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Top 10 Incredible Hidden Meanings in Harry Potter

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Sean Harris
There’s more to the magic than first meets the eye. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 incredible hidden meanings in “Harry Potter”! For this list, we’re delving deep into Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, to uncover meanings, messages and real-world parallels that you might have missed.

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Top 10 Incredible Hidden Meanings in Harry Potter

There’s more to the magic than first meets the eye. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 incredible hidden meanings in “Harry Potter”!

For this list, we’re delving deep into Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, to uncover meanings, messages and real-world parallels that you might have missed.

#10: Dementor Depression

Yes, the Dementors make everyone feel sad, but there’s more to them than that. JK Rowling casts light on their soul-sucking origins, linking the Azkaban guards to her own experiences with depression. The Dementors take over their victims’ thoughts and feelings, leaving them oblivious to all but their worst memories and anxieties – often freezing them with fear. With an all-encompassing, multisensory attack, they’re a physical representation of what depression might look like. And while comfort eating chocolate provides a temporary fix, Harry has to fully face his demons eventually.

#9: Trelawney’s Predictions

If you’re anything like Hermione, you probably had this professor down as a head-in-clouds phoney. But, Trelawney’s ‘inner eye’ has managed some major predictions – besides the pivotal prophecy. Her refusal to sit at a table of twelve in “Prisoner of Azkaban” is the most impressive, though. Trelawney relocates because superstition says that ‘the first to rise’ from a group of 13 is the ‘first to die’. But Scabbers (AKA Peter Pettigrew) is also present in Ron’s pocket, so there’s already 13 people there. Dumbledore stands first, and the rest is preordained history.

#8: The Hogwarts Houses

For a short period, before his never-ending battle against the resurgent Dark Lord, Harry’s chief priority was helping Gryffindor win the House Cup. And there’s some speculation that Hogwarts’ four houses actually mirror the countries in the UK. Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff are from England, Scotland and Wales respectively, while the green of Slytherin could be a nod to Northern Ireland. Either way, a 2017 YouGov poll based on personality traits found that 54% of Brits would likely be sorted into Hufflepuf, with only 4% going to Gryffindor. Which house would you be in?

#7: Werewolf Prejudice

Another indirect plot point revealed by Rowling, Professor Lupin’s story is meant as a metaphor for anyone suffering from a stigmatised illness – especially HIV and AIDs. Lupin was bitten by Fenrir Greyback as a kid, and lives his entire life in hiding from a society that can’t (or won’t) accept his lycanthropic condition – mirroring problems faced by sufferers of any kind of blood-borne disease. The Wizarding World is painfully concerned with a witch or wizard’s blood in general, but Remus gets treated worse than most.

#6: The Number 7

It’s more than just a lucky number in “Harry Potter”, it’s everywhere. Seven books in the series, seven years at Hogwarts, seven floors at Hogwarts, seven horcruxes for Voldemort and seven Defence Against the Dark Arts Teachers. Ron is the sixth of seven kids, Lily and James Potter get together in their seventh year, Harry’s wand cost him seven Galleons, a Quidditch team comprises seven players, we see seven Potters escape from Privet Drive, and take a wild guess at how many magical obstacles protected the Philosopher’s Stone… Yep, got it in one.

#5: Harry’s First Potions Class

Given that Snape’s entire story hinges on his dying moments, there are plenty of times when the Potions Master breaks our hearts in hindsight. But when fans realised the significance of this supposedly throwaway line, it uncovered another level of agony. Snape’s quick to bring the Boy Who Lived down to size, but in chastising Harry he hints at his own personal grief. According to tradition, Asphodel is a type of Lily linked to death and regret, while Wormwood symbolises bitter sorrow – so Snape ‘bitterly regrets Lily’s death’, and our emotions can’t cope.

#4: Pick a Patronus

In general, spells are more than just funny-sounding words, with most borrowing from Latin, Greek and the Middle Ages – ‘Expelliarmus’ translates as ‘drive out the weapon’, for example. ‘Expecto Patronum’ aptly converts to ‘I await a guardian’, but more meaning comes from the Patronus’ form. Harry’s stag links him to his father, while Snape’s doe shows the similarity between he and Harry’s mother. Dumbledore’s is a phoenix (naturally), McGonagall’s is a cat (obviously), Lupin and Tonks both cast Wolves, and Hermione’s otter is JK Rowling’s favourite animal – which is just cute.

#3: The Three Brothers

OK, so this one is based on a bit of speculation, but it’s speculation that JK has approved of. Beedle the Bard’s “Tale of the Three Brothers” is a central story in “The Deathly Hallows”, pulling together the Elder Wand, Resurrection Stone and Invisibility Cloak. But hidden in the Potter saga itself is that Harry, Snape and Voldemort are the brothers reimagined. Voldemort’s the oldest and most power-hungry, Snape’s the middle child who wishes to bring back the dead, and Harry’s the youngest who eventually greets Death (or, Dumbledore?) ‘as an old friend’. Say, what?

#2: What’s in a Name?

Much like the spells, Wizarding World names are often steeped in some serious etymology. Ronald has Norse links to being the ‘ruler’s adviser’, Draco is Latin for ‘dragon’, Sirius is astrologically inspired, and Hagrid harks back to old English drunkenness. Voldemort’s name is especially intriguing, and not just because of that handy anagram. ‘Voldemort’ itself denotes ‘defying death’ in French, while Tom Marvolo Riddle introduces the inerrant commonality the Dark Lord despises (with ‘Tom’) and the enigma he hopes to become (with ‘Riddle’).

#1: Voldemort’s Fear

He may seem a fairly intimidating figure and he’s at the top table for fictional villains, but Voldemort’s weaknesses are weaved into his character from the off, and his fear of failure proves his eventual undoing. The horcruxes themselves show his desperate quest for recognition, attaching himself to important relics of influential people. Billed as a tactic to multiply his chances of winning, they actually increase his fragility. He thinks he’s the all-conquering Dark Lord, but he’s much smaller than that. And, though Harry’s obviously important, the horcruxes (and Voldemort) are eventually destroyed by six different people. Go team.

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