Elizabeth Anne Guthrie

Growing up, I knew books were a friend I could always rely on, and one friend I often turned to was Harry Potter, as did many others in my generation.  We grew up with Harry and his friends.  We waited in line at midnight so we could stay up all night reading the newest book, and we showed up for the magical midnight premieres of the latest movies.  As we grew, Harry grew.  Through these books, we learned about the power of love, courage, friendship, and so much more.  Even though there are no more new books or movies to look forward to, we can always learn more from the series that we love.  The beginning of this month marked the day the final book’s epilogue took place, which meant it was time for me to bring out my old books and remember some of the best messages from the series.  Here are 10 quotes to help you through life as an adult from the Harry Potter generation.


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1) ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.’ - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Dumbledore’s wise words serve as a reminder to get out in the world and take action.  Dreaming about what life could be feels great, but it feels even better to act on those dreams.

2) “‘You've sort of made up for it tonight,' said Harry.  'Getting the sword.  Finishing off the Horcrux.  Saving my life.'

'That makes me sound a lot cooler than I was,' Ron mumbled.

'Stuff like that always sounds cooler than it really was,' said Harry.  'I've been trying to tell you that for years.’” - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This quote reminds me of a problem that many of us have with social media.  We compare our lives to what we see online, when in reality, we’re all trying to show the best versions of ourselves on these sites.  This quote is a reminder that it’s easy to make stuff sound and look way cooler than it really is, and we should remember that the next time we compare our lives to a glamorous Instagram post.

3) ‘It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.’ - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry was disappointed to learn that the Sorting Hat only put him in Gryffindor because he asked it to, but he learned a valuable lesson: we can always choose who we want to be.  We can choose to be cruel like Voldemort, or brave like Harry.  No matter our talents or abilities, we can choose to be good.

4) ‘Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.’ - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Dumbledore’s advice rings especially true today.  It’s easy for politics to make us feel separate and divided, but if we are all striving to create a better world, we can work together in spite of our differences.

5) ‘Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters.  We've all got both light and dark inside us.  What matters is the part we choose to act on.  That's who we really are.’ - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In this quote, Sirius reminds us that no situation is black and white.  He reminds us that even the best of us are imperfect but that in spite of our imperfections, we always have a choice to act on the good inside us.

6) “‘If your determination to shut your eyes will carry you as far as this, Cornelius,’ said Dumbledore, ‘we have reached a parting of the ways.  You must act as you see fit.  And I — I shall act as I see fit.’” - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This scene occurs when Dumbledore realizes that Fudge refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned, and it’s a good reminder of how important it is to cut ties with toxic people in your life.  Dumbledore knows he can’t work with someone who would only hurt his cause, so he cuts ties with Fudge firmly and gracefully.  Follow his lead: be tough on the people in your life who are hurting you, but continue to treat them with respect.

7) ‘To hurt is as human as to breathe.’ - The Tales of Beedle the Bard

In this companion book to the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore reminds us of something we don’t hear often enough: it’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to feel hurt and sad, because we’re human.

8) ‘Harry nodded.  He somehow could not find words to tell them what it meant to him, to see them all ranged there, on his side.’ - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This quote is from the end of the book when Harry says goodbye to his friends at King’s Cross Station, including Mad-Eye, Tonks, Lupin, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Fred, and George, who came to greet him at the train station.  This quote is a beautiful example of how much it means to simply have people on your side through difficult times.  Stick by your friends - even if they can’t find the words to say it, they’ll appreciate it.


Dreaming about what life could be feels great, but it feels even better to act on those dreams.


9) ‘It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.’ - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This quote is a reminder from Dumbledore that we shouldn’t judge others based on where they come from or what they’ve been through - only who they are.

10) ‘Do not pity the dead, Harry.  Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.’ - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Here, Dumbledore sums up the most important lesson we learn from Harry Potter: love is the most powerful force in our lives.

I find inspiration from each page within the Harry Potter books, and these are just a few quotes that I live by.  It’s comforting to know we can always turn to a series we grew up with for strength.  After all, as J.K. Rowling said, ‘Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.’


Elizabeth Guthrie is a student at Northwestern University pursuing a degree in journalism with a minor in sociology and a Civic Engagement Certificate.  You can often find her exploring a new neighborhood of Chicago, reading Harry Potter in a coffee shop or meditating by Lake Michigan.


Comments (4)

wonderful inspiring and a good companion

  1. Laura Smith

Sigh. I love HP! Thanks for the memories!

  1. Amanda Sannella

What a wonderful and inspiring article! Makes we want to take out the series and start re-reading!

  1. Meagan Hooper

Loved reading these! Thank you, Elizabeth!


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