One Horrifying Harry Potter Plot Detail You Never Noticed As A Kid
It gets worse the more you think about it.
There are a hundred details in Harry Potter that grow more disturbing the longer you think about them – like the fact that Mad-Eye Moody can see beneath his students' clothes, or that Transfiguration can involve creating sentient life.
Most of the time these are issues that arise because we're overthinking it – JK Rowling probably didn't mean for us to spend too much time dwelling on throw-away details in her childrens' books.
But with the invention of the mandrakes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Rowling dedicated a lot of time to describing exactly how human those little plants are:
'Instead of roots, a small, muddy, and extremely ugly baby popped out of the earth…He had pale green, mottled skin, and was clearly bawling at the top of his lungs…Mandrakes didn't like coming out of the earth, but didn't seem to want to go back into it either. They squirmed, kicked, flailed their sharp little fists, and gnashed their teeth.'
So baby mandrakes are an awful lot like baby humans. Harry can even tell the sex of one of them just by seeing it from a distance, so it has recognizably human genitalia.
It doesn't get any better: 'leaving childhood' and hitting puberty for the mandrakes means that they grow moody, get acne, throw raucous parties, and eventually start trying to sneak into each others' pots. HILARIOUS! That means it's time to chop them up into little bits.
Of course, we raise all sorts of animals to be slaughtered… so maybe madrakes aren't all that different. But when all of their behaviour is an exact model of human life, it gets pretty horrifying. Picture raising a baby through teenagerhood, all while planning to slice n' dice it once it starts going to the school dance.
Why not make mandrakes grow feathers when they grow into adulthood? Or shed their skins? Getting pimples and wanting to make out after parties is so human that it makes the entire concept of mandrakes deeply unsettling.
Without the mandrake as a special ingredient, Hogwarts would never have been able to brew the potion necessary to bring Hermione, Colin Creevey and Mrs. Norris back to consciousness. But how does nobody even question the use of mandrakes in the first place?
If you've read the Harry Potter books as an adult, you probably started to wonder exactly how sentient and intelligent these plants are… and whether they know on some literal or existential level that they're going to die when they finish their teenage years.
You'd think that Harry of all people would have some sympathy for their situation.