One of the most common questions asked by fans of an ongoing series is: “Does the writer know how the story is going to end?” This was something asked a lot by fans of Lost and The Sopranos, though they might have been disappointed with the answer they got.
J. K. Rowling was another creator who faced this kind of scrutiny. There were parts of the Harry Potter fanbase that suspected that Rowling was just making it all up as she went along. No one was sure if all of the subtle hints and clues that were spread throughout the books would lead to anything.
Thankfully, the release of Deathly Hallows answered this question and settled the debate, as the book wrapped up (almost) all of the loose ends of the series.
We are here today to reveal the subtle moments of foreshadowing that J. K. Rowling inserted into the Harry Potter series.
From the Quidditch victory that mirrored the love life of Ginny Weasley to Trelawney’s accurate prediction that everyone missed, here are 15 Hidden Messages In Harry Potter That J.K. Rowling Didn’t Think You’d Notice!
15. THE SWORD & THE VENOM MIRROR HARRY & VOLDEMORT
Voldemort tried to use items owned by the four founders of Hogwarts as receptacles for the pieces of his soul. He was only ever able to acquire three of them, as the only items owned by Godric Gryffindor were beyond his reach.
The Sword of Griffyndor presented itself to Harry in Chamber of Secrets and helped him defeat the Basilisk. We later learn that the sword had the ability to destroy Horcruxes because it had taken in the Basilisk’s venom during the events of Chamber of Secrets. The Sword of Griffyndor has the ability to take on the properties of substances that can strengthen it. This meant that its edge had the same destructive effect as Basilisk venom.
The idea of Gryffindor’s sword becoming stronger due to the fact that it was dipped in poison mirrors Voldemort’s attempts to destroy Harry. He repeatedly tried to kill Harry ever since he was a baby, yet each of their encounters strengthened Harry’s resolve and made Voldemort weaker. It was only through being submerged by evil that Harry became strong enough to defeat the Dark Lord.
14. THE SIGNIFICANT SEVEN SPLIT
The only reason Harry Potter lived with his asshole relatives for so many years was due to the nature of the spell that was protecting him. Harry would remain safe, so long as he stayed with blood relatives.
This protection ended on his seventeenth birthday, which meant that the Order had to come up with a plan to get him safely out of Privet Drive. They decide to escape from the house on brooms, with six people offering to use Polyjuice Potion so that seven identical Potters will leave at the same time, in order to trip up any potential pursuers.
The idea of there being seven Harry Potters is meant to mirror Voldemort splitting his soul into seven pieces. The difference is that Harry’s friends volunteered out of their love for him, which meant that they were willing to risk their lives for his. Voldemort’s destruction of his soul was born out of selfishness and fear of his own mortality.
13. THE RETURN OF THE THREE BROTHERS
It is said that the three Deathly Hallows were created by the Grim Reaper himself and given as gifts to three brothers who managed to cheat him with the aid of magic.
The first brother asked for a wand more powerful than all others, the second asked for a stone that would bring the deceased back from the grave, and the third asked for a cloak that would prevent anyone from following him. This is the legend of how the Elder Wand, the Ressurection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility were created.
The motivations and fates of the three brothers seem to have been recreated during the Battle of Hogwarts. Voldemort desired power, which led to his hunt for the Elder Wand. This same wand would later betray him and cause his death. Snape was motivated by his love for a woman who had long since died, which led to his death. Harry was the one who greeted Death like an old friend, which is why he survived the battle.
Harry, Snape, and Voldemort all came from similar upbringings and were more alike than any of them would care to admit, so in that sense, they were very much like brothers.
12. GINNY’S SIGNIFICANT QUIDDITCH VICTORY
One of the most popular questions asked by Harry Potter fans while the books were still being was: “Who will everyone end up with romantically?”
The Internet was a scary place to be in the days following the release of Deathly Hallows, as disappointed fans from across the world voiced their displeasure over Harry ending up with Ginny over Hermione or Cho. J. K. Rowling had been laying down hints for a long time that Harry was going to end up with Ginny, one of which she admits was included in Order of the Phoenix.
Harry was banned from playing Quidditch in his fifth year at Hogwarts as he attacked Draco Malfoy after a game. This meant that Ginny had to take his place as Seeker on the Gryffindor team. They were able to defeat the Ravenclaw team and secure the Quidditch Cup.
Ginny won the match for Gryffindor by catching the Golden Snitch before Cho did. Rowling has admitted that this was meant to be an early clue that Ginny would also defeat Cho in terms of winning Harry’s affections.
11. REMUS LUPIN’S NAME IS BASICALLY WOLFEY MCWOLFFACE
There are a lot of characters in the Harry Potter universe whose names have a deeper meaning. J. K. Rowling does a good job of changing them enough to make them sound appealing, but the whole of wizard society does feel like everyone is using their stripper name.
