It's time for me to finally get back to this series of posts, and it's almost at the end. This is the last world I'm going to look at before I do a final post comparing magic uses in the past and present. My first article mentioned Harry Potter, so, for my final magical world, I thought I'd cover one of the most well known current magical universes: The Harry Potter Universe.
In case you missed any of my other links, here are the first few parts of this series.
Harry Potter is probably one of the better known magical worlds. The majority of my childhood was dominated by Harry Potter: first the books, then the movies. Because the series is so well known, I feel a little silly going this in depth. But, it makes a fairly good comparison across the other series.
As most of you reading this probably know, the Harry Potter books follow the main character, Harry Potter, as he grows up, learns magic, and uses it to accomplish various important tasks. Harry is a pretty spectacular person, even if he isn't technically the most skilled at magic.
As far of the specifics that I'm going to go into, Harry Potter could probably be considered a blend of the two series I have previously discussed, Buffy and the Dresden Files.
1. The role/function of magic
Like the Buffy universe, magic is more academic, and kind of scientific in nature. Wizards and witches use magic every day, pretty much to make their lives easier in various ways. JK Rowling doesn't go into a lot of depth about the philosophical side of magic in this universe--readers are kind of expected to take it as it is. Magic exists. Those who use it, use it. It makes things easier. Doing something without magic is sometimes referred to as doing it 'the Muggle way,' and on multiple occasions throughout the series different characters comment that they don't understand how Muggles get by without magic. To wizards, magic is just a typical part of every day life.
2. Who can use magic?
Like the Harry Dresden universe, people are born with or without the ability to use magic. Usually, it's genetic, and magical families produce offspring capable of doing magic. Magic is the dominant gene as well--it only takes a single parent with magical ability to have a child who can use magic. Muggle-born witches and wizards, that is to say, children with muggle parents who can still use magic, do happen. There's a big deal in the series about blood and genetics and magical ability.
3. Mechanics of magic
Younger witches and wizards have little control over their magical abilities. In fact, they usually have to learn to control their magic and to do the more complex spells. Hence the need for Hogwarts, and other schools like it in other parts of the country. For the most part, magic works pretty simply: say a quick spell (either verbally or nonverbally), make a motion with the wand, and magic happens. Literally. Spells are typically short, sweet, and to the point--they're quick little one to two word phrases. I feel like there should be more to say about this....but it's pretty straightforward, honestly.
4. Relationship between magic users and non-magic users
For the most part, wizards and Muggles co-exist pretty well. Wizards try to keep Muggles unaware of their presence. But some wizards think that Muggles are inherently inferior because they can't use magic. That's the minority opinion, but it becomes an issue in the later books. I personally find the more interesting relationships between the wizards and the magic-using non-humans. Wizards have this nasty opinion that they're the superior magic users, because they're, well, human. They put all kinds of restrictions on the magical capabilities of non-humans. And some of the other species don't take it all that well. There's a lot of interesting debate in the magical community regarding blood status. That is to say, lots of wizards think being from a pure-blooded wizarding family is much better than being from a family that has married into Muggles somehow or some way. It's all rather silly if you ask me, but, it's a very heated conflict that fuels the main antagonist of the series.
5. Types of magic
There are quite a few different types of magic. The easiest way to look at them are by the divisions of the subjects taught in the classes at Hogwarts. I'll just go over some of the major ones.
Transfiguration: In this type of magic, objects are changed from one thing, to something else. One of the most difficult examples would be becoming an Animagus. That is to say, you can turn yourself into an animal.
Charms: This involves enchantments that change the nature of a person or object, from tickling someone to making something fly.
Divination: An interesting branch of magic that involves telling the future.
Potions: an often neglected branch of magic. People tend to not really classify it as magic, in different fandoms. But potion-making involves some magic, at least a little.
Well, that's it for my brief comparison of a few different magical series. I apologize for perhaps elaborating on this series as much as the others. There's kind of not a lot to look at; everything is really straightforward. Tune in next time for my conclusion, comparing magic as it was used in human history to magic as it's portrayed in popular fiction.