Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)

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Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)

As usual, life is never boring for our favorite magical Chosen One, and things are really heating up for Harry in this installment of the series. Voldemort and his Death Eaters are definitely gaining momentum, and Harry now knows (from the previous film) that he's going to have to play a pretty key role in taking them down.

Like, the role.

The Chosen One

Harry is generally a pretty modest guy, but the revelation of the prophecy at the end of the last film has made it kinda hard for him to pretend that he's not special. At least in terms of this whole effort to defeat Voldemort.

Just to refresh our memories: The prophecy basically says that Harry has to be the one to kill Lord Voldemort. So, yeah, now he's got even more of a spotlight on him than usual—and that's really saying something.

He tries to stay pretty humble, all of that aside. When Hermione mentions that Romilda Vane is pursuing him because she thinks he's "the Chosen One," he jokes with her in response:

HERMIONE: Hey, she's only interested in you because she thinks you're the Chosen One.

HARRY: But I am the Chosen One. [Hermione smacks him with a paper.] Okay, sorry, um, kidding.

He's still our down-to-earth Harry, clearly. With a little help from his friends, of course.

He's not above using the whole special status thing to his advantage for a good cause, though. When Dumbledore wants Harry to use his "Chosen One" prestige to gain access to Professor Slughorn and earn his trust, Harry does it.

You see, Dumbledore knows that someone like Harry would be like catnip to Professor Slughorn, who is definitely very interested in gifted and/or famous folks. Like, he's pretty much a full-fledged groupie of famous wizards. In fact, as Dumbledore puts it, he "collects" them.

That's why Dumbledore brings Harry with him to ask Slughorn (apparently for the umpteenth time) to come back to Hogwarts: he knows Slughorn would have trouble resisting a chance to be near The Chosen One:

HARRY: Sir, exactly what was all that about?

DUMBLEDORE: You are talented, famous, and powerful. Everything Horace values. Professor Slughorn's going to try to collect you, Harry. You would be his crowning jewel. That's why he's returning to Hogwarts. And it's crucial he should return.

Dumbledore waits until Slughorn is actually at Hogwarts to let Harry in on why it's crucial: Slughorn has an important memory of young Voldemort that he hasn't wanted to hand over to Dumbledore up to now. How's Dumbledore going to get it? You guessed it: Harry's basically going to have to use his sway as "The Chosen One" to convince Slughorn to give up the goods:

DUMBLEDORE: Over time, while here at Hogwarts, Tom Riddle grew close to one particular teacher. Can you guess who that teacher might be?

HARRY: You didn't bring Professor Slughorn back simply to teach Potions, did you, sir?

DUMBLEDORE: No, I did not. You see, Professor Slughorn possesses something that I desire very dearly. But he will not give it up easily.

HARRY: You said Professor Slughorn would try to collect to me.


HARRY: Do you want me to let him?


Harry rises to the challenge (obvi). Slughorn isn't super eager to talk to Harry about his memories of Voldemort, but with some help from a lucky potion, and well-timed references to being The Chosen One, Harry gets what he needs in the end:

HARRY: I'm going to tell you something. Something others have only guessed at. It's true. I am the Chosen One. Only I can destroy him, but in order to do so, I need to know what Tom Riddle asked you all those years ago in your office, and I need to know what you told him.

Whoa, dropping the Chosen One bomb. Guess it pays to have a big head (or pretend you do) from time to time, eh, Harry? That's exactly what Slughorn needs to hear in order to spill the beans about his history with Voldy, and it's a huge step in the whole anti-Dark Lord effort.

He and Dumbledore Are Tight Again

You may remember that Harry has been frustrated in the past (and particularly in the last film) when Dumbledore and/or the other members of the Order shut him out of discussions or didn't share information with him. Come on, guys.

Well, as you may have gathered from Dumbledore using Harry as bait, things have changed. Dumbledore is treating Harry more like a kind of partner and co-conspirator in the quest to get rid of Voldemort.

Sure, he still doesn't always reveal all of his intentions or motives right away Like, at the beginning of the film, he doesn't clue Harry in on why he's brought him to see Professor Slughorn until after he's achieved his ends. But he's definitely confiding a lot more in Harry…and giving him more responsibility.

In fact, he leaves Harry with quite a hefty mission: in order to defeat Voldemort, Harry must track down and destroy a bunch of different objects (called "Horcruxes") that the Dark Lord is using to hide little bits of his soul. Not an easy task, especially when Dumbledore dies at the endwith plenty of information left unshared, no doubt.

Losing Dumbledore

Um, yeah, about that...Dumbledore's death is a big blow for Harry (and, you know, the entire non-evil Wizarding world. And, Sniff.). We'll have to wait until the next film to see just how affected Harry is by the absence of his mentor/fellow Horcrux-hunter (since Dumbledore's death comes basically at the end of this movie), but already, we can tell that it's brought Harry to a place of uber-unhappiness.

How do we know? Well, he's generally a peaceful and honorable kid, but when Dumbledore is murdered, Harry is furious. He immediately chases Snape and tries to disable him with a nasty curse that causes the victim to bleed from, uh, basically everywhere. That's definitely not typical Harry behavior, and it shows you just how devastated he is.

And it makes sense that Dumbledore's loss hits him hard. They definitely had a special bond—that started on day one when Harry came to Hogwarts. Sigh. Also, we have to remember that Harry hasn't even gotten over his godfather Sirius' death yet. And now Dumbledore, too? How much loss can a kid take? Apparently, life is really testing Harry on that particular question.

Potions Superstar

But now for some good news: Harry is crushing it at Potions this year. Like, crushing it so hard that he even beats Hermione in a contest that earns him a vial of something called "liquid luck." What a change a new teacher (that would be Slughorn) can make, right?

Well, it's more than that. Since Harry joined Slughorn's class late, he had to grab the last remaining textbook, which was super worn-out and banged up, but also filled with super-helpful notes. The notes are what have allowed Harry to really excel at Potions, you see.

Unfortunately, the downside of Harry's textbook (which previously belonged to someone who called himself "The Half-Blood Prince") is that it also contains some pretty nasty magic. Which Harry finds out the hard way.

Harry didn't really question the source of these potions notes too closely, since they were helping him out in his lessons (and as they say, don't look a gift horse in the mouth), but when he uses one of the handwritten curses in the book against Malfoy, it's almost a fatal sitch. Yikes. Harry clearly doesn't like Malfoy, but he definitely wouldn't try to murder him. That's just not the Chosen One way.

So, yeah, for all the crazy responsibilities he manages to take on, Harry is still very much a kid trying to figure stuff out. And his embrace of the Half-Blood Prince's textbook notes shows us he may be the Chosen One, but he's still got a lot to learn.

If he were older or maybe a scooch more mature, he'd probably question the source of the textbook a bit more (or at least, not use curses from it without knowing exactly what the do). But we have to remember, he's still only sixteen at this point.

Maybe we can cut him some slack, especially in light of the whole "having to save the world" thing he deals with on a regular basis.

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