J K Rowling - Harry Potter

Harry Potter

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Harry Potter character
Harry Potter
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry James Potter
Gender Male
Hair colour Black
Eye colour Emerald green[1]
House Gryffindor
Parentage Half-blood
Allegiance Order of the Phoenix & Dumbledore's Army
Actor Daniel Radcliffe
First appearance Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry James Potter (born 31 July 1980) is a fictional character and the hero of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

The stories concern events at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where his best friends are Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. His most intriguing physical characteristic is a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead, which he gained when the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort attempted to murder baby Harry with the killing curse, Avada Kedavra. Voldemort also killed Harry's parents and destroyed their home on 31 October 1981. Harry is famous throughout the wizarding world for being the only known person to have survived Avada Kedavra and in so doing caused Lord Voldemort's downfall.

In the novels, Harry, the only child of James and Lily Potter, is often told that he resembles his father, with the same perpetually untidy jet-black hair. He has also inherited his mother's green eyes. Harry is described as being small and skinny for his age in the first few novels, but by the sixth is described as tall. His appearance is often characterised by his round spectacles.

In 2002 Harry Potter was voted No. 85 among the 100 Best fictional characters by Book magazine.[2].

Harry shares his birthday with author J. K. Rowling. The books generally avoid giving exact dates for events, but the birth year of Harry's classmate, Draco Malfoy, was released by Rowling at a charity auction as part of the Black family tree. For a discussion of other dates within the books see Dates in Harry Potter

In the film adaptations of the series, Harry has been portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.



[edit] Background

Harry Potter is famous in the wizarding world for surviving a murderous attack by Lord Voldemort, one of the most powerful and feared wizards ever known and the primary villain in the series. Harry's parents, James and Lily, were killed in this incident on 31 October 1981 in their home in Godric's Hollow. James died first, defending Lily and one-year-old Harry. When Lily sacrificed herself for her son, ancient magic then protected Harry from Voldemort, whose killing curse rebounded off Harry and onto him. Harry survived unscathed apart from the now-famous lightning-bolt scar on his forehead, but Voldemort lost his powers and his corporeal form, leading to his exile and decline in the wizarding world. Ever since, Harry has been heralded as "The Boy Who Lived" — and many in the wizarding world credit him for Voldemort’s downfall.

After his parents' death, Harry was forced to live with his only remaining family–his mother's non-magical (Muggle) sister, Petunia Dursley, and her husband, Vernon, in the town of Little Whinging, Surrey, England. The Dursleys live at Number Four, Privet Drive in an impeccably maintained house and seem moderately well off. However, throughout Harry's first eleven years, they neglect him in favour of their own son, Dudley, and attempt to remove all traces of Harry's magical self. They reveal nothing about his past and isolate him from the wizarding world. Dumbledore later explains that Harry must stay with the Dursleys because the magical protection created by Lily's death, and that was later enhanced by Dumbledore, can only remain in effect by living with his maternal blood relatives.

Harry is categorised as a half-blood wizard, even though both his parents were magical. His mother Lily Evans was Muggle-born and, according to Rowling, to those for whom blood purity matters, she is considered the equivalent of a Muggle - and derogatively referred to as a "Mudblood". [1]. Little is known about Harry's relations.

Harry's father, James Potter, was born into a pure-blood wizarding family, to somewhat elderly parents, apparently their only child. It is likely Harry is distantly related to other pure-blood families through his father, since according to Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, all the old pure-blood families are related through intermarriage. Harry inherited his father's wealth, which is stored in a vault at Gringott's bank. He later inherits Sirius’ property.

Harry may also be related to his godfather. According to the Black family tree, Charlus Potter married Dorea Black, granddaughter of Phineas Nigellus Black, with the result that James and Sirius may have been first cousins once-removed. This seems to contradict Rowling's statements that James's parents were "old in wizarding terms" when they died, because she has also said that wizards have "a much longer life-expectancy than Muggles" (Griselda Marchbanks is known to be over 160) - Dorea died at only 57. However, Charlus and Dorea were born into the same generation as Sirius's grandparents, so it is possible they might be James' parents. Regardless, since no living Potter relatives or any unrelated wizards named Potter have yet appeared in the series, it is possible that Charlus Potter, and thus Sirius, were somehow related to Harry.

For more, see Relatives of Harry Potter.

