I am wondering what are the disciplinary intentions of parents who send a howler to their child.

Is it merely to raise a voice to show the child they're distraught and angry, or the purpose is also a public shaming (I imagine the howler's voice carries all over the great hall or a classroom at Hogwarts.)

In the particular case of Mrs. Weasley sending an owl to Ron in his second year, I dont understand her timing . Why was she deliberately drawing attention to the inquiry her husband is facing at the ministy, making the Weasley family somewhat of a butt of the joke and congratulating Ginny for being sorted into Gryffindor (a private matter the whole school doesn't need to know about) all for the purpose of disciplining Ron for his great auto theft.

When a howler is sent by a parent (or a ministry official) to a child what is the intent? To let everyone know the child misbehaved, draving attention and thus punishing the child, or it is merely a side effect of not being able to shout at the minor and the howler arriving at an inconvenient time?

  • 9
    Minor nitpick: Ginny being sorted into Gryffindor isn't a private matter; Sorting is a public occasion.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 22, 2019 at 15:26
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    I don't know how much of it is directly intended, but I like to think of parts like this as directly challenging the reader. The books have several like that. James Potter is clearly a bully, but we try to see moral rationale within his actions because he's one of the good guys. Calling someone a "squib" seems no better than calling someone a "mudblood," but we try to see moral rationale within it because good guys do it. You could look at it as human complexity - the Weasleys, good guys though they are, are neither perfect parents nor geniuses. It's a fault they have.
    – Misha R
    Sep 22, 2019 at 15:26
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    I assume Molly was aware of the possibility that the Howler would be overheard and didn't care. The Weasley parents either don't care about others' opinions so much, or aren't entirely aware of it, seeing as they already do plenty for others to ridicule. Like Arthur being interested in muggles, and Molly only curbing it in when it could be a real problem.
    – Kai
    Sep 22, 2019 at 16:08
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    Loudly berating your child in public isn't very classy. I couldn't imagine the Malfoys doing that...
    – PM 2Ring
    Sep 22, 2019 at 17:23
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    I don't think Howler was going to bring much more attention to the fact Arthur was in trouble due to the flying car. It would have been reported in the Daily Prophet already, so anybody who wasn't already aware would have been not long after. Sep 22, 2019 at 21:25

3 Answers 3


The Weasley family was probably already publicly shamed.

There was an article in The Prophet describing the flying car incident and with the subsequent investigation on Arthur Weasley for inadequate usage of magic on Muggle artifacts, which we can assume was also published, since breaking the International Statute of Secrecy is no small issue.

The Prophet article:

But a moment later, he understood, as Snape unrolled today’s issue of the Evening Prophet. ‘You were seen,’ he hissed, showing them the headline: FLYING FORD ANGLIA MYSTIFIES MUGGLES.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Chapter Five: The Whomping Willow

And the howler sent by Mrs. Weasley:


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Chapter Six: Gilderoy Lockart

And as other have said, Ginny being sorted into Gryffindor is not something private. The whole school already knows that, since everyone attends the Sorting Ceremony.


To answer your question about the intent behind sending someone a Howler we can look at the Pottermore entry


To direct abuse, a complaint or a criticism to the recipient


She most likely was in such a state of rage she had no thought at the time. Weasleys are characteristically very fiery. She probably regretted it afterwards.

  • 2
    Can you offer any evidence that this was indeed the case that you could edit in?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 1, 2019 at 15:58

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