Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Gabby Benda Period: 2 Bentley
Main Characters • Harry Potter - The sixteen-year-old protagonist and hero of the book. Harry is the subject of a prophecy that states that he and Voldemort must one day face each other and battle, as neither can live while the other does. • Albus Dumbledore - Headmaster of Hogwarts and a father figure to Harry Potter. Dumbledore is very wise and trusting and an extremely powerful wizard. Apart from Harry, Dumbledore is Voldemort’s only other enemy. He has integrity and grace. • Lord Voldemort - Once a student at Hogwarts named Tom Riddle, now a force of evil. Voldemort is supported by a group of Death Eaters who takes care of his requests. Like Harry, he was raised as an orphan and brought to Hogwarts by Dumbledore. He has divided his soul into seven Horcruxes, keeping him very much alive and dangerous. • Hermione Granger - One of Harry Potter’s two best friends. Hermione is an extremely bright student. In addition to being intelligent, Hermione is also the more cautious of Harry’s friends, constantly challenging his quick thinking. Hermione is a Mudblood, meaning she is a wizard born to Muggle parents. Many Slytherins, including Draco Malfoy use this against her. • Ron Weasley - The other of Harry’s best friends. Who is impulsive and anxious, Ron is a lovable nerd. He plays the position of keeper for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He briefly dates Lavender Brown but seems to have a true love for Hermione. • Severus Snape - A former Death Eater and longtime professor of Potions at Hogwarts. This year, Dumbledore promotes Snape to professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione don’t trust or like Snape. Snape and Harry’s father, James Potter, were enemies when they were students at Hogwarts, which may be the reason Snape’s cruel towards Harry. • Draco Malfoy - One of Harry’s classmates, the son of convicted Death Eater Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Malfoy. Draco is mean, cold, and demanding, and Harry suspects him to be a Death Eater like his father. He constantly mocks Hermione and other Mudbloods for their “disease.” • Horace Slughorn - The newly recruited Professor of Potions at Hogwarts. Slughorn is obsessed with meeting the potentially powerful and young wizards. He hosts weekly parties in his room, inviting only select students known as the “Slug Club.” He also posesses an important memory of Voldemort, having been the first person to tell Voldemort what a Horcrux is.
Themes Friendship Over and over again, Harry is forced to rely on the help and support of his two best friends, Ron and Hermione. When Ron and Hermione begin bickering, due in part to Hermione’s jealousy of Ron’s new girlfriend, Harry feels conflicted and upset by the possibility of losing his two best friends. Also, when Harry develops feelings for Ron’s sister, Ginny, he stops himself from taking action too soon so he doesn’t jeopardize his friendship with Ron. Even though the three teenagers are getting older, and taking on adult issues for the first time, they succeed, and at the end of the book, Ron and Hermione offer to help Harry on his final quest to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes and, eventually, Voldemort. Harry accepts their offer, having by now learned that he cannot win this battle on his own. Self-Sacrifice Both Harry and Dumbledore find themselves constantly sacrificing their own happiness for everyone else. Even though Harry would love to live the life of a normal Hogwarts student, he understands that it is his destiny to fight and destroy Voldemort. Harry is willing to risk his own life to insure the safety of his friends. When Harry leaves with Dumbledore to collect what they think is a Horcrux, he leaves his vial of Felix Felicis with his friends to protect them should trouble arise. When Harry and Dumbledore reach the cave containing the locket, Dumbledore drinks goblet after goblet of a poisonous potion, insisting that Harry continue to pour it into his protesting mouth, to take and destroy the Horcrux and a one of Voldemort’s lives. Trust Harry trusts his best friends without question and that same loyalty to Dumbledore, following his orders and trusting that Dumbledore is instructing Harry to do the right thing. The only issue on which Harry and Dumbledore disagree is Dumbledore’s belief that Snape can be trusted. Dumbledore will not tell Harry or any members of the Order of the Phoenix what it is about Snape that makes Dumbledore trust him so much, but he tells Harry that Harry doesn’t need to worry about it. At the end of the book, when Snape murders Dumbledore, it is unclear as to whether Dumbledore has asked that Snape kill him. Either way, Dumbledore has trusted Snape.
Symbols The Half-Blood Prince’s Potions Book The Half-Blood Prince’s Potions Book quickly becomes one of Harry’s most prized possessions, not only because it helps him so much in Potions class, but because he feels a connection to its owner. At first, Harry believes that the book may have belonged to his father, and it becomes symbolic of how badly Harry wishes his parents were still alive. Hermione tries to convince Harry that the Prince could be a girl, and then Lupin tells Harry that he never heard James refer to himself as “Prince.” Finally, Harry figures out that the book could never have belonged to his father. He is upset. Later, when Harry finds out that the Half-Blood Prince is Snape, he is even more heartbroken. Dumbledore’s Pensieve With the help of Dumbledore’s Pensieve, Harry sees many scenes from Voldemort’s past. Dumbledore believes that seeing these scenes will help Harry to better understand Voldemort and ultimately help to destroy him. While Harry does learn about Voldemort’s habits, he also starts to understand how difficult Voldemort’s life was; like Harry, Voldemort was an orphan and felt that Hogwarts was his only true home. Harry also uses the Pensieve to learn about Voldemort’s interest in Horcruxes. Without these memories Harry realizes he would never understand Voldemort the way he does now. Merope’s Locket Merope’s locket was once owned by Salazar Slytherin. When Merope is pregnant with Voldemort, she is forced to sell the locket to Borgin and Burkes to get money for food and shelter, but she gets very little money in return, even though the shop owners know that it is priceless. Later, when Voldemort gets a job working for the same shop, he discovers that the locket has been resold to a woman named Hepzibah Smith. Voldemort later murders her finally taking the locket back. Dumbledore believes it has been turned into a Horcrux, but when they venture out to collect it, it has already been taken. In many ways, Merope’s locket is Voldemort’s only remaining connection to his mother and is more significance than his other Horcruxes. It then turns out, that it is the Horcrux that Dumbledore dies trying to recover.