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Nicole June 5th, 2006 8:05 pm

Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
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Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series

In book 3, Harry Potter was introduced to butterbeer, which was not very strong, but it was in a book aimed at children and teens that Harry Potter was introduced to alcohol at 13 years old.

Now at 16, the group is drinking mead and wine. This is a much stronger reference to alcohol and the availability of it to minors. Characters are drinking it in front of teachers and joining adults in drinking alcohol.

The legal age of drinking alcohol in the United Kingdom is 18 years old, although minors may be served an alcoholic beverage with a meal at age 16 in certain establishments. Alcohol may also be served at home to children aged 5 and older.

There is a concern about Harry Potter and company drinking alcohol. This MIGHT have a very minor influence on teenagers and older young children. Does anyone feel that the alcohol references could have been removed completely, or are you not concerned about it?

karatekid June 5th, 2006 8:13 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
I think that the alcholic drinks have been put in quite carefully- Butterbeer is emphasised as very weak, and they are only allowed to drink it in Hogsmeade. Wine etc seems to be a treat specific to Slughorn- do they drink it at the burrow? I don't remember...

xxCUpid June 5th, 2006 8:17 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
I've always thought of Butterbeer as something like pop; 7up, Dr. Pepper, Coke, etc. But has it ever come up that maybe Butterbeer is alot like Rootbeer in a way that both have the mention of 'beer', yet Rootbeer technically doesn't contain alchohol...??

This topic is indeed something to look up.

Enchantress June 5th, 2006 8:22 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Oh well, I share the same idea with xxCUpid. :D Butterbeer always seemed to be like a sort of sweet shandy for me.

But all the same, yes... I do think the book's reference to any type of alcoholic drink would affect the younger readers. But I also think that it wouldn't be too relevant seeing that there is no significant indication in the books of, you know... drunkenness.

Even Slughorn seemed to be described as just, well, a bit tipsy. :P

kissclairekiss June 5th, 2006 8:38 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Yes they do drink small amounts of alcohol, but we have never seen the young characters drunk have we? Its teaching teenagers alcohol in moderation is OK ...

xxx

clawscall June 5th, 2006 8:55 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Well I concur with those who said that butterbeer didn't seem to be alcoholic to them. I always thought of it like rootbeer or applebeer- no alcohol in either. As for other references to alcohol, remember Trelawny trying to hide her bottles in the room of requirement? She was more than tipsy then. There are references throughout to alcohol and no they don't always need to be there, but I'm nonplussed about it. I think parents should step up here and if explain to the kids that alcoholism is bad and that just because its talked about it their favorite book doesn't mean its o.k. to go and get sloshed because you want to be like Trelawney or Hagrid or Slughorn.

Queen_Beruth June 5th, 2006 9:16 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nicole
Does anyone feel that the alcohol references could have been removed completely, or are you not concerned about it?

Pub culture, for want of a better expression, is a fact of life in the U.K. Small villages have a church, possibly a school, maybe not even a post office/shop, but definitely a pub.

It's a meeting place, a focal point, the centre of a community. Most British soaps centre around a pub.

The references to consuming alcohol could, I suppose, be cut, but the removal of the Hogsmeade pubs would leave a hole. Where are people supposed to meet?

Turning to characters, Slughorn is sufficiently well developed for us to find it unconvincing if he sat around sipping lemonade. The man is a sybarite; he enjoys fine food and drink. It is part of his character.

The novels would be much less convincing if pubs and drinking were removed.

TylerPotter June 5th, 2006 9:18 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
I agree with a lot of people and I don't think butterbeer is actually alcoholic, and is like rootbeer in the sense it has the word "beer" but isn't actually beer. However, the references to alcohol in the series probably affect children in some way, though I'm from America and I still don't know exactly what mead is, except for being a type of alcohol. I'm a fairy educated person, so I doubt that many American children younger than me (I'm 14) will know that it (mead) is an alcoholic drink, unless their parents choose to tell them.

