It is fair to say that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is a masterpiece with her minute eye for detail and her ability to hold so many storylines together. However, even the biggest master cannot be flawless, and there are still a few mistakes or incongruences that sneaked their way into the books. I am aware that many websites already exist where all the tiny mistakes are laboriously collected; however, for this list I write the most noteworthy I encountered myself when reading through the books again.
I have already marked all the mistakes I found in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and you can find the blog post here. This blog post is about the second of the HP books, and if you found other mistakes that are not listed here, just drop me a message here or on social media.
First off a really obvious mistake that bears a few problems with it and really should have been avoided, considering what happens just a chapter later. In the very beginning of the book it says, "What did the Dursleys care if Harry lost his place on the House Quidditch team because he hadn't practised all summer?"
First of all, how on earth could Harry, even if he was from a wizard family, practise Quidditch in a muggle area like Privet Drive? It's not like you can fly around on a broom unseen very easily. Also, it is stated regularly - almost in every Harry Potter book - that underage wizards and witches must not perform magic at home. I daresay flying a broom would count to "using magic". This mistake is especially remarkable because Harry actually gets in trouble for "using magic" (even though it is actually Dobby) in THIS VERY BOOK. This must be a combination of Rowling's weaker moments and a poor editor who didn't realise how contradictory this is.
Our next stop leads us to the Burrow, the Weasleys' home. In the chapter The Burrow, Harry looks at all the things the Weasleys have in their house, among them a clock is described as, "The clock on the wall opposite him had only one hand and no numbers at all. Written around the edges were things like 'Time to make tea', 'Time to feed the chickens', and 'You're late'." The same clock is described very differently in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, namely as, "Harry recognised it at once: It had nine hands, each inscribed with with the name of a family member, and usually hung on the Weasleys' sitting room wall, though its current position suggested that Mrs Weasley had taken to carrying it around the house with her."
Now, first of all, the clocks are clearly not the same, and in the movie version they opted for the design of the second from book 6, rather than the one from the original book. Another discrepancy is that the clock hangs in the kitchen in book 2, but in book 6 it is stated it usually hangs in the sitting room wall, so that doesn't go well together either. Of course they may have two different clocks, but why would Harry then recognise it? Very mysterious...
For the next weird occurrence, there may be an explanation, but it is still quite odd. Harry consistently hears voices no one else can hear. Later we find out that's because he's a Parselmouth and the snake speaks in snake language, too. However, Ron remarks in the Duelling Club chapter that they heard Harry hiss when he spoke in snake language. Should Ron and Hermione then not at least hear hissing sounds from the walls? Surely, the Basilisk may have whispered, but does being a Parselmouth also mean you have super hearing and can hear better than non-Parselmouths? If so, it's a pity Harry lost the ability after Voldemort's death...
Checking dates doesn't seem to be Rowling's strong suit. Already in the first book, the dates didn't check out, and it is the same in Book 2. In the chapter The Very Secret Diary, Hogwarts celebrates Valentine's Day and Lockhart sends kitschy Cupids to deliver Valentine's greetings, which leads to one of the most cringeworthy moments for Harry in the entire series. However, Book 2 takes place in the year 1993, and Valentine's Day this year was actually on a Sunday. I would also not like teachers like Lockhart who make me go to school on my well-deserved weekend...
Lastly, there is a mistake concerning Hagrid. In the chapter The Heir of Slytherin, Riddle tells Harry the story about the chamber and how Hagrid got kicked out for his mistake, he says, "On the one hand, Tom Riddle, poor but brilliant, parentless but so brave, school prefect, model student...on the other hand, big, blundering Hagrid, in trouble every other week, trying to raise werewolf cubs under his bed...".
Considering that Remus Lupin, the werewolf, appears only a book later, it is odd why Rowling would write this example in the book. There is no such thing as "werewolf cubs". Werewolves are humans who were bitten by another werewolf and subsequently have to transform into a monster each month at the full moon. Therefore, if Hagrid raised "werewolf cubs under his bed", he, in fact, had little cursed children stuffed under his bed and definitely deserves to be kicked out of school for that. Any other creature would have definitely made more sense.
