Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Good vs. Evil Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Professor McGonagall's voice trembled as she went on. "That's not all. They're saying he tried to kill the Potter's son, Harry. But – he couldn't. He couldn't kill that little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they're saying that when he couldn't kill Harry Potter, Voldemort's power somehow broke – and that's why he's gone." (1.72)
The book's barely started and already good has triumphed over evil; what's more, the good in question is a mere baby. When faced with the goodness of that little boy, the evil wizard's "power somehow broke," even though he had time, experience, training, and power on his side. None of those were a match for the unformed goodness of this baby.
"Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin," said Hagrid darkly. "There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one." (5.199)
Well, this is kind of rough on any Slytherins without homicidal tendencies, isn't it? Seriously, though, Hagrid's statement raises questions about how much of good and evil can be put down to fate, and how much to personality. What would have happened if these "bad" wizards hadn't been put in Slytherin when they were at Hogwarts? Would they have ended up as good, responsible citizens? For more on this, see our section on "The Sorting Hat" in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory."
"I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it," he said softly. "Thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands…well, if I'd known what that wand was going out into the world to do…." (5.225)
Ollivander makes many, many wands, and most of those are used for good. He has no way of knowing, when he sells them, which wands will be used for more evil purposes. But the wands he makes, in the wrong hands, can kill people and cause terrible wrongs. Does that make him responsible at all for the spells some of these wands' owners perform?