[edit] Life at Hogwarts

[edit] Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter during his first year at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter during his first year at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone in America), eleven-year-old Harry learns he is a wizard when Rubeus Hagrid, the gamekeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and aide to Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, hand-delivers his invitation to attend the school. Previous letters were intercepted and destroyed by his aunt and uncle, who want nothing to do with magic. Hagrid tells Harry about his magical background and his fame in the wizarding community, but Harry soon comes to dislike his celebrity status that causes many people to either fawn over him or be resentful. In Diagon Alley, Harry buys a wand at Olivander's wand shop. Mr Olivander tells him it is the "brother" to the wand owned by "He Who Must Not Be Named". Both contain a tail feather from the same phoenix. For his birthday, Hagrid gives Harry an owl, that Harry names Hedwig. He also tells Harry that his parents, James and Lily Potter, left him a small fortune.

At Hogwarts, Harry is sorted into Gryffindor House, where he becomes friends with Ron Weasley, and eventually Hermione Granger. Sharing his dormitory are Ron, Neville Longbottom, Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas. Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin, becomes Harry's enemy after Harry rebuffs his offer of friendship. Malfoy's pureblood airs and scathing remarks about the Weasley family and Muggle-born students alienate Harry. Due to his flying skill on a broom, Harry becomes the youngest Seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch team in over a century. At Christmas, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore gives him his father's old invisibility cloak.

Unfortunately, Lord Voldemort (long presumed dead) has secretly returned. Using Defence against the Dark Arts Professor Quirinus Quirrell as a host body, he searches Hogwarts for the Philosopher's Stone, which he believes will restore his body and make him immortal. Voldemort is thwarted by Harry, with help from Ron and Hermione. The Dark Lord abandons Quirrell, leaving him to die.

At year's end, Hagrid presents Harry an album filled with photos of his parents that were donated by friends. Harry returns to the Dursleys knowing for the first time that there are people who care about him, and he now has a place he considers “home".

[edit] Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry faces more challenges. Some are merely annoying (such as Gilderoy Lockhart's attempt to exploit his fame and Colin Creevey's hero worshipping), but more serious incidents include ostracism by many students after Harry is revealed to be a parselmouth (someone who has the ability to speak with snakes) and a growing suspicion that he may be the Heir of Slytherin. The Heir is believed responsible for a series of attacks on Muggle-borns throughout the school. Harry’s toughest challenge, however, is posed by Tom Riddle, the "memory" of a younger Voldemort hidden within his old diary [3]. After taking control of Ginny Weasley through the diary, Riddle uses her to release a deadly basilisk from the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry proves his mettle in the book's climax by rescuing Ginny from the Chamber and killing the Basilisk with Godric Gryffindor's sword. Riddle's memory is defeated when Harry stabs the diary with the Basilisk's venomous fang, destroying both the diary and Riddle's imprint. Harry subsequently wins an award for Special Services to the School; he also tricks Lucius Malfoy into freeing his house elf, Dobby, who helped Harry.

[edit] Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry undergoes many changes — the constant danger and horrific events take a heavy emotional toll. Harry also enters puberty, as do Ron and Hermione, and all suffer mood-swings. When Harry and Ron start noticing girls, Cho Chang, a pretty Ravenclaw student, becomes Harry's first crush. Lacking his guardians' written permission, Harry is unable join the student outings to Hogsmeade village. Fred and George Weasley, however, give him their Marauder's Map, a magical document showing secret passageways in and out of Hogwarts, as well as every person's location within the castle. Harry uses a tunnel to slip into Hogsmeade wearing his invisibility cloak. During a Quidditch game, Harry falls off his Nimbus Two Thousand broom, which is destroyed when it flies into the Whomping Willow. At Christmas, he receives a new Firebolt broom from an unknown person, although McGonagall confiscates it to have it tested for Dark Magic.

Harry is the supposed target of Sirius Black, a murderous wizard who escaped from Azkaban (Britain's wizarding prison). Hunting Black are strange hooded creatures called Dementors, the guards of Azkaban. Black is believed to have divulged James and Lily Potter's secret whereabouts to Lord Voldemort, and he was convicted of murdering their friend, Peter Pettigrew and twelve Muggles. More disturbing — Sirius was James' best friend and Harry's godfather. Harry vows to find and kill Black but eventually discovers that Sirius never betrayed his parents— it was Peter Pettigrew, who faked his own death and implicated Black for the crimes.

Sirius offers Harry what he most wants: a home away from the Dursleys. Harry eagerly accepts, only to lose this opportunity when Pettigrew—and the truth—escape. An innocent Sirius is forced back into hiding. When Harry receives a brief note from Sirius, he learns it was his godfather who sent him the Firebolt, which McGonagall has since returned.

