In my last post, I used fan theories to connect Disney films into one universe, but one setting (especially a good one) is enough to generate theories for itself. The wizarding world of Harry Potter is the perfect example of a complex story that will create theories just within its own context. With seven books and eight movies, there are countless ways to look at the Boy who Lived and the magical world he lives in. That being said, I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully these theories will give you something to think about next time you watch a Harry Potter marathon.
Believability: If Voldemort’s soul split in half each time he creates a horcrux, this theory makes sense. Through that logic, Voldemort had less of a soul each time he made one, and each object became a greater essence of Voldemort than the wizard himself. Since he turned Nagini into a horcrux after a piece of his soul latched onto Harry, the Boy who Lived carried a bigger piece of the Dark Lord’s soul. Still, this theory is complicated because we don’t really know how splitting a soul and moving it into a vessel really works. According to J. K. Rowling, a wizard has to split his/her soul, go through some process, and use a spell to create a horcrux. The series explained that killing someone was the only way to split the soul, but we’re never told how much of the soul splits. Either way, Voldemort never got the chance to go through that process when he tried to kill Harry, so as a result, Harry wasn’t really a horcrux. J. K. Rowling clarified this fact, and other examples of Voldemort’s soul latching onto a living being without truly being a horcrux could be found in the series (ex. Professor Quirrell). If a horcrux isn’t the only form of a soul latching onto someone, and there’s no way to confirm how much of the soul is transferred into a horcrux to begin with, then there’s no sure evidence to measure how much of Voldemort’s soul was in Harry.
While this theory doesn’t really change the plot of the story, it reveals the confusion and complexity of the connection Harry and Voldemort shared. In the Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort attempts to possess Harry, but fails. Was Voldemort accessing the part of the soul he left behind? Did he fail because Harry had a larger soul than he did? Is that connection the only reason Harry is strong enough to defeat him? Either way, I believe this theory makes Harry’s inner struggle much more significant. Could you blame him for questioning his morals if he possessed more evil in his soul than Voldemort himself?
Theory: Neville Longbottom was the chosen one. This theory has two interpretations. Some believe Harry was a decoy so that Neville could be hidden from Voldemort, and Neville brought his ultimate demise by killing Nagini. The second theory is that both Neville and Harry were the chosen one(s); so, if Harry couldn’t defeat Voldemort, Neville would’ve been able to fulfill the prophecy.
“The odd thing is, Harry,” he said softly, “that it may not have meant you at all. Sibyll’s prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times. One, of course, was you. The other was Neville Longbottom.”
-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Believability: The first interpretation of this theory doesn’t really stand because Harry was the one to kill Voldemort, and Neville wasn’t the only one capable of destroying a horcrux. Still, the second interpretation brings up an interesting point. According to the prophecy, both Neville and Harry fit the description as the chosen one to defeat the Dark Lord. Both had parents that refused him three times, and both were born at the end of July. Neville’s parents were tortured by death eaters while Voldemort went to kill the Potter family. At this point, one could argue that Voldemort’s actions made Harry the boy from the prophecy since a piece of himself latched on to Harry. Still, there was a point in time where it could’ve easily been either kid, and this theory argues that Neville had the potential to be the chosen one even after that night. Voldemort didn’t choose to make Neville the boy from the prophecy, but that potential never went away. Neville continued to develop as a wizard, and he even confronted Voldemort when everyone believed Harry was dead. Had Harry been dead, maybe Neville could have fulfilled the prophecy.
Neville was pretty easy to disregard throughout the series, but he was really just as significant as Harry. Even though it was barely mentioned, Neville’s chance of a happy, normal life was taken away the moment that prophecy came out. But overall, this theory just lowers the stakes the story presented since Harry wasn’t the only one capable of destroying Voldemort. They always had a backup chosen one.
Believability: While the three brothers that inspired the myth existed in the wizarding world, the story played out in these characters. Voldemort represented the eldest brother because he wanted the Elder Wand to become the most powerful wizard. He got drunk off of power, but the wand only contributed to his downfall. Snape represented the second brother because his life revolved around the ghost of his lost love. He came across the Resurrection Stone, and he spent his dying moments with the memory of Lily Potter. Harry represented the third brother since he clearly managed to escape death time after time, plus he owned the Cloak of Invisibility. Dumbledore as death further supports this theory. He owned the Elder Wand, and Voldemort stole the wand from Dumbledore. Snape came into contact with the stone through Dumbledore as well, and Dumbledore’s death eventually led to his own. When Harry died, he met Dumbledore at King’s Cross, and the third brother greeted death as an old friend. Even though Dumbledore died in the sixth book, he influenced the lives and deaths of these characters.
This story was simply a folklore in this world, but even a children’s tale was significant enough to influence and analyze the characters in this story. Dumbledore’s past was dedicated to seeking the Deathly Hallows, and that ambition eventually killed him. Voldemort and Snape didn’t understand the moral of the story, which is why they pursued the wrong things and met the same fate as the two elder brothers. In the end, Harry could have become the master of death, but despite his longing to communicate with his loved ones or potential to become a powerful wizard, he ultimately understood the tale’s message and chose to pursue a simple, quiet life.
Believability: While Ron was easily identified as a Gryffindor, Hermione clearly showed signs of belonging in Ravenclaw with her intelligence, Neville’s loyalty would’ve fit perfectly into Hufflepuff, and Harry almost landed in Slytherin. However, the hat could’ve been aware of the upcoming threat and believe success would come if the houses united together; so, it put a member of each house in Gryffindor.
Though condemned I am to split you
Still I worry that it’s wrong,
Though I must fulfill my duty
And must quarter every year
Still I wonder whether sorting
May not bring the end I fear.
Oh, know the perils, read the signs,
The warning history shows,
For our Hogwarts is in danger
From external, deadly foes
And we must unite inside her
Or we’ll crumble from within
I have told you, I have warned you….
Let the Sorting now begin.
-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Since the hat was kept in Dumbledore’s office, it would’ve been able to overhear any concerns regarding a certain dark wizard. Its purpose is to sort students into their houses, but the song the Sorting Hat sings further reveals its true feelings about this aspect; it believed separating students defeated the purpose of creating a unified school. While Harry proved that a student has a say in which house to join, the hat made the final decision. So, the Sorting Hat ensured all four houses would unite by putting a member of each in proximity of one another.
Honestly, the idea of separating young children into distinctive groups wasn’t necessarily the best, but this theory at least finds a redeeming quality in the object that does the separating. While separating students into four houses might’ve honored the founders of the school and help create friendships, it just defined young children when they were developing and figuring out who they were. If you were a child who got sorted into the house that produces the most dark wizards, what do you think is going to happen? The story somewhat left one with the idea that all heroes were Gryffindors while all villains come from Slytherin, but if the Sorting Hat integrated the four houses through these students, then it successfully broke down the archetypes and united the school in its own way.
If you want to learn more about this magical world, sites such as Pottermore or The Leaky Cauldron are perfect for you, but you’re more likely to come across fan theories with a google search or youtube channels like The Film Theorists or SuperCarlinBrothers. If, however, you want to keep looking for a new way to watch memorable stories, keep an eye out for my post on Inception Fan Theories!