Some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and, as such, spoilers will be present.
A werewolf is a human being who, upon the complete rising of the full moon, becomes a fearsome and deadly near-wolf. This condition is caused by infection with lycanthropy, also known as werewolfry. Werewolves appear in the form of a wolf but, there are distinctions between them and regular wolves.
A mixture of powdered silver and dittany applied to a fresh bite will seal the wound and allow the victim to live on as a werewolf, although tragic tales are told of witches and wizards begging for death rather than becoming werewolves. The Wolfsbane Potion, invented by Damocles, allows the werewolf to keep their human mind during transformation.
A werewolf cannot choose whether or not to transform and will no longer remember who they are and would kill even their best friend given the opportunity once transformed. Despite this, they are able to recall everything they have experienced throughout their transformation upon reverting to their human form.
- "To become a werewolf, it is necessary to be bitten by a werewolf in their wolfish form at the time of the full moon. When the werewolf’s saliva mingles with the victim’s blood, contamination will occur."
- —How a wizard becomes a werewolf[src]
Lycanthropy is a magical illness known to be spread by contact between saliva and blood; thus, when a transformed werewolf bites a human, the bitten will become a werewolf themselves. Most Muggles, however, will die from the extent of their injuries in the instance of a werewolf attack as noted by Professor Marlowe Forfang. If a werewolf is in human form and bites the victim, they will merely gain lupine tendencies such as a fondness for rare meat. Any bite or scratch obtained from a werewolf, whether in human or animal form, will leave permanent scars. However, the fresh wound can be sealed with a mixture of powdered silver and dittany.
Werewolves cannot pass on lycanthropy to their children, and so if having a child with a human partner no lupine tendencies will occur, as noted with Teddy Lupin, son of Remus and Nymphadora Tonks.
If two werewolves mate at the full moon, in their animal forms, something very strange happens. The result of their mating, which has only ever occurred twice throughout history, has been a pack of wolf cubs — actual wolf cubs — who grow to become very beautiful wolves and can only be distinguished from true wolves by their near-human intelligence.
Thus, rumours of werewolves living in the Forbidden Forest in the grounds at Hogwarts Castle are actually about a pack of lupine werewolf offspring that was released into the woods with the kind permission of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of the School, and has lived there ever since. Teachers have never tried to dispel these rumours because they felt that keeping students out of the forest was highly desirable.
- "The many Muggle myths and legends surrounding werewolves are, in the main, false, although some contain nuggets of truth. Silver bullets do not kill werewolves, but a mixture of powdered silver and dittany applied to a fresh bite will ‘seal’ the wound and prevent the victim bleeding to death (although tragic tales are told of victims who beg to be allowed to die rather than to live on as werewolves)."
- —Treatments that can be done in order to prevent death[src]
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for lycanthropy. However, some of the worst effects can be mitigated by consuming Wolfsbane Potion, which allows a werewolf to retain his or her human mind while transformed, thus freeing him or her from the worry of harming other humans or themselves. It is a very difficult potion to make, with many complicated ingredients. According to Remus Lupin, it tastes disgusting but sugar makes it useless. Because werewolves only pose a danger to humans, companionship with animals whilst transformed has been known to make the experience more bearable as the werewolf has no-one to harm and will be less willing to harm themselves.
According to Gilderoy Lockhart, the Homorphus Charm can force a werewolf back into human shape. However, due to Lockhart's reputation as a liar, and the many falsehoods he told to inflate his popularity, his information is highly suspect — as is the very existence of a Homorphus Charm in the first place. However, as many of Lockhart's claims are also based on the accounts of more trustworthy wizards (accomplishments he would claim for himself, following the disposal of the originating witch or wizard), there is a chance that the charm does, in fact, exist.
Contrary to what the Muggle world believes, werewolves are not affected by silver, except in that it can be used to prevent death and merely closes their wounds to prevent bleeding in a severe werewolf attack.
- "There was a terrible snarling noise. Lupin's head was lengthening. So was his body. His shoulders were hunching. Hair was sprouting visibly on his face and hands, which were curling into clawed paws"
- —Description of a Remus Lupin's transformation[src]
The monthly transformation of a werewolf is extremely painful if untreated and is usually preceded and succeeded by a few days of pallor and ill health. While in his or her wolfish form, the werewolf loses entirely its human sense of right or wrong. However, it is incorrect to state (as some authorities have, notably Professor Emerett Picardy in his book Lupine Lawlessness: Why Lycanthropes Don’t Deserve to Live) that they suffer from a permanent loss of moral sense. While human, the werewolf may be as good or kind as the next person. Alternatively, they may be dangerous even while human, as in the case of Fenrir Greyback, who attempts to bite and maim as a man and keeps his nails sharpened into claw-like points for the purpose. Though werewolves usually only infect their victims through biting, they sometimes take it too far and kill their victims.
Without any humans nearby to attack, or other animals to occupy it, the werewolf will attack itself out of frustration. This leaves many werewolves such as Remus Lupin with self-inflicted scars and premature ageing from the difficult transformations.
