Hogwarts: School of the Virtues

By Jason Knott

For several months now, I have been considering whether there is a connection between the seven Harry Potter books and the seven virtues. It began as a mere hypothesis; seven books, seven virtues, why not? As others (such as WaggaWaggaWerewolf) have pointed out, the seven virtues are the cardinal or natural virtues of temperance, prudence, justice and fortitude (or courage) and the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. Rereading and thinking about the books from this angle, an amazing amount of evidence came to light. Imagine my interest when WaggaWaggaWerewolf suggested a similar idea to mine, working from the seven deadly sins as exemplified by the seven Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) teachers.1 Unfortunately, having read the Werewolf's essay, I see that my ideas were completely different.

The difference is in beginning point. I had concluded that each book explores imaginatively a particular virtue of the seven. J.K. Rowling's exploration of these virtues seems often to be indirect; she highlights the virtues by showing their lack and their perversion as well as their true form. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, in his book Nicomachean Ethics, talked about the four cardinal virtues in much the same way, though not with a story. He spoke of finding a "mean" or middle point with regard to the virtues, not too much or too little. Therefore, even though Aristotle, being Greek, spoke of only four virtues and not seven (the last three come from the New Testament ’ see 1 Corinthians 13), in this system there are potentially fourteen different ways of messing the virtues up. That is, for every one of the seven virtues there is a possibility that one may fail to exhibit the virtue perfectly in two ways. On the one hand, someone may show a deficiency of the virtue. So since Aristotle defines courage as a mean concerned with fear,2 the deficiency of this virtue is cowardice, too little control of one's fears. On the other hand, one may have an excess or perversion of the virtue. So again with courage we may say one can have too much courage and therefore run headlong into danger needlessly.

WaggaWaggaWerewolf, following certain traditions in Catholic thought, matches the seven deadly sins to the virtues that prevent or oppose them. This would lead one to look for, and perhaps find, a different kind of evidence. In this system, only one "sin" would be sought as the "counter example" to the virtue. So one would look for the deadly sin of sloth or laziness as the counter example of courage, rather than looking for cowardice and rashness. Of course, the Werewolf did not apparently start with the virtues but with the seven deadly sins. However, this beginning point would lead one in a different direction from mine. Therefore insofar as we both find virtues hinted at in the books, our ordering is completely different.

This essay will explain as briefly as can prudently be done how I see the virtues as explored in the seven books (even including some preliminary thoughts on the seventh book). First, it will be expedient to explain the six-fold pattern I noticed in how Rowling explores the virtue in each book. (1) There are always hints at the beginning, before Harry reaches Hogwarts, with Harry or another character (or both) exhibiting a lack of the virtue in question. (2) Throughout the book Harry learns the virtue by degrees. (3) The virtue always becomes important at the climax or "denouement" of the plot. (4) New characters, those introduced in the book, often but not exclusively DADA teachers, exhibit the excess or perversion of the virtue. (5) Hagrid always exhibits the lack or deficiency of the virtue at some point. (6) And finally, Dumbledore has a debriefing with Harry in which he puts the finishing touch on the book's exploration of the virtue, often defining it or praising it and/or even mentioning it explicitly.


The Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone: Temperance

Temperance, according to Aristotle, is a mean concerned with pleasures.3 Therefore, the deficiency of this virtue means that one enjoys pleasures too much, and gives free reign to one's desires without subordinating them to a higher good. The extreme of this virtue means one does not enjoy the pleasures enough, which could come to expression as being motivated by fear (the opposite of desire). Also, a perversion of this virtue would be to subordinate one's desire for pleasures to an evil end instead of a good one.

Beginning

Dudley's greed exhibited at his birthday in chapter two, especially when contrasted with the harsh and pleasureless existence Harry has been living, obviously exhibits a lack of temperance.4 Also, consider the poem on the door of Gringotts:

Enter, stranger, but take heed

Of what awaits the sin of greed,

For those who take, but do not earn,

Must pay most dearly in their turn.

