Most Harry Potter essays were written as the books were being released, and were dedicated to predictions: Is Snape good or bad? Does Hermione love Harry or Ron? But while these collect dust today, part of the richness of the books is that there is always more to talk about and wonder about. So here I’ve compiled a different type of essay, dedicated to the fans who enjoy the mysteries Rowling has woven for us that remain unanswered. Let the conversations begin.

Seven Books, Seven Essays

Book One: Albus Dumbledore and the Philosopher’s Stone

Book Two: What Did Dobby Know?

Book Three: Needing More Time

Book Four: A Very Bad Year for Albus Dumbledore (and it’s all Snape’s fault)

Book Five: Harry Potter, Occlumens?

Other Essays on the Harry Potter Series

Not Just Fredandgeorge – The Twins’ Differences

The Layout of the Burrow


33 Responses to “Essays”

  1. Hello, I’m new to your site and enjoying it very much. I was wondering what are your thoughts about the relationship between Lilly and her sister Petunia? I really think the H.P. series left out so much as far as they are concerned. I was hoping for more info or insight in the last book but good old Aunt Petunia had little to nothing to say to Harry in their last meeting. I just wish more would have been explained.

  2. Welcome Carly! Thanks for your kind words.

    Petunia is a fascinating person, though I must confess that to this point I’ve never given her all that much thought. But thinking about it now, I do think it would be interesting to explore the extent to which Lily’s acceptance into Hogwarts (and friendship with Snape) served as a catalyst for the rest of Petunia’s life decisions, including the way she treats Harry. Hmm.

    Let me mull over it for a little while… I’ll get back to you. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Josie this is quite simply the best section of your site. It allows you some flexibility as you don’t have to follow the chapter to chapter format (although I do enjoy the that analysis very much.) I eagerly await more essays!

  4. josie are you going to write essays for the last 3 books it’d help i noticed you didn’t write one for POA if there’s anything you need to say about that one you should
    and yeah an essay about petunia would be awesome i’d like to explore her and her relaionship with

  5. Yes, seekerbillpotter, I’m planning on having an essay for each of the seven books (look out for OP sometime this week). The reason there isn’t one yet for PA is because I still haven’t settled on what exactly it will be – there weren’t any story lines from that book that jumped out at me the way the other books did. I do have some ideas floating around in my head, however, so I’ll get it up here before the site is finished. :)

  6. I simply loved the essay “Not Just Fredandgeorge – The Twins’ Differences”. Excellent observations. I always thought the twins had a “couple” effect around them. It’s as if every time Fred says something , George comes up with a quip and vice-versa. But that they are fundamentally different human beings however similar they might be, and that they don’t exactly work like a coupling force and are rather distinct human beings is something that adds greater clarity and definition to their characters. I must confess I always thought Fred and George always go together and “complete” each other character wise and were more like “very entertaining support staff”. But I must say the essay has proved how very wrong I was in thinking so.

  7. Hey Girl, just kinda wondering when you were getting to the 6th novel. I’ve read your essays and ideas and i think you have a very intresting point of view.

  8. Shambo – thanks for the kind words!

    Doodbuddy – If you mean the essay for the sixth novel, I’ve generally been posting essays shortly after I finish writing the chapter pages for a given book – and I’ve got twenty-some-odd more chapters in HBP before I get to the essay. But I promise there will be one! :)

  9. Josie – I totally agree with Cowboy Jim: this is by far the best section of this site. It astonishes me how you are able to put together the entire story, including behind the scenes, simply from what is in the books.
    I was wondering about Hallows and Horcruxes. Would this be a good idea for an essay? I don’t understand, for instance, how Dumbledore took the Elder Wand from Grindewald in the great duel of 1945, when it’s, well, unbeatable.


  10. I don’t understand that part either. I think you should make an essay explaining the details of the Hallows and Horcruxes.

  11. Hey, I’m Rosalind. I’m new to The “Harry Potter” Companion and so far I’m enjoying it. (I actually sent you a picture. Did you ever receive it?)

    Personally, for the “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” essay I think you should do another “Dumbledore’s Perspective” essay. “”Philsopher’s Stone” – Dumbledore’s Perspective” and “A Very Bad Year for Albus Dumbledore (and it’s all Snape’s fault)” never bore me.

    The essay could cover what Dumbledore knew of the situation with Sirius on the loose, Harry’s safety (the Dementors included), Lupin’s transformation and the possibility of him figuring out Pettigrew (after all, Sirius was in the Order, so how likely is it that Dumbledore wouldn’t trust him?). But that’s only a suggestion and several sub-suggestions.

    Oh, and Will, by the way, I understand. Dumbledore defeated Grindlewald, right? Grindlewald was Master of the Elder Wand at the time, and whenever the Master of the Elder Wand is defeated the defeater is able to take the Elder Wand from them, since it only ever aligns itself with a wizard (no witch has never wielded the Elder Wand) who has never lost a battle. Is that a bit clear now?

