Heralds, quite literally, are messengers. In a story, they usually bring news about impending change, challenges to overcome, and calls the heroine to adventure. As with most storyline archetypes, the character of the Herald can be presented positively or negatively, an ally of the heroine, or a tool of the antagonist. Or, the Herald role can be fulfilled by an inner call within the heroine and not take on the role of an outside person at all.
Although multiple Heralds can, and do, occur throughout the Harry Potter series, we’ll look at the first Herald in each book who brings the news of the initial challenge, or call to adventure, for that year.
- PS/SS--Hagrid serves in the first role of Herald, breaking down the door to bring Harry his letter from Hogwarts. He informs Harry that he is a wizard and is also the one who first tells Harry about Voldemort.
- CoS--Dobby arrives in Harry's home at the worst possible time, and in a rather odd manner foretells the doom which awaits Harry if he should return to Hogwarts
- PoA--Aunt Marge in her rude abuse of Harry serves as a Herald by forcing him to consider all he does not know about his parents, his identity--the prime theme of the story, and pushing him out of the house
- GoF--Mrs. Weasley, through her letter inviting Harry to the Quidditch World Cup, invites Harry to explore the Magical World more fully
- OotP--The Dementors, then the letters from the MoM; The Dementors force Harry into the action which precipitates the flurry of letters and his call to the hearing; we also learn later that the Dementors were envoys of Umbridge.
- HBP--Dumbledore, through his advance letter and then in person, Dumbledore arrives to take Harry to Slughorn and start him on his new quest to delve below the surface of important Slytherins, such as Slughorn, Voldemort, and even Snape.
- DH—I think there are two sets of early heralds in this last book. Both Daily Prophet biographies regarding Dumbledore serve to alert (and alarm) Harry to his need to reconsider his pedestaled opinion of Dumbledore. Then the arrival of the OotP guard, willing to risk their lives for him, call Harry to his need to accept the help of others in his quest to eliminate Voldemort.
Heralds don't have to always be someone arriving on your hero's doorstep with an invitation. Be creative. And if you do have the traditional herald with a message, at least make him fun and different -- like a giant arriving on an island with a magic pink umbrella and sausages in his pocket!
What heralds have you used lately?