In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ron gets a Howler from his mother. Neville notices and says the following:

"You'd better open it, Ron. It'll be worse if you don't. My Gran sent me one once, and I ignored it and - " he gulped, "it was horrible."

What exactly is this horrible thing that will take place if the howler is ignored?


1 Answer 1


It "bursts into flames" and then the message is relayed anyway.

We see a howler explode in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Petunia takes too long to open the Howler Dumbledore sent her:

"You can open it if you like," said Harry, "but I’ll hear what it says anyway. That's a Howler."


Aunt Petunia's hand was trembling. She looked wildly around the kitchen as though looking for an escape route, but too late -the envelope burst into flames. Aunt Petunia screamed and dropped it.

An awful voice filled the kitchen, echoing in the confined space, issuing from the burning letter on the table.

Remember my last, Petunia.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 2 - "A Peck of Owls"

This is also confirmed by Percy in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

"It's been absolute uproar," Percy told them importantly, the Sunday evening before they were due to return to Hogwarts. "I've been putting out fires all week. People keep sending Howlers and of course, if you don't open a Howler straight away, it explodes. Scorch marks all over my desk and my best quill reduced to cinders."

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 10 - "Mayhem at the Ministry"

And again when Hermione gets some hate mail after Rita Skeeter's article about her was written:

Hate mail continued to arrive for Hermione over the following week, and although she followed Hagrid's advice and stopped opening it, several of her ill-wishers sent Howlers, which exploded at the Gryffindor table and shrieked insults at her for the whole Hall to hear.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Chapter 28 - "The Madness of Mr Crouch"

  • 19
    And you thought Star Wars was full of OSHA/HSE violations...
    – DavidW
    Sep 20 at 16:43
  • This begs the question, what if someone intentionally sends a hidden howler so that your property is damaged? The wizarding world is weird.
    – sudhanva
    Sep 21 at 5:39
  • 13
    @sudhanva They allow total strangers to send howlers to children. Forget property damage, anytime Skeeter slanders someone her victims go straight to St Mungo's after being heckled 24/7.
    – Martheen
    Sep 21 at 5:59
  • 11
    @sudhanva I think they probably wave the wand, mutter lawyerus brokenus latinus, and the evidence is destroy- I mean the damage is mended. They don't seem very keen on prosecuting property offenses though. Sep 21 at 6:00
  • 2
    @Martheen and I thought bullying in the real world was bad.
    – sudhanva
    Sep 21 at 7:48

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