Medieval in More Ways than One

We have seen that the demographics of the wizarding world resembles pre-industrial Britain between the late middle ages and the early modern period. I have discussed the burden of infectious diseases on wizarding society but traditionally disease is not the only problem facing pre-industrial societies.

Where death stalks the land, it does so in the twin forms of war and plague.

  • Why we cannot assume that the Ministry is similar to a Muggle Government

  • Why wizarding society is inherently unstable

  • Why injustice is so widespread in wizarding society


The Missing Babies


  • Infant mortality in the wizarding world and why there is so little evidence for it

  • How wizarding society functions

  • Why having a large family is beneficial

  • Why wizards/witches may have a very different attitude to family planning

In previous essays, I have explored how infectious disease can create high death rates in wizarding society. This does not just effect the population structure, it has huge consequences on how society functions and how the wizarding world approaches family planning.

Draco Malfoy is probably not a single child by choice...


Fantastic Beasts and Gruesome Disease

A discussion of

  • Purely magical diseases

  • Ways in which infections can jump from magical creatures to wizards

  • How the magical world controls the spread to muggles

  • Why the magical world doesn't use modern medical techniques

In the previous essay I discussed how diseases contributes to the high death rate in the wizarding world and how the magical world has a different approach to curing the diseases that are very familiar to muggles.

However the wizarding world doesn't just have to contend with mundane illness, there are myriads of magical creatures and beings in Harry Potter that muggles never see or come into contact with. These creatures/beings most likely harbour their own diseases which can jump species and infect wizards.

Dragonpox may actually come from dragons...

Snape and Sirius

Cut: An analysis of Severus Snape and Sirius Black

Snape and Sirius are two of the most popular characters in HP fandom, and sometimes the debate about these two characters can get heated. So, I’m gonna do something different: I’m going to analyze BOTH of them and show how they’re actually not that different. Good thing they can’t see me say this or they’d both curse me!

First of all, Snape:
Anyone who’s read my blogs probably thinks I REALLY hate Snape. Well, that’s partly true. I hate him as a person, because he is so bitter, spiteful and cruel and I just want to smack him and yell “GET OVER IT!!”, but as a character I think he’s perfect. First of all he occupies that grey area that is more realistic but is hard to write. He’s also the wildcard. He keeps you guessing. All signs point to him trying to kill Harry in the first book, then it turns out he was trying to save Harry! Then in the next two books there’s no real reason to suspect him of trying to hurt Harry…until the fourth book and we find out he was once a death eater! It’s enough to make us go “hmmmm”, yet Dumbledore says Snape’s reformed, so that seems to enough, Dumbledore was no fool, so well we’re not entirely sure about him, we give him the benefit of the doubt… until he killed Dumbledore! I read that and thought “WHAT!! OMG SNAPE YOU EVIL TRAITOR HOW  COULD YOU!”. And all through book seven it seemed Snape had indeed fooled Dumbledore…then we find out his backstory and he WAS loyal to Dumbledore, on the good side, etc. It’s brilliant. Also, giving Umbridge FAKE veritaserum was clever. Despite Dumbledore saying we sort too soon, I think Snape is very much a Slytherin, it’s his cunning that keeps him alive for that long. He’s also VERY perceptive, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool him! I like characters that keep you guessing. I like characters that are complex. They’re realistic. As I’ve said, it’s more when he gets re-written into some woobie that bugs me, because it’s missing out on what makes him so interesting, just as painting him all black (I know lame joke) is missing out. Snape is an anti-hero, and anti-heroes are always interesting. Actually, I think if I met Snape I’d say “You really confuse me sometimes”.  That’s OK, it shows JKR’s genius.

