Two weeks ago, I posted the first half of the character development arcs for the Final Chapter series, analyzing the secondary characters. Here, finally, is the promised second half with the major characters.
Remember that to successfully judge a character arc, we need to look at 1) where that character started, 2) what obstacles they had to overcome, 3) what changes occurred along the way, and 4) where they ended up.
In a way, Dumbledore's arc was more descending than ascending, at least as it took shape in the reader's mind. However, because Dumbledore had acknowledged his sins and tried to prepare Harry to do better, all the while choosing a position of guidance at Hogwarts rather than of power at the Ministry, he is restored to his chair of benign mentorship by series' end.
Dumbledore's Shining Moment -- foreshadows Harry's a book later. When Dumbledore lays down his life so that Harry may carry on, he shows that he is devoted to the true greater good and can, hopefully, make amends for the life he once lost by the many he is acting to save.
Snape, like Dumbledore, I believe changed more in the reader's mind than he did in his own. He remained true to himself by remaining loyal to Dumbledore and his lost love. As the stakes and danger increased for him, and Dumbledore pushed him to greater acts of spying and risk, Snape met these challenges bravely, even if irritably, to protect the son of the man he loathed and thereby preserve the memory of the woman he loved.
Ironically, Snape's Shining Moment came when he killed Dumbledore. For to honor Dumbledore's wishes and protect Harry's (and Draco's) life, Snape risked the damage his own soul that this horrific act would bring.
Even when given the opportunity for his own Shining Moment at the end by Harry, he could not bring himself to either understand or grab it. For to a man who has never known love or given love, there is no way for him to grasp any empathy for those lives he has torn apart. And empathy is a necessary component of remorse.
Ron's Shining Moment -- came with his defeat of his own personal Horcrux. The Slytherin locket had held such power over him because Voldemort had played on Ron's deepest fears and insecurities. By returning to those he'd abandoned and stabbing the locket, Ron conquered his dark side and became a stronger man and a more loyal friend.
Hermione's Shining Moments are so many that choosing one is hard to do. But I'd vote for her getting the Trio out safely from the Lovegood home as the Death Eaters approached. It was her quick mind that not only saved herself, Ron, and Harry from capture, but also showed them long enough to the Death Eaters so that Xenophilius would not be blamed and harmed.
This Shining Moment of Harry's when he gives his life in the dark forest, enables his resurrection in the Great Hall as the man who could strip the power away from Voldemort without damaging his own soul.
While writing in an exotic, fantastic world does give JKR a certain edge in creating eccentric, memorable characters, her basic skills are still ones we can apply to our own writing, no matter the genre. Draw your characters, even your secondaries, in engaging, intriguing, yet realistic detail. Get at their hearts to understand what they are good at...and as with the boggart in the cupboard, what they most fear.
Give each character a goal and a reason to be motivated toward this goal. Make each one face a stumbling block, a hardship or conflict they have to fight against toward attaining this goal. Make your characters conquer real challenges before achieving their triumphs. And through all this, show your characters' choices and development with action, not just with narrative words.
What shining moment have you recently used in finalizing a character arc for one of your characters?