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Horace Slughorn Character Analysis: Potions Master

Horace Slughorn Character Analysis: Potions Master

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Horace Slughorn was the Potions Master at Hogwarts until 1981 and returned to the post at the request of Albus Dumbledore in 1996. He had a skill for picking out students who would do well and cultivated them as members of the Slug Club. As a result, he had many famous and intellectual contacts.

It was Professor Slughorn who explained to a young Tom Riddle how Horcruxes worked, something he always regretted. He hid this information for many years until eventually revealing it to Harry Potter.

About Horace Slughorn

Born28 April (1882-1913)
Blood StatusPure-Blood
OccupationPotions Master Head of House
Wand10 ¼ inch Cedar with Dragon Heartstring
Zodiac SignTaurus

Horace Slughorn Early Life

Horace Eugene Flaccus Slughorn was born in the late 19th or early 20th century into a wealthy wizarding family. While his family were not pureblood supremacists, Horace was always encouraged to make friends with “the right people”.

Horace started attending Hogwarts at age eleven and was sorted into Slytherin house. He quickly showed an aptitude for potion-making. He was able to make Felix Felicis, a supremely complicated potion that gave the drinker good luck. He used it once when he was 24 and once when he was 57 and described the experiences as two perfect days.

Slughorn holding Felix Felicis

Sometime after graduating, Horace returned to Hogwarts as the Potions Master. Over time he was also made the Head of Slytherin.

Horace had a talent for knowing which students were likely to go and make something of themselves. Wanting to develop a rapport with these students and help them in their future endeavors, he created the “Slug Club”. He would invite the group to dinners, parties, and late-night chats.

As a result of this favoritism, he benefited from their future success and game getting free Quidditch tickets, boxes of sweets, or being asked for advice on important Ministry appointments.

While he was never cruel to students, he mainly ignored students he didn’t think had potential. This included both Arthur Wesley when he was at school and his son Ron Weasley many years later.

Horace Slughorn and Tom Riddle

Tom Riddle was one of the students that Slughorn singled out as having great potential. He wasn’t wrong, since Riddle would go on to become the greatest dark wizard of all time. Tom knew how to manipulate Slughorn through flattery and hide the darker side of his nature from the teacher.

On one evening in the 1943 school year, Tom was at an evening meeting of the Slug Club. He hung around after the others left to speak to Professor Slughorn. He asked the teacher to explain Horcruxes, saying that he had come across it in a book and didn’t understand what it was. Slughorn, knowing that Riddle was intelligent and curious, explained, but asked Tom to keep the conversation between the two of them.

Well, you split your soul, you see, and hide part of it in an object outside the body. Then, even if one’s body is attacked or destroyed, one cannot die, for part of the soul remains earthbound and undamaged. But of course, existence in such a form… few would want it, Tom, very few. Death would be preferable.

Horace Slughorn, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

It soon became apparent that Riddle knew all about Horcruxes and wanted to know if it was possible to split the soul multiple times to make seven parts since seven is the most magical number. This horrified Slughorn, who pointed out that creating a Horcrux required splitting your soul through killing, and that killing once would be bad enough.

Riddle quickly agreed with his teacher and changed the subject, but Slughorn finally had a glimpse of the real Tom Riddle. After school, Slughorn was disappointed that Riddle disappeared and did not take up any of the offers that he had organized for him. Slughorn began to realize that he had been very wrong about Riddle.

When rumors began to circulate that Lord Voldemort had achieved immortality, Slughorn realized the part that he may have played in bringing that about and was mortified.

Slughorn speaking to Tom Riddle

Horace Slughorn and Lily Evans

Despite his experience with Tom Riddle, Slughorn nevertheless continued teaching in the same way and nurturing his Slug Club. He had many favorites, including Lucius Malfoy, Gwenog Jones, Severus Snape, and Lily Evans.

Slughorn remembered Lily as one of his best students, despite being Muggle-born. He thought that she was cheeky and had a natural flair for potions.

He was devastated when Lily was killed by Lord Voldemort in 1981, but also pleased that Voldemort had apparently died. It meant that the dark wizard had not made any Horcruxes and that he was off the hook.

