I’m reminded of one particular midnight in August a few years ago when I was still up and waiting in a line outside of the local Barnes and Noble, not exactly awake but far from being asleep, and there were about 100 others in the queue with me. We were a motley crew, made up of all ages and races, all body types, from goth to preppy and back again, and then there was me taking a photo of myself standing in line (with a standard camera — I still had my “dumb” phone at that point) looking like an idiot but feeling on top of the world, and you know why? Because that was the night the final Harry Potter book was released, and, uh, I’m a little obsessed. Okay, I’m a lot obsessed. And since that night I’ve read and re-read that book approximately 20 times, finding subtle nuance hidden deep within on each pass through.
Which of course made me think about all the wonderful quotes that make Harry Potter so amazing, like Mrs. Weasley’s “Not my daughter, you bitch!” or Voldemort’s “Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived.” So, I went back through all of the books one by one, flipping page by page, going back in time, not just in the books, but in my life when I read each one. It was a nostalgic journey that brought up even more quotes that I wanted to share, and here seems to be the perfect venue. What are your favorite Harry Potter quotes? Here are my Top 5:
5. “But Dobby didn’t move. He was holding up Harry’s disgusting, slimy sock, and looking at it as though it were a priceless treasure. ‘Master has given a sock,’ said the elf in wonderment. ‘Master gave it to Dobby.’ ‘What’s that?’ spat Mr. Malfoy. ‘What did you say?’ ‘Got a sock,’ said Dobby in disbelief. ‘Master threw it, and Dobby caught it, and Dobby — Dobby is free.'”
This was of course an exchange between Dobby the elf and Lucius Malfoy, but it shows something essential about the boy who lived — his generosity of spirit. Much is said about Harry’s loyalty to his friends, but at this point Dobby was nothing of the sort. Obviously by the end of the series that would change dramatically, but he had just met Dobby in The Chamber of Secrets and he felt a kinship even then, making sure that Lucius gave Dobby the sock, no matter how inadvertently it was on his part. Dobby was indeed a free elf because of the sock, a seminal moment in the books.
4. “‘Exactly,’ said Dumbledore. ‘Harry’s wand and Voldemort’s wand share cores. Each of them contains a feather from the tail of the same phoenix. This phoenix, in fact,’ he added, and he pointed at the scarlet-and-gold bird, perching peacefully on Harry’s knee.”
A juicy tidbit of information indeed, and when I first read it my brain immediately started making connections between everything that had happened in the middle of that maze with the trophy as portkey in The Goblet of Fire. I thought it was a stroke of genius from J.K. Rowling to make the wands of enemies essentially “twins.” It also cemented the fact that there was a strange bond between the two magicians that would not easily be severed. I became a nerd for wandlore because of this quote, so that all the talk of the elder wand in the final book was like candy to me.
3. “One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours’ time by Mrs. Dursley’s scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley…. He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter — the boy who lived!'”
This quote ends the first chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone, and a perfect beginning it lends to the adventure that is about to begin. I love how it first references Harry as “the boy who lived” because it really does come full circle when Voldemort makes a mockery of the quote in the final book. It always fascinated me the legend that had already grown around the boy before he even knew anything about it, and that he could only be safe living with the jerks that were the Dursleys. It reminds me of all the things we detest but that have made us better people in the end in spite of them, or even in some cases because of them.
2. “‘Sirius did not hate Kreacher,’ said Dumbledore. ‘He regarded him as a servant unworthy of much interest or notice. Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike…. The fountain we destroyed tonight told a lie. We wizards have mistreated and abused our fellows for too long, and we are now reaping our reward.'”
Wow, this speaks so much not just to the characters in the books, but to us as a society as well. That’s what I love about Harry Potter so much, because even though it’s about a wizard, and magic, and an evil sorcerer, it’s at its core about humanity, about the promise of it, but also about the pitfalls and the serious issues of being human. There are so many decisions we make that affect others, things we don’t even give a second thought, and people we treat as second-class citizens, just because they’re different from us. We also reap our “rewards.”
1. “‘Who are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?’ ‘Nobody,’ said Harry simply. ‘There are no more Horcruxes. It’s just you and me. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good….’ ‘One of us?’ jeered Voldemort, and his whole body was taut and his red eyes stared, a snake that was about to strike. ‘You think it will be you, do you, the boy who has survived by accident, and because Dumbledore was pulling the strings?'”
This exchange was the ultimate one between Harry Potter and Voldemort, and it was indeed epic. If there’s one thing the movie just never got right, it was this one. In the books it is made quite plain how powerful Harry is, and not just because of the love of his mother, but in his deductive powers. Keep in mind that Harry grew the most of anyone during the course of these books, and even though he’s still brash, it’s tempered with a wisdom he just didn’t in any way hold at the beginning of the journey. It’s this wisdom that finally steaded him well when he finally faced off with his nemesis in this scene. No longer was Dumbledore “pulling the strings.” Harry was finally on his own, and he proved he knew what he was doing, something I couldn’t imagine happening even as recently as the fifth book. This scene makes everything else in the entire series worth it, something few series can boast.