THE MAGICAL HARRY POTTER UNIVERSE INCLUDES CHARACTERS THAT ARE VERY HAIRY AND THOSE THAT ARE HAIRLESS, GOOD OR EVIL NOTWITHSTANDING.
Millions of readers have thrilled to the world of Harry Potter and his friends (and enemies) since J. K. Rowling’s incredibly popular series was released on an unsuspecting world in 1997. Devotees have immersed themselves in this special wizarding world and have formed relationships with its characters that in many instances are deeper and more meaningful than the relationships they have with many flesh-and-blood people.
This intense connection occurs because Rowling has created characters of sufficient depth that readers can identify with them as real, despite the fantastic surroundings in which they operate. So, does this replication of reality extend to the depiction of the characters’ hairlines? In other words, are there many characters with hair loss in Hogwarts and its environs?
Obviously, the numerous school-age children are not likely to be depicted as facing hair loss issues. But there are a number of adult characters who do.
Harry Potter’s nemesis is famously devoid of hair
Most important among these is Lord Voldemort, the villain of the series and the personification of pure evil. In his youth, when he was known merely as Tom Riddle, Voldemort sported a fine head of hair. But somewhere along the way, his hair disappeared — as did, for that matter, his nose. Voldemort’s hair loss seems to be intentional; when the reader meets him as an adult, his facial appearance is distinctly snakelike, and his baldness emphasizes that look. Terrifying, monstrous and obscenely powerful, Voldemort is a total nightmare — and one of the series’ most vivid characters.
To counterbalance that, the series has Dobby, who is as cute and endearing as Voldemort is repulsive and scary. Like all house elves, Dobby has no hair. He also shares the house elf penchant for talking in the third person; but Dobby has a charm and a spirit that are totally his own. His selfless bravery and sweet disposition make him a fan favorite, and his death while saving Harry and friends is one of the most moving moments in all of Potterdom.
Kreacher, another house elf, also holds a special place in the hearts of fans. Initially antagonistic and seemingly hateful, Kreacher is transformed by the kindness extended to him by Hermione and, at Hermione’s urging, Harry and Ron. When his full story is told, he’s shown to have tremendous loyalty and a caring heart.
Definitely not a fan favorite is Argus Filch, described as having thinning hair, who is the caretaker at Hogwarts. Crabby, spiteful, petty and sadistic, Filch seems to despise children, which is not really a good quality in an employee of a school filled with youths.
Arthur Weasley, the patriarch of the Weasley clan, has all the qualities that Filch lacks. This balding man is warm, open, curious, welcoming and kind; if Arthur at times is a bit bumbling, he’s also a powerful and brave wizard. He is an ardent support of the rights of nonwizards, and his belief in what is right and what is wrong never varies.
Harry Potter’s teachers also are included
Among the teachers at Hogwarts, two, and possibly three, are represented as experiencing some form of hair loss. Horace Slughorn, who joins the series in the sixth book as the Potions teacher, and Cuthbert Binns, a ghost who teaches History of Magic, are both described as bald. The latter is not a major character and is known mostly for being unbelievably boring; the former plays a significant role in the sixth book, wherein he is presented as someone who enjoys being in close proximity to people with power. Slughorn’s obsession with the powerful is a weakness, but he himself is not power hungry; his knowledge proves helpful in ultimately defeating Voldemort.
The teacher who could arguably be considered as balding is Severus Snape, probably the most complex character in the series and certainly one of the most memorable. Although Snape is often described as having very oily black hair, several illustrations present him as having a receding hairline.
Other characters with hair loss include Kingsley Shacklebolt, an Aurer of intimidating power and presence; Griphook, the goblin who initially shows Harry Potter to his bank vault and who eventually aids Harry in finding a magical object linked to Voldemort; and Professor Quirrell, the first-year Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who has become a vessel for the spirit of Voldemort.
In summary, while the proportion of characters with hair loss is probably less than what one would find in the real world, there are a number of characters, both good and evil, who have some form of baldness. Voldemort is the most striking example, but fortunately the presence of such balding “heroes” as Dobby, Kreacher, Arthur Weasley and Kingsley Shacklebolt mitigates any charges that baldness is being equated with evil.