When Harry and Hermione are trying to stop the Dementors from Kissing Sirius at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, they are unsuccessful in their Patronus attempts. It is well known that dementors affect Harry more than Hermione, and yet Hermione passes out first. Why is this?

Here is the scene:

The dementors were closing in, barely ten feet from them. They formed a solid wall around Harry and Hermione, and were getting closer.

"EXPECTO PATRONUM!" Harry yelled, trying to blot the screaming from his ears. "EXPECTO PATRONUM!"

A thin wisp of silver escaped from his wand and hovered like mist before him. At the same moment, Harry felt Hermione collapse next to him. He was alone...completely alone...

  • 6
    As much as I hate to point out the out-of-universe reason, it's because Harry is the hero and Hermione is not.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 18:20
  • 3
    Pure speculation, but one could argue that Hermoine is much more tightly-wound and stressed out than Harry, who can be pretty chill at times. An attack based on draining happiness might be more effective against a neurotic or uptight personality.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 18:59
  • Harry has also just saved the life of Peter Pettigrew, who then escaped to find Voldemort. He's just attacked a teacher, and the likelihood of a life with Sirius is going downhill fast. His favorite teacher just turned into a wolf and attacked his godfather.
    – CHEESE
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 18:20

3 Answers 3


Well, the first thing to notice is that, at this point, Harry has a lot more experience with battling Dementors than Hermione, because of his practice sessions with Lupin. True, he'd been taking on a boggart (and only one), but Hermione has only ever encountered the Dementor on the train and that one wasn't especially hostile. Harry, however, has built up a bit of resistance and he also knows what to do - albeit he does fail to do it.

More importantly, though, Harry's just been offered a home with Sirius and a way out from the Dursleys:

'I'll understand, of course, if you want to stay with your aunt and uncle,' said Sirius. 'But ... well ... think about it. Once my name's cleared ... if you wanted a ... a different home ...'

Some sort of explosion took place in the pit of Harry's stomach.

'What - live with you?' he said, accidentally cracking his head on a bit of rock protruding from the ceiling. 'Leave the Dursleys?'

'Of course, I thought you wouldn't want to,' said Sirius quickly. 'I understand. I just thought I'd -'

'Are you mad?' said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Sirius'. 'Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?'

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - pp.277-8 - Bloomsbury - chapter 20, The Dementors' Kiss

You can bet your bottom dollar he's gonna fight with everything he has for his godfather and his potential new life. And we know that, when the chips are down and push comes to shove, Harry really can be the hero. He also has hope - more hope than perhaps he's had in a long time. A powerful weapon against the Dementors.

  • I think they encountered more than one dementor throughout the book. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 8:07
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    @CodedMonkey But Hermione hadn't, at this point, been up close with more than the one on the train. She saw the Dementors sweeping on to the Quidditch field, but she was up in the stands, quite far from them, and the Dementors monitoring the streets of Hogsmeade and the entries to Hogwarts were not going for her in particular. This here is a large group of Dementors bearing directly down on her and Harry (which Hermione hasn't had any training in how to deal with), and she hadn't faced that before. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 10:17
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    Keep in mind that (at this point) she's not great under pressure. Think of how she fails her Defense Against the Dark Arts exam because of a Boggart, which we know she has encountered and dealt with before.
    – DavidS
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 11:42

I think it was because Harry had more experience with dementors and had built up resistance, as well as his lessons with Lupin. Also, he was concentrating strongly on good thoughts, recent good things, and focusing on creating a patronus.

  • Welcome to the SFF site. Thanks for contributing. I feel like this was covered already in Au101's answer though. Do you have anything new to add to your answer?
    – RedCaio
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 23:08

I always understood it as an effect of the Patronum spell. The concentration required to cast the spell focused his mind away from the despair of the dementors. And then even a feeble patronus could help resist for some time. Hermione did not know the spell at all, and was thus completely defenseless.

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