Professor: Care of Magical Creatures
Hagrid has a special place in the Harry Potter series as Harry's first wizard friend in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He's a wild-looking giant of a man, but he's as kindly as they come. He always has time to talk to Harry, Hermione, and Ron when they need him. Hagrid's also delightful because, as the instructor of Care of Magical Creatures, he's a constant source of comic relief. As the lessons for the fourth-years get more and more serious, Hagrid's classes are still good for a laugh. He spends the entire school year raising these mysterious, vile creatures called Blast-Ended Skrewts, which sting at one end and explode at the other, with some nice blood-drinking suckers in the middle. The students get to bring these skrewts on walks and see if they hibernate (they don't, and they don't like pillows either). It's all quite hilarious.
Hagrid's budding romance with Madame Maxine is also good for a laugh. (We want to emphasize that we're laughing with Hagrid and not at him. We're rooting for him!) But it's interesting that Hagrid suddenly falls in love because he has never shown any serious signs of liking anyone that way before this. It's as though Harry, Ron, and Hermione's new romantic feelings are giving Hagrid ideas too. So, Hagrid turns up in his courting clothes one day:
Hagrid was wearing his best (and very horrible) hairy brown suit, plus a checked yellow-and-orange tie. This wasn't the worst of it, though; he had evidently tried to tame his hair, using large quantities of what appeared to be axle grease. It was now slicked down into two bunches – perhaps he had tried a ponytail like Bill's, but found he had too much hair. (16.147)
Hagrid's look is so surprising that it actually stops Hermione from talking for a few minutes (which is rather hard to do). But even if Hagrid appears kind of ridiculous, he's one of the best people in all of Hogwarts. His loyalty charms everyone around him except for the few creeps around, like Draco Malfoy and Rita Skeeter. When Harry's frightened about what he has to do for the first task, Hagrid shows him that it will be dragons. And Hagrid also gets up the courage to tell Madame Maxine a secret he's never told anyone: that his mother was a giant. Madame Maxine refuses to admit that she's half-giant, too, and leaves Hagrid abruptly after hearing his confession. But Hagrid is bold enough to be honest with the woman he loves, which is really sweet.
Unfortunately, Hagrid's open, trusting nature gets him into trouble. He freely agrees to an interview with Rita Skeeter where she seems to work out that the skrewts have not been acquired by strictly legal means. Rita Skeeter also uses her Animagus form (a beetle) to spy on Hagrid's secret conversation with Madame Maxine. She promptly prints an article, "Dumbledore's Giant Mistake" (24.32), which strongly hints that Hagrid is violent and has been terrifying his students. Hagrid is so hurt and betrayed by the twin rejections of Madame Maxine and Rita Skeeter that he almost considers handing in his resignation to Professor Dumbledore.
But Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Professor Dumbledore talk him out of this drastic decision. Hagrid remembers his father, a decent wizard who taught him not to be ashamed of himself. Hagrid tells Harry hopefully:
Yeh know what I'd love, Harry? I'd love yeh ter win, I really would. It'd show 'em all ... yeh don' have ter be pureblood ter do it. Yeh don' have ter be ashamed of what yeh are. It'd show 'em Dumbledore's the one who's got it righ', lettin' anyone in as long as they can do magic. (24.194)
Hagrid has to deal with terrible wizarding prejudice because of his giant blood. But, instead of letting it make him bitter and withdrawn, he decides to go back out in the world. And he keeps putting his faith in the people he loves, Professor Dumbledore and Harry. We think this demonstrates Hagrid's greatness of spirit. He's not the most complex character that ever was, but he sure is loyal, honest, and good-hearted. Hagrid is proof that, even if your genetics shows that you should be bad, you can always choose to be good.
In the end, Hagrid finally reaps rewards for being such a decent person. Dumbledore receives many letters from Hogwarts graduates and parents insisting that Hagrid stay on the teaching staff. And Madame Maxine finally comes around and makes up with Hagrid. So he ends the book happy, just as he deserves.