On to Sirius Black
First off, I do like Sirius. A lot. I love him. BUT I agree with JKR, he’s not “wholly wonderful”. He can be very cruel to people. I won’t defend the werewolf incident, that was stupid. Snape could have been killed, and Lupin would have never forgiven himself. Good thing James had enough sense to stop it. Sirius was very bitter for a lot of reasons. I don’t think anyone can blame him about being bitter for going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit! However, he was stuck in the past, unable to let go and just forgive, and there were times I wanted to smack HIM and yell “GET OVER IT!!” Sensing a theme? He doesn’t practice what he preaches, telling Harry “If you want to know what a man is like take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals” yet he was cruel to Kreacher. I know, Kreacher was a symbol and a reminder of the home he hated. That wasn't Kreacher’s fault. He tells Harry “the world isn’t divided into nice people and death eaters”, yet he clearly didn’t think that of that when it came to Snape. He was also incredibly reckless, which is what lead to his death. And again, like Snape, he could be unhinged when angered.  In book five, I don’t think Sirius was a good influence on Harry who was already angry and at risk of doing something stupid. Sirius did live through them. And his comment about “You’re less like your father than I thought” was hitting below the belt. I also don’t think James would want Sirius being reckless. Sirius definitely showed he was thinking like a student. But he wasn’t a student, and James was past that mentality when he died. Like Snape, Sirius is an anti-hero. Also, he could be a tragic hero.

It’s hard to take either of them at their words about the other they’re both so biased, it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle …black (sorry, bad pun). Both these characters are complex. Both are bitter and suffer from arrested development and never grew up. Neither of them could forgive, and ironically, the ones who would benefit from forgiveness are themselves. Both however, were capable of some form of love and died for it. Neither of them had happy childhood. They both acted like teenagers especially with regards to each other. Snape taunting Sirius about being forced to stay inside was low, but Sirius calling Snape “Snivellus” which he called him as a child and scoffing at the prank was also low and childish. I think both these men needed a smack upside the head.

What are your thoughts? And please don't rant or complain keep your comments reflecting this post and keep them respectful.

Why Lily chose James

I'll just say up front: This is pro Jily, and more specifically pro Lily. So spare me your Snape-and-his-achy-breaky-heart stuff. You're wasting your time. I'll always ship Jily. Snapewives comments will just get you snarky response

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't read the Harry Potter series or aren't at the last book and you don't want spoilers do't read this journal entry.

So this entry is my rant about Jily vs Snily and the irrational hate Lily gets. I will be looking at it from Lily's POV. I'm a woman, and I get greatly irritated at the idea that it's about who deserve Lily more than how Lily felt.

No matter where you go in HP sites, there’s almost always people who want to rag on James and Lily, Why? Because Lily (according to them) had the nerve to not fall in love with her former childhood friend, Severus Snape and marry that no-good-evil-spoiled-rich-brat James Potter. I’m fine with different shipping but this attitude drives me UP THE WALL and here’s why: We see James Potter in person in Snape’s Worst Memory. What we see his not flattering, I’ll agree. He’s arrogant, he’s a bully. He’s also a teenager Lily comes to Snape’s defence and yells at James and his friends to leave Snape alone. Snape is the “greasy little oddball” to quote Sirius. James was the “height of cool” at school according to Lupin, who is generally quite fair in his assessment. So you have a pretty, popular teenage girl sticking up for her less popular friends, and standing up to the most popular gang. That takes guts and character. I don’t know too many teens who would do that. But how does Snape thank her? He says “I don’t need help from filthy little mudbloods like her!” And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Snape is her former childhood friend. And before Snapefen or Snily shippers pull out their excuses, let’s be clear on this: Mudblood is a racial slur. If you don’t think so, go back to the second book and reread the chapter “Mudbloods and Murmurs” Pay specific attention to how everyone reacts. Harry and Hermione don’t know what mudblood means, but they do know it’s something really bad. Even Hagrid is outraged, and Ron clearly says “It’s the most insulting thing he could have said." How much more clear can it be? Hermione wasn’t overly hurt and never is when Draco calls her mudblood, because she doesn’t like him and it’s more or less the attitude she expects from him. With Snape and Lily, it’s different. It’s completely different.

