With the upcoming release of the second instalment in The Fantastic Beasts franchise, as well as my downright fangirl obsession with the magical world of J.K. Rowling, I thought it’d be fun to shoot down a Harry Potter conspiracy theory rabbit hole.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years and don’t know much about Harry Potter, other than it’s about magic, the main characters are three nerdy school friends, there’s an actual broomstick class, and the major antagonist has no nose; allow me to give you the highlights.
Harry Potter in a nutshell
- Harry Potter is the main protagonist in a wizarding world created by author J.K. Rowling. The story was originally realised in 7 books, and these were then adapted into 8 movies (the final book was split into two films: The Deathly Hallows part 1 and part 2).
- The three friends Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, meet in the first year of their wizard schooling at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, head mastered by Albus Dumbledore (the dude with the looong grey beard). It is here that they learn of Lord Voldemort.
- Harry Potter is important because he is the only known wizard to have survived the powerful killing curse, Avada Kedavra– an illegal spell that kills victims instantly. This spell is casually used by the story’s major antagonist, Lord Voldemort, who just Avada Kedavra’s witches, wizards and muggles (see below) left right and centre – including all those who oppose his claim to be the most powerful wizard who has ever lived. Such opposers include Harry Potter’s parents, James and Lilly Potter. So, Harry Potter is infamously and endearingly dubbed ‘The Boy who Lived’.
- Being considered very powerful for withstanding the curse, Harry Potter is a lingering threat to Voldemort (who was supposedly destroyed but makes a comeback throughout the story), Lord Voldemort – also known as He Who Must Not Be Named – is constantly in the background of Harry’s life, slowly gaining the strength to be able to deal with him.
- Meanwhile, it comes out in book 5 – The Order of the Phoenix – that a piece of Voldemort’s soul was imparted to Harry when he tried to kill him, so to confound the issue, the two are intrinsically linked (which is just awkward for everyone involved because Voldemort is the bad guy and Harry is the hero).
- *SPOILER ALERT*
Harry and the good guys win in the end and Voldemort is defeated, but not before nearly ten years of torment, painful loss of loved ones and the entrance of a host of other subordinate villains.
Now, on to the conspiracy rabbit hole.
Here is my top Harry Potter fan conspiracy theory. In other words, this is the one I hope to be true, believe to be true, or think would make sense if it were to be true.
Harry, Voldemort and Snape are the three brothers who wield the Deathly Hallows, and Dumbledore is Death. Allow me to illuminate…
The tale of the three Peverell brothers is the legend behind the Deathly Hallows; a triad of powerful magic objects given by the personified Death to the brothers to congratulate them for evading death whilst travelling. Death, having felt cheated, used the Hallows as trickery to ensure the brothers would not evade him again. The first brother requested the most powerful wand in existence, which Death then crafted from the branch of a nearby tree, resulting in the Elder Wand (the most powerful wand which eventually ends up being Dumbledore’s wand in the story). However, the eldest of the brothers became boastful of the wand, and his pride eventually resulted in his throat being slit and the wand stolen. Thus, Death ensured he would not lose the brother again by using the brother’s own pride against him.
The second brother requested the power to resurrect the dead, which Death gave him in the form of the Resurrection Stone. However, upon resurrecting his deceased lover, the brother realised it was not his true lover, but a shadowy imitation of her; the dead could not actually be brought back to this world, because they don’t belong here. The brother kills himself in order to be truly reunited with his loved one. Death had once against used one of the brother’s misconceptions against him. Interesting side note: the Resurrection Stone eventually ends up in the hands of Voldemort’s father, Marvolo Riddle, who, not knowing its power, had it made into a ring. Tom Riddle (Voldemort’s actual name) murders his father and subsequently makes the ring one of his Horcruxes.
The final brother, however, did not trust Death’s generosity and asked simply to continue travelling without Death following him. Death then gave him the Cloak of Invisibility, which the brother used to hide from Death for the remainder of his life. It was only once “he had attained great age” that the brother removed the Cloak, passed it on to his son and greeted Death “as an old friend”. In this instance, the brother did not present Death with a shortcoming which he could use to ensnare him in the future, and so he was rewarded with a long life and a pleasant reacquaintance with Death.
