Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
“Harry, yer a wizard.” –Rubeus Hagrid
How can we forget this quote? Hagrid is the first to reveal the truth to Harry, explaining everything about Hogwarts, his parents, Voldemort, and his future as a wizard. Hagrid rescues Harry from the Dursleys and remains one of Harry’s most valued friends throughout all seven books.
“I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed — or worse, expelled. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.” –Hermione Granger
An amusing quote that shows character, this Hermione quote also made it into the movie version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville have just met the three-headed-dog and escaped Filch when wandering around after dark. The three boys are happy just to be alive; Hermione’s view that expulsion is worse than death lightens the tension with some humor — even if she doesn’t find it funny at all.
“There’s no wood?” Ron bellowed. “Are you a witch or not?”
Ron yells this as he and Harry are being choked to death by Devil’s Snare. Hermione knows fire will stop the plant, but in hysteria yells that there’s no wood. Once Ron reminds her she’s a witch, she quickly conjures flames and saves them. A version of this quote comes up again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Ron says he wishes they had Crookshanks to freeze the Whomping Willow. Hermione yells, “Crookshanks? Are you a wizard or not?!”
Albus Dumbledore is one of the most beloved characters of the Harry Potter series, and he has a store of wise and often eccentric quotes. When talking about You-Know-Who, Dumbledore urges Harry to call him Voldemort, because “Fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself.” When Harry is enchanted by the vision of his family in the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore warns him that “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” On the subject of death, one of Dumbledore’s most quotable aphorisms is, “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” As for the mysteries of love and the reason Harry survived Voldemort’s killing curse, Dumbledore again has the answer to Harry’s miraculous survival and Voldemort’s greatest weakness: “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love.”
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
"The Chamber of Secrets has been opened…Enemies of the Heir, beware."
An atmosphere of terror hangs over most of The Chamber of Secrets, the book in which Slytherin's monster is unleashed to "cleanse" the school of Muggle-borns. This quote was written anonymously on the wall by Ginny Weasley, who was being possessed by Voldemort/Tom Riddle.
"Dobby is used to death threats, sir. Dobby gets them five times a day at home." –Dobby
The Chamber of Secrets also introduces Dobby and the plight of the house elves, magical creatures enslaved to wizards. Dobby belongs to the Malfoys and knows something bad's happening at Hogwarts. His ill-conceived attempts to protect Harry are a source of humor and frustration.
"Maybe he [Tom Riddle] murdered Myrtle, that would've done everyone a favor…" –Ron Weasley
Moaning Myrtle is the obnoxious, morose ghost who haunts the girl's bathroom. When Ron says that Tom would have done people a favor by murdering Myrtle, he has no idea that Tom (Voldemort) did murder Myrtle, and actually did do everyone a favor by it. Myrtle's death convinced the headmaster to close the school unless the killings stopped, so Tom recalled Slytherin's monster and the school stayed open.
"I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it." –Albus Dumbledore
Harry asks for help at Hogwarts when battling the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, and Fawkes the phoenix arrives to help him defeat Voldemort. Dumbledore's line about loyalty and help at Hogwarts is repeated by various characters throughout the series, particularly in the fifth book when Umbridge takes over and Dumbledore goes on the run.
"Never trust anything that can think for itself, if you can't see where it keeps its brain." –Arthur Weasley
When the truth about Riddle's diary comes out, Arthur reprimands his daughter for not being more cautious with it. Harry remembers his warning next year when he finds The Marauder's Map in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Arthur Weasley's warning has a particular relevance to modern, nonfictional society, as we live in an age of computers and have to be wary of everything we find on the Internet.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good…"
The solemn vow of mischeif unlocks the secrets of The Marauder's Map, a complete map of Hogwarts and the surrounding grounds made by Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs — Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and James Potter. Harry inherits his father's map from Fred and George and continues in his father's mischief-making footsteps.
"I don't go looking for trouble," said Harry, nettled. "Trouble usually finds me."
Trouble in the shape of Lord Voldemort usually does find Harry — but The Prisoner of Azkaban is the one Harry Potter book where Harry has no encounter with Lord Voldemort. Instead, he ironically goes looking for trouble with the help of his father's inheritance: the Marauder's Map and the invisibility cloak.
"You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don't let you off homework today. I assure you that if you die, you need not hand it in." –Minerva McGonagall
The strict, no-nonsense Professor McGonagall has little patience for the airy-fairy art of Divination. When she hears of Harry's predicted death, she brushes it off with a rare moment of humor. Though strict, McGonagall remains one of Harry's favorite professors throughout all the books, and has several other quotes which demonstrate her dry sense of humor.
"There was nothing woolly about the Grim in that cup!" said Ron hotly. "You didn't seem quite so confident when you were telling Harry it was a sheep," said Hermione coolly.
