Just as with any fantasy series, world-building is essential to the success of Harry Potter. Rich details are what make the wizarding world so enchanting – not to mention a believable backdrop for Harry’s magical adventures.
However, it’s clear that not everything totally adds up. Sometimes the laws and regulations set by the Ministry of Magic raise more questions than they answer. These are the ones that still trouble fans to this day.
Why Aren’t Love Potions Illegal?
Love potions are more than a bit of fun. Movie fans only see them used once when Ron accidentally consumes one meant for Harry and is temporarily infatuated with Romilda Vane. Book fans know they’re also responsible for the birth of Voldemort himself, with his mother Merope using one to trick a Muggle into marriage and fatherhood.
What’s really confusing is that no wizard seems to interpret this as immoral. In the Muggle world, a love potion would be seen as a major consent issue. It erases someone’s agency just like the Imperius Curse (a spell is considered Unforgivable) yet there seem to be zero regulations.
Why Doesn’t The Wizengamot Use Veritaserum Or A Pensieve?
Witnesses play a huge part in Muggle criminal trials. The wizarding world is no different, with Arabella Figg’s testimony over the presence of Dementors helping Harry to freedom in Order of the Phoenix.
But why does the Wizengamot just rely on witness testimony? A Pensieve can be used to visually show someone’s memories, while Veritaserum forces its taker to tell the truth. While both can be manipulated – with subjects able to modify their own memories and resist Veritaserum with Occlumency – it’s tougher to do this than it is for regular witnesses to lie. Cross-referenced with other accounts, this would make the legal system much easier (not to mention fairer).
Is There A Child Protection Service?
Yes, Harry had to be raised by his Muggle relatives to benefit from the protection of his mother’s blood. But what that doesn’t explain is why nobody checked in on his welfare, even when he shows clear signs of neglect.
This begs the question of whether there’s even a department of the Ministry dedicated to child protection. Harry isn’t the only one who’s slipped through the cracks. A young Tom Riddle is also abandoned to an unpleasant upbringing, as is Severus Snape. If the Ministry had been more concerned with the welfare of their youth, perhaps it wouldn’t produce so many dark wizards.
Are Human Rights A Thing For Wizards?
Heartwarming though the wizarding world might be, some elements are extremely dark. For example, the use of Dementors as the guards in a wizarding prison, the legality of memory charms, and the fact the Ministry can strip people of their right to perform magic if they break the law – or even if they’re just expelled from school are all dark.
Surely the latter, as a natural instinct from birth, is one of their human rights. However, with all this considered, it would appear that these are non-existent for witches and wizards.
How Does The Trace Actually Work?
The movies never really delve into the Trace as much as the books. In Deathly Hallows, it’s stated that all witches and wizards have the Trace placed on them at birth – and that this breaks when they’re 17 – which lets the Ministry know whenever magic is cast in their vicinity.
But this doesn’t really make sense. There are multiple occasions when magic is performed either by or around Harry outside of school, such as in the graveyard in Goblet of Fire and when he’s rescued by the Order of the Phoenix, and the Ministry seems unaware. Considering how critical they are of Harry at this time, it’s unlikely they’d miss any opportunity to call him out. This is one Harry Potter plot hole that’s impossible to solve.
Are There Wizarding Taxes?
Not only is Hogwarts free for witches and wizards, but it also seems like healthcare is too, courtesy of St. Mungo’s. But how does the wizarding world actually support its public services?
There’s no indication as to whether wealthy wizarding citizens have to pay taxes like Muggles. Old Pure-blood families like the Malfoys and Blacks are shown to have huge amounts of money, which theoretically would be taxed in any other society. If it wasn’t, there’s a big question mark over the Ministry of Magic’s source of funding.
Do Wizards Have To Follow Muggle Laws?
For some wizards, their lives are totally Muggle until they turn 11-years-old. From that point on, Muggleborns – and anybody else who, like Harry, happened to be raised by Muggle – live under wizarding law, including the Statute of Secrecy.
But would they also be required to follow Muggle law? With most witches and wizards shown to settle in mixed Muggle-wizard villages, such as Godric’s Hollow or Ottery St Catchpole, it’s never really clear whether they’re expected to follow two sets of laws. Or, whether thanks to memory charms and similar spells, they’re given some leeway to evade Muggle legal situations – giving them the option to just live an indulgent, untamed Muggle lifestyle if they so choose.
Is Everyone Entitled To A Fair Trial?
Everything about the wizarding judicial system seems slightly suspicious. What’s most concerning is that trials seem to be held on an as-needed basis, rather than the default. Sirius doesn’t seem to have been tried over betraying the Potters and killing Pettigrew, and Harry only gets his trial at Dumbledore’s insistence.
It is possible that the end of the first wizarding war led to rushed imprisonment, and that Fudge overrode several protocols to try to avoid trialing Harry. Sadly, what seems more likely is that this is just another corrupted area of the Ministry.
How Is The Minister For Magic Elected?
There are three Ministers for Magic throughout the series: Cornelius Fudge, Rufus Scrimgeour, and Pius Thicknesse. At no point is it clear how they came to be Minister, with no indication of an election – never mind who is eligible to vote and how.
With the latter two promoted in the midst of the war (and Thicknesse a puppet for Voldemort), it’s possible they were just emergency appointments. However, it’s also noted that Dumbledore was once offered the position, suggesting democracy might not be a thing in the wizarding world at all.
How Does The Statute Of Secrecy Work?
Of all the laws in the wizarding world, none is so important as the Statute of Secrecy. This is the rule that binds wizarding society: Muggles cannot discover the truth about magic. Anyone who breaches it is punished by the Ministry of Magic – in extreme cases, by stripping the accused of their wand.
Except there are countless potential nuances. For example, at what point are witches or wizards allowed to tell Muggle partners about magic? Does it count if someone finds out by accident, or a Muggle tells another Muggle? And how does the Ministry know when the Statute of Secrecy has been broken? It’s very confusing – especially considering that it underpins the entire wizarding world.
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