Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.


Although Harry’s intentions are generally sound, he is often forced to lie, usually to authority figures, in order to complete his quests successfully. In the Wizarding world, untruths are everywhere: the Daily Prophet consistently prints lies about Harry and Dumbledore, and the Quibbler prints stories that seem to have no basis in truth. Harry often withholds information from his friends and professors, and he even refuses to tell Sirius the whole truth about his dreams. More often than not, Harry recruits his friends to help with his lies. When Harry needs to break into Umbridge’s office, Ginny Weasley stands at the end of a hallway, telling students that Garroting Gas has been released. Members of the D.A., too, must consistently lie about their whereabouts. When Umbridge gives Harry a week of detention, she forces him to repeatedly carve “I Will Not Tell Lies” into the back of his hand, but even this punishment is based in a lie. Umbridge thinks that Harry is lying about Voldemort’s return, but it is actually Umbridge who is being lied to by the Ministry, since Voldemort is, indeed, back.


Both at Hogwarts and beyond, Dumbledore commands and receives unconditional loyalty from his followers. The members of the Order of the Phoenix have pledged their unquestioning dedication to Dumbledore, and, despite the protests of the Ministry of Magic and much of the Wizarding world, their loyalty holds fast, and they believe, without question, what Dumbledore tells them about the return of Lord Voldemort. At Hogwarts, many of the students and faculty members remain extremely loyal to Dumbledore. After Dolores Umbridge replaces Dumbledore as Headmaster of Hogwarts, the students and faculty voice their protest by refusing to behave for Umbridge, making her life at Hogwarts as difficult as possible.


Blood is both a saving and divisive force for Harry Potter and his friends. Hogwarts students classify each other by blood type—pure blood, half blood, or Mudblood—which leads to disharmony and chaos. For Harry, however, blood often serves as his savior. The first time Harry encounters Lord Voldemort, in Book I, Voldemort has his face buried in a Unicorn and is hungrily sucking the animal’s blood. Clearly, Voldemort’s own blood is not a sufficient life force, and he is forced to feed on the Unicorn for survival. Harry’s blood, however, is extremely powerful. Once Dumbledore has told Harry about the contents of the prophecy, he explains that Harry’s heart is what gives Harry the power to separate himself from Voldemort. Likewise, Harry’s blood ties to his mother and his Aunt Petunia continue to keep him safe.