Harry Potter and the Enneagram - Ones

By Teresa Malcolm

Warning: If you have not read the Harry Potter books, you plan to, and you don't want to know any of the secrets therein, turn back now. This series of articles will give away plot developments that might otherwise come as a surprise to the books' uninitiated readers.

With six books now written out of a projected seven in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has introduced a large cast of vivid characters to entertain and fascinate the reader. For a student of the Enneagram, that cast also comprises a cross-section of all nine personality styles, and in a wide variety of stages of psychological health - ranging from utterly evil villain and Three, Lord Voldemort, to the near-perfect Five in the wise old wizard Albus Dumbledore. Our Nine hero, Harry, lies somewhere in between those extremes.

I'll leave Harry for last, though. In this series of nine articles, I'll work my way in order through the Enneagram, focusing on some prominent, interesting representatives of each style to be found in the books. It's logical enough to begin with One, but with Harry Potter, it's also fitting - because it seems to be the Enneagram style of the author herself.

In interviews, Rowling can come off as humorously Seven-ish, but also One-ish, especially in her strong opinions on the moral standing of her characters (leading to some fans' taking offense at her critical judgments of some popular but morally dubious characters, and of those who embrace them as favorites). The books themselves are marked by a mix of whimsical humor (the Seven connection) with a plot anchored in a deadly serious battle between good and evil.

But perhaps the strongest clue to Rowling's own style is found in the books' most prominent female character, Harry's friend Hermione Granger, whom the author has called an exaggerated version of herself at that age. "Hermione is very dear to my heart because of that," Rowling has said. "I understand her implicitly. She's not exactly like me, because characters always become something very different on the page. So I do feel that I have a female character in there into whom I've really put a lot of myself."

And Hermione, in her virtues and flaws, is very much a One.

In their first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (in the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone), Harry and his other best friend, Ron Weasley, do not immediately make friends with this girl, annoyed as they are by her constant pronouncements as to the right way to do anything - whether it's Hermione correcting Ron's imperfect spell-casting, or Hermione following after the boys as they sneak out of the dormitory after hours, scolding them about breaking the rules, "hissing at them like an angry goose."

The adventure battling a troll cemented the trio's friendship, and it is, tellingly, capped by Hermione's lie to a professor to keep Harry and Ron out of trouble. It's the first occasion in which we see Hermione bend her strict principles in service of what she perceives to be a higher good - in this case, out of gratitude toward the two boys who just saved her life.

When Hermione turns rule-breaker, it is rarely, if ever, just for the fun of it. Even when she giddily forgoes studying for partying in her fifth year (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), there is the undertone of righteous rebellion against the tyranny of then-Headmistress Dolores Umbridge.

In academics, Hermione values achievement through honest effort, a value she endlessly, unsuccessfully tries to pass on to her two best friends - for example, giving them homework diaries that chide them with such sayings as: "If you've dotted the 'i's and crossed the 't's then you may do whatever you please!"

Though it is often played for comedy, she does serve as a voice of conscience for Harry and Ron, and she shows the intimate subtype One's impulse to "improve" her loved ones. She also has shown that subtype's tendency to romantic jealousy erupting into anger, which Ron finds out in their sixth year (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) when she conjures a flock of attacking canaries after she sees him kissing classmate Lavender Brown. (Her sometimes hair-trigger emotionalism is also indicative of a Two-wing.)

In the fourth year (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Hermione expands her attentions to become a social crusader in defense of the rights of house-elves, the enslaved magical servants of the wizarding world. The trouble is, most house-elves don't want freedom and consider an offer of payment for their labor to be an insult. Hermione, at turns strident and underhanded in forcing the cause, refuses to see any gray areas. Rowling - who admits the subplot's basis in her own teenage years - sums up the tension in Hermione's crusade:

"Hermione, with the best of intentions, becomes quite self-righteous. She develops her political conscience. My heart is completely with her, but my brain tells me, which is a growing-up thing, that in fact she blunders towards the very people she's trying to help. She offends them. Hermione thinks she's going to lead them to glorious rebellion in one afternoon and then finds out the reality is very different."

As it happens, Hermione's political activism puts her at odds with fellow Ones in Goblet of Fire: Barty Crouch Sr. (whose treatment of his house-elf sparks Hermione's ire) and Ron's brother Percy Weasley. Crouch and Percy may also be Ones, but they hold to a different set of principles than Hermione.

