Harry's Patronus Essay

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In an interview JK Rowling did with Emma Coad for ITV back in 2005 she explains the Patronus as “a kind of spirit guardian in a way. And that's partly because of what it does. It's the protector, and you could protect yourself and other people that you cared about with a Patronus” (Citation). The importance of a Patronus and more than that, the importance of its form is compounded since it is introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry’s Patronus takes the form of a stag, which is the exact animal his father could transform into. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Harry mentions that the form of Tonks’ Patronus has changed. In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Snape’s Patronus is a doe, the same as Lily’s. Throughout Rowling’s series she introduces her readers to the Patronus as guardian, but she continues to develop this idea throughout the series into a symbol of an individual’s identity and a symbol of their innermost desire. With a Patronus as a stand-in for the self, Rowling gives into the idea of an individual’s agency because while one craves a protector, ultimately one must act in order to save themselves.
Throughout the series of Harry Potter the significance of the Patronus grows as the reader learns more about the characters. The word Patronus is introduced into the Harry Potter canon in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Rowling quickly establishes the Patronus as a guardian. As Professor Lupin explains it to Harry, a Patronus is, “a kind of anti-dementor – a guardian that acts as a shield between you and the dementor” (237). Rowling presents this new vocabulary term to the readers and gives a bare minimum definition via Professor Lupin. Later in the book Harry discovers what form his own Patronus takes, and the significance of the Patronus itself grows; “It wasn’t a horse. It wasn’t a unicorn either. It was a stag… Slowly, it bowed it antlered head. And Harry realized…”Prongs” he whispered” (411-412). It’s as that moment that Harry relates his father’s nickname Prongs to the form of the stag which his father was able to transform into, and it all culminates in the fact that his Patronus also takes the form of a stag. While the Patronus began, earlier in this installment of the Harry Potter series as a spell that would ward off dementors, in one book it has grown to be Harry’s link to his father and the importance continues to shift as the story itself continues.
One of the primary things a Patronus symbolizes is an individual’s identity based on their actions or characteristics. Harry’s Patronus takes the form of a stag. According to the Medieval Bestiary, “The stag is the enemy of the snake” (Citation) The series itself is based on the symbolic stag – Harry- overcoming the symbolic snake – Lord Voldemort. Harry’s destiny is to eventually bring about Voldemort’s death. Beyond the medieval ideal of what a stag symbolized, Harry is continually told about his similarity to his father both in...

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