“They prefer the woman’s touch, unicorns,“ says professor Grubbly-Plank in chapter 24 of Goblet of Fire.
Rowling uses existing myths in her wizarding world often. The unicorn is a great example of that. Unicorns have been noted as mythical creatures in both Eastern and Western mythology since antiquity. During the Middle Ages, the Europeans combined Ancient Greek tales with the bible. The unicorn represented purity and chastity and was ascribed healing powers. Medieval writers also used the unicorn as an allegory of Christ, who dwelt in the womb of the Virgin Mary and became human through her.
One of the myths was called “The Hunt of the Unicorn.” Once, hunters tracked down a unicorn. The unicorn was thought to be a fierce and wild woodland beast, which could outrun and outfight everyone. They realized they could not capture the beast by force, but had to use cunning to do so. The unicorn could only be tamed by something that was as pure as itself: a maiden (a virgin). The animal would approach her and rest its head upon her lap, abandoning its wildness and ferocity. And so the hunters were able to capture it.
Rowling mentions the forest as its home, its magical properties and the difficulty to capture it in the Harry Potter series and in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But the characteristic she had fun with most, was the unicorns preference for women!
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In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.
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