Warning: This post includes spoilers from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so, if you hope to avoid them until you see the film, come back after you take your broom out for a visit to your local theater.
As genuine, basically-insane Harry Potter fanatics, we haven’t stopped thinking about how Fantastic Beasts might connect to the wizarding world we know so well from J.K. Rowling‘s novels, especially when it comes to Obscurials.While we are pretty sure that Professor Dumbledore’s tragic younger sister Ariana was herself an Obscurial, we have another theory about them, one that’s a little wilder, but would definitely make one of the more frightening creatures from the world of Harry Potter all the more terrifying.
Was the first Dementor “born” from an Obscurus?
An Obscurial is a witch or wizard that because of fear or persecution has suppressed their use of magic so much that their magic manifests itself into an often invisible, but sometimes black, formless, physical creation of destruction. Most Obscurials die before the age of ten, which is why the much older Credence Barebon’s Obscurus was so much bigger and dangerous (and appealing to Grindelwald who wanted to use it to bring about a war between wizards and Muggles).
In Fantastic Beasts though we see that Newt successfully managed to keep an Obscurus alive even though its Obscurial died, an achievement that shocked other wizards. We see the Obscurus, flowing and black, encased in a bubble, floating through the icy terrain of his luggage’s landscape. It’s imposing, birthed out of fear, anger, sadness, and self-hatred, a creature which is devoid of any and all hope, one that feeds and thrives on the emotions that can ruin a life.
Just like Dementors.
Not much is known about the black-cloaked Dementors, the 10-foot human-like monsters with the empty eye-sockets (they are blind) that long guarded Azkaban prison before joining with Voldemort. They were discovered there, when Azkaban was a used by a Dark Wizard to lure and torture Muggles. Dementors were so evil and unsettling, robbing anyone that went near them of happiness, that the magical community elected to leave them and the island alone, until 1718 when it turned Azkaban into a prison, where the Dementors were used as guards (a practice that remained controversial until they defected during the Second Wizarding War with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).
J.K. Rowling has said they don’t breed, but rather they grow like a fungus, but no one knows where they came from, only that seemingly do eventually die. It’s like they just formed one day, creatures that suck all positive emotions from anyone they come in contact with, and whose “kiss” can suck the soul from someone, leaving them in a worst state than dead.
It might seem like a big jump from an Obscurus, an uncontrollable manifestation of emotion, with creatures that can follow instructions and make conscious decisions, but they are very much alike. And if Newt, a wizard whose expertise was in magical animals, could manage to gain dominion over one, what could a terrible Dark Wizard acting in secrecy have done with an Obscurus? What terrible magic might a Dark Wizard with the worst intentions have conjured up in his quest to fill the world of terror?
What if there was a way to harness the human-like qualities of an Obscurial with the evil emotion of his or her Obscurus? Might it look like a Dementor, something that seemingly exists between the two, something almost human, but devoid of all of the things that make living worthwhile?
There are lots of dots that will need to be connected between the two to prove this true, but it’s hard not to see the characteristics these two dark creatures share and wonder if they come from the same place.
We know Rowling has some more tricks up her sleeves, and that the connections between Fantastic Beasts to Harry Potter are only just beginning, so it won’t be easy to guess them all. But revealing that Dementors come not from the ether, but from our own fears and anger, from our own mistreatment of those that are different, from the sadness of the neediest and most sympathetic among us, would make not only Fantastic Beasts movies more poignant, it would make the Harry Potter novels even richer, adding another level to the complex relationship between good and evil.
Dementors are a nightmare, something easy to dismiss as not like us, and therefore not reflective of us, but they would be even scarier if it turned out they were born not from abstract evil, but from our own failings.
But what do you think? Are we on to something, or are we flying without a broom? Tell us what you think about the possible connection between an Obscurus and a Dementor in the comments section below.
Images: Warner Bros Studios