Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Harry Potter
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
|Harry James Potter|
|Related Family||James Potter (father), Lily Potter (née Evans) (mother), Sirius Black (godfather), Petunia Dursley (aunt), Dudley Dursley (cousin) Vernon Dursley (uncle)|
|Loyalty||Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid|
- 1 Overview
- 2 Role in the Books
- 3 Strengths
- 4 Weaknesses
- 5 Relationships with Other Characters
- 6 Analysis
- 7 Questions
- 8 Greater Picture
Harry James Potter is the primary character in the book series by J.K. Rowling. His father, James, was the only child born to a pure-blood wizard family, while his mother, Lily, was a muggle-born witch, meaning both her parents were non-magical. That makes Harry a half-blood wizard according to the tenets of "blood purity", which holds those born of Muggles to be the same as Muggles themselves, no matter their magical ability. When Harry was one year and three months old, the evil Lord Voldemort murdered his parents. When Voldemort cast a deadly curse at baby Harry, it rebounded, ripping Voldemort's soul from his body while leaving the infant unscathed except for a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
Harry spent the next ten years living with his neglectful relatives, the Dursleys. On his eleventh birthday, Rubeus Hagrid, the gamekeeper at the magical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, delivered a letter of invitation to attend the school. Now Harry spends most of the year at Hogwarts with his two best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Each summer he returns to the Dursleys', an enforced confinement he must endure until he becomes of age at 17-years-old.
Harry's birthday, according to the author, is July 31, with internal evidence giving the year as 1980. This makes him almost a year younger than Hermione, and five months younger than Ron.
Harry's wand is holly with a Phoenix feather core. Holly is believed to repel evil and represents protection, joy, happiness, masculinity, and overcoming anger. The word holly is derived from "holy". A Phoenix is a mythical bird that continually dies by bursting into flames and is then reborn from its own ashes, an act symbolizing resurrection and purity.
Harry's wand is considered a "brother" to Voldemort's wand. Though they are made from different woods, the Phoenix feather in each came from Fawkes, Albus Dumbledore's animal familiar.
Holly is also part of the Celtic Tree Calendar. Harry's birthday falls within its July 8 - August 4 period, represented by that wood.
The etymology of the character's name is:
- Harry: A diminutive of both Henry and Harold, meaning one who has power, a leader or ruler.
- Potter: A trade/craft name, one who makes earthen vessels.
Role in the Books
Note: Harry Potter is the viewpoint character in this series, and thus takes part in nearly all events. Summarizing his role in the books here would, perforce, repeat the book summaries. For a brief overview of Harry's role in the series, it is best to begin here, then proceed to the individual book summaries. The sections below will quickly outline his role.
Harry Potter's parents have just been murdered, and the one-year-old orphan is delivered to his aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, by three wizards, Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, and Rubeus Hagrid. All three perform magic: Dumbledore quietly extinguishes the streetlamps, McGonagall transforms herself from a cat into a human, and half-giant Hagrid arrives with baby Harry on a flying motorcycle.
Ten years later, we again meet Harry and the Dursleys on cousin Dudley's 11th birthday. Harry's care has been abusive. He is relegated to the cupboard under the stairs whereas Dudley has been given two bedrooms. Odd things seem to happen around Harry, for which he is often punished, even when he is unable to control it. Harry, though cruelly oppressed, has adapted fairly well to his circumstances. When an owl delivers a letter to Harry, Uncle Vernon forbids him to open it. Soon, hundreds more begin arriving, creating panic in the household. Hagrid appears on Harry's 11th birthday to hand-deliver his acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—Harry is a wizard.
Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley, the wizard commerce center hidden within central London, to get school supplies and a wand. For his birthday, Hagrid buys Harry a snowy owl that he names Hedwig. She becomes his constant companion throughout the series. Harry also learns he is famous. The evil wizard, Lord Voldemort, murdered Harry's parents, though he supposedly was killed when his lethal curse rebounded off baby Harry, leaving a lightning-bolt scar on Harry's forehead. Ever since, Harry, the only person known to survive this curse, has been heralded as, "The Boy Who Lived."
At King's Cross Station, Harry is left to find his own way to Platform Nine and Three Quarters and the Hogwarts Express, the train that transports students to the school. There, Harry meets the Weasleys, a wizarding family, who show him the secret to reaching the platform. Ron Weasley, also 11, becomes Harry's first true friend. On the train, Hermione Granger, a smart but rather bossy first-year girl, introduces herself. Harry and Ron initially dislike her, but they eventually become her close friends.
Harry's first year at Hogwarts is eventful. The Sorting Hat wants to place him in Slytherin House, but Harry rejects this. As a result, the Hat places him in Gryffindor, the same House Ron and Hermione are sorted into. A natural flyer, Harry is recruited for Gryffindor's Quidditch team, the youngest Seeker in over a century. At Hogwarts, Harry is guided by the kindly Professor Dumbledore, Hogwarts' Headmaster, as well as the stern, but fair, Professor McGonagall, the transfiguration instructor and Head of Gryffindor House, and the gentle half-giant, Hagrid. Not everyone supports Harry, however. Potions Master Severus Snape instantly dislikes him, and Harry quickly becomes enemies with Draco Malfoy, a first-year Slytherin student, after Draco denigrates Muggle-borns such as Hermione, and insults the Weasleys. The Malfoys consider them inferior, even though they are a pure-blooded wizard family.
While the first book mainly introduces the magical world and its characters, a real quest soon unfolds. Harry suspects that Professor Snape is seeking the Philosopher's Stone (known as the Sorceror's Stone in the U.S. editions), a powerful magical object being guarded at Hogwarts. Using the Stone and Dark Magic, Lord Voldemort could possibly resurrect his body. Though Harry believes Snape is Voldemort's accomplice, it is actually Professor Quirrell. With Ron and Hermione's help, Harry foils Quirrell's plan to steal the Stone for Voldemort.
Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid promised to write Harry, but when no letters have arrived by mid-summer, Harry's hopes for their lasting friendships appear dashed. One night, Harry is astounded to find a House-elf named Dobby in his bedroom. Dobby warns that it is unsafe for Harry to return to Hogwarts, and admits that he intercepted Harry's letters to trick him into believing his friends no longer cared about him. After Dobby creates a disturbance, Uncle Vernon locks Harry in his bedroom and bars the window. Ron and the Twins arrive in a flying Ford Anglia and rescue him. Harry happily spends the remaining summer at The Burrow, the Weasleys' home. While shopping in Diagon Alley with the Weasleys and Hermione, Harry sees Draco Malfoy and his father at a Dark magic shop, behaving suspiciously.
At the Hogwarts Welcoming Feast, Dumbledore introduces Gilderoy Lockhart, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor. Unusual events soon start happening, and Harry begins hearing a strange, disembodied voice. A mysterious bloody message reading, "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir, Beware," appears on a wall, and Argus Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris is found petrified, though still alive. Endless speculation about the Chamber of Secrets and who the Heir might be abounds after Professor Binns explains that the Chamber was supposedly created beneath Hogwarts by Salazar Slytherin over a thousand years before. Though never found, the Chamber is rumored to house a monster. Suspicion grows that Harry is the Heir, though Harry suspects Draco Malfoy. But as evidence grows against Harry, even he wonders if he is Slytherin's descendant. Tension mounts when students, including Hermione, are Petrified, causing Dumbledore to declare the school is no longer safe.
Harry and Ron find an old diary once belonging to Tom Riddle. Though the pages are apparently blank, Harry discovers he can communicate with Riddle's memory stored within the diary. Riddle shows Harry that the Chamber was opened fifty years before, and a student was killed. Hagrid, then a student, was implicated in releasing the monster. Shortly after, Harry's room is ransacked, and the diary is stolen.
A torn-out book page clutched in Hermione's petrified hand suggests the monster is a Basilisk, an enormous snake using the plumbing to move throughout the castle. When Ginny Weasley is taken into the Chamber, Gilderoy Lockhart is sent to rescue her, however, Lockhart's magical abilities and legendary exploits are a sham. Thwarting his escape attempt, Harry and Ron force him to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom where the Chamber of Secrets' entrance is located; once below, Harry becomes separated from the others and finds Ginny, barely alive in the Chamber. Tom Riddle, who is actually Lord Voldemort, is stealing Ginny's life force to reanimate himself. Releasing the giant Basilisk, he orders it to kill Harry, but Fawkes, Dumbledore's Phoenix, appears, bearing the Sorting Hat, then blinds the Basilisk. Harry kills the Basilisk with the Sword of Gryffindor, which has appeared in the Sorting Hat, and stabs the diary with one of the Basilisk’s fangs, destroying Riddle's memory and reviving Ginny. Hermione and the other petrified students are cured by Professor Sprout. Harry tricks Dobby's master, Lucius Malfoy, thus freeing the House-elf. Harry suspects it was Lucius who slipped the Diary into Ginny's cauldron while in Diagon Alley, though he lacks proof.
The story unfolds amid a much darker mood as Harry endures yet another dreary summer at the Dursleys. This time he must also suffer Aunt Marge, Uncle Vernon's visiting sister, who berates and belittles Harry. The Dursleys neither support or object to her behavior, and it appears they are beginning to fear Harry as he grows older. After Marge makes a few particularly nasty insults about his parents, Harry reacts angrily, inadvertently causing Marge to inflate and float into the air. Harry runs away, catching the Knight Bus to Diagon Alley, though he first spies an ominous-looking black dog lurking in the shadows.
The Ministry of Magic intervenes, deflating Aunt Marge and modifying her memory, while Harry is allowed to remain at the Leaky Cauldron until school starts. He is soon joined by the Weasley family and Hermione, who buys a rather strange cat that she names, Crookshanks. It continually attacks Ron's pet rat, Scabbers, infuriating Ron.
Harry overhears Mr. and Mrs. Weasley discussing Sirius Black, who escaped Azkaban prison with the seeming purpose to murder Harry Potter. Although Mr. Weasley asks Harry not to go looking for Sirius Black, Harry, though confused, is generally unperturbed by these dark events. While en route to Hogwarts, Harry has an unexpected close encounter with a Dementor, an eerie Azkaban guard that is hunting Black, causing him to hear a woman screaming before he faints. Remus Lupin, who is riding in Harry's compartment, casts an unknown spell that repels the creature.
At the Hogwarts Welcome Feast, Professor Dumbledore introduces Lupin as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor. He also warns students to avoid the dangerous Dementors that are patrolling Hogwarts and Hogsmeade Village while Black is at large. Hermione, meanwhile, appears to be taking every possible class, even those taught simultaneously, and continually disappears and reappears throughout the day.
After Sirius Black somehow breaks into the castle, Harry learns more about his parents' past and the circumstances surrounding their demise. Twelve years ago, Black, who was James and Lily Potter's best friend, betrayed them to Voldemort and murdered Peter Pettigrew, another friend. Harry is shocked that Black is his godfather; Harry vows revenge, but during a confrontation with Black and Lupin inside the Shrieking Shack, Scabbers, Ron's pet rat, is exposed as the supposedly-dead Pettigrew. Both Pettigrew and Black are illegal Animagi, as was James Potter; Lupin is a werewolf. All four were best friends while at Hogwarts, but it was Pettigrew, not Black, who revealed the Potters' secret location to Lord Voldemort, who then murdered them and attacked Harry. To escape, Pettigrew faked his own death by killing twelve Muggles, framing Sirius Black for the crime. Black, upon learning that Pettigrew was still alive and disguised as Scabbers, escaped Azkaban to kill Pettigrew for revenge.
