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A weekly show where we debunk common misconceptions. This week, Elliott discusses some misconceptions about everyone's favorite wizard, Harry Potter!

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Hi, I'm Elliott and this is Mental Floss on YouTube. Today I'm so excited, I'm going to talk about some misconceptions about J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter. So yes, that does mean I'm going to mention some things that the movies changed causing "misconceptions" about the story. Don't be mad, OK, you film purists. I promise it'll be fun. And you can make your fandom arguments in the comments, it's gonna be like a full circle thing. Anyway, things are going to get spoilery so if you haven't read the books or seen the movies you might want to skip this episode. Leave your house right now and fix that situation.


Misconception number one: When J. K. Rowling started writing Harry Potter, she was an extremely poor, single parent. That's probably a more exciting story but it's not exactly true. In a 1999 interview Rowling explained "When I read the inaccurate reports that I decided to turn my hand to writing out of poverty, I feel indignant. When I had the idea for Harry and when I started writing the [first] book, I was working full time, as I was for my entire adult life, and I was not a single parent. I finished the book under those conditions. But it obviously does make a better story. It sounds more like a rags-to-riches tale."

Misconception number two: Harry's parents were in their thirties when they died. Watching the movies will make you think they're about that age. In The Sorcerer's Stone film they look quite old when they appear to Harry in the Mirror of Erised. But James and Lily were only 21 years old when they died. How do we know? Well, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry goes to visit his parents' grave. The gravestone reveals that Lily and James were born in 1960 and died in 1981 so they were only 21.

Misconception number three: Durmstrang is an all boys school and Beauxbatons is all girls. Again, the movies make them appear this way. They probably wanted to make the new schools less confusing so this was a good way to set them apart. But in The Goblet of Fire book, both are described as co-ed schools. In fact, Harry's date for the Yule Ball, Parvati Patil, ends up dating a boy from Beauxbatons.

Another thing that's only true in the films, misconception number four: Death Eaters and Aurors can fly. No disrespect to the movies because this looks pretty cool but in the books only Snape and Voldemort can fly. Although they can Apparate which is basically teleporting, it seems like the film directors embellished Apparating by making it more of a fancy looking experience.

Misconception number five: the symbol of Ravenclaw is a raven. Believe it or not, the Ravenclaw symbol is actually an eagle. In the movies they did change it to a raven for a few of the films though. The Harry Potter website Pottermore, which Rowling herself helps create the content for, confirms that it's supposed to be an eagle. A Ravenclaw, on the site, states "Our emblem is the eagle, which soars where others cannot climb." Another misconception is that Ravenclaw colors are silver and blue. In the books they're actually bronze and blue.

Misconception number six: Snape is a vampire. This is a popular fan theory. In fact it's so popular that Rowling herself had to debunk it. She's claimed "While it is true that he has an unhealthy pallor, and is sometimes described as looking like a large bat in his long black coat, he never actually turns into a bat. We meet him outside in the castle by daylight, and no corpses with puncture marks in their necks ever turn up at Hogwarts."

Misconception number seven: The snake from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was Nagini. Some believe that the snake Harry sets free from the zoo is the same snake that becomes Voldemort's pet. This theory has a lot of traction on the internet but it is not true. The snake from the zoo is described as a Boa constrictor, a non-poisonous breed of snake. Nagini is venomous. She severely injures Arthur Weasley with her poison.

Misconception number eight: Students receive their Hogwarts acceptance letters on their eleventh birthdays. People tend to believe this one because Harry technically opens his letter on his eleventh birthday. But if you remember many letters arrive before he's able to actually get a hold of one. The Dursleys had been throwing them away up until that point. Children get their letters before their eleventh birthday so they have time to prepare for school. Duh.

Misconception number nine: The T is pronounced in Lord Voldemort. I mean it's kind of up to you. Like for example, I tend to say it but I'm going to talk about it anyway because pronunciation is fun. During a 1999 book signing Rowling was asked how to pronounce the name. She responded "I say 'Voldemor' but I'm the only one."

Misconception number ten: Voldemort's soul was split into seven parts. While there were technically seven Horcruxes, his soul was split into eight parts if you include the piece in Harry. But don't take my word for it, I'm going to prove it. The Horcruxes in order that they were destroyed were:
One, Professor Quirrell.
Two, Tom Riddle's Diary.
Three, Marvolo Gaunt's Ring.
Four, Salazar Slytherin's Locket.
Five, Helga Hufflepuff's Cup.
Six, Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem.
Seven, Nagini the snake.
Then there's Harry, number eight.
Some fans call him a Horcrux, others just say he contained a piece of Voldemort's soul. Either way, Voldemort's soul was split into eight parts.

Thank you so much for watching Misconceptions on Mental Floss on YouTube which is made with the help of all of these nice people. If you have a topic for an upcoming Misconceptions episode that you would like to see, just leave it in the comments and we'll be down there. And I'll see you next week.