesn’t believe in anything non-material, and is even uncomfortable with dreams and cartoons. He is completely bound by the life of his five senses and his worship of material wealth.

    Atheism is the default assumption of someone like Uncle Vernon (in Britain, anyway). He wouldn’t have been exposed to any kind of religious or philosophical thinking, because most Brits are not, and he simply doesn’t have the imagination to think outside his own immediate experience. He knows there are people out there who go to church, but he wouldn’t have a clue what they believe, and he’d assume it’s something along the lines of a fairy tale.

    As for compassion, I don’t see how that’s correlated to Atheism. The usual correlates of compassion are (1) having received plenty of it in childhood or (2) being a thinking person who, despite not having received much empathy, can develop some kind of higher moral code anyway. Nobody would accuse Uncle Vernon of thinking; it doesn’t sound as if he had thinking friends who might have influenced him; and his parents and his school don’t seem to have been up to much either.

    You link your Atheism to a set of attitudes, but for a person like Uncle Vernon, they are not inevitably linked.

  29. I liked the “bonded for life” part, but I was surprised that the officiant didn’t cast some kind of visible magic, like the unbreakable vow, on the couple. That sounds like a very wizardy thing to do!

  30. Every time I read the end of this chapter, the image of Kingsley’s deep voice echoing through the suddenly silent yard, it gives me chills. Everything is about to erupt into hysteria, but this short moment of calm I find far more frightening.

    I also think it’s interesting that Scrimgeour dies ‘off camera’. This is the second major character in this book to go that way, but I think it gives the story another layer of realism – not everyone gets a big death scene.

    I can’t quite read the first chapter of SS the same way after this. When Dumbledore is introduced, we’re told his nose looked as if it’d been broken a couple times, but it was simply another quirky trait of an old and unusual man. Now that we know why…it’s a bit heartbreaking.

  31. ID always just assumed that Fleurs beauty spilling on to everyone else was just a reference to how people say that Someone being happy makes the people around them feel happy as well coupled with types of phrases like “She was so happy her face lit up”. So because she is a veela she was LITERALLY radiating a sort beauty that affected everyone positively simply because she was so happy.

  32. Speaking of Fleur, considering that her captivating, magical beauty was a *key* component of her character for most of the books, the choice of Fleur in the movies was unfathomable. The movie Fleur was utterly drab.

  33. And, now, what’s sure to be an unpopular comment (please take no offense as none is meant).

    Religion (well, Christianity, at least) and the Wizarding World.

    I can’t imagine that wizards would be that impressed with Jesus. Preaching forgiveness, love, and acceptance was very much Dumbledore’s thing. While it’s technically vinegar, not water, into wine, the Trio learns the charm for that in their sixth year. Granted, we never see this in the books, but I imagine at least Hermione would know a charm (either to raise the surface tension, lower her apparent mass, or both) that would allow her to walk on water. Mending or curing (naturally occurring as opposed to curse-caused) illness, blindness, missing limbs, etc., is something that Poppy Pomfrey can accomplish while still having concentration left to give you a terse lecture about taking risks.

    Returning the dead to life, of course, is beyond any magic, but, what’s to say Lazarus was actually dead? Even as late as the early 1900’s, they’d tie a string to your finger that ran up to a bell by your headstone so that, in case you woke up in your coffin, you could be rescued. Dying on the cross and rising again three days later, well, again, what if he didn’t die in the first place. A charm, enchantment, or potion (maybe Draught of the Living Death (could wear off after three days)) and they think you’re dead, get tossed in a cave, mend yourself, rest up, blast the stone out of the way, and you’re good to go. We have stories from the Burning Times of witches and wizards “put to death” by the Inquisition. A simple flame freezing charm, enjoy the slight tickling sensation, and act the part until you can escape.

    Also, certain original depictions of Jesus portrayed him as a young, fresh-face, dark-haired man who carried a thin strip of wood…Maybe he even purchased it from Ollivander’s (Fine Wand Makers since 582, BC).

