Friday, 21 October 2016

'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2' | Opposing Characters

A huge aspect within the world of cinema that not only draws an audience to it, but also drives the story, is this idea of character, or more specifically, opposing characters. Throughout countless films opposing characters can be found, often times the entire story will revolve around these characters, relying on a central conflict or a difference in ideals to move the plot of the film onwards. Now the majority of the time these opposing characters can be simply placed into the pigeon holes of 'good' and 'evil', take Marvel's Thor (2011) for example, the central hero, Thor, is in complete opposition in terms of ideals with his brother Loki, and this conflict is essentially what drives the plot forward and molds an interesting story. This idea of a difference in ideals is extremely important in this area of film as it doesn't always need to be a physical difference that separates characters, instead it can be a difference within a subject's background that splits a pair apart.

A great example of this idea of opposition at work can be found within any Harry Potter movie, more specifically Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 which was released in 2011, a film which has been described as "frequently moving" by other reviews(Sandhu. 2013). The idea of an opposing ideal not only drives this film in particular but also the entire series. The fact that Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) have a conflict that runs through eight films drives the entire plot and helps shape the world famous characters into who they are. Now this conflict is obviously vastly explored throughout the films and as they go on the audience learns more and more about the pairs respective backgrounds and what makes them so different, or in some cases, very alike. These background differences are unpicked throughout the films and help the audience understand the conflict at hand, and its these differences that drive the plot and craft the characters.

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

The first difference that splits these conflicting characters apart are their respective personal histories, interestingly the characters also share certain aspects of this which helps make them vastly more complicated. Potter has had a complex childhood, much like Voldemort, which involved the death of his parents and the compulsory living conditions that come with number 4 Privet Drive, two things that aren't a million miles away from the situation Voldemort, or as he was known then Tom Riddle, had to face as well. This idea that the characters share similar backgrounds is what makes this conflict so interesting, the realization that their lives have parallels is what makes the audience realize that Harry Potter is a worthy hero, as both him and the central villain shared experiences and evolved in extremely different ways. This aspect leads the characters onto their personal world view, which very obviously differs massively. Harry and Voldemort seem to have lead similar childhoods, both with unstable homes and both lived their early years unaware of their true power, however these characters views differ massively. Whilst Harry sees the wizarding world as a place of great wonder and magic, Voldemort views it in a very different light, as a place where his true potential could finally be unlocked and he could reach the status he believes he deserves. Interestingly, the characters inherited world is also extremely similar, as both grew up and learnt their wizarding heritage at a late age and both inherited the same magical world, yet went on to do extremely different things within it. This parallel of similarities runs throughout the films as new light is shed on the characters, which really drives home the positive and negative qualities of both characters to the audience.

additional aspects that often separates conflicting characters are their wants and needs, it wont be unfamiliar to an audience that rival characters have different necessities and goals, and Harry Potter is no difference. Throughout the film, and series, Harry consistently needs guidance and help from a mentor, where as Voldemort spends his time gathering followers and leading his army. This is obviously a huge difference between the characters that separates them both physically and idyllically, which in turn drives the entire plot of the film/films and helps the audience get a grasp of the type of characters the two are. It is also interesting to note that both characters in some way need the help of external forces, Harry with his friends Ron and Hermoine and Voldemort with his Death Eaters, once again linking the characters with a common trait. Now traits often help divide characters, whilst Harry is hopeful, optimistic and at times na├»ve, Voldemort carries the heir of dominance and extreme confidence, this is obviously due to a difference in age, which leads to the characters having a very different skill set. Whilst Harry is a capable wizard, he doesn't nearly compare to the powers at Voldemort's disposal, which means that the plot asks very different things of the two, whilst Harry is required to be brave and complete tasks outside of his abilities, Voldemort spends the majority of this time relaxed and unmatched by an opponent, causing them to have very different flaws.

Fig 2: Harry And Voldemort

These flaws massively define the characters and who they eventually become within the story, whilst Harry consistently has to face huge challenges his opponent spends the entire film simply waiting to be challenged. This endless trial that Harry must undertake to complete his quest also forces him carry a flaw, as Harry is essentially a magnet for enemies he often refuses the help of companions through fear of putting them in danger, however these companions are often the only reason Harry is ever able to survive. This personal flaw that Harry has to deal with regularly throughout the film/films is something that Voldemort is never really met with, as the powerful wizard rarely needs the help of his death eaters to complete his tasks, they essentially work as useless henchman, meaning that on a basic level Voldemort doesn't have any brave companions to rely on, which leads to his downfall. The arc of the two characters, although taking different forms, isn't too different when broken down to a basic level. Both Harry and Voldemort have a task to achieve, but Harry is the one who cant complete his quest whilst Voldemort is still in power, where as the primary goal of Voldemort isn't to kill Harry, but to stay in power, which is something he cannot do whilst Harry is alive, causing them to be trapped in a competitive loop. Throughout the entire film, the plot is leading to one internal conflict, that being the battle between Harry and Voldemort, which takes the shape of a duel on school grounds. This battle to end all battles is essentially what each film in the series has been leading too, and whilst both characters take different paths to get to this final conflict, it cant be argued that the pair share certain similarities which lead them to this final sequence. O'Hara states that "where earlier films revolved around solving a mystery, this one shifts to a war footing without losing its emphasis on character and emotion" (0'hara, 2010), and its this emphasis on character that really drives home not only the integral story that encompasses The Deathly Hallows but also crafts the main cast into memorable subjects. Whilst their experiences do differ greatly, the similarities within their lives should really lead them to similar ideals, however crucial differences have ensured that whilst both characters are strong personalities, they never falter on what they believe to be the correct decision to be made is, ensuring that they stay conflicted throughout each film.

Fig 3: Harry

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a film and story that relies greatly on this central conflict that sets two powerful characters apart, Bradshaw states "Radcliffe's Harry Potter has emerged as a complex, confident, vulnerable, courageous character"(Bradshaw, 2011), descriptions that only briefly explain just how complicated and interesting this characters ais. Due to this the characters of Harry and Lord Voldemort remain both interesting and compelling characters throughout, ensuring that each duel and magical confrontation is just as tense as the last. 


Bradshaw, Peter, 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – review,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

O'Hara, Helen, 2010, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Review,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Sandhu, Sukhdev, 2013, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: review,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Illustration List

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2,
%E2%80%93_Part_2, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Fig 2: Harry And Voldemort, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Fig 3: Harry, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

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