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Harry Potter: The Idea of Being Different

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The world of Harry Potter is a world of magic, ghosts, wizards, witches, and magical people of all ages. As the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry prove on a daily basis, you're never too young to get started discovering your magical ability.

And as much as the trials and troubles of Harry and his friends appear to be "normal," the magical world that author J.K. Rowling has created is anything but normal.

Here are a few ways that "being different" is considered "normal":

  • Using magic to do ordinary, everyday things is no big deal. Mrs. Weasley, for example, uses magic to wash the dinner dishes. The Weasley family, especially, uses "floo powder" to travel from place to place. (Then there was the portkey, in the latest book, which whisked people away great distances in the blink of an eye.) Professor Dumbledore transports food from the kitchen to everyone's plates in the dining hall with a wave of his wand. Muggles have to spend their own time washing dishes, carrying food, and traveling great distances. The magic-users of Harry Potter's world have their time free to do other things.
  • Mail is delivered by owl post, not by postal workers. The owls can travel long distances and, we assume, do not stop until their letters and/or packages are delivered. (How many times did Hedwig or Pig, Ron Weasley's little owl, arrive at Hogwarts exhausted from the journey?) It's also amazing that the owls just seem to know where everyone is at the very moment. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter's owl, Hedwig, manages to find Sirius Black every time, even though no one else seems to know where Sirius is hiding.
  • Hogwarts students and professors (and indeed seemingly everyone else in the magic-using world) wears robes, not "regular clothes." How many times did Arthur Weasley try to "fit in" by wearing "regular" (but non-fashionable) clothes?
  • And, probably the biggest way in which the world of Harry Potter is "different" is that in that world, people who use magic are considered "normal." It is considered high praise and a great accomplishment if you have magical ability, even as little as Harry's friend Neville Longbottom has. The Muggles, people who don't have any magical ability, are considered "different" or "irregular" by the magic-users of Harry's world.

So the next time you read or reread one of your favorite Harry Potter books or see the movie (again), remember to look for what's different and how those "differences" look to those of us without magic.

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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