20

In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, towards the very end of the movie, a mass Obliviation takes place. As it takes place we see Aurors moving throughout New York as they repair the city. Evidently they are impervious to the effects of the Swooping Evil venom, (which was mixed with the falling rain). On the one hand, it seems that wizards are protected from the Swooping Evil venom and Obliviation. On the other hand it seems that wizards and witches can be Obliviated. We see they can be wiped of memory from the following four sources:

  1. Newt Scamander's description of the Swooping Evil venom in the suitcase doesn't differentiate between magical folk and non-magical folk.
  2. Queenie Goldstein has to use a magical umbrella to protect herself from the rain as she kisses Jacob Kowalski.
  3. Hermione Granger Obliviates death eaters in the pub at the beginning of The Deathly Hollows.
  4. Lockhart loses his memory in the Chamber of Secrets due to a backfired Oblivate charm.

(There are many more examples...)

So what is it? Can wizards and witches be wiped of memory? It seems like they can from the sources I cited. But if that's true, how come the Aurors at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them don't seem to try and protect themselves from the rain?

  • 1
    I guess we're supposed to assume some form of magical protection? – DisturbedNeo Jul 6 '17 at 16:25
  • 11
    I'd guess since they would have known they'd be working in the rain with the Swooping Evil venom in it, they would have done something to stop it from working on them, like a spell or a potion. Queenie used an umbrella, but there's no reason to think that's the only way to stop the venom from working. Also remember, she needed something that could also cover Jacob (a Muggle) but only for a short time since he was required to have his memory erased. I'm not sure if Queenie needed the umbrella to protect herself, or to protect Jacob so his memory wouldn't be erased before she could say goodbye. – Bellatrix Jul 6 '17 at 18:27
  • 4
    There is canonical evidence of magic that can repel rain. I'm not sure which book or if it's in any movie, but during one particularly rainy Quidditch match, Hermione charms Harry's glasses to repel the rain so he wouldn't be Seeking blind. And once she casts it, there's nothing more to see, but the effect remains in place, at least for a significant portion of a Quidditch match. – 8bittree Jul 6 '17 at 23:28
  • 3
    @8bittree Third book, Impervious Charm. Wood also uses it on himself, even without glasses, to improve his vision in the rain (so it canonically works on skin). – Draconis Jul 7 '17 at 3:48
  • 2
    Can I suggest you make an edit to your question to make your intent more clear, it seems like you merely forgot all the instances in the books of wizards being obliviated when your real focus is on the Fantastic Beasts film. – Edlothiad Dec 4 '17 at 8:52
37

In Chamber of Secrets Gilderoy Lockhart both speaks of Obliviating (or at least using a similar sort of memory charm) other witches and wizards.

"Harry, Harry," said Lockhart, shaking his head impatiently, "it's not nearly as simple as that. There was work involved. I had to track these people down. Ask them exactly how they managed to do what they did. Then I had to put a Memory Charm on them so they wouldn't remember doing it. If there's one thing I pride myself on, it's my Memory Charms. No, it's been a lot of work, Harry. It's not all book signings and publicity photos, you know. You want fame, you have to be prepared for a long hard slog."

Later he Obliviates himself when trying to do it to Harry and Ron and Ron's broken wand backfires on him.

"The adventure ends here, boys!" he said. "I shall take a bit of this skin back up to the school, tell them I was too late to save the girl, and the you two tragically lost your minds at the sight of her mangled body - say goodbye to your memories!"
He raised Ron's Spellotaped wand high over his head and yelled, "Obliviate!"
The wand exploded with the force of a small bomb.

Given that plus items 2 and 3 stated in the question I would say that there should be no question of the fact that they can be Obliviated.

As to why the Swooping Evil venom didn't affect them I'm not sure, maybe they had charms in place to protect themselves since they knew it was coming?

  • 12
    fwiw, I'd add the exact quote from the book where Lockhart attempts to cast the spell - he uses "Obliviate" - that, imo, is the most obvious example that it is possible (assuming of course a wand not broken and bound with Spellotape) – NKCampbell Jul 6 '17 at 17:25
  • 1
    @NKCampbell That's a good point, I've got it added now, had to wait until I got home and could look up the quote in the book. – Forral Jul 7 '17 at 3:05
  • 1
    Out of universe answer: Because plot armour :P (And probably someone who didn't think that much into it?) – Vincent Jul 7 '17 at 7:10
8

To supplement Forral's answer, there are additional instances in the books of a witch or wizard having their memory wiped.

Towards the end of Goblet of Fire,

Barty Crouch Jr. confesses that his father, Barty Crouch Sr., went to great lengths to conceal him, and to that end the elder Crouch

had once cast a Memory Charm on the witch Bertha Jorkins.