After learning the truth, Harry bonds with his new-found godfather and is ecstatic he can leave the Dursleys for good. But Pettigrew, and the truth, quickly slip free, while Sirius is captured by Dementors intending to immediately suck out his soul. Hermione, who has been using a Time Turner to attend multiple classes all year, returns herself and Harry three hours into the past. Retracing their steps, they free Sirius Black, but he becomes a hunted fugitive once again. Harry, sadly, must remain with the Dursleys. Harry's one bright spot: Sirius, as Harry's legal guardian, sends a letter granting Harry permission to visit Hogsmeade Village.
While Harry is attending the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys and Hermione, hooded figures believed to be Death Eaters rampage through the campground, terrorizing Muggle-born wizards. Voldemort's sign, a skull and snake, hovers in the night sky, though the Ministry discounts his return.
Returning to Hogwarts, Harry is mysteriously chosen as the fourth Champion in the Triwizard Tournament, an inter-school competition, even though he is underage and never entered his name into the Goblet of Fire. In addition to being forced to compete in the grueling contest, Harry is scorned by his fellow students, who believe he cheated to enter, and also Ron, who thinks Harry is vying for attention. Among his peers, only Hermione believes he never entered his own name, and she coaches him for each event. After Harry is nearly killed by a dragon in the First Task, Ron realizes Harry would not have cheated to enter such a dangerous contest, and the two reconcile. Meanwhile, it is becoming apparent that there may be a plot against Harry.
Harry soon faces an even more difficult challenge—romance. When he develops a crush on Cho Chang, a pretty Ravenclaw student, he awkwardly invites her to the Yule Ball, only to learn she is already dating Cedric Diggory, the other Hogwarts Tournament champion. Harry must cope with his jealousy and disappointment over Cho while struggling with resentment and animosity toward Diggory, even though he knows Cedric is fair and honest. Though competitors, the two boys gradually develop a mutual admiration, and they support and help each other during the Tournament.
During the final challenge, Harry and Diggory are unexpectedly transported to a graveyard where Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) instantly murders Cedric. Harry is bound, then forced to witness Lord Voldemort's rebirth in a gruesome ritual using a trace of Harry's blood that nullifies the protective Charm that has safeguarded him from Voldemort. The resurrected Dark Lord engages Harry in a deadly wizards' duel, but Harry, but the shades of his dead parents, Cedric, Bertha Jorkins and muggle Frank Bryce that are ejected from Voldemort's wand aid him, and he escapes to Hogwarts with Cedric's body to announce Voldemort's return. Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody, this year's Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, nearly murders Harry, but he is saved by Dumbledore, Snape, and McGonagall. "Moody" is unmasked as Barty Crouch, Jr., the Dark Lord's faithful servant, who, using Polyjuice Potion, disguised himself as "Mad Eye," then rigged the Tournament to transport Harry to the cemetery. The real Alastor Moody is rescued from a trunk containing a secret compartment. Meanwhile, the Dementors suck out Barty Crouch's soul, making it impossible to verify Harry's story.
The darkest year yet that Harry has endured in the magical world. After Dementors attack him and cousin Dudley near the Dursleys' home, Harry is secretly escorted to 12 Grimmauld Place, the new headquarters for the revived "Order of the Phoenix," an underground resistance movement against Voldemort. An angry Harry is given little information about Voldemort or the Order's plans, causing him to frequently lash out at Ron and Hermione, though they actually know little more than he does. He also has difficulty remaining quiet about the Dark Lord's return, while the Ministry of Magic not only attempts to convict Harry for underage magic, but is also waging a smear campaign against him and Dumbledore, refuting their claims that Voldemort has returned. Consequently, many in the wizarding community doubt Voldemort's resurrection.
Ministry of Magic official and spy, Dolores Umbridge, is personally appointed by Cornelius Fudge as Hogwarts' new Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, and later High Inquisitor. Umbridge prohibits students from learning defensive spells and works overtime to prevent Hogwarts and the magical world from believing that Voldemort has returned. Students grow rebellious under her ever-growing repressive rule, and Harry forms a secret group called Dumbledore's Army (D.A.) to teach real defensive magic. He also embarks on a romance with Cho Chang, but their differing personalities and her lingering anguish over Cedric Diggory's death soon dooms their relationship. After the D.A. is uncovered, Dumbledore is ousted, and Umbridge assumes full command. The Weasley Twins launch a revolt, causing non-stop mayhem throughout the castle, before spectacularly departing Hogwarts for good on their broomsticks. The teachers do little, if anything, to help Umbridge restore order, who is finally tricked by Hermione and carried off by angry centaurs.
Through an unknown telepathic connection, Voldemort, seeking a prophecy pertaining to him and Harry that is stored inside the Ministry of Magic, lures Harry into a trap. In a climatic battle, Harry watches in horror as Bellatrix Lestrange murders his godfather, Sirius Black; Harry confronts Voldemort once again, and, this time, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge arrives in time to see the Dark Lord before he escapes. Fudge is now forced to publicly acknowledge Voldemort's return. Dumbledore, reinstated as headmaster, reveals more to Harry about Harry and Voldemort's connection.
Harry's dashed hope to become an Auror is revived when Horace Slughorn joins Hogwarts as the new Potions master. Harry's O.W.L. grades were too low for Professor Snape's advanced Potions class, a required step to becoming an Auror, but Slughorn accepts students with lower scores. Meanwhile, Snape has assumed the Defence Against the Dark Arts post. Harry seemingly excels in potions under Slughorn's tutelage, but he is actually aided by an old textbook belonging to a gifted former student known only as "The Half-Blood Prince". Meanwhile, as Voldemort's Death Eaters create mayhem in both the Wizard and Muggle worlds, Harry learns his place in the war against the Dark Lord. Convinced that Draco Malfoy has become a Death Eater, Harry suspects he is involved in some sinister plot, though he is unable to prove anything, and Dumbledore appears unconcerned. Ron and Hermione also discount Harry's suspicions, further frustrating him. Unknown to Harry, however, Snape has made an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy, Draco's mother, to aid Draco in a secret task for the Dark Lord.
