If I Only Had a…
As a fan fiction writer, one thing I enjoy is to try and classify characters according to their strengths, so as to work out how they would react to specific challenges. Oftentimes, though, it’s hard, mainly because the characters are so extremely complex. You have to take into account their personality conflicts—each little quirk that makes them unique. For characters in Harry Potter, you must remember that Hermione is brilliant, but not so good at thinking under pressure (i.e., in Sorcerer’s [Philosopher’s] Stone against the Devil’s Snare). Also, people’s pasts shape them, and the way they respond to other characters is very telling of a character. I once found a good reference by which to classify characters, but certain aspects of the reference made it hard to use. For example, there were classifications according to his or her alignment with light or darkness, personality, and whether the character’s strength lies in body, mind or soul. I found it excellent, but as I examined the characters in Harry Potter, I realized a more general classification worked to determine how characters complemented one another, so I adopted the “mind, body, soul” one. The difference was that I changed it to “brain, heart, courage,” based on The Wizard of Oz.
In The Wizard of Oz, the four main characters visit the Wizard basically to have their wishes granted. The Scarecrow wanted a brain, the Tin Man wanted a heart, and the Lion wanted courage. By the end of the movie, however, it turns out that they have had what they wanted all along. In Harry Potter, the “brain, heart, courage” trinity is obvious with Hermione, Harry and Ron.
Hermione, obviously enough, is the Brain of the group. She is always trying to think her way out of problems. Nowhere is this more evident than in the potions trial in SS/PS—she realizes that the cryptic warning is a logic puzzle and determines which potions will safely get Harry though the fire. She is constantly in the library, gets outstanding grades, and is offended by cheating. Because her strength is Brain, however, she does have weaknesses in the Heart and Courage areas—she expects people to understand her feelings when she doesn’t make them perfectly clear (the canaries in Half-Blood Prince), and she has trouble thinking under extreme duress (the aforementioned Devil’s Snare trial and the boggart in Prisoner of Azkaban). The Courage weakness, however, is stronger than the Heart weakness.
Harry and Ron are interesting both because either of them could fill Heart or Courage, and because their roles in the movies are different than they are in the books. For the books, Harry is Heart and Ron is Courage. Perhaps because the movies want to make Harry more of a hero, he is more of the Courage-type in them, while Ron takes the role of Heart by default. In the movies (although Goblet of Fire does show him taking on more of a Heart role), Harry does not have quite as many emotional connections to the characters—Ron is more his best friend than the closest thing he has to a brother, and his “saving people thing” is more instinctual than anything. And while I enjoyed the movies a lot, many of Ron’s bravest moments were given to others, so his Heart personality takes precedence.
Book Harry, however, is very Heart-oriented. As it seems to be that his “power the Dark Lord knows not” is love, this makes a great deal of sense. He has the heart to feel sympathy for Tom Riddle if not for Voldemort (Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince), and he lacks the hatred necessary to properly cast a Cruciatus Curse (Order of the Phoenix) and to revel in the effects of Sectumsempra (Half-Blood Prince). Since Courage is another strong trait of his, his weaknesses lie mostly in the Brain category; he becomes so focused on something that he does not think about the other possibilities.
Book Ron is much more Courage-oriented than his movie counterpart. His shining moment was probably in Prisoner of Azkaban, when he declared that if Sirius were going to kill Harry, he would have to kill him and Hermione first. He also has strengths in the Brain department, such as his skill in chess (Sorcerer’s Stone) and his being a Prefect. His weakness is mostly in the Heart department, since he is a bit dense, romantically-speaking (a whole lot of time in Half-Blood Prince) and in understanding others’ feelings (for example, Hermione declared that he had the “emotional range of a teaspoon”).
The secondary trio of Ginny, Neville, and Luna also fits this categorization. Ginny is Heart, with her strong will and determination; Neville is Courage, never backing down from his enemies and friends; and Luna, while not the most logical of people, still qualifies as Brain because of her unique way of thinking and looking at the world.
Relationships between people tend to react with characters of like categories attracting to one another—for good or for ill. Harry and Ginny date in Half-Blood Prince. Luna and Hermione come together to get Rita Skeeter to write the article on Harry in Order of the Phoenix, knowing that it would both help his reputation and get people to question the Ministry. Though Ron and Neville do not have that much interaction, Neville has taken Ron’s role as Harry’s partner-in-crime—in the Goblet of Fire movie by helping him with the gillyweed, and in Order of the Phoenix, when they’re the last two standing in the fight against the Death Eaters. Because they are secondary characters, we do not see their weaknesses as much; they do, however, round each other out well.
Another aspect of the Heart personality is that it can be a villain’s or anti-hero’s. In this case, it would be the Dark Heart. I believe that Draco is a Dark Heart-type, adding to his and Harry’s rivalry. Voldemort, however, is so logical and cunning that he is very much a Brain-type. Even though he is the main villain, by personality type he is not as close an enemy to Harry as Draco is. While Harry needs to fight Voldemort to save the world and bring justice to all those who suffered or died because of him, it is Draco who he needs to fight to end their rivalry. If anyone else had the capability to defeat Voldemort, Harry would let him do it; it’s hard to see him agreeing to the same about Draco.
The last personality type is a Trinity, an almost equal combination of Heart, Brain, and Courage. In The Wizard of Oz, this was Dorothy; she had the courage to stand up to the Wicked Witch and the Wizard himself, the heart to care about her newfound friends and worry about Auntie Em, and the brains to realize why Glinda had her go on the journey to the Emerald City even though she had the power to go home the whole time. A Trinity in Harry Potter is Dumbledore. For the Brain category, we see his spell knowledge and his use of such things as the Pensieve and Legimency—he is the wise mentor. For Courage, we know that he is the only one that Voldemort ever feared, and we see that wrath in the Department of Mysteries in Order of the Phoenix—he is a powerful warrior. And for Heart, we see that he is capable of making mistakes out of love and trust, and that he knows in his heart that love is the greatest power of all—he is a loving grandfather figure for Harry and the other students.
The Trinity and Brain-Courage-Heart categories apply to other fandoms too. Trios usually follow this in order to balance one another out—for example, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman are respectively Courage-, Heart-, and Brain-types that we see fight alongside each other often in comics and on TV. Trinities are harder to find, but solo fighters tend to fall under this category. It’s all a matter of balance.