20

In the Harry Potter universe, there is a huge effort to hide the Wizarding world from the Muggle world. From the Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station, to Diagon Alley, to the Knight Bus, everything was made so that the Muggles couldn't detect them.

Why was this really necessary?

In Potterverse, magic was a real thing with thousands of years of proven history. So, it could provide a wealth of knowledge for Muggles.

One answer could be that magic might scare Muggles.

But, I don't think it would after thousands of years. It would be no different than any other new and revolutionary technology. After a reasonable duration, Muggles could become used to it.

  • 14
    An out-of-universe explanation: it allows the HP universe to conceivably be our own universe. – mskfisher Apr 3 '12 at 1:04
  • 3
    If the muggle world and wizards' world were not separate, How could we have a Harry Potter book then ;) – noob Apr 6 '12 at 10:16
28

The main answer to this question is in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in a conversation between Hagrid and Harry, in the chapter Diagon Alley:

‘But what does a Ministry of Magic do?’

‘Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there’s still witches an’ wizards up an’ down the country.’

‘Why?’

‘Why? Blimey, Harry, everyone’d be wantin’ magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we’re best left alone.’

Philosopher's Stone - page 51 - British Hardcover

Edited to add: I found some additional canon information regarding this topic. In Tales of Beedle the Bard, Albus Dumbledore follows each story with his written thoughts and an analysis of each story. After The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, Dumbledore offers the following insights:

The persecution of witches and wizards was gathering pace all over Europe in the early fifteenth century. [SNIP] "Let the Muggles manage without us!" was the cry, as the wizards drew further and further apart from their non-magical brethren, culminating with the institution of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1689, when wizardkind voluntarily went underground.

Tales of Beedle the Bard - page 40 to 41 - US Collector's Edition

As the witch-hunts grew ever fiercer, wizarding families began to live double lives, using charms of concealment to protect themselves and their families. By the seventeeth [sic] century, any witch or wizard who chose to fraternise with Muggles became suspect, even an outcast in his or her own community. Among the many insults hurled at pro-Muggle witches and wizards (such fruity epithets as 'Mudwallower,' 'Dunglicker,' and 'Scumsucker' date from this period), was the charge of having weak or inferior magic.

Tales of Beedle the Bard - page 43 to 44 - US Collector's Edition

Influential wizards of the day, such as Brutus Malfoy, editor of Warlock at War, and anti-Muggle periodical, perpetuated the stereotype that a Muggle-lover was about as magical as a Squib. Brutus wrote:

'This we may state with certainty: any wizard who shows fondness for the society of Muggles is of low intelligence, with magic so feeble and pitiful that he can only feel himself superior if surrounded by Muggle pigmen. Nothing is a surer sign of weak magic than a weakness for non-magical company.'

Tales of Beedle the Bard - page 44 to 46 - US Collector's Edition

Dumbledore's notes on The Wizard and the Hopping Pot do go into a little more detail regarding Muggle persecution of witches and wizards. He mentions that Nearly Headless Nick was stripped of his wand prior to being thrown in a dungeon to await execution and was unable to magic himself out of the predicament. Further, the younger the witch or wizard, the more at risk they were to execution, due to their lesser ability to control their magic (as seen with Ariana Dumbledore and her subsequent attack by three Muggle boys after they witnessed her doing magic and Ariana was unable to reproduce the trick at the boys' demand). See page 41 in Tales of Beedle the Bard for complete details.

  • 14
    Do you actually trust Hagrid's assessment of the historical and geopolictical analysis of this issue? :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 2 '12 at 17:16
  • 3
    I'm reporting what is in the book Philosopher's Stone. It is up to the OP and the community to decide if they find it valid or not. Dumbledore said he would trust Hagrid with his life; why wouldn't Hagrid be trustworthy? But I do trust J.K. Rowling and she wrote that into the story. :) – Slytherincess Apr 2 '12 at 19:37
  • 7
    Dumbledore also trusted Hagrid with setting up Fluffy as a defense that nobody would find out about. Remember how that ended? :) trusting his loyalty is one thing. Trusting his astute analytical abilities OTOH.... – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 2 '12 at 19:43
  • 11
    I don't think it takes astute analytical abilities to know, for example, that the post office handles mail. Likewise, I don't think it's exactly rocket surgery for anyone in the Wizarding world to know why their government keeps their world hidden from Muggles. It seems a topic that might have been reviewed in first year History of Magic, it's that basic of a fact. Also, I trust J.K. Rowling and she wrote that in the story. ;) – Slytherincess Apr 2 '12 at 20:00
  • 3
    my mail is handled by sendmail and Exchange server, thankyouverymuch :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 2 '12 at 20:02
19

Don't have the quote on hand, but it was because

  • Muggles would have been historically very afraid of witches and try to destroy them (peasants out of superstition and ignorance, Church out of competition, Feudal powers to get rid of competing power).

  • There were VERY VERY few magic users vs. Muggles.

  • To defeat a mass of Muggles, a magic user had to either hide (Hence, International Statute of Secrecy), or be willing to mass murder and forever suppress and dominate a whole bunch of Muggles. That might be fine for Voldemort or Dumbledore's boyfriend, Grindlewald, but probably wouldn't be palatable choice for most normal magic users, most of whom are, after all, not homicidal maniacs or sociopaths.

  • Also, not stated anywhere by JKR, but the smart ones would have probably long ago observed the rate of human technological and social progress, and decide that couple hundred years on, the power equation would shift even more and Muggles would be able to destroy magic users in open confrontation.

  • The final bullet point has been true for decades, if not centuries, by the time the books take place: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/2624/2242 – Izkata Apr 2 '12 at 16:52
  • 1
    In regards to the opposition of the church, just think about how much controversy there was when the hp books became popular in our world. – John Apr 3 '12 at 0:12
  • 4
    @John : that "controversy" was blown out of proportion. In fact there were only some fundamentalists opposing it, most mainstream Christians had absolutely no problem with it. – vsz Apr 14 '14 at 15:10
  • 2
    And yet, they are fine with revealing themselves to world leaders such as the Prime Minister who could easily expose them to the population, either in a bad way, or in a good way. – user11521 Aug 9 '15 at 23:47
  • ..And be considered absolutely insane at that. The Minister (Fudge?) says as much. And the Muggle PM agrees. So not a risk at all. – Pryftan Mar 22 '18 at 1:56
3

There are ultimately more pros than cons to being left to their own.

Let's be completely honest, humans tend to either fear, isolate, or want to destroy anything that they don't understand. If Muggles were to get wind that magic exists, it would no doubt throw the world into chaos. Religious conspiracies, attempt to weaponize magic to use against one another, hunting magical creatures, etc.

Not to mention the magical population is very small compared to Muggles. It is a good idea to introduce that kind of power to a group of people who might not respect it. Perhaps one day when non-magical humans are ready, there may be some type of integration.

But as things are? It's best wizard society keep to themselves.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.