Harry and Dumbledore begin uncovering Voldemort's past by viewing gathered memories stored in a Pensieve. It is only after Professor Slughorn reluctantly yields a hidden memory that Dumbledore determines Voldemort has sheared off six pieces of his soul to make Horcruxes, storing them in various common-place objects, including ones once belonging to the Hogwarts founders. Two Horcruxes (Tom Riddle's diary and a Gaunt family ring) have already been destroyed, and Harry and Dumbledore potentially find a third, Slytherin's locket, hidden in a secret sea cave, though it is a fake. At the conclusion, Harry, the Order of the Phoenix, and Dumbledore's Army battles Voldemort's Death Eaters inside Hogwarts castle. Harry suffers a terrible loss when Dumbledore is killed by Severus Snape, who reveals to Harry that he is the Half-Blood Prince before escaping with Draco in tow. Vowing to find and destroy Voldemort and his remaining Horcruxes and to avenge Dumbledore's murder, Harry announces he is leaving Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione pledge to accompany him on his quest. Harry ends his and Ginny Weasley's newly-formed relationship, fearing Voldemort will target anyone close to him.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione leave Hogwarts to embark on Professor Albus Dumbledore's mission to hunt and destroy Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. Although Harry was entrusted with a dangerous and seemingly-impossible task, Dumbledore left only a few cryptic clues to aid his quest. He also bequeathed the Trio some unusual objects: a Quidditch Snitch and the Sword of Gryffindor for Harry; to Ron, a Deluminator; and Hermione receives a children's book titled, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" containing a mysterious, hand-drawn symbol next to a story about three brothers. The Ministry of Magic withholds Gryffindor's Sword, claiming it was never Dumbledore's. Realizing the Sword may be able to destroy Horcruxes, the Trio must find it. Though Ginny Weasley tells Harry she still loves him and will wait, Harry, believing his mission could take years, hopes she will find someone else.
As Voldemort's power and domination grows, Harry races to find the Horcruxes, but his loyalty to the late Headmaster falters after he uncovers dark secrets hidden within Dumbledore's past—he is not the man Harry believed him to be. The Trio's mission is also potentially jeopardized when Harry becomes fixated on finding the Deathly Hallows, three unique magical artifacts mentioned in Hermione's book. They discover that the Hallows emblem was also adopted by the Dark wizard, Grindelwald who Dumbledore defeated in a duel many years before. Each Hallow's existence is plausible: the Invisibility Cloak could be Harry's, while the Elder Wand may be the same one Dumbledore captured from Grindelwald. Only the Resurrection Stone seems dubious to Hermione, though Harry hopes it could resurrect his dead parents. Voldemort, meanwhile, seeks the Elder Wand, certain it is an invincible weapon.
Physically burdened by the difficult quest and plagued by growing doubts, Harry's resolve is further tested after Ron, frustrated with the mission's harsh realities, angrily departs. Hermione, devastated by Ron's desertion but loyal to Harry, remains, however. As Harry's faith in Dumbledore diminishes further, Hermione helps him to look beyond Albus' earlier transgressions and see only the good man he became through his deliberate choices and actions. Ron rejoins the group in time to save Harry's life and find the Sword of Gryffindor, destroy the Locket Horcrux with it.
Harry also seeks revenge against his hated nemesis, Severus Snape, though Snape, like Dumbledore, is also something other than what he appeared to be. Even though Dumbledore is dead, and Harry now questions what Albus' true motives were, an unknown person or persons appears to be guiding the Trio. Now Harry must decide whether he can place his trust into blind faith.
Voldemort's Horcruxes are eventually found and destroyed, but a climatic battle at Hogwarts between the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix and their allies culminates in a final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. Only Harry survives.
In a post on her web site, the author has said that at the end of the Second Wizarding War, Harry became an Auror at the Ministry of Magic. In 2007, Harry became the youngest head of the Auror Office at the age of 27. He also married Ginny Weasley and had three children: James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna.
"You are talented, famous and powerful – everything Horace values. Professor Slughorn is going to try to collect you, Harry. You would be his crowning jewel." — Professor Dumbledore to Harry Potter
Harry is a very clever and powerful wizard. He is most talented in Defence Against the Dark Arts and was one of only twelve students able to advance to N.E.W.T.-level Potions in his sixth-year class. In his third year, he was also able to cast a corporeal Patronus: a very advanced piece of magic many adult witches and wizards can't perform. Aside from his strong magical skills, Harry is extremely noble and brave, and will do almost anything to protect his friends. Throughout the series he is put into many stressful and dangerous situations, usually keeping a clear head throughout. He is very resilient, remaining strong despite having gone through a tremendous amount of suffering. He is prone to react emotionally in certain situations, and, as a result, often acts impulsively. However, he will listen to his friends' more logical and calm advice, particularly Ron and Hermione's, though sometimes reluctantly. Harry has a strong sense of good and evil, and he stands up for what he believes is right. Despite his difficult upbringing and the many hardships he has endured, Harry is remarkably compassionate and good-natured. He is loyal to his friends, and will do practically anything to protect or help them, just as they do for him.
“I was pleased with your Transfiguration mark, Potter, very pleased.” —Professor McGonagall talking about Harry’s Transfiguration O.W.L
Although Harry is a true Gryffindor, a House known for bravery and nobility, he shares many traits common to Slytherin and unrelated to Voldemort's soul shard within him. These include cleverness, resourcefulness, determination, and a disregard for rules. This is almost certainly part of why the Sorting Hat considered placing him in Slytherin, though it was Harry's desire to be sorted into some other House that resulted in the Hat choosing Gryffindor. A commonly discussed strength, particularly by Albus Dumbledore, is Harry's ability to love, as well as his extremely pure heart.
"Listen to me, Harry. You happen to have many qualities Salazar Slytherin prized in his hand-picked students. His own very rare gift, Parseltongue; resourcefulness; determination; a certain disregard for the rules [...]" — Professor Dumbledore to Harry Potter
Harry excels at flying, either on a broomstick or astride magical airborne creatures such as Hippogriffs and Thestrals. This skill translates into a talent for Quidditch, making him the youngest Seeker at Hogwarts in a century. During the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament, his flying ability is compared favourably to Viktor Krum, then considered the world's best Seeker. In his sixth year, Harry becomes Gryffindor's Quidditch captain.