Now, how exactly are Voldemort, Snape and Harry the three brothers? Well, like the first brother, Voldemort desires unchecked power over Death, and, quite literally, seeks out the Elder Wand from Dumbledore (BTW the Elder Wand’s master at any given time is the wizard who killed its previous master, so by killing Dumbledore, Voldemort would become the new master of the Elder Wand and wield great power. He doesn’t kill Dumbledore; Snape does, so Voldemort kills Snape so as to be the wand’s master). But Voldemort eventually loses his life in the pursuit of power. Snape, who we all believed to be evil because of his apparent hatred for Harry and for merely being the head of Slytherin house, was actually in love with Harry’s mother, Lilly, when they were at school together. Like the second brother, Snape was a slave to his impossible wish to have Lilly brought back to life after Voldemort kills her. Having never really gotten over losing her to James Potter, Snape’s bitterness seeps out into his treatment of Harry, but ultimately, everything Snape does, including being killed by Voldemort, was for Lilly and so indirectly for Harry. Finally, Harry, comparable to the youngest brother, literally possesses the Cloak of Invisibility which was passed down from his father, who somehow ended up with it after the Peverell brother passed it on to his son. Harry, seemingly completely virtuous besides that troublesome piece of Voldemort in him, gives Death no reason to come after him, and so, in the end, Harry meets Death as an old friend.
Dumbledore as death. It’s a beautiful theory and it fits. https://t.co/QqTQm2QnI0
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 21, 2015
Dumbledore as Death, which J.K. Rowling has confirmed is a “beautiful and fitting theory”, makes sense because he is the one constant throughout the story and the timelines of each of the three characters. Considered the most powerful wizard in the world, Dumbledore, I would argue, is the true hero in the defeat of Voldemort, because he skilfully orchestrated every little part of the story, from when Harry is orphaned, to ensure that all things work together to result in the eventual demise of Voldemort. This is very similar to how Death uses the brothers’ traits to ensure they return to him, because their traits are the very things that make their moves predictable to Death, thus ensuring a fool proof plan that concludes with Death, finally, getting what he wants. Some may feel I’m giving Dumbledore too much credit, but he is more involved with things than we think!
Here’s a full, beautifully animated account of the Deathly Hallows.
Here’s a list of some other terms you may have heard while exploring the fantastical fandom of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter must-know terms
- Muggle: Normal, non-magical humans like you and I (assuming you’re not a witch or wizard, but if you are, send me a mail by owl post, I’d love to chat!)
- Wingardium Leviosa: a levitation spell witches and wizards use to make things float.
- Hagrid: Rubeus Hagrid, groundskeeper at Hogwarts and friend/guardian to Harry. Hagrid is a loveable half-human, half-giant who has a habit of finding and keeping strange creatures like giant spiders (Acromantulas) and dragons.
- Quidditch: The broom flying competitive sport; both a school subject and an international sport.
- Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Ravenclaw: These are the houses of Hogwarts. Each student is sorted into a house based on their character (which is read by the eerily-all-knowing sorting hat, a literal talking hat that places each student into their respective house). Each house is unique in its qualities and general vibe.
- Horcrux: A Horcrux is any object that has been used by a witch or wizard to house a piece of their soul. By committing the darkest act of murder, a witch or wizard is able to extract a fraction of their own soul and house it in an object (or objects) of their choice. This is essentially to ensure immortality. Voldemort is one of two known wizards to have practiced Horcrux magic, and in the story, Voldemort has seven Horcruxes, including (by accident) Harry Potter.
If you’re curious about which house you’d be sorted into, you can hop onto J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter portal, Pottermore, create an account, and take the test. As for yours truly: Ravenclaw for Life.
Also, if you haven’t seen the films by now, I highly recommend you do. Even for non-fanatics, the films are entertaining and whimsical treats for anyone who’s ever wondered what it must be like to be magical.