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Motherland: Fort Salem Is Taking On An Unanswered Harry Potter Question

Motherland: Fort Salem and Harry Potter have very different and complicated approaches when it comes to dealing with people of the non-magical world.

Other than magic, the witches of Motherland: Fort Salem and the wizards, warlocks, and witches of Harry Potter have little in common, especially in how they interact with the non-magical humans of their world. In that regard, the Fort Salem witches live in a far more precarious world because they operate openly among the non-magical humans that surround them. In Harry Potter, the wizarding world faces far fewer dangers from the general population.

Harry Potter characters face no consequences or scrutiny from the outside world because they conceal their magical lives from Muggles (non-magical humans). Their actions assume that Muggles would respond negatively to the existence of wizards and witches. According to Harry Potter history, hiding their world began with the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1689, created in response to medieval persecution of magic users. The consensus in Harry Potter’s time is that if Muggles knew about magic it would create too many problems. This concealment was also a double-edged sword in that it led many in the wizarding world to view Muggles with prejudice and hatred.

In Motherland: Fort Salem, however, centuries before the show begins, the witch leader General Sarah Alder forged an agreement with the U.S. government to stop the mass killings of witches. Unfortunately, that agreement essentially enslaved all future generations of witches, the only alternative to being hunted down and massacred. Since that time, a witch hasn’t been allowed to choose a path that isn’t the army, and refusal to serve has dire consequences. Alder has positioned magic users as humanity’s willing protectors and sacrificial lambs. The witches are at the mercy of humanity’s favor, a completely flipped dynamic from Harry Potter, where the magic users are hidden in plain sight.

Harry, Ron, Hermione, and everyone in their world chose to attend Hogwarts for their magical training, used primarily in secret and wielded for defense and other productive activities. The characters of Harry Potter are also allowed to choose their magical careers upon graduation. By contrast, the witches in Motherland: Fort Salem are only shown being allowed to use their magic in service of the Army. This predestined confiscation of their free will is met with varying responses from the lead characters Raelle Collar, Tally Craven, and Abigail Bellweather. Raelle believes her mother and other witches were bled dry of their magic, forced to give up their lives by being sent into battle again and again without time to heal. Tally considers being a witch a great honor, as evidenced by her Motherland: Fort Salem season 1 sacrifice of becoming a biddy to save General Alder, a sentiment not shared by her mother, given all their family members who have died in battle. Abigail’s view of being a witch is shaped by her privilege, as her powerful and apparently wealthy family hasn’t often seen loss. She partially rejected that privilege when she chose to go on the season 1 finale mission despite her mother’s objections.

Continuing from season 1, Motherland: Fort Salem season 2 has explored how Alder’s strategy for protecting witches is backfiring. Witches have become associated with war and destruction in the public’s eyes. With the terrorist Spree witches launching attacks on humans, reportedly in protest of witches being mandatorily conscripted into the Army, the supposed benefits of a witch army are losing their value. Additionally, the show has hinted that the Army’s unnatural use of magic threatens the natural world, which is why the witch Khalida and her brother Adil refuse to share their people’s spells with Alder. The witches now face an ancient group of human witch hunters, the Camarilla, who are determined to eradicate magic users entirely.

The witches of Motherland: Fort Salem’s world can only imagine Harry Potter’s comparative paradise, where wizards, warlocks, and witches live mundane lives, where they can have a variety of jobs and choices about their futures. Motherland: Fort Salem’s witches face execution if they try to avoid joining the Army. With witch and human enemies on all sides, Raelle, Abigail, and Tally can’t trust anyone but each other.

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