Read With Me: Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone – The Midnight Duel

The Midnight Duel

This is a chapter where Harry’s character begins to become more apparent. Until this point, Harry has been given roles. He is Dudley’s punching bag, Hogwart’s ‘newest celebrity’, and even a Gryffindor. As Harry begins his Hogwarts term, he is shy, plagued with the insecurities of any child walking into a new school. Will everyone be smarter than me, he asks. Will there be people who dislike me. Are classes going to be difficult?

Out at flying lessons, Harry finds something that he is good at. He finds something which he can own. No longer is he uncertain about whether or not he belongs at Hogwarts. He has his father’s legacy and his own talent to define him. Harry has carved a piace in this new world and at once, he gains an identity which stems from his own merit.

In the same chapter, the reader is also introdcued to the inner workings of Harry’s character. His personality slowly becomes more apparent. He stands up to Malfoy and accepts a duel, even without knowing exactly what that means. He is willing to bypass the rules to honor his commitments by sneaking out of dormitory after hours. The timid, uncertain boy, filled with worry and doubt begins to step beyond those boundaries.

But what about Ron? What about Hermione?

Ron displays immediate loyalty, offering himself up to be Harry’s second in the duel. He follows Harry out of Gryffindor tower past curfew not because it is his idea, but rather because he has pledged his allegiance to Harry. Ron is an interesting character here, even from these first few chapters. Does Ron need the attention and interest of a “celebrity” like Harry to feel validated and special? Does he follow Harry because he owes him or because he believes in the loyalty and helping a friend. Where does Ron’s courage come from?

Hermione is another interesting factor in this this journey. Why has she taken such interest in Harry and Ron’s actions. It can’t just be becuase they’re rule breakers. Surely there are other Gryffindors out there losing points for the house. She didn’t seem to attach herself to Fred and George. Why Harry and Ron? Hermione doesn’t have to follow Harry and Ron out of the tower. She can say what she has to and when they ignore her, turn around. But she doesn’t. It seems as if Hermione seeks the adventure. She doesn’t want to break the rules, but she wants something to excite her. She is a risk taker as much as she is a rule abider. The neverending curiosity and the desire to stand her moral ground outweighs the possibility of getting into trouble.

And so the Midnight duel is not even a duel. No wands are drawn, no spells are cast, no second is needed. Draco Malfoy is nowhere to be seen. Some might consider it trickery, others cowardice. Both scenarios are arguably true, but perhapbs even without a wand fight, there still is a duel. One that will take the next seven books to explore. This is step one in a long, drawn out game of chess. A game of rivals where the pieces shuffle across the board one by one. The midnight duel isn’t about two young boys challenging each other on the playground. It’s a dangerous game of light and dark, good and evil. Because surely, Harry could have turned out more like the Malfoys had his circumstances been differet and he’s more like Draco than he wants to believe.

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