Muggle-born is the term given to a witch or wizard who is born to two non-magical parents. Their magical abilities do not seem to be at all affected by their Muggle parentage — in fact, many Muggle-borns have been among the most powerful witches and wizards of their time, such as Lily Evans and Hermione Granger.
Origin of magical abilities
Muggle-borns inherit magic from a distant ancestor; they are descended from Squibs who have married Muggles and whose families had lost the knowledge of their wizarding legacy. The magic resurfaces unexpectedly many generations later.
Because of the heritability of magic, a Muggle-born's siblings can sometimes be wizards or witches as well, as in the case of Colin and Dennis Creevey. However, this is not always the case, as Lily Evans' sister Petunia was a Muggle.
When Muggle-born witches and wizards reach the age of eleven in the British wizarding community, their Hogwarts acceptance letters are delivered in person by a member of the staff, instead of by owl post (the usual postal system for wizards and witches). The purpose is to reassure the parents or guardians about the sudden news, and explain to them about the concealed magical society. They would also assist the family with the preparation for going to their desired wizarding school and for the buying of school supplies.
Attitude towards Muggle-borns
Muggle-born witches and wizards are often derided by pure-bloods and called disparaging names such as "Mudblood", a term implying that they are somehow dirty and impure. Many pure-bloods believe that Muggle-borns are unworthy of magic and should not be allowed into the wizarding world. During the period of time where Muggle-Borns were being rounded up, a news article from the Daily Prophet stated that Muggle-Borns could have only obtained magic by force or theft. Those who do not perceive these beliefs, such as the Weasley family, are often labelled as "blood traitors".
History of persecution
- Remus Lupin: "Muggle-borns are being rounded up as we speak."
- Ron Weasley: "But how are they supposed to have 'stolen' magic? It's mental, if you could steal magic there wouldn't be any Squibs, would there?"
- Remus Lupin: "I know. Nevertheless, unless you can prove that you have at least one close wizarding relative, you are now deemed to have obtained your magical power illegally and must suffer the punishment."
- — Remus Lupin explaining the Ministry of Magic's attitude while under Death Eater control[src]
Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts, argued that the school should only admit pure-bloods as students, as Durmstrang Institute does. As a result of the disagreement, he left. Before leaving, Slytherin created the Chamber of Secrets, hoping that his true heir would arrive and set the monster on those who he deemed unworthy of magic. Tom Marvolo Riddle, having discovered his ancestry, went on and set the basilisk on his fellow Hogwarts students in 1943, finally killing one student.
Fifty years later in 1992, by means of his diary Horcrux, he possessed Ginny Weasley and reopened the Chamber of Secrets. The monster petrified several people, including Colin Creevey, Penelope Clearwater, Hermione Granger, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and even the Gryffindor ghost, Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, as well as Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris.
When Voldemort seized control of the Ministry of Magic in 1997, Muggle-borns were required to register with the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. Political propaganda claimed that Muggle-borns were really Muggles who had stolen magic from "real" witches and wizards, supported by research supposedly carried out by the Department of Mysteries. The Ministry continued to promote the belief with the distribution of agitprop such as the pamphlet Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society. The Commission punished anyone who could not prove to have wizarding heritage for this alleged action, sentencing them to Azkaban. Anyone who resisted was threatened with, and perhaps given, the Dementor's Kiss. They also issued two Ministerial Decrees stating that it was any wizards' duty to report suspected "Mudbloods" to them and that failure to do so would result in imprisonment.This led some Muggle-borns, such as Dirk Cresswell, to forge their family trees. Those who refused to register, such as Ted Tonks, were forced to go on the run and were pursued by Snatchers, sometimes fatally.
This was ended with Voldemort's final defeat in 1998 and the reform of the Ministry under new Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt. Hermione Granger would be crucial in eliminating pro-pure-blood laws as a high-ranking member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
- Slughorn: "Your mother was Muggle-born of course. Couldn't believe it when I found out. Thought she must have been pure-blood, she was so good... Funny how that sometimes happens, isn't it?"
- Harry: "Not really."
- Slughorn: "You mustn't think I'm prejudiced! No, no, no! Haven't I just said your mother was one of my all-time favourite students?"
- — Horace Slughorn and Harry Potter in 1996[src]
There are also indications that a subtler, less virulent form of prejudice against Muggle-borns is relatively common in the wizarding world. For example, Horace Slughorn discriminated more on the grounds of talent or fame, rather than blood status, and thus included particularly talented Muggle-borns such as Hermione Granger, Lily Evans, and Dirk Cresswell among his favourite students. However, he generally expected his more talented students to be pure-bloods and was surprised when Muggle-borns performed very well. When he remarked upon this to Harry Potter in 1996 and Harry responded coldly, Slughorn was genuinely surprised, and insisted that he was not prejudiced. This may indicate that even among those who do not believe Muggle-borns are inherently inferior or "dirty", there tends to be a false belief that most Muggle-borns are less magically talented than those with wizarding heritage. However, Slughorn could have also meant that since Muggle-borns are not raised around magic, it is all the more astonishing when they do very well in school.
The Ministry of Magic also seemed to have mildly favoured pure-bloods for many years before it was reformed after the Second Wizarding War, as there were still "pro-pure-blood laws" in existence, which Hermione later eliminated. Albus Dumbledore also once accused Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge himself of placing too much importance on blood purity, as Fudge was sided more with old, wealthy and influential pure-blood families such as the Malfoys, and looked down upon those who had less wealth and more affiliation with Muggles, like the Weasleys.
- Mary Cattermole
- Colin Creevey
- Dennis Creevey
- Dirk Cresswell
- Kendra Dumbledore
- Lily Evans
- Justin Finch-Fletchley
- Hermione Granger
- Nobby Leach
- Mrs. Ollivander
- Ted Tonks
- Donaghan Tremlett
Behind the scenes
- Hannah Abbott was originally listed as a Muggle-born on J. K. Rowling's draft list of students in Harry Potter's class. However, Rowling stated in an interview that she always considered Hannah to be a pure-blood. To compromise, she was officially made a half-blood.
- Another student mentioned as being Muggle-born on Rowling's draft class list, which is not considered canon due to several contradictions with the novels, is Kevin Entwhistle.
- Terry Boot was listed as a Muggle-born on Rowling's draft class list, but in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he was shown to be attending his seventh year at Hogwarts despite Muggle-borns being banned from the school while Lord Voldemort was in power. This suggests that he is either a pure-blood or a half-blood, though it is possible that he is a Muggle-born who faked his family tree.
- Dean Thomas was never certain whether he was Muggle-born or not, since his father left his mother when he was very young. His father was in fact a wizard, thus Dean is a half-blood, but Dean was not able to prove it, which made him a target of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission and Snatchers during the height of the Second Wizarding War.
- A rumour on the W.O.M.B.A.T. was that Muggle-borns have a natural sense of rhythm.
Notes and references
- ↑ F.A.Q.: Pure-bloods at J.K. Rowling's Official Site
- ↑ 30 July 2007 Bloomsbury Webchat with J.K. Rowling
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- ↑ When he was interrogated by the Muggle-Born Registration Commission in 1997, Alderton claimed to be a half-blood. He may have been lying in an attempt to save himself, or he may genuinely have been related to Arkie Alderton.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Pottermore
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Harry Potter and Me
- ↑ PotterCast 130 transcript