Harry Potter and the Language of Flowers

It’s pretty well-known that names in the Harry Potter series have meaning, and it’s obvious that many of the female characters are named for flowers. I decided to do a little research on the symbolism behind those flowers to see what Lily, Petunia, and the other flower names in the series really say about the people they describe.

Lily Potter – lilies are a flower with many meanings: white lilies represent purity and are associated with the Virgin Mary, while others represent passion, rebirth, and motherhood. These meanings seem to suit Harry’s mother, who is one of the series’ most important symbols of love and sacrifice.

Petunia Dursley – it’s fitting for Lily’s sister to also have a flower name, and even more fitting for it to be a flower that symbolizes anger and resentment.

Narcissa Malfoy – from the myth of Narcissus, a vain man who died beside a pond where he was admiring his reflection, and was turned into a flower. There are several flowers in the genus narcissus, the most well-known of which is the daffodil. The myth suggests someone vain and self-centered, while the daffodil is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring and is associated with rebirth and renewal, but can also symbolize misfortune.

Pansy Parkinson – in Victorian England, the pansy was used in courtship, to represent loving thoughts; the flower’s name comes from the French word penser, which means to think. While its meaning doesn’t seem to fit such an unpleasant character, the old-fashioned magical families like the one she comes from would not be out of place in the Victorian era.

Moaning Myrtle – the myrtle flower is typically a symbol of love and marriage, and was sacred to Venus, an odd choice for an awkward teenage ghost who doesn’t seem to have much of a love life beyond developing a crush on every boy who wanders into the bathroom she haunts. Perhaps it’s meant to be ironic, combined with the description of “moaning” and her general gloominess.

Fleur DelacourFleur is the French word for flower.

Poppy Pomfrey – poppies have been used in medicine – appropriate for a healer – as well as drugs such as opium. They have many meanings across cultures, including love, peace, death, and remembrance.

Rose Granger-Weasley – rose meanings vary greatly based on the color of the flower. Red roses stand for romantic love; yellow ones represent friendship and happiness; pink roses are for gratitude; white roses stand for purity. Roses have also been said to stand for rebirth and new beginnings, which makes sense for a character from the epilogue.

(The sources I used were http://www.flowermeaning.com and http://thelanguageofflowers.com)

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