Harry Potter’s scar is arguably the most recognizable symbol in J.K. Rowling’s groundbreaking series. Not only is it a physical mark that sets Harry apart, but it’s also a symbol laden with history, meaning, and magical properties that play a vital role in the narrative.
Throughout the series, Harry’s lightning bolt-shaped scar is a constant reminder of his encounter with Voldemort, the darkest wizard of all time. In this article, we’ll delve into the origin of Harry’s scar, understand why it causes him pain, and explore its profound significance in the wizarding world.
Harry’s Scar: More Than a Mark
The mark on Harry Potter’s forehead is no ordinary scar. Its unique shape – a jagged lightning bolt – and its location, on the right side of his forehead, give it a distinct look that becomes an integral part of Harry’s identity. Unlike typical scars that might result from accidents or fights, this one comes from the Wizarding World’s most notorious villain, Voldemort.
The scar isn’t merely a symbol of Harry’s past; it also serves as a connection to the dark wizard who left it there, providing insights into the mystical and often dangerous world of magic that Harry is thrust into.
How Did Harry Potter Get His Scar?
Harry Potter got his scar when he was a baby. Voldemort attacked Harry and his parents in Godric’s Hollow. Voldemort tried to kill Harry with the Killing Curse, leaving Harry with the scar, but Harry’s mother, Lily, sacrificed herself to protect him and the Curse rebounded and hit Voldemort, destroying his body.
The origin of Harry’s scar traces back to a fateful night in Godric’s Hollow. When Harry was just a baby, Voldemort, hearing a prophecy that a child born at the end of July could potentially defeat him, decided to eliminate the threat. He chose Harry as this possible threat and broke into the Potters’ home, killing both of Harry’s parents, James first and then Lily. When Voldemort turned his wand on Harry and cast the Avada Kedavra curse, things didn’t go as planned.
The Avada Kedavra curse, also known as the killing curse, is one of the three Unforgivable Curses and is known for its deadly power. There’s no known counter-curse, and no known witch or wizard had ever survived its direct hit, until Harry. On that night, Lily Potter’s sacrificial protection, triggered by her choice to die instead of stepping aside, shielded Harry. When Voldemort cast the killing curse, it rebounded off Harry, destroying Voldemort’s physical body and marking Harry with the now infamous lightning bolt scar.
The aftermath of this event was as astonishing as the event itself. Harry became known as “The Boy Who Lived,” the only known survivor of the killing curse. The scar became a symbol of his survival and the hope of the wizarding world. But it was more than a mere mark; it was also a magical link between Harry and the Dark Lord he’d yet to fully understand.
Is Harry’s Scar on the Left or Right?
In the “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” book, there is a specific line that seems to suggest the scar is on the right side of his forehead.
The quote is as follows:
“…he was glaring at the face staring back from the cracked mirror on the wall next to the desk. It was almost completely hidden by a tangle of bushy, unbrushed hair, but there was no concealing the bright red zigzag scar on Harry’s forehead, which was still throbbing painfully under his fingers. Just above his right eye, a pulsing vein stood out in his temple…”Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This is the closest reference in the books that implies the location of the scar being on the right side, but J.K. Rowling has not confirmed this detail specifically.
Why Does Harry’s Scar Hurt?
The pain Harry felt in his scar was a byproduct of an unintentional link created by Voldemort himself. When the killing curse backfired, it caused a fragment of Voldemort’s soul to latch onto the only living thing in the room: baby Harry. This piece of soul acted as a Horcrux.
Harry’s lightning bolt scar was far from a simple mark; it served as a symbol of his deep connection with Voldemort, acting as a kind of alarm system. Throughout the series, Harry experienced intense pain in his scar during moments when Voldemort was feeling particularly strong emotions, or when he was physically close. This first occurred in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” when Harry felt a sharp pain during his first face-to-face encounter with Voldemort at Hogwarts.
Harry’s scar pain was not just about proximity, however. As the series unfolded, it became clear that the pain was often associated with Voldemort’s emotions – when Voldemort was angry or excited, Harry would experience a surge of pain. In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Harry’s scar ached when Voldemort regained his body, signaling a significant increase in the Dark Lord’s power.
It’s worth noting that Harry’s scar stopped hurting permanently after Voldemort’s death, marking the end of their connection. Thus, the pain in Harry’s scar was more than just a physical manifestation; it was an indicator of the deep, magical bond that tied Harry and Voldemort, reflecting the complexity of the relationship between them.
The Scar as a Connection
Harry’s scar served as more than just a mark or a symbol; it was a conduit between him and Voldemort. This connection, though painful and often unwanted, provided Harry with significant insights into Voldemort’s mind.
From “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” onward, Harry was able to perceive some of Voldemort’s thoughts, plans, and emotions, even experiencing his joy, anger, and eagerness for power. For example, Harry was able to sense Voldemort’s elation during the graveyard scene when he was reborn.
There were also instances where this connection led to misinformation. In “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Harry saw a vision of his godfather, Sirius Black, being tortured by Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries. This vision was manipulated by Voldemort, leading Harry and his friends into a trap.
This bond between Harry and Voldemort became a key plot device in the series. It was this connection that led Dumbledore to realize that Harry was an unintentional Horcrux, and that in order for Voldemort to be truly defeated, this part of his soul that resided in Harry would have to be destroyed.
The link between Harry’s scar and Voldemort played a crucial role in the series’ final events. The pain in his scar led Harry to willingly walk into the Forbidden Forest to face Voldemort, believing that his death was the only way to destroy the piece of Voldemort’s soul inside him. Thus, Harry’s scar, which started as a mark of attempted murder, became a tool of insight, guidance, and ultimately, sacrifice.
The Scar’s Significance in the Wizarding World
The lightning bolt scar on Harry Potter’s forehead became an iconic symbol in the Wizarding World. It marked him as “The Boy Who Lived,” the only known person to have survived the deadly Avada Kedavra curse. It became a beacon of hope and resistance against the Dark forces, making Harry a celebrity in the magical world from the moment he set foot in it.
Professor Snape addresses Harry during his first Potions class:
“Ah, yes,” he said softly, “Harry Potter. Our new — celebrity.”Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
This line underscores the fame Harry has within the Wizarding World and the skepticism and disdain Snape feels towards this fame and Harry himself.
From the very first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” we see the importance of this scar. When Harry arrives at the Leaky Cauldron for the first time with Hagrid, he is immediately recognized by the wizards and witches there, solely due to his scar. Similarly, throughout the series, Harry’s scar gives him an almost mythical status among the Wizarding community.
It also became a symbol of the struggle against evil. The sight of his scar was enough to inspire courage in many, even as it was a constant reminder of Voldemort’s reign of terror. The scar also affected Harry’s life in more personal ways. While it brought him unwelcome fame and attention, it also served as a connection to his past, to the parents he never knew, and the sacrificial love that saved him.
However, the scar was also a burden to Harry. It marked him as the target of the dark forces. He had to constantly deal with the fame it brought him and the expectations from the magical community, many of whom saw him as their saviour. Despite the hardships it brought, Harry’s scar remained a significant part of his identity throughout the series.
Read more: Why Did Snape Hate Harry and James Potter?