Exploring Personal Transformation in “Harry Potter”
Personal transformation is a heavy burden to bear, especially when deciding between who you should be and who you want to be. In Harry Potter, that choice becomes a decision between good and evil. In the Muggle world, it becomes a decision between strength and weakness. In a more specific structure, personal transformation is best described as becoming who you want to be vs. who you are right now. This mindset is where our New Year’s resolutions stem from. This mindset is also where characters’ choices and brave decisions come from.
A perfect example of all of this is Draco Malfoy. He goes through the series being who he is expected to be and follows in his family’s footsteps. However, when it comes to the crucial point of making a decision, he chooses who he wants to be by leaving the dark side and joining the good. This is a huge personal transformation as we all believed him to be devoted to Voldemort. It also makes him seem incredibly vulnerable and opens up our eyes to see that he truly is still a child and that he was only doing what he thought was right. His personal transformation shows us just how scared he was of his parents all this time.
Another obvious example of personal transformation is our boy who lived, Harry Potter. This one isn’t as sudden and actually falls into a smooth evolution over time. We don’t ever actually see the moment Harry decides who he is going to be. He just immediately knows that there is a right and a wrong, and he wants to be on the right side. From the very first book, he decides to protect those he loves without even pondering the possibility of staying out of the fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. We can, however, look ahead to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and justify his sacrificing himself as a moment of personal transformation. He decides to not only be the one fighting for his loved ones but to also be the one who would lay down his own life for them. He switches from survival mode to warrior mode.
This leads us to Severus Snape, who doesn’t have a sudden personal transformation; we just finally see his true character. His transformation came long ago when Voldemort killed Lily. He made the decision then to keep Harry safe for her and be the man she always wanted him to be. We, as the readers, don’t see his personal transformation until Deathly Hallows. This is when Snape makes the switch from cruel traitor to romantic hero. We can see this as a personal transformation because Snape decides to be a double agent for the good rather than simply joining Voldemort.
Personal transformation is not always an obvious theme. It can sometimes be implied through a deeper understanding of the character’s motivations and actions. It is a very strong theme throughout Harry Potter, and it is what makes the story so remarkable. People choosing who they want to be rather than who they should be is what makes a hero a hero. Draco, Harry, Severus, and so many other characters undergo a personal transformation in this story. Several characters had a personal transformation when they decided to stay and fight for their school and loved ones rather than running and hiding. I think this theme is so important when discussing this story, and it begs the question of your own personal transformation.