Did you know that there are hidden messages in the Harry Potter series? J.K Rowling could not have predicted the impact her wizarding world would have on society when she wrote the Harry Potter books back in the 1990s.
The first book in the series, The Philosopher’s Stone captured the hearts of many pre-teens who were also starting out at high school, and although they didn’t have the option of choosing a wand in the run-up to the first day of school, The Philosopher’s Stone enabled those an escape to a more enchanting realm of witchcraft and wizardry.
However, Rowling’s work holds a more meaningful element that isn’t obvious at first glance. In fact, the books contain many powerful hidden messages that can be found between the lines. Here are some hidden messages from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Rowling’s imagination knew no bounds when it came to naming her characters. Yet, many have deeper meanings than first thought. In fact, the names are often closely related to their traits. Here are a few examples:
The name Voldermort translates from the French language as “flight of death”, fitting the character’s need to escape from death. Voldermort splits his soul into pieces so that he cannot be killed easily. He is also the epitome of death throughout the series. He represents the death of Harry Potter’s parents as well as many more.
The French translation of Draco Malfoy is “bad faith”. This sums up Draco’s personality as a whole, it is also a clue to his intentions from the get-go.
The names Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore each hold a significant meaning. Albus, in Latin, translates as “white” which symbolises the colour of “goodness”, it also refers to his long, white beard. Percival was the name of one of King Arthur’s knights of the round table. He was the first to search for the lost grail. This parallels to Dumbledore’s search for Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Wulfric of Haselbury was a 12th-century, miracle-working historic figure. Although Rowling could have placed ‘Brian’ into the mix to mock his overtly long-winded name, it could also be a nod to a Celtic translation meaning “noble”. In an interview with Lyndon Christopher back in 1999, Rowling stated that she had given the name Dumbledore as “[he] is very fond of music, I always imagined him as sort of humming to himself a lot.” As Dumbledore is an old English word for ‘bumblebee’, the name fits perfectly.
Hogwarts House Colours
The colours that represent the four Hogwarts houses loosely link to the four elements. Gryffindor has a lion as its emblematic animal, and the house colour, red, signifies fire. Slytherin’s emblem is of a snake, and the colour is green which identifies with water. Hufflepuff has a badger as its symbolic animal and the main colour is yellow, linking to earth. Finally, Ravenclaw’s badge is of an eagle, and blue which roughly links to air.
It is possible that the house colours also represent the four British Isles. Godric Gryffindor originated from England and the logo of a lion corresponds with England’s own coat of arms. Rowena Ravenclaw was Scottish. There is also a link between the blue of Ravenclaw’s symbolic colour and the blue found in the Scottish flag. Helga Hufflepuff was a Welsh witch. It isn’t clear where Salazar Slytherin first resided, but the house colours, green and white, could resemble Irish descent.
Hedwig appears in every one of the Harry Potter books. The owl is like a guardian to orphaned Harry Potter, and this could be exactly why Rowling named him as such. In Catholicism, St. Hedwig, or Hedwig of Silesia, is known for her generosity and kindness during her rule beside her husband, Duke of Greater Poland. Named after the patron saint, St Hedwig orphanage in Chicago took in thousands of orphaned children up until its closure in the 1950s.
Snape’s first words to Harry Potter
Snape’s first words to Harry is a question about the mixing of certain potions: “What would I get if I mixed root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Though, this isn’t a way of embarrassing Potter as you would first believe. When delving deeper into the two ingredients, a message emerges. Asphodel is, in fact, a flower from the Lily family, also the name of Harry Potter’s mother and the long-lost love of Snape. Also, lilies are often gifted after death as they represent the restored innocence of the soul that departed. Wormwood associates with regret and has a bitter taste.
The sorting hat
Harry first encounters the sorting hat on his first day at Hogwarts. The hat “sorts” the newcomers into their appropriate houses. It’s significant that the hat attempts to place Harry into Slytherin, as he has the qualities the house desires, but Harry is determined to stick with noble Gryffindor. This signals that Harry has a connection to Slytherin although he is yet to realise this.
