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The Obliviate (including the one performed by Hermione)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jitenshasan, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. jitenshasan

    jitenshasan Squib

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    Hoping I am not posting a question somebody asked before, but there is something I’ve been curious about for a long time.

    It’s about the Obliviate. (And Hermione and her parents)

    How does it work? Do the Hogwarts students learn it in the normal curriculum? How hard to cast is it really? How dangerous is it if an average wizard tries to obliviate a muggle and is a bit… heavy-handed?

    We know that wizards were able to implement the statute of secrecy (and still maintain it to this day) so it is clearly powerful and efficient. But can the average wizard/witch cast it, and cast it well? Or do they simply confound the muggles a little while waiting for professional obliviators?

    What still bugs me is Hermione obliviating her parents, giving them complete different identities. I could suspend disbelief and accept them forgetting their daughter “easily” if they were the kind of parents to just let her with nannies, then after-school activities and such… If they were not very involved parents.

    But it’s another thing to completely change somebody’s identity. How did she manage to make them believe they have other names? It’s something that is tied to your identity since you were old enough to understand your name. She should have basically rewritten EVERYTHING. How did she manage it without leaving them brain-dead? Is there some unfortunate muggles in long term coma wards because she trained on them first?

    Not to mention she should have gotten rid of / changed / created all physical evidence (birth certificate, school records, university records, application for immigration, etc.) , give them new papers and everything in the muggle world. I can see the Ministry having a process and the authority to do this, but not a simple citizen. How did she know all the things to do without letting any loose ends? Even if she were a genius (which I don’t believe she is really), I don’t see how she could do it, not for lack of intelligence, but for lack a knowledge. I hardly think the Ministry gives out handouts about “How to get new identities and disappear in the muggle world so that we can’t trace you anymore”.
     
  2. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    I was going to say that it seems unlikely that the Hogwarts curriculum included instruction on how to erase and alter people's memories...but then I remembered that, although it was a Death Eater doing it, and allowing for the likelihood that none of the students would be able to cast them properly, nobody seemed to question 'Moody' showing students how to torture, brainwash, and kill. It's not like his methods were secret, and as far as I recall there's no implication that Dumbledore suspected anything untoward before the big reveal.

    So, if it's not taught, it's presumably nothing to do with moral or safety concerns. You could perhaps explain it as part of the DADA curriculum at some point then, presumably a 6th year subject to justify Hermione knowing it and Harry and Ron not being surprised by this (that I recall); maybe say it was taught from the perspective of learning how to guard against it, although I'm not sure it would really qualify as a Dark Art by the Ministry's standards - they have a whole department for it, after all.
     
  3. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~

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    Ministry has Obliviators IIRC so I would assume it requires some measure of specialization, like Aurors specialize in catching dark wizards. If a regular Ministry employee can't cast the Shield Charm, I doubt obliviation is a general skill among wizards.
     
  4. wordhammer

    wordhammer Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    By contrast, I'd say that memory charms would be essential to the curriculum for NEWT Defence classes. Average wizarding citizens are expected to assist in maintaining the Statute of Secrecy. Owners of large magical pets like hippogriffs must be able to Disillusion them regularly and with competence.
     
  5. FitzDizzyspells8

    FitzDizzyspells8 First Year

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    Fun fact, Hermione didn't actually use the Memory Charm ("Obliviate") on her parents. She only used the False Memory Charm: https://harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/False_memory_charm

    In Deathly Hallows, by the time the trio are on the run, this exchange happens (after she's already told them she's modified her parents' memories):
    So it appears that the charm Hermione used on her parents is something completely different, which is why the fandom believes there's a Memory Charm and a separate False Memory Charm. Now, some people think that this may just be an error in the books, which, let's be honest, is very possible.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  6. annoyedgiraffe

    annoyedgiraffe Muggle DLP Supporter

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    First thing is I don't think memory charms would be taught until NEWT years (if at all) since neither Harry or Ron seem to have any obvious inkling of how they work (despite seeing Lockhart at least attempt one). My guess is its not a requirement outside of a specialized field (possibly required by most Ministry employees for various reasons?) and is accepted that for certain jobs necessitate that wizards/witches need to know how to perform them or are expected to be able to.

    I would guess there are probably more than just the Memory Charm and False Memory Charms in existence, but generally these spells are probably the most commonly employed. Perhaps they are just the most effective, like how the Levitation Charm is superior and thus more common than others similar spells such as the Rocket or Hover Charms.
     
  7. Chengar Qordath

    Chengar Qordath The Final Pony ~ Prestige ~

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    To take a stab at setting up my own headcanon, it's a spell that anyone can do, but not everyone can do well. We've seen plenty of evidence in canon that a poorly cast memory charm can cause all sort of problems. They can break down over time or be broken by another wizard, the target might still retain subconscious memories, and they can cause all sorts of mental problems all the way up to basically rendering the victim incapable of caring for themselves (Lockhart). While I don't recall it being explicitly mentioned in any canon source, I'd also imagine a clumsy obliviation would leave obvious massive memory gaps.

    Basically, Obliviators are professional specialists. When they erase a memory it stays erased for good, the target doesn't suffer any spell damage, and the unwanted memories are seemlessly removed without any other memory gaps, oddities, or other mental baggage.
     
  8. jitenshasan

    jitenshasan Squib

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    Thank you for the quotes, I forgot about the different sorts of memory charms (haven't read canon in years to be honest, obliviate is in the movies, I should have known better).

    So Hermione modified and added to her parents memories, instead of erasing, which makes it a bit less dangerous I suppose. (Though it doesn't solve the logistic problems)
     
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