[edit] Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry struggles to maintain hold of his wand during the Priori Incantatem
Harry struggles to maintain hold of his wand during the Priori Incantatem

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hogwarts hosts an inter-school competition called the Triwizard Tournament. Two other wizarding schools, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang Institute, are also participating. After one champion from each school is selected, Harry is mysteriously chosen as a fourth competitor, even though he is underage and never entered his name into the Goblet of Fire.

The school champions face three dangerous challenges on their way to the Triwizard Cup. Although most students, including Ron Weasley, believe Harry cheated to enter, Hogwarts champion Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff befriends him after Harry passes on a tip about the first challenge. Harry also experiences romantic feelings and copes with complicated personal relationships. Shortly before Christmas, a dismayed Harry learns he is required to attend the Yule Ball.

During the final challenge, Cedric and Harry help each other and agree to grab the Cup simultaneously, unaware it is actually a Portkey. It transports them to a graveyard where Lord Voldemort awaits. On Voldemort's order, his servant, Peter Pettigrew, kills Cedric with the Avada Kedavra curse. Harry is bound to a tombstone and forced to witness a ritual (which uses his blood) that restores Lord Voldemort to his old body.

After summoning his Death Eaters, Voldemort engages Harry in a deadly wizard's duel. But unknown to him, his wand and Harry's are "brothers": each contains a feather from Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes. The wands' magical streams interlock and produce a Priori Incantatem effect. Harry forces the stream backwards into Voldemort's wand, causing its victims' spirit "echoes" to spill out, including James and Lily Potter and Cedric Diggory. The combined spirits momentarily shield Harry, allowing him to escape through the Portkey with Cedric's body.

Back at Hogwarts, Harry discovers that Voldemort's servant, Barty Crouch Jr, has been impersonating Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, "Mad-Eye" Moody using polyjuice potion. It was Crouch who entered Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire and ensured he reached the Triwizard Cup. After rescuing Harry and the real Moody from Crouch, Dumbledore, Snape, and McGonagall use Veritaserum to force Barty's confession. But before it can be repeated to the authorities, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge orders a Dementor to suck out the imposter's soul. As a result, few believe Harry that Voldemort has returned.

[edit] Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix begins with Harry at the Dursleys' for the summer, desperate for news of the wizarding world and Voldemort. One night, he is attacked by Dementors and uses a Patronus Charm to defend himself and his Muggle cousin, Dudley, although underage wizards are forbidden to use magic outside school.

For safety, Harry is taken to Number 12, Grimmauld Place, a dilapidated house in London owned by his godfather Sirius Black that now serves as headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix. He learns the Order is preparing for Voldemort's return but is denied any detailed information. Ron and Hermione tell Harry that Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge has been waging a smear campaign against him and Dumbledore in The Daily Prophet, denouncing their claims that Lord Voldemort has returned.

Thanks to testimony from Dumbledore and Arabella Figg, Harry is cleared of illegally using magic. In retaliation against Dumbledore, Fudge appoints Dolores Umbridge as the new Hogwarts Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher so she can spy on the school. She is also appointed High Inquisitor, empowered to arbitrarily change and impose school rules. When Harry insists Voldemort is alive, Umbridge uses a pain-inflicting quill to try and force his renouncement, although he steadfastly refuses. Rather than teach practical defensive magic, Umbridge only lectures about Ministry-approved theory. Urged by Hermione, Harry secretly trains students in real Defence Against the Dark Arts. Although they call their group the Defence Association, the initials, D.A., eventually comes to mean Dumbledore's Army as a sarcastic affront to the paranoid Ministry of Magic. Umbridge uncovers the secret meetings, and, to protect the students, Dumbledore claims responsibility for founding it. In spectacular fashion, he escapes before Ministry officials can arrest him. Umbridge is then appointed Headmistress by the Minister.

(Left to right) Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
(Left to right) Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Throughout the year, Harry has disturbing visions that he eventually realises are glimpses into Voldemort's mind. When Voldemort becomes privy to their mental connection, he implants a false vision that Sirius is being tortured at the Ministry office in London. Harry and DA members Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood rush to Sirius' rescue.

The students are lured into the Department of Mysteries and ambushed by Voldemort's Death Eaters. They are outnumbered, but, tipped off by Snape, Order of the Phoenix reinforcements arrive in time. During the fight, a glass sphere containing a prophecy is smashed. To Harry's horror, Sirius is killed by his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange. Enraged, Harry chases Bellatrix into the atrium, vowing to kill her. Voldemort suddenly appears and attempts to fatally curse Harry, but Dumbledore arrives, and the two fiercely duel. Voldemort and Bellatrix escape by disapparating, but not before being seen by the Minister and Ministry employees.

