Themes and Characters

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Last Updated on May 13, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 639

Quidditch is a game similar to soccer but played in the air on broomsticks, and Rowling wrote the book under the pen name Kennilworthy Whisp, a wizard who claims to be a Quidditch expert. Though readers of the Harry Potter books know nothing of Kennilworthy Whisp until the publication of Quidditch Through the Ages, they were familiar with the book and with the sport itself. Harry is a Quidditch player, and he learned how to play the game by reading this very book, which was mentioned in several books in the series.

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As with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the theme of Quidditch Through the Ages seems to be simply that magic exists, based on the underlying presumption that wizards can transcend the boundaries of the mortal world. In the game of Quidditch, they fly through the air on broomsticks, a feat that Rowling (a.k.a. Whisp) says witches and wizards have been performing as early as AD 962. The book is filled with "fictional facts" about the sport in order to explain the rules of the game and the evolution of the game over centuries. For example, she tells us that a wizard named Bowman Wright has been credited with the invention of the Golden Snitch, a walnut-sized ball that was "bewitched" to remain within the boundaries of the playing field, and she tells us that a wizard named Zacharias Mumps has been credited with first developing a description of the game.

Bowman Wright and Zacharias Mumps serve as characters in this unconventional work as do Kennilworthy Whisp, some Quidditch players, and Gertie Keddle, the witch who lived on Queerditch Marsh in the eleventh century and who wrote a diary detailing important information about the beginnings of Quiddith. Rowling does not truly develop these characters, yet she does give them substance by embellishing her story with details. We understand that Zacharias Mumps is concerned with hiding the sport from Muggles (non-magic folk), and that Gertie Keddle "only knew the name of one of the days of the week." Kennilworthy Whisp, the fictional author of this book, can certainly be labeled a principal character, even though Kennilworthy Whisp is simply a pen name for J. K. Rowling, who created Whisp's character to maintain the suspension of disbelief. She provides information about Whisp's life and work in a few brief paragraphs about the author. Whisp, she tells us, is a self-proclaimed Quidditch fanatic who collects vintage broomsticks and is the author of many Quidditch-related works.

Rowling created the character of Kennilworthy Whisp to write the book, but she used a character from her past books, Albus Dumbledore, to write the book's foreword. Harry Potter fans already thoroughly know Dumbledore; he's the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and he also wrote the foreword to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Dumbledore personally asked Madam Pince, the librarian of the Hogwarts school, to make this book available to Muggles. He explains in the foreword that even though he tells Madam Pince that proceeds from the sale of this book would go to charity, the librarian was shocked and speechless about lending it to Muggles. Madam Pince appears to be dedicated to maintaining the secrecy of the magic world and "has been known to add unusual jinxes to the books in her care." Kennilworthy Whisp, Albus Dumbledore, and Madam Pince all frequent the world of Harry Potter and all emerge as well-respected wizards dedicated to upholding tradition. The characters in Quiddich Through the Ages belong to one of two categories; those like Whisp and Dumbledore and Pince who purportedly live in the world today (that is, in the world today as created by Rowling), and those who purportedly lived in the world of the past and played some role in the development of Quidditch through the ages.

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