  34. Lesharo, I’m Catholic and I was ready to be offended by your comment, but wow! That was remarkably thought out. I never really thought about it before, but I bet that’s exactly what wizards think when they hear those stories. I mean, some of them must have some sort of religion. It seems, though, that it must be something vastly different from Christianity.

  35. So Jesus was a wizard!!!! Kidding, kidding… But an interesting theory…

    Reading the wedding the first time, I was pretty touched. The second time, I was annoyed because Harry doesn’t seem to see the touching-ness of it and is just worried about everything else.

    So angry about the portrayal of the wedding in the movie. It appears completely pointless (“I don’t care about a wedding!”), cheap, and the union of two characters that have just been introduced so that they can be married. Meh.

  36. I don’t have the book with me right now, but I can’t help but be a little perturbed by the use of God in some of the wizards’ exclamations. I doubt if it’s in this chapter wherein Ron mentioned “My God!”. I guess reading about magic and the wizarding world has instilled this sort of ideology in me that religion and magic are two VERY separate concepts; thus, making me quite surprised, indeed, that Ron would even use the word God. But I guess he picked it up off Muggles (Harry or Hermione) who use the phrase often.

  37. Sorry for double-posting, but I just realized I’m not sure whether it was “My God!” or “Thank God!” which Ron had exclaimed.

    Love this site anyway. Keep it up, John! :)

  38. I noticed that the characters more often invoke the name of Merlin than of God, almost as if Merlin was a religious figure in the wizarding world. (Certainly a figure of such stature that his fame has even spread through the Muggle world as well as the wizarding world!)

    Kingsley’s message at the end shows how just three short and simple sentences can send a chill up your spine.

  39. I haven’t read all the comments carefully, but I don’t think this has been mentioned. John – you have previously written a lot about wizards growing older than muggles, and we see proof in Dumbledore who is over a hundred years old. But here, in this chapter, Auntie Muriel says several times that she is a hundred and seven years old, and she says it as if it is a great age that should earn her respect.
    Is it something Rowling didn’t think of, or do you think the age maybe depend on how “magical” the person in question is? After all, it seems more likely that Dumbedlore would reach an age of a 150 or so, but a less powerful wizard or a squib wouldn’t. Thoughts?

  40. Amanda, I totally see what you’re saying. I have two thoughts on this. One is that the idea that wizards grow so much older than muggles is something that Rowling only ever mentioned once, in a single interview a long time ago, and that a lot of us really latched on to (mostly because we had almost no other information about ages at the time). It’s since been contradicted a lot – it’s pretty clear in the books that Dumbledore is only 120 or so, and that it’s still fairly rare for wizards live to be beyond 100. We only really see a couple that live so long, and we see tons of examples of those who die much sooner. So I think Muriel’s being 107 might be more the equivalent of a Muggle being 85 or 90, as opposed to, say, 65. And that’s still pretty old.

    My other thought is that Muriel seems to me to be the type of person who’s been whining about her old age from the moment she first thought she could get away with it, just to bring the attention on herself. If she were a Muggle I could totally see her saying, “I’m sixty years old and a grandmother, you should treat me with respect!” So it’s really as much a statement about Muriel as it is a statement about her actual age. :)

  41. Another age inconsistency I noticed recently is Prof. McGonagall and Mrs. Longbottom. Throughout the series, Neville’s grandmother is always 100% supportive of Dumbledore and encourages Neville to join in the rebellion. So, why isn’t she in the Order of the Phoenix?

    At first, it seems that the grandmother of a teenage boy might be too old and feeble to go head-to-head with Death Eaters. But, in HBP (US 174) McGonagall makes a jibe about Augusta Longbottom not doing well in Charms at Hogwarts, implying that McG was a classmate or even already teaching when Augusta was at school. Augusta is about the same age or younger than Minerva, an active member of the Order! Yet we are given the picture of the former being a stern but frail granny, and the latter being a solid warrior.

    Oh, well. I guess it’s another example of JKR not paying attention to numbers!