So if you seek beneath our floors

A treasure that was never yours,

Thief, you have been warned, beware

Of finding more than treasure there.5

The sin of greed, in an Aristotelian framework, is the lack of temperance. This poem warns not only of the physical dangers that await the would-be thief at Gringotts, but also the natural consequences of the sin of greed, the lack of temperance.

What Harry Learns

Harry, as we have mentioned, has no access to possessions or pleasures at the beginning of this book, and as such has not had any opportunity to exhibit temperance or its lack. However, upon entering the wizarding world, this changes, and he gets possessions of his own. Soon after Christmas, when Harry gets his first Christmas presents,6 he encounters the Mirror of Erised ("Desire" spelt backwards).7 He gets addicted, as it were, to spending time in front of it, and Dumbledore warns him to desist.8 Then he stops going to it, and Dumbledore praises him.9 He has at least begun to learn temperance.

Climax

Two events at the end show the importance of temperance. First, Ron sacrifices himself in the chess match to get Harry and Hermione to the Sorcerer's Stone.10 Given that Harry, Hermione, and Ron are a symbolic trio exemplifying the three parts of the soul, this event symbolizes temperance. Ron represents the body or desiring part of the soul, and his sacrifice of himself for the greater end is a symbol of temperance. (Incidentally, Hermione is ’ obviously ’ the brain or thinking part and Harry the heart or willing part.)

Second, Harry encounters the Mirror of Erised again.11 Here, he was able to find the Stone because, as Dumbledore explains later, he only desired to find the Stone and not to use it.12 In short, Harry had learned temperance. And this is why he is able to beat Voldemort. (More on this point when we discuss the debriefing, below.)

New Characters

This book's characters are all "new" in the sense that this is the first book. However, apparently Quirrell is a relatively new DADA teacher. As such, he fits as well as one can the category of new characters, which in other books exhibit a perversion or extreme of the book's virtue. Quirrell's sniveling, fearful personality,13 albeit a front to hide his evil intentions, fits the category of an extreme or perversion of temperance. Temperance involves pleasures, which are things one would desire. The opposite of something desired is something feared. Thus, being driven exclusively by fear rather than the desire for pleasure is a kind of extreme, perverted temperance.

Furthermore, Quirrell's true personality serves Voldemort to the point of self-sacrifice. Temperance involves subordinating one's pleasures to a higher good. Doing so for an evil purpose would, therefore, be a perversion of temperance. Quirrell "learns" from Voldemort that this distinction does not hold ’ that there is no good or evil.14

Finally, Quirrell is also possessed by Voldemort. Voldemort is driven by fear too, mainly the fear of death. In three ways, that is, Quirrell exemplifies the perversion of the virtue of temperance.

Hagrid

Hagrid's exemplification of the lack of temperance is one of the most important events in the story. I am speaking, of course, of his uncontrolled desire for a pet dragon. This causes immediate problems concerning wizard law, of course.15 But more importantly, this intemperate desire was used by Quirrell/Voldemort to learn how to get past Fluffy, fatally compromising the Stone's security and precipitating the book's crisis.16

Debriefing

Dumbledore explains in his debriefing that Harry had gotten the Stone through his tempered, or well-ordered desire. Harry desired to find the Stone, not to use it. His desire was to further the good goal of keeping the Stone from Voldemort, and not a greedy desire to have unending life and wealth (the desire that Voldemort had: an intemperate desire that was, here, his undoing). Also, Dumbledore explains that Flamel gives up his desire for never-ending life for the greater good by having the Stone destroyed and thus kept from evil hands in the future.17