[Bertha] heard enough to guess who was hiding under the Invisibility Cloak. My father arrived home. She confronted him. He put a very powerful Memory Charm on her to make her forget what she'd found out. Too powerful. He said it damaged her memory permanently.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 35, Veritaserum

Interestingly, we are told that this same Memory Charm was later "broken" by Voldemort, suggesting that the charm blocks or represses memories rather than erasing them entirely:

[Voldemort] had captured Bertha Jorkins in Albania. He had tortured her...He tortured her until he broke through the Memory Charm my father had placed upon her.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 35, Veritaserum

And as chirlu pointed out in their comment, Hermione performs several Memory Charms in Deathly Hallows, all of them on wizards, to cover the trio's tracks.

Unfortunately, this gives us no clue as to how a witch or wizard might resist being Obliviated in the first place, or even if the methods for resisting a Memory Charm and resisting Swooping Evil venom are the same.

  • 1
    There are more examples in Deathly Hallows. Hermione obliviates the Death Eaters who found them in the café, after they fled from the wedding, and later Xenophilius Lovegood. – chirlu Aug 10 '17 at 4:49
  • 1
    @chirlu Finally got around to adding that, thanks for the reminder. – MJ713 Dec 28 '17 at 1:07
6

In a comment on the root question, SE user Bellatrix mentioned a potion as a possible protection against the Swooping Evil venom.

After all, although the mode of action for the obliviation may be magical rather than chemical, the venom presumably acts like other venoms in that it needs to enter the body to act (skin contact apparently is enough).

Thus, a magichemical guard against the initial entry seems suitable as a way to obviate any subsequent effects.

6

Yes, witches and wizards can indeed be obliviated.

Gilderoy Lockhart speaking of obliviation

"Harry, Harry," said Lockhart, shaking his head impatiently, "it's not nearly as simple as that. There was work involved. I had to track these people down. Ask them exactly how they managed to do what they did. Then I had to put a Memory Charm on them so they wouldn't remember doing it. If there's one thing I pride myself on, it's my Memory Charms. No, it's been a lot of work, Harry. It's not all book signings and publicity photos, you know. You want fame, you have to be prepared for a long hard slog."

While Lockhart is, in many ways, a bumbling, babbling baboon, the one thing he seems to be somewhat of an expert on is indeed the Memory Charm.

Gilderoy Lockhart obliviating himself

"The adventure ends here, boys!" he said. "I shall take a bit of this skin back up to the school, tell them I was too late to save the girl, and the you two tragically lost your minds at the sight of her mangled body - say goodbye to your memories!"
He raised Ron's Spellotaped wand high over his head and yelled, "Obliviate!"
The wand exploded with the force of a small bomb.

While not hitting its intended target(s), the spell did erase the memories of a wizard.

Swooping Evil venom

The Swooping Evil venom did indeed not affect the various witches and wizards of New York. While the aurors could have had protective enchantment put in place, I find it unlikely that the non MACUSA-employed witches and wizards of New York have had the chance or time to do so.

I believe the answer to why witches and wizards were not affected by the venom lies in one or both of the two following quotes from Newt Scamander:

"You see, you're a muggle, so our physiologies are subtly different."

While this, in and of itself, could mean a wide variety of things, I think that in the context of the movie this is a hint that perhaps witches and wizards are not (as) susceptible to the Swooping Evil venom.

"I've been studying him and I'm pretty sure his venom could be quite useful if properly diluted. Just to remove bad memories, you know."

Again, quite an innocuous quote in itself, but given the context and what they end up using it for, I think there's a hint here. The key of the quote is bad memories. The No-maj population of New York have nothing but bad memories of the Magical Community and that's why they wash away so easily with the rain. Witches and wizards (and perhaps Kowalski, but that's digressing into another question) have good memories of magic and thus they remain unaffected by the rain.

So, while the venom could potentially affect witches and wizards, their subtly different physiology gives them some measure of protection and the fact that they have good memories of magic further stops them from being wiped.

  • 2
    Awesome answer, someone has finally addressed the entire purpose of the question, "Why weren't the wizards and witches in FB affected." +1 from me for a well written and well supported answer. Just one thing, is there a need to put a title saying answer given on answers go in the answer box? Could you not just make the second line your title? – Edlothiad Dec 4 '17 at 8:51
  • Thank you for the kind words and the extra feedback. You're probably correct, I'll remove the "title". – Gunnar Södergren Dec 4 '17 at 8:52
  • I just like seeing big, strong, powerful statements to open answers with. As for the kind words, they are fully deserved, although the asker has not benefited themselves with the poorly worded title. – Edlothiad Dec 4 '17 at 8:54
1

Maybe the Obliviate from the venom works on Muggles only. And spells work on wizards as well. I don't remember any of the Harry Potter characters speaking of the venom, I assume it's the first time we see it.

Anytime someone is Obliviated in the Harry Potter saga, they are Obliviated by a spell, and not the venom.

Perhaps, the venom is diluted enough to work on Muggles, but is too much diluated to work on wizards.

  • 2
    Interesting theory. Do you have a source for this or is it just headcanon? – amflare Aug 8 '17 at 19:43

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.