Appearance and traits
Werewolves can be easily distinguished from regular wolves by their shorter snout, more human-like eyes, the tufted tail, and their mindless hunting of humans whilst in wolf form. At all other times, they appear as normal humans, although they will age prematurely, and will gain a pallor as the moon approaches and then wanes.
The real difference between a wolf and a werewolf is in behaviour. Genuine wolves are not very aggressive, and the vast number of folk tales representing them as mindless predators are now believed by wizarding authorities to refer to werewolves, not true wolves. A wolf is unlikely to attack a human except under exceptional circumstances. The werewolf, however, targets humans almost exclusively and poses very little danger to any other creature.
Prejudice and discrimination
- "The stigma surrounding werewolves has been so extreme for centuries that very few have married and had children."
- —The prejudice surrounding werewolves in the magical community[src]
Werewolves are generally regarded with fear and disgust by wizarding society. People seem to think even when in human form, the werewolf may pose a danger. It is not uncommon for people known to be werewolves to be shunned by society and discriminated against within the wizarding world. It is very difficult for a werewolf to get a job in the wizarding community, especially after the passing of restrictive anti-werewolf legislation by the prejudiced Dolores Umbridge in the 1990s. Umbridge drafted this legislation due to her irrational hatred for what she considers to be "half-breeds". Because of the difficulty in finding a job many werewolves lived in poverty. It also forced some, like Remus Lupin to take jobs far below their abilities. After Lord Voldemort's defeat in 1998, the anti-werewolf legislation was most likely repealed by the new Minister, Kingsley Shacklebolt, in his effort to reform the Ministry of Magic, therefore weeding out corruption and not tolerating prejudice.
As a result, many werewolves suffer poverty; Remus Lupin managed to get by with the aid of his friend James Potter., and later by working as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts, though in between he had to work at many jobs that are far below his level of abilities, resigning and moving on to another before his workmates notice his signs of lycanthropy, while living in a tumbledown, semi-derelict cottage in Yorkshire. He decided to resign from this position after his condition was exposed, by Severus Snape, as most parents would not want their children being around a werewolf, despite the safety precautions Remus and Albus Dumbledore took; Remus stated that it would have been impossible for him to even attend Hogwarts as a child if it were not for Dumbledore's kindness, as other headmasters would not want a werewolf in the school.
The Ministry of Magic attempts to regulate werewolves. By 1637, there was a Werewolf Code of Conduct, and according to Newton Scamander, werewolves have been shunted between the Beast and Being divisions of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures for years. At one point, the Werewolf Registry and Werewolf Capture Unit were both in the Beast Division, while at the same time the office for Werewolf Support Services was in the Being Division. These regulations and services were ultimately a failure, as no one would be prepared to walk into the Ministry to admit themselves as werewolves, and thus none took the prescribed responsibilities of the Werewolf Code of Conduct. Dolores Umbridge herself incorrectly referred to werewolves as half-breeds, and has drafted an anti-werewolf legislation that made it almost impossible for werewolves to find a job.
Given Kingsley Shacklebolt's friendship with Remus Lupin and the furthering of Muggle-born and house-elf rights after 1998, it is likely that the reforms of the Ministry under Minister for Magic Shacklebolt included less prejudicial treatment of werewolves.
Due to the oppression and discrimination they face, some werewolves have come to hate the wizarding society, and as such have created their own society. Under Fenrir Greyback's leadership, this society works to infect as many people as possible, especially children, with the goal of one day having enough strength to take control of the wizarding community.
The werewolves under Greyback's command served Lord Voldemort in the Second Wizarding War, believing that they would have a better life under his rule, though Remus Lupin spied on them for the Order of the Phoenix. and the Death Eaters looked down on them; for example, they were not permitted to have the Dark Mark. They were used as a threat to ensure ordinary citizens' compliance with Voldemort; for example, five-year-old Montgomery was fatally attacked by Greyback after his mother refused to cooperate with the Death Eaters. Although only Greyback is explicitly mentioned as participating, werewolves under Greyback's command may have fought alongside the Death Eaters in the Battle of Hogwarts. They were most likely sentenced to Azkaban for life for uniting with Lord Voldemort, or killed for resisting arrest. It is unknown whether this was the only occurrence of the society, though it is implied that it was a new idea of Greyback's. Likewise, it is unknown whether all werewolves in the society were caught, or — as it was "underground" — some of the members evaded capture and continued their efforts.
- "Nearly all of them are on Voldemort's side."
