Fairy tales are still the epitome of children's literature and widely read until this day. Ranging from the Grimm fairy tales to Perrault or Anderson and also British tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears or Jack and the Beanstalk.
Modern children's literature is currently on the rise, which can also be highly accredited to the Harry Potter books. Ever since their publication onward from the year 1997, writing children's literature has become en vogue. However, experts and readers alike have wondered how Harry Potter achieved what so little other books could. How could it engulf the whole world in a magic fever and become a huge star overnight?
Well, the answer to this question is manifold and complex; however, it appears to be evident that the plot appeals not through originality or creating something entirely new, but plucking up the things we already know and entangling them into a new, exciting story. Many children have said that Harry Potter is entirely relatable to them, which may also stem from the familiar patterns of literary fiction employed in the story.
A rather modern fairy tale, Harry Potter includes many well-known existing patterns of fairy tales and five of them are listed below. If you should think of another, I invite you to comment here or on Facebook.
The Orphan Hero
Orphans seem to bear a great deal of intrigue for a children's book hero. Think of the fairy tale heroes and heroines which, in the most famous at least, often are parent-less or subjected to a cruel stepmother. Think further to Dickens's Oliver Twist or David Copperfield and you will realise that orphans are, indeed, the preferred heroic figures in children's books.
Now, obviously we all know that Harry Potter, also, is an orphan. His parents were murdered by Lord Voldemort when Harry was barely one year old (one year and three months, to be exact). It is worthy to ask the question whether orphans appeal so much to children's stories because their home sphere, as such, is being robbed off them and they have to find their own voice in a cruel and cold world - making them the hero and giving them the strength they need to succeed.
The Idealised Mother Figure and An Unreliable Father
When the Grimm fairy tales were being collected, it was the 19th century. A time of Victorian virtues and a request to return to a more bucolic lifestyle. The figure of the mother was valued very high and almost untouchable. If you think of the stories, it is usually the mother who is described as utterly beautiful, kind and wise. She is the one which makes the loss for the orphan count, whereas the father figure is mostly perceived as weak and unreliable. Think of Cinderella, in which the mother dies shortly after giving birth and the father who lets the evil stepmother into the house and fails to protect his own daughter.
In Harry Potter, Lily Potter is almost a holy figure. We never learn about any of her flaws, she is described as endlessly kind, loyal and beautiful - inwardly and outwardly. James, however, despite being described as a lovely man and father, grows some complexity to his character when Harry realises his father was a bully in school and enjoyed making fun of other people, leading to Harry feeling even resentful towards him. Tom Riddle posing as the other orphan also encounters his father to be unreliable and untrustworthy - though his resentment leads him to murder.
Additionally, Sirius Black, Harry's godfather, also poses as a rather unreliable father figure, as do Hagrid, Dumbledore and Remus Lupin. The only reliable and thoroughly responsible father figure encountered is Arthur Weasley - which is probably also why Rowling decided to kill Lupin off instead of him.
The Evil Stepmother
In Harry Potter the reader is not confronted with an evil stepmother; however, his aunt Petunia, sister of his mother, and uncle Vernon come as close as it gets. In a rather Cinderellaesque manner, they let Harry do their menial household chores, humiliate him by letting him wear over-sized and old clothes and prefer their own offspring in a very unjust manner to Harry. Except from physical violence, Harry has to suffer pretty much from anything an evil stepmother would come up with and, again, poses as the idealised orphan hero you would also find in fairy tale stories like Cinderella in which the hero grows and retains their principles despite being treated like vermin.
The Knight in Shining Armour
Obviously Harry Potter does not get rescued by the knight in shining armour; however, Dumbledore "saves" him by sending the Hogwarts letter and Hagrid to his rescue. Harry, like fairy tale characters, is freed from his miserable life by an external force which whisks him away, but instead of living as a princess in a castle, he lives as a student of magic in a castle. This process is not triggered by Harry and our hero does not save himself, but gets introduced to a world, previously unknown to him and escapes the martyrdom of his evil guardians. Very fairy tale-esque in its patterns.
