Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Good versus Evil

By J.K. Rowling

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Good versus Evil

It's the oldest story ever told – the forces of good against evil! Light vs. darkness! The heroes vs. villains! Goodies vs. baddies! Friends against foes! Yes, it's a story we've heard a billion trillion times, yet somehow it never gets old – though Harry's saga rehashes some ancient themes, it's still fresh and new anyway. The reason? Well, we don't want to get all philosophical on you guys, but it's basically kind of human nature, right? We all feel the conflict between wrong and right, good and bad, every day. In Deathly Hallows, it's the Order of the Phoenix against the Death Eaters, with Death Eaters promoting intolerance and cruelty toward Muggles and wizards with Muggle blood. According to Rowling, "The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry" (source). But good and evil in Deathly Hallows isn't always clear-cut (as demonstrated by characters like Snape and Dumbledore). Rowling shows us that those sides, which sometimes seem so black and white, are actually in an eternal game of tug-of-war, with many shades of grey between them.

Questions About Good versus Evil

  1. The fight between Harry and Voldemort is clear – only one of them, as the prophecy tells us, can survive. However, how clear or unclear are the boundaries of good and evil for the rest of the wizarding world?
  2. What do you make of Dumbledore and Grindelwald's conflict? Is that another clear-cut case of good vs. evil, or is it more complicated than that?
  3. Think back to Book 1, in which the Sorting Hat gives Harry a choice between Gryffindor and Slytherin – what comment does that make about the potential each character has for good or evil?

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