Chamber of Secrets: Prudence

Beginning

Before Harry gets to Hogwarts, we have example after example of people making decisions that miscalculate how to achieve their goals, which is a lack of prudence. Mr. Malfoy (as we learn at the end) has hatched a rash plan to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, which eventually causes him to lose his house elf.18 Dobby tries to save Harry (here at the beginning, twice, and more later) in ways that always fail and cause trouble.19 Ron and the twins fly the car to Privet Drive to save Harry, getting into trouble with their mother.20 Mr. Weasley tries to solve his disagreement with Mr. Malfoy by starting a fistfight with him at the bookstore.21 And finally, Harry and Ron steal the car again to get to Hogwarts.22 Also, at the beginning we get hints on the issue of prejudice, which can be seen as a lack of prudence. That is, prejudice means you judge people based on too little information, or on the wrong information ’ always an imprudent choice. Mr. Malfoy again provides the example, in the bookstore.23 This issue is at the center of the book because it was why Salazar Slytherin made the Chamber to begin with.24

What Harry Learns

Three events that span the book show us how Harry learns prudence and how this is important at the end. They all have to do with rule-breaking, admittedly a theme repeated throughout the series but, I think, especially important in this book. First, as previously noted, he exhibits a pronounced lack of prudence by stealing the car to fly to Hogwarts. His motive was good enough: get to Hogwarts. But his method is rash and completely unnecessary. Of course, Hermione knew this and would have stopped this event had she not been conspicuously absent at the time. The Hogwarts authorities, Dumbledore and McGonagall especially, censure this act and threaten expulsion should this or its like recur.25

Then, Hermione actually leads the way in "breaking about fifty school rules' 26 namely in making the Polyjuice Potion. She is generally against breaking rules, but this is for a good reason. Ron is, of course, uncomprehending.27 The fact is that Hermione, the brain of the trio, knows prudence already. That is, she knows that breaking rules is sometimes a good, prudent choice because it is the best means to an appropriate end. But this example is one that Ron and Harry can learn from.

Climax

Finally, Ron and Harry have to save Ginny, which involves, in McGonagall's words, "breaking a hundred school rules into pieces." 28 They do this, again, in the absence of Hermione. But they have learned from her when and how to break rules, in short, prudently. The authorities at Hogwarts do not expel them but praise and award them.29 This is no mere sanction for breaking rules, but a recognition of prudence.

New Characters

Professor Lockhart is known for, among other things, his books.30 These books tell of his exploits and some of them are just advice. That is, his public persona is of someone who knows everything about everything. It is only the appearance of knowledge or prudence, because of course he is a bumbling dolt who only has one true skill: fooling people.

Hagrid

Hagrid's lack of this book's virtue is less important, but he still shows a lack when he sends Harry and Ron into a dangerous situation that they barely escape (to see Aragog).31

Debriefing

Dumbledore, in his debriefing, emphasizes the importance of choices, a key part of prudence.32 He also exhibits prudence by going back on the threat to expel Harry and Ron because of new and unforeseen circumstances, as we have seen. He recognizes prudence with a prudent act.

Prisoner of Azkaban: Justice

This is Rowling's "crime and punishment" novel, and so deals with the virtue of justice. Justice, with regard to crime and punishment, means that the guilty must be given an appropriate penalty by the proper authorities. The lack of this virtue is when the guilty are unpunished or the innocent punished. Excesses of this virtue include excessive punishments, or the desire for them, or when one takes the law into one's own hands, also called "vigilantism." Of course, these varying ways of missing the mark with regard to justice can often coexist.

Beginning

This book begins with Harry reading about witch burning, a miscarriage of justice if ever there was one.33 Then Uncle Vernon praises hanging,34 and Aunt Marge says that she likes corporal punishment.35 Also, Harry exacts his own "justice" on Aunt Marge.36

What Harry Learns

Harry continues in his tendency toward vigilantism when he learns the official but little known (and ultimately untrue) story of Sirius Black.37 That is, until the end.

Climax

In the Shrieking Shack, Harry at first wants to get his revenge on Black, but finds he is unable to do it.38 This is a step forward from his behavior toward Marge, who had only insulted Harry's parents, not caused their deaths. But then he finds out that Pettigrew is really responsible, and he actively prevents an act of vigilantism on him.39 Harry has learned justice.