Dumbledore and Hagrid: Two contrasting father-figures
We’ve established that Albus translates to “white” in Latin, but “rubeo”, also in Latin, means “red”. It looks like Rowling didn’t accidentally use colours to describe Harry Potter’s two father figures. Using Pottermore she describes how the two colours are actually contrasting in the science of alchemy: “I named them for the alchemical colours to convey their opposite but complementary natures: Red meaning passion (or emotion), white for asceticism; Hagrid being the earthy, warm and physical [father figure] […] Dumbledore the theoretician, brilliant, idealized and somewhat detached.’ For Potter, both traits are essential in his guardianship as he journeys through the wizarding world.
Are there any hidden messages in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Read more of our Harry Potter articles HERE
Read IMDB information about the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone movie HERE.
Attack On Titan – Review
The hit Japanese Anime Attack On Titan finished airing part one of its final season last Sunday, 2nd March. During its season four release, it was the most popular show in the United States, beating WandaVision. The show has been airing for eight years, and season four of the popular anime has shown just how far Eren, Mikasa, and Armin have come since “that fateful day.” Here’s a summary and review of Attack on Titan.
***SPOILERS for the anime throughout, so be warned***
Where we started
Attack on Titan takes place in the fictional world of Walls. It starts the narrative that one day Titans mysteriously appeared. They are dumb but dangerous, impermeable, and fast giants whose only purpose is to eat people. What was left of humanity retreated behind a set of three Walls which appeared just as suddenly as the Titans.
For 100 years, humanity has lived inside the Walls, safe from the Titans but trapped inside them. It’s the role of the Scout Regiment to brave the world outside the Walls, study the Titans, and try to give humanity a leg up in the war for survival. They discovered that Titans can be killed by slicing open the nape of their necks. In response, the military developed ODM gear that allows them to fly through the air to get to such heights as to kill Titans. But in the last 100 years, that’s all they have, and if the Walls were to ever fall, humanity would be doomed.
The anime starts with following Eren, his adoptive sister Mikasa, and his best friend Armin. When they were ten, two new Titans appeared; the Colossal and the Armored. These two Titans come with new abilities, appearances, and high intelligence. Together, they break through the first Wall, destroy Eren’s hometown of Shiganshina. And Eren watches as his mother is eaten by a Titan. His father (Grisha) is missing, and the last memory he has of Grisha is him telling his son to “go to the basement.” Eren is now dead set on joining the Scouts with the purpose of “killing all the Titans”. And Mikasa and Armin follow him.
They become members of the 104th Cadet Corps, and the show time skips to when they are fifteen and in the city of Trost for their graduation. While there, the Colossal reappears and breaks the wall a second time. This time another new Titan appears after Eren’s supposed death, one that attacks other Titans and is intelligent.
It’s revealed that this new Titan is Eren, and that Eren has the ability to transform into a Titan at will, something he was previously unaware of. The goal becomes simple; retake the first Wall, get back to Shiganshina, uncover Eren’s basement, and discover the secret of the Titans. But that goal doesn’t stay simple.
While getting to the basement might have been the start goal, the team definitely took some detours. Throughout the next three seasons, several new and interesting characters and Titans are introduced, and secrets are slowly uncovered. The plot thickens, the world widens, and things become more grey.
Season one was a simple season of ignorance and getting to know our main cast of characters. All the characters exist within their own cliques, the subsequent groups being our main characters; Eren, Mikasa, and Armin. Groups within the 104th; Jean, Connie and Sasha, Bertholdt, Reiner, and Annie, and the pairing between Christa and Ymir. And then our senior officers, Commander Erwin, Captain Levi, and Section Leader Hange. What makes Attack on Titan so special is how they give each of these characters a compelling and interesting arc throughout every season. While Eren Jaeger is the main character, every single character is important and have their own lives and arcs outside of Eren.
The biggest thing that came from season one was the world-building and character introduction. Alongside the concept that Titan Shifters such as Eren exist among them. It’s implied that the Colossal and Armored are also unknown people, and Annie is found out to be the Female Titan. For whatever reason, she was dead set on kidnapping Eren. But when Eren and the Scouts defeat her, she encases herself in crystal where she remains to this day in the story. At the end of season one, it’s revealed that massive “colossal-like” Titans are inside the Walls.
