Hermione and Harry in Godric's Hollow

When Harry Potter asks Dumbledore to explain how he survived Lord Voldemort’s attack the night his parent’s died, Dumbledore says that his mother’s sacrifice of love protected him. 

Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realise that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.  – Dumbledore

As Dumbledore explains, Harry had been marked by love. What this will mean for Harry, Harry has no idea.

In The Chamber of Secrets, Harry receives a very different kind of love from a house elf named Dobby. Dobby  continuously encumbers Harry Potter’s desire to be at Hogwarts. He cuts off all his friend’s letters (maybe Harry won’t return if he thinks his friends abandoned him), he blocks the entrance onto the Hogwart’s Express platform, forcing Harry and Ron to miss the train to school, and he enchants a bludger that nearly kills Harry during a game of Quidditch. When asked why, Dobby says it’s out of love for Harry. The Chamber of Secrets had been opened and Dobby wanted to protect Harry from what was inside.

Harry is furious about all of it. Primarily, it’s because he doesn’t understand. He’s just a normal boy like every other boy, and he wants to learn magic and play Quidditch. He wants his own life on his own terms. Why protect him above others? Why is he so special?

Dobby answers that question for him. He explains to Harry what he represents to the world of house elves. “If he [Harry] knew what he meant to us, to the lowly, the enslaved, we dregs of the magical world! Dobby remembers how it was when He – Who – Must – Not – Be – Named was at the height of his powers, sir! We house elves were treated like Vermin, Sir! . . . Harry Potter survived, and the Dark Lord’s power was broken, and it was a new dawn, sir, and Harry Potter shone like a beacon of hope for those of us who thought the dark days would never end, sir.”

Harry never asked to be marked by love, he never asked to be sacrificed for, yet he was, and now he has to deal with the consequences. To give credit where credit is due, Harry didn’t even do anything the night “he” broke the Dark Lord’s power; his mother did! But now, to become a beacon of hope to all those oppressed in the magical world? I say, what responsibility.

Power does come with great responsibility, but maybe to be marked by love comes with more. Harry’s mom gave her life for him. This act inexplicably changed the course of Harry’s life, and shouldered Him with many burdens. Neither his mother nor Harry could have anticipated what this act of love would mean: that he, having been loved, would have to be a symbol of hope and charity when rage filled his heart; that he would suffer years of psychological torture, even “possession” by an evil spirit; that he would have to die as well for the sake of others.

This is a baffling responsibility. Harry’s growth as a character is measured by his acceptance of the responsibility of having been marked by love.

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