While Harry Potter is undoubtedly one of the most famous fictional characters of all time, it is only relatively recently that his world has become firmly planted in the real world. Before we begin exploring the strange case of Harry Potter and the Muggle net, it’s important to take a step back and consider how Robert Pattinson, Daniel Radcliffe and the rest of their Potter-yielding generation have intertwined their public and private spheres. What is the modern attitude towards friendship in the Potter universe? How have these young adults’ close friendships shaped their professional and personal lives? We’re going to explore the curious case of Harry Potter and the Muggle net in more detail.

The New Normal for Friendship

Although the Harry Potter franchise is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the concept of ‘friendship’ in the wizarding world has certainly shifted with the times. In the early days of the franchise, the only friends of Harry Potter we see are the Weasley family and his Aunt Petunia. These are the only two families Harry truly interacts with outside of his home environment. The Potters are not really the type of friends you make; they are more of acquaintances that you keep just close enough to feel like you can trust them but not so close that you reveal too much to them. Despite the one-sided nature of their interactions, it is still heartwarming to see how much Harry cares for Petunia and the Weasels during this time.

The franchise has since evolved to depict a more adult and realistic friendship landscape. Gone are the days of the innocent pranks and awkward dating scenes between Harry and his beloved Hermione. The modern day Harry Potter focuses heavily on the importance of education and career development, particularly for women. We see many a feminist slogan emblazoned across the posters, T-shirts, and hoodies worn by our favorite teenaged wizards. The franchise’s newest installment, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, even goes so far as to suggest that women hold more prominent positions in the future, both in terms of society and their familial roles. This is a stark contrast to the first four books and the early films of the series, which painted a pretty bleak picture of women’s rights in early 20th century Germany.

A Real Change Of Friends

One of the most significant changes to the franchise in terms of the friendship landscape is the inclusion of several diverse groups of friends for Harry. This development was spurred on by author J.K. Rowling, who revealed that she wanted to write a more “representative” story about friendship, one that did not center around the “quintessential” British stereotype. She wanted to show a more “nuanced” picture of what it means to be a friend. Unfortunately, it seems that this nuance did not extend to the screen, where we often see homogenous groups of friends hanging out and having fun. Indeed, it seems that the most prominent friendships in the Potter universe are exactly that – prominent. In stark contrast to the Weasley twins, who are often paired with one another in books and films, we see female friends such as Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Luna Lovegood. The only friend that Harry truly connects with on a personal level during this time is Ron Weasley, who was portrayed by Richard Harris in the film adaptations and provides the voice of the character in the Harry Potter video games. Even then, it is more of a sibling-like relationship. As a matter of fact, the very first scene of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets reveals that Ron may be one of the only friends Harry has at this point.

While many fans may not have agreed with Harris’ portrayal of Ron, the actor did provide a realistic portrayal of the friendship between the two boys. Harris took the role of an English gentleman, which is quite a change of image for Ron. This change is certainly a credit to the actor and his performance, which was met with mostly positive reviews.

The importance of friendship in the Harry Potter story cannot be overstated. Without a good rapport with his friends, Harry may very well have faced a far darker future. However, as time went on, it became quite clear that Harry’s closest friends were not just there to cheer him up. Far from it – Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix strive to make sure that Harry is properly equipped for the battles ahead. In their eyes, friendship should not be taken for granted and must be earned through mutual respect and trust. Harry Potter is a story of struggle and triumph, of coming of age and growing up, of facing adversity and coming out the other side stronger. The franchise’s ultimate message is one of hope and joy, but also one of self-reliance and independence. These are key themes that we can attribute to the impact that Harry Potter had on its young viewers.