"You'd better open it, Ron. It'll be worse if you don't. My gran sent me one once, and I ignored it and — it was horrible."
—Neville talking to Ron about his Howler[src]

A Howler is a magical letter in a red envelope which enchants the written message into the writer's voice, usually at a very high volume.

The physical temperature of the Howler begins to rapidly increase upon delivery, and it will explode if left unopened for too long. This mechanism ensures that the recipient will open the Howler, even though he or she knows that it contains an unpleasantly loud message. Once the message has been received, the envelope bursts into flames, leaving only ashes.[1]

The purpose of the Howler is to deliver a message expressing anger or great displeasure in a manner which standard writing cannot adequately convey. As such, a howler will convey the displeasure of its author/sender even if left unopened, for it will shower the recipient with insults and cursing upon exploding into flames.[1]

People who have been known to receive Howlers

Behind the scenes

  • Instead of simply being a red envelope that can explode, in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ron's Howler resembles a mouth with teeth (simulated by the red envelope and white paper, with a ribbon for the tongue) that screams at the recipient, then blows a raspberry and tears itself to shreds once finished shouting. Also, Mrs Weasley added a congratulations directly to Ginny for making it into Gryffindor, stating that her parents are proud of this sorting. This implies that the film version's Howler possesses a certain degree of sentience and awareness of its surroundings, as it turned to face Ginny to make this comment, changing its tone into a more calm and kind one.
Order Of The Phoenix Howler

Order of the Phoenix Howler

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Mafalda Hopkirk's letter floats characteristically and talks in an official tone to Harry Potter (the letter's sealing wax shapes the mouth). While there's no confirmation on this, this letter can be considered a different kind of Howler. Later in the same film, in a non-canonical Educational Decree, Dolores Umbridge referred to the Howlers as "Red Howlers", supporting the theory that there may be several kinds of Howlers.
  • For the Howler scene, Julie Walters had to scream so loudly that she almost lost her voice at the end of the day.



A howler plays its message

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6 (Gilderoy Lockhart)
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
  3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 10 (Mayhem at the Ministry)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 28 (The Madness of Mr Crouch)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 2 (A Peck of Owls)