Hogwarts: Home of Wizards, Witches, and Leaders

by John

Abstract: Even in the first film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” we see the potential in the little students, the teachers, and the darker characters. This essay is all about the different styles, motivations, and other qualities that make each character a leader.

In the first scene of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry gets placed on the doorstep of his wicked aunt and uncle’s house. A letter was lying on top of the bundle of blankets surrounding the one-year-old and the letter explained that Harry Potter’s parents had just been murdered by the evil Voldemort, the darkest wizard of all time, and that Harry had just survived and destroyed the Dark Lord by mysteriously resisting Voldemort’s killing curse. Ten years later, Harry finds out he is a wizard and the truth about his parent’s death unfolds with the arrival of a half-giant named Hagrid, who has come to take the boy to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he will be taught all about the Wizarding World. Harry quickly joins Hagrid and runs away to a fantasy world, where he meets his best friends, Ron and Hermione, and finally finds a home.

It wasn’t long before Harry’s new happy life started to spiral down. The trio quickly discovers that the three-headed dog on the third floor of their school is guarding something mysterious, which they soon learn is the Sorcerer’s Stone, one of the two signs of the rising Voldemort. Harry panics as Voldemort, the man who murdered his parents and gave Harry the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his head, starts to get stronger and Harry’s life is visibly at risk. He is thrown into a whirlwind of adventures to protect his life, his friends, and his new home. Harry, Hermione, and Ron become invisible under a cloak, fight trolls, avoid the evil gazes from Professor Snape, fight the devil’s snare, fly on brooms, play chess as the pieces themselves, and fight off the rising Dark Lord, all while trying to pass their first year of Wizarding school. In the end, Harry, with the help of his friends, manages to postpone the resurrection of his nemesis and stop him from getting the Sorcerer’s Stone, which would have given He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named immortality. At the same time, they stopped the Dark Lord they exposed one of their professors, Quirrel, as the fraud and twisted man he really was. The trio is rewarded during the end-of-the-year feast with House Points from Albus Dumbledore, which leads to the winning of the House Cup for the Gryffindor house.

Throughout the film, the characters show signs of being leaders, even though some of the leadership isn’t very good. Each character has their own style, personality, motivation, and sometimes when the characters bond, their ability to lead gets stronger, especially when there is a lot at stake.

Harry Potter is the best example of a leader in this movie. Even though he is still adapting to the new world, he doesn’t let it affect his decisions. He charges into danger with only the knowledge of a first year. Although Harry doesn’t use a lot of communication or consider things carefully, which is the process of determining and making a decision to solve a problem, he uses trust and integrity to get the job done; doing what is morally right and with good intentions. Ron and Hermione stand as proof of his leadership ability. His best friends follow him throughout the entire film, risking their necks and standing at his side no matter what, and that isn’t just because he is a good friend or because he is famous in the Wizarding Worl – it is because they trust that he will do the right thing and that he will never leave them. He stands beside them during their problems, even though his friends’ problems may not be as difficult as his, but it doesn’t make it any different. He remains a leader in some of the most difficult positions, such as during a Quidditch game, fighting a troll, and sneaking through the Hogwarts castle late at night, using his best characteristics and his motivation to avenge his parents’ deaths and save his new home at Hogwarts.

Another good leader in Sorcerer’s Stone would be Hermione Granger. Her leadership style is almost the exact opposite of Harry’s leadership style. Hermione uses trust and friendship, but those characteristics are on the back burner of her mind, which is filled with the same amount of knowledge as some of the professors at the school. Before she leads, she thinks, which is never a bad thing. Her first step is identifying the problem, which for her means coming up with a few hypotheses for solving the problem, which is similar to making several decisions. After evaluating the best way to go forth with the problem solving, she makes a decision, sometimes quickly, but always well planned. When it comes to her school work, her decision-making ability is turned on high and she gets the job done and doesn’t stop until it’s perfect. She is never afraid to ask professors for help. At the same time, because of her large ego, Hermione doesn’t really take in feedback, unless it is from someone she truly trusts, like Harry. Some may call her bossy and stuck up because of her cleverness and most people don’t listen to her due to her low ranking on the social superiority list, but it doesn’t stop Hermione. She succeeds at thinking calmly and rationally in a pinch, although it is hard for her friends, especially Ron, to admit it. She helped them throughout the year with homework and school, along with their ‘extra-curricular’ activities such as solving the mystery of what lies under Fluffy, who was Nicholas Flamel, and how to save them from the damp and dangerous clutches of Devil’s Snare.

