Characters in Harry Potter

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The characters in the fictional universe of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series are both numerous and varied in skill, background and ideology. Below is a partial list of the primary people encountered in the books.


Main Characters

Harry Potter

Harry James Potter is the protagonist of the series, a young wizard who is studying magic at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead marks where a spell rebounded towards him during a fatal attack on his parents at his childhood home. He is raised by his Muggle (non-magic) relatives after the death of his parents, completely unaware of his wizarding background, until he receives his letter to attend Hogwarts on his 11th birthday. According to a prophecy given before his birth, Harry is destined to fight against the evil wizard who killed his parents. The book series follows Harry from ages 11 through 17.

Daniel Radcliffe played Harry in all eight movies.

Hermione Granger

Hermione Jean Granger is one of Harry's two closest friends and a student who, like Harry, was "sorted" into Gryffindor House. She is portrayed as remarkably studious, relying on books and knowledge over instinct.

She is played in all eight movies by Emma Watson.

Ron Weasley

Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is one of Harry's two closest friends, and is also in Gryffindor House. He is portrayed as a brave and noble character; however he constantly feels overshadowed by Harry's fame and success, which leads to a split between the two. They reconcile towards the end of the last book, and remain friends into adulthood.

Rupert Grint played Ron in all eight of the movies.

Lord Voldemort

Lord Voldemort (born Tom Marvolo Riddle and also known as "He Who Must Not Be Named" or "The Dark Lord") is the evil wizard and principle antagonist in the series. Like Harry, he went to Hogwarts; unlike Harry, he was in Slytherin House. Prior to and just after Harry's birth, Voldemort and his followers, known as Death Eaters, attempted to take over the wizarding world. During the attack on the Potters' home, a curse rebounded on Voldemort, and he became disembodied. In the first books of the series, he schemes to be resurrected and regain his former power, something which is achieved in the fourth book. He begins to rebuild his empire and continues his attacks on Harry in the final three books; however, at the height of his new power he is slain by Harry during an epic battle at Hogwarts.

Six different actors have played Voldemort at different stages of his life and/or forms.

Albus Dumbledore

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is, for the first 6 years of the series and an unspecified number of years before that, the Headmaster of Hogwarts as well as the founder and leader of the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore is an exceptionally powerful wizard, and he inspires trust and loyalty in Harry and fear in Voldemort. In his youth Dumbledore had his own experiences with dark magic, as he and Gellert Grindewald, a character that according to the author was Dumbledore's romantic interest, plotted to rid the world of half-blood wizards and witches, and take over the world. This ambition was ended when a three-way duel between himself, his brother, and his partner resulted in the death of his mute sister.

Richard Harris played Dumbledore in the first two movies. After Harris's death in 2002, Sir Michael Gambon was cast in the part. He appeared in the final six movies.

Secondary Characters

The Dursleys

The Dursleys are Harry's Muggle (non-magic) and only remaining relatives, who take him in after the death of his parents when he is one year old. They live at Number 4 Privet Lane, Little Whinging, in Surry, England.

Vernon Dursley

Vernon Dursley is the uncle and guardian of Harry Potter. He is the owner of a large drill company, and is a big man with a short neck and a large mustache. Vernon despises Harry and unlike his wife, is willing to kick Harry out of the Dursley home. Vernon constantly spoils his son, Dudley.

The part of Vernon, played by Richard Griffiths, appears in movies one through three, five, seven and eight.

Petunia Dursley

Petunia Dursley is the aunt and guardian of Harry Potter and the sister of Harry's mother, Lily. Her jealousy of Lily's magical abilities is reflected in the hostile attitude she shows towards her nephew in contrast to the loving and almost obsessive relationship with her son. She is described as a thin, horse-faced woman with a sour expression who spies on the neighbors.

Fiona Shaw played the adult Petunia in the movies.

Dudley Dursley

Dudley Dursley is the son of Vernon and Petunia Dursley and is the cousin of Harry Potter. He is portrayed as being a very large blond boy, and a sadistic and spoiled bully, who together with his gang victimizes a number of children their age, particularly Harry. He does show irregular displays of fear and empathy, and redeems himself at the end of the series by changing his attitude and expressing acceptance and gratitude towards his cousin.

Harry Melling played the part of Dudley in the movies.

Hogwarts staff

Argus Filch

Argus Filch is Hogwarts' cranky and cruel caretaker. Filch knows Hogwarts better than most, and he wants to keep it clean and in good order, which causes much discord between him and the students. He is a Squib (a person born to a wizarding family who is unable to perform magic), but can use certain magical items. Mrs. Norris is Filch's cat; she spies on the students and reports back to Filch about their transgressions.

David Bradley played Filch in the movies.

Filius Flitwick

Filius Flitwick is head of Ravenclaw House and also teaches Charms at Hogwarts. An old and short man, he has to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk; however his magical powers are expansive.

He is played by Warwick Davis in the movies.

Rubeus Hagrid

Rubeus Hagrid is the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. He is a half giant who was expelled from Hogwarts in his fifth year for apparently causing the death of another student; however, the student was actually murdered by Tom Riddle, who would later emerge as Lord Voldemort. Later in the series, Hagrid becomes a professor teaching Care of Magical Creatures when his predecessor retires in order to spend more time with his remaining limbs. Hagrid is a member of the Order of the Phoenix.