Appearances According to Good and Evil
Admittedly, this pattern is not as prominent in Harry Potter as in fairy tales, yet still note-worthy. In fairy tales, the outer appearance usually relates closely to whether a character is good or evil. We have hideous witches, abominable beasts or scratch-stricken thieves (like Bill Sikes) and in Harry Potter the evil characters usually are also easily discernible by their looks (the big evil ones at least). In his first appearance, Lord Voldemort is described as follows:
"Where there should have been a back to Quirrell's head, there was a face, the most terrible face Harry had ever seen. It was chalk white with glaring red eyes and slits for nostrils, like a snake." (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone). We know that Lord Voldemort when he was still Tom Riddle was a pretty handsome man; however, as in Beauty and the Beast, his perfect appearance was marred by his evilness.
Other evil characters in the books would be Bellatrix Lestrange or Fenrir Greyback. The latter is a werewolf who specialises in biting children and has developed a taste for human blood even when he is not transformed. His physique is described as wolf-like and feral with long yellow teeth and whiskers. Bellatrix Lestrange on the other side comes from the Black family and, like her cousin Sirius, was known to be very attractive. However, Azkaban and the Death Eater life have reduced her to a shadow of herself, her being described as follows, "She glared up at him through heavily lidded eyes, an arrogant, disdainful smile playing around her thin mouth. Like Sirius, she retained vestiges of great good looks, but something — perhaps Azkaban — had taken most of her beauty." (Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix)
It is arguable that because of these popular patterns, the Harry Potter books are as vastly popular and successful as they turned out to be. Despite the remaining fairy tale patterns, it should also be mentioned that many patterns work in reverse, such as strong female characters, an active hero who takes up action when needed and a complexity in evil characters which is rarely found in most fairy tales. Yet, it remains interesting to see how the basic patterns seem to persist well into modern children's literature.
If you haven't read the introductory feature on Graustein's Academy for Young Wizards and Witches, you can do so here, but this post is about some more facts you certainly didn't know about the hidden school in the Austrian Alps, which is for magical students from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Every school has its own rules and quirks, even though they all mostly resemble the oldest school ever created - Hogwarts.
Graustein's Academy, too, was heavily influenced by the ancient school in the north of the UK, yet there are some distinct differences and extra facts you should not miss about the German magic school.
Instead of seven years of study, Graustein's Academy spans over eight years, the last year focusing on Graustein's special magic - Ice Magic. Generally, students can leave the school with seventeen and also come full-of-age then, but most opt to study an extra year an hone their skills in the much coveted Ice Magic.
Aged seventeen, the students take the GMR (Generelle Magische Reife = General Magical Maturity) with which they officially finish their general magical education. After another year of study, they also obtain the EMA (Eismagie Auszeichnung = Ice Magic Award).
Graustein's Academy does not have four houses, but the students are sorted into the four elements air, earth, water and fire. Generally, magic in the German-speaking diaspora is still closely connected with nature and the elements.
The students spend their first year in the Academy where they start their basic education. At the end of the year, there is a sorting ceremony, in which the students choose the element which translates best to their powers. Students can be advised by teachers which element matches them best, but the choice is entirely the student's.
The four elements are related to the character of the student, rather than the powers itself. However, it was stated by Graustein that our powers are tied to our emotions and character and therefore some spells may work better for fire or water than air or earth, and vice versa.
Companionship and support among the four elements, unlike in Hogwarts, are strongly advised by the school and students are required to help another and also work together closely, as Graustein is convinced only a combination of the elements can master truly magnificent magic.
In in Austria, Germany or Switzerland, eagles are much more likely to deliver the post than owls because they are native birds there and very strong, which means they can lift heavy parcels and some very skilled exemplars even unconscious people.
Stay tuned for more Graustein content and a feature on the four elements.
