Hey everyone! So I was reflecting a little bit on why I love this series so much and not the least of which is because of the world building. Hello, that’s kind of why it’s so fantastic. But a big part of the world building has come from the magical creatures we’ve been introduced to throughout the series.
I’m not even going to pretend I have a complete list here, simply because it’s been so long since I’ve read the later books that I’m sure there’s something I’m forgetting.
But from the very beginning, we’ve been introduced to so many interesting creatures.
- House elves
- a Basilisk
- Fluffy, the three-headed dog
- Nargles. Always Nargles.
This, I feel, is a huge part of what made the story a success. You can have any kind of magical story you want, but it’s the world around it that sells it. These magical creatures really helped send home the fact that we were no longer in the normal world; we had entered something far more exotic than we had ever been in before.
Personally, I love how much of mythology has been incorporated into these animals. I’ve always loved that Gryffindor’s symbol is a griffin. I’ve always loved that Fluffy is a play on Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the Underworld in Greek mythology. I’ve always loved the incorporation of centaurs, werewolves, and the Basilisk because I had heard of them before.
The most fun I’ve had reading these stories is when the creatures are different than I was picturing them. Like the Mountain Trolls, for example. I don’t typically think of trolls as ginormous; I sort of picture a wizened old creature guarding a bridge or something. So like 8 foot tall trolls that are incredibly stupid…it was a fun twist. And the centaurs being obsessed with following the stars was a bit different than I was picturing as well.
But it’s also incredibly fun to meet new creatures. The fact that Hippogriffs are proud and that you have to bow to them is unique. Aragog is disgustingly unique. House elves like Dobby are charming and weird at the same time.
Perhaps strangely enough, my favorite magical creatures are the thestrals. I can’t exactly say why I’m drawn to them. Perhaps it has something to do with the darkness that surrounds the ability to see them. Perhaps it has to do with the idea that even though they are seen as something scary, they’re really not. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just captivated by the idea of them, and I can’t really wait to get to the fifth book when I get to read about them.
I think the magical creatures are a little bit underrated in the series, but they deserve some credit. They truly do make the story more interesting. What would the Chamber of Secrets have been if Harry didn’t have to fight a Basilisk? What would Prisoner of Azkaban have been without Buckbeak? How dangerous could the Triwizard Tournament have been without dragons or mermaids? They bring in a large amount of suspense and danger that breaks away from the drama of being a teenager. It really opens the story up in so many different ways.