New Characters

Lupin and Black, two new characters, both want to get revenge on Pettigrew and kill him.40 This is better seen as an excess or perversion of justice than its lack, because Pettigrew was really guilty of the crime. Lupin had earlier questioned whether Black deserved what he got from the dementors,41 but Black was innocent and perhaps Lupin suspected that. Though Lupin shows a tendency to overdo it in his desire for justice, he does not lack this virtue completely.

Hagrid

Hagrid shows the lack of the virtue in his claim that had he found Black after the Potters' demise, he would have torn him apart.42 Though Hagrid did not know this fact, Black was innocent. Therefore this is more a lack of justice than its excess, even though in other ways it is very similar to what Lupin and Black want to do to Peter Pettigrew. Remember that Pettigrew confessed when confronted.43

Debriefing

Dumbledore praises Harry's act of sparing Pettigrew, and connects the issue of justice to the issue of knowledge of the future: "The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed...You did a very noble thing, in saving Pettigrew's life." 44 This shows the importance of time ’ a prominent theme in the book, of course ’ and of Trelawney's fortune-telling, and how they connect with the virtue of justice.

Goblet of Fire: Courage

Beginning

This book begins with the story of the murder of the Riddles' gardener, in which courage is mentioned, along with its opposite, cowardice, repeatedly.45 Harry awakes from his vision of this event, fearing that if he tells the Weasleys they will "think [he] is losing his nerve." 46 Harry wants the appearance of courage as much or more than real courage. Also, Uncle Vernon's cowardly fear of Sirius Black is such that Harry can manipulate it for his own ends.47

What Harry Learns

Harry must face many daunting tasks in this book, being a Triwizard Champion. This also involves asking someone to the Yule Ball, the most frightening of all tasks: encountering the opposite sex.48 He always has warning about these tasks. However, Aristotle said that true courage is shown when one confronts a sudden danger and stands firm for the sake of virtue,49 even in a situation where victory is hopeless. Therefore, Harry's real chance to show courage comes when he unexpectedly encounters the Dark Lord.

Climax

When this happens, Harry does stand firm, even though he cannot hope to win against Voldemort. He refuses to beg for mercy or to bow, or even to hide.50 Therefore he perfectly exemplifies courage according to Aristotle's definition.

New Characters

Two new characters, who are actually one and the same, exemplify the excess or perversion of this virtue, also in accordance with Aristotle's definition. These are Moody and Barty Crouch, Jr. Aristotle had said that "the Celts" were renowned for their ferocious excess of courage.51 I think Moody is of Celtic extraction for two reasons. First of all, his first name, "Alastor' has a connection to Scotland. According to one source, this name becomes "Alistair" in English speaking counties.52 Another source tells us that "Alistair" is really a variant of "Alasdair." 53 A quick Google search shows how many people with these various names are Scottish, which is Celtic. A second clue is that in the movie version of this book, Moody wears a kilt to the Yule Ball. I do not know why this is the case, though it could be that the makers of this movie had clues of which I am unaware that Moody is Scottish.

Others have noticed that the name "Alastor' in origin, is Greek and indicates an avenger or nemesis.54 I am not disputing this, and in fact it fits his exemplification of an excess or perversion of courage. Aristotle said that some who appear brave wish to "exact a penalty' which is pleasant, and not to show virtue, and thus are not really brave.55 Therefore an avenger would fit this category. We know Moody does like to exact penalties on dark wizards.56 And Crouch, Jr., masquerading as Moody, delights in exacting penalties on "cowardly" boys like Draco.57 I see no reason to assume that the name cannot have a double significance. Either significance fits my contention that Moody is an exemplification of an excess or perversion of courage.

