5

In Harry's fifth year, while Professor Snape is being assessed by Dolores Umbridge, the class is making the Strengthening Solution and Umbridge expresses some concerns as to its suitability:

"Well, the class seem fairly advanced for their level," she [Umbridge] said briskly to Snape's back. "Though I would question whether it is advisable to teach them a potion like the Strengthening Solution. I think the Ministry would prefer it if that was removed from the syllabus."
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter Seventeen - Educational Decree Number Twenty-four

The Wikia (unreliable as we all know it can be) speculates that it "presumably increases the drinker's strength." That's a possibility, though considering at that particular time their (or at least Fudge's) greatest fear was that Dumbledore was using Hogwarts to train his own personal army, it doesn't seem like it would be particularly troubling for the Ministry if that's all it did. After all, in a magical battle against trained Aurors and other Ministry workers, an increase in physical strength likely wouldn't give much advantage (if any at all); Hagrid, while obviously exceptionally strong, appeared to get all of his magical resistance from having giant's blood from his mother.

So is there any canon information on what this potion does? Canon being the seven Harry Potter books, the officially released supplementary books, JKR quotes and interviews, and Pottermore.

If there turns out to be a lack of canon information (which I suspect may be the case), I'd also consider accepting a particularly well reasoned argument as to why my above assumption is incorrect and a potion that merely increases physical strength would be of particular worry to the Ministry at that time.

  • Is there any canon that states it increases your physical strength? It could be that it increases magical strength, which would be a threat to the Ministry. – alexwlchan Jun 21 '14 at 12:05
  • @alexwlchan - I was just thinking that. A potion which increases a wizard's mana would be most threatening. – Valorum Jun 21 '14 at 12:07
  • The HP Wiki also mentions the “Strength Potion”, which apparently does give you physical strength. The different names imply they might affect different aspects of strength, but it’s a hunch at best. – alexwlchan Jun 21 '14 at 12:09
  • @alexwlchan The Strength Potion seems to be from video games, so not even really canon. But no, there's no canon info (of which I'm aware) that says it increases physical strength - I just didn't want people coming along saying "The Wikia says this" so figured I'd discount that from the start in the question. Magical strength was my initial thought as well, for the same reasons yourself and Richard mentioned, but it's all speculation at this point. – Anthony Grist Jun 21 '14 at 12:15
  • 2
    Even if the potion only increased the user's physical strength, it could be a serious threat to the Ministry in their paranoid scenario. This all depends on the amount the potion increases the strength. A wizard that can throw aurors around bare-handed would be quite difficult to fight against if (s)he uses sufficiently powerful defensive enchantments (It would be hard to reason for the banning of defensive spells) against the Ministry aurors offensive magic. – zovits Jun 23 '14 at 8:50
5

It increases your resistance to magical attack.

The HP Wiki article on Strengthening Solution mentions that it appears in the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 game. Even with this knowledge, it’s surprisingly difficult to find out what it does – I couldn’t find any mention of its purpose in a walkthrough, and most reviews mention it casually without explaining it.

I eventually found a manual for the game which has a list of all the potions and their purposes, which includes this:

Strengthening Solution, which temporarily increases the drinker’s ability to absorb enemies’ casts without being harmed.

You can see why that would be of concern to the Ministry: it could be used by young hooligans to avoid righteous justice, etc. It reduces the ability of Aurors and/or the Ministry to exert control over students and Hogwarts, especially since most of their justice techniques rely on magic.

Video games are near the bottom of the canon stack, but that’s all we have – you’ve cited the only mention in the books, and I don’t think it appears anywhere in Pottermore or interviews.

As for physical strength, remember that the Aurors aren’t expecting to be attacked that way. And no matter what your magical skill, a punch from somebody strong will knock you out cold.

  • Nice answer! +1 I think the video game -- if it's one where all the potions were written by J.K. Rowling -- is credible. I don't know if she did write for that particular game; I know she wrote a spell syllabary (sp?) for a Playstation game. That would be as canon to me as the books or interviews. If it were not written by JKR, it would be low down on the canon order. Regardless, great research and a plausible answer! :) – Slytherincess Oct 4 '14 at 13:41
  • @Slytherincess she definitely wrote some game canon (eg famous wizard cards, now on Pottermore), but I don't think we have a clear delineation of what JKR wrote for the games and what's somebody else's filler. – alexwlchan Oct 4 '14 at 13:52
  • Right, I get what you're saying. Still, good research :) – Slytherincess Oct 4 '14 at 14:30
-1

The Harry Potter Lexicon says that it's effects are:

Unknown, but presumably increases the user's strength.

This website also seems to be endorsed by J K Rowling (to some extent: see The Harry Potter Lexicon) so perhaps this is as much as can be said about it given the current level of information

  • 3
    The lexicon seems to be basing their article on pure guesswork. – Valorum Jun 21 '14 at 14:40
  • At one point J.K. Rowling wholeheartedly endorsed the HP Lexicon, making it her first "Website of the week" or somesuch. However, the Lexicon's owner, Steve Vander Ark, announced his plan to turn the Lexicon into an HP Encyclopedia; at the time, JKR was also planning on writing an HP Encyclopedia. Things quickly went south between them; JKR sued SVA to prevent him from publishing his version. Interestingly, the Court ruled in Vander Ark's favor. The Lexicon is a great website, but, AFAIK, JKR and The Lexicon have had no contact since the litigation. :) – Slytherincess Oct 4 '14 at 13:57
  • Law geeks might be interested in Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling vs. RDR Books. Apparently, J.K. Rowling went from being in love with the Lexicon to calling it "sloppy" and "poorly researched". Odd, coming from an author who admitted often checking the Lexicon to fact check herself instead of referring back to her own books to fact check. Google suggests that the Court may have reversed its decision eventually, finding in favor of JKR, but I'm not positive as I didn't dig into it. < /law geek > :) – Slytherincess Oct 4 '14 at 14:16

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