Harry is known to "wear his heart on his sleeve." On many occasions he is unable to hide or control his emotions, especially anger and rage. Among other factors, this makes it difficult for him to master Occlumency. He tends to tackle most situations and problems alone, often rushing in a linear, head-on manner before considering all options and finalizing a strategy. He sometimes finds it difficult to trust others; he generally confides solely to his best friends. His designation as, "The Boy Who Lived," and later, "The Chosen One," makes him feel pressured and unable to live up to the expectations of the Wizarding World. His desire to prove himself may have helped create a need to be the hero. This trait has caused him to behave somewhat foolishly, as he did in the Triwizard Tournament's second task (in Goblet of Fire) when he "rescued" the underwater hostages, despite them never being in any danger. This tendency takes a more deadly turn when Voldemort exploits Harry's predictable nature to lure him into an ambush, resulting in Sirius Black's death.
Though an intelligent and powerful wizard-in-training, Harry can be academically lazy, usually receiving slightly above average marks in his studies, although he did study reasonably hard for his OWLs and received good results. He achieved "Exceeds Expectations" in most subjects in which he shows aptitude in, and advanced to NEWT-level in most. One exception is Defence Against the Dark Arts, in which he achieved an "Outstanding," surpassing even Hermione, which stands as a testament to his extraordinary talent in defensive magic. His Potions ability is apparently better than it appears, as he is able to achieve an "Exceeds Expectations" grade on his OWL exam; in his sixth year he improves greatly, after finding an old potions textbook in which a talented former student (later revealed to be Severus Snape) has revised many potion-making techniques, and also invented many jinxes and spells.
Harry is noted to have low self-confidence, especially in the first book, where he expresses serious doubt that he could possibly be a wizard. He also worries that he wouldn't fit in, being the "worst in his class." This lack of self-confidence does reappear, though to a lesser extent, in each successive book, most notably in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where he's worried that he's not worthy to be in Gryffindor, and in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when he resists Hermione and Ron's suggestion that he teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, believing he is unqualified. Harry also struggles with a guilt complex; he often blames himself for things out of his control. For instance, he blames himself for endangering his friends, allowing Pettigrew to escape, and both Cedric's and Sirius's deaths.
While dating Ginny Weasley, Harry fell deeply in love with her, creating her as his "greatest weakness", as Harry would protect her at the cost of his own life or quest. But by the same token, Ginny could be considered his "greatest strength" as he was fighting for her against Voldemort.
Relationships with Other Characters
Orphaned as an infant, Harry lacks a true family. The Dursleys, his only blood relations, disdain him, treating him so cruelly that Harry could be expected to cut off contact with them once he is of age. Cousin Dudley does show some remorse over how he bullied Harry and wishes him well when they part company, presumably for the last time, in the final book of the series. Rather than family, Harry instead develops close relationships with his Hogwarts school friends, most importantly, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and later, Ginny Weasley, as well as the entire Weasley clan.
Ever since infancy, Harry and Dudley have disliked each other. Dudley commonly bullies Harry and is very shocked when his overlooked cousin turns out to be a wizard. Harry threatens Dudley with his new abilities after the first year of Hogwarts is over, despite being forbidden to actually use magic outside of the school. While he never consciously carries through on any threat to use magic, awareness of Harry's having the ability to perform magic causes Dudley to treat Harry with some reserve. As Harry's power, and thus his self confidence, increases, Dudley's physical fitness and characteristic bullying behavior also increase, and they remain fairly evenly matched so long as Harry remains unable to use magic. The appearance of the Dementors in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is something of a watershed moment for the relationship, as Dudley seems to recognize that Harry is able to protect him when his muscles are useless. This is further reinforced by Dumbledore's visit in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore points out how the Dursleys have mistreated their own son. Events at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows lead us to understand that Dudley has been trying to resolve matters, but Harry's suspicion of Dudley's motive prevents Harry, and the reader, from recognizing that until immediately before Dudley's final departure from the story.
James and Lily Potter
Harry's parents, James and Lily, who are long-dead, still play an important role in his development as he learns much about them from their close friends and allies. Harry loves his father, but his idolized image of the man he never knew becomes blemished after he unintentionally observes Snape's memories in a Pensieve that shows James' youthful behavior as being less than exemplary, and so unlike Harry's at the same age. Though deeply disappointed, Harry, with others' help, eventually is able to overcome his tarnished impressions about his father, seeing only the good man James chose to become. Though Harry has mostly identified with his father, he comes to understand his mother's influence on him as well, and that his own nature is much more akin to Lily's than to James. Harry has several brief encounters with James and Lily's spirits, who not only protect him (in Goblet of Fire and Deathly Hallows), but also express how much they love and admire their son.
Harry and Ron become best friends after meeting aboard the Hogwarts Express during their first year. Harry becomes so close to Ron and the other Weasleys that he is practically adopted into the family. Molly Weasley comes to love him as a son. Ron often educates the Muggle-raised Harry about the wizard world, while Harry shares much about Muggle life. Harry, unfazed by his own celebrity, notes that it occasionally makes Ron jealous, straining their relationship. Harry's wealth is a stark contrast to Ron's poverty, and this also creates conflict, for Ron at least, who envies Harry's ability to afford anything, though Harry rarely desires material goods and would gladly trade his fortune to be reunited with his parents. During their mission to hunt Voldemort's Horcruxes, Ron becomes frustrated and angry with Harry's seeming indecisiveness, as well as the difficulties of the quest. As a result, he briefly leaves the group. He returns in time to save Harry, and never again deserts his friend. Their bond is permanently and formally cemented when Harry marries Ginny Weasley, making Ron his brother-in-law.