The Ministry publicly acknowledges that Voldemort has returned. At Hogwarts, Dumbledore explains to Harry that the prophecy is why Voldemort attempted to murder him when he was a baby. He then recounts it for Harry, for it was Dumbledore who first heard it from Sibyll Trelawney. Still stunned by Sirius' death, Harry cares little about the prophecy, and for now, is unaffected by his foretold destiny—that he must either kill Voldemort, or be killed by him.

[edit] Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the wizarding population now calls Harry "The Chosen One" — the Daily Prophet having leaked that a prophecy predicts Harry will kill Voldemort. Meanwhile, Harry learns he has inherited Sirius Black's entire estate. This includes the house at Grimmauld Place that is currently being used as the Order of the Phoenix headquarters; he also inherits Kreacher, the Black family's half-crazed house elf, and the hippogriff, Buckbeak (renamed Witherwings). At the Burrow, Harry tells Ron and Hermione about the prophecy, but he refuses to help the new Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour.

After observing Draco Malfoy acting suspiciously in Diagon Alley, Harry suspects he may have joined the Death Eaters. Ron and Hermione dismiss this as being absurd, however, and the subject strains Harry's relationship with them — particularly Hermione.

Back at Hogwarts, Harry is stunned when Professor Snape is announced as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. His vacant position has been filled by former Potions Master, Horace Slughorn, whom Dumbledore, with unknowing help from Harry, coaxed from retirement. Slughorn lends Harry an old potions textbook once belonging to a student identified only as "The Half-Blood Prince." The book's copious handwritten notes help Harry excel in Potions class. Meanwhile, Harry finds a new love interest, Ginny Weasley.

Dumbledore gives Harry private lessons which are actually trips into various individuals' memories concerning Voldemort. Stored in a Pensieve, the memories reveal Voldemort's personality and how to kill him. Harry learns Voldemort's soul has been divided into seven parts. Six pieces are hidden in objects called Horcruxes, while the seventh remains within him. Even if Voldemort's body is destroyed, he cannot be killed while his soul shards remain earthbound. The memories suggest what objects the Horcruxes have been placed in.

At Christmas, Harry overhears Snape and Draco discussing an Unbreakable Vow Snape has made to Narcissa Malfoy to help Draco complete a task for their "Master." Professor Dumbledore is unperturbed by this information, which frustrates Harry.

Harry accompanies Dumbledore to retrieve a Horcrux hidden inside a secret cave. Before leaving, Harry learns more about the prophecy from Trelawney—it was Snape who overheard and revealed it to Voldemort, although only the first half. Trelawney also mentions strange happenings inside the room of requirements, leading Harry to believe Draco is involved is some plot against Dumbledore. However, Dumbledore remains unconcerned, and their mission continues. They find the Horcrux, a locket, although Dumbledore is seriously weakened in the effort.

Dumbledore and Harry return to find the school invaded by Death Eaters. Harry, hidden under his invisibility cloak, is immobilised by Dumbledore when Draco confronts them on the Astronomy Tower. Death Eaters and Snape soon arrive. When Draco hesitates to kill Dumbledore, Snape intervenes and uses a killing curse, catapaulting Dumbledore's body over the tower wall. Unable to move, Harry can only watch in silent horror.

Released from the spell, Harry chases Snape, who identifies himself as the Half-Blood Prince. Snape deflects every curse Harry hurls at him but does not harm him and prevents the other Death Eaters from doing so. He escapes with Draco in tow. Harry recovers the locket from Dumbledore's body, but a note inside reveals it is a fake; the real Horcrux has been stolen by someone whose initials are R.A.B..

After Dumbledore's funeral, Harry tells Ron and Hermione he is leaving Hogwarts to search for Voldemort's four remaining Horcruxes. Two have been destroyed — one (Riddle's diary) by Harry and another (a ring) by Dumbledore — and the mysterious R.A.B. may have eliminated a third (the locket). Harry also desires revenge, now hating Snape as much as he does Voldemort. To protect Ginny from Voldemort, he ends their relationship. Ron and Hermione tell Harry they are joining him.

The reaffirmation of Ron and Hermione's loyalty to Harry follows a year when the trio's deep bonds were strongly tested. This gesture, along with Harry’s approaching 17th birthday (the age of adulthood in the wizarding world), and Hogwarts' possible closure symbolises the end of any childhood innocence remaining within the characters. They are nearly adults, ready to face Voldemort together.