Also, Aristotle says that those with too much courage, or the perversion of courage, look for dangers before they arise,58 which Moody epitomizes with his stock phrase: "Constant vigilance!" 59 Crouch Jr., who is masquerading as Moody, is the true servant of Voldemort who is not, like Wormtail, motivated only by cowardice.60 But of course his courage is for an evil end. That these two different perversions of courage both ultimately serve evil is, I believe, the point Rowling is making by having one of these characters pretending to be the other.

Hagrid

Hagrid shows cowardice, the lack of courage, when Rita Skeeter prints the story of his giantess mother and he hides in his hut. Rowling makes perfectly clear that the issue is courage when she puts these words in Dumbledore's mouth:

"My own brother, Aberforth, was prosecuted for practicing inappropriate charms on a goat. It was all over the papers, but did Aberforth hide? No, he did not! He held his head high and went about his business as usual! Of course, I'm not entirely sure he can read, so that may not have been bravery...." 61

Interestingly, here Rowling shows she disagrees with Aristotle on one particular point. Aristotle had said that fear of a bad reputation is not inimical to bravery.62

Debriefing

Dumbledore mentions "bravery" or "courage" several times in his debriefing of Harry, as well as in his eulogy of Cedric.63

Order of the Phoenix: Faith

The most obvious way this virtue is (somewhat symbolically) dealt with in this book is through the issue of trust, not only of other people but of something transcendent.

Beginning

Harry's story about Voldemort's quasi "resurrection" has earned him official infamy with the government and the press.64 They do not trust him. Harry, as it turns out, is not trusting Dumbledore and the Order to keep things under control. He is itching for information, a sure sign of untrusting attempts at control.65 Also, the two lives Harry has led up to now, at Hogwarts and at Privet Drive, begin to bleed into each other, which hints at transcendence.66

What Harry Learns

In a slight change of pattern from the previous books, Harry continues to show his lack of trust in Dumbledore even up to and beyond the denouement. In fact, it is his lack of trust in Dumbledore, leading him to neglect his Occlumency lessons, and his trust in his "own" visions (actually fed him by Voldemort) that leads to the tragedy of Sirius' death.67 Meanwhile, Harry loses all he had come to like about life away from Privet Drive: Quidditch,68 his superiority to ’ or at least his equality with ’ Ron,69 his relationship with Dumbledore,70 his ability to trust the Hogwarts administration,71 Sirius,72 his view of his father as a person without character flaws,73 etc. This would lead him to learn to find something transcendent to trust. Also, Harry must learn to be more circumspect in his dealings with those who do not believe his story ’ the "unfaithful' so to speak ’ especially Umbridge.74

Climax

As mentioned, it is the lack of trust, and/or trust in the wrong things, that leads to the tragic end of this book. Harry learns from these experiences only retrospectively.

New Characters

Two new characters exemplify the extreme or perversion of this virtue. They are Luna Lovegood and Dolores Umbridge. Luna believes anything she hears, no matter how unbelievable. Hermione lampoons Luna because "apparently she'll only believe in things as long as there's no proof at all." 75 An excess of faith. Umbridge, as "Hogwarts High Inquisitor" 76 brings to mind images of official evils perpetrated in the name of religion, as in the Spanish Inquisition or Dostoevsky's "Grand Inquisitor." She has a blind faith in the ministry, a faith which is misplaced.77 She is the exact opposite of the Old Testament prophets, who often challenged the powers that be. And her saccharine sentimentality78 should remind any churchgoer of someone they know.

Hagrid

Hagrid does not believe Hermione when she warns him about Umbridge.79

Debriefing

We find out that not only has Harry failed to trust Dumbledore, but Dumbledore has also failed to trust Harry. That is, even though Dumbledore explains his mistake as caring for Harry too much,80 it is also a lack of trust, thinking that Harry could not bear the burden of knowing about the prophecy.81 Only here, in all of the books, does Dumbledore fail to be virtuous. I believe this is another hint of transcendence, because even the best human is still merely human and not worthy of ultimate trust.

