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Harry Potter Discussion Questions

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone

1. What would you see if you stood before The Mirror of Erised? Discuss and explain your
answer. (If this is too personal a question, as it was for Albus Dumbledore, then simply
elaborate on something less significant that you would see in the mirror).
2. As a study in writer's imagination, invent a candy that might be found in the wizarding world.
Name it and describe it.
3. In Chapter Nine, Harry disobeys a direct order from one of the teachers at the Hogwarts School
and takes off on a broom. This infraction is normally cause for expulsion from the school.
However, in Harry's case, it brings him the honor of being chosen as the "Seeker" for his
Quidditch team. Can you find other instances in the story where Harry's actions lead to quite
opposite results from what is expected? To what extent is the book's plot advanced by such
surprise turns of events? How much unpredictability would be too much?
4. Quirrell tells Harry that "There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to
seek it" (p. 291). Do you agree with this? Is this the reality of the world? Or if good and evil do
exist, what makes them so? Which is more important in the world, power, or good and evil?
5. In The Sorcerer's Stone, Dumbledore admonishes Harry to "always use the proper name for
things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself" (page 298). Explain what he means.
Why does naming something make it less intimidating?
6. Why did Harry remain decent and honorable through his difficult life? Why did his cousin
Dudley who is given attention, love, and all the material things he wants, become a bully and a
brat? Compare and discuss.
7. Throughout most of the story, we share Harry’s point of view. We see what he sees and
experience what he experiences. In the first chapter, however, we are shown Mr. Dursley’s point
of view as he drives to work, sees a cat reading a map, and encounters oddly dressed people on
the streets. Rowling could have given us a more straightforward third-person story without any
particular point of view. Why does she choose to show us Mr. Dursley’s thoughts and reactions
in this first chapter?

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

1. In what ways is "The Chamber of Secrets" a modern fairy story? Discuss with examples.
2. Dobby tells Harry that he knew of Harry's “Greatness but not of his Goodness”. What is the
difference between greatness and goodness?
3. What is the significance of having Gildory Lockheart as the Defense Against the Dark Arts
teacher in the second book?
4. What does the author accomplish by framing many people before finally revealing the Heir of
Slytherin to be Voldemort's younger self, acting through Ginny Weasley?
5. What is the role of the afterlife in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Consider Nearly-
Headless Nick and Moaning Myrtle as examples of characters who continue to affect the plot
even after they are dead. Why do you think Harry's parents are not able to return to earth in this
ghostly form?
6. In The Chamber of Secrets, we discover that Slytherin had wanted Hogwarts to be a school only
for full bloods, with no mudbloods admitted. His prejudice against anyone different from
himself creates all sorts of problems. How does this attitude compare with real prejudices
people have had throughout history, for example against people of "mixed blood" regarded as
inferior?
7. What is glorified as the greatest virtue in this story, and why?
8. How does the author use foreshadowing to comment on and prepare the reader for the story's
defining conflicts? Consider the early introduction of Fawkes, the Dursley's hatred of all things
magic, and Ginny's dismay when the cat was petrified.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

1. Is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban just a children's book, or is it a book that can be
read and enjoyed by adults? Is this novel one that's better suited for adults?
2. Does imprisonment in Azkaban constitute "cruel and unusual" punishment? What does the use
of such a prison tell us about wizarding society as a whole?
3. Voldemort does not appear in this novel at all – how is this significant and what effect does it
have on the novel in terms of themes and structure?
4. How is Harry's reaction to the dementor different from his friends' reactions? What does Harry's
reaction foretell?
5. Why doesn't Hermione like Professor Trelawney? Why does Hermione feel threatened by
teaching that is "outside the book?"
6. How does Professor Lupin describe the dementors? How would you describe them? What do
you think they are used to guard Azkaban?
7. Lupin tells Harry, "what you fear most of all is fear. Very wise, Harry" - why does Lupin tell
Harry this and what does he mean?
8. Sirius Black is condemned for the murder of 13 people, and Harry turns 13 in this book. Do you
think these two "13s" are merely coincidence, or is there a deeper meaning to the author's
choice of number? What is the significance of the number 13 and how does it fit into this book?
9. In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black is imprisoned for twelve years in Azkaban, and
Pettigrew is imprisoned for the same amount of time in the body of a rat. Which character was
more truly the prisoner?