[edit] Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Information regarding what is known about the unpublished last book of the series can be found in the article Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

[edit] Character and relationships

Being raised in the Dursleys household with no love for him or for magic, Harry’s primary desire is to be among those who care for him and for loved ones to be safe from harm. This, he realises as the series progresses, is impossible while Voldemort is alive. Curious about the wizarding world, he often takes on adventures that put himself at risk; but he usually tries to convince his friends not to endanger themselves by accompanying him. Nevertheless, his most loyal friends refuse to let him face challenges alone.

Harry is easily angered when those he cares for are insulted or threatened. He has little tolerance for anyone he perceives to be on "the other side" — whether these be Death Eaters, people disbelieving his testimony to Dumbledore at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, or some Slytherins. Like his friend Ron, Harry is not always a diligent student, often relying on Hermione for help. Harry has also developed a cutting, sardonic sense of humor, with a tendency to turn other's insults against them.

Some of Harry's faults can be attributed to the many calamities in his life. Harry has personally witnessed five murders and has been forced to relive his earliest and arguably most terrifying memory - the murder of his parents as they faced Voldemort. He was present when fellow student Cedric Diggory was killed by Peter Pettigrew, saw his godfather Sirius Black sent to his death by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic, and witnessed his greatest protector and mentor, Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore die at the hands of Severus Snape. Thus far, Harry has confronted Voldemort five times, counting Voldemort's initial attempt on his life as an infant, and has been tortured by him with the Cruciatus Curse.

For most of his early life, Harry has contended with his cruel and insensitive guardians, the Dursleys, who take every opportunity to denigrate Harry, his parents, and the magical world. In his second year his fellow students suspect him of harming several of their number. In his fourth year he was accused of cheating to enter the triwizard tournament. In his fifth year, he endures most of the wizarding world turning against him, believing him to be an attention-seeking liar and fraud; he thus becomes isolated and is taunted by students.

Harry also copes with the usual teenage difficulties in relationships. For example, even though he easily forms close friendships with Hermione and Ron, he has great difficulty asking out Cho Chang, a pretty Ravenclaw. Sometimes Harry gets impatient and even angry with Ron and Hermione, especially when they argue with each other. However, their friendship strengthens over the years, with Rowling saying that Harry has effectively adopted Ron and Hermione as a surrogate family[2]. During their sixth year, when Ron and Hermione have a serious argument, Harry is determined to remain friends with both, which (despite him still seeing Ron as his best friend) indicates that Ron and Hermione are now more equal in his life; in a similar situation in their third year, Harry chose to remain friends with Ron at the expense of his friendship with Hermione.

Harry develops many close relationships with adults, particularly Rubeus Hagrid and Albus Dumbledore. The Weasley family become a surrogate family with whom Harry periodically stays. Mrs Weasley in particular becomes something of a mother figure; she thinks of him as a son, and to some extent treats him even more kindly than she does her own children. Similarly, the Weasley boys generally treat Harry as another brother, and Mr Weasley shows a paternal fondness for Harry. When Harry learns of the close relationship between Sirius Black and his parents, Harry looks to him as yet another father figure. Harry also strongly favours former Defence Against the Dark Arts professor Remus Lupin, one of the Marauders, and another of his father's close friends.

Harry is loyal to his friends and expects loyalty in return, although this trait often prevents Harry from being objective. He tends to follow his instincts, feeling strongly about whom he can and cannot (or will not) trust. For example, from their first meeting, Harry is reluctant to show any trust for Severus Snape, the Potions Master, despite Dumbledore's unwavering confidence in him.

[edit] Romantic relationships

Harry's platonic relationship with his closest female friend, Hermione Granger, is occasionally misinterpreted by some characters. Viktor Krum, who is romantically interested in Hermione, grows jealous in Goblet of Fire because she often talks about Harry; Rita Skeeter, an unethical tabloid journalist, uses the nonexistent "love triangle" between Harry, Hermione and Viktor as juicy story material for the Witch Weekly. When Cho Chang becomes Harry's actual girlfriend (of a kind) in Order of the Phoenix, she also misunderstands their friendship, failing to recognise that Skeeter's articles were pure fabrication. Harry and Hermione have only ever been platonic friends, and no romantic feelings exist. In an interview given to fansites The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet, Rowling revealed that Harry sees Ron and Hermione as his adopted siblings. In another interview Rowling clearly stated, "We now know that it's Ron and Hermione."