P.S. anyone feel like explaining what mead is to me?

ravenrox24 June 5th, 2006 9:25 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
im not concerned about it because it is in a different world where the alchohol may not be as strong as it is in different countries. they may be allowed to drink however much they want and the alchohol may not hurt them at all.

Dawa Lhamo June 5th, 2006 9:31 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
I agree with Queen Beruth. The pub culture is important. For every instance of young drinking in moderation, we have examples of older people who go a bit overboard. This is presented in a bad light. Winky, Trelawney, Slughorn, Aunt Marge, and if you believe it, Sirius in OotP.

One thing JKR rarely does is sugarcoat things. She presents a balanced picture of alcohol. The good and the bad. I don't think it's glorified. Also I don't think she'd leave it out in the same way that she hasn't left out the teen romance. These are real things.

Think about it: no Leaky Cauldron, no Three Broomsticks, no Hogshead... Where will they meet for the first DA? How will they meet Aberforth? They need a meeting place at several points in the books, and pubs just fit with the culture. A coffeehouse or country club (as in American soaps) would seem dreadfully out of place. ^_^

It's part of what I really like about HP. It's not all candy-shops and bunnies. It's like the real world. And the real world has alcohol. I think she does a good job of showing a multifaceted picture of alcohol. ^_^

TheViking June 5th, 2006 9:32 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
There is a strange thing about butterbeer. The discussion with the house-elfs in GoF seems to indicate that butterbeer is either non-alcoholic or very low alcoholic, as the kids find is strange that Winky get drunk.

Still in HBP Harry ponders over the lack of progress in the Ron/Hermione relationship and wonders what will happen during Slughorns party when they are influenced by butterbeer, which seems to sugest an intoxicating effect to me.

Apart from that, the kids use of alcohol is moderate. (There was a party with smuggeled-in alcohol to celebrate the OWLs, but we never get to see that one) And, if the use we see fit what would be called responsible UK culture, I think it would be wrong to cut it.

Dawa Lhamo June 5th, 2006 9:39 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TylerPotter
P.S. anyone feel like explaining what mead is to me?

^_^ I can help! Mead is essentially a fermented honey drink. It's made like wine, except the sugars come from honey rather than grapes. So people with sulfite allergies can drink it (commercial mead may be sulfited for preservation, but homebrewed mead rarely has that added.)

You have regular honey mead, and then there are thousands of other varieties which incorporate fruit juices, herbal blends, etc. with the honey base. These have different names, like metheglin (spiced or herbed mead), melomel (mead with fruit juices). Sometimes people will use these names, and other times people will just say "blackberry mead" or "spiced mead".

It is speculated that modern mead is different from old Norse/Anglo-Saxon mead in that our honeys are clarified, while theirs often had bits of bees and such in it, and may have had something more psychotropic in it. I don't know if I buy that their mead was as nasty as it's sometimes described, though.

The thing about mead is that it's generally sweet and easy to drink. It doesn't *taste* as alcoholic as many other alcoholic beverages, so it's easier to go a bit overboard. Many people make that mistake the first time they experience mead. ^_^

RavenEye June 5th, 2006 9:43 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TylerPotter
P.S. anyone feel like explaining what mead is to me?

Mead is an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey often flavoured with spices or herbs. Its alcohol content is anywhere between 5% and 16%.

Random fact: 'honeymoon' comes from the tradition of the bride's father giving the newlyweds a month's worth of mead.

Wimsey June 5th, 2006 10:52 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TheViking
There is a strange thing about butterbeer. The discussion with the house-elfs in GoF seems to indicate that butterbeer is either non-alcoholic or very low alcoholic, as the kids find is strange that Winky get drunk.

Actually, what they state is that butterbeer is not that strong. However, that statement also means that it has some strength.



Quote:

Originally Posted by TheViking
Apart from that, the kids use of alcohol is moderate. (There was a party with smuggeled-in alcohol to celebrate the OWLs, but we never get to see that one) And, if the use we see fit what would be called responsible UK culture, I think it would be wrong to cut it.