Four years later the shorter season two aired. But season two definitely wasn’t without its major plot reveals. Season Two starts with Titans getting inside the second Wall without a Wall breach. The Beast Titan, who can talk and control normal Titans (which is something we’ve never seen before) makes his first appearance.
When the group is in danger, Ymir reveals herself to be a Titan Shifter. Holding the Jaw Titan, and uses her ability to save them. Ymir seems to be much more aware of her Titan and its abilities as well as how she got them than Eren. But she does not provide much information as she is kidnapped almost immediately after by Reiner and Bertholdt. Reiner, who has developed a split personality due to trauma, reveals himself to Eren as the Armored Titan and Bertholdt as the Colossal. This was a massive reveal that the animators and storytellers had laid crumbs to very effectively. Looking back you can see that it was obviously Reiner and Bertholdt, but in the moment it feels like a massive reveal coming right out of left field.
They had built the Colossal Titan up as the “final boss” and to learn he’s a lanky seventeen-year-old with anxiety absolutely feels like a huge reveal. They kidnap Eren and Ymir and try to make a run for it, but are intercepted by the Scouts. During this battle Erwin loses his arm, Eren can control Titans for a split second after punching the Titan that ate his mom. And Ymir decided to side with Reiner and Bertholdt whose motives remain unknown. Eren is rescued.
Season three is arguably the best season and focuses heavily on fan-favourite, Captain Levi. Levi is “humanity’s strongest soldier,” and is the most capable character in Attack on Titan. Earlier Christa has revealed that her name is actually Historia Reiss. She is the bastard daughter of powerful merchant Rod Reiss. She changed her name and joined the Scouts to protect herself from those who would rather she not exist. The Military Police is after Historia and Eren and sends Kenny the Ripper and his team to capture them. Kenny is a mass murderer that used to hunt down and kill MPs (Military Police) and is Levi’s uncle.
He raised him in the underground slums after Levi’s mother, who was a prostitute, died of a related illness. He then abandoned him when he was around eleven or twelve. Levi then ran a gang in the underground and was ultimately recruited to join the Scouts (see the No Regrets OVA). Levi and Kenny have an all out, amazing battle. But Levi’s squad loses, Eren and Historia are lost and the Scouts are now fugitives. It is revealed that Levi’s last name (which he didn’t know) is Ackerman, the same as Mikasa’s, and they are cousins. The truth about their family and their supernatural combat abilities starts to take light.
Eren and Historia are brought to her father Rod. He reveals that the Reiss family is the true royal family and have been ruling the walls through a proxy King. The Ackermans used to be in service to the royal family, and Kenny has sworn his life to the Reiss’. Rod explains to Historia that their family has held the principal and most powerful Titan, the Founding Titan, for generations. It was their ancestor, King Fritz, who built the walls and retreated his people behind them.
The Founding Titan has the ability to erase and alter people’s memories as well as alter their genetic makeup. Whoever holds a shifting Titan receives the memories of the people who came before them. The Founding Titan can also control Titans, knows where the Titans came from and can destroy all of them. But for whatever reason due to King Fritz’ memories, they refuse to do so or give anyone any information. Only someone with royal blood can unlock all these abilities and memories. And the unroyal person who currently holds the Founding Titan is Eren Jaeger.
The only way to inherit a Titan is to be turned into one by injecting Titan spinal fluid and then eating someone who holds a Shifting Titan. Eren’s father massacred the Reiss family, stealing the Founding Titan, and then giving it to ten-year-old Eren after Shiganshina. Having Eren be turned into a Titan, then eat him, and then retroactively erasing Eren’s memory of the event. Eren is understandably horrified.
Rod pleads with Historia to eat Eren and inherit the Founding Titan. She refuses. During all this Kenny and Levi fight each other again outside the chamber Rod, Historia and Eren are in and Levi wins. Rod accidentally turns himself into a Titan and they kill him, Eren still holding the Founding Titan. Kenny dies in front of Levi at the end of this set-piece and gives Levi the only Titan Serum they have. Erwin tells Levi to keep it so that if they hold a Shifting Titan and there is a near-death comrade, they can turn them into a Shifting Titan and bring them back. Erwin trusts Levi with the decision on who and when to use it.