Remus Lupin might have the most appropriate name in the series when it comes to it fitting his character. The name Remus comes from Romulus and Remus, who were the two twins who founded the city of Rome.
The two brothers were raised by a she-wolf, who suckled them with her own milk. They would eventually be found by humans, but the wolf part of the background has remained one of the most enduring parts of the myth of Romulus and Remus.
The word Lupin is almost the same as Lupine, which is one of several Latin words that can be used to describe wolves or wolf-like creatures. If Snape really wanted to let the Defense Against the Dark Arts class know that Lupin was a werewolf, then he should have just switched the subject to the History of Latin for a few weeks.
10. PETUNIA’S AWFUL MEMORY
Snape’s true loyalty may have been the most debated topic among the Harry Potter fandom throughout the time when the books were still being written. It seemed as if every book offered contradictory information about Snape’s true nature. Deathly Hallows finally answered the question – Snape was driven by his love for Harry’s mother, which meant that he was acting to bring about Voldemort’s downfall.
The earlier Harry Potter books offered some subtle clues as to Snape’s true loyalty (another of which we will talk about later.) In Order of the Phoenix, Harry has to fight off a group of Dementors that attacked him and his cousin.
When he brings Dudley home, Uncle Vernon scoffs at Harry’s description of the Dementors. Petunia knows that they are real, however, as she heard “that awful boy” telling her sister about them. The readers assumed that Petunia was talking about James, but this doesn’t make sense. The term “boy” suggests someone of a young age and Petunia didn’t meet James until after he had left Hogwarts.
After reading Deathly Hallows, it becomes apparent that the boy Petunia was talking about was Snape, as he grew up near the Evans family and was friends with Lily from a young age.
9. THE WEREWOLF METAPHOR
Remus Lupin had lived a hard life before he met Harry Potter on the train to Hogwarts. Wizarding society treated those with lycanthropy as outcasts.
It was only through Dumbledore’s compassion and understanding that Lupin was able to find employment as a teacher at Hogwarts and even this only lasted until it was revealed that he was a werewolf. Dolores Umbridge herself helped to draft anti-werewolf legislation, even though she did not understand the condition and incorrectly referred to them as “half-breeds.”
J. K. Rowling has since revealed that the lycanthropy and treatment of werewolves in the Harry Potter franchise were meant to mirror that of the real-life HIV/AIDS epidemic and society’s response to those who have the condition. This was a popular theory among the Harry Potter fans and this is one of the rare instances when Rowling directly confirmed something that had been discussed by the fandom at large.
8. THE SORTING HAT CONFUSION
It’s a common misconception among casual Harry Potter fans that Slytherin is the Hogwarts House that is meant for devious or evil people. This misconception mainly exists because the Sorting Hat’s songs weren’t added to the movies, as these explained the personality traits that were preferred by each House. In Slytherin’s case, it means that those who are ambitious and cunning are welcomed into the House.
The Sorting Hat tried to convince Harry that he would do well in Slytherin, as he had the qualities that the House desired. This doesn’t really make sense, as Harry isn’t ambitious (as can be seen by his lack of interest in trying to enter the Triwizard Tournament) and isn’t really known for being cunning.
Fans have speculated that the likely reason that the Sorting Hat had trouble reading Harry’s personality was due to the fact that he still had a piece of Voldemort’s soul inside of him. This explains why the Hat falsely interpreted some of the aspects of Harry’s personality, yet still believed it was right when questioned in Chamber of Secrets.
7. THE MEANING OF VOLDEMORT
The Harry Potter series includes some names and phrases that come from the French language. This shouldn’t be surprising, as J. K. Rowling speaks French and her family originally came from France. She was actually the second person in her family to win the Legion of Honor (France’s highest accolade), as her grandfather won it for his bravery during the First World War.
One of the most important characters in Harry Potter uses a name that has its origins rooted in French – Lord Voldemort.
The name Voldemort is a simplification of a French phrase that means “flight from death.” This name makes a lot of sense, as Voldemort’s whole motivation is based on his fear of death and the extreme methods he will go to in order to avoid it. It was this fear that led to him cutting his soul into pieces and trying to murder a baby in its crib.
6. SNAPE’S TRUE LOYALTY WAS REVEALED IN BOOK 4
Alastor Moody once used a device known as a Foe-Glass to try and warn him of the arrival of his enemies, many of which he had made during his time as an Auror. It seems that the Foe-Glass wasn’t clear enough to warn him about the upcoming attack by Barty Crouch Jr, who captured Moody and used Polyjuice Potion to usurp his life so that he could put Lord Voldemort’s plans for Hogwarts into action.
There is a subtle moment in Goblet of Fire that actually revealed Snape’s true loyalty long before the events of Deathly Hallows. It involved Barty Crouch Jr’s use of the Foe-Glass.
When Crouch took Harry Potter to his office to question him about the Dark Lord’s return, Dumbledore worked out what was going on and went after him. Three people appear in the Foe-Glass’ reflection – Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape, who were all coming to the office.
