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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
HP Thoughts

I was thinking about the possible origins of the Potter family in the Wizarding world, and thought that maybe a genuine potter's son was tagged for Hogwarts, proved to be very powerful and maybe married one of Gryffindor's female descendents or something. But here's the thing. An 11th century potter's son would likely be illiterate. In fact, until maybe the middle of the nineteenth century, many Muggleborn kids would be semi-literate at best, and as you get closer to the time of the Founder's, the numbers would get higher and extend across all social classes. This would be especially marked for young Muggleborn witches, as even noblewomen were often taught only as much as they would need to know to keep household accounts in order - how to sound out words and do basic arithmetic. This last varied by time period, of course.

(I wonder what did happen if a noble or royal child turned out to be a witch or wizard. I suspect that the child would lose his or her title and the family would consider them as dead - blasted off the family tree, as it were. Anything else would be too difficult, and child mortality was high until quite recently.)

I'm also assuming universal Wizarding literacy - children being taught by their parents or older siblings or maybe a local witch or wizard who had an informal school. The wealthy ones could employ teachers. So the average pureblood child would show up at Hogwarts prepared to start doing assignments; the average Muggleborn would need to learn more than his/her name. I have several guesses as to how that was handled :

  1. Taken as early as their magic manifested and fostered with a wizard family

  2. Taken as early as their magic manifested and sent to a special prep school, which would teach literacy and culture.

  3. Stationing a witch or wizard next in the area who happens to teach the child to read.

  4. Taking the summer before the term started and at least starting to teach them to read

  5. Beginning Hogwarts at eleven, but getting remedial help

  6. Beginning Hogwarts at eleven and allowed to sink or swim.

I think all of these are possible. Of them, one and three strike me as the kindest and easiest, but six is all too possible. Eleven is barely young enough that by the end of first year, the Muggleborns would be mostly caught up, but it will follow them the rest of their lives.

And that, I think, might be an origin of the idea that Muggleborns are inferior and Muggle culture worthless. After all, they come to Hogwarts not knowing anything at all. It's not the only origin, but I think it probably played a part.

The other question, and again, I don't have an answer, is how did the kids get to Hogwarts pre-train era? Especially, how did the Muggleborns get there? Were there many Floo gates into Hogsmeade, where they were met by Thestral-drawn carriages? *Has* anyone but Hagrid managed to tame Thestrals, I wonder? I'd appreciate any speculation here because it's driving me nuts.


And that, I think, might be an origin of the idea that Muggleborns are inferior and Muggle culture worthless. After all, they come to Hogwarts not knowing anything at all. It's not the only origin, but I think it probably played a part.

I think it's a huge part, honestly. The wizarding world would have developed a more gender egalitarian approach (seen in the two female founders), plus literacy would be necessary for quite a lot of spell and potion work. They also had the capability to keep themselves cleaner, and a simple Evanesco on bodily wastes would have been a huge improvement in sanitation (and health) over open ditches. So here you have one society in which people are healthy, clean, and literate, juxtaposed wiht one in which people are sick, filthy, and totally uneducated--you wouldn't have to posit some vast amount of racism to develop a severe superiority complex, which I'd guess would be even more pronounced among witches than wizards because of the gender power issue.

If children were taken young, it would definitely increase Muggle distrust of the wizarding world--they come and steal your children! (See the reaction among Star Wars fans to the notion of the Jedi taking Force-sensitive infants to train.) And if they waited until the age of eleven, then you'd run smack into the issues of Muggle-born children being very far behind their magical peers.

It would have to be a large part. "Of course Muggleborns are dirty and stupid - every one we've met *was*. Oh, a few years at Hogwarts will polish them up, and some of them are really quite brilliant and catch up quickly enough, but most of them - oh, dear. Poor things, really."

"And the way the women are treated - so awful. They're just not civilized. We really should help, but it would place us in such danger."

As for the children - "Oh, our middle son? He was quite a handful and we miss him terribly, but he took sick when he was eight. And he'd been so healthy before then, too."

i love reading things like this from you! i have a question for YOU then....

how do witches give birth (gee wonder wehre this is coming from...)
and what is their pregnancy like.

I'm guessing - the same way Muggles do and they get pregnant in the same way. And their pregnancies vary just like ours. I do suspect that the highly inbred ones, like the Malfoys, may have problems conceiving and carrying.

On the other hand, I also believe they have foolproof contraceptives, can cure all diseases and have safe and effective potions to make life easier.

sigh. i wish i could take a labor inducing potion right about now.....and then i'd hibernate until the baby was 3 mo old ;)


Cool ideas!

Symbols that stand for ideas or sounds is a very powerful thing, and being able to read/write is a powerful skill that was given to the priestly castes in many societies. And in soem of those societies, some of those priests were also witches and wizards, people who could work with spirits and magic. ( think of the 1st showdown between Moses and pharoah's priests. And this still has a remnant today in the Catholic priest hood, where priests(and some nuns) are instructed on how to drive the devil out of someones body. That is not just movie lore.)

I am also think that the dates JKR gives us for the strat of separation is also around the time that Spain starting its Auto da fe against Jews and Moors who lived in IBeria. These Iberain Jews and Moors had a higher standard of hygiene, had cleaner, better food, were highly educated, and brought wealth by being traders in oil, wine and gold, and gave culture and beauty to the populace. Many Jewish and Moorish philosophers and storytellers talk about mysticism and magic.

Then , of course Spain kicked these glittering folk out, or forced them to go into hiding.

Hmm, bunny.

#2 Taken as early as their magic manifested and sent to a special prep school, which would teach literacy and culture.

I think this is the most likely -- at the time, children worked very young, and the magical folks just used that. Fostering for nobility, apprenticeships for the artisan class, and plain outright selling of children for the poor would all have been ways to get Muggleborn children away from thier parents and into an environement where they could be educated enough for Hogwarts.

However, Hogwarts education then might not have been as literate as today's school. Rote drills can accomplish quite a lot, and illiteracy isn't any barrier to knowing or teaching complex subjects. It just makes it hard to pass on the knowledge without intensive one-on-one training. The only courses I can see really suffering with illiterate or semi-literate beginning students are Arithmancy (because math is all symbols once you get past basic arithmetic) and Runes (which is magical writing).