Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Places/Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Place
Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes
Location Number 93, Diagon Alley, London
Permanent Residents Fred and George Weasley
First Appearance Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

General Overview[edit]

Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes is the joke shop owned by Fred and George Weasley. Their dream of opening a joke shop is mentioned in several of the books (especially Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), and it was finally realized in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Extended Description[edit]

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

Fred and George have been interested in practical jokes during all their Hogwarts years. Zonko's Joke Shop was their favorite store in Hogsmeade. Beginning in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we see them turning their (often underestimated) talents to inventing and developing unique wizarding jokes and novelties. They begin a small mail order business, which we hear about when their mother discovers the order forms and expresses her disapproval. Their dream of starting their own joke store is realized when Harry gives them the 1000 Galleon Triwizard prize he won. Harry says that given Voldemort's return, "We could all do with a few laughs."

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the twins actively test and market their products at Hogwarts, often using first year students as paid guinea pigs. Sometime during that year, they secure store premises in Diagon Alley and, shortly after Professor Dumbledore's departure, leave school early to operate full-time out of those premises.

In contrast to the ordinary buildings around it, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes[1] is described as "hitting the eye like a firework display." A poster in one window reads WHY ARE YOU WORRYING ABOUT YOU-KNOW-WHO? YOU SHOULD BE WORRYING ABOUT U-NO-POO - THE CONSTIPATION SENSATION THAT'S GRIPPING THE NATION!.

When Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys visit the shop at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it is completely packed with customers. The shop sells all sorts of tricks, toys, and novelty items, such as Skiving Snackboxes, which make you appear ill so you can get out of class. (We have seen these before; Fred and George have been working on them throughout Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and have been testing them on themselves and first-year volunteers, and Harry has inadvertently contributed to them as well.) Other products include Daydream Charms, WonderWitch cosmetic products for young women, Reusable Hangman, trick wands and Peruvian instant darkness powder. All of the magic deployed is quite sophisticated and probably beyond the capability of the average witch or wizard. Even Hermione is quite impressed with the magical knowledge and skill employed by Fred and George. Fred tells Harry that they also do steady business selling products to defend against Dark Arts, particularly to the Ministry. Apparently there are a lot of wizards at the Ministry who are unable to perform a decent Shield charm, making the Twins' "Shield Hats" a valued commodity at the Ministry among other places.

The shop employs a woman named Verity who, to Harry's amusement, calls the twins "Mr. Weasley and Mr. Weasley".

As Voldemort's power grows in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, members of the Order of the Phoenix eventually must go into hiding to evade capture. This includes Fred and George, who close up shop temporarily at some point near Christmas of that year. Unrepressed, they continue operation working by mail order out of the safe house they are sent to. Auntie Muriel, whose house it is, is reportedly almost driven to distraction by the endless commerce in her back bedroom.

In interviews after the publication of the final book, the author has said that Ron also worked at the shop for a while after graduating from Hogwarts.

  1. For American readers, it should be noted that wizard, as an adjective, is similar in meaning to "terrific", and wheeze is a synonym for joke.

Analysis[edit]

It is initially uncertain as to what the point is of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. It is clear that the Twins are excellent at practical jokes, and so they clearly would not fit into a career at the Ministry, at Gringotts, or as Hogwarts teachers, the only stable career paths that have been shown to us. But there are many wizards working at stores in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. While working in retail is a definite possibility, it does not seem that the Twins would be suited to be mere clerks; in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we see that their abilities and their ambition are clearly greater than that. In turn, their ambition and ability are necessary in order to provide Harry with the somewhat shady assistance that Harry needs in order to prepare for his mission. Given that they are such able, and yet anarchic, wizards, it is clear that the only career they could follow successfully is that of owning their own shop, one that provides original and possibly unique magical artifacts. And with their sense of humour, a large portion of what they are selling would almost have to be jokes.

Questions[edit]

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

  1. Will Fred and George's products be useful in the war against Voldemort in Deathly Hallows?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Several of Fred and George's products play a role in the fifth, sixth, and seventh books. Notable among these are:

In all of these cases, it is to a greater or lesser extent necessary to the story that the magic used be new to those witnessing it. In particular, the Decoy Detonator must be uncommon enough that the Ministry workers should continue to look at it and wonder about it while Harry enters, searches, and leaves Umbridge's office; and the Skiving Snackboxes must be unusual enough that a Ministry worker would not be particularly averse to accepting a pastille (candy) from another worker. It is only natural that the Twins' love of practical jokes, which we see from early in the series, should result in their being great magical experimenters and developers of new spells. It is possible that the Twins' practical jokes were intended purely as background, to make their becoming the source of these new and innovative spells plausible.