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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.

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  • @Richard Yes it is pretty much the same. I didn't see this one when searching or typing mine in. However, his question at least the supporting part, included nothing but his opinion of what the answer should be. He included no supporting in-canon examples of wizards, their abilities, and what his question meant. He didn't finish it off with clearly stating what the crux (pun intended) of his question was. The answers were all lacking, probably because he didn't really frame his question clearly. How do I ask a similar question and get some in-canon answers. I'm really curious about this. – JMFB May 30 '15 at 23:12
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    If you don't like the answers on the dupe, you have some choices. You could a) Seek clarification from the people who posted the existing answers OR b) Post a bounty with a custom reason ("I want more info about x") OR c) research and post your own answer. – Valorum May 30 '15 at 23:16
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    @Richard - don't think it's a dupe. That one asks what the definition of powerful is. This one seems to ask about the process to achieve that definition. A good answer to both would be quite different (though might use same quotes in places) – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 30 '15 at 23:21
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    @Richard - leaving aside poor canon backing for that answer, it really should be migrated to THIS question, as it doesn't really asnswer the linked one :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 31 '15 at 1:23
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It would appear that certain magical traits can be inherited; for example, Harry is particularly good at riding brooms thanks to his father. It would also appear possible for magical skills to be passed on, as in 'The Half-Blood Prince' Professor Slughorn comments on Harry's (apparent) ability for creating potions: "just like his mother".

Hermione aquired no natural skill from her Muggle parents, thus she used sheer determination and smarts to get her through. Notice how she has difficulty in casting a patronus charm? It's possible she has difficulty because she was Muggle-born... Unless she's just depressed?

Voldemort was a Parseltongue- and a powerful wizard- due to being a descendant of Salazar Slytherin. The Deathly Hallows speaks of how voldemort accidentally passed on some of his power to Harry, such as the ability to talk to snakes.

Voldemort was very determined to become immortal and to become feared, and his quest for power lead him to do "terrible things... but great!" as stated by Ollivander. His (perhaps extraordinary) natural abilities, combined with an unquenchable thirst for power, made him a powerful wizard.

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    Riding a broom is a physical ability, not a magical one, right? – Emily Campbell Jun 9 '16 at 20:04
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    I always viewed broom riding as a magical ability. Like how you need the Force to properly use a lightsaber, you need good control of magic to control a magical item. – DCOPTimDowd Jul 18 '18 at 18:08
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    @DCOPTimDowd especially as there's the argument that Hermione is unable (in the books) to fully utilise any form of magic that requires emotional attachments or bonds. Patronuses? Nope. Commanding a broom? No chance. Divining the future based on little more than a feeling? Hopeless. – Mikasa Sep 6 '18 at 12:17
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I'm not a Harry Potter Master-but I do believe you would get the strongest magic by practicing it until it maxed out to your natural skill. The more you do it, the better your spells get. At least from what I saw in the films and read-very few actually produced a good spell their first cast.

I think the Sorting Hat kind of hints at this-sorting kids to houses where they can excel. Unless you're some special chosen one, everyone starts at level 1, or 2-then works up to level 75 avg, 85 good, 95 top tier, 100 Boss!

  • If we're going to talk about 100 though I'd say that as someone else says at least three wizards are well above 100 namely Dumbledore, Voldemort (Dumbledore even says that he was the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen and although he had an infinity with AK he still was indeed brilliant with magic - all except love/house elves/etc. of course) and Severus Snape. They truly were brilliant and I'd say they were definitely above the rest. In OotP a Ministry official who (can't recall name) says that she examined Dumbledore and he did things with a wand (s?)he never saw before. – Pryftan Oct 6 '17 at 15:00
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We can't really give you a canon answer, only some elements

Lord Voldemort inspire huge fear whereas he mostly use avada kedavra and he is not the only one to do so.

We have saw emotions have huge impacts on spells, particularly Doloris or Patronum.

Voldemort has a hugely evil heart, so it may explain why he is stronger than good sorcerers.

But some Deatheaters are pure evil like Bellatrix, so why are they still perceived as far less strongs ?

We do not know. Wands and magical skill seem to count, but do not explain such a difference.

We can suppose a raw power level, which may be innate or increase. But there is no proof. I only remember a quote from Rowling where she said Harry Potter is a 7 in power levels but I didn't manage to find it back.

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