Did you find these mistakes, too? Let me know if you found others that I missed...I am sure there's plenty more to find.
That I am a huge Harry Potter fan is no secret (or why else would I have a category dedicated to it on my blog). I have read and re-read the books hundreds of times (no kidding), and upon re-reading the series a few weeks ago, I couldn't help notice a few mistakes and incongruences. Some of them have been since rectified by J.K. Rowling, and some are so blatant that I am still not sure whether I simply couldn't wrap my head around it completely, so let me know if I am sharing blunders here.
Let's start at the very beginning of the first book, shall we? In the book, it states that the story begins on a "dull, grey Tuesday"; however, we know that Harry's parents died on 31st October 1981, which, incidentally was a Saturday. As Harry comes to the Dursleys immediately after his parents perished, the story should start on a Sunday, not a Tuesday.
The wrong day, however, is not the only peculiarity about the beginning. At the beginning, the Dursleys have a normal day, watched by McGonagall as a cat and in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday Hagrid delivers Harry to his relatives. Now, in the evening, McGonagall and Dumbledore talk, the first saying wizards have been partying all day to celebrate Voldemort's demise, but that makes me wonder where little Harry was all day. Clearly, the tragic incidence of his parents dying happened the previous night and he is only delivered to the Dursleys the consecutive night, so where was he in between? Hagrid then also states "young Sirius Black" leant him the motorbike, but in Book 3, we learn Sirius was at the site of crime right after it happened and gave Harry to Hagrid before being arrested. Does that mean Hagrid needed more than a whole day to fly Harry from Godric's Hollow to Little Whinging? So many questions...
Let's walk over to Diagon Alley. Hagrid explains to Harry that "seventeen Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle." Just a few pages before, Harry overhears a witch saying, "Dragon liver, seventeen Sickles an ounce, they're mad." Obviously we don't know exactly how money works in the magic world (why is it sometimes so big, but can fit into a bag??), but wouldn't you say one Galleon instead of seventeen Sickles when it is seventeen Sickles to a Galleon? I never say, "Oh dear, 300 cents for an ice cream, golly me!" This mistake, however, was rectified in later editions. It now reads "sixteen Sickles".
Next up, another mistake that clearly should have served as handy exposition, but retrospectively is simply stupid. In the chapter The Journey From Platform Nine And Three-Quarters, Harry is desperate to find the right platform (thanks for being useless, Hagrid) and he overhears the Weasleys talking, pricking his ears when they mention "muggles". Molly Weasley, however, then asks, "Now, what's the platform number?", which is simply ridiculous. As far as we all know, in the Harry Potter series, the train ALWAYS leaves and has always left from this platform and Molly has bid five children farewell to Hogwarts so far, so her not knowing the platform by heart by now either means she's the greatest dimwit of all times (which she clearly isn't), or it was a back-handed method for some exposition.
We're staying with the Weasleys for a moment. We all know they're terribly poor and it makes sense that many of Ron's things are second-hand and he states in the same chapter that, "I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand and Percy's old rat." OK, Bill's old robes make sense, he doesn't need them anymore. Percy being kind of a dick giving up his old pet the minute he gets a new one also makes sort of sense but CHARLIE'S WAND? Remember, "The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter?" Well, that's this statement down the drain. Why would Ron have Charlie's old wand? Wouldn't you only get a new wand when the old one broke? How is Ron expected to work properly at school when he doesn't even have a wand that chose him? No wonder he's scared of not living up to his brothers' standards, how could he...seriously. Also, a wand, as we learn later, costs 7 Galleons, so not really a fortune. We get the Weasleys are poor, but at least get your son a proper wand.