Percy is described with language similar to what the narrator (in essence, Harry) has applied to Hermione - "fussy about rule-breaking and fond of bossing everyone around." Hermione is one of the few who get along with Percy, but they butt heads over Crouch's treatment of the elf. To Hermione, the elf is being oppressed. To Percy, the elf has violated the expectations of how house-elves ought to behave.

Undoubtedly, Crouch himself would agree with Percy. But beyond that, his place in the story of Goblet of Fire provides an object lesson in what happens when Ones become so convinced of the rightness of their intentions that they come to believe any methods are justified. Barty Crouch Sr., we learn, was a high official in the Ministry for Magic during Voldemort's first campaign against the Wizarding World some 15 years before. Rowling's own background as a former employee of Amnesty International comes through as the character of Sirius Black describes how Crouch dealt with the threat:

"Crouch's principles might've been good in the beginning - I wouldn't know. He rose quickly through the Ministry, and he started ordering very harsh measures against Voldemort's supporters. The Aurors [Dark Wizard catchers] were given new powers - powers to kill rather than capture, for instance. And I wasn't the only one who was handed straight to the Dementors [prison guards] without trial. Crouch fought violence with violence, and authorized the use of Unforgivable Curses against suspects. I would say he became as ruthless and cruel as many on the Dark Side."

Could Hermione go this route? She has shown a streak of ruthlessness when she thinks the cause is right. She imprisoned the reporter Rita Skeeter, blackmailed her and forced her into unemployment to make Skeeter "break the habit of writing horrible lies about people," Hermione says. Hermione has apparently permanently scarred a classmate, Marietta Edgecombe, as punishment for Marietta ratting out the secret Defense Against the Dark Arts group in their fifth year. And Hermione led Delores Umbridge into the grasp of violent centaurs.

Unlike Barty Crouch Sr., however, Hermione has the excuse of youth and immaturity, and she has the influence of two best friends who have helped her lighten up a bit. She could also take as a role model the books' healthiest One, Minerva McGonagall, the strict, upright, intimidating professor who is nevertheless enough of a fan of the sport of Quidditch that she turned a blind eye to the misbehavior that outed Harry as a potentially great player - instead of punishing him, she introduced him to the Quidditch team captain for Gryffindor House. And a highlight of Order of the Phoenix came during the school-wide rebellion against Umbridge: "Harry witnessed Professor McGonagall walking right past Peeves, who was determinedly loosening a crystal chandelier, and could have sworn he heard her tell the poltergeist out of the corner of her mouth, 'It unscrews the other way.'"

The line has become a byword for me that typifies a healthy One: "It unscrews the other way." (If you're going to destroy school property, Peeves, be sure to destroy it right!)

McGonagall knows when to bend. Barty Crouch Sr., on the other hand, refused to do so - and with the one action in which you could argue that he did, it proved to be his fatal mistake. Crouch Sr. had convicted his own son as follower of Voldemort, but then he helped the son escape from prison, as a gesture to his dying wife. "He loved her as he had never loved me," says the son, Barty Crouch Jr. But the Imperius curse (one of the "Unforgivable" dark curses) the father placed on his son for over a decade was hardly indicative of true mercy or forgiveness. Crouch Jr. eventually escaped Crouch Sr.'s grasp, setting in motion a chain of events that led to the father's madness and eventual death at his son's hands.

Barty Crouch Sr. would not bend, and in the end, he was broken.

As for the pair of younger Ones, Percy's refusal to bend has already led to estrangement from his family. (Dominating Percy's guiding ideals as a One seem to be orderliness and respectability, no doubt a reaction to growing up in the large, poor, disorderly Weasley family.)

Even if Hermione has shown some of the signs of a One's dark side, it seems unlikely that the story will ultimately leave us believing that the girl based on her creator will go the route of Barty Crouch Sr. or even Percy. Maybe her salvation lies in the fact that she can bend even for such a non-righteous cause as saving Ron and Harry from the consequences of homework procrastination yet again, which she will do simply out of love for her chronically academically slipshod friends. She's not going to stop scolding them, but she has shown herself able to see more than just their flaws, to recognize their goodness and forgive their mistakes - even Ron's big mistake of kissing Lavender Brown.

Coming next: The Twos of Harry Potter, including the half-giant Hagrid.