A “kindly old wizard” dies and leaves his magical cooking pot to his foolish son. The son spurns his neighbours’ requests for help and discovers that the pot becomes more and more annoying as it takes on the neighbour’s ailments and problems. In the end, the son learns to help others.
(full synopsis from Amazon.com)
Interesting facts and notes
Jo's comments about the story:
"...the moral, really, is to teach young wizards and witches that they should be using their magic altruistically." (PC1)
Connections to literature:
This story is similar to many others in children's literature, including:
- Babushka's Doll by Patricial Polacco
- Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Each involves a wise person whose young relative or apprentice must learn a lesson about how to behave through their interaction with some magical object. In the case of Strega Nona, the object is a magical spagetti pot. The idea of a magical item slightly out of control because of ignorance and folly is also found in The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Notes on the commentary:
Nearly-Headless Nick, a wizard of the Royal Court, had his wand taken away when he was imprisioned for accidentally giving Lady Grieve a tusk instead of fixing her tooth. Therefore he couldn't save himself from execution.
The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy is again stated as having been instituted in 1689. This date was given also in Deathly Hallows, but contradicts the date of 1692 given in Quidditch Through the Ages. However, since 'canon priority' is given to the novels over the companion books, and since the date has now been given as 1689 in two sources, we will assume that Quidditch Through the Ages is in error.
Mid-1500s: a new version of the "Hopping Pot" tale emerges where the Pot saves a poor helpless wizard from anti-magic villagers.
1600s: Any witch or wizard who fraternised with Muggles became outcast
Nicknames for Muggle-friendly witches and wizards in the 1600s:
Malfoy, Brutus: c. 1675 was the editor of Warlock At War, an anti-Muggle periodical.
Beatrix Bloxam - the dates for this character have been fixed. Instead of 1794-1810, as it said on her Famous Wizard card and on Rowling's website, the dates are now 1794-1910. The pictures of Bloxam showed an old woman, so this change makes a lot more sense. The extract of Bloxam's version of the 'Hopping Pot' is wonderfully revolting, but it is a tiny bit ironic to see Rowling make jokes about an author's books being banned or destroyed. This is yet another example of the way that intolerance and prejudice are paradoxically encouraged as well as discouraged in Rowling's writing.