However, Dumbledore was not convinced that Voldemort was gone, and began to question Slughorn about what he knew of the young Riddle. Worried about revealing what he had done, Slughorn resigned after teaching for more than 50 years.

Horace Slughorn in Retirement

When he initially retired, Slughorn took up residence in the home of his late parents. He spent his time reading, visiting his former students, and throwing the occasional reunion and party. Nevertheless, he missed teaching and meeting new students.

News reached Slughorn in 1991 that Voldemort had returned and tried to get his hands on the Philosopher’s Stone. He continued to feel guilty about his role in the rise of the Dark Lord. He modified his own memory to try and block the event in his office from his mind.

In 1995, Slughorn was visited by the Death Eater Corban Yaxley who wanted to recruit him for the Death Eaters. Lord Voldemort had returned, but this was being denied by the Ministry of Magic. But the Death Eater approach made Slughorn realize that he was back.

He went into hiding, moving from one Muggle house to the next. He used freezing charms to disable security alarms and sneakoscopes to monitor the neighbors.

Horace Slughorn Meets Harry Potter

In 1996, Albus Dumbledore decided to invite Slughorn to return to Hogwarts as Potions Master. He said that he was in need of a teacher, but in reality, he wanted Slughorn close to see if he could retrieve the memory that he thought was very important.

Knowing Slughorn’s penchant for “collecting” talented wizards, Dumbledore brought Harry Potter with him, knowing that the desire to collect him would convince Horace.

They tracked him to the Muggle village of Budleigh Babberton. Not wanting to see Dumbledore, Slughorn faked a struggle and seemingly wrecked the house. He even splashed his last bottle of expensive dragon blood on the walls. He then transfigured himself into an armchair and waited in plain sight.

Dumbledore recognized the ruse and forced Slughorn to reveal himself, who immediately said that he would not be returning to Hogwarts. Dumbledore said that was fine and went to the bathroom, leaving Harry alone with Slughorn.

Slughorn told Harry that he looked like his mother, and Harry revealed to Slughorn that he was indeed the chosen one. As Dumbledore went to leave with Harry, Slughorn agreed to return as long as he got a pay raise and was given Professor Merrythought’s old office.

Horace Slughorn Returns to Hogwarts

When Slughorn arrived, the student body was surprised to hear that he would be filling the role of Potions Master, and that Professor Snape would be taking up the role of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. This meant that Harry and Ron were able to continue with potions despite only achieving Exceeds Expectations in their Potions O.W.L.

Slughorn made his classes fun, introducing the students to exciting potions and using fun competitive challenges to motivate the students. In the very first class for his sixth years, he promised a small bottle of Felix Felicis to the student who brewed the best Draught of Death.

While he was very impressed with Hermione and awarded her points on various occasions for her excellent potions knowledge, Harry won the competition.

While Slughorn assumed that Harry had inherited his mother’s flair for potions, he was in fact using tips written in an old potions textbook that he had found in the cupboard (since he had not bought a textbook before arriving at school). This turned out to be the old textbook of Severus Snape.

The book helped Harry perform very well in potions throughout the year.

Slughorn and his Memory

During this year, Dumbledore was also giving Harry private lessons so that he could teach Harry about Lord Voldemort and his Horcruxes. Dumbledore showed Harry a variety of memories relating to the dark lord.

In one class, he showed Harry a modified memory that Slughorn had shared with him. He told Harry that this was a very important memory and charged him with retrieving the real memory.

Harry initially tried by hanging back after class and asking Slughorn about Horcruxes, just as Riddle had done. Slughorn refused to respond, and also realized what Harry was up to. From that point onwards, he avoided ever being alone with Harry. He even stopped Slug Club suppers to avoid Harry.

Nevertheless, when Harry turned up with Ron, who had accidentally consumed an expired love potion, Slughorn agreed to help him, brewing a quick remedy for Ron. The three then decided to celebrate with some mead that Slughorn had forgotten to give to Dumbledore. This turned out to be poisoned. Ron was the first to drink it.

