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"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 was a magical letter in a red envelope which enchanted the written message into the writer's voice, usually at a very high volume, which increased if the recipient didn't open the envelope in a timely manner.[1]

Description

The physical temperature of the Howler would begin to rapidly increase upon delivery, and it would explode if left unopened for too long. This mechanism ensured that the recipient would open the Howler, even though he or she knew that it contained an unpleasantly loud message. Once the message had been received, the envelope burst into flames, leaving only ashes.[1]

The purpose of the Howler was to deliver a message expressing anger or great displeasure in a manner which standard writing could not adequately convey. As such, a Howler would convey the displeasure of its author/sender even if left unopened[1], for it would shower the recipient with insults and cursing upon exploding into flames.[2][5]

The Lovebird to Love Note Transfiguration spell created a note that would verbally convey its message in a manner similar to a Howler, though at a significantly quieter volume.[6]

History

A howler speaking its message

Neville Longbottom mentioned receiving at least one howler from his grandmother before 1992.[1]

In 1992, Ron Weasley received a Howler from his mother after he stole his father's Flying Ford Anglia.[1]

In 1994, Neville received a Howler from his grandmother, after he supposedly misplaced his password list enabling Sirius Black to enter Gryffindor Tower.[7] It turned out that Crookshanks had actually stolen the list for Black.

A significant number of Howlers were sent to the Ministry of Magic in the summer of 1994 after the disturbing events of that year's Quidditch World Cup. The Howlers were primarily critical of the security precautions, and they caused appreciable damage to Percy Weasley's work area.[2] Also, on that year, Hermione Granger received a few Howlers from readers of Witch Weekly when Rita Skeeter wrote a nasty article on her, claiming she was in a love triangle with Harry Potter and Viktor Krum.[5]

Harry Potter's Aunt Petunia received a Howler on 2 August 1995 from Albus Dumbledore, after Vernon Dursley threatened to kick Harry out of their home after two Dementors attacked Harry and his cousin, Dudley in Little Whinging.[3] The Howler reminded Petunia of her pact to keep Harry safe at 4 Privet Drive.[4]

Howlers were among the various magical items that appeared as Foundables during the Calamity, which affected the Wizarding world in the 2010s. They were found being guarded by Gnomes, as Confoundables.[8]

Behind the scenes

A Howler as seen in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

  • 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.

Possibly a Howler as shown in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • 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 could possibly 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.
    • This is further supported in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, wherein love letters (which can be created by Transfiguring lovebirds) behave much like Howlers, save for being pink and sharing their message more quietly.[9]
  • For the Howler scene, Julie Walters had to scream so loudly that she almost lost her voice at the end of the day.
  • The Howler message from the second film was parodied by fans and posted as comments on the music video of Ed Sheeran's 2012 hit, "Lego House", which also starred Rupert Grint as an Ed Sheeran lookalike who is mistaken as Sheeran. The message read: RONALD WEASLEY! HOW DARE YOU STAR IN A MUGGLE MUSIC VIDEO/LIP SYNC TO A MUGGLE SONG! I AM ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED! YOUR FATHER'S NOW FACING AN INQUIRY AT WORK AND IT'S ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT! IF YOU PUT ANOTHER TOE OUT OF LINE WE'LL BRING YOU STRAIGHT HOME!Oh, and Ed dear, congratulations on your new single. Your fans and I are so proud.

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6 (Gilderoy Lockhart)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 10 (Mayhem at the Ministry)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 2 (A Peck of Owls)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 28 (The Madness of Mr Crouch)
  6. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Side Quest "Valentine's Day"
  7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
  8. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
  9. Valentine's Day (achievement)
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