The fact that Snape would be considered an enemy of Barty Crouch Jr means that his loyalty did not lie with the Death Eaters, as Crouch may have been Voldemort’s most loyal servant, yet Snape was now his foe.
5. THE HOGWARTS HOUSES REFLECT THE BRITISH ISLES
We know very little about the founders of the four Hogwarts Houses. One thing we do know is the country of origin for three of them. We know that Godric Griffyndor came from England, Rowena Ravenclaw hailed from Scotland, and Helga Hufflepuff was from Wales. This has led to speculation that the four Hogwarts Houses are meant to mirror the four countries that make up the United Kingdom.
Godric Griffyndor’s heraldry features a lion, which is a common animal used in English armorial bearings. Griffyndor also prominently uses red, which appears on the English flag. Ravenclaw uses blue and silver coloring in the Harry Potter movies, which is very similar to the Scottish flag.
Hufflepuff seems like it might be the odd one out, as their colors are yellow and black. This could be a reference to the flag of Saint David, which has been used as a symbol of Welsh nationalism.
It’s possible that Salazar Slytherin came from Ireland, though nothing in the text directly supports this. The Slytherin colors are green, which is commonly associated with Ireland, and the legend of Saint Patrick states that he chased the snakes out of Ireland, which could be a link to the serpentine theme of the House.
4. FLITWICK’S FIGHTING CHANCE
The threat of the Chamber of Secrets being opened led to the Hogwarts Dueling Club being reinstated, which was the practice of organized and civilized combat between two wizards. Dueling has its own set of rules and regulations, which Voldemort later mocked during his encounter with Harry in Goblet of Fire.
It is revealed that Professor Filius Flitwick was actually a dueling champion in his youth. This seems like an odd accolade to be given to Flitwick, as he never really displayed any amazing combat skills with his magic in the books.
The reason Flitwick is such a great duelist can be explained in what he is. J. K. Rowling confirmed on her old website that Flitwick was only a few feet tall due to the fact that he had goblin ancestry.
The fact that he was so short would give him a huge advantage over most of his opponents who were used to dealing with regular sized people, as we learn that an element of using magic in battle is your ability to aim. Flitwick was basically using the Oddjob trick from Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64 to defeat his foes.
3. NOT THE FUN KIND OF NYMPH
There are some names in Harry Potter (such as Remus Lupin’s) that tell you everything you need to know about a character before you actually meet them. One example that defies this expectation is Nymphadora Tonks.
The name immediately makes you think of the Nymphs from Greek mythology, who are often depicted as beautiful young maidens who sing and dance in forests. None of those descriptions seem to match Tonks, as she is never described as being particularly attractive (at least in the books, as she is played by the gorgeous Natalia Tena in the movies) and is often coarse and clumsy.
The name Nymphadora makes a lot of sense when you know that the term Nymph also refers to the stage that some insects (such as dragonflies) go through before they enter metamorphosis. Tonks is a Metamorphmagus, which means that she naturally possesses the ability to transform her body into any shape she desires.
2. THE TRUTH BEHIND VOLDEMORT’S CURSE
In every year of Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts, there was a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. We discover in Half-Blood Prince that this has been the status quo for a long time.
Dumbledore reveals that Tom Riddle once applied for the position, though this was just a ruse for him to hide one of his Horcruxes in the Room of Requirement. When he was denied the position, Riddle cursed the Defense Against the Dark Arts role, which meant that no one else would hold it for more than a year.
This might seem like an act of extreme pettiness from the main villain of the series, but there was actually a good reason for Voldemort’s actions. We learn in the later books that the Ministry of Magic wants to buy an allotment of hats that held the Shield Charm from Fred & George. This was because most Ministry employees were unable to perform the Shield Charm on their own.
The reason Voldemort messed with the Defense Against the Dark Arts position was so that he could create a wizarding society that was ill-trained to deal with evil spells and monsters. This would make it easier for him to take over in the years to come.
1. TRELAWNEY PREDICTED DUMBLEDORE’S DEATH IN BOOK 3
It must be so frustrating to make predictions that always come true, yet everyone ignores them. This is the life of Sybil Trelawney, who is the Divination professor at Hogwarts. She kept accurately predicting the future, yet everyone at the school (except Dumbledore) thought she was a fraud.
Professor Trelawney made another accidental prediction in Prisoner of Azkaban which would not come true until Half-Blood Prince. During the dinner that was held on Christmas Day, she refused to sit down at the table as she would be the thirteenth person attending. Trelawney claimed that the first of the thirteen to stand up would die, which McGonagall scoffed at.
What Trelawney didn’t realize was that thirteen people were already at the table, as Scabbers/Peter Pettigrew was there at the time. The first person to stand up was Dumbledore and he would be the first person in the room to die, though it would take a few years to happen.