I am watching some of the Harry Potter movies right now and was just wondering what makes one wizard more powerful than another, and what does powerful mean exactly?
In life, we usually attribute two concepts to becoming exceptional or powerful at something, namely; raw talent, and dedication to learning the craft.
For example, if we see somebody who is really great at basketball like Michael Jordan we know two things about him. One, he had exceptionally great raw ability. Two, he worked very hard and was very dedicated in perfecting his craft. However, there are also others who worked just as hard as Michael Jordan but just didn't make it and couldn't do the things he did. We usually attribute this to lack of raw talent, ie; just couldn't run as fast, couldn't jump as high, etc. This might be described as a physical/physiological limitation based on DNA, etc.
Studies kind of work the same way. One person could work very hard and get average grades, another person could barely put effort into something, but get exceptional grades.
Voldemort was an exceptionally great student. He worked very hard to learn everything he could at Hogwarts and took his studies very seriously. He was in the library constantly trying to learn more then just what was taught in his studies at Hogwarts. He was considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest wizard of all time.
Hermione was also very dedicated to her studies and Sirius Black even stated that she truly was the most "brilliant witch of her generation." I realize that brilliance doesn't necessarily translate into hard work and could simply be viewed as raw talent. Hermione was a very dedicated student, and even used a time traveling device so she could go back in time to take more classes and get more study time in. Hermione was considered a very good witch, but I'm not sure if she was considered great. For example she couldn't produce a patronus spell like Harry.
Ron was a below average student and not considered to be that smart.. Ron was considered a very good wizard as well, at least by the end of the series.
Harry wasn't considered an exceptional student, he was average at best. I don't believe he was considered to be exceptionally bright. Harry was considered a great wizard as Snape stated it would take "a very powerful wizard" to cast the patronus spell Harry cast to chase away multiple dementors at once.
What goes into making a great wizard? Is it simply raw talent? Is it how hard one studies and the amount of knowledge one attains? Is there a 'physical' limitation in terms of how much power one attains no matter how one studies? (Maybe a gauge something like midichlorians in Star Wars?)
Normally I like to ask a question with quotes from relevant source material to backup statements. I tried to find transcripts in which to copy the exact quotes to put in this question, but could not find a good source. If somebody could point me in the right direction I'll be happy to edit the question and put quotes in the appropriate spots.