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Special: The A to Z of Harry Potter

Last updated on: July 12, 2011 16:06 IST

Special: The A to Z of Harry Potter

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Ankur Pathak in Mumbai

In 1990, on a train trip from Manchester to London, a billion-dollar idea was conceived by a British woman of humble means, which would go on to make her one of the richest women in Great Britain.

That fraction of luminosity not only revolutionized author JK Rowling's fate, but helped a non-descriptive publication house called Bloomsbury rise to phenomenal prominence, led Warner Brothers' chuckle all the way to their Gringotts vault with $6.3 billion of box office receipts and the lives of unknown British actors underwent a mammoth transfiguration.

As the Harry Potter series comes to an end this week, we look back at the boy wizard and his world, and provide an alphabetically exhaustive account.

Note that the primary characters have been excluded to give a more in-depth appeal.

Take a look.


Image: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as Harry, Hermione and Ron

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A for Albus Dumbledore

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The old man with half-moon spectacles, Albus Dumbledore was the principal of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was murdered in the sixth book by Severus Snape.

Rowling mentioned that Dumbledore regrets 'that he has always had to be the one who knew, and who had the burden of knowing. And he would rather not know.'

Well, it is a big relief that he does know it all.

Most of the time, Harry's as well as the reader's curiosities have been logically quenched by the Headmaster.

Dumbledore was also the founder of the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation dedicated to fight against the Dark forces, especially Lord Voldemort.


Image: Albus Dumbledore

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B for Borgin and Burkes

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A dark, secluded antique shop trading in dangerous magical artifacts, Borgin and Burkes lies in the infamous Knockturn Alley, where you wouldn't find too many good wizards shopping.

It sells things like cursed necklaces, a part of the vanishing cabinet (the other half lives in the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts), a pack of bloody cards, and an assortment of human bones.

The shop is introduced in the Half Blood Prince.


Image: The Borgin and Burkes shop

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C for Chamber of Secrets

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Created under the dungeons of Hogwarts castle, the entrance is under the girls' toilet. It was built by one of Hogwarts' four founders Salazar Slytherin, who wanted to admit only pure-bloods in the school, much to the disagreement of others.

After he left the school, it was believed that he left behind a Chamber of Secrets, which could be unlocked only by his true heir, who would then unleash the monster inside.

The Chamber is home to an ancient Basilisk, which, according to legend, was intended to be used to free the school of Muggle-born students. It is lined with statues of snakes, and a large statue of Salazar Slytherin lies at the centre.


Image: Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets

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D for Deathly Hallows

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The Deathly Hallows is a set of three magical objects, which make their possessor the master of Death.

The first one is the Elder Wand, popularly known as Deathstick or the Wand of Destiny. It is the most powerful wand in existence. The possessor of this wand has a strong chance of winning any duel. Albus Dumbledore was the master of the Elder Wand for a long time.

The Resurrection Stone is the second. It allows the holder to communicate with the dead.

The invisibility cloak is the third, and makes you imperceptible to anybody (James Potter owns it, which is passed on to Harry in his first year). The third one is the resurrection stone that allows the holder to communicate with the dead.


Image: The Deathly Hallows

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E for Expecto Patronum

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Expecto Patronum is a massively powerful spell whose primary function is to effectively ward off the Dementors. It was first seen in the Prizoner of Azkaban, aboard the Hogwarts express when Professor Lupin drives away an unwanted Dementor.

Dumbledore even devised a way through which messages could be conveyed through the Patronus. According to Rowling, the Patronus is 'an immensely efficient messenger'. It is a Latin term which means, 'I await a protector.'

Harry's Patronus is a stag.


Image: Harry Potter's Patronus is a stag

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F for Felix Felicis

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This is one magic portion most would kill for. Also known as 'liquid luck,' it was first mentioned in Professor Slughorns' class in The Half-Blood Prince. It is a liquid that makes the drinker lucky for a span of time, depending on the quantity taken. It is officially banned in the game of Quidditch.

It is supposed to be used cautiously as it causes giddiness, recklessness and even dangerous over-confidence.

Harry Potter sips it in The Half-Blood Prince to get a memory extracted from Professor Horace Slughorn relating to Lord Voldemorts' Horcruxes.


Image: Professor Slughorn holds Felix Felicis for Harry to see

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G for Gringotts

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The state bank of the wizarding folk, in words of Hagrid, Gringotts is the second safest place in the magical world after Hogwarts, and is primarily operated by the Goblins.

Vault 713 of Gringotts housed a small parcel, containing the Philosopher's Stone. Dumbledore had asked Hagrid to retrieve it while he escorted Harry for the very first time.

Later that very same day, Professor Quirrell broke into the vault under Lord Voldemort's command. Although he was unsuccessful in stealing the Philosopher's Stone, the break-in shocked the wizarding world because it was practically unheard of for Gringotts.


Image: The Gringrotts bank

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H for Horcruxes

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Horcruxes can be termed as Voldemort's additional life-supply. They are pieces of his soul.

Creating a Horcrux involves the use of extremely dark and dangerous magic.