    Hope to hear from you soon,

  12. I had a question about Harry’s grandparents. Has Rolling ever mentioned in any of her interviews about Harry’s grandparents and where they where through out his childhood. Or for that matter that side of the family. It would just seem that if his grandparents where around he would of had someone on his side growing up. And maybe it wouldn’t of been to the extreme that it was. But I guess it is for the good because we see a child in very harsh conditions grow into this very brave and good young man. And in a lot of times that doesn’t happen. But I was really just wanting to know about Lily and Petunia’s side of the family.

  13. I also love this section of the site and also agree that there is so much to be analyzed about Petunia especially in the Order of the Phoenix after the dementor attack. Her reaction to Harry’s admission about Voldemort returning and the dementor attack is fascinating and so enlightening. I would love to hear more from you on this subject.

  14. Concerning the Elder Wand:

    Didn’t Rita Skeeter write that the “duel” between Dumbledore and Grindelwald might not have been much of a duel at all? Is it then possible that Dumbledore won possession of the Elder Wand as easily as Draco Malfoy did? This would be most disappointing for me, as I always pictured a duel of the ages.

    There is always the argument that Rita Skeeter twisted the story, but I think “The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore” was uncomfortably accurate concerning everything else it discussed, so it is not outside of the realm of possibility that Grindelwald gave up the wand. Is it unlikely? Possibly, but it’s the only way I can make sense of this troubling plot hole.

    I hope this comes up in the discussion of Book 7.

  15. I’ve had a great time reading all these essays and considering all the different ideas in them. Some other things that I would find interesting to discuss is whether there is any significance to the fact that all four of the marauders end up dead, and another thing in JK using Teddy Lupin to mirror what happened to Harry. Anyway, thanks for everything, this is such a great site.

  16. One other thing that’s bothered me is the trace that sticks to underage wizards when magic is used around them and yet in the fifth book when the order comes to privet drive to rescue Harry Tonks uses magic to clean up and pack his things and Moody uses the disilusionment charm on him and he never gets in trouble for any of that. Also, students who live in wizarding houses would then be free to use magic without the ministry knowing as long as their parents didn’t see. Has Jk just overlooked the idea of the trace for the sake of the story?

  17. @ Will.
    The Elder wand is the most powerful wand, yes, but unbeatable? No.
    It all depends on how you use it.
    It’s like how people said the Titanic was unsinkable.
    I think you could beat the elder wand if were a more powerful wizard. (it all depends on the wizard in possession of the Elder wand) You remember how Ollivander’s mind just about blew when he imagined Voldemort in possession of the elder wand? Voldemort is an extremely powerful wizard. If the Elder wand chose Voldemort, he probably would be unbeatable.
    Like I said, it all depends on the witch or wizard.

  18. As Laura says, it is not unbeatable by any means, as demonstrated in the many defeats of whatever owner possesses it, for example Dumbledore beating Grindewald and gaining possession. For all we know, the elder wand may not be more powerful than any other wand, and simply allows it’s bearer the illusion of power which gives them confidence, enhancing the powers that they have had all along. How can a wand, which doesn’t have the ability to function on it’s own, without a witch or wizard be any more powerful than the person who has it or any other wand that that person has? Sure, wands have magical cores and the elder wand might have a particularly magical core but it is still just as useless on it’s own as any other wand or a stick on the ground.

  19. I think your point about the Ministers knowing about the prophecies is very well taken. Also, while not your main topic, I agree that while both Fudge and Scrimgeour are personally ambitious, that doesn’t mean they’re completely lacking in principle or humanity.

    Indeed, in HBP, Harry accuses Scrimgeour of not caring if he (Harry) lives or dies, actually stating this as fact at Dumbledore’s funeral, where he acts like he has Scrimgeour all figured out, behaving like a typical rebellious teen who thinks anyone over age 30 is corrupt. Yet, this is a charge that Scrimgeour later proves false by choosing to die rather than betray Harry, though I suspect he liked Harry personally about as much as Harry liked him back.

    I think that as the series progresses, Harry learns that humans are very complex and that people aren’t either good or bad, selfish or selfless, etc. The “good guys” don’t always do good, and often do good at least partly from selfish motives…Lupin’s actions in PoA, Xeno Lovegood’s betrayal of his principles arising from his love for Luna, James and Sirius’s motivations for learning to become Animagi. etc. Not to mention the obvious examples of Snape, whose motives at first are completely self-serving, and Dumbledore, who turns to evil as a youth at least partially due to his personal feelings for Grindelwald.

    Of course, Harry later believes Dumbledore also saw Harry as an expendable tool and weapon, in a paralell to how he saw Scrmigeour. The truth, of course, turns out to be much more complex than that. People having selfish motives doesn’t always cancel out their capacity for more noble actions.

