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Harry Potter (Series) | Symbols

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Harry's Scar

Harry's lightning-shaped scar is the only physical damage to his body resulting from Voldemort's attempt to kill him as a baby. It fulfills the prophecy that Voldemort would mark the one with the power to "vanquish the Dark Lord," thus setting in motion the chain of events leading to the final showdown between Harry Potter and Voldemort, which only one can survive. As such, the scar symbolizes Harry's fate. This scar is the proof Voldemort selected Harry (not Neville) as the wizard who, as his "equal," would have the power to kill him.

House-Elf Clothing

House-elves are enslaved by some magical families and are clothed in rags, such as old pillowcases. The nature of their enslavement is magical. The enslavement is broken if a member of the human family they serve gives them real clothes. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into giving Dobby the house-elf a sock, which sets Dobby free. Clothing is the symbol of the house-elves' liberation.

Sorting Hat

In contrast to Harry's scar, the Sorting Hat symbolizes Harry's free will. When it sorts Harry as a new student at Hogwarts, it originally wants to place him in Slytherin. In general the Sorting Hat looks for certain traits and abilities that match the general character and values of each house. However, Harry pleads with it not to place him in Slytherin. Giving in to this request, the Sorting Hat places him in Gryffindor instead. Dumbledore later clarifies the Sorting Hat did this because it is a person's choices, not natural abilities, that matter most in who that person becomes.

Phoenix

Fawkes, Albus Dumbledore's phoenix, regularly burns up and then rises from its own ashes. As a phoenix, Fawkes symbolizes death and rebirth. This symbolic meaning supports the theme of death, resurrection, and immortality. Moreover, as Dumbledore's magical pet, Fawkes is a symbol of Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore. Dumbledore notes this idea at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: "You must have shown me real loyalty down in the Chamber. Nothing but that could have called Fawkes to you." Later in the series, Dumbledore's Patronus emerges as a phoenix, which foreshadows Dumbledore's reappearance at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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