Lord Voldemort is believed to have created seven horcruxes, one of which was his pet snake Nagini.

In order to kill Voldemort, Harry and his friends have to destroy all his Horcruxes.


Image: Nagini was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes

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I for Imperio

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One of three Unforgivable Curses, Imperio gives total control of the victim to the caster.

The experience of being controlled by this curse is described as a complete, wonderful release from any sense of responsibility or worry over one's actions, at the price of one's free will. 

The first time we come across this spell is when Professor Mad-Eye Moody displays the three Unforgivable Curses in front of the entire class, in Harry's fourth year The Goblet of Fire.


Image: Mad-Eye Moody performs the Unforgivable Curses on a spider

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J for James Potter

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A core character in the series, James Potter is Harry's father, who gets murdered by Lord Voldemort. His wife Lily gets murdered as well. But when Voldemort tries to kill baby Harry, the spell backfires, reducing the Dark Lord to a memory of what he once was.

We get to see the first glimpses of James in the Philosopher's Stone, when Harry sits in front of the Mirror of Erise -- a magical mirror that shows one whatever he truly desires.

James Potter belonged to the Gryffindor House, where he became inseparable friends with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.


Image: James Potter

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K for Kreacher

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Kreacher is an old house-elf, who served the Black family with an over-zealous loyalty.

After the death of Sirius Black, Harry inherits his home at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, with Kreacher in it.

At first, Kreacher hates Harry, and the Order of the Phoenix which makes the house its headquarters. But later, he helps Harry destroy a Horcrux.


Image: Kreacher

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L for Lord Voldemort

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The darkest and most powerful wizard in the world, Lord Voldemort is the undisputable epitome of evil.

He appears -- either in person or in flashback in each book and film adaptation in the series, except the third: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where he is only mentioned.

Throughout the series, Rowling establishes that Voldemort is so feared in the wizarding world that it is considered dangerous even to speak his name. Characters refer to him as 'You-Know-Who' or 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.'

He is Harry Potter's arch nemesis, whom Harry has to kill in order to live.


Image: Lord Voldemort

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M for Madam Malkin's

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If you've graduated to your fourth year, and the robes seem to have shrunk. Or the Yule Ball is around the corner, and you need dress robes. Well, see you at Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions!

A shop in Diagon Alley that sells wizard clothes right from school robes to travelling cloaks, Madam Malkin's was first visited in The Philosopher's Stone, where Harry goes in to buy his Hogwarts uniform. It is also where he encounters Draco Malfoy, the school bully, for the very first time.


Image: Ron wears a dress robe for the Yule Ball

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N for Neville Longbottom

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The son of respectable aurors and members of the first Order of the Phoenix, Alice and Frank Longbottom, Neville is born on the same day as Harry. He is raised by his grandmother since his parents were tortured to insanity by four Death Eaters with the Cruciatus curse.

His character in the books shows an upward graph where he graduates from being a withdrawn and reclusive person to a daring Hogwarts defender, becoming an integral part of the final battle. In fact, it is he who kills Nagini at the end and destroys the Horcrux.


Image: Neville Longbottom

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O for Occlumency

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The art of willfully shutting one's mind from being trespassed by a Legilimens is called Occlumency.

It involves clearing ones' mind, in words of Severus Snape 'making it blank and empty' so as to prevent a Legilimens from reading one's emotions and thoughts.

Snape had employed Occlumency to hide his loyalty to the Order of the Phoenix from Voldemort. Due to his well-known mastery, both sides had difficulty trusting him.

He is asked to teach Harry so as to close his mind and prevent a connection with Voldemort, but the latter is particularly weak at it.


Image: Snape teaches Harry Occlumency

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P for Priori Incantetum

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Also called the 'reverse spell-effect', Priori Incantetum occurs when two wands with the same cores engage in a duel. The wands triggers an effect where they get linked through a thread of energy, and if any one of the battling wands' have indulged in a Killing Curse previously, the victims appear in a ghost-like form, capable of holding conversations.

When Voldemort and Harry duel at the graveyard in the Goblet of Fire, the former's latest victims -- Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black, Lilly and James Potter -- emerge in their ghostly forms, and help Harry out.


Image: Voldemort and Harry engage in Priori Incantetum

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Q for Quidditch

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The most popular game in the wizarding world, Hogwarts gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid suggests Quidditch is equivalent to Muggles' passion for football.

Two teams of seven people each (three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper, and one Seeker) compete to gain the maximum points involving four balls (a Quaffle, two Bludgers and a Golden Snitch). There are three goal posts and each goal is worth 10 points. Catching the Snitch, however, is worth 150 points. The game ends when the Snitch is caught or an agreement is reached between the captains of both teams.

Some games can go on for days if the Snitch is not caught (the record, according to Quidditch Through the Ages, is six months).

Harry is the youngest seeker in the world, securing the position in his very first year. He goes on to become Gryffindor's Quidditch captain in his sixth year.