  20. Just discovered this part of the site- so will be digging around here, too! :)

  21. @Kelsey – From what I understood from the books, I believe it was Ron, something was said about how it was the responsibility of pureblood parents to make sure their kids did not use magic underage. Which sort of makes sense, as we know Ron had a toy broom growing up – which I’m assuming uses magic to run, and Fred used magic to turn said broom into a spider. I’m sure Mrs. Weasley punished him severely. But I’m assuming wizarding parents are almost in a sense home-schooling their children, up until they leave for Hogwarts. (Which could also lead to Malfoy’s large ego, as I’m sure his parents encouraged him to practice magic whenever he could.

    Josie, like the rest of your site, I absolutely love this section. (I’ve been trying to go through it slowly to make it last longer, and to occupy myself between your updates) Like other people mentioned, I’m also interested to hear your take on Lily and Petunia’s relation, but also on the remainder of the Potters. Certainly Harry’s relatives couldn’t have all been killed off, and when he looks in the Mirror of Erised we know he sees a large family. So what are your thoughts as to what happened to the rest of the Potters. Surely all of them couldn’t have been killed off by Voldemort.

  22. Kloe, thanks for posting! There’s a great quote from Rowling that gets at your question, when she was asked specifically about Harry’s grandparents:

    “As a writer, it was more interesting, plot-wise, if Harry was completely alone. So I rather ruthlessly disposed of his entire family apart from Aunt Petunia. I mean, James and Lily are massively important to the plot, of course, but the grandparents? No. And, because I do like my backstory: Petunia and Lily’s parents, normal Muggle death. James’s parents were elderly, were getting on a little when he was born, which explains the only child, very pampered, had-him-late-in-life-so-he’s-an-extra-treasure, as often happens, I think. They were old in wizarding terms, and they died. They succumbed to a wizarding illness. That’s as far as it goes. There’s nothing serious or sinister about those deaths. I just needed them out of the way so I killed them.”

    So none were killed off by Voldemort, they just all happened to be gone. I think it’s likely the death certificates list “literary necessity” as the cause. ;)

  23. I love the essays on here. I almost cried when I read the Fred and George one. However, I wonder if you plan to write essays regarding HBP and DH. Just a suggestion. I still love the site though. Keep up the good work. :)

  24. Thanks Cornelius! To be honest, I haven’t had any brilliant ideas regarding what I would write about in books six and seven. So I’m still mulling it over, but if you have any ideas I’d certainly be interested in hearing them. :)

  25. Josie – I would love more information about the role Petunia played in safeguarding Harry. I could never really understand why it was so crucial that he still maintain residency at the Dursley’s. I know what Dumbledore says about residing at the home of a blood relative, but when the element of love is so missing at their home, I just do not understand the power. Plus, as cold as Petunia is to Harry, I could not figure out what hold Dumbledore had over her…why did his message to “Remember, my last, Petunia” actually make her go against Vernon’s wishes to kick Harry out of their home.

  26. @Josie Well, perhaps for DH you could do something about Dumbledore or the Hallows. And for HBP, perhaps you could look at it from a certain character’s perspective, such as Malfoy’s or Slughorn’s.

  27. Hi this site is truly amazing!
    The essay on how much Dumbledore knew totally blew my mind!
    I am very keen on writing Harry Potter stories and was wondering whether you would mind me using some of your ideas from that essay in my book?

  28. Hi Josie, while I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan for over 11 years I just recently discovered your site and wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying it. I particularly enjoy your essays which I find intellegent and insightful. While I have read the series from begining to end several times I still have many questions and areas I want to explore. I was wondering what your thoughts are in regards to the character of Peter Pettigrew, specifically in regards to his having been a Gryfandor. This seems odd to me since as I understand it the character traight most prized by the Gryfandor house is bravery and as I see it Peter Pettigrew was one of the biggest cowards in the series. Could it be the sorting hat made a mistake? Or was there a higher purpose to his (Peters) placement in Gryfandor House that I’m missing. Perhaps he needed to be part of the Marauder’s for some greater good? Or maybe I’m just over thinking this and it was a simple plot device. I would love to hear your ideas on the subject.

  29. Hey Josie, I didn’t know where else to leave this query, and I know it’s beyond irrelevant, but what if Voldemort succeeded in killing Harry in the graveyard. By cannon he would have still been alive because Riddle would have been killing Harry’s horcrux. Thoughts?

  30. I absolutely love this website, especially the essays! Are you going to write one for the sixth book? I’d love an essay about what’s going on with Dumbledore/Snape/Malfoy behind the scenes.

  31. Hi Josie! I really enjoy your essays, they’re ALL in my list of best & most insight full HP essays ever, siriusly! Are you still going to post essays for books 6 and 7? I know you’ve said you would write them someday, but it’s been quite a long time since there’s no updates, and I just wanted to know how are your plans on that going… No pressure, right? :)

  32. Lovely stuff. Gonna keep exploring and add these essays to the speculations from HP lexicon and the leaky cauldron….

  33. Have you ever given the though that Harry may of loved Hermione as more than a friend. However because he knew of Rons feelings he did not act upon them out of true friendship and loyalty.

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