During all of this, Erwin and Hange along with several Military officials stage a coup against the proxy King. At the end of these events, they place Historia on the throne.
Season Three ends with the return to Shiganshina to retake the Wall and finally get to the basement. An all-out battle between the Scouts and the Colossal, Armored and Beast Titan as well as a new Titan, the Cart, take place. The Beast Titan is revealed to be a man named Zeke, and almost all the Scouts die in this battle. Erwin, who is Levi’s best friend (maybe lover?), dies in this battle after leading a suicide charge so that Levi could kill the Beast Titan. Levi fails because he hesitates in killing him in order to savour the moment. Reiner (the Armored Titan) is defeated but is rescued by the Cart Titan and a beat-up Zeke, who tells Eren “I will rescue you, we are both victims of our father.”
Hange loses an eye, and Armin defeats the Colossal with the help of Eren. But is severely and critically burned in the process. Levi is about to administer the Titan Serum to Armin to have him eat Bertholdt and come back as the Colossal Titan, but new recruit Floch appears with a near-death Erwin, who survived the suicide charge but is dying. Levi has to choose between fifteen-year-old Armin or his best friend and Commander of the Scouts. While it pains him, he chooses Armin because he can’t bring himself to bring Erwin back to such a cruel world. Erwin dies, and Armin now has the Colossal Titan.
Levi, Hange, Eren and Mikasa go to the basement and what they find there changes the course of the show, closes season three, and opens season four.
Where we are now
It’s wild to think that a show that started as a bunch of soldiers killing giants became a commentary on good vs. evil, fascism, and racism.
At the end of season three Eren learns the truth about both the world and his father. They are not alone in the world, and their thousands of other people and nations living outside the walls.
Thousands of years ago Ymir Fritz was gifted the Founding Titan. She used it to harness the power of the Titans to create the Eldian empire and oppress other nations for centuries. Smaller nation Marley steals some of the Shifting Titans through the help of the Tyber family. Marley then defeats Eldia. King Fritz, retreats what Eldians he can to the island of Paradis and constructs walls for them to live in, erasing their memory. He threatens the rest of the world that if they ever try to attack the island. He will start the Rumbling, where he will send out the giant Titans that live within the Walls to flatten the Earth.
Not all Eldians made it within the walls though. The Eldian race is the only group of people who can turn into Titans, and for that, they are hated and called “devils” by the rest of the world. Eldians that don’t live within the Walls live within internment zones on Marley. They are heavily discriminated against and wear armbands to identify themselves. Eldians who oppose Marley are taken to the island or wars with other countries and turned into Titans (which is where the Titans on the island come from). If an Eldian would like to become an “honorary Marleyan” and live outside of the internment zone with their families, then they can train to become a part of the Warrior Unit, inherit a Titan, and be a weapon for Marley. (i.e. Reiner, Zeke, Bertholdt, and Annie).
Grisha Jaeger, Eren’s father, was from Marley. He was part of a rebellion to re-establish the Eldian Empire and married Dina Fritz, who was a descendant of the royal family. Together they had Zeke Jaeger, who betrayed his own parents as a child as the result of propaganda and brain-washing. Dina was turned into a Titan on the island; the same Titan that ate Eren’s mother.
Just before Grisha was turned, he was saved by Eren Kruger, the leader of the movement who held the Attack Titan. He tells Grisha that those who hold a Shifting Titan are subject to the Curse of Ymir and they only live for thirteen years after they inherit it. His years are up, so he gives his Titan to Grisha and tells Grisha to go to the Walls and steal the Founding Titan. So that the people within the Walls may someday learn the truth and fight back. Grisha is successful but does so at the end of his term with the Attack Titan, so he passes both the Founding and the Attack Titan on to Eren.
Reiner, Bertholdt, Annie, and Marcel were sent to the island when they were twelve to steal the Founding Titan. Marley wanted to attack the Island, wipe out the Eldians there, and harvest their natural resources. Marcel was eaten by Ymir (who had been a mindless Titan for 60 years at this point). Reiner is the only one who made it back to Marley after they sent Zeke and Pieck (the Cart Titan) to wrap things up.