Something many Americans do not realize is that our views towards alcohol are extremely iconoclastic in western culture. Perhaps the classic case of this was Eurodisney, which did not sell alcoholic beverages because they wanted to promote family atmosphere. To the French (and to other Europeans), this was a completely nonsensical statement: there is nothing "nonfamily" about alcohol, but something completely wrong with eating without wine or beer!



As for mead, I have made it myself many times. Indeed, it was served when I married, in part for the reasons that RavensEye notes. We were toasted with it and we still are hitched 6 years later, so I guess that it is not bad luck......

IrishWerewolf June 5th, 2006 10:54 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
I've always thought of butterbeer as being kind of like rootbeer and kind of like soda. As for the alcohol references, I don't mind them too awfully much, as they kind of put a real world touch on the magical world of Harry Potter.

Enchantress June 5th, 2006 11:09 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Queen_Beruth
Pub culture, for want of a better expression, is a fact of life in the U.K. Small villages have a church, possibly a school, maybe not even a post office/shop, but definitely a pub.

It's a meeting place, a focal point, the centre of a community. Most British soaps centre around a pub.

The references to consuming alcohol could, I suppose, be cut, but the removal of the Hogsmeade pubs would leave a hole. Where are people supposed to meet?

Turning to characters, Slughorn is sufficiently well developed for us to find it unconvincing if he sat around sipping lemonade. The man is a sybarite; he enjoys fine food and drink. It is part of his character.

The novels would be much less convincing if pubs and drinking were removed.

I agree. :tu: And that's why I say it's not going to matter that much if the pubs such as the Hog's Head, or the Three Broomsticks serve alcoholic drinks, nor that some characters portray a level of being buzzed due to the effects of alcohol.

However, if you remove those things... well, you're taking away a lot from the story line, not to mention the reality that people do engage in social activities that include drinking. So there. I guess my answer is, it's not enough to concern me that much.

'Cause then, you know, there's always the fact that the parents could explain those certain scenes to their children in a way that wouldn't make it seem like it's okay to get drunk, but instead, to drink in moderation during... maybe celebrations or special occasions only. :D

l8n_1988 June 5th, 2006 11:26 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Being British, I've never actually batted an eyelid at the use of alcohol in the books before, it really doesn't seem to be a major issue to me. I mean, in all countries teenagers experiment with alcohol, and especially in Britain. It is a social norm. Why shouldn't alcohol be written about? After all, Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine, and thats a common Bible story that many children hear about. Shall we not tell them about that too? It seems a bit absurd to me....Harry Potter is known for the fine blend of imagination and realism, and thats the way it should be.

severus_love June 5th, 2006 11:40 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
At first i thought it slightly odd that the children were allowed to consume alcohol however it didn't bother me. These aren't exactly typical teenagers they have a different way of life then muggles do. Besides after battling Lord Voldemort and his death eaters are you going to deny Harry and his friends a buttterbeer?

sparkly June 5th, 2006 11:42 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
I think the most troubling reference to alcohol was the night that Harry took Felix and both Hagrid and Slughorn got drunk. I'm fine with the way JKR treated this episode, but I could see where someone might be bothered by it.

However, I thought it was handled very well - Harry clearly knew the adults were drinking too much and he decided, on his own, that he needed to keep a clear head so he could get the memory. It might have been Felix that was guiding him, but I thought Harry showed a very healthy attitude toward alcohol, even though he probably had a normal teenager's curiousity toward drinking.

Overall, I think JKR had done a great job with how she shows alcohol in the context of a bunch of teenagers in boarding school. They accept alcohol as part of their culture, but there's no significant underage drinking. Harry is given mead by Dumbledore, but he's sixteen and JKR shows him merely taking a few sips.

owlpostgirl June 5th, 2006 11:57 pm

Re: Alcohol in the Harry Potter Series
 
Woah, Butterbeer has alcohol in it!

I used to think it did, but changed my mind when Lupin offered Harry butterbeer in PoA after a dementor lesson.

My innocence is shattered.


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