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Werewolf
Werewolf
Species information
Skin colour

Varies

Hair colour

Varies

Related to
  • Wolf
  • Human
Native range

World-wide

Affiliation
Ministry of Magic Classification

XXXXX
(when in wolf form)

Status
"You have only ever seen me amongst the Order, or under Dumbledore's protection at Hogwarts! You don't know how most of the wizarding world sees creatures like me! When they know of my affliction, they can barely talk to me!"
—Werewolf Remus Lupin on how he is treated because of his condition[src]

A werewolf is a human being who, upon the complete rising of the full moon, becomes a fearsome and deadly near-wolf. 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[1]. 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[1]. This condition is caused by infection with lycanthropy, also known as werewolfry[2]. A werewolf cannot chose 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[2]. Despite this, they are able to recall everything they have experienced throughout their transformation upon reverting to their human form[2]. 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[1]. The Wolfsbane Potion, invented by Damocles, allows the werewolf to keep their human mind during transformation[1].

Infection

"I did not know, for a very long time, the identity of the werewolf who had attacked me; I even felt pity for him, thinking that he had had no control, knowing by then how it felt to transform."
Remus Lupin

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[1]. Most Muggles, however, will die from the extent of their injuries in the instance of a werewolf attack as noted by Professor Marlowe Forfang[1]. If a werewolf is in human form and bites the victim, they will merely gain lupine tendencies such as a fondness for rare meat[1]. Any bite or scratch obtained from a werewolf, whether in human or animal form, will leave permanent scars[1].

Werewolves cannot pass on lycanthropy to their children, and so if having a child with a human partner no lupine tendencies will occur[1], as noted with Teddy Lupin, son of Remus and Nymphadora Tonks[3].

If two werewolves mate at the full moon, in their animal forms, something very strange happens[1]. 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[1].

Thus, rumours of werewolves living in the Forbidden Forest in the grounds at Hogwarts Castle are actually true[1]. With the kind permission of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of the School, the pack was released into the woods and have lived there ever since[1]. Teachers have never tried to dispel these rumours because they felt that keeping students out of the forest was highly desirable[1].

Monthly transformations

"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 Remus Lupin transforming[src]

Though they can live otherwise normal lives, on every full moon a werewolf will go through an incredibly painful transformation from a human into a wolf-like creature. They lose the ability to think in a human way, becoming highly aggressive towards humans- even those to whom they are close. Though werewolves usually only infect their victims through biting, they sometimes take it too far and kill their victims.[4]

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 aging from the difficult transformations.[4]

Treatments

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[1]. It is a very difficult potion to make, with many complicated ingredients[1]. According to Remus Lupin, it tastes disgusting but that sugar makes it useless[4]

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[1].

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.[5]

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[1].

Attitude towards werewolves

Prejudice and discrimination

"My kind don't usually breed! It will be like me, I am convinced of it — how can I forgive myself, when I knowingly risked passing on my own condition to an innocent child? And if, by some miracle, it is not like me, then it will be better off, a hundred times so, without a father of whom it must always be ashamed!"
—Remus Lupin on his fear that he would pass lycanthropy on to his then-unborn child[src]
Werewolf

A diagram of a werewolf in a Defence Against the Dark Arts textbook

Werewolves are generally regarded with fear and disgust by wizarding society. People seem to think even when in human form, the werewolf may pose 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.[6]

As a result, many werewolves suffer poverty; Remus Lupin managed to get by with the aid of his friend James Potter[7], and later by working as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts, though it is unknown how he subsisted between James' death and working as professor. 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 was 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.[4]

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. Dolores Umbridge herself incorrectly referred 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.

Retaliation

Tumblr n006efPuy21qeijvdo7 r1 250

Remus Lupin transforming into a werewolf

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.

Remus-Lupin-Wallpaper-remus-lupin-32912995-1024-768

Remus Lupin a werewolf

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[8] and the Death Eaters looked down on them; for example, they were not permitted to have the Dark Mark[3]. 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.[8] 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.[3] 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.

Known werewolves

ThumbnailCAPJTOD2

Fenrir Greyback

Other victims of lycanthropy

Bill Weasley 3

William Weasley

  • 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).
  • Other victims at the Battle 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.

Behind the scenes

Lupin-boggart

Remus Lupin and his boggart: the full moon

  • 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.[1] 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."[9]
  • 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 tranformation 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".

Etymology

The word werewolf is thought to derive from Old English wer (or were) and wulf. The first part, wer, translates as "man." An alternative etymology derives from Old English weri (to wear); in this case "werewolf" would indicate a warrior who wore wolf-pelts, noted for his uncontrollable battle rage, very similar to the Old Norse berserker, ber- as in "bear" the mammal, and serkr, "shirt". A third possible derivation is from warg-wolf or vargulf, a term referring to a rogue wolf which slaughtered domestic animals, but ate little of the kill.

The term lycanthropy comes from Ancient Greek λυκάνθρωπος (lykánthropos): λύκος (lýkos) ("wolf") + άνθρωπος (ánthrōpos) ("human"). 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 use in legends.

See also

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Appearances

Notes and references


Defence Against the Dark Arts (D.A.D.A.)
TDF-AGTS-P
Professors: Galatea Merrythought · Quirinus Quirrell · Gilderoy Lockhart · Remus Lupin · Barty Crouch Jr. (as Alastor Moody) · Dolores Umbridge · Severus Snape ·
Amycus Carrow (as Dark Arts teacher)
Textbooks: The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection · Break with a Banshee · Gadding with Ghouls · Holidays with Hags · Travels with Trolls ·
Voyages with Vampires · Wanderings with Werewolves · Year with the Yeti · The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts · Defensive Magical Theory · Dark Arts Defence: Basics for Beginners · Confronting the Faceless · Magical Drafts and Potions
D.A.D.A. at Hogwarts: Classroom 3C · Temporary Classroom · Hogwarts Turris Magnus · Professor's Office · Storeroom · Staircase · Lesson Cup · Race Cup · Dumbledore's Army
Spells covered under the subject: Curse of the Bogies · Knockback Jinx · Verdimillious Charm · Verdimillious Duo Spell · Verdimillious Tria · Wand-Lighting Charm · Freezing Spell · Seize and Pull Charm · Patronus Charm · Killing Curse · Cruciatus Curse · Imperius Curse · Impediment Jinx · Reductor Curse · Stunning Spell · Shield Charm · Nonverbal spells · Hex-deflection ·
Hex-Breaker · Hex Zapper
Creatures covered under the subject: Vampire bats · Iguanas · Cornish Pixies · Werewolves · Vampires · Hinkypunks · Boggarts · Red Caps · Kappas · Grindylows · Inferius


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