Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Places/Borgin and Burkes
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Place|
|Borgin & Burkes|
|Location||Knockturn Alley, London|
|Permanent Residents||Mr. Borgin (shopkeeper)|
|First Appearance||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets|
General Overview[edit | edit source]
Borgin & Burkes is a shop in Knockturn Alley that specializes in Dark magical artifacts.
Extended Description[edit | edit source]
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry is using Floo powder to get to Diagon Alley, he accidentally turns up in Borgin & Burkes. Rapidly concealing himself, he overhears Lucius Malfoy selling some dark magical items so that the Ministry would not find them in his house.
Among the Dark artifacts that we see in this store are a Hand of Glory and a cursed necklace. We should also note that the large black cabinet that Harry hides in is a Disappearing Cabinet. All three of these artifacts will play roles in later stories.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry, Hermione, and Ron sneak off from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and follow Draco Malfoy to Borgin & Burkes, where by means of Extendable Ears, they overhear Malfoy telling Borgin that he needs something fixed. He also needs to buy another object but cannot take it with him. He doesn't want Borgin to tell anyone about it, not even his own mother, and threatens Borgin with one Fenrir Greyback, who he says is an old family friend. After Malfoy leaves, Hermione goes into the store and attempts to determine what it is that Malfoy had bought, but without success.
In that same book, we also learn that following his 7th year at Hogwarts, Tom Riddle worked there for a time, much to the surprise of everyone who knew him. We learn that it was while he was employed at Borgin & Burkes that he discovered that Hepzibah Smith owned artifacts of two of the Hogwarts founders: Hufflepuff's cup and Slytherin's locket.
Analysis[edit | edit source]
As mentioned in the article on Knockturn Alley, there will be places where Dark wizards can trade, places where "decent wizards don't go." Borgin & Burkes clearly is one such; while they do appear to do a reasonable amount of trade in non-Dark artifacts, as seen by Tom Riddle's negotiations with Hepzibah Smith regarding a suit of armour, and Smith's purchase of Slytherin's locket, their dealings with Lucius Malfoy clearly indicate that they do not discriminate between Dark and regular magical artifacts. We do not know whether this lack of discrimination controlled their settling in Knockturn Alley, or whether the Alley developed its reputation around the store. We do know that they have been in business since before the birth of Tom Riddle, as Slytherin's locket was sold to them by Merope Gaunt before Tom was born. However, we don't know how long before that the establishment existed. The name does indicate that it was founded by a Borgin and a Burke, and possibly the original Borgin still operates the store; but names mean little, as Ollivander's has been producing "fine wands since 382 BC," much longer than Mr. Ollivander, its current proprietor, can possibly have been alive, without the help of a magical artifact such as the Philosopher's Stone.
The mature reader may have difficulty understanding exactly how Borgin & Burkes stay in business, as the vanishing cabinet, the cursed necklace, and the Hand of Glory, which we see in Harry's second year, are still there in Harry's sixth year for Draco to purchase. If the store was at all successful, we would not expect things, even expensive things like the vanishing cabinet and the necklace, to stay in the store stock four years. In Dumbledore's Pensieve, we do see that Borgin buys very cheap and sells very dear, but even the profit margin implicit in his questionable ethical stance would not be enough to keep the store going unless there was a lot of business we weren't seeing. However, we must mention that the intended audience for this series are children with an incomplete understanding of economics; to a child, when you go to a store where you have previously seen item X, the store will have it available for purchase, and it is unlikely that a child will draw a distinction between stock and unique items.
We note that by the time we actually see the store, Burke is no longer present; the oily Mr. Borgin is the one who is doing all the dealing. We see Mr. Burke only once, and that once in Professor Dumbledore's Pensieve. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we see a very aged Caractacus Burke reminiscing about a witch, dressed in rags, who had brought in a verifiable and essentially priceless artifact of Slytherin's, and had been satisfied to get only ten Galleons for it. By the time our story opens, Burke has at least retired, possibly passed away, and Borgin alone is running the store.
Questions[edit | edit source]
Greater Picture[edit | edit source]
The artifacts that we see in Borgin and Burkes - the Hand of Glory, the cursed necklace, and the Disappearing Cabinet - will re-appear, as mentioned above. The Disappearing Cabinet is apparently one of a pair; the second one is dropped by Peeves in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to provide a distraction. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George force Montague into the same disappearing cabinet, and the following year Draco Malfoy repairs it and uses it and its mate at Borgin and Burkes to manage an invasion of Hogwarts by Death Eaters. The jinxed necklace is given to Katie Bell to give to someone at Hogwarts, possibly Professor Dumbledore, but she touches it on her way back to the school and is nearly fatally cursed. Finally, the Hand of Glory is used by Draco as he leads the Death Eaters into the school. Having been discovered by members of Dumbledore's Army guarding that spot, Draco throws Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, then uses the Hand of Glory to navigate himself and the Death Eaters through the resulting darkness.
It is interesting to see that as early as the second book, the author would have been aware of the need for artifacts like the Hand of Glory and the Disappearing Cabinet in the sixth book, and would take the steps necessary to introduce them and their properties to us. The fact that the large black cabinet would have transported Harry to Hogwarts had he closed the door completely in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is definitely of interest, and close examination of the writing of that chapter, to see how the author misdirects the reader into believing Harry had closed the door, might be valuable.