Today we celebrate Harry Potter, since the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published exactly twenty years ago on the 26th of June 1997. Bloomsbury released special house editions for the occasion.
You’ll see Harry Potter pop up basically everywhere and The Story Burrow has no intention of being an exception. In celebration of the 20th anniversary, I’m sharing my 20 most favourite Harry Potter moments from the entire series. You can read part one first, or start part two immediately and turn to the other post later, if you feel like. It goes without saying that this post contains spoilers.
Dumbledore’s Army fight Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
Voldemort set up a trap for Harry by manipulating his brain into thinking that Sirius Black needed rescuing which unfortunately lead to the death of the latter. I was never a huge supporter of Sirius so his passing didn’t affect me too much and the tragic event does not alter the fact that the battle at the Ministry of Magic was epic to read. Finally, after four books it was no longer a fight between Harry and Voldemort. His friends are fighting alongside him.
That’s what I admire in that scene of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They are just teenagers, nowhere near fully trained wizards, but they’ve got courage and friendship. Sure, it was a bold, unnecessary mission, but it showcased the characters’ strength and I really believe that for Neville Longbottom in particular it’s been an essential step in his growth to heroism.
The Rage of Molly Weasley (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows)
If you were to ask Potter fans for their favourite line of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows at least half of them would answer with ‘Not my daughter, you bitch!’. Not necessarily because Molly Weasley used strong language, but because this was it. This was her moment.
J.K. Rowling has been foreshadowing the entire series that a caring mother is not to be tampered with. Molly Weasley always stayed in the background and didn’t get to show her skills beyond cooking and housework. When given the change, though, Molly Weasley proves herself a remarkably strong witch. No curse is more powerful than the rage of a mother. Something that Bellatrix Lestrange learned the hard way.
Neville stands up to Voldemort (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
We’ve had to wait a long time for Neville Longbottom to grow into a proper hero, but when he did, he took it on with bravado. I’ve always had a soft spot for the shy and clumsy Neville, so I was really pleased with the part he got to play in the final battle. He stood up to Voldemort when everyone else was retreating in fear (‘I’ll join you when hell freezes over’) and killed Nagini as a true Gryffindor. Some fans would have liked Neville to be the one to kill Bellatrix. I agree that it would have been a satisfying revenge for him, but looking at his share in the final battle, he can hardly complain.
It’s a million steps from his first act of bravery in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when he was awarded ten points to Gryffindor for standing up to his friends and consequently secured the House Cup. They grow up so fast, don’t they?
Dumbledore and McGonagall deliver Harry at the Dursleys (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
This is by far my favourite scene from the first Harry Potter book, not least because J.K. Rowling worked so hard to get this chapter right, trying to find the perfect balance between showing her world and not revealing too much about her plot.
It excels in characterisation. In a few pages we get a sense of Dumbledore, McGonagall and even Hagrid’s personality. Moreover, we get a lot of information about the story, their world and Harry Potter and Voldemort. I can definitely see why this proved a tricky part for J.K. Rowling to write. Yet, she does it so wonderfully that I instantly fall in love with all three of them (Dumbledore, McGonagall and Hagrid).
‘Would you care for a sherbet lemon?’
‘A sherbet lemon. They’re a kind of Muggle sweet I’m rather fond of.’
‘No, thank you,’ said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn’t think this was the moment for sherbet lemons.
Harry walks into the arms of death (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Once Harry Potter learns his destiny from Snape’s memories, he sets on a journey towards his own death. This last walk to the Forbidden Forest is as powerful and heartbreaking as children’s books get. I would never name Harry as my favourite character, but he scored a lot of respect for the bravery he’s shown at that point. I believe that knowingly walking towards your death is more courageous than any battle he’s ever fought.
This alone is worth a mention, but it’s followed by another classy scene at King’s Cross. Here’s where the final mysteries get solved and the reader is treated to one last encounter with the wise Albus Dumbledore. It’s pure, beautiful and it contains my favourite quote: ‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’
Hagrid’s love for Aragog (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets/Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
Rubeus Hagrid’s love for dangerous pets has been a running gag in the Harry Potter series. There was Fluffy (the giant three-headed dog), Norbert(a) (the Norwegian Ridgeback dragon), Buckbeak (the Hippogriff), Aragog (the Acromantula), and his own creation the Blast-Ended Skrewts. His Boarhound Fang being the exception in this company. He might look terrifying, but he’s utterly harmless.