Hermione not only becomes Harry's other closest friend, but she rounds out "the Trio", playing an integral part, along with Ron, in Harry's fight against Voldemort. Initially, she is unequal to Ron in Harry's eyes, and both Harry and Ron, upon meeting her, find her annoying and bossy. This quickly changes after she protects them from being wrongly punished, eventually earning her as crucial a role as Ron. Unlike him, however, her trust and faith in Harry never wavers. His faith in her, however, falters after Hermione, who usually turns a blind eye to his and Ron's irregular activities, reports to Professor McGonagall that Harry received an anonymous gift, an expensive racing broom, that could be cursed. Furious, Harry and Ron childishly shun her for months, deeply hurting Hermione, though the rift is eventually healed. In many ways, Hermione and Harry have more in common than Harry has with Ron, both coming from a Muggle background, though Hermione's upbringing has been loving and stable, unlike Harry's. Both she and Harry are an only-child, and this bonds them in ways unlike Harry's relationship with Ron, who has many siblings. Hermione becomes like the sister Harry never had, and vice versa. Hermione is about the only student in book 4 who believes Harry never cheated to enter the Triwizard Tournament, even though Ron initially thinks he did. She also understands Harry's nature better than just about anyone, including Ron, who is slower to mature than either her or Harry, and has far less insight into peoples' feelings. Both Harry and Hermione marry into the same family, further bonding their relationship.
Later, Harry falls in love with Ginny Weasley, who the author describes as Harry's "ideal woman." Ginny had been in love with Harry for some time, though he always considered her as only a friend and Ron's kid sister. As she blossoms into a pretty young woman, Harry begins seeing her differently and becomes jealous when she has other relationships; he fears his chance with her has been lost forever. But Ginny had never stopped loving Harry, and they finally unite in book 6. But their new-found happiness quickly ends, when, to protect Ginny, Harry terminates their relationship as he embarks on Dumbledore's dangerous quest to defeat Lord Voldemort, a mission that could last years. Ginny is left heartbroken, and Harry imagines that she may eventually find someone else, though it was extremely unlikely Ginny would ever have even considered being with another man. After the Dark Lord's demise, Harry and Ginny are reunited, eventually marrying and having three children: James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna.
Molly acts as Harry's surrogate mother through the saga, to a large extent taking him under her wing immediately upon his arrival at The Burrow in the second book. From there on, we see her doting on and loving him like her own son, much in contrast to Harry's aunt Petunia. She is fiercely protective, often overprotective of Harry, possibly trying to compensate for what she knows of Harry's nominal home life. One gets the impression that in Molly's eyes, Harry can do no wrong, unlike her own children, who she is quite often seen scolding; the most she does with Harry is a gentle remonstrance, as seen at the meeting of the Order of the Phoenix on Harry's arrival at Headquarters. She eventually becomes Harry's mother-in-law.
Teachers and other adults
Harry also maintains a close relationship with several adults, including Professor Albus Dumbledore, who is a kindly, though rather eccentric mentor during Harry's Hogwarts' years. Dumbledore, knowing that only Harry can defeat Voldemort, spends much time grooming him for his fateful encounter with the Dark Lord, though Dumbledore withholds crucial information, including that only Harry's death can destroy the Horcrux he unknowingly carries within him. Dumbledore realizes later, however, that by having utilized Harry's blood to resurrect his body, Voldemort has unwittingly provided Harry the protection he needs to survive. Dumbledore also recognized Harry's weaknesses and his need to "go it alone", and strongly encouraged him to always confide in Ron and Hermione and seek their advice. Harry is devastated by Dumbledore's tragic death in book 6, though he later comes to doubt Dumbledore's true intentions and his mission when unsavory incidents in Dumbledore's past are revealed. However, Harry's bitter disappointment in the late headmaster prevents him from seeing that, unlike Gellert Grindelwald, Dumbledore's youthful foray into magic's Darker side was little more than a brief flirtation filled with idle theories and never-applied beliefs that were ultimately rejected. As with his father, Harry finally understands that it was Dumbledore's deliberate choices in life that made him the great man he truly became.
Hagrid is also important to Harry, and, like Sirius Black, he considers him as his true family. Though the gentle giant can be rather naive, unsophisticated, and sometimes lacks insight into other characters and their motives, he always helps guide Harry as he matures and will do anything to protect him. It is often Hagrid's opinion that most affects Harry. Hagrid remains a towering source of strength and protection for Harry throughout the series, and beyond.
Sirius Black, Harry's godfather, also assumes an important mentor role and becomes his true family, though their short-lived relationship tragically ends when Bellatrix Lestrange murders Sirius in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Sirius was a loving and caring godfather, but his long incarceration in Azkaban prison for a crime he never committed stunted his emotional development, making him a sometimes less-than-ideal guardian, treating Harry more as a replacement for his lost friend, James Potter, than as his ward. Hermione points out Sirius' rather reckless behavior to Harry, who, because he loves his godfather unconditionally, is blinded, initially, to Sirius' shortcomings. Harry eventually recognized these faults, but knows that his beloved godfather loved him in return and would have done anything to protect and provide for him; his death devastates Harry, leaving yet another huge void in his life.
A romance blossoms between Harry and Cho Chang, a pretty Ravenclaw, though she is still grieving Cedric Diggory, who was murdered at the end of book 4. Her fragile emotions become more than Harry can understand or handle, however, and the doomed relationship cools quickly, though without lasting acrimony.
Harry also becomes good friends with his other fellow Gryffindor housemates Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, and Neville Longbottom, who also become strong allies against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, though some may initially doubt him. Having lost their parents to Voldemort's reign of terror, Harry and Neville grow closer throughout the series. Luna Lovegood, a rather odd Ravenclaw girl, also becomes a friend and ally, risking her life to help Harry during the Battle at the Ministry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry will come to regard her so highly, that he names his daughter, Lily Luna. Harry also is befriended by Cedric Diggory, a Hufflepuff student, a fellow Triwizard Tournament champion, and also his romantic rival after Harry develops a crush on Cho Chang. When students, including Ron, believe Harry cheated to enter the tournament, Cedric supports him. The two aid each other during the Tournament, but Cedric tragically dies when Voldemort orders Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) to murder him, as Harry helplessly watches. It is Cedric's murder that enables Harry to see Thestrals, magical creatures visible only to those who have witnessed death.