Robbie Coltrane played Hagrid in all eight movies.

Rolanda Hooch

Madame Rolanda Hooch teaches flying at Hogwarts. She also is the referee for Quiddich, a game wizards play while flying on brooms. She teaches Harry how to fly during his first year at Hogwarts.

Zoƫ Wanamaker played Hooch in the first movie; the character does not appear in the rest of the films.

Gilderoy Lockhart

Gilderoy Lockhart is the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Harry's second year at Hogwarts. Lockhart is a narcissistic braggart who has written several books bragging about heroic exploits he supposedly has accomplished. In fact, Lockhart is a coward who isn't very good at most magic except memory charms, which he has used to "borrow" other people's adventures for his books.

Kenneth Branagh played Lockhart in the second film.

Minerva McGonagall

Minerva McGonagall is the assistant Headmistress of Hogwarts. She is head of Gryffindor House and is also the Transfiguration teacher. She is usually rather strict but fair, and is occasionally seen bending the rules in order to achieve a just outcome. McGonagall is a registered Animagus (a witch or wizard capable of assuming animal form), and her silvery tabby cat form has markings similar to the square glasses McGonagall wears. She is also a member of the Order of the Phoenix.

McGonagall is played by Dame Maggie Smith in seven of the eight films. The only film in which she does not appear is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.

Professor Quirrell

Professor Quirrell is the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry's first year at Hogwarts. He speaks in a stutter, and has a timid personality. He also wears a turban. Harry and his friends believe that Professor Severus Snape is bullying Quirrell in order to get the Sorcerer's Stone and hand it to Voldemort.

However when Harry gets past Hagrid's monster and the spells blocking the stone to head Snape off, he is surprised to find Quirrell there, not Snape. Quirrell admits to Harry that he is the person who has planned to give the stone to Voldemort. He then removes his turban and reveals the spirit of Voldemort possesses his body and Voldemort's face appears on the back of Quirrel's head. Harry kills Quirrell and Voldemort flees.

Severus Snape

Severus Snape is teaches Potions but wants to become Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Snape is also head of Slytherin House, one of the four Hogwarts houses in the series. Snape is a ruthless bully as teacher and hates Harry Potter. He shows favoritism, consistently undermining efforts of students from other houses in his classes while consistently supporting efforts of students from his own house. His favorite student is Harry's nemesis Draco Malfoy. At the end of the series he is murdered by Voldemort.

Though his unsavory qualities are stressed through the majority of the series, Snape is depicted especially in the fifth and seventh books, as a sympathetic and even tragic character. He is a petty, grouchy jerk sometimes, [but ultimately] a self-sacrificing man who, while deeply flawed and not particularly pleasant, sought a path of redemption with bravery and devotion. Snape Theories

It is revealed in the fifth book that he was bullied constantly by James Potter, Harry's father, who Harry had previously thought could do no wrong. There are hints in the fifth and seventh books that Snape had a poor, and at time, abusive, upbringing.

In the seventh book, Snape is arguably the most heroic secondary character. It is shown that, though he was never able to reconcile his intense dislike of James Potter, and he never truly reconciles with Harry, he had consistently put his own life in considerable danger to protect Harry and Hogwarts in general. At the end of book 7, an older Harry says to his son, Albus Severus, that Snape was "probably the bravest man [I] ever knew."

J.K. Rowling has said that Snape is based on a cruel teacher she had, and is intended to illustrate the fact that many teachers abuse their power, which Snape does.

Alan Rickman played the adult Snape in the movies.

Madam Sprout

Madam Sprout is the head of Hufflepuff House at Hogwarts and is also the Herbology teacher.

Hogwarts students

Neville Longbottom

Neville Longbottom is in Gryffindor House at Hogwarts. He is a nice boy but is bullied and made fun of by some of the other characters, especially his classmate Draco Malfoy and Professor Snape. Eventually it is revealed that his parents fought against Voldemort the first time he came to power, and their minds were destroyed from magical torture. They are being cared for at St. Mungo's, a wizarding hospital. Neville appears slow, but is actually intelligent. He is great at herbology.

In the film adaptations, he is played by Matthew Lewis.

Draco Malfoy

Draco Malfoy is Harry's chief nemesis at their wizard school Hogwarts. He is a egotistical, ruthless bully. He comes from a rich family that has a history of supporting Voldemort. Draco's favorite teacher is Severus Snape. Draco fights Harry in the battle of Hogwarts but Harry saves his life from a fire.

Draco's first name is Latin for dragon, while his last name is from French "mal foi", literally "bad faith" or "evil faith". His father is named Lucius, which derives from Lucifer, another name for the devil.

In the film adaptations of the books Draco Malfoy is played by Tom Felton.

Pansy Parkinson

Pansy Parkinson is a Slytherin student at Hogwarts, who often displays a bullying nature.

In the movies she is played three different actresses. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she is played by Genivieve Gaunt. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she is played by Lauren Shotton. For the remainder of the films, she is played Scarlett Byrne.

Death Eaters (followers of Voldemort)

Lucius Malfoy

Lucius Malfoy is a rich aristocratic wizard, and as supporter of Voldemort, bears the Dark Mark of a Death Eater. He is the father of Harry's classmate and enemy Draco Malfoy.

In the Harry Potter films, he is portrayed by Jason Isaacs.

See also

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