In J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, the aspect of love plays a huge role in HarryPotter’s transformation from a mere victim to a noble hero. Generally, love motivates and supports onedue to the affection, care and admiration it provides. Typically, a victim is someone who has come tofeel helpless, feeble and passive in the face of mistreatment. However, even though the definition of ahero has changed throughout time, being a hero is typically defined as demonstrating courage, moralstrength and noble qualities. Initially, Harry Potter is given an intense lack of love, reverence andsupport, which causes him to be portrayed as a victim for the Dursley family. They mistreat him andtreat him as a neglected burden instead of a young and innocent family member.
Nonetheless,eventually, he transforms to a noble hero with the love from his friends as well as the fact that he growsto love his new wizarding environment; is new boarding school instantly becomes his home. Theoutburst of love in his life comforts him and causes him to not hesitate when defending anything thatattempts to destroy his home, even if it means actively seeking danger and risking his life. Therefore, theconcept of love plays a huge role in Harry’s transformation from victim to hero. In the exposition of the novel, Harry is given an immense lack of love; he has only seen love as spoiltsince his uncle and aunt shower an excessive amount of love to their son, Dudley, and none to Harry,which is also shown by his dishevelled physical appearance. Throughout his time living in the Dursleyhousehold, Harry has constantly been subjected to both physical and emotional violence from theDursleys as well as Dudley’s friends. His size and position in the family reveal him as frail and inferior.This exposes the inequality towards Harry, which allows to be perceived as an easy target to bevictimised.
To begin with, the very first words said to Harry were from Mrs Dursley, who abruptlydemanded “Up! Get up! Now!” 20.4. As there are the first words said to Harry in the book, it impliesthat he was not cared for and instead treated as a servant, who was given orders at the start of the day,for example, “looking after the bacon”. The imperative “Get up!” generates a commanding tone andthis is reinforced by the use of repeated exclamatory responses. The commanding tone suggests thatHarry is not spoken to with kindness nor love, which immediately excludes him as a being a member ofthe Dursley family. Harry was also “Dudley’s favourite punchbag” 21.5, which emphasises the lack oflove and respect he had because even Dudley was allowed to treat Harry in whatever way he liked. Withconnotations of violence, pain and anger, the noun “punchbag” dehumanises Harry as a mere toy thatcould be played with whenever Dudley wanted to.
This “punchbag” reference could potentially be thereason why Harry has “knobbly knees” 21.12, which indicates at the initial weakness Harry had and his”thin face” 21.12 as well as his small figure allowed the Dursleys to continue to mistreat him; his figurerevealed his vulnerability against the Dursleys. Also, he is towered by Dudley and his gang at school.Whilst waiting to try on the Sorting Hat in Chapter 7, Harry “remembered being picked for teams duringsports lessons at his old school. He had always been last to be chosen, not because he was no good, butbecause no one wanted Dudley to think they liked him” 128.8-12. This memory of Harry makes evidentthe power that Dudley had among his fellow classmates and how he abused this power to ostraciseHarry, hence victimising him.
Therefore, Rowling establishes Harry as an initial victim due to the lack oflove he received and how instead he was given mistreatment. Nonetheless, after learning he is a wizard, Harry receives platonic love from his best friends, which is anessential factor that enables him to become a noble hero. In Chapter 16, Harry expects to be goingalone into the face of danger using the Invisibility Cloak and is hence, surprised when Ron asks if theCloak will cover all three of them. In response, Harry questions “All-all three of us?” 291.2 Therepetition of “all” suggests a confused tone from Harry as he had never been offered such support as asign of love, care and affection before.
Ron then tells Harry to “come off it, you don’t think we’d let yougo alone?” 291.3 This vow from both Ron and Hermione to accompany Harry and not allow him to goalone is a verbal embrace of the love the three best friends have; they will always have each other’sbacks no matter what. This hints at one of Harry’s steps of transforming into a hero as he knows that hewill be supported and loved by his friends.
Essentially, they encourage and motivate him instead ofbringing him down and dehumanising him, like the Dursleys. In addition to this, previously, Harry feltdownhearted when no one would talk to him in school. But now, even though “none of the Gryffindorshad anything to say to Harry” 291.13-14, due to the platonic love from his friends, “this was the firstnight he hadn’t been upset by it” 291.
