Did Hogwarts really exist or was it all in Harry Potter’s head?

The Cupboard Under the Stairs

Today I came across this weird article in my news feed, which discusses a theory about the Harry Potter books I had never heard before:

“Here’s one that might be new to you: there’s a rumor going around that the entirety of the Harry Potter franchise existed completely within the realm of one troubled boy’s imagination – and that his abusive aunt and uncle drove him to insanity by making him live in a cupboard.”

Fascinating. I did some additional poking around and found this lengthy post (extreme tl:dr warning!) on a philosophy board about “The True Meaning of Harry Potter” which suggests that the Harry Potter series is about mental illness and that Hogwarts is an insane asylum. “I’ve heard it suggested to me more than once that Harry actually did go mad in the cupboard, and that everything that happened subsequently was some sort of fantasy life he developed to save himself,” Rowling said in a behind-the-scenes interview with Steve Kloves for the Harry Potter Wizards’ Collection box set. It’s interesting that she didn’t confirm or deny it, though.

There’s certainly plenty of evidence to suggest the “Harry is insane” theory could be true:

  • The Magic realm is invisible to Muggles (for the most part).
  • Harry’s pre-Hogwarts life with the Dursleys could definitely be classified as child abuse
  • The Dursleys’ embarrassment, fear and over-zealousness to rid Harry of any and all abnormalities
  • And perhaps most convincingly, this quote spoken to Harry by Dumbledore toward the end of the last book: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

I’m sure you can conjure up many additional examples that I haven’t bothered to list. However, I don’t believe any of these theories are true, or that making us believe something wasn’t quite right in Harry’s head (other than that whole Voldemort mind connection thing) was ever J.K. Rowling’s intent.

These insanity theories are always fun to knock around, but they’re completely subjective and like most creative interpretations, you can find always find evidence to support your wild theories if you squint your eyes and blur the details enough. Some people have a hard time simply accepting things at face value and always try to search for a hidden meaning; I guess in this case it’s because they don’t feel Harry Potter is awesome enough without some extra layer of headtrippy LIKE WHOA Sixth Sense “He was dead the whole time!” bullshit.

Not everything is a conspiracy theory, guys.

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