Half-Blood Prince: Hope

According to Thomas Aquinas, "the object of hope is a future good, difficult but possible to obtain." 82 Hope as a virtue concerns the proper confidence in obtaining the proper good by the proper means. One of the hints that this book is about hope is the sheer number of times this word is used, especially at strategic points. Reread it and see for yourself. But that is only one hint among many.

Beginning

Harry, rather than being expectant at the prospect of Dumbledore's arrival, has fallen asleep.83 He has refused to pack because he dares not hope that it will occur.84 Dumbledore had told him in his letter (which mentions "hope" twice) that he would come.85 Later we hear that Harry had "desperately" hoped for the arrival, not confidently,86 and that Harry had been feeling like he was around dementors,87 which we know suck hope from you.88

What Harry Learns

Harry is given the task of getting something that is "difficult but possible to obtain' namely Slughorn's true memory.89 He finally gets it through using Felix Felicis.90 This potion gives one luck, and also (perhaps more importantly) makes one feel lucky,91 which is the same as hope.

Skeptical? Consider the following sentence describing Harry's attempts at encouraging Ron about his goalkeeping: "Finally Harry tried getting angry again in the hope of provoking Ron into a defiant, and hopefully goal-saving attitude; but this strategy did not appear to work any better than encouragement; Ron went to bed as dejected and hopeless as ever." 92 The solution was to make Ron think he had taken some Felix.93 So we can conclude that Felix, even the appearance of Felix, gives you hope. That is what Harry needed to learn. But using Felix was a crutch; he needed to learn to have hope on his own.

Climax

After Dumbledore's death, Harry faces his task of going after Voldemort with cool determination.94 In fact, he is showing Destination, Determination, and Deliberation, and I'm betting that it is no coincidence that this is the way Harry learns to Apparate in this book as well.95 Interestingly, Harry is also having hunches at the end, like the hunch to go to Godric's Hollow,96 and this looks like the guidance that seemed to have been coming from Felix earlier.97 Either Harry is getting this guidance from something else now that he has learned to hope, or Felix never really gave guidance before. In any case, he does not need Felix to give him hope anymore, but has learned to have it in himself.

New Characters

Two new characters (at least) exemplify the excess or perversion of hope. They are Slughorn and Scrimgeour. I see Slughorn "collecting" young promising talent, putting his hope in powerful connections, for the sake of obtaining his creature comforts,98 as a perverted kind of hope: too much hope in the wrong things helping one to achieve the wrong goals. Also, the new Minister of Magic, Scrimgeour, tries to give hope to his constituents through the appearance of action (arresting innocents)99 and recruiting Harry. He says explicitly: "The point is, you are a symbol of hope for many, Harry." 100 And again: "It's all about giving people hope, the feeling that exciting things are happening..." 101

Hagrid

Hagrid, Hagrid, Hagrid! When will you ever learn? The lovable vice-laden gamekeeper does it again in this book, no less than three times. Before and after Aragog dies, and after Dumbledore dies, he breaks down in despair.102 He embodies the hopeless malaise of much modern culture with the words: "Aaargh, the good die young." 103

Debriefing

In this book, since Dumbledore dies in the climax, we get his debriefing beforehand, and this happens just after he and Harry see Slughorn's true memory.104 In this early debriefing, Dumbledore tries to convince Harry that because of his whole heart and his ability to love, he has a chance to win against Voldemort.105 Harry concludes that he must have a different attitude in the fight, and that attitude is hope.106 This debriefing, among other evidence, may hint that the virtue in question is love, not hope, or perhaps even courage. However, as we shall see below, Harry's ability to love is still imperfect at the end of this book, though certainly better than Voldemort's (that's not saying much, is it?). As for courage, this virtue is so obviously the focus in the fourth book, and of course hope and courage are similar, but with one crucial difference. Recall that courage can be shown even when the chances of success are apparently nil. That is the situation at the end of the fourth book. Harry faced Voldemort bravely there for the sake of virtue and not with the hope of success. In this debriefing, however, the topic is whether Harry has a chance to ultimately defeat Voldemort.