Season Four begins with a time skip, four years into the future, and it focuses on Marley’s Warrior Unit. Ymir has been eaten by Porco, and Reiner desperately needs to speak to a therapist. Both Reiner and Zeke are approaching the end of their terms, and people are being trained to replace them, including Gabi and Falco. Gabi is a direct mirror to Eren in season one. She is twelve, she is abrasive, and runs headfirst into fights. Falco is an all-around sweetheart.
Eren, who is now nineteen, goes rogue and attacks Marley. He kills thousands of people, becoming the thing he hated the most. The Scouts, who have some cool new gear outfitted with guns and missiles instead of swords, show up bring him home. Armin himself, who is the most peace-seeking character in the show, kills several hundred people with his Titan. In the ruckus of the attack, they get Eren back, Zeke sides with them, and Sasha is shot by Gabi who stowed away on their blimp with Falco.
A lot happens in season four, but here are the main highlights. Our characters split into three groups; the Jeagerists, the Scouts, and the Marelyans. The Jeagerists are led by Zeke and Eren who have teamed up alongside some new characters and a lot of new Scout recruits. Eren discovered at the end of season three that he can use the Founding Titan when touching a Titan with Royal blood (i.e. Zeke). The two of them have a plan to use the Founding Titan to make all Eldians sterile. Essentially wiping out Titans forever and ending Eldian oppression at the cost of ending the race.
The Scouts are made up of Hange, who is now Commander, Levi, Armin, Mikasa, Jean and Connie. They want to establish an independent Eldian Empire. Seeking to take the most peaceful route possible.
And the Marelyans are aiming for Marelyan dominance over the world and are opposed to Eldia’s existence in general. They are Reiner, Pieck, Porco, Gabi (Falco by association but he’s pretty neutral) and Marley as a whole.
Most of this season outside of the Eren vs. Marley set piece has been fairly quiet. It has centred around how our characters have changed. What hurts the most was watching Eren tell Mikasa and Armin, the two people who love him the most. That he hates them and cannot stand to be around them. We still don’t know why he said these things. But it seems very out of character for a boy who begged for Armin’s life at the end of season three. Either he is brainwashed by Zeke or he has an ulterior motive. Hange, who was once a bubbly pseudo-mad scientist is nearly crushed by the weight of being Commander.
Levi, who is in charge of watching Zeke, the man who killed his best friend, is pained by Eren’s actions after Levi risked so much and lost so much to protect him. Connie and Jean lose their best friend Sasha. And Historia is very unhappily pregnant and is depressed by the weight of being Queen and losing her lover Ymir.
The writing itself is gorgeous, giving the most vulnerable character Reiner the Armored Titan. And the most peace-seeking character, Armin, the Titan with the ability to kill the most people. The show has moved on from trying to get to the basement to an ideological war on who is right. It asks how to reconcile two groups of people that have a long history of oppressing each other. No one is strictly right or wrong, everyone believes they are the good guy. Everyone believes they are the hero. It’s starting a commentary on nationalism and blind loyalty. It asks its audience the same thing it asks its characters. If your main character, the boy you watched grow up, starts acting in a way this is unethical and wrong, will you still root for him?
What comes next?
If I have one complaint about season four is that it left me wanting more. I felt unsatisfied, especially because we see Levi in danger in one episode and then we don’t see him again. I don’t think he’s dead, but my anxious heart needs affirmation. The season ends with Reiner and Eren squaring up to fight each other and I am remiss that there isn’t another episode this Sunday.
But I think that was on purpose. After the show aired on Sunday Armin, Mikasa, and Eren’s voice actors announced that there will be a part two to season four airing in January 2022. The story isn’t over yet, with the Manga ending in April.
Attack on Titan is successful because of wholly unique storytelling based upon a layered and unique plot. Once again, it adds depth and meaning to every character, no matter how minor. And everything in the show has meaning and connects to a larger picture. Not to mention its flawless portrayal of women that a lot of other media could take notes from.
How this story ends is anyone’s guess, because where we ended up is completely unpredictable. All I can say is that Attack on Titan is sleeping by as the best current show on television.
That’s our review of Attack on Titan. Did we miss anything? What did you think of the show? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out seven Animes for newcomers HERE.
Read IMDB information on Attack on Titan HERE.
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