- —Remus Lupin regarding Greyback's pack[src]
|Fenrir Greyback||Leader in the werewolf community and an ally of the Death Eaters, noted to be the most savage werewolf in history, incarcerated after the Second Wizarding War.|
|Remus Lupin||Bitten by Fenrir Greyback as a child, member of the Order of the Phoenix, killed by Antonin Dolohov during the Battle of Hogwarts.|
|Wagga Wagga Werewolf||Discussed by Gilderoy Lockhart during his time as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts and in his book Wandering with Werewolves. Lockhart may have invented this individual entirely, but since he often simply took credit for others' deeds, the werewolf itself may have existed, but been defeated by someone else.|
|Unidentified werewolf||During Arthur Weasley's ward during his stay at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, this new werewolf was presumably befriended by Lupin.|
|Anonymous author||Author of Hairy Snout, Human Heart who penned a heartrending account on his struggle against Lycanthropy in the 1970s.|
|Group of werewolves||A group of werewolves living underground, most of whom joined forces with Voldemort for a promise of a better life.|
Other victims of lycanthropy
- "Greyback attacked him. Madam Pomfrey says he won't — won't look the same anymore.... We don't really know what the aftereffects will be — I mean, Greyback being a werewolf, but not transformed at the time"
- —Ginny regarding Greyback's attack on Bill Weasley[src]
|Bill Weasley||Attacked by Fenrir Greyback while he was in human form; Bill did not actually become a werewolf, although he did obtain some lupine tendencies (particularly a liking for rare steaks).|
|Defenders of Hogwarts||It can be assumed that there were more victims at the battle that suffered from lycanthrophy to some degree in later days. It would be similar to the effects suffered by Bill Weasley at the hands of Fenrir Greyback. Although Greyback is described as 'a grey streak,' suggesting he is in his animalistic form, during the battle and biting people that were down, it can be assumed that he was, in fact, in human form, as Remus Lupin was also in the Battle in human form.|
The word werewolf is from Old English wer ("man") and wulf ("wolf").
The term opy notes about comes from Ancient Greek λυκάνθρωπος (fessor essay durin ("human").
Behind the scenes
- Professor Quirinus Quirrell had the first year Defence Against the Dark Arts class copy notes about how to treat werewolf bites. Also, Professor Severus Snape assigned an essay during the 1993-1994 school year when he substituted for Lupin, although werewolves were not due to be covered until the last chapter of the third-year DADA textbook. In Snape's case, this was an attempt to expose Lupin by having one of the students work out his secret (which Hermione Granger did, although she kept the secret rather than exposing it, as Snape had intended).
- Draco Malfoy once claimed that there were werewolves in the Forbidden Forest. A wolf pack actually lives in the forest, the cubs of two werewolves that mated during full moon, however they were just beautiful and highly intelligent wolves. Despite this, rumours of savage werewolves living in the forest spread amongst the student body of Hogwarts, rumours that the staff let spread in hopes to help keep students out of the forest. During the detention in the Forbidden Forest, Harry Potter asked Rubeus Hagrid if it was possible that a werewolf could be killing the unicorns in the forest, but Hagrid stated that werewolves aren't fast enough.
- Tom Riddle once accused Rubeus Hagrid of raising "werewolf cubs" under his bed as a youngster. Since Riddle was trying to frame Hagrid, the veracity of his statement is questionable. Regarding this, Harry Potter series author J. K. Rowling stated in response to a fan question "Riddle was telling lies about Hagrid, just slandering him.".
- Lord Voldemort referred to werewolf offspring as cubs another time. When at the Malfoy Manor, he ridicules the Malfoys and Bellatrix about the marriage of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, asking Draco if he will "babysit the cubs." Given his purist attitude and disdain for 'half-breeds' this is far more likely to be a derogatory insult rather than an implication that lycanthropy is inheritable.
- In the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, after Lupin is irritable with Harry, Mr Weasley says that "his condition takes its toll;" later on Tonks explains that "the first night of the cycle is always the worst." This could imply- though nothing like this was mentioned in the books- that werewolves suffer symptoms other than the transformation itself, which either directly or indirectly make them less patient and more harsh than they would normally be. What night the cycle begins with is unknown, though the full moon itself, the night after, or the new moon is most likely.
- This could also be a side effect of the "illness" described during the week leading up to the full moon.
- A prop made for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban makes several claims about werewolves that contradict with higher canon sources.
- It identifies several other ways to become a werewolf other than being bitten. These included being given the power of shape shifting via sorcery, the Lycacomia Curse, and being born to a werewolf. Pottermore, however, clarifies that the only way to become a werewolf is via the bite of a werewolf at the full moon, and explicitly denies that inheriting the disease via birth is possible.
- It states that werewolves can transform into their wolfish forms by a variety of means, including by will or when forced by various phases of the moon or hearing the howl of another werewolf. According to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the full moon is the only thing that can transform a werewolf.
- It claims that the soul of a werewolf is eternally damned and cannot move on from the mortal plane upon death. However, Remus Lupin was successfully recalled from beyond the Veil using the Resurrection Stone, and thus must have "passed on".
- There is also a mental illness called lycanthropy, in which a patient believes he or she is an animal and behaves accordingly. This is sometimes referred to as clinical lycanthropy, to distinguish it from its meaning in folktales.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (Mentioned only) (Heard)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game) (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in human form)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play) (Mentioned only)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 Pottermore - Writing by J.K. Rowling: "UNKNOWN ARTICLE - Add to Template:PM"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Pottermore
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- ↑ Pottermore
- ↑ Pottermore
- ↑ Pottermore
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ J.K. Rowling's Comments at Carnegie Hall
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ Barnes and Noble Yahoo! Chat, available here