Harry Potter and the Goblins Conspire: Is Hogwarts' Best Known Student Really a Goblin?
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[Editor's note: This article originally contained a number of instances of the words "orc" and "kobold," which we have removed as we feel they are racially charged terms.]
Throughout J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, we see Harry Potter defy expectations, often achieving things that are entirely beyond the abilities of other humans (whether they be wizard or muggle). The question that we must ask is how Harry Potter manages to do perform these incredible feats.
In the course of our extensive research into the character of Harry Potter, it became increasingly apparent that there is a single fact that explains many of the boy’s strange quirks, tastes, and habits. This was a slow realisation, but one that made more sense the more we read.
What if Harry Potter is not a wizard at all? What if the so-called "boy who lived" is, in actuality, a goblin? Examined from this new perspective, the Harry Potter series as a whole hints at a subtle goblin conspiracy that runs right to the core of magical society.
The most obvious hurdle here is that Harry Potter does not look much like a goblin. Of course, we don't get too much detail on Harry's looks in the books, though Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone describes him as,
“Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. He looked even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old clothes of Dudley’s and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was.”
For Dudley Dursley, a human boy, to be four times the size of Harry Potter is fascinating. Given the thaumaturgical orthodontistry performed on Hermione Granger before the Yule Ball, it seems likely that any sufficiently motivated magical creature could get their hands on some spells to alter their appearance in the long term.
From there, the only question is, "Why?" We posit that Harry Potter is not only a goblin, but a deeply embedded sleeper agent, a goblin who had been introduced to human society so young that even he was unaware of his magical parentage? Of course, the obvious question is, “What would such a conspiracy have as its goal?”
To those who have read the text closely, the answer should be clear; if the goblins could establish the figure of “Harry Potter,” an apparently gifted wizard despite his relative inexperience, always at the heart of wizarding society, he could study their ways, their defensive capabilities, and their secrets. Then, once the trap was sprung, they could begin their uprising, a new Goblin Rebellion.
This might seem far-fetched, even unreasonable… but is it really so unthinkable? After all, Harry Potter knew nothing of his (apparent) parents’ magical background until his invitation to Hogwarts. Indeed, he seems ignorant of a great many things, but the things that Harry Potter does know and understand mark him clearly as a member of the goblin underclass.
Harry Potter and the Ecstasy of Gold
One of the defining characteristics of goblins in Rowling’s writing is their facility with finances. Indeed, goblins are first introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as the managers of Harry Potter’s enormous wealth. When Harry and Hagrid first visit Diagon Alley, Hagrid brings the “boy wizard” to Gringotts, a bank staffed entirely by goblins.
Hagrid comments, offhand,
“... yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it, I’ll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry.”
This introduction establishes first and foremost the fact that goblins are a very real threat to wizards. That being the case, we must also consider the possibility that goblins could pose a serious threat to even to a dark wizard, like Voldemort, though we’ll return to that later.
The other facet of goblin life reinforced in this introduction is their association with wealth and the hoarding of precious metals and gemstones. That there is only one bank in the wizarding world, and that it is staffed entirely by goblins, can be no coincidence.
Throughout the books, the reader is shown the depth of the association between goblins and precious metals in the wizarding world. Goblins runs the banks, mint the coins, and guard treasures. By human/wizard standards, this combination of financial savvy, debt-management, and metallurgy portray goblins as almost obsessed with wealth (a depiction furthered by Ron Perlman’s appearance in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).
This is of particular interest given that much of the tension between wizard and goblin societies is based on the wizard's oppression of the goblins, and the centrality of questions of ownership and debt to goblin culture. Indeed, this conflict of ideas of ownership was the foundation for the first Goblin Rebellion.
All of this leads us back to Harry Potter’s immense personal interest in gold. From the moment that Harry first discovers that he is phenomenally wealthy, he immediately attempts to commute that wealth into gold. We are informed early in the book that Hagrid has had to stop Harry from purchasing a solid gold cauldron, perhaps owing to the fact that such an object would quickly melt and so is entirely useless. We are also informed at this point that Harry has been wandering Diagon Alley with “pockets rattling with gold and silver.”
Harry’s goblinoid obsession with gold is not limited to his personal wealth and purchases, however. It is important to remember that Harry Potter first wins friends at Hogwarts playing as a Seeker for the Gryffindor quidditch team. It is a role to which Harry seems strangely well-suited, perhaps owing to his slight build and small frame, but also thanks in no small part to his keen eyesight and quick reflexes in pursuit of the game’s ultimate object, the Snitch. The Golden Snitch. Are these human senses? Unlikely.
“Compared with the Quaffle and the Bludgers, it was tiny, about the size of a large walnut. It was bright gold and had little fluttering silver wings.”