There’s a lot to choose from, but especially Aragog caused a lot of reading pleasure and fright for the characters involved. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry and Ron have a rather unpleasant encounter with Aragog and were lucky to make it out of the Forbidden Forest alive. I’m not as terrified by spiders as Ron, but I think I might have fainted when put in front of Aragog. Especially in the movie the visit makes for some good jokes with Ron’s ‘Can we panic now?’ and ‘Why couldn’t it be follow the butterflies?’.
Later on in the series, Hagrid still doesn’t hold a grudge against Aragog and even goes as far as to organise a funeral for the Acromantula. It gives the story a whimsical, slightly hilarious twist while playing its part in the story arc. When analysing Harry Potter, this seems to be a recurring matter. Everything has a purpose to fulfill.
The Deathday Party (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
The Deathday Party is a brilliant scene in many ways. To begin with it’s yet another example to support the claim that J.K. Rowling is just as inventive as Roald Dahl. She exploits the opportunities of her wizarding world and uses them to her advantage. Take Floo Powder for example. At a first glance it’s just an original way of travelling that J.K. Rowling came up with, but at the same time she benefits from it by putting Harry in a spot he wouldn’t be in otherwise and thus helping her plot move forward.
The same goes for the Deathday Party. It might seem just a nice little quirk from the author, but in essence it’s a plot device. She distracts the reader with the enjoyment of the event while making sure that the trio stays well away of the Great Hall (as you might remember that was necessary to get them to discover the Basilisk’s first victim). It’s more than a diversion, though. The Deathday Party is also an excellent occasion to provide information about ghosts and to introduce Moaning Myrtle, who has an important part to play later in the novel.
The Seven Potters (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
I would like to say that this is the best scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I can’t, since the entire book is a rollercoaster of epicness. Having said that, from an author’s point of view it’s an interesting scene. You’ve got seven identical looking characters and you’re left with the task of making them unique and true to their personality whilst having them convincingly act their role as Harry Potter. In the movie, Daniel Radcliffe exceled as an actor during this bit. How easy it seems to mimic someone by using only a few gestures.
Fred and George turned to each other and said together, ‘Wow – we’re identical!’
‘I dunno, though, I think I’m still better-looking,’ said Fred, examining his reflection in the kettle.
‘Bah,’ said Fleur, checking herself in the microwave door, ‘Bill, don’t look at me – I’m ‘ideous.’
The escape from Privet Drive is when it gets really scary. It might have been just as unnerving as the Battle of Hogwarts, especially as the chapter title read Fallen Warrior. I was so frightened for my favourite characters to die that I felt actually relieved when it was only Alastor Moody who didn’t make it. I mean, I was still in shock over Hedwig’s death. I couldn’t take any more at that point.
Harry blows up Aunt Marge (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
Harry Potter is getting increasingly annoyed with the Dursleys. He only just manages to cope with Vernon, Dudley and Petunia, but when aunt Marge comes to visit, that’s one sceptic too many. She keeps teasing him, as if she wants him to lose his temper. When it finally happens, she’s taken aback. Who wouldn’t when you’re quickly blowing up and drifting off into the night’s sky? She deserved what she got of course.
While this little scene is pretty funny, it’s once again a trick of the author to put Harry Potter on the right path. It’s essential that the reader gets familiar with the tension among wizards over the escape of mass murderer Sirius Black. So we get on the Knight Bus where Harry is told about this mysterious and scary wizard. To make sure we get the severity of the Azkaban escape J.K. Rowling sends Cornelius Fudge to the Leaky Cauldron. By then, we’re convinced that Sirius Black will prove to be a serious threat.
The introduction of Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
I wanted to select one scene where Luna really shines and blows anyone away, but the power of Luna Lovegood lies in small things. The actions she’s taking, the things she’s saying. Other than some of the moments I’ve mentioned so far, the introduction of Luna Lovegood wasn’t a direct tool to enhance the plot. I might need to reread the book, but as far as I can remember Luna Lovegood is not a crucial pillar in the story arc of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Even so, we wouldn’t want to miss her for the world. I think that J.K. Rowling did herself and her readers a favour by adding her to the story. How much fun it must have been to write Luna Lovegood.
She was spot on from the very first second. It’s too much to quote, but as we’re celebrating Harry Potter, why don’t you reread chapter ten from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Luna Lovegood. You’ll have a blast, I’m sure.
What about you guys? What are your favourite moments? Who or what do you miss moving on from Harry Potter?
Have a bookish day!