It's been over twenty years since the wonderful young wizard entered and transformed all our lives. The seven books the author JK Rowling has gifted to the world are filled with intricate details, quirky character descriptions and a massive plethora of amazing and hate-worthy characters likewise. Yet, despite the phenomenal details readers have been given in the books, everyone knew that Rowling always knew more about the world than she would hand out, and over the past years following the completion of the series, she has regularly treated us to the one or other detail about Harry Potter on Twitter or Pottermore.
We learn additional information about the ongoing lives of the fabulous trio and the Wizarding World, as well as additional information about characters involved during the series and the plot, some simply mind-blowing, others note-worthy.
So here are seven things you most likely didn't know about Harry Potter yet.
1) What happened to Hannah Abbott
Now some of you may already wonder "who the heck is Hannah Abbott?". If so, you should consider re-reading the whole series and fill the voids in your head - or you can read on and let me explain.
Hannah Abbott is among the students who start at Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione. She is sorted into Hufflepuff and known as slightly chubby with blonde pigtails and rosy cheeks. She is kind and suffers from a personal tragedy when in book 6 it is revealed that her mother has been found dead and she departs from Hogwarts.
Becoming a grown-up woman, Hannah marries fellow student Neville Longbottom and becomes the landlady of the beloved pub The Leaky Cauldron (and, boy, would we love to be served by her kindness and warmth). Neville, as we all know, becomes Herbology teacher at Hogwarts and, to be closer to her husband, Hannah applies as the role of Matron there (but we don't know yet if she was successful).
2) Tonks's murderer
Among the most devastating deaths in the final battle are certainly Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. Poor Fred dies from a blast sent off by nameless Death Eaters, but it has been affirmed that Nymphadora Tonks was murdered by no other than her own aunt Bellatrix Lestrange, who also killed Sirius Black and drove the Longbottoms into insanity.
From book 5, we already know that Bellatrix is a fierce fighter, nearly impossible to defeat and Nymphadora, even though making Bellatrix fight hard, eventually lost the battle and was killed. It is so even more gratifying to know that the evil, fierce warrior so devoted to Voldemort was in the end brought down by "merely" a housewife and mother.
Remus Lupin who fought alongside his wife, was killed by Death Eater Antonin Dolohov, who was responsible for the murders of Molly's brothers, Fabian and Gideon Prewett. He was eventually defeated by Hogwarts teacher Filius Flitwick (do not underestimate the vertically challenged).
Rowling also stated that Lupin had to die because Arthur Weasley didn't. Apparently, she didn't know Lupin would die until book 5, but Harry needed to lose another father image and she went with Lupin and the Marauders in general instead of Arthur Weasley.
3) The death of Harry's grandparents
Obviously, we all know how Lily and James died, yet it is never revealed why his grandparents are not around anymore. Being part of one of the most popular "blood-traitor" families, it was suggestible that James's parents died in their endeavours to fight the Dark Lord; however, it was revealed by Rowling that they died of dragon pox and were both already quite old when they had James. During one of their journeys, they were infected from the pox and died subsequently.
It has not been revealed yet how and why Lily's parents died.
4) Teddy Lupin is a Hufflepuff
A specifically bad fact to digest was Teddy Lupin's orphan status after Lupin and Tonks both died in the war, and the circle seemingly finding its close. In the last chapters, it is revealed that he has a thing for Fleur and Bill's eldest daughter Victoire, but Rowling also revealed on Twitter that Teddy was sorted into Hufflepuff, just like his mother, and became Head boy. From additional writing of the Quidditch Championship column by Rita Skeeter, we also learn that he and Victoire are apparently inseparable, despite their desperate parents' endeavours to keep them apart and from licking each other's faces off.
5) The biggest mispronouncer
Apparently, we have all mispronounced "Voldemort" for the past decades, even the movies. Rowling revealed on Twitter that the correct pronunciation of the evil wizard is, in fact, without the "t", so Voldemor (makes him seem so much more French, if you ask me). The author stated that she is probably the only one pronouncing him this way (apart from the whole French diaspora, that is) and she is OK with it.
