Yes, I just made up the word “Potterverse”.
If you can’t tell by my recent posting activity, the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2 has reignited my love of the Potter series, and I have been delving back into it the past few days. One thing that has become abundantly more clear is that being a wizard in Rowling’s universe would absolutely suck. I’m sure this will seem quite odd, given that the series is lauded for creating such an engaging world; but, realistically, the reason it is so loved is because you can see this world without actually experiencing it. Because to experience it would suck. A lot. Here’s why.
1. You still have to work.
Wizards cannot conjure food, as it is one of the five principal exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. As such, you would be stuck working just like a Muggle to earn currency to buy food so your family doesn’t starve. And you have to have a family – wizards are clearly a dying breed, as evidenced by the shrinking number of pure-blood wizards and the increasing number of half-blood or less wizards(Hagrid even remarks that there are no pure-blood wizards left at one point, and that every wizarding family has Muggles somewhere on their family trees). So if you’re a wizard, you’re still working like a Muggle.
Pictured: Albus Dumbledore. Sure, he may be an awesome wizard, but he forgot to pay the electric bill because he was too busy doing wizard things and not teaching.
But that isn’t too bad – at least you have magic, right? Well, working as a wizard is a little bit different. You can’t get a Muggle job, since wizards won’t be using pounds or the US dollar, and Muggles won’t be paying you in Galleons. You probably can’t exchange Muggle currency for wizard currency, since most wizards seem completely ignorant of Muggle currency systems. So your options are restricted to wizard employment.
What sort of employment options are there for wizards? Not much. You can work for the Ministry – which, granted, is pretty versatile, as there are Law Enforcement departments, the Auror office, Misuse of Muggle Artifacts; all sorts of different Ministry positions. But at its most basic level, it’s still a government job. You could teach – which is actually a pretty attractive position, given the luxuriance of Hogwarts. You could run a shop – Diagon Alley has a bunch of them, and the Weasley twins (well, Weasley twin… we miss you, Fred) seem to be doing very well. Not to mention pubs like the Hog’s Head (how can Aberforth afford to feed his goats?) and the Three Broomsticks. And St. Mungo’s always needs Healers.
Other than that, your options are pretty scant. Government, teaching, small business, doctors. Those are your employment options as a wizards. No engineers, no service positions, no artistic pursuits. So if you’re a wizard, chances are your life is pretty predetermined. You’ve got to work, and you have precious few jobs to choose. Get to it.
2. There are still people who want to kill you.
You’d think that with magic a lot of things would be easier. Like self-defense, for instance. No need for martial arts classes or a gun. A few house protecting spells, maybe a Shield Charm or two in the right spot, and bam – your family is safe. Well, not so fast. You may be able to protect yourself better, but if those protections can be broken – and they can – you’re still mortal, and the people who want to kill you can do it a lot easier. Two simple words.
As the series has no doubt proven, even in the wizarding world people don’t get along. In our Muggle world, it’s one thing. You get shot, you still have a decent chance of living in most cases. But in the wizarding world, you get hit by the ol’ AK and you’re dead. No exceptions (ignoring the one huge exception that I know you guys are itching to point out).
Also consider that in our world, it’s much harder to get your hands on a gun than it is for a wizard to get their hands on a wand. They give out wands to essentially every 11 year old. Now imagine for a minute a world where every 11 year old was given a gun. Would you feel safe? No? Welcome to the wizarding world.
3. You are permanently in hiding.
The Statute of Secrecy sucks for wizards. Having to forever hide in plain sight in the Muggle world must get old fast. Though the series never really showed us much of the wizarding world intersecting the Muggle world – most of it took place in remote locations, or wizard-only areas like Hogwarts, Godric’s Hollow and Diagon Alley – there are certainly many cases where wizards have to live among Muggles. And when that happens, they’ve got to take great care to act like they are something they aren’t.
Given Arthur Weasley’s ineptitude when it comes to all things Muggle, this would be immensely difficult for anyone except Muggle-borns (or Muggle-raised like Harry). No displays of magic anywhere that a Muggle can see it – and given nosy types like Petunia Dursley, there are precious few locations that a Muggle couldn’t see magic. You’d constantly have to glance around and make sure that you were the only one around before you even set a fire in your fireplace. Those neighbors who are incredibly nice and just want to be friendly, but are Muggles? Yeah, no magic or magic things when they drop in to say hello. “Oh, would you like some tea? Erm… let me just go and… uh…” Somewhere in the midst of your fruitless efforts to light a fire to boil the tea, they start notice you’re acting strangely. Uh oh, you’re spotted. Time to even further restrict your magical actions.
Eventually it would get old enough that you’d just up and move to a wizarding only community like Godric’s Hollow, or take the Weasley route and live in a weird house in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
4. Your kids have one schooling option.
Essentially your kid will be going to Hogwarts if you live in Britain. What if you don’t like Hogwarts? Better head to Flourish and Blotts – you’re going to be homeschooling him. Limited schooling options may not seem too bad, especially given that most of us would kill for a chance just to walk around a real Hogwarts, much less attend school there – but for a wizard it can be very frustrating.
Let’s take Neville here as an example. He’s not the best student at anything but Herbology. He is essentially the laughing stock of the school, which is a shame given how awesome he turns out to be. But that’s not the point. He’s a kid who would just be getting by in a neighborhood school, but he’s stuck in Stanton. There aren’t other options, though, so he is essentially doomed to struggle for seven years of his life. What a good education system, yeah?
5. There is essentially no entertainment in the wizarding world.
If you’re a wizard, you will be doing one of two things in your downtime: playing/watching Quidditch or listening to music. It has been established that there is some music for wizards, and naturally Quidditch is the wizard sport. But it’s just that – THE wizard sport. Muggles have baseball, basketball, football, American football (the series is British), rugby, cricket, and even more sports. Wizards have Quidditch. I doubt that Quidditch can run a full year round, and given that there is a World Cup every four years, once can assume that it does not, and is likely constructed similar to football (again, series is British). So you can’t even follow professional Quidditch year-round.
Wizard music is likely very limited – there aren’t as many wizards as Muggles, so naturally the number of wizard bands is going to be much smaller. So your music selection is limited. Beyond that, music is the only artistic pursuit that wizards seem to have. There is no mention of books other than reference books and Lockhart’s autobiography, which hardly counts as literature, and the Tales of Beedle the Bard. I highly doubt that a single book can persist throughout an entire lifetime as entertaining, so literature isn’t there. There is no mention of films, and in fact Ron does not seem to grasp the concept. There is no evidence that photography is anything but a journalistic tool. There is no evidence that painting and visual art is used for anything other than preserving the memory of those who died (Headmaster’s portraits). So there are no creative pursuits. Wonderful.
As a wizard, you had better be thankful that you’re forced to work, so you don’t AK yourself out of boredom.
As a wizard, you have fewer employment options but just as much need for it. You are permanently in hiding from the much larger Muggle community. It is much easier for criminals and evildoers to kill you. You have far less entertainment options, and your kids have no options for education – one school per region.
Life would suck, in short.