Character Development of Harry Potter in books 1-4
Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, The Chosen One, is a boy of many names and traits. He is the protagonist and namesake of J.K. Rowlings’ seven-book series. In each book, Harry faces trials that he must surpass, forcing him to make difficult decisions that go far beyond those a typical teenager would face. In the first four books of the series, Harry’s life is put in danger many times but he somehow manages to pull through and often saves others in the process. Readers see Harry struggle to overcome his abusive childhood and adapt to his new status quo of fame, friendship, and heroism throughout the first four books. Harry first enters Hogwarts in The Sorcerer’s Stone timid and unsure of himself but by The Goblet of Fire he emerges stronger and more confident. Though Harry is the hero of the story, he still has faults. As he grows older those faults become more obvious as he takes on more responsibility. In the first four books of the series, Harry develops and grows into his fame; he begins to earn his titles and hero status. Harry is forced out of his childhood in The Goblet of Fire, though he continues to act immature at times. Harry’s development in the first four books shows him struggling to overcome his childhood while he transitions into adulthood — this results in a boy who accepts more responsibility than he should and shapes him into the compassionate, courageous, but impulsive hero we all know and love.
One of Harry’s biggest personality traits is his compassion, this stems from the extreme lack of compassion he was shown throughout his early childhood. Harry lived under a cupboard, and was deprived of affection and love as a child while living with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley. His clothes were dirty hand-me-downs that didn’t fit, he wasn’t given enough food, and he was treated like he didn’t belong in the family. When Harry learns that he is a wizard and leaves for Hogwarts, his biggest fear is that he will be an outsider — that is what he is in the world he grew up in, so of course that is what he expects to be in this unfamiliar new magical world. When he meets Ron Wesley on the train in The Sorcerers Stone, he see’s Ron as a kindred spirit. Ron has dirt on his nose and is also most likely wearing hand-me-down clothes because his family is poor; Ron speaks in “The Chamber of Secrets” about having to wear recycled robes from his brothers. Ron also complains to Harry about how he has a pet rat because his family couldn’t afford an owl. This embarrasses Ron and Harry reassures him.
“Harry didn't think there was anything wrong with not being able to afford an owl. After all, he'd never had any money in his life until a month ago, and he told Ron so, all about having to wear Dudley's old clothes and never getting proper birthday presents. This seemed to cheer Ron up,” (The Sorcerer’s Stone, Ch. 6).
Harry also offers Ron some treats from the train trolley. This is a small moment in the book that often goes unnoticed. Though Harry gives Ron treats, he does so by initiating a trade — Harry’s sweets for Ron’s less desirable sandwich.
“Go on, have a pasty," said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry's pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten),” (The Sorcerer’s Stone, Ch. 6).
Harry’s compassionate and empathetic nature wants to help Ron without making him feel lesser —because Harry’s entire life so far has made him feel lesser — so Harry offers a trade. Harry’s compassion often spurs him to step up and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. He frees the house elf Doby from servitude to the Malfoy family in The Chamber of Secrets. He befriends Luna Lovegood and defends her odd behavior throughout the books, even when he doesn’t understand…