Though friends, Ron and Hermione are always bickering. This quote shows some clever wordplay as well as character contrast: Hermione takes Ron's "woolly" and reminds him he thought the Grim was a sheep, while J.K. Rowling uses the contrasting dialogue tags of "hotly" and "coolly."
"Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business." "Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git." "Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor." "Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball."
Lupin, James, Sirius, and Peter insult Snape one last time through their aliases in The Marauder's Map. The former schoolboy friendship of these four and their legacy to Harry (including the map and a hatred of Snape) are a central part of The Prisoner of Azkaban.
"You are truly your father's son, Harry…" –Sirius Black
This is the greatest compliment that Sirius, James Potter's best friend, can give. Harry finds his father in The Prisoner of Azkaban: he inherits the Marauder's Map, finds a replacement father figure in Sirius, and produces a stag Patronus, the same as his father's.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
"Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open." –Albus Dumbledore
The fourth book is the one in which Voldemort returns, and in which the series takes a drastic change from middle-grade to young adult novels. Goblet of Fire is much darker than any of the previous books, and Dumbledore warns everyone to stick together in dark times. This quote has also been used as social/political motivation for fans of the "Harry Potter" series.
"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." –Sirius Black
Referring to Barty Crouch, who mistreats his house-elf, Sirius gives an accurate aphorism about how to judge character. Ironically, it will be Sirius who mistreats his house-elf in the next book and pays the price.
"Imagine that Voldemort's powerful now. You don’t know who his supporters are, you don’t know who’s working for him and who isn’t; you know he can control people so that they do terrible things without being able stop themselves. You’re scared for yourself, and your family, and your friends. Every week, news comes of more deaths, more disappearances, more torturing…The Ministry of Magic’s in disarray, they don’t know what to do, they’re trying to keep everything hidden from the Muggles, but meanwhile, Muggles are dying too. Terror everywhere…panic…confusion…that’s how it used to be." –Sirius Black
Goblet of Fire is a darker book, and this quote demonstrates the terror of Voldemort and the rise of the Dark Side. The atmosphere of fear that Sirius describes also gives some explanation for why people are so reluctant to believe Harry when he tells them that Voldemort is back.
"Bow to death, Harry…" –Lord Voldemort
Harry duels Voldemort in Goblet of Fire as an equal who has returned to full power. Voldemort gives a number of arrogant speeches on the night of his return, but this line is particularly memorable because at this point Harry has resigned himself to death. He does not intend to die without a fight, but when he bows to Voldemort before the duel he shows courage that Voldemort never has: He accepts death bravely.
"Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory." –Albus Dumbledore
The "Harry Potter" books have been a source of social and political motivation for readers worldwide, and Dumbledore's reminder about right vs. easy choices is particularly applicable. Part of Harry's outrage in the "The Order of the Phoenix" is that while he has nightmares about Cedric's death every night, the rest of the Wizarding world conveniently forgets Dumbledore's speech and Cedric's murder.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
"The usual rules do not seem to apply to you, Potter." –Severus Snape
There's undeniable irony in this quote: Snape has spent most of Harry's Hogwarts years telling him that the rules still apply to him even though he's famous and a Quidditch hero. Now Snape must admit the usual rules do not apply and attempt to teach the unwilling Harry a new set of standards.
"Don't worry, you're just as sane as I am." –Luna Lovegood
Irony again: coming from Luna Lovegood, who believes in Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, reads magazines upside down and wears radishes in her ears, her assurance that Harry's just as sane as she is does not comfort him.
"From now on, I don't care if my tea leaves spell 'Die, Ron, die,' I'm chucking them in the bin where they belong." –Ron Weasley
The main focus of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is the prophecy about Harry and Voldemort. However, Divination continues to be Harry and Ron's least favorite subject, and the unpredictability and undependability of fortune-telling reflect the theme of free will.
"You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts…but you cannot deny he's got style…" –Phineas Nigellus Black
The painting of Phineas Nigellus Black, Sirius's great-grandfather and one of the few Slytherin headmasters, always has something snide and unpleasant to say. So after Dumbledore blasts apart his office, knocks out a few Aurors, and goes on the run, this is not the judgment you'd expect from sarcastic Phineas.
"Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy? You need to mean them, Potter!" –Bellatrix Lestrange
Having just murdered Sirius, Bellatrix gives Harry a tutorial in the Cruciatus curse. Harry later remembers her advice in "The Deathly Hallows" when he uses "Crucio" on a Death Eater, saying, "I saw what Bellatrix meant — you really have to mean them!"
