The Magic of St. Mungo’s Hospital

St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and injuries is a key setting during the Harry Potter series.

A hospital based in London for sick and injured wizards that is cleverly disguised from Muggles and was originally established by St. Mungo Bonham. St. Mungo’s Hospital is also where Arthur Weasley ends up after being attacked by Nagini and where Harry, Hermione and Ron are united with Gilderoy Lockhart. Most importantly perhaps it is only after visiting St. Mungo’s that the readers gain an insight into the horror that the Longbottoms went through.

It is thus no surprise that some readers were disappointed that St Mungo’s never made an appearance within the films or the video games for that matter.

Despite this the importance of St. Mungo’s is not to be underestimated and it is central to the wizarding system within the Harry Potter universe.

Just why is St. Mungo’s Hospital so poignant

As Associate Professor of Sociology at Temple University, Dr. Dustin Kidd, notes in the Sociology of Harry Potter the treatment and situation of Neville’s treatment at St. Mungo’s is a representation of the “social reality against stigma and mental disability in the wizarding world”.

St. Mungo’s is compelling, because how it mirrors our own world. Louise M Freeman comments in  “Muggle Disorders in the Wizarding World” that recovery from conditions at St. Mungo’s often  “seems to depend upon the initial degree of damage”. Accordingly, while some patients such as Lockhart recover considerably, this is not the same for the unfortunate Longbottoms.

This would tap into the continual theme within Harry Potter of the impact of the side-characters. The Longbottoms, like Fred Weasley, become victims of a war that they did not start and were instead sucked into.

Indeed, it has been highlighted by Claudia Fenske in “Muggles Monsters and Magicians” that St. Mungo’s in some aspects is an exaggerated version of healthcare in human society. St. Mungo’s shows us that even in a world full of magic scrapes and cuts occur. In fact, the use of bandages, a Muggle invention and out of keeping with the wizarding world, causes quite an outrage in Harry Potter.

As “The Harry Potter Companion,” by Acascias Riphouse, notes, stitches aren’t thorough enough to help wizards and devices that require electricity certainly do not. Though this does not stop Arthur Weasley from trying!

(Photo by Dean Purcell/Getty Images)

Not all guests at St. Mungo’s are as amiable as Mr Weasley though. Indeed, two muggles are sent to St. Mungo’s themselves after the notorious muggle-baiter, Willy Widdershins, sold biting doorknobs that lead to them losing fingers.

Even assassination attempts have been carried out at St. Mungo’s, with Ministry of Magic employee Broderick Bode being killed by a deadly Devil’s Snare Plant that was smuggled in.

Yet despite the often madcap nature of the hospital, St. Mungo’s Hospital does remain a magical place. The warmth and cheer that Harry Potter and the Weasley’s enjoy, even while Arthur is deeply injured, remains inspirational.