Not everyone at Hogwarts is Harry's friend, and many Slytherins despise him. Chief among them is Draco Malfoy, who becomes Harry's main Hogwarts nemesis. Draco's ever-present minions, Crabbe and Goyle, help him devise new ways to torment and undermine Harry. The Malfoy family are pure-blood wizards and loyal Lord Voldemort supporters, and Draco's and Harry's antagonistic relationship has partially been fueled by the elitist ideology droned into Draco since birth. Though Draco detests Harry and remains loyal to his own family, he never fully embraces his parents' evil, warped beliefs. His deliberate actions at Malfoy Manor in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows protect Harry, who later twice saves Draco's life during the Battle at Hogwarts, even though Draco was apparently attempting to capture him. The two never become friends, instead maintaining a distant, respectful truce in their adult lives.
Most Hogwarts teachers like Harry, but he endures an ongoing contentious relationship with Professor Severus Snape, Slytherin's House Head and Harry's potions instructor. Snape seemingly despises Harry for his fame, which often results in unfair treatment toward Harry, but Snape actually has a long-held and deep-seated grudge against Harry's father, James Potter, who was Snape's bitter antagonist, and, along with Sirius Black, bullied Snape during their Hogwarts school years. Harry's intense dislike for his potions master becomes full-fledged hate and rage when it appears Snape has murdered Dumbledore and re-joined Lord Voldemort at the end of book 6. Despite Snape's ongoing animosity toward Harry and his supposed treachery, he, unknown to Harry at the time, has always acted as Harry's protector, partly motivated by his deep love for Harry's late mother, Lily. Harry must eventually reconcile his antagonistic feelings for his belligerent potions master and secret ally, who, unknown to Harry at the time, is also the "Half-Blood Prince." Harry had come into possession of the Prince's old potions textbook that contained many revised formulas, as well as new spells, jinxes, and curses handwritten into the book's margins. Within a short period, Harry was inspired by the Prince to learn more about the subject than in all his previous years inside Snape's classroom. After learning the truth about Snape and what he did for him, Harry names his second child, Albus Severus, as a tribute to his fallen potions master, who, he later tells his son, was one of the bravest men he ever knew.
Without doubt, Lord Voldemort has been Harry's most formidable enemy. Voldemort, likewise, considered Harry his most dangerous foe, and became consumed with killing him. Even before Harry's birth, Voldemort feared him, believing in a prophecy foretelling that a boy, soon to be born, was destined to destroy him. When Voldemort made his first attempt to murder the infant, he forever bound himself to Harry by unintentionally attaching a small soul fragment to him, giving Harry similar abilities to Voldemort. This bond, again unintentionally, became even stronger after Voldemort used drops of Harry's blood to resurrect his own body.
Harry's character is the classic literary protagonist known as the "epic hero". Other such heroes are Hercules, Ulysses, Beowulf, and others seen in mythology, fables, and legends. The epic hero is typically mortal, but often is related or otherwise connected to gods or other divine immortal beings. In Harry's case, his parents were powerful wizards and he may be directly descended from the Peverells, an ancient wizard dynasty connected to the three Deathly Hallows (the Elder wand, a Resurrection Stone, and Harry's Invisibility Cloak). The hero typically possesses no extraordinary powers, but tends to be more talented, courageous, and resourceful than his peers. Traditionally, the hero is charged with a seemingly impossible quest or task that tests his endurance and moral fibre and that saves or benefits others, not himself. He must rely on his own courage, morality, intelligence, and strength to succeed. Though Harry has magical abilities, it does not set him apart from his contemporaries or his foes, who are also wizards. Harry must draw upon his superior bravery, strength, and cleverness, as well as seek help from others, to successfully accomplish Dumbledore's task to destroy Lord Voldemort and his remaining Horcruxes.
Because the books are mainly told from Harry's perspective, more is known about him than any other character. At best, Harry's treatment by the Dursleys was neglectful. Due to his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley's constant insults and taunts, Harry is somewhat shy, insecure, and has low self-esteem, though he survived the experience with overall good humor. While his parents overindulgence has turned Dudley into a cruel, egotistical bully, Harry's mistreatment seems to have had the opposite effect; he is inherently kind and compassionate to others and has a strong moral center. When Hagrid told Harry he was a wizard, he continually believed it must be a mistake.
Harry has always distrusted his fame and those who may gravitate to him solely to exploit it. He also shuns publicity, though later in the series he utilizes it, unwelcome as it is, to help achieve his objectives. Because Harry has suffered more traumatic events than most, he often feels misunderstood. Some Hogwarts students often ask him about his experiences, wanting to know exciting details, but Harry believes that most have little interest in the reasoning behind it. Throughout later books, Harry increasingly grows irritable, partially from a difficult puberty, but also from being publicly called a liar and constantly prodded for information about Lord Voldemort. Harry's fourth and fifth years at Hogwarts test his patience but also strengthen his bonds with Ron and Hermione, and also Headmaster Dumbledore.
It has been noted numerous times that while Harry bears a strong resemblance to his father, he has the almond shaped green eyes of his mother. The author has stated that this is an important fact; it helped to convince Professor Horace Slughorn to hand over a memory about Tom Riddle to Harry that Dumbledore needed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. There are indications in other sources that more is revealed about Harry's eyes in the later books. In fact, this particular physical resemblance to his mother plays an important role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- What kind of person does Harry consider a friend? An enemy? Give examples of each.
- Why did Harry request that the Sorting Hat not place him in Slytherin? Why did the Hat honor his request?
- Why didn't Harry ask the Sorting Hat to place him in Gryffindor? Why did the Hat choose Gryffindor for him?
- Considering Harry's family history, why would the Sorting Hat want to place him in Slytherin?
- Why did the Sorting Hat allow Harry to refuse Slytherin? Would other students be allowed to do the same?
