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Initiation and the Road of Trials
Analysis By Lynne Milum
Copyright © 2004-2007 by Lynne Milum. All rights reserved.

Road of Trials for the Series

The Initiation phase is comprised of a series of sub-trials, and the acquiring of tools in preparation for the ultimate conflict. Harry learns key facts through ‘helpers’ as well as developing skill in problem solving and spells to help him complete his journey. Harry also accumulates tools and magical devices, knowledge of magical creatures, and gains prowess against gradually more powerful opponents.

With each new adventure, a set of amulets/knowledge gained is identified. These items may not have significance in the immediate story line, but the amassing of Harry's repertoire enables him to meet increasingly difficult challenges.

In each hero's adventure, trials are experienced to ready the hero for the final meeting with 'The Father'. In each of the books in the series, this pattern is consistently found. However, on a larger scale, each book represents a trial in the overall Journey where Harry will likely take on Voldemort as a peer wizard. In the wizarding world, the age of majority or legal adulthood is seventeen. Harry will attain that age in Book Seven – the last planned book of the series and presumed timing for the Ultimate Confrontation of the series.

Objective of Each Trial by Book:

  • Sorcerer's Stone – Initiation into an unknown world.
  • Chamber of Secret's – Knowledge of the demon (Voldemort) and relationship to that entity (the Shadow Father)
  • Prisoner of Azkaban – Realization of his father's identity, friendships, and legacy
  • Goblet of Fire – Recognition of Self and capability to defend himself without intervention
  • Order of the Phoenix – Isolation, detachment from physical pain and opportunity to become the Initiator for his peers through the D.A. experience. Ultimately - the knowledge of his destiny.

Trial 1 – Seeking the Stone
(From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

Amulets/knowledge gathered in the course of this first story is especially long, since Harry is a complete neophyte to the magical world. These helpers, items and abilities are as follows:

  • Ability to talk to snakes at the zoo – later identified as "parseltongue."
  • Hagrid, bringing knowledge that Harry is a wizard and that his parents were special.
  • Wand and magical supplies from Diagon Alley.
  • Hedwig, the snowy white owl, his companion and means of communication with the wizarding world.
  • Introduction to Gringotts Bank, goblin security and the contents of two vaults.
  • Ron Weasley, the best friend, who educates him on life in the magical world.
  • Oculus Reparo (spell to fix glasses) which introduces Hermione Granger. Hermione is a brilliant witch born of Muggles, and she becomes Ron and Harry's steadfast friend.
  • Sorting Hat powers, its song of greeting, and Harry's potential to be a Slytherin.
  • Gryffindor House members.
  • Knowledge of Slytherin House notoriety and Severus Snape, the potions teacher and former Deatheater.
  • Neville and his Remembrall, introducing Harry to his natural skill of broom riding.
  • Minerva McGonagal, Gryffindor House Mistress, who recognizes that Harry is a natural Quidditch 'Seeker'. McGonagal has ties to Harry's past and is an Animagus (cat) as well.
  • Albus Dumbledore, the greatest living wizard as portrayed on his Chocolate Frog Wizard card. Dumbledore knows the secret of the stone and selectively shares his wisdom with Harry.
  • Oliver Wood, team captain, who shows Harry the rules and the heart (or bliss) of Quidditch.
  • Wingardium Leviosa (levitation spell) and the defeat of the Halloween Troll in defense of Hermione.
  • Norbert, who along with Hagrid, teaches Harry the finer (hot) points of raising a baby dragon.
  • Invisibility cloak and its pitfalls as demonstrated in the Library Restricted Section adventure.
  • Nimbus 2000 broom and the experience of winning.
  • Mirror of Erised and the images of his parents. Dumbledore explains how the Mirror works.
  • Alohamora (spell to open doors) and introduction to the third floor corridor.
  • The Magic Flute which can lull three-headed dogs to sleep.

