The Harry Potter Series Analysis

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“We are our choices,” states French author Jean-Paul Sartre. He asserts that people are solely defined by the choices they make, and nothing more. Although it is true that as people we choose our own identity, it is wrong to assume we are alone in doing so. Influences arise from all aspects of our lives and can be both positive and negative. However we must eventually choose our identity for ourselves. The Harry Potter Series, written by J.K. Rowling proves that shaping identity is heavily influenced by the people around us, yet who we want to become is ultimately a personal decision. Influences most often come from those we trust, especially our close friends. Harry is influenced by his friends from the moment he meets…show more content…
Considering Harry’s questionable childhood, readers wonder how he will fare in school. Harry manages to find a special place in the headmaster’s heart early on. After discovering the Mirror of Erised, Harry stares into the mirror, and notices Dumbledore standing behind him. Rather than being angry about his choice to wander the school at night, Harry “was relieved to see that [Dumbledore] was smiling” (Book 1 p.213). Dumbledore then becomes a prominent source of advice for Harry about growing up, especially the choices he makes in the process of doing so. Dumbledore’s advice to Harry is crucial after one of his encounters with Voldemort, who influences Harry’s character as well. While down in the Chamber of Secrets, Voldemort’s preserved memory, Tom Riddle, expresses to Harry the fact that “there [is] a strange likeness between [them]. Even [Harry] must have noticed” (Book 2 p. 317). Harry recalls his sorting ceremony where the Sorting Hat told him that “Slytherin will help [him] on the way to greatness. . .” (Book 1 p. 121), and is horrified when he realizes how similar he and Voldemort actually are. He questions his choice to refuse entry to Slytherin house. He then feels he “should be in Slytherin” (Book 2 p. 333), because he is much like them; evil and twisted. Voldemort’s simple comment was able to convince Harry in a matter of minutes that he was just like Voldemort himself. After suddenly slipping into an identity crisis, Harry needs Dumbledore’s support be able to find himself again. Dumbledore tells Harry that by choosing not to be in Slytherin as he did makes him different from Voldemort. “It is our choices . . . that show [who] we truly are. . .” (Book 2 p. 333), much more than our past, commonalities, or interests do. Voldemort causes Harry’s identity crisis, and Dumbledore teaches him the lesson that his
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