Harry's relationship with Cho has roots as early as Prisoner of Azkaban, where he notices how pretty she is and becomes nervous in her presence. A year later, his interest becomes a crush, and he gathers courage to ask her to the Yule Ball, only to learn she is attending with Cedric Diggory. Cho and Cedric are tragically torn apart by his death at the end of Goblet of Fire. The following year, Harry becomes Cho's new focus when she, still struggling with Cedric's death, turns to him for support. He manages an on-and-off relationship with her throughout the year, even getting his first kiss with her, but ultimately, the relationship cannot endure. The disparate teens are not looking for or experiencing the same things; a still grieving Cho sees Harry as a substitute for Cedric, unable to accept that he is gone. Harry expects a simpler relationship that would relieve his stress rather than amplify it.

Cho's misplaced jealousy of Hermione (who was actually advising Harry and was concerned he was insensitive with Cho) also adds to this dissonance and reaches a breaking point when Cho defends Marietta Edgecombe who betrayed Dumbledore's Army, an action Harry finds unforgivable. After a heated argument over Marietta, Cho's eyes sparkle with tears. When Harry warns he won't tolerate her crying anymore, an insulted Cho stomps off angrily, after which they drift apart. By the end of Order of the Phoenix, Harry has no emotions left for Cho, and she now belongs in his "other universe" that he left behind with Sirius' death. Comments Rowling, "They were never going to be happy, it was better that it ended early!" [3]

Harry's failed relationship with Cho is a contrast to his eventual one with Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister, who Rowling says is Harry's "ideal girl" and "total equal". Ginny's unrequited crush on Harry, introduced in Chamber of Secrets and continuing into Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire, apparently fades in Order of the Phoenix with Hermione off-handedly informing Harry that Ginny "gave up" on him. She indeed appears to have done just that; her shyness around Harry disappears, and he finally interacts with the girl who, according to Ron, "never shuts up normally". Harry was generally kind with Ginny and her crush on him, but he simply didn't reciprocate her feelings. During his fifth year, Ginny often put the moody and temperamental Harry in his place and is perhaps the most successful dealing with his dark moods. When a disillusioned Harry realises his father was indeed as arrogant as Snape always said, he turns to Ginny to discuss it, trusting she will be non-judgmental. The fact that both have been "tainted" by close encounters with Voldemort which they struggle to overcome is a binding force between them, as is their similar sense of humour.

In Half-Blood Prince, it is Harry who develops unrequited feelings for an apparently uninterested Ginny, which he struggles with throughout the year, including jealousy of her boyfriend, Dean Thomas (although he never openly shows it). Ron vocally disapproves of Ginny's relationship with Dean, which Harry interprets as him objecting to her having any boyfriend. He worries he will have to choose between a relationship with Ginny and his friendship with Ron, but his pessimism is unfounded: Ginny and Dean break up (aided by Harry’s use of Felix Felicis, a good luck potion). Swept up in the high of Gryffindor's Quidditch Cup victory, Harry spontaneously kisses Ginny in front of the entire Common Room. Ron ultimately expresses his approval. Harry's time with Ginny over the next few weeks is described as making him "happier than he could remember being for a very long time".

By the end of Half-Blood Prince, however, Harry ends the relationship to ensure Ginny's safety, fearing Voldemort will target her. Although Ginny accepts this, she confesses that she never truly gave up on him. Harry is pleased she learned to be herself around him, allowing him to get to know the real Ginny Weasley and see her for what Rowling has described as Harry's "ideal woman."

[edit] Strengths

Generally, in spite of his late start, he has become an exceptionally powerful wizard for his age: with combat skills unrivalled by any in his age group, due largely to Voldemort "marking him as his equal", and the ability to love, as mentioned above.

[edit] Interpersonal

One of Harry's greatest strengths is his ability to love others despite continuous grief and hardship in his life. His substantial leadership skills and ability to teach his classmates (Dumbledore's Army) Defence Against the Dark Arts enables them to defend themselves against Death Eaters during the Battle of the Ministry). His ability to inspire loyalty ensures that he is surrounded by friends whose skills complement his own and who would willingly risk their own lives to defend him. This is in contrast to Voldemort's Death Eaters, who serve him out of fear.

[edit] Character traits

At various times through the series, Harry has shown the ability to remain level-headed, retain his composure, and perform advanced feats of wizardry during moments of extreme crisis. He is clever-minded and quick-witted; has very strong intuition; can make great 'mental' leaps while under enormous stress; generally has a sense of humour and a positive outlook on life despite the burdens placed on him. He has been shown to be fiercely determined and self-reliant, almost to a fault, although beginning with the fourth book this has been viewed by some people as a tendency to "play the hero".[HP4]

[edit] Academic and athletic

Generally, he receives average-to-admirable marks in most classes (especially Defence Against the Dark Arts) from fair and/or competent teachers (Professor Lupin was technically fair in marking Harry's grade and tests). In the OWL's, without the pressure of dealing with classroom teachers, Harry performed well, as evidenced by his results. He can also use certain spells successfully after watching others perform them just once. For example, in Book Two he successfully performs the Expelliarmus spell without any practice, having watched Snape perform it several months earlier. He also masters several of the Half-Blood Prince's spells without any lessons at all. Harry was even able to perform the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix Lestrange, even though it only had a fraction of its actual power.