In the first book, the trials of the principal adventure follow this sequence of events:

  • Opening the door to the third corridor.
  • Playing the Flute to put Fluffy, the gatekeeper to sleep.
  • Descending through the trap door into darkness.
  • Landing in the Devil's Snare – Hermione lets the light in.
  • Flight of the keys – Harry uses his Seeker skills to capture the key via broom, and Ron and Hermione aid his escape through the door.
  • Wizarding Chess Game – Harry and Hermione follow Ron's skillful instructions to navigate the giant chess board. This trial concludes with Ron's sacrifice to permit Harry to continue.
  • Potion Logic – Hermione helps Harry solve the potion problem and navigate the doorway(s) of fire – but there isn't enough for both of them to continue forward. Harry must go on alone.
  • The Mirror of Erised – Quirrell cannot reconcile the desire to use the philosopher's stone with the image seen in the mirror. Harry desires only to keep Voldemort from acquiring the stone, and its resulting immortality. And by Harry's desire (and Dumbledore's enchantment), the stone is thus transferred to Harry's pocket.
  • Meeting with Voldemort – Voldemort reveals himself by speaking from Quirrell's turban. He is a shell of his former self – desperately seeking immortality, and dependent on Professor Quirrell for mobility. Voldemort instructs Quirrell to destroy Harry, yet by touch, Harry burns Quirrell's flesh and Quirrell is quickly reduced to dust. Harry does not understand but is pierced by Voldemort's fleeing spirit and is made unconscious in the process. Yet he is victorious in foiling Voldemort's immediate plans to return to power.

Trial 2 – Stopping the Chamber Monster
(From Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

In the second book, Harry again gathers more magical helpers, tools and knowledge. Some of these are used in the current adventure, while others are called into service (or are potential tools) in later adventures.

  • Dobby, the house elf, who warns Harry of the evil planned for Hogwarts.
  • Warning issued from the Ministry of Magic for improper use of magic.
  • Ford Angia, the flying wizard car, that delivers Ron and Harry to Hogwarts.
  • Weasley’s Burrow.
  • Floo Powder providing Harry with a new travel experience.
  • Dark Shops of Knockturn Alley.
  • Mandrakes - the consequence of their cries and the potion capability to reverse petrification.
  • Polyjuice Potion – process to make the potion with boomslang, the potion properties and the experience of transformation. Harry also witnessed negative effects for non-human transformation.
  • Wizard Dueling – Expelliarmus is Harry's most crucial defensive spell for later trials.
  • Gilderoy Lockhart- famous "household" wizard who is particularly skilled at memory charms.
  • Fawlkes the Phoenix has healing properties, a beautiful song, and represents the full cycle of birth to death to rebirth.
  • Dumbledore's office full of portraits, artifacts and the Sorting Hat.
  • Sherbert Lemon – Dumbledore has a predilection for sweets that characterize his password selection (albeit not Bertie Botts earwax flavored beans). This knowledge helps Harry guess the password later in the series with "Cockroach Clusters".
  • Skelegro - supplies the overnight restoration of bones.
  • Personal knowledge of Lucius Malfoy's cruelty, power and greed. Harry becomes away of Malfoy's connection with Tom Riddle and with Dobby. These are attributes Harry also associates with Draco the son.
  • Dobby is capable of powerful magic that can overcome curses issued by Lucius Malfoy.
  • Tom Riddle's diary contains apparent information on the chamber of secrets. It reveals that Hagrid kept a monster. This was his cause for expulsion from Hogwarts and the basis for imprisonment in Azkaban.
  • Aragog the ancient spider king lives in the Forbidden Forest. His kind flees from the 'real' monster. But his kind is also not above an offering of fresh meat presented by Harry and Ron. Ron's fear of spiders is increased manyfold through this encounter but they are saved by the wild Ford Anglia.

The sequence of events in the culmination of this adventure is as follows:

  • Ron and Harry overhear that Ginny has been taken into the chamber, after witnessing the ominous message on the wall.
  • The boys realize that Moaning Myrtle, as the girl killed by the basilisk, is the "key" to the chamber.
  • Thinking Lockhart is going to recover Ginny from the chamber, the boys rush to tell the DADA professor of their discovery. Seeing that Lockhart actually intended to flee Hogwarts, Ron and Harry get the jump on him. They lead him to the bathroom and question Myrtle on what happened the night she died.
  • Harry then uses parseltongue to open the Chamber from the girl's bathroom.
  • Taking Lockhart into the passage, he tricks Ron to get his damaged wand. Lockhart then attempts his memory charm on Harry and Ron - it backfires and befuddles Lockhart instead.
  • A cave-in results in the separation of Harry from both Ron and Lockhart.
  • Harry again uses parseltongue to open the vault to the main chamber.
  • Harry finds a weakened Ginny then discovers Tom Riddle's true identity. Tom acquires Harry's wand. He is taking on a physical form beyond his mere memory by sucking the life force out of Ginny.
  • The basilisk is released.
  • Harry battles the basilisk with the help of Fawlkes (who blinds the deadly eyes) and the Sword of Godric Gryffindor pulled from the Sorting Hat. The snake pierces Harry's arm in its last strike.
  • Harry destroys the diary and consequently the memory of Voldemort.
  • Ginny is revived and Fawlkes heals Harry of his fatal wound through the power of phoenix tears.
  • Fawlkes carries Harry, Ginny, Ron and Lockhart out of the Chamber.
  • All those previously petrified are restored through the mandrake juice.

