17 Hidden Messages in the Harry Potter Books Most People Don’t Know

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By Darryl Henderson

With millions of books sold worldwide, Harry Potter has become a global phenomenon. The series, written by J.K. Rowling, has a broad appeal as it touches on themes such as friendship, loss, and overcoming adversity. Here are 17 hidden messages in the Harry Potter books that most people aren’t aware of.

The Tale of the Marauders

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Any Harry Potter fan is aware of the Marauders. However, they may not know that J.K. Rowling hinted at the true identities of the Marauders in their nicknames. The initials of the Marauders’ nicknames spell out the words “MOONY,” “WORMTAIL,” “PADFOOT,” and “PRONGS.” representing Remus, Peter, Sirius, and James.

Hidden Meanings in Character Names

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Rowling often incorporates symbolic meanings into character names. Business Insider says that there’s more than meets the eye as the names, as with Rowling’s magical spells, have specific linguistic and historical roots. For example, “Sirius Black” suggests his connection to the “dog star” in the constellation Canis Major.

Alchemical Symbols and Themes

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The Harry Potter series is rich with alchemical symbolism, which goes unnoticed by many fans. For instance, the Philosopher’s Stone represents the ultimate goal of the alchemical process: immortality and transformation. Harry’s journey also parallels the stages of alchemical transformation, from base metal to purified gold.

Numerology and Magical Numbers

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Numerology plays a vital role in the Harry Potter books. The number seven crops up as there are seven books, seven years at Hogwarts, and seven players on a Quidditch team. Psychology Today reveals various parts of the world had beliefs about the seventh son of a seventh son having magical powers.

Hidden Messages in Chapter Titles

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Some chapter titles in Harry Potter books contain hidden meanings and foreshadowing. The chapter title “The Dark Mark” in “Goblet of Fire” prepares readers for the return of Voldemort while the “The Lost Prophecy” title in “Order of the Phoenix” foreshadows the revelation of Harry’s fate, building up suspense.

Foreshadowing Through Prophecies

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Prophecies featured in the Harry Potter series foreshadow big events and character arcs. The prophecy regarding “the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord” sets the stage for Harry’s destiny. Various interpretations of prophecies spur characters’ actions and decisions as they navigate life in the Wizarding World.

Anagrams and Cryptic Clues

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J.K Rowling is notorious for including anagrams and cryptic clues to conceal secrets. For example, “Tom Marvolo Riddle” has all of the letters to spell out “I am Lord Voldemort,” revealing who Tom Riddle truly was. This gives the reader food for thought which adds mystery to Voldemort’s identity.

The Mirror of Erised’s Hidden Messages

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The Mirror of Erised showcases a person’s deepest desires. While most of us know that “Erised” spelled backward is “desire”, the lengthy inscription on the mirror “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi,” translates to “I show not your face but your heart’s desire”, emphasizing the mirror’s power.

Magical Creatures as Metaphors

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Rowling uses magical creatures as metaphors for real-world issues. She has hinted before that the dementors represent depression, while Thestrals stand for death and mourning, visible only to those who have experienced loss. House elves have also been used as symbols of slavery and servitude in society.

Subtle LGBTQ+ Representation

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NBC News reveals that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people make up an estimated 4.5 percent of the U.S. population. Rowling has made an effort to be inclusive to everyone by including LGBTQ+ representation. For example, Dumbledore’s sexuality was confirmed by Rowling after the series’ conclusion.

Hidden Gems in Magical Objects

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Magical objects are already powerful but often contain hidden powers and secrets in the Harry Potter series. The Elder Wand’s true allegiance is a central plot point, hidden until the climax of the series. Furthermore, the Marauder’s Map reveals hidden passageways and the movements of individuals within Hogwarts.

Language and Linguistic Easter Eggs

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Rowling incorporates linguistic Easter eggs and wordplay throughout the series for readers to unravel. Spells like “Expecto Patronum” derive from Latin roots, with meanings related to their effects. “Avada Kedavra” is also a play on the Aramaic phrase “abracadabra,” meaning “let the thing be destroyed.”

Symbolism in Magical Objects

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Magical objects often carry symbolic meanings that we can interpret as modern readers. For instance, The Sorting Hat isn’t just for sorting students into their houses; it represents the complexities of individual identity and destiny. The Invisibility Cloak also represents Harry’s journey of self-discovery and resilience.

Historical and Mythological References

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The Harry Potter series draws inspiration from various historical and mythological sources as the BBC exposes that the majority of Rowling’s best-loved monsters have winged their way from the Ancient World to her modern, magical one. For example, Fawkes The Phoenix has origins dating back to the Fifth Century BCE.

Parallelism in Character Arcs

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Many of the characters go through powerful transformations in the Harry Potter series. Rowling employs parallelism in character arcs to convey themes of redemption and growth. For example, Snape and Sirius Black both undergo complex character development, revealing layers of their past and motivations.

Cultural References and Inspirations

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Several cultural references are made by J.K. Rowling who takes inspiration from various traditions. Diagon Alley is loosely based on London’s hidden alleyways and markets while the Triwizard Tournament echoes the tradition of ancient competitions and challenges whereby different teams compete against each other.

The Power of Love and Sacrifice

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Love and sacrifice are recurring themes throughout the series. Lily Potter’s sacrificial protection over Harry is a central plot point as it’s what prevented Voldemort from killing Harry. In the end, Harry’s willingness to sacrifice himself for others ultimately leads to Voldemort’s defeat allowing love to triumph over evil.