Hermione and Harry use trust and follow their morals to lead their friends and peers, but not all of the characters in Sorcerer’s Stone have as good intentions as they do. For example, Draco Malfoy is the school bully and the rudest first-year you will ever meet. Just like Hermione and Harry, he is eleven years old and still has the ability to lead better than most, although his friends may be dumber than a box of nails. Malfoy uses fear and his financial superiority to create his gang of Slytherin bullies. He doesn’t think before leading, hoping his father will take care of any consequences that may come. In one of the very first scenes with Draco Malfoy, we see him offering out his hand to Harry, hoping that the new famous student will join his small gang. Along with insulting Harry’s first friend, Ron, he lets Harry know that he can help Harry find out who the “wrong sort” of wizard is and tries to convince Harry that some Wizarding families, the Malfoy family, are “better than others.” Draco Malfoy’s ability to lead mostly comes from his ability to insult and boss people around face-to-face, which is a way of verbal media or form of communication using words, which is useful but in Malfoy’s case, has the potential to backfire.

Voldemort is another character who can lead whole armies and put fear in people, so much fear that most flinch when they hear his name. In the first film of the Harry Potter series, we get a brief background of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Hagrid explains to Harry that Voldemort had once been extremely powerful, but that was before Harry had unknowingly stopped him. The Dark Lord, Voldemort, had raised armies and convinced people to murder, along with spreading fear as if it was a deadly virus. He doesn’t say much, but his communication skills are powerful. He utilizes nonverbal communication, generally a deadly facial expression to command his army. Although his face is attached to the back of Professor Quirrel’s head, Voldemort’s body language can still be read. Instantly the audience and Harry can see that he is weak and saddened at his lack of a body, not to mention lack of a soul, but he also tries his best attempt at persuading Harry into joining him on his quest to return to power. Draco and Voldemort clearly have opposite ways of being evil, but both focus on discipline and punishment. They like to punish anyone who doesn’t agree with them, Draco using sneering remarks and rude jokes, while Voldemort uses torture and murder. Both are also obsessed with stereotyping, thinking that members of specific blood races or financial classes are prone to behaving the same way. Malfoy and Voldemort believe that Pure-Bloods, people born from parents who are both capable of magic, are higher than Half-Bloods and Muggle-borns, which is the term for someone who has non-magical parents, such as Hermione. Along with bad characteristics and personalities, the characters have similar motivations. Both want to rule in the same way and become powerful. Even after his first death, Voldemort is still on a journey to rule the Wizarding World and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

Most of the leaders in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are the students, but there is an abundance of characters that sit on the sidelines but remain leaders, such as Albus Dumbledore, headmaster at Hogwarts. We may not see much of him in the movie, but we are still unable to forget that he is overseeing what goes on in the school and on its ground, along with remaining to be the only person that puts fear in Voldemort’s lifeless eyes. He mostly uses forms of nonverbal communication, but being at the high level of authority, Dumbledore is still expected to explain the school rules and even guide Harry away from the Mirror of Erised, which could have metaphorically frozen Harry’s mind with the sight of his family that he never had the chance to meet.

Other characters in Sorcerer’s Stone that had a small moment to shine and become leaders, but can be easily forgotten, are Ron Weasley, Harry’s best friend, and Neville Longbottom, a chubby Gryffindor who can’t really get anything right. During the large chess scene in the book’s climax, Ron steps up and plays leader by giving Harry and Hermione their positions and directing the charmed life-sized pieces across the board, while riding on the back of a stone horse and playing the part of a knight. He successfully wins the chess game with the sacrifice of his own piece, which physically put him in danger. Neville stepped up just as the trio attempted to escape the Gryffindor common room and save the Sorcerer’s Stone. He stands up to his friends in the hope of stopping them from getting caught and costing Gryffindor more house points. Although he appeared just as an obstacle in their way, he was rewarded at the end of the film by Dumbledore, who understands that it is hard to tell friends ‘no,’ and that requires a certain kind of bravery. It is Neville’s final points that end the tie with Slytherin and wins the House Cup for Gryffindor. Both characters have simple but good personalities and the best motivations and integrity.

The characters of Sorcerer’s Stone show many different ways to be a leader, along with the different skills it takes to be a strong one and a weak one. The book also projects the difference between leaders. Each character faces different circumstances and has different motivations, using behaviors such as discipline, trust, and integrity along with communication that is both verbal and nonverbal. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is packed with different leaders such as the brave Harry Potter, the strong Hermione Granger, and the evil Voldemort, each using different skills that define them as the characters they are. Thus, the characters and leaders of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are as real as any you would find in the real world.