[Book Seven Title Here]: Love

This book has to be about the virtue of love for at least two obvious reasons, maybe four. First, that is the only virtue left. Second, Dumbledore has already told Harry more than once that his ability to love is his greatest advantage over Voldemort.107 It would be strange indeed if that was not how Voldemort is ultimately defeated. We may add a third supporting reason: the elegance of the ordering. That is, the pattern of the four cardinal virtues followed by the three theological virtues in the traditional order has a certain appeal and adds support to the theory. Fourth and finally, in the Christian tradition Love is the greatest virtue, therefore it can only be the pinnacle.

The problem mentioned in the previous section needs to be dealt with a bit more. An important part of the pattern is that Harry learns the virtue in the book. However, it may seem that this is impossible since Dumbledore has told Harry that he can love already. The same problem might arise for book 4, since Harry certainly showed courage before this. But as we saw in that section, Harry's courage needed some work to be perfected. In the same way, Harry's ability to love, while present, is not perfect at the end of book 6. We are told that Harry's "animosity was all for Snape' and that "He despised Malfoy still for his infatuation with the Dark Arts, but now the tiniest drop of pity mingled with his dislike." 108 Dumbledore had never shared Harry's dislike of Snape, and the headmaster's actions toward Malfoy on the tower showed a genuine concern for the boy's welfare.109 Harry's feelings toward Draco had begun to turn, but only just. He has some way to go before his ability to love reaches that of his departed mentor.

Beginning

As for hints at the beginning, we already know that one of the first things that will happen in book 7 is a wedding.110 I do not doubt that opportunities for hinting at the proper and (especially, unfortunately) the improper ways to love will present themselves here.

What Harry Learns

Harry will learn to love even the unlovable, including Draco and Snape. Before the very end of the sixth book, his enmity with these two had only been increasing, and his hatred of Snape is at an all-time high. Look out for a (perhaps sudden) reversal of this trend.

Climax

Harry will, with help, defeat Voldemort through love, the same way Voldemort was defeated at the beginning of the series in book one, chapter one, fulfilling a nice symmetrical pattern like the ones Rowling seems to favor (but that is an issue for another time).

New Characters

Watch out for new characters (probably including a new teacher, DADA or not) who will exhibit extreme or perverted "love." They will love the wrong things or will love something or someone too much or in the wrong way.

Hagrid

Hagrid will show hatred, perhaps toward Snape.

Debriefing

Harry will have at least one final talk with Dumbledore, if only through his picture in his old office, in which the virtue of love is praised (not for the first time, of course), as well as Harry's final perfection of this virtue.

Conclusion

It is impossible to read someone's mind. It could very well be that Rowling intended nothing like the exploration of the seven virtues I have outlined. If not, the sheer weight of "coincidences" that suggest otherwise would be no less interesting; perhaps they would be more so. In any case, as I believe I have amply demonstrated, reading the books through this lens brings to the fore a remarkable pattern that repeats in each book and spans the series as a whole (so far, at least). Only an explicit statement from the author herself could settle the matter. Barring that, the accuracy of the predictions I have made about book 7 would go some way in supporting the theory. In the meantime, it seems quite plausible that Aristotle's ethics (including the Medieval tradition of extending them with the theological virtues, as in Thomas Aquinas) provides a key source for much of the ethical material we find in the Harry Potter books, even when Rowling seems to be disagreeing with Aristotle.

Notes

1. WaggaWaggaWerewolf, "Seven DADA Teachers."

2. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 71.

3. Ibid., 79.

4. Rowling, Sorcerer's Stone, 18-30.

5. Ibid., 73 (emphasis mine).

6. Ibid., 200.

7. Ibid., 207.

8. Ibid., 212-14.

9. Ibid., 224.

10. Ibid., 283.

11. Ibid., 289.

12. Ibid., 300.

13. Ibid., 70-71.

14. Ibid., 291.

15. Ibid., 230.

16. Ibid., 265.

17. Ibid., 297.

18. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 335-38.