And another little thing about the Weasleys. When Ron and Harry finally arrive at Hogwarts, they have to wait in a little room for the sorting ceremony and everyone is nervous. Ron has no clue what's upon them, and I really wonder why. Sure, Fred and George may have told him he has to battle a troll, but in his ENTIRE family consisting of brothers and parents, has really no one told him what the sorting ceremony would be? That's kind of a dick move on your child. And fans who now rush forward, saying it may be a Hogwarts tradition to let eleven-year old kids wait in panic and agony, think about the scenario in Book 7, where Harry tells his son Albus he can make a choice in which house he'll be sorted (or not, poor Albus). So Harry told his son beforehand and this theory goes down the toilet.
Let's forward a little bit to the chapter Nicolas Flamel. In it, it states that "while copying down different ways of treating werewolf bites, Harry and Ron were still discussing what they'd do with a Philosopher's Stone (...)". Having recently read Book 6 again, I clearly recall Madam Pomfrey saying about Bill's wounds, "No charm will work on these. I've tried everything I know, but there is no cure for werewolf bites." Bill wasn't even been bitten by a proper werewolf, but his scars are cursed and will never fully heal, but in Book 1, it sounds as if there is not only ONE way of treating them, but various. A little inconsistent...
Lastly, I have noticed a little inconsistency that is addressed in the last chapter The Man With Two Faces. Voldemort taunts Harry with the details of how his parents died, saying "I killed your father first and he put up a courageous fight". However, in Book 7 we relive the scene and it is stated that James Potter comes running out, wand-less, and is killed quickly without even having time to put up a fight. And how would he without a wand?
Did I miss any obvious mistakes you spotted? Let me know :-) Also, stay tuned for mistakes of the next books, soon uploaded here.
On Tuesday I saw the long anticipated Fantastic Beasts and where to find them: The Crimes of Grindelwald (they should shorten their franchise's names though - Harry Potter was much catchier).
On Tuesday, me and my fiance went to the Haydn in Vienna to watch the double-feature and were blown away by the movie. In order to #KeeptheSecrets, I will refrain from giving a plot summary or too many details, but I really loved the movie, so I give you my 6 top reasons why you should go and watch it!
1) This franchise is made for cinema
The best aspect of this franchise is that is is intended for the medium movie, so the plot is adapted to the medium and no plot holes prevail like it was the case with Harry Potter. Also, the cinematic effects are so much better now and it is pure bliss to see the magic unfold and be welcomed back into the Wizarding World with even more convincing on-screen action.
2) Learning more about the Wizarding World
Being re-introduced into the Wizarding World feels wonderful after such a long break. The magic and success of Harry Potter lie in it not only being merely a plot, but a whole world which, as such, is inviting, inspiring and simply a place where you want to be. I could spend hours watching a movie without anything happening really, if it was just set in Rowling's Wizarding World. The intricate details, the political story lines and the real human topics which are just encased by the magic prove how genius the world is in its creation and why fans cannot get enough of it. In this movie, we learn more about old and familiar families like the Lestranges, the Dumbledores as well as American and French politics and magical realms, which is infinitely interesting to watch.
3) We're back at Hogwarts - finally
It is great fun to venture out into the world and learn new things; however, returning to where you started can be a fantastic moment, too. This movie is partly set in good ol' Hogwarts again, which the Great Hall, McGonagall and a young Dumbeldore being shown. The uniforms have a slightly different style - due to the different time era, but the general vibe is the same, and one you always want to come home to. It is also amazingly interesting to learn more about well-known characters from when they were younger.
4)We are introduced to so many magical creatures first described in the HP books
We know Nifflers from as early as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Now, they have become the main merchandise selling point of this new franchise, and we are permanently introduced to other magnificent magical creatures like Bowtruckles, Kelpies or Kappas. It is a great pleasure to see all of the details which had to be omitted in the HP films due to time restraints. It is also another boost in the merchandise area, so I can finally wish for HP stuff again at Christmas.
5) We don't have to worry about the characters
I believe that the FBAWTFT characters are well thought-out, believable and likeable. However, I will never have such a strong bond with them as I did with the Harry Potter characters, as they mainly serve as observers of a plot unfolding than the main characters as Harry, Ron and Hermione did. Therefore, you can watch the movie without fearing too much that someone beloved will die and can lean back and enjoy the magic.
