Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Memories and the Past

By Jack Thorne, based on a story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Memories and the Past

Where were you on the night of July 8, 2000? A) In line to get a copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. B) Dressed up in a robe, striped tie, with a scar tattoo and a magic wand? C) Both A & B. D) At home (probably under a rock somewhere) wondering what a hairy potter was.

If you picked D, you might want to go back in time and change that. You could get wrapped up in the Harry hype, dye your hair black, wear round glasses, and rig up an elaborate system of pulleys and invisible string to make it look like you could actually pull off a real life wingardium leviosa spell.

That would be a lot fun, but you can't do it. And even if you could, you shouldn't…because your presence at the Harry Potter launch party could change time as we know it. You could set events into motion that lead to the death or disappearance of a family member, the collapse of society, or a parallel universe where Alan Rickman didn't play Severus Snape.

In a literal sense, it's dangerous to try and change the past. But we humans mull over past events and conjure up an infinite number of what if? scenarios all the time. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child explores the danger of being stuck in the past—literally and figuratively. And magically.

Questions About Memories and the Past

  1. What is Harry's biggest hang-up about his past? How does it affect his parenting?
  2. Should Albus have more respect for his father's memories?
  3. What is Albus' motivation for literally changing the past? What does he hope to accomplish? Does he end up achieving his goal?
  4. What specific event causes each timeline shift?

Chew on This

Harry learns that, even when given the opportunity to literally change the past, he shouldn't take it.

Literally everyone who tries to change the past ends up worse off in the new present. In the first timeline, Scorpius is left without Rose, the girl he has a crush on. In the second timeline, Albus doesn't even exist. And when trying to make a third timeline, Delphi is captured and put into Azkaban.