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Love and friendship Potions
Harry Potter Lexicon Minute

The Smell of Love

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The Smell of Love

Love is obviously a powerful theme of the Harry Potter novels, but today I’d just like to talk about the powerful love potion amortentia, and how it induces the smell of what most attracts us.

We first encounter amortentia in Slughorn’s classroom during his first potions lesson, and for Harry it smells like treacle tart, the woody scent of a broomstick handle, and something flowery that he thought he might have smelled at the Burrow. Now of course, we know that the ‘something flowery’ was Ginny. In fact, later that same day when Ginny joins the Gryffindor table at dinner, Harry gets a whiff of the flowery scent he’d smelled earlier, and at the end of the book when Ginny leads Harry away from Dumbledore’s body at the bottom of the Astronomy Tower, he realises it’s her from the trace of flowery scent on the air.

The broomstick handle presumably refers to Harry’s love of flying and Quidditch, and we know that treacle tart is Harry’s favourite dessert. Additionally, it could be representative of Hogwarts in general and the feeling of home and being cared for, in much the same way that Pumpkin Pie might be synonymous with family for some Americans.

For Hermione, we know that amortentia smells like freshly mown grass, new parchment, and something else she was too embarrassed to admit to in the moment. There’s a scientific reason why people tend to like the smell of freshly mown grass, and it has to do with chemical compounds that are released into the air when plants are damaged, such as by a lawnmower, but for Hermione, could it be a smell she associates with the Burrow? New parchment is a very Hermione-like smell to find attractive, and I’m sure many of us could relate. Who doesn’t love the smell of a new book?

In an interview in July 2007, J.K. Rowling confirmed that the third thing Hermione smelled was Ron’s hair, although it seems unlikely she would have recognised it as such in the moment. Similarly to Harry’s vague ‘flowery scent’ perhaps Hermione smelled something that reminded her of Ron’s hair, which begs the question, what kind of shampoo does Ron use?

What would amortentia smell like to you? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Commentary

Notes

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.

Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo, which was created by Kim B.

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Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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