Showing posts from June, 2018

Essay: The Rule of Four

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry, Ron and Hermione play a life-sized chess game, Professor McGonagall’s contribution to the defense of the Philosopher’s Stone. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling designs the Triwizard Tournament to be a life-sized board game. That there are four, rather than three Tournament Champions helps draw attention to this. Multiple board games have been based upon Harry Potter, and the Hogwarts houses have for their chief colors red, yellow, blue and green—colors commonly used for board game playing pieces around the world. The Hogwarts houses also align with the four elements that medieval alchemists recognized: fire, earth, water and air.  Gryffindor aligns with the element of fire, has a lion for its mascot, the symbol for Leo, an astrological fire sign which happens to be Harry’s and JK Rowling’s birth sign, and Rowling has assigned to this house the “fiery” colors of red and gold.  Hufflepuff aligns with the element of earth…

Essay: The Alchemy of Games

Near the beginning of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, before Harry goes to the Quidditch World Cup, he wakes on Privet Drive, having “seen” Voldemort kill an old man in what may or may not have been a dream. Dreams—like fairy tales, toys, and games—are disregarded and considered unimportant by many characters in the Harry Potter series, as well as in our world. (See Quantum Harry, the Podcast, Episode 1: The Kids’ Table.) Harry recalls that before he fell asleep the night before, he had been reading Flying with the Cannons, a book about the Chudley Cannons Quidditch team. Even when the war scene comes first, JK Rowling tells us that Harry was reading about metaphorical war right before that. After witnessing Frank Bryce’s murder, he is again drawn to this book. Another early reference to games and violence in the fourth Harry Potter book is when Harry writes a letter to Sirius, telling his godfather that Dudley’s diet isn’t going well so his parents have threatened to cut off his …