Harry Potter and The Globlet of Fire

1. What would be your response to concerned parents and teachers who say that Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire is too violent for children? What age group do you think this novel is
appropriate for? Who shouldn't read it (if anyone)?
2. By the end of Book 4, what loose ends has J.K. Rowling left open to be tied up in later novels?
How successfully does Goblet of Fire balance its own ending with the need to leave open ends
for the rest of the series?
3. The Quiddich World Cup event turns ugly. Why do you think major public events have a
propensity towards turning ugly? (Ch. 1-13)
4. The triwizard Tournament was founded as an effort to form ties among witches and wizards of
different nationalities. How do the muggles form their own ties? (Ch. 1-13)
5. Professor Moody teaches students about illegal wizard curses which are abuses of power. Why
does he teach them? How does his class relate to the larger world? To your world? (Ch. 14-18)
6. Why doesn't Ron believe that Harry did not put his own name into the goblet? Why is Ron's
disbelief important to the story? (Ch. 14-18)
7. When Moody tells Harry, “Play your strengths,” what strengths is he talking about? How does
this line in the book apply to you and your life? (Ch. 19-22)
8. What does Ron teach Harry about the giants? What is Hermione’s view on the giants? What
does each character’s view of the giants reveal about themselves? (Ch. 23-26)
9. In the Tournament, Harry waits to see if the other champions find and rescue their hostages.
What does this act reveal about Harry’s true nature? How do you think his true nature will help
or hinder his ultimate mission? (Ch. 23-26)

10. The author creates a change in mood when Harry slips into the scene in the Pensieve; what
kind of mood does she create? Why did she change the mood in this way? (Ch. 27-30)
11. Why does the author choose to have the third task take place at night? How does the setting
intensify the mood and enhance the story? Would it be the same id the task took place at noon?
Why or why not? (Ch. 31-37)
12. In The Goblet of Fire, Hogwarts students discover that 437 items have been banned from the
school that year (page 183). Those items include "Screaming Yo-yos, Fanged Frisbees, and
Ever-Bashing Bommerangs." How is that list similar to objects that are from time to time
banned in schools? Consider items such as yo-yos, Pok-e-mon cards, and skateboards.
Speculate on why Rowling would include such a comment about banned items in this book.
13. Would Harry have succeeded at the tasks he faced in The Goblet of Fire without outside
assistance? If not, what does this reveal about Harry's greatest strength?
14. In The Goblet of Fire, mask-wearing wizards torment the muggles: "A crowd of wizards, tightly
packed and moving together with wands pointing straight upward, was marching slowly across
the field. Harry squinted at them....They didn't seem to have faces....Then he realized that their
heads were hooded and their faces masked" (page 119). Compare this moment of torment to
other times when groups of people have worn hoods and masks to cover their identities. What
does the masking of a face tell us about the nature of evil?
15. In The Goblet of Fire, we learn that when Voldemort killed Harry's parents, Harry survived the
attack due to his mother's loving sacrifice. Voldemort explains that "His mother died in the
attempt to save him—and unwittingly provided him with a protection I admit I had not
foreseen....I could not touch the boy" (p. 652). As a result of surviving that attack Harry is
labeled a great wizard, but has Harry truly earned that title? To what extent would you say that
Harry is not so much "great" as lucky? In all that Harry does, how much is he acting of his own
free will, and how much is he simply living out what from his birth has been his destiny?
16. The last chapter of book four is titled "The Beginning." Why would the last chapter carry this
title? What is beginning? What has ended? The last line of this book is "As Hagrid had said,
what would come, would come...and he would have to meet it when it did" (page 734). What do
you anticipate Harry and his friends will have to meet next?