Trial 3 – Capturing the Traitor
(From Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

In the third book, Harry obtains many new skills, some which decidedly link him to his own past.

  • Knight Bus is available - just give a call for help…
  • Leaky Cauldron is not just a place for a brew or pumpkin juice. Rooms are available for lodging.
  • Florean Fortescue sells ice cream in Diagon Alley and is very knowledgeable on medieval witch burnings.
  • Remus Lupin is a formidable Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, one of James Potters circle of friends, Moony of the Marauder's map and a werewolf.
  • Dementors as Azkaban guards, with the ability to drain all happiness away and a kiss to suck the soul out of the body.
  • The powers of Chocolate to alleviate dementor effects on the body.
  • Hogsmeade is a nearby "all magical" town to be explored.
  • Monster Book of Monsters – and Hagrid as a new teacher…Just tickle the spine.
  • Secret passageways are located on the Marauders Map if one pledges to do no good.
  • Harry learns to address hippogriffs and to properly fly on his back in Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class.
  • Draco Malfoy, when ignoring Hagrid's instructions on approaching a hippogriff, incurs damage on himself. He later uses this dubious injury to justify execution of Buckbeak the hippogriff.
  • "Expecto Patronum" produces Patronus to fend off a dementor attack.
  • Grindylows, boggarts, redcaps and other creatures are introduced in the DADA coursework.
  • Time-turner permits going back in time based on the number of turns. One turn for each hour on Hermione's device.
  • Peter (Wormtail) is a secret animagus - Scabbers the rat.
  • Severus Snape and Sirius Black are both portrayed as sources of fear and obstruction.
  • Sibyll Trelawney's second 'real' prediction was that the servant would return to the Dark Lord and help him rise once again to power.

The trials closing this foray of introduction to the associates of James Potter include the following:

  • Harry, Hermione and Ron make a stealth journey to Hagrid's Hut on the evening of Buckbeak’s execution – They hear the crack of the axe while departing but do not see Buckbeak’s death.
  • They encounter the Grim when departing the hut.
  • The Grim attacks Ron and carries him under the Whomping Willow.
  • Crookshanks opens the passage and Harry leaves the Invisibility Cloak at the entrance.
  • Ron leg is injured and yells a warning as Harry and Hermione enter the Shrieking Shack from the passage. They encounter Sirius Black and wait to hear his explanation.
  • Lupin arrives, explaining he had seen Peter on the Marauder’s map.
  • Snape arrives using the abandoned Invisibility Cloak to approach the Shrieking Shack unnoticed. Snape demonstrates unshackled desire for revenge against Sirius and moves to kill.
  • Harry, Hermione and Ron jinx Snape – leaving him unconscious for the subsequent revelation.
  • Lupin and Sirius force Scabbers to manifest as Peter.
  • The group leaves the Whomping Willow to return to the school with Peter in tow. Snape is levitated in his unconscious state.
  • Sirius gives Harry a gift - the promise of coming to live with him once cleared.
  • Lupin turns into a werewolf, which results in Peter Pettigrew's escape.
  • Sirius transforms to protect Ron from the werewolf.
  • Dementors attempt to kiss Harry and Hermione – and a Patronus arrives to disperse them. Harry is sure he saw his father produce the Patronus across the lake.
  • Snape comes to and returns the unconscious to the school. Sirius is then held in Flitwick's office.
  • Dumbledore hears the story and sets Hermione and Harry to save more than one innocent life tonight - they use the time-turner from the hospital ward to go back in time.
  • Harry and Hermione watch the events replay, saving Buckbeak from execution. Later, Harry tries to see his father and realizes that he had seen himself across the lake. He successfully produces the Patronus stag and names it Prongs - his father’s nickname.
  • Harry and Hermione fly on Buckbeak's back to rescue Sirius from the seventh floor office. Sirius thanks them and escapes by air with Buckbeak.