6) It's a Rowling original
I cannot understand "fans" who claim they wish Rowling would stop putting out new things and that they did not enjoy her latest work. I am running the risk of making Rowling a goddess here, but actually she is. Well, at least to her universe. I cannot critcise something directly out of her pen as it is HER world and not the fans'. Knowing this is not a fan project, but really her interpreationj of her world, makes this the ultimate treat for any real HP fan. There can never be enough of the Wizarding World - so, Jo, keep on writing!
It is finally happening! Tonight me and my fiance will go to the double feature in the English cinema Haydn on Mariahilfer Strasse in Vienna! I am really excited, as I love the new franchise for the following three reasons.
1) I love the era and that it is set in various European cities, so that Potterheads like me can delve deeper into other Wizarding Communities.
2) The visual effects are SO MUCH BETTER than when the Potter movies came out and it is pure bliss to see the magic unfold onscreen in such a spectacular way.
3) I have obliged myself to consider anything out of Rowling's pen pure genius, which is why I also have to say I LOVED Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, even though I kind of didn't. (see my Youtube review on it here).
The only caveat in the whole matter is that I am currently not living in London anymore, which truly aches me as a Potterhead, as London is the best city to be in when these events go down. More than two years ago found me getting signatures of all Cursed Child cast members and seeing Rowling in real life, and now I am stuck in this city and further away from the spectacle than ever. I almost wanted to fly into London for the premiere like I did last time, but with the wedding coming up, I figured I should rather save the money - now I am so glad there will be four movies more of this franchise (or was it four? Is it already more? I hope so!)
I really want to embrace events like these now, as who knows who long we are going to remain child-less after our wedding and I surmise going into London to stalk JK Rowling when you have a baby which needs you is somewhat selfish and weird, so better now than never!
I will give you a little review tomorrow and now I am off to assemble a little outfit. I always knew what to wear for HP events, but this is now a different story...anybody have a pink coat?
Today marks the birthday of one of the brightest teens in literature! It's Hermione's birthday and knowing she is the oldest of the trio, it is not surprising that she is also the most mature - well, apart from being a girl and being Hermione.
Tomorrow I will count down her best book moments to honour this wonderful woman, but for today, I'm afraid, I can only say, have a good one, Hermione and good night!
The 31st of July is a special day in every Potterhead's calendar as it marks not only the birthday of our most beloved hero, but also his creator, the inevitably genius Jo Rowling.
Without her, our cloaks would merely be carnival attire, if it wasn't for her, our wands would simply look like silly toys and she made magic en vogue in a style it has never seen before. In short, she is THE witch who magicked Harry Potter into all our lives, a quill as her wand and a steady cup of tea as the magic liquid edging her on (at least that is how it happened in my head).
It is no wonder that our special hero should share a birthday with her, as he is nothing short in wit, warmth, loyalty and bravery. Harry has fought many demons - physical and inner likewise, as has his fierce creator and they both deserve deep admiration for their won battles, their scars and successes.
But let's not derail into admirable chit-chat, as it is the most important day of all in our calendars, let's review a couple of admirable and fantastic facts on our two heroes of the day and as they were born in the seventh month, here are 7 Facts on Jo Rowling and Harry Potter.
7 Facts on JK Rowling
7 Facts on Harry Potter
They both deserve a relaxed and Happy Birthday! Have a good one!
Just before huge celebrations for our beloved main hero will commence, we must not forget about another person's special day who, incidently, was lucky enough to be born just not so close to July dying, which spared him being the "chosen one."
However, Neville Longbottom is far from being second-best and has proven his loyalty, bravery and wit more than once throughout the series. Being slightly clumsy and prone to accidents, he didn't have an easy start at Hogwarts and was subject to bullying from the Slytherin's side far too often (and don't forget Snape bullying him for years all you "always" fans - Snape is a bastard, deal with it).
However, it should be refrained to refer to him as "poor Neville" as this brave, young man ascended to be a true hero. Let us not forget his efforts in DA and his unquestioned willingness to join Harry's forces which also led to his courageous contribution in the battle of the prophecy in the finale of the fifth book.
