The Internet Goes Wild Over a Previously Solved Harry Potter Theory


A new Harry Potter fan theory is making the rounds, but its foundation is weak and ultimately negated by canon. We take a look and discuss.

Another day, another Harry Potter fan theory. The past few months have inundated fans with purportedly new perspectives on the series. For instance, “Remus Lupin’s lycanthropy is a metaphor for HIV” made the rounds again recently, although this was already confirmed by J.K. Rowling several years ago. There was also the arguably less obvious “Dumbledore represents Death in ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers,'” and “Harry is the Master of Death.” The latter two may not have been officially confirmed in-context or out of it by Rowling, but they also weren’t anything new, either.

The most recent Potter theory to take the stage is one fans haven’t seen before. Then again, it’s no wonder why, as the series itself offers no cause for it. Digital Spy reports the new insight, but there are obvious holes in this interpretation. The gist of it goes something like this: Was Aunt Petunia a witch all along?

Cue the dubious side-eye.

Image via Warner Bros.

Maybe this theory would have had more traction before the release of Deathly Hallows. But “The Prince’s Tale” put a fork in it and declared it done. Therein we learn that, as a child, Petunia wrote to Dumbledore, asking for admittance to Hogwarts. He (politely) declined. Not even Squibs–despite their magical bloodlines and familiarity–are permitted to study at Hogwarts. So even if that were the case, it woud’ve been curtains for Petunia before it had even begun.

"“That’s where you’re going,” said Petunia with relish. “A special school for freaks. You and that Snape boy… weirdos, that’s what you two are. It’s good you’re being separated from normal people. It’s for our safety.”Lily glanced toward her parents, who were looking around the platform with an air of wholehearted enjoyment, drinking in the scene. Then she looked back at her sister, and her voice was low and fierce.“You didn’t think it was such a freak’s school when you wrote the the headmaster and begged him to take you.”Petunia turned scarlet.“Beg? I didn’t beg!”“I saw his reply. It was very kind.”"

In fact, the source itself is more of an AU (alternative universe) than it is an actual theory. Generally, AUs exist outside of canonical constraints, for fans to explore other avenues a story and its characters could have taken. They’re the “what-if’s?” of fiction. Fan theory can often play a role in the construction of AUs, but it’s not a necessary component.

Image via Warner Bros.

Now, much of the speculation here is based on Rowling’s answer to a fan question back in 2004. The author assured fans that no, Petunia is not a Squib. Indeed, since Lily is Muggle-born and the two are sisters, that would be impossible. Squibs are non-magical people born of magical parents. And we know that the Evanses were Muggles through-and-through, apart from Lily, and whatever ancestors had passed down magical blood. But Rowling went on to say that it was a “very good guess” and “Oh, I am giving a lot away here. I am being shockingly indiscreet.”

Years later, and with all the Potter intel at my disposal, I can’t say that Rowling was being indiscreet at all. At the time of the question, Order of the Phoenix had been published. Ergo, we had the bulk of the story already. We didn’t have much left to learn about the Dursleys.

So what was Rowling referring to in 2004? Well, it’s most likely the reveal that Petunia wasn’t as prejudiced as she’d led readers to believe. After all, Deathly Hallows taught us that once upon a time, Petunia wanted to be a witch, too. That’s certainly not something she would have shared with her intolerant husband. And perhaps it wasn’t something she would have admitted to herself later in her life, either. Rowling has said that Petunia loved and missed her sister greatly, and regretted their falling-out. So no matter how much Petunia had once wanted to be a witch, ultimately it was magic that took her sister away for good.

More speculation, but there you have it.

Next: Order of Archetypes: The Dursleys, the Threshold Guardians

All in all, it looks like the internet got a little out of its own control with this theory. It’s a good thing that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is hitting theaters soon. Potter fans need something new to occupy our time.