Athletically, despite having never ridden a broomstick before attending Hogwarts, Harry has made use of the talent he inherited from his father, James, and rigorous training by team captains Oliver Wood and Angelina Johnson, to become a successful Quidditch player. Harry has been Gryffindor's Seeker up to his sixth year when he is made the Quidditch captain in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Superlative reflexes, born of his Quidditch training, allow him to dodge curses.

Although Harry is commended for his Quidditch abilities, he has only participated in one Quidditich Cup final. In his first year, he is injured, and Gryffindor loses the Cup. In his second year, the Cup is cancelled because of the Basilisk attacks on the school. The next year, in Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry plays and wins the first Quidditch House Cup for Gryffindor. In his fourth year, there is no Quidditch throughout the year due to the Triwizard Tournament. The following year, Harry is banned from Quidditch by Dolores Umbridge early in the season. In his sixth year, Harry is held in detention by Snape on the day of the match, and the Gryffindor team wins the Cup without him. And it has been confirmed by J.K. Rowling that there will be no Quidditch in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

[edit] Magical

Harry has a number of unusual traits and talents as a wizard.

  • The lightning-bolt scar on his forehead is a remnant of Voldemort's murder attempt when he was an infant. The scar serves him later at Hogwarts, burning painfully as an indicator of Voldemort's presence, or whenever the Dark Lord is feeling particularly murderous or exultant. According to Rowling, by attacking Harry, Voldemort gave him "tools (that) no other wizard possessed – the scar and the ability it conferred, a magical window into Voldemort's mind." [4]
  • Harry is a Parselmouth: Harry is able to communicate with snakes, an art both associated with Dark wizards and inherited by descendants of Salazar Slytherin. Albus Dumbledore noted that the gift is merely a useful tool rather than an 'evil' power. Again, he gained this ability from Voldemort himself who, according to Dumbledore, unwillingly transferred some of his powers to Harry when he tried to kill him.
  • One of a small percentage of the magical population capable of successfully (and repeatedly) casting a corporeal Patronus Charm to banish Dementors from his presence. Harry learned this at an extraordinarily early age. Harry's corporeal Patronus takes the form of a stag (his father's Animagus form). Many others see this as impressive, and it earns him a bonus point in his OWL test for Defence Against the Dark Arts.
  • Due to great practice in dueling, Harry has developed exceptional wizard dueling skills, able to overpower numerous Death Eaters, even with their knowledge of the Dark Arts and years of experience.
  • Harry is an excellent broomsman. This is another parallel drawn between Harry and his father James, who was also an exceptional Quidditch player. Harry can outfly anyone in the school, even impressing professional Quidditch player Viktor Krum.

[edit] Weaknesses

[edit] Character flaws

Harry generally has trouble dealing with emotions and can experience near-extreme mood swings. He has trouble opening up to others, attempts to solve everything by himself, and veers between self-doubt and over-confidence; he has moments of low self-esteem due to poor treatment by the Dursleys, but these are very few and do not last long.

He can undervalue his friends - prefering to "do it alone" in dangerous situations; his heroic nature often causes him to rush into situations without first assessing the dangers, making him dangerously predictable to his enemies. Hermione Granger describes him as having a 'saving-people thing'. He can be sensitive when he is disbelieved in difficult-to-believe situations. Also playing to his disadvantage is his tendency to make leaps of judgment, as in the sixth book when he suspected Draco Malfoy was a Death Eater and tried to convince others.

At the other end of the spectrum, Harry can be easily angered when derogatory comments are directed to his parents or friends. In his anger and his shame, he can sometimes do impressive damage to an enemy without consciously meaning to (Sectumsempra is an example). He often refuses to accept advice or criticism either from someone he doesn't like, such as Severus Snape, or those with whom he disagrees. As he gets older (and experiences more terrible events), his anger and hatred grow colder and harder, and he increasingly gives way to dark feelings. More than once he attempted to torture a Death Eater with the Cruciatus Curse. Harry has clearly been scarred by the horrific events in his life which manifests itself in his anger. This may partially be due to typical teenage angst, in addition to Voldemort's projecting thoughts/feelings into Harry's mind. In Half-Blood Prince, Voldemort had stopped doing this, making Harry less ill-tempered.