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

1. Why would the Ministry of Magic want to break Harry's wand and expel him from Hogwarts
without an official inquiry?
2. Consider the conflicting loyalties Ron and Hermione face when Dumbledore instructs them to
keep Harry in the dark over the summer. Are they being good friends by listening to
Dumbledore? Why or why not?
3. At the end of the story, Dumbledore confesses that he feels he should have told Harry sooner
about the prophecy. Do you think events would have transpired any differently if Harry had
known the contents of the prophecy earlier and if so, how?
4. In all of the previous Harry Potter novels, Harry's enemies have somehow been connected to
Voldemort. But in Book 5, while Voldemort is active and certainly important to the plot, the
main body of the novel emphasizes a completely different enemy: Professor Dolores Umbridge.
Why does Rowling shift away from Voldemort for so much of Book 5? What makes Professor
Umbridge so villainous?
5. How would Harry's experiences with Professor Umbridge have been different if Professor
Dumbledore were talking to Harry during Book 5? How would Book 5 change if Harry and
Professor Dumbledore maintained the same relationship they have in the earlier books?

6. How do you find the pacing of Book 5? It is the longest of the Harry Potter novels: why? How
does the momentum of Book 5 compare to the other novels in the series? Is there anything you
would have trimmed out?
7. Harry spends a lot of Book 5 being quite grouchy. Do you find Harry harder to like in Order of
the Phoenix? How does Book 5 change your perception of Harry's general character? And what
do you think Harry has learned from his experiences in Book 5?
8. How do you think Harry's behavior in Order of the Phoenix would look to an outside observer?
How would the novel be different if, say, Ginny or Ron were the focus points?
9. Romance is a fairly big part of Book 4. How does Harry's crush on Cho Chang change once we
get to Book 5? How does the romance subplot add to the novel as a whole? How would it
change the series of Harry and Cho had managed to make it work past one real date?
10. Hermione insists on freeing all of the House Elves at Hogwarts, even the ones who do not wish
to be freed. What role do slavery and enslavement play in Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix? Who else in the book, besides the elves, is enslaved? How do notions of freedom play
into the narrative?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

1. The second quotation describes a scene between Harry and Draco Malfoy's mother, Narcissa.
Who is the more threatening, Harry or Narcissa? Does Harry have a problem with authority
figures?
2. Why does Dumbledore trust Snape? Is Dumbledore too trusting?
3. Is trust a good thing in the world of Harry Potter?
4. Who is R.A.B.?
5. What does it mean to be "pure of heart” ?
6. How would you rate this book as compared to the other Harry Potter books? Why?
7. What was your favorite part?
8. This book started out with much less interaction with the Dursley's than the other books. In your
opinion, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
9. Why doesn’t Draco Malfoy kill Dumbledore?
10. Why does Dumbledore think it is so important for Harry to learn more about Voldemort’s past?
How do they go about gathering this information?
11. Why does Rufus Scrimgeour call Harry “Dumbledore’s man, through and through”?
12. Why does Horace Slughorn insist on surrounding himself with potentially influential young
wizards? What does he stand to gain from these relationships?
13. What role does Quidditch play in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