Snape and Lily had been best friends for five years. Had this been Snape’s first offence, I do think Lily would have forgiven him, with a lot of begging from him. This wasn’t. Snape was getting involved in dark arts, hanging around aspiring death eaters (who wanted Muggle-borns like Lily wiped off the planet!), and he himself had used the term “Mudblood” for all other Muggle-borns. Still, Lily remained his friend. She tried, for five years, to get him away from that crowd, but he didn’t listen and proceeded to blame James and his friends. He even says “I won’t let you!” to Lily when he tells her James fancies her. Their friendship is becoming strained. So calling her Mudblood is the straw that broke the camels back. When he tries to apologize, it’s too little too late. It’s also not very convincing, he says “I never meant to call you Mudblood, it just—” to which Lily says “Slipped out? But you call everyone of my blood ‘Mudblood, Severus’. Why should I be any different?” Racial insults don’t slip out. You don’t use them if you don’t believe it. Snape did believe it. “But he was humiliated!” cries the Snape apologists. So… he’s hurt and humiliated and he takes it out on his best friend by calling her a racial slur after she defends him? I call BS. There is no reason to use racial slurs. It’s racism. Call a spade a spade (or a slur a slur). I’ve seen a post where Lily apologizes and all is forgiven. No. Just no. The hurt party apologizing to the one who hurt her and taking the blame herself? That’s a red flag for abuse! Lily tells Snape she’s made excuses for him for years and calls him out saying he can’t wait to join the death eaters. He doesn’t answer— which means he doesn’t deny it. She’s right. And at this point on, Snape is Lily’s former friend. Yet Lily is the one in the wrong according to Snapefen. Seriously? She stuck by him for YEARS, and yet when he crosses the line once and for all, she’s a bad person for ending the friendship? Being kind and being a doormat aren’t the same thing. There’s a fine line between being a doormat and being a good friend. I’m a Hufflepuff, so I value loyalty and friendship. I side with Lily, because Snape is the one who violated that trust and friendship. I’m gonna quote something I saw on a tumblr post.

“Imagine if you were a black girl living in the 1960’s in America and your best mate, who happened to be white, started hanging out with a group of rich racist supremacists who openly bullied other black people and who were almost definitely in the KKK. He insists that he didn’t care about all that, and you are different. Then one day, while he was being picked on by some other white kids, you ran to his defence and he said that he didn’t need any help from a dirty nigger like you. You then find out later that he has joined the KKK and has been considering it for a while. What would you do?”

Apologies for the N-word. I hate that word or any racial slur.

If your answer is to end the friendship, walk away from him, and never look back, then congratulations! That is the correct answer. It is the sensible answer. It is the only answer anyone with any dignity or self-respect should give! If you say “I’ll forgive him, I know he didn’t mean it, he’s my friend” then we need to talk. This supposed friend is putting you in danger. Again, RED FLAG OF ABUSE!! It’s the same thing with Snape and Lily. Snape does join the death eaters. Lily was right to walk away. When a friendship turns toxic, it's time to end it.

I'm mildly special needs, but I've been call a retard before, and to this day I can't stand people using it to mean stupid. If I was in Lily's position, and the person who I just defended said said he didn't need help from "a retard like her", if that person was also hanging around a group who wanted to wipe out people with disabilities, called everyone with disabilities a retard but me, then called me that, I'd dump that person as a friend in a second! Heck, I've cut people from my friends list on Facebook for being racist!

Which brings us to James Potter. I won’t for a minute defend his behaviour. It’s bullying. We’ve all been bullied. He was arrogant, he wasn’t very nice. He acted like a typical, spoiled teenager. He also saved Snape’s life from a prank, putting his own life at stake. James grew up, though. We know he did because Lily dated him and married him, which she wouldn’t have done if he hadn’t. He became Head Boy. Even before that, he wasn’t really a bad person. He befriended a werewolf, which most people shunned. He even became an animagus to make it easier for Remus. Sirius says James “deflated his head a bit” in seventh year and that’s when Lily goes out with him. It’s not just to teach Snape a lesson (though that’s what he thought I’m sure) it’s been two years. Lily saw James had matured, she gave him a chance. She liked what she saw, and the two fell deeply in love and married. They had Harry and died protecting him. Their love story is one of growth and sacrifice.

