Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Problems I had with the Harry Potter Series, Take Two

Today I’d like to deal with leaps or lapses in logic. I'm only dealing with Order of the Phoenix (OotP) in this posting, but I do bring in examples from the first four books as well.

Magic outside of school by under age wizards

Jo has spun this incredible universe of a Wizarding world that lives parallel and sometimes overlaps with the Muggle world. Trying to understand the rules that she has set up for these worlds is complex, and we've only seen a portion of what her incredible imagination has created.

However, it doesn't always seem to work smoothly.

Case in point: Harry being charged with performing magic outside of Hogwarts.

How does the Ministry of Magic determine when magic is being performed, and who performs it? We had testimony that Fred and George were exploding things at the Burrow over the summer trying to invent things. Did the Ministry cite them as well?

Hermione's character introduction in Philosopher/Sorcerer's Stone suggested that she had done "simple spells" at home. Did she not get any warning that she shouldn't try this at home?

Petunia also gave testimony in the first book that Lily came home from school and turned teacups into rats.

So we saw Dobby do a Hover charm in the Dursley's home and then an owl came almost immediately from the Ministry. As if they had operators standing by to generate letters of reprimand and owls at the ready to start flying.

It seemed to me that this intelligence to the Ministry was done by a site specific magic detector, that couldn't tell the difference between elfin magic and wizard magic.

But in OotP, Harry is cited for a repeat violation for using magic outside of school, but he is in a Little Whinging neighborhood outside of the Dursley household.

So how did the Ministry of Magic know that Harry performed "the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past nine this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area in the presence of a Muggle" ? What was the mechanism for detecting the exact spell, the caster of the spell and the location? It doesn't seem like it's a site-specific monitor, therefore how does it work and why didn't it work in other cases?

Because well, you'd think that if they had that kind of technology to perform that kind of detailed surveillance that they'd have known back in Year Two that the Hover charm was not cast by a wand, nor by Harry. The Ministry might also have known that say, Harry cast the Expelliarmus spell in a cemetery in Little Hangleton, also technically off the grounds from Hogwarts.

Or that Voldemort cast other spells in Little Hangleton, such as Avada Kedavra which could then prove that Harry was telling the truth.

But then...prior to Harry's hearing on performing magic outside of school, we have the Order of the Phoenix stop by the Dursley household and rescue him. Nymphadora Tonks uses magic to help Harry pack.


Why didn't that use of magic set off alarm bells with the Ministry and have them add to the list of complaints against Harry?

Somehow adults who cast magic spells are not under the Ministry's surveillance, but minors are? :Scratches head.: It doesn't make sense to me. Especially since the adults are more likely than children to use dangerous spells such as the Unforgivables.

It bugs me that I can't follow Jo's logic on how her universe is set up.

When I wrote my fifth year fic, I came up with this elaborate idea about out-of-date magical detectors on the roof top of the Dursley home that could only detect that magic was performed but not by the person.

That explanation worked for me, but that's not what Jo chose.

My line of logic would allow for Arthur Weasley's use of magic defending himself against flying porcelain in Goblet of Fire, to just go back to the office and explain what happened while having the Dursleys' fireplace taken off the Floo Network.

I wanted consistency in how these rules of the Potterverse were supposed to work. I don't care if the Ministry plays favorites and turns blind eyes to certain things, but I'd like to know that is the case and not just a lapse in logic.

Harry incriminating himself, Hermione, Sirius and Dumbledore in committing crimes.

What you say? When did Harry incriminate himself, his best friend, his godfather and his headmaster?

Well, we never read Rita Skeeter's cover story in The Quibbler, so we're not really sure what he said versus what she wrote. We do have however this quote from Percy Weasley when Harry was facing down the Minister of Magic, Umbridge, and others in Dumbledore's office.

"Or is there the usual simple explanation involving a reversal of time, a dead man coming back to life, and couple of invisible dementors?"

Let's break that down into three parts:

1. a reversal of time
2. a dead man coming back to life
3. a couple of invisible dementors

Now, I'll dispatch things in reverse order. Harry's hearing before the school year started in OotP dealt with his claims of dementors being in Little Whinging and trying to attack himself and his cousin. Fudge and Percy didn't believe Harry, but they were overruled by the majority in the Wizengamot.

The dead man coming back to life was the testimony of Sirius Black and both Harry and Hermione in Prisoner of Azkaban (PoA) prior to the time when Hermione was given the instruction by Dumbledore to try to change the course of events by messing with time.

Fudge thought the children were Confunded and left the infirmary.

Then Hermione broke her word to the Ministry and used the magical object for something other than she had agreed. I believe that would be a crime and that it should be classified as a Misuse of a Magical Object.

In telling the story of Voldemort's return to Rita, Harry would not have to divulge that he was instrumental in breaking a notorious prisoner out of confinement in Hogwarts, and that he did this with Hermione as his accomplice and with the knowledge and approval of his headmaster.

The further criminal implications is that he has aided and abetted a fugitive of justice.

Just that one line makes me go crazy.

If I were Fudge and there was such a publicly made confession by Harry Potter, you bet I'd start an investigation. Especially if it could lead to the ouster of Dumbledore, which is what he was trying to do all year long.


Did anyone else notice these things? Or am I just insane from looking too closely at the minutiae?

Stay tuned. Next time I'll tell you my problems with character development. Now, that's a whole different topic.


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