Opposite Characters That We Love

Characters that serve as foils to one another are plentiful in literature. Some famous examples of foil characters are: Hamlet and Laertes, Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. Opposite characters are an important motif for establishing personality traits. When characters are noticeably different from each other, their traits stand out; this allows readers to properly analyze and appreciate the characters. In the Harry Potter series, readers can better appreciate their favorite characters in this way.


Hermione and Luna

Hermione and Luna are often quoted as exact opposites, especially by Rowling herself. Hermione is book smart, introverted, and bossy. Luna is more creative and intuitively gifted. She’s more extroverted than introverted with her feverish desire for friends. Instead of telling everyone what to do, Luna gives her friends advice and lets them come to their own conclusions. Both characters are clever and gifted in their own ways. When there are scenes or chapters where Hermione and Luna argue, their different gifts are easily seen.




Harry and Voldemort

Where Harry is honorable, selfless, and kind, Voldemort is anything but. Most foils occur between the protagonist and antagonist, and Harry and Voldemort are no exception. Voldemort is calculating, arrogant, and self-serving. He never thinks of the greater good or cares about anyone other than himself. Harry is a martyr through and through. Both of these characters go to extremes, especially when it comes to death. Voldemort’s greatest fear is dying, whereas Harry doesn’t care if he lives or dies. A scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 that really highlights this antithesis is when Harry fights Voldemort and they jump off the castle together. Harry is proving how he isn’t afraid by subjecting himself to Voldemort’s worst fear.




Newt and Grindelwald

Even though it’s Dumbledore and Grindelwald who are usually pitted against each other, they share more in common than Grindelwald and Newt. Grindelwald craves power, immortality, and world domination. Newt is his opposite in every way. Newt cares about keeping a low profile. He doesn’t want any power and just tries to live each day as selflessly as he can by caring for his magical creatures. Newt’s quiet kindness is contrasted with Grindelwald’s aggressive attacks on the wizarding world. Dumbledore says it best when he tells Newt, “You do not seek power.”




McGonagall and Umbridge

As soon as Umbridge steps foot into Hogwarts, she and Professor McGonagall clash. Not only do they have vastly different teaching styles, but McGonagall refuses to be bullied by Umbridge. Where Umbridge believes in controlling students through fear, McGonagall nurtures and cares for all of the students. It’s clear that Umbridge’s own insecurities reflect in her horrible teaching style, whereas McGonagall grows in confidence from her students’ love and trust in her. Umbridge is never able to defeat McGonagall, who has the strength and support of her students behind her. These two characters bring out the best and worst in each other, specifically Umbridge proving how malevolent she can be and McGonagall standing up publicly for her students’ safety.




Ron and Percy

It’s common to compare Fred and George to their brother Percy, but I’ve always seen more differences between Ron and Percy. The twins and Percy share ambitious traits when it comes to creating their own future, but Ron has no such dreams. Percy is close-minded, selfish, focused, and hardworking. Ron would do anything for his friends and family, and he doesn’t really care about his schoolwork. Even though Percy performs well in school, he still abandons his family. Ron is there for them no matter what and shows an incredible loyalty that readers never see from Percy. While Ron is occasionally selfish, Percy betrays his entire family and is only later redeemed. This difference between the brothers shows just how distinct and complex each member of the Weasley family is.




What other characters are opposites to each other? Write to us and tell us!

Monet Polny

"Harry Potter" has been my ultimate inspiration as a writer. Everything from the characters to the plot dynamics has impacted my writing style and aided me in making the decision to major in creative writing. I wanted to become Newt Scamander's protegee and work with magical creatures, but becoming a writer is the next best career choice.