Today, author J.K. Rowling is celebrating her birthday and celebrate she should. As creator of The Harry Potter series, Rowling is directly responsible for millions of people falling in love with the wonder that is reading. Her magical stories have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and been translated into 68 languages, according to NJ.com. The eight Harry Potter films have combined to gross more than $7.5 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s greater than the GDP of some small countries.
In honor of Rowling’s towering accomplishments and her birthday, we thought we’d rank our three favorite non-Harry Potter characters from her amazing franchise. Also, according to the books, Harry would be 37 this year. Feel old yet?
Harry may have been the Chosen One, but he would not have been able to thwart a single challenge without the aide of Hermione Granger. Hermione combined a staggering intellect with a deep well of emotion and held steadfast throughout the series as a never-ending source of empathy. She was always the most human of the main trio compared to Harry’s messiah complex and Ron’s comic relief.
Hermione also opened up the Wizarding World to the type of socioeconomic caste systems we have in reality, shining a light on prejudice and discrimination in all its forms. As the daughter of two non-magical individuals (Muggles), Hermione was looked down upon and ostracized in some cases by elitists who believed in pure blood lineages. She represented a marginalized minority yet continued onward with her head held high. How’s that for a real life parallel?
Many loved Hermione for her ingenious planning and vast knowledge, but it was her quiet and enduring strength that was her true shining attribute. Also, this:
Snape was the living embodiment of salvation through love. Yeah, it’s corny, but it’s also powerful. You’d be hard pressed to find a Potter-head who doesn’t well up just a bit at his “Always” line.
On the surface, Snape’s appeal was obvious: double agent, cool black robes, powerful wizard, Alan Freaking Rickman. But the real reason his character resonated so strongly with fans is because he represented both the best and worst of us. As a Death Eater and Voldemort supporter, Snape saw and did terrible things. You can argue that a lifetime of pain and societal blocking made him particularly susceptible to Voldemort’s “empower the oppressed” manipulations. But that doesn’t free him of accountability. This was an evil man.
But his love for Harry’s mother was stronger than his hate for the world. He chose a path of redemption at enormous personal risk to himself. He lifted himself up from a dark place for a righteous cause. He gave his life protecting Harry and laying the groundwork for Voldemort’s ultimate demise. Snape’s arc embodies the whole of human experience. We all make mistakes and we are all capable of horrible things. But we also like to think we have not only the willingness to change, but the strength to do so.
At first glance, Draco Malfoy is an arrogant, entitled, cruel little weakling who probably belongs in Azkaban. But as the series goes on…well, he’s still all that. But it’s what he represents that is important.
Draco is a casualty of war, but rather than his life, it’s his soul that was unceremoniously taken. From the day he was born, his misguided father filled his head with Voldemort’s horrific ideals. Draco’s was a case of inherited madness and though his cruelty was consistently apparent, it always felt as if Draco was playing the part he thought everyone expected of him, trying to assume the role his father wanted for him. As fighting continues in the real world between nations and religious factions, we can forget that hatred and terror are learned behaviors.
Draco isn’t truly evil, he’s merely a product of the engrossing conflict he was born into. He’s a reminder that today’s battles will always be felt by tomorrow’s survivors and that makes him one of the most interesting characters in the series.