It is also note-worthy that "Voldemort" comes from the French vols de morts, which translates to "wings of death".
6) There is no tuition fee for Hogwarts
Unlike most British schools which cost parents a fortune, Hogwarts has no tuition fee and all educational costs are covered by the Ministry of Magic. Therefore, the Wizarding Community promotes equal educational rights for everybody, a concept which clearly is held dear by the author.
Attendance at Hogwarts is also not mandatory (until the Voldemort takes over the community) and children can also be educated by their parents at home or in smaller groups.
7) Florean Fortescue is dead
Alright, once more you may ask "who the heck is Florean Fortescue?" Remember in book 3 when Harry spent a month in Diagon Alley after blowing up his aunt? He regularly visited the ice cream parlour (like any 13-year-old would do) and lovely Florean Fortescue permanently gave him sundaes for free and helped him with his History of Magic homework because he was very well versed in this subject.
In book 6, Bill informs Remus Lupin about Fortescue's kidnapping from Diagon Alley. It is not further explained why he was kidnapped or what happened to him, but Rowling later confirmed and apologised on Twitter for his death, stating "I seemed to have him kidnapped and killed for no good reason.". Apparently, she contemplated giving him a much bigger role later in the series, but then changed her mind and his death was for nil.
Thank you for reading this post and let me know if you already one of the facts or want to contribute another nobody might know.
Stay tuned for more HP-related content.
Well-hidden in the Austrian Alps, reposing in a palanquin of jagged rocks and snowy tops, you will find the German-speaking Wizarding School Grausteins Akademie für junge Hexen und Zauberer (Graustein's Academy for Young Witches and Wizards), taking in students from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The school was founded in 1674 by the Great White Witch Kunigundt Graustein to protect magical children during the increasing witch hunts taking place all over the country, forcing more and more wizards and witches to flee to the secluded mountain areas in which they could, secretly, still perform their magic. Kunigundt Graustein was among the Elder Witches, a council of wise white magicians, who fled into the valleys. She fled alone, as her family and husband, Grauwald Graustein (yes, even he hated the name) had been already butchered by the relentless and merciless witch hunters.
Graustein lived among the Elder Witches, but out of fear to be betrayed, they hid in an old tower in which not even their own kind could find them.
However, when the witch hunters started to penetrate the remote mountain villages in their eternal thirst for magical blood, magic families grew more and more desperate to protect their offspring and Graustein, not with the consent of her Elder Witch fellows, decided it was time to give them a safe place to practice their magic. After she had left the tower, together with her loyal friend Lottie Wieselgruber, she offered magical families to take in their offspring and teach them magic, so that their legacy wouldn’t die with them, and disguised an old monastery, surrounding it with all sorts of magic, so that the children would be safe within its walls.
Starting with only seven children in 1669, the school already counted 300 young wizards and witches in 1673 and so, one year later, the Great White Witch Graustein officially founded her own magical academy in which young magical offspring could be taught the secrets of their skills and, additionally, be consecrated to the mythical Ice Magic, a specific branch Graustein was well versed in and which she had perfected in the cold, unforgiving climate.
Once abandoned in the cold while on flight from a particularly adamant witch hunter, Graustein nearly froze to death but figured a way out to use her magic and to make her biggest enemy, the ice, her greatest asset.
Even though Graustein is the clear founder of the school, her fellow friends Lottie Wieselgruber, her husband Georg Wieselgruber, as well as her childhood friend Gertrude Friedrich with whom Graustein was reunited once she had left the tower, had a great impact in forming the school.
As already mentioned, Graustein was unchallenged in Ice Magic; however, Lottie introduced the idea to not only use Ice Magic as a valuable asset, but all of the four elements - on which the curriculum in Graustein's Akademie is based on.