Despite Harry becoming the "chosen one", Neville actually outdid Harry on one particular occasion. Remember the Yule Ball in book 4? Remember who Neville took to the ball? Yes, you remembered correctly! It was actually Harry's later sweetheart and wife Ginny Weasley who did the tango with Neville before she danced into Harry's heart. Phew, that was close, Harry!
As Neville progressed into later years, we found out so many heart-breaking details about his life - most prominently the mentally disturbed state of his parents who were tortured into irreversible insanity by none other than Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr. to find out Voldemort's hidden place upon the latter's demise after his combat with baby Harry.
This is also another similarity between Harry and Neville apart from their birthday month. Both of their parents were aurors and fought for the Order before being killed/driven into insanity by Voldemort and his people. Both left one boy behind who had identity struggles growing up and who ended up becoming brave, strong and courageous men.
But today, on 30th July, let's forget Harry Potter for a moment and celebrate Neville - a kind and brave man who knows that true courage lies in fighting your friends, not your enemies - as proven in the very first book. Happy Birthday, Neville! Have a good one and be celebrated by your wife and children!
There has been a lot of criticism regarding the long-awaited and anticipated Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery Game by JamCity. Primarily, people have criticised the permanent request to invest real money into completing your tasks as a player. In fact, you would be required to pay about 15 Dollars a day to have twenty minutes of fun - which sounds pretty lame, doesn't it?
But why does it suck on so many levels? Well, as a true Potterhead I have obviously taken on the task to play through the whole bloody thing and I know many people have already finished, but as I am definitely NOT investing real money into this stupid game, I am still stuck in year 2.
When I started playing the game, it all looked pretty promising and soon my Ravenclaw character Rory Hill was created and I could buy my wand, books, etc. The graphics are surprisingly good, considering it is a phone game, but as soon as school started, fun literally was drained out of my character. The game provides a ridiculous little amount of energy to play with and as soon as you run out, you can either buy more with real money or wait till your energy stash has been replenished, which takes forever, as you only get one energy point every four minutes.
In the end, you can play for about five minutes before you run out of energy and you can definitely not get through one class with your energy stash, which means permanent interruptions and, often, failure in completing your classes.
OK, this sucks already, but apart from the Potter part, I also must say the game in itself is pretty boring. It is not like in Sims where you can freely roam the castle and choose what your character should do, but you have specific missions and classes to fulfil and your main quest is to find out about your lost brother and the Iced Vaults (which, inasmuch, I like as a storyline, but they should have given the characters more individual freedom on the side). Also, the rest of the storyline falls pretty flat as we have a for-no-reason bullying Slytherin (what a surprise) who wants to permanently duel her, even when you've beaten her a thousand times (just accept it, Merula, I am BETTER than you!) and who bullies you for a brother who sought out the Iced Vaults but actually wants to get inside the Iced Vaults as well. We have a cowardly Gryffindor with a weird voice (Neville 2.0 says hello) and a know-it-all, bookish Ravenclaw best friend who conveniently has read books on all topics you are lacking to fill the gaps in.
But back to the actions. Instead of choosing your actions, you can tap on pre-set blue-lined items with which you can interact by tapping on the bar which costs you energy each time. So mostly, you will only be tapping around with little else to do. And the actions...seriously, someone should have put more thought into the actions you can do as they include "Consider", "Ask a question" (even if the person is on the other side of the room) or Examine couch" when you're supposed to learn a new spell (Concentrate, Hill, for God's sake!). The actions also repeat themselves very often and you even need energy to TAKE A BREAK or think about something, which makes the whole game pretty ridiculous.
Apart from tapping your phone, you can do duels, which are probably the most fun as they don't cost energy and you can use your hard-studied spells against a fellow student. Additionally, there are pre-set conversations with your friends which make weird noises and are basically all cowardly gits (yes, Rowan, take that!)