19. Ibid., 16-22, 68, 168-72, 176-78.

20. Ibid., 123-33.

21. Ibid., 62.

22. Ibid., 69-71.

23. Ibid., 62.

24. Ibid., 150.

25. Ibid., 81.

26. Ibid., 159.

27. Ibid., 166.

28. Ibid., 328.

29. Ibid., 330-31.

30. Ibid., 36, 43-44, 58, etc.

31. Ibid., 264-82.

32. Ibid., 333.

33. Rowling, Prisoner of Azkaban, 1-2.

34. Ibid., 17.

35. Ibid., 24.

36. Ibid., 29.

37. Ibid., 203-10.

38. Ibid., 342-43.

39. Ibid., 375.

40. Ibid.,

41. Ibid., 247.

42. Ibid., 208.

43. Ibid., 374.

44. Ibid., 426.

45. Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 1-15, esp. 9, 10, 14.

46. Ibid., 21-22.

47. Ibid., 33-34.

48. Ibid., 385-402, esp. 388, 395-96.

49. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 78.

50. Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 660-62.

51. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 73.

52. Encyclopedia of the Celts, "Homer, Proper Names In".

53. Think Baby Names, "Origin and meaning of the name Alisdair".

54. The Harry Potter Lexicon, s.v. "Wizards A-Z: Moody, Alastor ˜Mad Eye.'"

55. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 77.

56. Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 588.

57. Ibid., 204-6.

58. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 74.

59. Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 213, 217.

60. Ibid., 9.

61. Ibid., 454 (emphasis mine).

62. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 71.

63. Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 695, 698-99, 722, 724.

64. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 73-74.

65. Ibid., 2, 3, 64, etc.

66. Ibid., 19, 20, 37, 38.

67. Ibid., 820-21.

68. Ibid., 416.

69. Ibid., 161-167, esp. 166.

70. Ibid., 273.

71. Ibid., 624.

72. Ibid., 806.

73. Ibid., 640-50.

74. Ibid., 244-49, 318.

75. Ibid., 262.

76. Ibid., 306-8.

77. Ibid., 243 etc.

78. Ibid., 265 etc.

79. Ibid., 438-40, 442.

80. Ibid., 838.

81. Ibid., 838-44.

82. Aquinas, "Whether Hope is a Virtue?", Summa Theologica II-II, 17, 1.

83. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 38.

84. Ibid., 44.

85. Ibid., 43.

86. Ibid., 57.

87. Ibid., 77.

88. Ibid., 14.

89. Ibid., 372.

90. Ibid., 471-91.

91. Ibid., 477.

92. Ibid., 291-92 (emphasis mine).

93. Ibid., 292-99.

94. Ibid., 651.

95. Ibid., 384.

96. Ibid., 650-51.

97. Ibid., 477-90.

98. Ibid., 74-75, etc.

99. Ibid., 221, 331.

100. Ibid., 345.

101. Ibid., 346.

102. Ibid., 230-31, 470, 481-88, 608, 624-29, 639, 643, 651.

103. Ibid., 487.

104. Ibid., 499-512.

105. Ibid., 509, 511.

106. Ibid., 512.

107. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 843-44, Half-Blood Prince, 509-11. See also Sorcerer's Stone, 299.

108. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 640.

109. Ibid., 584-93.

110. Ibid., 652.

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Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, translated by Terance Irwin, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1985.

Encyclopedia of the Celts, s.v. "Homer, Proper Names In." http://www.celticgrounds.com/chapters/encyclopedia/h.html.

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”””. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.

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”””. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003.

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”””. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1998.

The Harry Potter Lexicon, s.v. "Wizards A-Z: Moody, Alastor ˜Mad-Eye.' " Member of the Floo Network. http://www.hp’lexicon.org/wizards/a’z/m.html. (Accessed August 29, 2006.)

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