With student numbers growing by the year, Graustein and her supporters were forced to install better security around the school. Apart from standard protection spells, rock trolls are patrolling the school areas, protecting the students and teachers likewise (not to be mixed up with mountain trolls, which rather attack the students than protect them). In return, Graustein protects the troll lands from misled Muggles (or Giwons, as they are called in the German language) who lost their way hiking. Giwons will find themselves in a sudden and severe snowstorm if they come too close to the school, which will ultimately make them turn around.
Over the years, Graustein extended the old monastery, mostly with magic, and part of the school is hidden inside the rocks, whereas other parts are entirely made out of ice. The school lies somewhere in the Austrian alps between two mountains and has a stream running by. Even though it can get quite warm in the summer, snow and harsh weather conditions prevail for most of the year and the magical community has adapted very well.
For more magical content on Graustein's Academy for Young Witches and Wizards, stay up-to-date with floatingtheboat.weebly.com/harry-potter.
More content on Graustein's school structure, its students and other trivia, soon here.
Click on the video to watch the teaser for the upcoming Harry Potter related content here on floatintheboat.weebly.com/harry-potter
I have been writing HP fan fiction for some time and it is mainly for me because I love to dive into this world and I have been mainly concentrating on Lily Evans's time at Hogwarts and James Potter, mainly because they are my favourite couple.
For this Christmas, I will give you an excerpt of my novella long Lily Chronicles FF, which follows Lily on her first year at Hogwarts during Christmas and how chilly the air is at home with her jealous sister around. I hope you enjoy and stay tuned for the soon-to-come Christmas At Hogwarts Special.
A COLD CHRISTMAS
Christmas was soon approaching and Lily couldn’t believe how happy she was here at Hogwarts. Still, she was looking forward to seeing her parents and Petunia again. It was the last day before they would drive home and she and Sev were wandering the grounds. Sev and she had got used to the fact that they had been sorted into different houses, and Lily didn’t mind him being in Slytherin. She didn’t think much of the house rivalry, anyway.
“I am going to stay”, Sev said into the silence and Lily looked aghast. Although Hogwarts was truly wonderfully decorated for Christmas, Lily would never reject the possibility to go home.
He shrugged. “Mum’s busy anyway and I don’t want to leave.”
Lily was silent for a moment. She didn’t know what to say. On the one hand, she thought it unbearable that he would stay here; on the other hand, if she had his family, she would probably stay at Hogwarts, too.
“Mum’s going to send me my present”, he continued and smiled bravely so that his best friend wouldn’t feel bad anymore. “I am so happy to stay here, the food is going to be better, for sure.”
Lily pondered about this a second and then had to agree with him. The food in Hogwarts was a bummer.
“Are other children staying here as well?”, Lily wondered and Sev nodded eagerly.
“Sure, some either don’t have parents or don’t want to go home, like me.”
Lily nodded slowly. “Well, see you then after the holiday in the new year, I guess”, she said and hugged him. “But I have to go now, I haven’t yet packed.”
In the dormitory, Lily met Angelina who was packing her trunk as well.
“Any plans for Christmas?”, she asked but Lily shook her head.
“No, simply Christmas, I reckon.”
Angelina nodded. “We’re flying to Switzerland to ski”, she blurted out and blushed a little.
“Sounds great”, Lily smiled and put her pyjamas in her trunk. “Do you ski?”
Angelina pulled a face. “Er, no, I don’t like the cold, remember?”
Lily laughed. Angelina and she had a shared secret passion, which was dance. Well, it was quite obviously that Lily liked dancing as her mother was a ballet teacher but she hadn’t guessed she would meet a girl in Hogwarts who’d share her passion. All the other girls were either into hockey or into the most popular sport of the magical world – Quidditch. Lily had seen one game so far and had decided to never attend one again as it had been blankly brutal and dangerous. She still shuddered at the thought.
“Are you going to dance this holiday?”, Angelina put Lily out of her daydreaming.
Lily nodded slightly. “I think so, Mum will take me to the studio.”
