Sunday, 2 July 2017

20 Years of Harry Potter: PGS Staff Reveal their Favourite (and Least Favourite) Characters

To mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, we asked for Potterfans among PGS teachers to share their views on the series. Here, we hear from Mr Hamlet and Ms Burden.


Mr Hamlet

Which spell would you most like to be able to do and why? Being a DIY lover, I’d have to go with Reparo… though it might take the fun out of it a little

What form would your Patronus take?  An owl.

Which House would the Sorting Hat have put you in and why? Would anyone be anything other than Griffindor… I don’t think so.  I’m a Griffindor through and through.

Which book is your favourite/least favourite and why? They are all great so not an easy question, but there are probably just a few easy and convenient fixes in the early books – The Chamber of Secrets for example, why are all those spiders lining up to go into the forest at that particular time… they don’t seem to behave that way normally? 

Which characters do you particularly like or dislike? Might be a bit controversial, but least favourite character is probably Harry Potter himself: he never really gets going as a great wizard, he has a lot of luck, everyone else seems to come to his rescue all the time and every time he gets the bad guy, it seems to be with some power or spell that he never knew he was capable of.  But for the protective spell his mother gave him, he’d be pretty average and not worth You Know Who’s time.  Favourite character…?  I like the bad guys – Bellatrix, Fenrir, Snape, Wormtail are all great characters, but ultimately of course, it has to be Voldemort

Which of the Horcruxes do you find the most memorable? It’s the later ones really – once they get on with it, the last few horcruxes seem to sort of gallop along as if Rowling ran out of ideas about how to include them meaningfully in the story; so it’s lucky dip between Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup, Rowena Ravenclaw’s Diadem, and maybe even Harry Potter - see above

Do you have a favourite line from the series? I solemnly swear I am up to no good

Which staff at Hogwarts do you think are particularly good teachers and why? The fearsome but fair Professor Minerva McGonagall

Would you have sought a career as an Auror, a Dragon Keeper, a Gringotts Banker or a Ministry of Magic worker?  A dragon keeper

What position do you think you would have played at Quidditch?  Seeker – on the fastest broom there is.


Which item from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes would you most like to own? Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder

Ms Burden

Which spell would you most like to be able to do and why? Selfishly, I'd like to be able to do the "Impervius" spell - the one that repels water from glasses. I have exactly the same issues with wearing glasses and playing sport outdoors that Harry has. However, it would be more unselfish to choose a piece of magic that could help humanity - perhaps "enervate", the spell to revive the unconscious.

What form would your Patronus take? Tortoises are my favourite creatures but a chelonian might not repel a Dementor....let's go for a hare.

Which House would the Sorting Hat have put you in and why? I'm not sure. Any of them except Slytherin.

Which book is your favourite/least favourite and why? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is my least favourite - it's in need of an edit and it very much feels like a "mid series" book. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is incredibly well-crafted and the revelation at the end is breathtaking.

Which characters do you particularly like or dislike? Dobby is incredibly irritating. Remus Lupin is my favourite character. I desperately want to like Snape at the end but I can't - so much of what he does and says earlier is incredibly cruel. He's an interesting portrait of a person who has been damaged by life and tries to damage others in turn.


Which of the Horcruxes do you find the most memorable? The snake, Nangini, is vividly drawn. However, the moment at which Ron is confronted by the figures in the locket is particularly eerie.

Do you have a favourite line from the series? For me, the two lines that stand out were not written by J.K. Rowling but are taken from the Bible - the two inscriptions on the graves in the churchyard in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The first, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26) appears on the grave of Harry's parents and, in my view, encapsulates what the series is about. J.K. Rowling once wrote that her mother's death was "on every page" of the Harry Potter books. The second, "For where your treaure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21, part of the Sermon on the Mount) appears on Ariana's grave. It is a reminder of how the young Dumbledore failed to prioritise his family but, even to an atheist like me, it is a salutary reminder that what you value on a daily basis defines who you are, eventually.

Which staff at Hogwarts do you think are particularly good teachers and why? From the viewpoint of a teacher, the Hogwarts staff are very interesting in their strengths and foibles. The scenes in which Umbridge inspects lessons with her clipboard are very true to life. Hogwarts has some appalling teahers (Lockhart, Trelawney and Binns) and some excellent ones (McGonagall, Sprout and Lupin). However, there are also some portraits of valuable but deeply flawed teachers: Slughorn, who is talented but alientates many students as he has clear favourites; Hagrid, who is lovable but whose Care of Magical Creatures classes are in serious need of risk assessments, and Snape. Is Dumbledore right to tolerate some of what goes on in the castle?

Would you have sought a career as an Auror, a Dragon Keeper, a Gringotts Banker or a Ministry of Magic worker? I suspect I'd have been  Hogwarts teacher...possibly Professor Sprout's successor in Herbology.

What position do you think you would have played at Quidditch? Chaser. It's a bit like playing hockey.

Which item from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes would you most like to own? The fireworks!

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