Further to this, we discover later that Harry’s status as a great seeker is not limited to chasing the Golden Snitch. He is equally adept in the pursuit of other valuable objects, including Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
At this point, astute readers may point out that the first Horcrux Harry finds and destroys is Tom Marvolo Riddle’s diary. However, this example stands apart from that of the other Horcruxes, being both found and destroyed without Harry knowing it was a Horcrux. So, diary aside, consider the Horcruxes that Harry helps to hunt down.Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup:
- A small golden cup, with two finely wrought handles.
- Cursed to multiply gold endlessly.
- Described as “a big gold locket.”
- Described as a “tarnished tiara,” but depicted with a large blue sapphire embedded in it.
Moreover, it is important to note that, while Harry destroy's Tom Riddle’s diary with a basilisk fang, he is never directly responsible for the destruction of Horcrux made from something valuable. Could this be because Harry’s goblin instincts are offended by the idea of destroying objects of value tremendous? We can only speculate, but there are indications of his feelings towards treasure throughout the books.
When Harry is looking for Helga Hufflepuff's cup, which magically multiplies itself, we see the extent of his excitement at finding the artefact,
Harry's wandlight passed over shields and goblin-made helmets set on shelves rising to the ceiling; higher and higher he raised the beam, until suddenly it found an object that made his heart skip and his hand tremble.
This ability to hunt down Horcruxes seems a feat beyond the average schoolboy wizard, but it's worth noting that they are perhaps not beyond a member of a race apparently kept in servitude for their incredible ability to keep track of treasure.
As to why Harry attempts to acquire so many golden objects, we may only speculate, but it seems possible that his keen goblin fiduciary senses are sensitive to the kind of sudden currency fluctuations implicit in a world governed by magic. Gold may be the only financial security he understands.
Harry Potter Going Underground
For those of you who find Harry’s addiction to the finding and retrieval of precious metals alone unconvincing, we would also direct you to the similarities between Harry Potter’s living conditions and those of the average goblin. Even in Gringotts, a place of immense wealth, the goblins seem to purposely inhabit confined spaces and “narrow stone passageway[s] lit with flaming torches.”
If any of this seems at all familiar, we would remind you that Harry Potter is introduced to us as a young boy who sleeps under the stairs in the Dursleys’ house. Of course, given Harry’s relationship with the Dursleys, one could be forgiven for assuming that he has been made to sleep in these cramped conditions by a family that holds no love for him.
However, the evidence that Harry Potter has been made to live in the cupboard under the stairs is actually quite scant. Indeed, given the overwhelming number of goblin features he espouses, it seems reasonable to surmise that he lives in “the cupboard under the stairs” voluntarily, being happier there than he could ever be in the spacious, above-ground rooms.
The text is not specific on this point, saying only that,
“Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.”
Indeed, when Vernon Dursley informs Harry that he and Petunia think it would be a “good idea” for Harry to move into one of the rooms upstairs, Harry’s first response is to ask, “Why?” Clearly, for goblin-Potter, the move to an above-ground dwelling would have felt like something of a punishment.
Of course, we've already seen what Harry is capable of when his anger is roused, so it's perhaps unsurprising that the Dursleys have let him sleep in a cupboard if that's what he wants. Without the aid of a wand, he has talked to a snake and made the glass of its cage disappear.
All of this brings us to the crux of the issue, Hagrid’s intimation that Harry should “never mess with goblins.” Unfortunately, what Hagrid has failed to take into account is that all of wizardkind has been messing with goblins since the Goblin Rebellions, and now the goblins have had enough... which leads us to our next point.
The "Boy" Who Lived
One of the first unaccountable feats that Harry Potter achieves in his life is to survive Avada Kedavra, the “killing curse,” which we are informed is unfailingly fatal. This establishes Harry Potter as something of an anomaly, someone with abilities or characteristics beyond the ordinary (even for the extraordinary wizarding world).
But what if Harry Potter didn’t survive? What if Voldemort did succeed in killing the infant Harry Potter, only to be replaced by a goblin child, planted there specifically by a goblin conspiracy determined to turn back the clock on the strictures placed on the practice of magic by goblins after the Goblin/Wizard war?
Remember that, while the goblins we meet in the course of the Harry Potter books are clearly capable of using magic without the aid of a wand, their powers are likely diminished by their lack of wands. Keep in mind, there was a time when goblins used, wands until they were specifically precluded from doing so after the Goblin Rebellions.
Instead, allow us to present an alternate hypothesis:
When Voldemort attempted to use the killing curse on Harry Potter, the boy was indeed killed, but that the goblins seized the opportunity to set in motion a plot to usurp power from the wizards who had for so long oppressed them. Given that we know that goblins can Apparate naturally (without the use of a wand), is it so ridiculous to think that, in the moment that the killing curse hit Harry Potter, a goblin (or likely several goblins acting in concert) Apparated into the room and replaced the now-dead child with a goblin child, Disapparating immediately?