"In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you." –Albus Dumbledore
Harry's greatest strengths are his heart and love, two qualities that Voldemort cannot even comprehend. The power of love is a constant theme in "Harry Potter": Lily Potter's love defeated Voldemort in the first place and Harry's love for Sirius makes Voldemort incapable of controlling him. Dumbledore admits that he should have remembered this strength instead of forcing Harry to learn Occlumency, a skill which goes completely against his nature.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
"There is nothing to be feared from a body, Harry, any more than there is anything to be feared from the darkness. It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more." –Albus Dumbledore
One of Dumbledore's most important and memorable characteristics is that he does not fear death, knowing that there are far worse things in life than dying. Harry eventually grows to share his mentor's view, and it is this attitude that makes him "master of death" in the final book.
"Why are you worrying about You-Know-Who? You should be worrying about U-NO-POO — the constipation sensation that's gripping the nation!" –sign on Weasley's Wizard Wheezes joke shop
The Weasleys provide some much-needed comic relief in a Diagon Alley where wanted posters of Death Eaters hang from every window and news of more disappearances comes every day. The twins' outright mocking of Voldemort by using him as an advertising gimmick shows the audacity and brilliance that makes them such popular characters.
"Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies. Surely you know this, Dumbledore." –Lord Voldemort
Voldemort's attempt to justify himself to Dumbledore produces an accurate, truthful statement for once. Even though Voldemort is lying about himself, his observation is very true as it concerns Dumbledore — who is feared and eventually ridiculed for the greatness that makes people envious.
“Dobby has no master! Dobby is a free elf!" –Dobby
Set free in "Chamber of Secrets," Dobby remains proud of his freedom, loyal to Harry, and defiantly independent until his tragic death at the hands of his old masters in "The Deathly Hallows."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, those who must live without love." –Albus Dumbledore
The preface to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, two excerpts that discuss death and living without friends that have passed away, seems to support this quote perfectly. A constant theme in Harry Potter is that there are worse things in life than death; and living without love is one of them.
"I have seen your heart, and it is mine." –the Horcrux
Said to Ron Weasley, Voldemort's Horcrux torments him in an attempt to protect itself before Ron stabs it. This quote also made it into the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie, and the dramatic scene where Ron is tempted by the Horcrux is one of the most intense in the book/movie.
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." –inscription on the Potters' tombstone
"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." –inscription on the Dumbledores' tombstone
Seeing these two tombstones and their inscriptions is an emotional moment for Harry, not least because he can't believe Dumbledore never told him about them. Harry puzzles over the Dumbledores' inscription, but takes the inscription on his family's tombstone as a message about the Deathly Hallows.
"Crookshanks?" Hermione shrieked. "Are you a wizard or not?"
Various scenes in "The Deathly Hallows" recall the trio's adventures in the previous books, including this line and their journey through the tunnel under the Shrieking Shack. In "The Sorcerer's Stone," Harry shouts at Hermione, "There's no wood? Are you a witch or not?" Now Hermione yells the same thing at Ron, who uses his trademark "Wingardium Leviosa" spell from book one to get them past the Whomping Willow.
"NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" –-Mrs. Weasley
This line is memorable for several reasons. First of all, it reveals plump, sweet, motherly Mrs. Weasley's ferocious side as she duels Bellatrix Lestrange — the deranged, extremely skilled witch described as Voldemort's "best lieutenant." Second, it is one of the only times profanity is used in the series. In the seventh book, Rowling uses mild profanity such as "oh my god," "hell," and "damn," which she had largely stayed away from. The fact that the worst profanity in the series comes from Mrs. Weasley is a surprise, but not an unpleasant one. Mrs. Weasley's line also brings up the recurring theme of parental love and parents protecting children — in this case, Mrs. Weasley has already lost her son Fred and now defends her only daughter Ginny.
"You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from death." –Albus Dumbledore
J.K. Rowling once wrote that after the death of her mother, all the characters in the "Harry Potter" books became defined in some way by death. Dumbledore did not fear death, and in the end neither did Harry — he would rather die than let his friends die for him. While Voldemort tries to become master of death by conquering and running from death, Harry becomes master of death by accepting it.
"Albus Severus Potter, you are named after two Headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was the bravest man I knew." –Harry Potter
Harry names his three children James Sirius, Lily Luna, and Albus Severus in memory of his parents, friends, mentors and also Snape, the unsung hero of the series. When Albus confesses his fear of being put in Slytherin, Harry reminds him that one of his namesakes was a Slytherin and that he himself was almost Sorted into Slytherin. It's worth noting that Albus Severus Potter's initials are ASP — an asp is a type of snake. Perhaps Harry's youngest son will be in Slytherin after all…
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scholastic Press, 1998.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scholastic Press, 1999.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Scholastic Press, 1999.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic Press, 2000.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Scholastic Press, 2003.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Scholastic Press, 2005.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Scholastic Press, 2007.
Images courtesy of amazon.com.