15. Due to the comfort from his friends, Harry realises that thesefriends are all he needs to enhance his courage and most importantly, make him happy. This equalcompanionable love the trio share is a huge factor that triggers the transition of Harry from a merevictim to a noble hero due to the fact that it causes him to be more defensive of others in order toprotect his wizarding community and his home as well as the friends who ware prepared to walk intoany danger with him. Upon entering the trapdoor, after Hermione saves them from the Devil’s Snare,Harry leads them “this way … pointing down a stone passageway” 299.6, which represents a hugetrait of being a hero: leadership. Along with the guidance of his friends, Harry was able to take anauthoritative position by leading them onwards.
Furthermore, other traits of heroism which Harryillustrates are selflessness and valour. Upon learning that only one person would be able to go back fromthe trapdoor, Harry immediately tells Hermione to “get back and get Ron” and “go straight to theowlery” 309.26-28 to inform Dumbledore. This represents Harry’s selflessness since he must ensurethat his best friends are safe; however, this also symbolises the trust and faith Harry has in his friends,which enhances his determination to defeat whatever he has to face in the absence of his affectionatefriends.
After drinking the contents of the smallest bottle, “he turned to face the black flames” 308.28and said, “Here I come” 309.1 as he “drained the little bottle in one gulp” 309.1-2. With connotationsof darkness, peril and evil, the adjective “black” alongside the noun “flames” generates a fearfulatmosphere; however, Harry approaches this danger “in one gulp”, which demonstrates his bravery todefend the wizarding world because he could have stepped back and given up. Instead, he fought andgreeted danger with a single “here I come”. By showing perseverance, determination and gallantry,Harry portrays his transition from a victim to a worthy hero with the motivation of platonic love from hisbenevolent friends.
Thirdly, Harry transitions from a victim to a noble hero through his love for the wizarding environmentas well as defence of others. When Draco Malfoy snatches Neville Longbottom’s Remembrall from him,Harry does not hesitate as he “mounted the broom and kicked hard against the ground” 158.28 and”in a rush of fierce joy … he turned his broomstick sharply to face Malfoy in mid-air” 159.2-9.
Thephrase “rush of fierce joy” emphasises the exhilaration, that Harry had never experienced before, hereceived through the wizarding world. This makes Harry feel comforted and gladdened in his new home,increasing his confidence in the environment surrounding him. The verb phrase “mounted thebroomstick” may metaphorically symbolise Harry’s self-confidence soaring into the air due to thewizarding environment. His love for Hogwarts, the wizarding boarding school, heightens as his yearcontinues due to the new life it has given him. This consequently leads him feel protective of the world he has been introduced to. Hence, when Draco mocked Neville, who is one of Harry’s Gryffindor friends,Harry “caught that Remembrall in his hand after a fifty-foot dive” 162.
8 This is one of the many actswhere Harry portrays himself as a hero as he did not worry about the consequences of his actionsdespite Hermione warning him that “Madam Hooch told us not to move” 158.25-26. He acts asinordinately defensive to ensure that he fights against any foolish mockery against his friends. As acoincidental result of his flying and catching skills, he is offered the place of a Seeker on the GryffindorQuidditch team, whichimmensely augments his movement into a self-assured state. This makes him feel more determined todo anything he can for his team since he now feels like he’s fitting into his world despite initially notbeing aware of the various aspects of the wizarding world. His motivation for being a hero on the fieldfor his teammates, and himself, is heightened when Professor McGonagall reveals that his father wouldhave been proud since “he was an excellent Quidditch player himself” 163.
2. Therefore, Harry’s lovefor the wizarding environment and his defence of others contributes to his transformation from being avictim to be a well-intentioned hero. To conclude, the aspect of love plays a huge role in Harry’s transformation from a substandard victim toa worthy, valiant and honourable hero, who demonstrates courage, moral strength and numerous noblequalities. Initially, Harry Potter is given a vast lack of love as he is treated as a neglected burden. Hisinferiority compared to the Dursleys makes him subject to continuous emotional and physical violence.Even so, upon being exposed to the magical wizarding world, Harry transitions to an honourable hero.He does so with the rise in self-assurance from the platonic love of his friends as well as his fondness ofHogwarts, his new boarding school, which he essentially treats as his bolstering home.
The sudden lovehe receives, compared to the extreme lack he previously received for ten years, increases hisdetermination, courage and resilience to defend anything that wishes to cause harm to others or hishome, even if it means actively seeking danger and risking his life. Thus, the notion of love pays a hugerole in Harry Potter’s transformation from an inferior victim to a lionhearted hero.