- Does Harry understand Dumbledore's role in the Order of the Phoenix and the war against Lord Voldemort?
- How does Harry change after Lord Voldemort's return is verified and then announced to the Wizarding public?
Since Lord Voldemort's return, Harry has been confused on where his life may be headed. Nearly everywhere he goes, some aspect of the Dark Lord and the raging wizard war greets him. Harry's life has been filled with much turmoil and tragic deaths, especially during his fifth and sixth years at Hogwarts. Harry has lost friends, mentors, and family, all amidst the ongoing war's confusion. In many cases, Harry is unsure what to do, where to go, or who he will lose next.
As his sixth year ends, Harry draws many conclusions regarding his future. He knows he must complete what was so innocently started with Lord Voldemort many years before and solve the many mysteries regarding the Dark Lord's power. Either he or Voldemort must defeat the other, just as the prophecy foretold. In Deathly Hallows, Harry is about to embark on a mission that is truly more important than his previous years' accomplishments. As his school years are about to end, if he even returns for his seventh year, Harry will hopefully be able to answer the question: how truly strong is, "The Boy Who Lived"?
According to the author, following Voldemort's defeat, Harry becomes an Auror at age 17 under Kingsley Shacklebolt. He later heads the Auror department in 2007. Note that if Harry did become an Auror in 1998, it must have been within three months of when Voldemort died; therefore, Harry can have had at most three months of school before entering specialized Auror training. Along with his other accomplishments, this may make Harry the first Auror in centuries to have been accepted without taking (and passing) NEWTs.
It could be argued that, despite his acting unofficially as an Auror during his seventh year, that career is one to which Harry is actually unsuited. It seems odd that, for no real reason (except, as Harry himself mentions, a flattering Death Eater in disguise, and the desire to spite Umbridge), Harry should choose to take up the plodding policeman's round of an Auror after Voldemort's defeat. The consistent story arc in the first six books would rather imply that Harry's life has actually been aimed at playing Quidditch professionally, for regional teams and for England. And in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix we see that Harry gets great joy out of teaching; once his professional sports life was done, perhaps a professorship at Hogwarts would round out his years, as they did Dumbledore's? The only thing arguing against this would be that Ginny, his wife, would also be playing professionally; odds are that they would have to face each other on the pitch, and one wonders how that would play out.
Similarities between Harry and Tom Riddle
When reading all seven books, one comes to notice Harry and Tom's similarities:
- Both were "abandoned" at a very young age, too young to properly remember their parents.
- Riddle, the future Lord Voldemort, never knew his mother. He did meet his father, but only sought him out for revenge, killing him. Harry only vaguely remembers both his parents, being too young when they were killed to remember anything more than vague images and fleeting feelings. However, he has been able to connect with them through objects once belonging to his father, such as the Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder's Map, his mother's letter, old photographs, and also his parents' friends. He will also meet their spirits.
- Both boys wore second-hand clothes: Harry was given his repulsive cousin Dudley's enormous cast offs, and Tom wore tatty hand-me-downs supplied by the orphanage.
- Both were friendless as children. Harry was kept isolated and denied a normal social life by his aunt and uncle, while Tom expressed his bitterness and loneliness by tormenting the other orphans, frightening them away.
- Both are Parselmouths (wizards who have the ability to speak to snakes). This is less coincidental than it might seem, for Voldemort actually transferred this ability to Harry when attacking him.
- The Sorting Hat almost placed Harry into Slytherin, though Harry asked to be placed in some other House.
- Both boys had followers. Tom gathered them through fear, intimidation, and tenuous promises, while many students gravitated to Harry out of loyalty and a shared cause, but also curiosity and an attraction to his fame.
- They also, as shown in Book One, have brother wands, each wand containing a tail feather from the same phoenix, that is later revealed to be Fawkes, Dumbledore's animal familiar.
- Both boys were unaware they were wizards until about the age of eleven, even though each could make unusual things happen.
- Both Harry and Tom were of great interest to Dumbledore, and both felt their first home was Hogwarts.
- Both achieved greatness in the Defense Against the Dark Arts, however, each for different reasons.
- Both were only-children.
- Both are half-bloods, though that only matters to Tom Riddle. (Note that while both of Harry's parents were magical, Harry's mother was Muggle-born, which by the "pure-blood" definitions makes Harry still a half-blood.)
- Both are rule breakers. Harry, of course, feels justified when he does things like leaving his dorm after hours, entering the Forbidden Forest, and eavesdropping on teachers because he believes it serves a greater purpose. Tom may have engaged in similar activities, but for darker and self-serving reasons, and without benefit of an Invisibility Cloak like Harry; while at school, Tom framed Hagrid for a girl's death, then went on to worse crimes.
There are also differences:
- At his initial Sorting, Harry requested he not be placed in Slytherin. It is unlikely Tom Riddle would have made a similar request, even if he was unaware what his ancestry was.
- Voldemort never has friends, only followers who fear him or hope to gain some reward or advantage. Harry makes many friends: his dorm mates, the Weasley family, and many teachers, especially Hagrid, Remus Lupin, and (the real) Mad-Eye Moody. They support Harry because they share a common belief.
- While both were nominally half-blood, Harry's mother, a witch, was Muggle-born, whereas Lord Voldemort's father was a Muggle, and incidentally, so was Snape's, which is why he called himself the Half-Blood Prince.
- Harry cares about the people around him, even pitying Draco Malfoy by Book Six. Harry has the ability to love and be compassionate, making him more vulnerable to suffering pain, but also capable of experiencing deep friendship and loyalty that helps guide him to greatness. For Voldemort, love, fidelity, or compassion are unknown and unwelcome concepts.
- Harry recognizes, and in fact states at one point, that he is not alone in his efforts, that he has had loads of help from others, especially Hermione and Ron. Voldemort's speech, in contrast, seems to be solidly littered with "I" and "myself"; he seems to be unable to admit that anything was done without his direct action, that if anything happened he was the sole driving force involved.