So, in total, not a good review and the only cool thing I can say about this game is that you meet familiar people like Bill Weasley or Nymphadora Tonks during their time in Hogwarts, but apart from that and the convincing graphics, this game is a total and complete failure.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Great Battle of Hogwarts which took place on May, 2nd 1998 in the Wizarding World.
On this day we mourn beloved people like Fred Weasley, Nymphadora and Remus Lupin, Lavender Brown or Colin Creevey; however, it is also the day to celebrate the final defeat of the Dark Lord and his followers (boy, will we never forget the epic scene when Molly finally killed off that bitch Bellatrix Lestrange!).
It has also been twenty years since Harry, Ron and Hermione fought valiantly and Ron and Hermione FINALLY embarked on their romantic journey.
On this day, let's revere the departed and celebrate the living.
Fred Weasley was, as some would suggest, the better half of George Weasley. The twins were known for their mischievous streak and loved wreaking havoc at home and at school. We shall never forget their rebellion against Dolores Umbridge and their massively popular departure, only to become one of the best-selling joke stores in Diagon Alley (OK, the best).
Fred was the heart of soul of any party and his wit and humour made everyone's lives brighter and better. Sadly, he had to die, but a smile was on his face - even in death.
Far too young to depart, he will be mourned by his family and, specifically, his twin brother until eternity and leaves a huge void in the Weasley family.
Remus never had an easy life. Bitten at an early age by the vile Fenrir Greyback, he found friendship in Hogwarts, only for the four friends to be ripped apart again (thanks Peter for that). He lost one of his best friends as well as his secret love (because we all know he had feeling for Lily), and lost another friend to Azkaban, being blamed for James's death.
Most of his life he was discriminated for being a werewolf until, finally, Dumbledore gave him a chance and he became the best teacher in Hogwarts (only to be "outed" once more by horrible Snape, and yes, I will write a hate piece on him soon enough).
Always involved with the order, he met vibrant and young Nymphadora Tonks, who insisted on their love and got him round to marrying her. They had their little son, Teddy, but, sadly, as life goes Remus didn't live long enough to see his son grow up. He gave his life in the eternal battle against Voldemort which dominated his life and left his son an orphan, for a circle to re-commence.
Tonks was a great character, full of wit, humour and mischief (very much like the twins). She was beloved for her clumsiness and kindness and managed to capture the heart of the wonderful, yet neglected, Remus Lupin. She fought for their love and gave birth to a little baby boy called Teddy (after her father, who had been murdered by the Snatchers).
Despite not being at the height of her powers, Tonks decided to join her husband on the battlefield, which cost her life and made Teddy a full orphan.
Most of us remember Colin as the geeky, annoying child from book 2 who permanently wanted Harry's photo. However, he was also loyal, brave and direly wanted to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, which, in the end, cost him his life at a far too young age.
All the other brave warriors
Listing them all here would take so long, so I want to make this last dedication to all the other people who left their lives on the battlefield. Their bravery will never be forgotten and their loss still captures us twenty years after. Their deaths have not been for nothing and they have majorly contributed to creating a safe and free world for the upcoming generations.
But let us not forget the living! Today also marks the eighteenth birthday of Victoire Weasley. Two years after the battle, on the exact day, Fleur and Bill's first daughter Victoire was born, her name in reverence to the defeat over Voldemort and as much dedication has already been given to the battle today, I want to concentrate on the first grandchild of Molly and Arthur Weasley.
We do not know a lot about Victoire, but that she has a certain proclivity for Teddy Lupin, the orphaned son of Nymphadora and Remus.
In the last chapter, James Potter (the second), catches them snogging on the platform as Teddy sees Victoire off. In Rita Skeeter's abysmal column on the Quidditch World Cup, it is also pointed out that Victoire seeks out the places in which Teddy lurks around.
We also know that she is partly of Veela descent, which most likely means she is as stunning as her mother and probably as sharp-tongued, too.
She has supposedly blonde or red hair and hopefully piercingly blue eyes of her mother.
So Happy Birthday, Victoire and have a great start into the working world of magic!
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.