The goblin sleeper agent need never know that he is not the real Harry Potter. In fact, it could help the operation for him not to know until he had already reached the top of wizarding society.
Obviously, this version of events relies on the ability of a goblin (or goblins) to vanquish the Dark Lord himself, but if Hagrid is concerned enough to warn the great Harry Potter not to mess with goblins, then it doesn't seem beyond belief that they would pose a threat to Voldemort. If nothing else, it seems safe to surmise that the general commotion of the spell-casting that night would have made such an action more difficult to notice.
While we're on the subject of James and Lily Potter, it seems wise to question the incredible extent of the fortune left to Harry by his parents. Such phenomenal wealth seems entirely discordant with the fact that they were just two years out of Hogwarts and had already bought a house.
Given the above facts, it would be strange to think that the Potters were in a position of such enormous financial security. By contrast, the goblin talent for treasure management seems a far more likely source of income. After all, they could simply have manipulated the finances of the wizarding world to furnish their sleeper agent with funds enough to ensure that he will always have the best of equipment when he takes his place at Hogwarts.
If all of this seems a little far-fetched, then it’s worth considering the fuss when Scrimgeour explains that the so-called Sword of Gryffindor was not Albus Dumbledore’s to give away. Goblin-centric readers will remember that the sword itself was originally forged by Ragnuk the First, 11th-century king of the goblins. According to goblin custom, the sword thus belonged to Ragnuk. The “Gryffindor Sword” would have been a perfect symbolic artefact for an undercover goblin to have obtained ahead of another goblin rebellion.
What is interesting here is that Harry himself isn't the one to fight over the sword. This is just one of many instances in which Harry’s friends go to bat for the young goblin-wizard,
“It belongs to Harry!” said Hermione hotly. “It chose him, he was the one who found it, it came to him out of the Sorting Hat —”
Indeed, this brings us to Harry Potter’s closest friends, who also fit with the idea that "the boy who lived" is a campaign of subtle manipulation orchestrated by a cabal of goblins who would use Voldemort’s return to install a puppet “chosen one” at the very centre of the wizarding world’s thaumaturgic society.
Consider the case of known house-elf-sympathiser Hermione Granger. Obviously, Harry Potter couldn’t possibly have known that Hermione would be sympathetic to the goblin cause, but this could have been predicted based on her (disgusting) Mudblood heritage. After all, if Hermione were to find out about Harry Potter’s goblin ancestry, she would likely applaud his overcoming the systemic oppression of his people and attending Hogwarts in the first place. While it's not our place to make allegations, it’s entirely possible that Hermione Granger is a knowing participant in this goblin plot.
As someone who has changed her looks through magic, it is perhaps unsurprising that Hermione would be sympathetic towards Harry Potter were she ever to discover that he has had his appearance permanently altered to reduce the obviousness of his goblin features.
By contrast, Ron Weasley is perhaps the perfect wizard for Harry to have made friends with. Where pureblood wizards in good standing, like Draco Malfoy, are instinctively disgusted by Harry Potter and treat him in much the same way as they would any goblin, Ron Weasley is from a poor background and can’t afford to be too choosy about his friends.
Perhaps more important though, Ron is firmly established as exactly the kind of simpleton who carries on blithely unaware that the people he meets day to day are actually different people or creatures entirely. This is seen repeatedly in inability to recognise the evil of his Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers, and even his own wretched familiar, Scabbers, who is later revealed to have been dark wizard Peter Pettigrew all along. If you were a goblin trying to blend in with wizard society, Ron Weasley is easily the person you would be most likely to associate with.
Obviously, it should go without saying that Ron is also the founder of S. P. U. G. (the goblin-focused sister institution to Hermione Granger’s S. P. E. W.). Whether or not the Society for the Protection of Ugly Goblins is part of this conspiracy remains to be seen, but isn't it just a little too much of a coincidence that Harry Potter’s closest friend would start a society for the protection of ugly goblins?
For the moment, the truth of Harry Potter’s secret goblin heritage remains one of conjecture, detective work, and speculation. Obviously, if Harry Potter is a goblin (he is), and if he represents the apex of decades of work on the part of a goblin underground (he does), then the only question that remains is whether or not we will see another Harry Potter book, potentially one in which a withered and aged Harry Potter casts off his cloak of invisibility and his many glamours to reveal the long, goblinoid ears he has been forced to hide for so long.
At the time of writing, J. K. Rowling has refused to comment on whether or not we can expect to see a book titled, Harry Potter and the Goblin Rebellions.