Harry Potter is a hugely successful franchise and was the first introduction for many people to the world of fandom. The series also launched a huge movement of fantasy stories being popular in entertainment from movies to books and more. While many of us still love and adore the series, there is no denying that there are some things in the books that don’t hold up very well under scrutiny. Even since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out in 1998, society has shifted in many ways. This means that many of the things in the books that most didn’t pick up on before are now seen as issues.
We’ve put together a list of 10 things from the series that haven’t aged very well.
10 OVERALL FAT SHAMING
There is an overall tone to the books that seems to look down on people who are overweight. This is the most apparent when it comes to Dudley Dursley. Now, Dudley is for sure a bully, and his parents raised him to be a pretty awful person. However, his weight and appearance have nothing to do with this. But, in the book, the fact he is overweight is often talked about as almost proof that he is a disgusting person. This is not a good look, and this kind of talk is something that is being called out more and more in society.
9 HOW HARRY’S ABUSE WASN’T TAKEN THAT SERIOUSLY IN THE BOOKS
It’s pretty disturbing to reread the books and be reminded of the way the Dursleys treat Harry. Even as a toddler and a young child, they neglect him, force him to sleep in a small closet, degrade him, and general emotionally and verbally abuse him. While the Dursleys are clearly shown to be bad people, Harry’s abuse at their hands is not really taken all that seriously, especially by other characters in the series. No one ever really does anything about it, and Harry is forced to keep living there.
8 THE LACK OF OVERALL DIVERSITY
The simple fact is that the majority of students at Hogwarts are white. While the movies might add in a little more diversity, even the movies reflect that the population of the school is very white. There is really only one student of color mentioned in the books, Dean Thomas. The professors at Hogwarts are also all white. Overall, the lack of diversity in the series is a pretty big let down.
7 MEROPE GAUNT USING LOVE POTION ON TOM RIDDLE
Merope Gaunt forces Tom Riddle, Voldemort's father, to fall in love and marry her by using a love potion. While this isn’t necessarily seen as a great thing in the books, it’s not taken with enough gravity.
The truth is that using a love potion on someone is akin to assaulting them. This basically amounts to Merope having kidnapped and sexually assaulted Riddle for years as he wasn’t with her of his own free will.
6 HOW HOGWARTS PROFESSORS TREAT THEIR STUDENTS
The lack of oversight of Hogwarts professors is pretty astounding when analyzed. The professors seem to have pretty free reign to do almost whatever they please to the students as far as punishments go. While they might not outright abuse students physically, the way Snape especially treats his students is emotionally abusive. He belittles them and mocks them and also punishes them for doing things just because he doesn’t like them.
5 GOBLINS AND THE STEREOTYPES THEY SEEM TO UPHOLD
This point is a hard one to talk about because it’s a pretty grave subject. Many people have pointed out how the goblins in the series seem to uphold racial stereotypes of Jewish people. While J.K. Rowling might not have meant to do this, the way the goblins come across can be read as having anti-semitic stereotypes. Overall, it’s just not a great look when you think about it.
Snape is truly one of the vilest characters ins the book. While he is given a redemption arc, upon closer examination it’s hard to excuse him of his actions. Even if he did leave the Death Eaters, he was still a cruel and abusive professor to most of his students.
Also, the way he felt about Lily seems more like the behavior of a person who can’t let someone go. He called her what is akin to racial slurs in the books, too. Overall, he’s just a slimy person.
3 EXCLUDING DUMBLEDORE’S SEXUALITY FROM THE BOOKS
It seems strange to state Dumbledore’s sexuality outside of the books while it’s not included in them at all. This made many fans feel like Rowling was looking to get credit for diversity without having to actually include it. While his sexuality didn’t need to be a big part of the story, there could have easily been mention of it or at least the inclusion of at least one canon LGBTQ2IA character.
2 DUMBLEDORE’S OVERALL ACTIONS
Dumbledore might be one of the most complicated characters in the book. His arc from benevolent, wise mentor to flawed Chessmaster is rather fascinating. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but his overall actions are pretty appalling.
The fact that Harry seems to forgive him and even name his son after him seems to make the point that Dumbledore was a good person in the end, but this is definitely debatable.
1 HOUSE ELVES
There are many problematic aspects to many of the humanoid characters in the series. The fact that House Elves are basically enslaved, and that even supposed good wizards and witches don’t see a problem with it, is pretty disturbing. It’s really only Hermione who sees the problem with this structure, and she is seen as a bit of a silly extremist for this view.