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As I get older, the more I struggle to understand the Wizarding World's relationship to muggles. The Wizarding World seems to have two chief perspectives on how to interact with muggles.

  1. Go to extreme lengths to hide the existence of wizards from muggles, in hopes to protect wizard and muggle alike.
  2. Reveal wizarding existence to muggles, and dominate over muggles.

I understand there exists historical reasoning behind both of these perspectives, but what strikes me is their extremely binary nature. From my perspective, there seems to be a clear middle ground that is left out of the discussion...

Reveal wizarding existence to muggles, and attempt peaceful coexistence with one another.

To be clear, I am not arguing that this position would work out (though it may), but the lack of advocacy is bizarre IMO. Particularly because it is easy to imagine that witches and wizards with ties to the muggle world (and many without) would feel a moral imperative to use their talents for the betterment of the world as a whole.

Surely a witch like Hermione would have feelings about the fact that she could fix dental fillings in seconds by uttering the word "repairo", and it took her parents years of schooling to do the same in a two-hour torture session?

Dentistry jokes aside, the use of magic outside the magical world would have profound implications. Human conflict, famine, climate change, crime, medical suffering, economics...

To be fair, I do feel like the separation of wizarding and muggle worlds helps make the story immersive, but I do wish there was more explanation as to why these two positions dominate wizarding culture.

Is there something in canon I am missing?

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  • 5
    Above all, Rowling had to make the Wizarding world plausible. Since magic isn't evident in the world we live in, it had to be hidden in her created universe, and this is how she chose to do it. But you're right, the lack of a third path -- beyond the few eccentrics like Mr. Weasley, who wants to know more about Muggle technology -- is a hole in the plot. Oct 4 at 20:58
  • Thanks, that is what I am thinking. I am just curious if there is canon I am missing. It is fair if she just wants it to be that way for the sake of the story. I would not have wanted the details of the weeds to prevented the the telling of a good story.
    – k6adams
    Oct 4 at 21:08
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    1 is a response to 1.5 not working out. They are not keen to try it again.
    – Alex
    Oct 5 at 1:17
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    Because humans in general suck at peace
    – Righter
    Oct 5 at 8:14
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To start, you don't sound to be missing any canon that I'm aware of. I've read and watched the series numerous times. Two of the reasons Rowling has her characters state for the separation of the worlds could also explain the two stances toward muggles.

  1. "In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry writes an essay on medieval witch burning, which was cited as the reason behind the introduction of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, and wizards going into hiding from the Muggle world."

  2. "A great deal of effort is expended in keeping the Muggles unaware of magic. Originally the two worlds co-existed; however, persecution of those with magic meant laws have been put in place over the centuries, designed to keep the existence of the magical world hidden from Muggles. The first and most important statute is the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy of 1692. Enchantment of Muggle artefacts is forbidden; underage wizards are restricted from using magic outside the school, and any deliberate revelation of magical ability to the Muggle community is punishable."

These are both from Wikipedia and are derived from the books.

The way that the two worlds have developed parallel to one another has only served to reinforce either A. the wizarding world's parent-like, mild derision toward the muggles, or B. the wizarding world's resentment toward having to remain hidden from an arguably inferior side of humanity.

However, there are those idealists in the wizarding world who believe in a third path (Dumbledore, some of the other professors, some of the students, some members of Order of the Phoenix) and they are generally depicted as the background heroes, or voices of reason, in the series.

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    Exactly. For wizarding word to reveal itself to muggles will have one of two sets of consequences: extinction of magic or subjugation of muggles. Because there are two forces in that equation, and muggles are dealing rather well with their problems using science, so replace that with magic will be a problem: science can do anyone, magic just the lucky few. Invites apartheid of some sort no matter what.
    – AcePL
    Oct 5 at 7:08
  • Insightful. The concept of witches and wizards taking on a parenting role to muggles is one I haven’t thought of, and it makes the secrecy pact seem more plausible. I am going to leave the question open for a little while longer in case anyone has more insights as to the very limited and dichotomous nature of the these perspectives. Thanks for your answer.
    – k6adams
    Oct 6 at 3:49
  • @AcePL I am not sure why you believe that revealing magic to muggles would inevitably result in one of those two outcomes. It is not clear to me why, do you care to expand on that idea? Assuming the survival of magic, Why would subjugation be inevitable?
    – k6adams
    Oct 6 at 3:59
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    @k6adams - kinda loaded question. Hard to answer in comment. But simply put: magical folks are very few in comparison, will be expected to fix everything that's wrong with magic, which is, of course, impossible, in the meantime there are forces within magic community that view magic as superior, which will be amplified. Magic will become requirement to advance socially/politically, creating caste division, thus resentment, thus unrest, thus magic will require assert dominance over all of society... Especially if it will be revealed most conflicts muggles suffered most were caused by magic...
    – AcePL
    Oct 6 at 7:09
  • @AcePL, the idea of magic being a requirement for upward social mobility is an idea I had not thought of, but I bet your right.
    – k6adams
    Oct 6 at 13:18
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Your proposal is roughly discussed between Harry and Hagrid in The Philosopher's Stone:

“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.”

The point is that magical power would be revolutionary for Muggle economy.

Extending your example of "Reparo teeth!" - it means the end of dentistry and connected industries. On one hand lots of Muggles would demand Wizards to fix their teeth immediately and costless. On the other hand the dentists and business owners would really hate Wizards.

That applies to most of Muggle professions and industries. So in a natural way, with no bad intentions, the Wizards would dominate Muggle world. And probably would be hated by most of the Muggles which might lead to repeated medieval witch burning.

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  • Dentist Riot will be the name of my mid life crisis punk band. Good reference find, but I do not find it to be a satisfactory plot device. “We are better off left alone” implies that the wizards see themselves truly apart from humanity, to the point that the are unconcerned with their suffering if it inconveniences them. I can’t believe that would be true, particularly for those with family or personal ties with muggles. I have come to the conclusion that there is not a logical reason, other than the author wanted to have us imagine that we the readers could be living world of magic.
    – k6adams
    Nov 4 at 3:47

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