(I asked a more verbose version of this question on Sci Fi & Fantasy where it didn't go down well. It seemed to get bogged down in whether or not the Potterverse really is "inconsistent". But I feel it's an interesting topic which might go down better here.)

The Harry Potter books are a ripping yarn, but the logical consistency of their setting tends to play second fiddle to the demands of character and story. It is hard to see how many aspects of Wizard society and economy might function and is the cause of many fan questions.

Of course, there are no rules to say fantasy worlds have to make logical sense. The fashion, since Tolkien, is that they should. But prior to him (and a few later examples), wild flights of fancy were the norm. Kazuro Ishiguro is on record has saying he's not interested in whether his fantasy worlds make any sense, merely in whether they work to help examine his chosen themes.

This makes me wonder whether these omissions may have been partially deliberate on the part of the author. What if Rowling intentionally made aspects of the wizarding world nonsensical in order to make points about modern society?

Take Quidditch. It leaves much to be desired as a sport, yet many Wizards seem oblivious and remain fanatically devoted to it. Could this not be read as a wry commentary on the fanatical devotion shown by many sports fans to what are, after all, relatively inconsequential pursuits? And the "poor" nature of some Wizarding families in spite of the magic available to them. Again, perhaps a comment on how a rich western society still relegates some people to live in poverty, in spite of the wealth of the nation?

Has Rowling ever intimated, or is there any additional evidence, that some or all of the logical inconsistency in her invented world should be read as allegory or metaphor?

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    Are you specifically asking for authorial statements on the subject, such that answers drawing from other sources or using other critical lenses should be considered frame challenges?
    – BESW
    Jul 7, 2017 at 11:34
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    @BESW Any response is welcome.
    – Matt Thrower
    Jul 7, 2017 at 12:22
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    I think this answer could be improved if it was narrowed down. For example, I think focusing just on quidditch would allow people to write more detailed answers. As it stands, the answer is "it depends": some inconsistencies have meaning, some don't.
    – user111
    Jul 7, 2017 at 14:21
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    For Quidditch specifically, see this article for what JKR herself has said about the thought process behind it and what it was a wry commentary on.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 7, 2017 at 18:58
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    To me it seems obvious that Rowling, like most writers, had a bit of fun in writing the books, and didn't carefully think through all of the books' possible inconsistencies, not expecting them to be pored over with so much care by so many people. But I'm no expert... Jul 9, 2017 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


If you want you can interpret the books this way. But I honestly just think that she didn't care about such things. I believe that the way a Quidditch game ends simply serves as her goal to write a compelling story. It's useful when the main character can be super important in something. In the end, it is a book for children (specifically the first few) so it doesn't have to be super complex. I believe her books simply have some flaws that she either didn't care for because they don't hinder the way she can tell a story, or that she didn't realize exist.

So No. I don't think the inconsistencies in the Harry Potter books are symbolic or allegorical. But that's fine she still wrote some cool books which I enjoyed tremendously in my childhood. But again. if you wanna read or interpret the books this way, you totally can.

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