“Well, seems your holidays are going to be way better than mine”, Angelina sighed and closed her trunk.
Lily’s holidays were not as good as anticipated. She had thought Petunia would have forgiven her departure by then and they would be on friendly terms again. However, Petunia had greeted her icily and called her a freak on various further occasions. Whenever Lily told her parents about the school, Petunia would leave the room or roll the eyes at every word Lily uttered.
It culminated on the 25 December in the morning, when Lily realised that her sister had not given her anything for Christmas. Last year, Petunia had been so proud about the sweet teddy she had bought her sister for Christmas. She had been saving money since the summer and then had invested it in Lily’s gift.
This year, however, there was nothing and Lily had to weep. She told her mother nothing because she didn’t want her to be upset. Petunia, too, didn’t thank her for the book, Lily had bought her for Christmas and one day later, Lily found it in the bin.
The evening before her last, she knocked gently on Petunia’s door who mumbled something which Lily took as an invitation. She entered the door and Petunia turned around. When she saw her little sister entering, she rolled her eyes and turned towards her desk again.
“Go away, this is a non-magic zone”, she said coldly.
“I-I just wanted to talk”, Lily retorted browbeaten and sat cautiously down on the edge of Petunia’s bed.
“There’s nothing we can talk about”, Petunia mumbled and chewed on the end of her pen. “I told you everything I had to.”
“Tuney”, Lily broke into tears. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, I can’t be blamed for my skill, can I?”
At this Petunia turned around and eyed up her sister carefully. Her gaze was cold and condescending. “It’s not a skill”, she then said harshly. “Being a weirdo is not a skill. You are mad and abnormal.”
Lily sobbed heavily at this. “No, Tuney, please, I am no freak, I am a witch.”
“Pah”, Petunia spat at her. “A couple of centuries you would have been burnt for this. Sadly, it’s not like that anymore.” Her voice was trembling of hatred and disapproval and at her harsh, unforgiving words, Lily ran out of the room, her sight blinded by tears.
Lily wouldn’t have thought that Petunia would ever wish her dead, but she soon learnt that whatever she had done to Petunia would not be easily solved. Their mother tried to communicate between them but Petunia remained stubborn and shut herself into her room. So Lily’s mother took Lily to the ballet studio and they danced the whole afternoon. When they had finished their training, Lily sat down on the floor and kneaded her feet.
“What have I done wrong to upset Petunia?”, she asked weakly.
Her mother hesitated and bit her lip. “You’ve done nothing wrong, dear. It’s just that-“ she was wrestling for the right words. “Petunia would like to be like you and she is frustrated that she can’t”, her mother blurted out eventually.
Lily frowned at this. “That may be the case, but what is my fault in all this?”
Her mother shrugged. “Nothing, dear, but she is angry with you because you can go to Hogwarts and she can’t.”
Lily thought about this all day and was frustrated that as she was not doing something actively to upset her sister, she couldn’t help the problem.
This evening, her last at home, she talked to her mother and proposed to leave Hogwarts to which her mother reacted shocked.
“Why, honey, would you do that?”, she exclaimed, ironing her father’s shirts.
Lily shrugged. “If Petunia’s not angry with me anymore then, it’s worth it, isn’t it?”
Her mother stopped ironing and knelt down to Lily.
“Listen closely. You are not going to waste your talent because your sister is jealous, you hear me? I will settle that, dear. You go and enjoy the next semester, alright?”
Lily nodded shyly and went to pack her trunk. The next morning, however, Petunia was still as cold as ice to her and when she had to leave, she didn’t even come downstairs to hug her.
It’s Hallowe'en and it is the night of witches anyway, so of course Halloween was always a special occasion at Hogwarts. Just remember the lovely dishes prepared at Hogwarts around the 31st of October. You will find sweet-filled pumpkins, bats, orange streamers, water snakes and sweets in various colours, but also the entertainment seems to be quite spooky.