Trial 4 – The Triwizard Challenge

(From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

In Goblet of Fire, Harry is exposed to far more dynamic aspects of the magical world than previously encountered. These include professional sports; foreign wizards and peer academies; advanced spells, hexes and jinxes; large populations of wizards swayed by emotional responses rather than rational thinking; bittersweet feminine attraction and the experience of glory and agony concurrently.

Key tools, creatures and personages that assist him in this convoluted trial (or that may be invoked in the future) include the following:

  • How-to knowledge of the three Unforgivable Curses – "Imperio" the puppet curse, "Crucio" the torture curse, and "Avada Kedavra" Death curse characterized by a flash of green light. Beyond this, Harry learns to repel the Imperius curse.
  • Cho Chang, Harry’s newfound allure of love, and the related pain of jealousy incurred as Cedric Diggory wins out Cho for the Yule Ball.
  • A new house-elf Winky that Harry initially thinks is Dobby. Ironically, Winky knows Dobby. She is also scared of stadium heights and belongs to Mr. Crouch – Percy’s new boss. Mr. Crouch dismisses Winky when she is found with Harry’s wand. In this scene, Harry also witnesses the spell Priori Incantem presenting the Dark Mark performed with his wand.
  • Professional Quidditch teams and larger world scope of the wizarding world. Harry has the opportunity to see the speed at which the professional game is played, and witnesses Viktor Krum performing the Wronski Feint. Krum is the premiere Seeker in the wizarding world.
  • Souvenirs from the World Cup match, including Omniculars (slow-motion binoculars), Leprechaun gold and recognition of veela enchantment.
  • Beauxbatons and Durmstrang European schools of wizardry are to participate in the Triwizard contest – Beauxbatons is in Paris and the school is run by Madame (Olympe) Maxime. Their contingent arrives in an oversized Cinderella-esque carriage. Durmstrang is in a very cold region of Eastern Europe, and the headmaster is Karkaroff. Durmstrang participants arrive in a ship by way of the Hogwarts Lake.
  • Among the foreign students are Fleur Delacour, part veela, and Viktor Krum, the previously referenced Quidditch star. Both are competitive, yet strongly allied with Harry in the end.
  • Recognition of a giant population – and realization of Hagrid and Madame Maxime are half-giants. Most Giants are ill-tempered in nature, and were Voldemore allies in the past.
  • Nifflers are creatures that can seek out metals by smell and are well-adapted to dig up buried treasure.
  • Defensive devices such as Sneakoscope alarms and the Foe Glass mirror.
  • "Stupify" is the Stunning curse characterized by red light (also called Stunners).
  • Esoteric access to the Prefect bathroom supplied with mermaid painting and Moaning Myrtle’s plumbing. Myrtle likes to hang out in the faucets and observe. In the second task, Myrtle helps Harry find the mervillage.
  • Kitchen secrets on how to get treats. Along with finding out how to tickle the fruit, the trio finds Winky's new residence along with Dobby himself; The Army of House Elves stands ready to serve.
  • Dumbledore's patronus may be a phoenix and can send messages.
  • Amos and Cedric Diggory live near the Weasleys (as do the Lovegoods), and Amos works in the Department For The Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
  • Gillyweed, in sufficient doses, can permit humans to sprout gills for underwater access. Professor McGonagall previously drank gilly water without obvious effect.
  • Blast-ended Skrewts are suspicious creatures that grow, cannibalize and eject sparks.
  • Pensieve is used to sort thoughts in 3-dimensional form or to immerse oneself in a particular memory.
  • Recognition of flying techniques following invocation of Accio against the Hungarian Horntail.
  • Knowledge of the Dark Mark and Priori Incantem
  • Rita Skeeter and the dirty side of wizard journalism with her Acid Quill and secret Animagus identity.
  • Krum’s romantic interest in Hermione, and concern about Harry's relationship with her.
  • Little Hangleton connection – the Riddle House, Frank Bryce, Nagini, and Wormtail in Harry’s dreams.
  • Anti-Muggle charms
  • Importation laws on Flying Carpets and Cauldrons. A system of wizard laws and treaties in general.
  • Laws limiting house-elves.
  • Cave near Hogsmeade serving as a hideout for Sirius and Buckbeak.
  • Moody's magical eye which sees in any direction and through Invisibility Cloaks.
  • Bertha Jorkins was captured in Albania and found to have confidential ministry information.
  • Bartemius Crouch and his history of power in the wizarding world, witnessed through the Pensieve and Dumbledore’s explanation. Crouch’s relationship with his son was the downfall of his career.

