“15 Things From The Harry Potter Series That Haven’t Aged Well”
Harry Potter is a hugely successful franchise and was the first introduction for many people to the world of fandom. The series also launched a huge movement of fantasy stories being popular in entertainment from movies to books and more. While many of us still love and adore the series, there is no denying that there are some things in the books that don’t hold up very well under scrutiny. Even since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out in 1998, society has shifted in many ways. This means that many of the things in the books that most didn’t pick up on before are now seen as issues.
We’ve put together a list of 10 things from the series that haven’t aged very well.
Updated by Amanda Steele on January 25th, 2020: Harry Potter is one of the most popular book series of all time, and it’s always being discussed. With recent comments from J.K. Rowling about social issues, many people are reflecting on the book series and what hasn’t aged well when looking at the series with a more critical eye.
15 NO LGBT+ REPRESENTATION AT ALL
Given Rowling’s recent comments about transgender people, it definitely gives pause about the fact that there are absolutely no LGBT+ characters in the canon. While Rowling did say after the fact that Dumbledore is gay, it’s not actually in the books. There is not even one character who is a queer person, and this feels pretty glaring when reading the books again. And, it’s also a shame that when given the chance to include LGBT characters in newer franchises like Fantastic Beasts, it still hasn’t happened.
14 SOME SUBTLE SEXISM AND GENDER ROLES
While in the wizarding world it seems like they are more progressive about gender roles in some ways, they do still exist. While women can be extremely powerful at using magic and hold many jobs and powerful positions in wizarding society, all of the main and most powerful magic users in the book are men: Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Harry. There’s also a lot of bias shown by certain characters, such as Ron, assuming that women should be the ones to do things like cook.
13 THE WAY RON TREATS HERMIONE AND OTHER GIRLS HE LIKES
While all of the members of the trio have their flaws, and that’s what makes them interesting, Ron is a fairly problematic character in many ways. He has a lot of privilege in the wizarding world that he’s not aware of, and he is honestly a jerk a lot of the time. The way he treats Hermione, and just their relationship in general, isn’t that great. He gets jealous easily and takes his emotions out on her. It doesn’t make much sense that they would stay together or that their relationship would be healthy. Ron is also rather rude and selfish when he dates Lavender Brown, and he just is insensitive overall.
12 HOW MUCH PREJUDICE EXISTS IN THE WIZARDING WORLD, EVEN AMONG GOOD CHARACTERS
One thing that is really fascinating about the series that doesn’t get talked about enough is how much prejudice many of the good characters have. In the wizarding world, oppression and bigotry towards house-elves, goblins, centaurs, werewolves, and more is totally rampant. This is actually probably a realistic and nuanced thing, but it’s rarely pointed out for being the big problem that it is. Many of the good characters are totally fine with these structures existing or at least they do very little to make things better.
11 THE FACT SNAPE GETS A REDEMPTION ARC BUT MORE DESERVING CHARACTERS DON’T
Snape gets an entire point to himself later on in this list, but one separate point to talk about is the fact that Snape is the character that gets the big redemption arc. Given that he was an adult and an actual Death Eater, it’s hard to forgive him especially since he never actually had much compassion for other people. Other characters, like Draco and Dudley, were children who showed some sense of being better than their parents. But, they weren’t really given true redemption arcs like Snape was.
10 OVERALL FAT SHAMING
There is an overall tone to the books that seems to look down on people who are overweight. This is the most apparent when it comes to Dudley Dursley. Now, Dudley is for sure a bully, and his parents raised him to be a pretty awful person. However, his weight and appearance have nothing to do with this. But, in the book, the fact he is overweight is often talked about as almost proof that he is a disgusting person. This is not a good look, and this kind of talk is something that is being called out more and more in society.
9 HOW HARRY’S ABUSE WASN’T TAKEN THAT SERIOUSLY IN THE BOOKS
It’s pretty disturbing to reread the books and be reminded of the way the Dursleys treat Harry. Even as a toddler and a young child, they neglect him, force him to sleep in a small closet, degrade him, and general emotionally and verbally abuse him. While the Dursleys are clearly shown to be bad people, Harry’s abuse at their hands is not really taken all that seriously, especially by other characters in the series. No one ever really does anything about it, and Harry is forced to keep living there.
8 THE LACK OF OVERALL DIVERSITY
The simple fact is that the majority of students at Hogwarts are white. While the movies might add in a little more diversity, even the movies reflect that the population of the school is very white. There is really only one student of color mentioned in the books, Dean Thomas. The professors at Hogwarts are also all white. Overall, the lack of diversity in the series is a pretty big let down.
7 MEROPE GAUNT USING LOVE POTION ON TOM RIDDLE
Merope Gaunt forces Tom Riddle, Voldemort’s father, to fall in love and marry her by using a love potion. While this isn’t necessarily seen as a great thing in the books, it’s not taken with enough gravity.
The truth is that using a love potion on someone is akin to assaulting them. This basically amounts to Merope having kidnapped and sexually assaulted Riddle for years as he wasn’t with her of his own free will.
6 HOW HOGWARTS PROFESSORS TREAT THEIR STUDENTS
The lack of oversight of Hogwarts professors is pretty astounding when analyzed. The professors seem to have pretty free reign to do almost whatever they please to the students as far as punishments go. While they might not outright abuse students physically, the way Snape especially treats his students is emotionally abusive. He belittles them and mocks them and also punishes them for doing things just because he doesn’t like them.
5 GOBLINS AND THE STEREOTYPES THEY SEEM TO UPHOLD
This point is a hard one to talk about because it’s a pretty grave subject. Many people have pointed out how the goblins in the series seem to uphold racial stereotypes of Jewish people. While J.K. Rowling might not have meant to do this, the way the goblins come across can be read as having anti-semitic stereotypes. Overall, it’s just not a great look when you think about it.
Snape is truly one of the vilest characters ins the book. While he is given a redemption arc, upon closer examination it’s hard to excuse him of his actions. Even if he did leave the Death Eaters, he was still a cruel and abusive professor to most of his students.
Also, the way he felt about Lily seems more like the behavior of a person who can’t let someone go. He called her what is akin to racial slurs in the books, too. Overall, he’s just a slimy person.
3 EXCLUDING DUMBLEDORE’S SEXUALITY FROM THE BOOKS
It seems strange to state Dumbledore’s sexuality outside of the books while it’s not included in them at all. This made many fans feel like Rowling was looking to get credit for diversity without having to actually include it. While his sexuality didn’t need to be a big part of the story, there could have easily been mention of it or at least the inclusion of at least one canon LGBTQ2IA character.
2 DUMBLEDORE’S OVERALL ACTIONS
Dumbledore might be one of the most complicated characters in the book. His arc from benevolent, wise mentor to flawed Chessmaster is rather fascinating. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but his overall actions are pretty appalling.
The fact that Harry seems to forgive him and even name his son after him seems to make the point that Dumbledore was a good person in the end, but this is definitely debatable.
1 HOUSE ELVES
There are many problematic aspects to many of the humanoid characters in the series. The fact that House Elves are basically enslaved, and that even supposed good wizards and witches don’t see a problem with it, is pretty disturbing. It’s really only Hermione who sees the problem with this structure, and she is seen as a bit of a silly extremist for this view.
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