“By the time Hallowe’en arrived, Harry was regretting his rash promise to go to the Deathday Party. The rest of the school was happily anticipating their Hallowe’en feast; the Great Hall had been decorated with the usual live bats, Rubeus Hagrid’s vast pumpkins had been carved into lanterns large enough for three men to sit in, and there were rumours that Albus Dumbledore had booked a troupe of dancing skeletons for the entertainment.”
You have to remember that Harry’s fate started at Hallowe’en. It was on the 31st of October 1981, Harry’s parents were murdered by Lord Voldemort in Godric’s Hollow, his mother sacrificing herself for her son and commencing the whole story by doing so. So, Harry’s story starts with Hallowe’en.
Hallowe’en is important in the Harry Potter books, especially the first four ones, so let’s recap what happens during these Hallowe’en feasts at Hogwarts.
In Philosopher’s Stone, Hallowe’en is off to a bad start, as Hermione overhears Ron talking rudely about her and running off crying. We see how considerate Harry is, looking for Hermione in the Great Hall during the feast. However, the feast is disturbed by Quirrell who, breathlessly, announces there is a troll loose in Hogwarts before fainting dramatically (there was, indeed, only drama included, as we learn later on, he must have visited acting classes at some point).
It is probably the first of Harry’s truly heroic acts and probably the most significant, considering it is the act which made two three and incorporated Hermione in the whole equation. Ron and Harry hunt down the troll in the girls’ toilets and save Hermione from its vicious attacks. Thankfully they all survive and are met rather briskly with their house head Professor McGonagall. However, as mentioned earlier, they made friends with Hermione.
“But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
Remember Nearly Headless Nick? Of course you do. Well, he is the reason Harry, Ron and Hermione didn’t attend the Hallowe’en feast a year later, as they were invited to his Deathday Party. It was a rather dull party for them to go to; it was really cold, as ghosts emanate coldness and the music was obviously terrible “The temperature dropped with every step they took. As Harry shivered and drew his robes tightly around him, he heard what sounded like a thousand fingernails scraping an enormous blackboard.”
It is also here that they first meet the Moaning Myrtle (well, Harry and Ron) who is crucial for the whole story in the book later on. The food, additionally, is absolutely gross for any human taste as there as described: “Large rotten fish were laid on handsome silver platters; cakes, burned charcoal black, were heaped on salvers; there was a great maggoty haggis, a slab of cheese covered in furry green mould and, in pride of place, an enormous grey cake in the shape of a tombstone, with tar-like icing forming the words Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington died 31st October 1492.”
But this isn’t the most exciting thing that happened at Hogwarts this night. This night was the first night the Basilisk attacked and froze Mrs Norris, Filch’s cat, to stone. Because the three youngsters were at the Deathday Party, they are also the first suspects according to Filch as they were the only ones not attending the feast. It is of course clear later on that none of them could have performed any such magic and Hogwarts has to face that the Chamber of Secrets has reopened…
In Prisoner of Azkaban there is a particularly creepy Hallowe’en in store for Harry and the readers. We know Sirius Black was on the loose and it is Hallowe’en night that he sneaked into Hogwarts to kill Pettigrew for his betrayal of Lily and James. As the Fat Lady refused to let him pass, he slashed the portrait and she fled, as did he. When the trio wanted to return to their dormitories, they found the corridor jammed with students, unable to pass inside. When Dumbledore came and inspected the portrait Peeves said: “Nasty temper he’s got, that Sirius Black.”
In Goblet of Fire the Hallowe’en feast was also used to announce the champions for the Triwizard Tournament. Everything was still alright in Harry’s world when he and his friends walked down in high anticipation of who might fight for Hogwarts. But of course everything came differently. Besides the three champions Cedric, Viktor Krum and Fleur, Harry was chosen as a fourth champion and had to participate in the tournament. If you want to see it in a super-creepy way you could also say that Cedric’s death was sealed on Hallowe’en 1994.