Slughorn was flummoxed by the sudden poisonous attack but harry reacted quickly and gave Ron a bezoar. This saved Ron, though he did have to spend some time in the hospital wing.

Slughorn brews and antidote for Ron

Slughorn and the Death of Aragog

Harry soon gave up pursuing Slughorn, despite Dumbledore (and Hermione) impressing on him how important the memory was. But on 30 April 1997, Harry took a small dose of Felix Felicis.

As a result, he ran into Slughorn while he was on his way to Hagrid’s hut for the funeral of his Acromantula Aragog. He told the professor where he was going and why. Slughorn decided to join him since the venom of these giant spiders is incredibly valuable, but often difficult to obtain.

Horace attended the funeral with Harry and Hagrid, and secretly milked the dead spider for its venom while Hagrid was not looking. But he also brought several bottles of wine with him so that he could drink them with Hagrid. The two got very drunk together.

Late in the evening, in the spirit of the funeral, Harry spoke to Slughorn about his mother and what Voldemort had done to him. Horace finally agreed to share the real memory with Harry, which Harry then took to Dumbledore. Together, they confirmed that Voldemort must have six Horcruxes, and what at least some of them might be.

Slughorn shares his memory

Slughorn and the Death of Albus Dumbledore

Slughorn was deeply shaken when Severus Snape killed Albus Dumbledore on Hogwarts ground on 30 June 1997. He commented that he thought he knew Snape and was surprised by his betrayal. He also expressed concern that parents would stop sending their students to Hogwarts.

But will we have a single pupil after this? Parents will want to keep their children at home and I can’t say I blame them. Personally, I don’t think we’re in more danger at Hogwarts than we are anywhere else, but you can’t expect mothers to think like that. They’ll want to keep their families together, it’s only natural.

Horace Slughorn, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Despite his misgivings, Slughorn stayed, and took up his old position as Head of Slytherin following Snape’s departure.

He also returned to Hogwarts the following year when it fell under Death Eater control and Snape was made headmaster. His decision was probably partly motivated by fear of what would happen to him if he did not return, and partly motivated by his desire to protect the students who were also forced to return to the school.

Horace Slughorn and the Battle of Hogwarts

When both Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters arrived at Hogwarts, Slughorn was there. He came running to the aid of Minerva McGonagall as she dueled with Snape and expelled him from the school. McGonagall sent Slughorn to bring the Slytherin students to the Great Hall.

McGonagall wanted to send the students to safety, but many complained that they wanted to stay and fight. She eventually agreed that students of age could stay.

However, when Lord Voldemort’s voice announced that he only wanted Harry Potter and no one else need get hurt, Slytherin student Pansy Parkinson suggests handing him over. This made it clear that the Slytherin students could not be trusted, and Horace was charged with escorting all the Slytherin students away from Hogwarts and to safety.

Many thought that Slytherin had fled in fear with the students, but he in fact went to Hogsmeade to round up reinforcements. Slughorn returned to the castle with a vast number of residents and shopkeepers from the town, as well as a few trusted Slytherin students who wanted to fight for the school.

He actively engaged in the fight and was one of the last to duel with the Dark Lord before his eventual death.

Slughorn after the Wizarding War

Slughorn continued to teach Potions at Hogwarts after the end of the war and continued as the Head of Slytherin. He permanently retired in 2016 and a portrait of him was placed in the Slytherin Common Room.

Horace Slughorn Personality Type & Traits

Horace Slughorn is described as bumbling and jovial, but he also clearly had a sharp mind. This was probably an act to ingratiate himself with others and fly under the radar. He could spot talent with ease and liked to get close to people that he believed would be successful. While he was never cruel to anyone, he always played favorites.

Horace likes his comfort. He also likes the company of the famous, the successful, and the powerful. He enjoys the feeling that he influences these people. But he has never wanted to occupy the throne himself. He prefers the back-seat; there is more room to spread out.

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Horace Slughorn Zodiac Sign & Birthday

Horace Slughorn was born on April 18 sometime between 1882 and 1913. This means that his zodiac sign is Taurus. People born under this sign are very aware of social hierarchies and the flows of power. They tend to know how to position themselves to take advantage of this.