James did not steal Lily from Snape! They were never together and Lily’s not an object that can be stolen. Lily did not friendzone him. They weren’t friends any more. The implications behind friendzone make me cringe! Seriously, a woman can't be friends with a guy without being expected to be something more? If friendship isn't good enough and a guy feels wronged because the girl doesn't return his feelings, then he needs to get over himself.

What really grinds my gears is the condemnation from James comes from one chapter! Yet those same people who condemn James defend Snape and excuse six books of bullying and abusive behaviour. And to say Snape deserves Lily more than James? No, he didn’t. It’s not about deserving someone, love is about love. Lily loved Snape as a friend. However, any chance he may had was irreparably ruined when he called her Mudblood. Lily should have ended that friendship long before, but she was blind because they were friends as children. James was willing to change for the better, and he did. Even at his worst, he’s still better than Snape. At his worst, James is an arrogant teenage bully. Snape at his worst was a death eater. Biogtry is worse than schoolyard bullying (which I don’t defend at all). Teenage bullies usually grow up and grow out of it. Racism isn’t so easily grown out of.

James and Lily had true love. James was a rich pureblood, he could have any girl he wanted, but he chose Lily. Lily could have had any man she wanted, but she chose James. Why? Because he loved her for who she was and she loved him for who he was. That’s all that matters. Lily’s not a prize, she’s a person. She chose a healthy, and loving relationship.

As for me, I want someone to like James loved Lily. Or like Ron loves Hermione or like Harry loves Ginny. I’m uncomfortable with how Snape is fawned over and how his love for Lily is viewed as romantic and beautiful. Snape’s love for Lily was possessive. He didn’t care about her family as love as she got to live. Dumbledore was right to call him on this. I see people saying “I want someone to love me like Snape loved Lily”. Think about it. Do you really? Take off the Snapefen glasses and re read. Snape is a fascinating character, and as a character, I love him. As a person? I don't like him. JKR herself said Snape was "a deeply horrible person". That's WHY he's so compelling. To woobiefy him is to erase that. And personally, I think Snape would hate it.

War and Plague (continued from Demographics of the Wizarding World)

If, as Rowling says, there are only 3000 wizards in the Britain, why is magic so incredibly rare?

In this series of essays I will explore the demographics of the wizarding world, magical diseases and medicine, war, uprisings, and the genetics of magical inheritance.

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Demographics of the Wizarding World

Witches/wizards are very rare when you think in terms of the world as whole. JK Rowling has stated that there are “about 3000” witches/wizards in the UK and there are around 72 million people in the UK. That means magic has a prevalence of 0.0042 in 100,000 people or 42 in 1 million.

Given that most genetic diseases have a higher prevalence than magic (cystic fibrosis: 125 in 1 million, sickle cell anaemia 139 in 1 million), we must ask the question: why is magic so rare in humans?

In this series of essays I will explore the demographics of the wizarding world, magical diseases and medicine, war, uprisings, and the genetics of magical inheritance.

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Unsung Heroes: Colin Creevey & Frank Longbottom

An exciting and informative pasttime as a Harry Potter fan is to ruminate the details of characters and storylintes; to dissect the meaning behind author JK Rowling's story. Throughout the web are great multiple analyses of minor and supporting characters which challenge the importance of their small roles. For example, science fiction website has posted a must-read analyzation of Neville Longbottom and why he is the most important character of the Harry Potter series, as well as an in-depth article on how the blockbuster series diminished the importance of Ron Weasley. While these two popular supporting characters are often the subject of worthy admiration and support by fans, another minor male character (who I always felt was cut too soon out of the Potter picture) was Colin Creevey.
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