  42. Lesharo, not in the least offended… but still inclined to look at it differently. Theologically speaking, it doesn’t actually matter whether or not not Jesus did miracles (= was a wizard). You can subtract every miracle but one from the four Gospels, and the important parts of the story remain pretty much the same.

    The one exception, of course, is the resurrection. If you take that one way, you have indeed blown away the fundamental premise of Christianity. But raising people from the dead is one thing that magic can’t do. It remains an event that would “impress” wizards.

    You’ve suggested reasons why wizards might not believe in the resurrection, but what you’ve actually said is the resurrection never happened. That is rather different from saying that a resurrection might occur by ordinary magic as understood by wizards. The latter is not correct; the former could be argued just as well by Muggles as by wizards.

    I agree that most British wizards have no particular religion, but I think it’s for the same reasons that most British Muggles have no particular religion. I think magic would not cause much difference in metaphysical outlook – certainly not more than, say, the difference caused by a modern scientific rather than a low-technology, agrarian culture.

  43. With regards to the Jesus and Magic, I thought I’d bring out this link. I’m not sure if I got it from somewhere else here, or from another website, but TV Tropes is a wealth of knowledge for some things. However, I feel it’s only fair to warn you NOT to follow the links on TV Tropes unless you’re ready to waste hours reading.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NoSuchThingAsWizardJesus

  44. Nice, succint summary on the main page, Colin! I don’t have time to follow the links, but what I read made the point well.

    There are fantasies out there that are not compatible with various religions (or any of them). For example, Diana Wynne Jones’s Eight Days with Luke assumes that the ancient Norse religion is true and therefore it undermines all other religions and atheism. The whole thing is very well written and somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I recommend the book, but only if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t take offence at the reminder that other people’s beliefs are different from your own.

    That’s what’s different about Harry Potter compared with those “other” fantasies. It’s pro-Christian in its conception because, in the Potterverse, you can’t rise from the dead. The fact that Harry very nearly does is precisely because he is a Christ-figure but he isn’t Jesus. JKR was treading a very fine line there, and I think she brought Harry across the theological tightrope really well.

  45. Amanda, we all know that JKR uses numbers pretty arbitrarily, but here is a theory about wizarding age that might work.

    It seems that wizard children age at the same rate as Muggles until they are about 17. Once they are adult, they seem to decay more slowly than Muggles. Let’s say that in seven years, a wizard only suffers about five years’ worth of decay. By this argument…

    Wizard 24 = Muggle 22 (no real difference)
    Wizard 52 = Muggle 42 (you might notice the wizards are “well preserved”)
    Wizard 85 = Muggle 65 (you would definitely notice that wizards retire later)
    Wizard 107 = Muggle 81 (Muriel is elderly, but by no means extraordinary or incapacitated)
    Wizard 133 = Muggle 100 (the maximum – I like to think that Neville’s gran made it to this age!)

    The fact that comparatively few wizards seem to make it to 100 might be explained by the reality that wizards are far more prone to accidental deaths than Muggles. In the Harry Potter era, we also have to allow that Voldemort probably made a clean sweep of people of all ages.

    One implication that isn’t directly addressed in the books is that wizards would habitually have four-generation families. Mrs Weasley does refer to “our Great-Aunt Muriel”, meaning her and/or Arthur’s great-aunt and the children’s great-great-aunt.

  46. Grace has Victory, I’d like to revisit your comment, way up in this thread, about it being very acceptable in Britain for first cousins to marry. I grant your point about Queen Victoria and Benjamin Bunny (and I’ll throw in Charles Darwin and Fanny Price for good measure), but haven’t attitudes changed somewhat in the years since these marriages took place?

    When we see the Gaunt family in HBP10, they fit perfectly the American stereotype of an inbred community: isolated, ignorant, and displaying physical and mental defects. Dumbledore reinforces this impression by telling Harry that the Gaunts were “noted for a streak of instability and violence that flourished through the generations due to their habit of marrying their own cousins.”

    I’m sure you’re right that marriages between cousins occur in Britain, but don’t they also raise some eyebrows?

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