The breakdown of the adventure proceeds as follows:

  • Learning that the first task is a confrontation with Dragons though Hagrid and Charlie.
  • Giving Cedric the dragon hint as a matter of fair play.
  • Harry does well against the Hungarian Horntail and ends up tied with Viktor Krum after the first event.
  • Opening the egg as the clue for the second task results in intolerable and indistinguishable screaming.
  • Harry finally takes Cedric's clue to "take a bath" in the prefect bathroom.
  • Myrtle and the sleeping mermaid help him solve the mystery of the egg – the task is to find the mervillage and free his most valued possession.
  • Despite attempts to locate a means to sustain himself underwater, Harry falls asleep in the library the night before the task.
  • Dobby locates him, tells his that his Wheezy (Ron) has been taken and that he must use gillyweed to save his Wheezy.
  • Harry rushes to the start of the trial, takes the gillyweed and descends into the great lake.
  • Harry battles grindelows and navigates the massive lake in search of the mervillage. Myrtle points him in the right direction and he arrives first. Ironically, of the four people take, Harry greatly values Ron, Hermione, and Cho. He attempts to save all of them, including Fleur's little sister Gabrielle whom he had never met.
  • Harry waves on Cedric with Cho, and helps Viktor who almost damaged Hermione when biting at the rope with his shark head transfiguration.
  • Harry brings Ron and Gabrielle to the surface where he is duly chewed out for his foolishness. The merchieftan explains to Dumbledore what happened and Harry gets quality points for his effort. He is tied with Cedric at the end of this event.
  • The third task is to complete the maze at the end of the school year. Harry is best prepared for this task given his previous trials. Along with Ron and Hermione (who increase their practical experience as well), Harry learns many hexes, curses and counter curses.
  • Once released to the maze concurrently with Cedric, Harry notices the lack of encounters. He hears Fleur being attacked and later assists Cedric against Krum who is using the Cruatius Curse curse in the middle of the maze.
  • Cedric and Harry meet the acromantula, where Harry’s leg is injured. Cedric helps him and the both take the Triwizard Cup together.
  • The Cup is a portkey and transports Harry and Cedric to a graveyard. Cedric is killed by Wormtail on Voldemort’s command.
  • Harry is disarmed, and bound to the gravestone of Tom Riddle’s father. Old magic is performed and Voldemort is returned to near-human form.
  • The Death Eaters congregate to witness the return of Voldemort and the intended murder of Harry Potter. Harry is returned his wand to spar with Voldemort and is tortured. The duel continues via ‘Crucio’ and ‘Imperio’, and Harry continues to struggle. His only dueling spell is the disarming ‘Expelliarmus’ which he invokes against ‘Avada Kedavra’ – the killing curse.
  • Voldemort’s and Harry’s wands link in a strand of light and splinters into a net of light. Through a battle of sheer will and to the song of the phoenix, a bead on the original strand works back to Voldemort’s wand. Targets of Voldemort’s last spells emit from his wand as shadows – including Cedric, Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins, Lily and James Potter. Cedric asks Harry to return him to his father and James instructs him on what to do. Harry escapes, runs to Cedric’s body, calls forth the Triwizard Cup and teleports back to Hogwarts.
  • In the chaos over Cedric’s death, Harry is led back to the castle by Moody. Moody reveals that he is the follower of Voldemort who set Harry up. As Moody moves to finish Harry, he is stunned by Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape. Dumbledore knows this is an imposter and the wait was for polyjuice to wear off. The imposter was Barty Crouch, Jr. whose father had helped him escape and the story unravels. Harry’s immediate trauma ends, but the effects are lasting.


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