Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Magic/Dragon

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Magic
Dragon
Type Creature
Features Large lizard; wings, can fly, breathes fire
First Appearance Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Overview[edit]

Dragons are among the more famous magical beasts; even Muggles know about them and would immediately recognize one. This has meant that memory-modifying charms have been required on more than one occasion, when a dragon was seen by a number of Muggles.

Extended Description[edit]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Female dragons are generally larger than males, and often more aggressive, particularly when nesting. All dragons are protected by a very tough hide, which renders them nearly impervious to Stun spells; to Stun a dragon, several wizards must cast the spell simultaneously.

According to the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, dragons have been known to inter-breed with other dragon species; the hybrids that are produced are somewhat rare.

Dragon varieties:

  • Antipodian Opaleye: Native to New Zealand, said to be the most beautiful of dragons. Its favourite food is sheep, although it only kills when hungry. This dragon species is not particularly aggressive.
  • Chinese Fireball: With a fringe of golden spikes, and an mushroom-shaped cloud of flames when it is angry, the Chinese fireball is the only Asian dragon. The Fireball is quite aggressive, but it is more tolerant with its own species than most other dragons are. It mainly feeds on mammals, mostly pigs, but one of its favourites is a human.
  • Common Welsh Green: The dragon is coloured to match the grass around its homeland, thus affording it some camouflage. These tend to nest in the hills where a reservation has been established for their protection. Welsh Green eggs are dark brown with green spots. This species' roar is easily recognized. The Welsh Green is not troublesome, as dragons go; it prefers to feed on sheep rather than humans unless provoked.
  • Hebridean Black: Rough scales and brilliant purple eyes. They mostly hunt deer but have been known to eat cattle and large dogs.
  • Hungarian Horntail: Presumed the most dangerous species, the Horntail got its name from the spikes all over its tail. The Horntail will eat goats, humans (whenever possible), and sheep. The Horntail has yellow eyes and is shaped like a lizard. Its flame is the longest of any species and ranges up to fifty feet.
  • Norwegian Ridgeback: One of the rarest breeds. It is more aggressive to its own type and looks like a Horntail. This dragon will feed on large mammals and strangely, water-dwelling creatures. Ridgeback eggs are black.
  • Peruvian Vipertooth: The smallest dragons known to wizards. Copper-coloured with venomous fangs. It is happy to feed on cows and goats at any time, it did, however, develop a taste for humans in the nineteenth century, so the International Confederation Of Wizards was forced to cull the species to a certain extent.
  • Romanian Longhorn: Green scales and long golden horns. The Romanian Longhorn's territory has become the worlds most important dragon reservation. These dragons are in peril of extinction because they are hunted for their horns, which have now become Class B Tradable Material.
  • Swedish Short-Snout: A silvery-blue dragon. It prefers to live 'wild' in mountainous areas. Its skin is used for protective gloves and shields. Its extremely hot flame has a blue colour, and will turn wood and bone to ash.
  • Ukrainian Ironbelly: This dragon is is the largest breed known. It has red eyes and grey scales. It is a slower fighter than other species, but is still extremely dangerous. It can crush houses where it lands, and weighs as much as 6 tons.

Many parts of dragons are used in the Wizarding world for their magical effects. Professor Dumbledore has written a quite-well-known treatise on The Twelve Uses of Dragon's Blood. Dragon-hide gloves are mentioned at one point as being necessary protective gear. We hear a witch in the Apothecary muttering about the high price of dragon liver. Hagrid at one point is using a dragon steak on a surprisingly extensive set of bruises he has received. And it is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that powdered dragon claw is treasured as a mental stimulant, making one "come over all cunning for a few hours," according to Ron.

While uses of parts of dragons are mentioned earlier, and Hagrid also expresses his desire to own a dragon, an intact dragon is first encountered in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when Harry, Ron, and Hermione watch the hatching of Norbert, a Norwegian Ridgeback, in Hagrid's cabin. Hagrid was allowed to win a dragon egg from a hooded stranger in the the Hog's Head. We find out later in the book that the intent was to get Hagrid drunk so that he would reveal one of the layers of defence surrounding the Philosopher's Stone, and how to get past it.

Earlier in the same book, Ron mentions that his older brother Charlie is in Romania working with dragons.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry was taken by Hagrid to the clearing in the Forbidden Forest where the four dragons for the First Task were being kept. Harry had to face a Hungarian Horntail to retrieve the golden egg in that task, which he completed successfully. The other three Champions, Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour, and Viktor Krum, faced a Swedish Short-Snout, a Common Welsh Green, and a Chinese Fireball, respectively. It is suggested that the eyes of the dragon are its weak point, and in fact Viktor uses the Conjuctivitus curse to evade his dragon, but loses points because the partially-blinded dragon damages some of its own eggs.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the trio encounters a dragon guarding some of the deep vaults of Gringotts. They end up freeing it and making their escape on dragonback.

Dragon eggs are Class A Non-Tradeable Goods. We also find, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, that the Muggle Prime Minister must be notified when dangerous magical creatures, including dragons, are imported into England.

Analysis[edit]

While dragons do play roles in the story, it seems that dragons are not strictly speaking necessary; there are any number of other magical creatures that could be used similarly. We note that the author does choose to place many mythical creatures into the Wizarding world; apart from dragons, there are also centaurs, hippogriffs, sphinxes, unicorns, trolls, giants, and mermaids, among others. While some of these are significantly different in the Wizarding world than the accepted Muggle beliefs, dragons are not one such. We suspect that needing a large, dangerous creature, the author simply chose to use the already-made dragon. Readers already know what dragons are, even very young ones, so no description is necessary to understand why Hagrid's wanting to own a dragon seems almost comic while still being alarming.

When writing a fantasy novel or series, one of the critical points is making the story believable, giving the impression that despite all the places where things happen that we know couldn't possibly happen, the story remains reasonable. The author manages this largely by having the Wizarding world hide itself. Knowing that it is almost impossible to keep a secret, though, the author chooses to have some magical leakage. The existence of dragons is one such; everyone knows what dragons are, and some have even toyed with the idea of owning one. By including this sort of parallel between our world and the world she has created, the author greatly enhances its believability.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.