'Harry Potter' Theory Explains Why The Weasleys Are So Broke

Diply 2 Oct 2018

If you're reading this, then you're probably a Harry Potter fan. If you're a Harry Potter fan who reads fan theories — like the one about souls and the Resurrection Stone or Severus Snape's Boggart — then you've probably read just about every one out there.

However, there's an extremely low chance that you've read this theory, not only because it's fresh off the Reddit press, but because it's such a bizarre idea that few people likely ever considered it.

First of all, allow me to state the obvious: the Weasleys are poor.

Harry Potter Wiki | Harry Potter Wiki

Not like, dirt poor, but secondhand dress robes poor.

Put simply, Mr. Weasley's gig at the Ministry of Magic barely provides him with the resources to support seven children.

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But could there be another reason as to why the Weasleys' are so broke? Answer: Yes — parchment paper.

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We're barely 10% into this article and I already feel like I lost you. But that's OK, because Redditor steampunk_penguin_ does a great job at connecting the dots here.

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"Time and time again, we are reminded that parchment is the basic everyday writing surface used at Hogwarts," begins the Redditor.

Harry Potter Wiki | Harry Potter Wiki

"The students write their homework on parchment, everyone writes their notes on parchment, staff announcements are read off of parchment, even the Marauder's Map was written on parchment," explains steampunk_penguin_.

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Here's the thing: the process required to make parchment paper is extremely laborious.

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"Parchment is a type of writing surface made from specially prepared animal skins (any animal will do, but cow and sheepskins were most frequently used)," writes steampunk_penguin_.

"To make it, you would subject an animal skin to a multi-step process involving unhairing, flaying, soaking in chemicals, and stretching," adds the Redditor.

(And yes, this theory does include a lesson in the making of parchment paper, you're welcome).

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Basically, this multi-step process would have made parchment paper suuuuuper expensive for the average person.

Culturess | Culturess

And by "average person," I mean average persons, and by "average persons," I mean the Weasleys.

(Wow, I am an excellent writer, LOL)

Not only did it require a lengthy process, but it "called for ingredients that frequently weren't exactly cheap," writes steampunk_penguin_.

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"In fact, it was so expensive that people would go to extraordinary lengths to avoid wasting it," explains the Redditor.

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"Old books would sometimes be 're-cycled' — a scribe would scrape off old ink and use the parchment to copy a different work," writes our theorist.

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Relating this back to the use of parchment at Hogwarts, you may be thinking, "Food and dorms are already free, so what's a few rolls of parchment paper to the Weasleys?"

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Oh, so you want to talk numbers? Well,steampunk_penguin_ has all the estimates."Snape's 'two rolls of parchment on werewolves' is considered a long essay in ThePrisoner of Azkaban, so let's assume the average length is one roll of parchment," guesses the Redditor."If we assume one essay assignment a day, this translates to five a week, and roughly 200 in a school year," sayssteampunk_penguin_."The students also make notes on parchment. That's a bit harder to quantify, but even assuming they're all very economical, this probably adds up to at least another 100 rolls."

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If the professors at Hogwarts really are handing out that many assignments, then that would equal roughly 300 rolls of parchment per student, per year. 

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"And that's just blank parchment, they also need quills, ink, books," points out the Redditor.

Interestingly, Hogwarts doesn't appear to supply parchment for its students.

"Or at least it doesn't supply enough," writes steampunk_penguin_. "In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione goes to get it herself in Diagon Alley."

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Basically, school supplies like parchment may have been affordable for most, but for a family of seven, that adds up.

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"The Weasleys, for example, would have to buy 5x300=1500 sheets of parchment every year, plus the textbooks, plus all other equipment," estimates steampunk_penguin_.

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Which makes you wonder: Why is Hogwarts still using parchment?

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We get it, J.K. Rowling, you wanted the HP setting to be all old-timey and magical. But according to our theorist, "In Europe, paper replaced parchment pretty [much] in the 15th century.""Even if we assume paper was a Muggle invention, this means that the wizarding world literally had HUNDREDS of years to adopt it," adds the Redditor.

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So why hasn't a wise headmaster like Dumbledore upgraded the school from parchment to regular paper?

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Sure, he's got a Dark Lord to worry about, but the Weasleys are over there struggling to pay for basic school supplies!

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As steampunk_penguin_ puts it, "No wonder the Weasleys were broke, the Hogwarts students pretty much had to pay to hand in their homework."

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That pretty much sounds like the worst arrangement ever.

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At this point, you may be thinking, "They're probably using magic to duplicate parchment at Hogwarts, reducing costs."

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According to our Reddit theorist, "Even if this could be done, it looks like they're not doing it. If they were, why would the books mention the kids buying parchment several times, and not just as first-years?"

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Or, perhaps you're wondering whether the students just recycle parchment like scribes did throughout history.

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steampunk_penguin_ responds to this by saying:"I don't think they can erase their parchment more often than once a year — otherwise, how would they review for their final exams? So, even if they erase the parchment every year, they would still have to invest quite a lot in their stationery. Also, having no permanent notes would suck."

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And finally, maybe you're thinking that it's just called parchment, but isn't the same, labor-intensive paper we know in the Muggle world. 

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Our Redditor's response?

"I mean... I guess? But... Why? Why would J.K. Rowling consistently use a word to mean something completely different? "

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So, there's the latest theory as to why the Weasleys are so broke: parchment paper.

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Bust out this wacky (yet surprisingly logical) theory at your next house party. I guarantee that nobody will see it coming.

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