[edit] Other weaknesses

While Harry (initially) lacks intellectual curiosity, rarely taking the initiative to learn new spells and powers that he is capable of performing unless he needs to, he shows curiosity in almost everything else. More than once Harry has been reprimanded for wandering the school corridors after hours.

Harry is extremely visually impaired; he perpetually wears glasses, which cost him an important faculty in his development.

He is a mediocre student (for his potential); until his OWLS, he barely gets higher than average standardised test scores, though he receives high marks in Defence Against the Dark Arts.

[edit] Magical

There are a number of magical skills that Harry has yet to master:

  • Harry has difficulty consciously performing non-verbal magic. However, this may have been due to a mental block and a hatred for his unfair and cruel teacher (Snape). Yet he is able to perform a small amount of non-verbal magic when he practices on his own, especially Levicorpus.
  • Similarly, he has difficulty with wandless magic. However, in Book 5, he achieves a successful wandless Lumos.
  • Snape attempted to teach Harry Occlumency through the use of Legilimency. Although Harry learned some of the basics in each, overall he had a poor success rate. Rowling says this is because Harry has been "too damaged" in some ways, and his emotions are always too close to the surface to be suppressed.
  • Harry cannot non-verbally block or parry strong spells (although he is masterful in using the Shield Charm, Protego, aloud). Several of Harry's enemies, including Snape and Voldemort, are able to do this. Snape suggests that blocking is connected to Occlumency and non-verbal magic (see above); this might, however, be construed as Snape using Legilimency to anticipate what spells Harry intends to use.
  • Harry has yet to show any aptitude for developing new magic. In contrast, Voldemort, Snape, James Potter, and Fred and George Weasley had all developed new charms, potions, etc. at his age. Given Harry's lack of exposure to the Magical world and the Dursleys' attempts to suppress his magical heritage, this isn't entirely his fault. It also does not mean he is incapable; he simply has not done so yet.
  • While Dumbledore uses his sensitivity to magic to explore a magical cave, Harry appears to be insensitive to its presence, although he may have perceived a small amount within the cave.
  • Harry shows weakness in some classes, including Potions, History of Magic, and Divination, which results in poor knowledge and ability in these magical branches. However, the corresponding instructors are half-responsible for this. In Potions class (and elsewhere), Professor Snape constantly antagonises and insults Harry. In History of Magic, Professor Binns is so boring that only Hermione can withstand his droning teaching manner, and even she lapses occasionally. In Divination class, Professor Trelawney constantly predicts his doom, which only adds to Harry's discomfort and disgust for the class.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Harry's eyes are described as green in the novels, although actor Daniel Radcliffe, who plays him in the film adaptations, has blue eyes. The contacts he had been given to wear irritated his eyes and were not comfortable to wear.
  2. ^ Book Magazine Harry Potter among best characters in fiction since 1900, npr.com
  3. ^ See Horcrux

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Angelina Johnson
Gryffindor Quidditch Captain
August, 1996 - June, 1997
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Charlie Weasley
Gryffindor Seeker
September, 1991 - November, 1995
Succeeded by
Ginny Weasley
Preceded by
Ginny Weasley
Gryffindor Seeker
June, 1996 - June, 1997
Succeeded by
Main characters
Harry Potter | Ron Weasley | Hermione Granger | Lord Voldemort | Albus Dumbledore | Severus Snape
Hogwarts staff and students
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Staff: Rubeus Hagrid | Dolores Umbridge | Minerva McGonagall | Gilderoy Lockhart | Quirinus Quirrell | Armando Dippet | Phineas Nigellus Black | Remus Lupin | Filius Flitwick | Horace Slughorn | Pomona Sprout
James and Lily Potter | Potter-Evans family | Weasley family | Arthur Weasley | Molly Weasley | Bill Weasley | Charlie Weasley | Fleur Delacour | Dursley family | Riddle family | Black family tree | Narcissa Malfoy | Tobias Snape and Eileen Prince
Order of the Phoenix members
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Cornelius Fudge | Barty Crouch Sr | Ludovic Bagman | Alastor Moody | Rufus Scrimgeour | Nymphadora Tonks | Kingsley Shacklebolt
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Minor characters associated with Quidditch | Hogwarts ghosts | Historical characters | Lucius Malfoy | Dobby | Moaning Myrtle | Peeves | Dark wizards | Sirius Black | Half-Blood Prince | Rita Skeeter | Viktor Krum | Nagini | Peter Pettigrew | Mr Ollivander | Fawkes | Bellatrix Lestrange