From the fifth on, Hallowe’en loses its significance in the books, but is a rather important theme in the books, especially with Harry’s parents dying that very day. So indulge in it and hopefully you will neither get attacked by a troll nor have to attend a Deathday Party. Hopefully no one will seek to enter your private rooms without permission or make you champion in a tournament you never enrolled for. Hopefully you can simply enjoy this spooky night and for extra fun have a Harry Potter Hallowe’en!
The Harry Potter Books are a masterpiece of cohesion and symbolisms which keep recurring. Just think of the goose-pimple evoking symbolism of mothers saving their sons and, hence, saving the world and Harry. Lily sacrificed herself for her child and Narcissa saved Harry once more because she wanted to see her son, Draco. It is genius.
There are also many opinions on the similarities between Harry and Tom Riddle, alias Lord Voldemort: they are both orphans, for both Hogwarts was their rescue, they are both talented wizards and are very determined. Still, I think there are bigger differences between them than similarities after all but let's have a closer look.
True, Harry and Tom are both orphans and grew up in a less than loving environment; still, Harry had a few big advantages in his early stages of life. First of all, Harry shared his first year in life with his doting parents whereas Tom was given to the orphanage by his mother shortly after she had given birth. Neuroscientists claim that many connections in the brain made are already joined in the first year and determine greatly how the brain will develop. Harry's one-year-old brain was fed with love and warmth whereas Tom's start into life was rocky from the first breath.
Secondly, consider under which circumstances their parents died. Harry's parents loved him so much, they both (yes, let's give James some credit, too) sacrificed themselves for him; James to help Lily escape with Harry and Lily, who died for her son. Tom's father, on the other hand, abandoned him and his mother before he was even born and his mother couldn't even stay alive for him and fight, but rather gave him and herself up. Of course, this is all circumstantial, but it is arguable that knowing under which circumstances your parents gave you up or died matter greatly to your further course of life and how you perceive it.
Thirdly, they both grew up under less than loving circumstances. Harry had to endure the permanent picking of the Dursleys whereas Tom suffered in the orphanage. I don't know if you are familiar with JK Rowling's charity Lumos, but it actually aims to get children out of orphanages and into families - even if they're foster families. Despite Harry's unfortunate situation with the Dursleys, he was still part of a family system in some way which - as far off as the Dursleys sometimes made it for him - was still some sort of home. Tom's early upbringing in an orphanage ensured he never knew what having a family was like and it benefited his development into an emotionally and socially repressed person. From very early on, he had to look out for himself and empathy, as some experts suggest, is something learnt in early stages of childhood and is hardly re-learnt once out of the right phase.
Many people would probably claim the biggest difference between Harry and Tom is that Harry was in Gryffindor and Tom in Slytherin, and I agree to some extent. However, as stated by many it was a mere lucky coincidence, I don't believe it is about luck, but about a conscious decision. Dumbledore once rightfully said that who we are does not depend on our character traits, but our decisions. Harry chose to be in Gryffindor because what he was seeking was a sense of family and community and he knew he would have a better shot at finding this in a house such as Gryffindor. Tom, seeking followers rather than friends, chose Slytherin because he knew he would find them there easier and his emotional detachment would not stick out as obviously in Slytherin as in other houses, perhaps. This proves that even before they came to Hogwarts, Harry and Tom were fundamentally different in their way of thinking and their wishes for their future lives. Tom was already seeking power over other people whereas Harry, a far more insecure and vulnerable soul at that point, chose true friendship.
One of the greatest things I think about Harry is that, not even once, he considers killing someone for real. Harry never uses the Death Curse, not even in dire situations. Just think back when they fly him to the Burrow in Deathly Hallows and instead of killing the Imperiused Stan Shunpike, he merely disarms him. Harry is the gentlest and purest soul without losing his humanity, which makes him a true hero. He is not perfect, but he is truly good, which makes him as distinguishable from Tom Riddle as it could possibly be. The books show very well that even if two people start out quite similarly, they can always choose to be good, regardless how they have been treated in life.