1. Lord Voldemort created seven Horcruxes to attain immortality. Harry himself was a Horcrux
when part of Voldemort's soul was sealed within his body. Harry has the ability to speak
Parlestongue as a result of this. Discuss other abilities Harry has that may also be from
Voldemort.
2. Before they say good-bye for the last time, Dudley admits that he cares about Harry and thanks
him for saving his soul from the Dementors. How does this make Harry feel about his life on
Privet Drive?What role does Quidditch play in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?
3. Ron, Fred, George, Hermione, Fleur Delacour and Mundungus Fletcher take Polyjuice Potion to
make themselves look like Harry to act as decoys for Voldemort. Why would the Order of the
Phoenix pick this group for such a risky plan instead of more advanced wizards?
4. Many readers were very upset about Hedwig being killed. Why do you think there was such a
reaction to the pet owl's death?
5. As Harry, Ron and Hermione set off on the mission left to them by Dumbledore, to destroy the
final Horcruxes, they start to question what they've been told. Did he expect them to succeed?
Did he have a plan for them? Even Harry, who has never questioned Dumbledore's motives, has
a period of little faith. What was your opinion of Dumbledore while reading and what were the
points that it changed?
6. After she is told that Draco is alive inside the castle, Narcissa Malfoy tells Voldemort that Harry
is dead so that she may leave to try to find her son. Voldemort proceeds to hit Harry with
multiple Cruciatus Curses, from which Harry feels no pain, and orders Hagrid to carry Harry
back to the castle. Is it believable that everyone could be tricked into believing Harry was dead?
Why doesn't he feel the curses?
7. Many characters lost their lives in the fight against Lord Voldemort. What death were you most
saddened by? Which was a long time coming?
8. Compare the mood of The Deathly Hallows to The Sorcerer's Stone. Some critics have said that
Rowling continued writing the series with an adult audience in mind. Are the later books in the
series still appropriate for a young audience?
9. Were you satisfied with the epilogue? Imagine the futures of other characters that Rowling did
not include.
10. Novelist Elizabeth Hand said that Hallows ends the series nicely, but also made the criticism
that "...the spectacularly complex interplay of narrative and character often reads as though an
entire trilogy's worth of summing-up has been crammed into one volume." Do you agree? Was
the final fight scene overwhelming?
11. Whose personality, in your opinion, changed the greatest amount over Harry's seven years at
Hogwarts: Harry, Hermione, Ron, Draco, or Dudley? Use examples from the books to defend
your opinion.
12. Each of the kids said they thought a different "Hallow" was the most important. Tell which one
you think is the most important and give an example why. (The wand, the stone or the cloak)
13. Does the fact that Voldemort took Harry’s blood make Harry immortal? Dumbledore tells Harry
that as long as Voldemort lives Harry lives in the King’s Cross station. Harry being immortal,
even for a short period of time, doesn’t really make sense, but if Voldemort is tethering Harry to
life, then how can he die? And remember, it wasn’t the accidental horcrux that kept Harry alive,
but the fact that Voldemort took Harry’s blood. Once the Harry horcrux was gone and Nagini
was killed, assuming Voldemort’s killing curse hit Harry, would he still be alive?
14. During the “final” final battle, doesn’t Harry tell Voldemort that none of his curses are binding,
and he won’t be able to kill anyone else at Hogwarts? If that’s the case, what’s the point of
casting shield charms around Voldemort’s would-be victims (Molly Weasley)? If he activated
the same type of sacrifice his mother did, then wouldn’t a killing curse rebound off of the
would-be victim and hit Voldemort (and this time he would really die because the horcruxes
were all destroyed)?
15. This is not as important of a question, in my opinion, as my other ones. But if Voldemort had
disarmed Harry, wouldn’t he have won the allegiance of the elder wand? In other words, based
on the final battle, it seems like Harry automatically wins because of the allegiance of the elder
wand. The text reads something like: “the elder wand would not kill its master.” But couldn’t
Voldemort have won its allegiance? Dumbledore and Grindelwald had a duel, and Dumbledore
won the elder wand. Why was it so simple for Harry when he was fighting Voldemort?

Harry Potter Book and Movie Questions

1. Do you see any difference between the film and novel versions of Harry, Ron, and Hermione?
How much has the films shaped how you imagine the book, especially upon a re-read?
2. The title of each of the chapters provides some clues as to what will occur in each. Do the titles
tell the whole truth? How do they reveal some of the more symbolic meaning of the story?
3. Much of what makes The Harry Potter books delightful reads are the plays with language.
Using a dictionary if necessary, find out what the following names mean, and discuss why
they're good names for the characters they represent.
A) Filch
B) Lucius Malfoy
C) Voldemort
D) Fluffy
E) Madam Pince
F) Remus Lupin
G) Slytherin
H) Dobby
I) Sirius Black
J) Scabbers
K) Professor Binns (think of the sound, not the spelling)
L) The books required for first year students (The Sorcerer's Stone, pages 66-67)
M) Dumbledore
N) Hagrid
O) Aurors

4. Although it may seem that Harry is pre-ordained to be a great wizard (see question 15 of Goblet
of Fire), clearly he also acts of his own free will and at times makes difficult choices. Locate the
times when Harry made critical choices and, in each case, discuss what would have happened if
Harry had made different choices.
5. Millions of readers of all ages enjoy the Harry Potter books. That means J. K. Rowling must be
writing in a way that appeals to lots of people—from children to adults. What do you enjoy
most about her writing? Consider the following elements as you discuss your answer:
A) Gripping plots
B) Vivid characters
C) Cliff-hangers for chapter endings
D) Descriptive language such as similes and metaphors
E) Puns and funny names for people and spells
F) Important themes such as making friends, facing difficult problems, losing
people you love, and surviving tough situations.

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