Image: Harry plays Quidditch

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R for Rita Skeeter

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Rita Skeeter is a journalist with the wizarding newspaper The Daily Prophet. Often dressed outlandishly, Skeeter subscribes largely to sensationalism and more often than not, pure fabrication. She is an unregistered beetle Animagus, which transforms her as a bee, and that helps her eavesdrop for her 'enchantingly nasty' (in the words of Dumbledore) articles. 

Skeeter had covered the First Wizarding War when Lord Voldemort was in power. After his fall, Skeeter reported on the Death Eater trials before the Council of Magical Law.

We get to see her first when she visits Hogwarts to cover the Triwizard tournament in The Goblet of Fire, and interviews Harry Potter along with the other champions.


Image: Rita Skeeter

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S for Sectumsempra

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When Harry Potter gets hold of the Half-Blood Princes' Potions volume in his sixth year, he comes across a spell hand-written on the top-right corner of the mysterious book. Below it is written, 'For Enemies'. Making a mental note, Harry mutters this spell in a duel with Draco Malfoy in the same year, hurting him severely.

It is established that the spell is a dark curse, whose effect is the equivalent of an invisible sword slashing the victim repeatedly.

Snape reveals later that he was the spell's creator, and in fact, the Half-Blood Prince.


Image: Professor Snape creates the Sectumsempra curse

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T for Transfiguration

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Transfiguration is one of the subjects taught at Hogwarts that involves changing the nature of an object. It is taught by  Professor Minerva McGonagall.

Transfiguration can be done to most objects and as with most forms of magic, it can be performed wandless and nonverbally by sufficiently skilled or talented witches and wizards. Sometimes -- if done improperly -- the transfigured object can become half-transfigured or permanently stuck in that state.

In The Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch Jr disguised as Professor Mad-Eye Moody transfigured Draco Malfoy into a ferret for attempting to attack Harry Potter behind his back.


Image: Professor Minerva McGonagall

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U for Unbreakable Vow

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An immensely powerful vow, the Unbreakable Vow is a magical invocation in which one wizard makes an oath to another. If the accepting party breaks the promise, they die.

In The Half Blood Prince, Bellatrix Lestrange threateningly urges Severus Snape to make an Unbreakable Vow to Narcissa Malfoy pertaining to her son, Draco Malfoy's safety.

Quite to her surprise, Snape agrees and Bellatrix becomes the 'Bonder,' who places the sharp end of her wand to both their joining hands. Upon assent with each clause of the Unbreakable Vow, a thick tongue of fire winds around the linked hands.


Image: Snape and Narcissa perform the Unbreakable Vow

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V for Viktor Krum

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Viktor Krum is a student with the Durmstrang school, who tasted early success as a sports star when he became the seeker for the Bulgarian National Quidditch team at 18. He is first spotted at the opening of The Goblet of Fire where he plays at the Quidditch World Cup.

Later, he represents Durmstrang at the Triwizard Tournament where he poses a tough competitor to Harry and the other champions.

Hermione cannot help but have a little crush on Viktor, and becomes his date for the Yule Ball.


Image: Viktor Krum

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W for Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

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Founded by the funniest characters from the series, Fred and George, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes is a joke shop on Diagon Alley that sells practical joke objects such as Extendable Ears and the Fainting Fancy.

The initial amount to start their ambitious shop is provided by Harry Potter, who donates his Triwizard Tournament jackpot of 1000 galleons to them.


Image: Fred and George at their Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes shop

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X for Xenophillius Lovegood

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The editor of the wizard magazine The Quibbler and father of Hogwarts' student Luna Lovegood, Xenophillius is an eccentric character with strange beliefs. He is a firm supporter of Albus Dumbledore and after his death, a staunch supporter of Harry Potter, as is evident by his writings in The Quibbler.

He is also the same wizard who is first seen wearing the sign of the Deathly Hallows around his neck at Fleur and Bill Weasley's wedding, and explains its significance to Harry, Hermione and Ron.

When his daughter is kidnapped by the Death Eaters in The Deathly Hallows, Xenophillius betrays Harry and his in a bid to rescue Luna, but in vain.


Image: Xenophillius Lovegood

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Y for Yule Ball

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A festive night laced with music and dance, the Yule Ball continues the tradition of the Triwizard Tournament.

Although Fred and George find it relatively easy to get dates, Harry and Ron are in a state of panic. Moreover, since Harry is one of the Triwizard champions, he has to open the night with the customary first dance.

He unsuccessfully tries asking his crush Cho Chang but she already has a date in Cedric Diggory. Harry and Ron then have to settle with sisters Parvati and Padma Patil.


Image: Viktor and Hermione at the Yule Ball

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Z for Zonkos' Joke Shop

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Zonko's Joke Shop is a favourite shopping haunt for Hogwarts' students on their tripes to Hogsmeade. It sells jokes and tricks to fulfil even Fred and George Weasley's wildest dreams like Dungbombs, Hiccough Sweets, Frog Spawn Soap, Sugar Quills and Nose-Biting Teacups.

When Lord Voldemort rises to authority for the second time, Zonko's was closed and boarded up. Fred and George visit Hogsmeade in the hope to buy the premises and turn it into a Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes outlet.


Image: Fred and George Weasley

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