Harry had a few nicknames (The Boy Who Lived, The Chosen One, Undesirable Number One, etc.), and most were designed to single him out. But while Harry was undeniably unique, not all of his experiences were. In fact, Harry was mirrored by other characters across the wizarding world, near and far.
The one most closely aligned to Harry was, of course, Neville – the boy who could have been The Boy Who Lived, if Voldemort had interpreted Trelawney’s prophecy differently. Both born as the seventh month died to parents who had thrice defied Voldemort, both were irretrievably changed by Voldemort’s actions despite it being Harry that Voldemort marked as his equal.
There’s no doubt Neville was also marked by Voldemort. With his mother and father tortured into insanity by Death Eaters, Neville had, like Harry, grown up without his parents. And like Harry, their sacrifice gave him courage. Harry and Neville were also 100 per cent true Gryffindors: the only two we ever saw pull the Sword of Gryffindor out of the Sorting Hat.
You can read more about Neville’s similarities with Harry here.
Neville and Harry weren’t the only ones to grow up without parents. Voldemort himself was in this situation as a child, not that it led to any form of empathy from the boy born Tom Riddle. Like it or not, Harry couldn’t deny that he and his greatest enemy shared similar traits, and this goes beyond Voldemort transferring some of his powers to Harry.
Harry’s childhood was more like Riddle’s than any other character in the wizarding world, given they both grew up without their parents, were raised by Muggles, had no knowledge of magic and didn’t hear of Hogwarts until they were 11. It’s a likeness both acknowledged; when they faced each other in Chamber of Secrets, Riddle pointed it out, and when Harry discovered Riddle’s past in Half-Blood Prince he saw it even more strongly. Yet, as Dumbledore said, their choices were as different as their backgrounds were similar, and that’s what mattered.
One of the things Harry shared with Voldemort was the ability to speak Parseltongue, although this was due to the phenomenon of Voldemort accidentally making Harry a Horcrux. For poor Isolt Sayre, she found herself at the end of a long Salazar Slytherin family line. However, Isolt couldn’t have been less like her pure-blood-obsessed ancestors, such as her aunt Gormlaith Gaunt. Much like how Harry never asked to be so embroiled in Lord Voldemort’s life, Isolt certainly didn’t ask to be embroiled in Salazar Slytherin’s.
Like Harry, Isolt was an orphan whose parents were killed by a supporter of the Dark Arts, then brought up by an unloving relative – although Isolt’s murdering aunt Gormlaith kept her isolated from Muggles, while Harry was kept away from the wizarding world. Also like Harry, Isolt ultimately chose her own path. She viewed her Parselmouth abilities as a gift but rejected the pure-blood doctrine of her Slytherin ancestors to such an extent that she married a Muggle. She also experienced first-hand the magical properties of love that saw Harry protected by his mother’s sacrifice: in Isolt’s case, the cries of her daughters woke her from an enchanted sleep.
Sirius was another one who turned away from the pure-blood rhetoric of his family of Slytherins. Rejected by his family and an outsider at home, Sirius, like Harry, made his friends into his family and Hogwarts into his home.
A year after Harry met Ron, the older Weasley brothers were rescuing him from the Dursleys’ house so he could spend summer at the Burrow. He soon joined them for Christmases and Triwizard Tournaments and weddings. In short, the Weasleys become his extended family – and Sirius seems to have been the same with Harry’s father. ‘They sort of adopted me as a second son,’ Sirius told Harry about the Potters.
After the death of Cedric Diggory, Harry was shocked to find out what had been pulling the school coaches all this time: Thestrals, the large bat-winged horses that can only be seen by those who have witnessed death. They remained invisible to most of his fellow students, though, so Harry was marginally reassured when Luna Lovegood told him she had been able to see them since her first day at Hogwarts.
Luna’s lone acknowledgement of the Thestrals highlighted how unusual it was for a student of their age to have seen death. Harry and Luna, whose mother died when she was nine, have that in common – so when Luna spoke of the voices behind the veil, Harry, who had just lost Sirius, was oddly comforted.
When Harry thought Dumbledore’s sister Ariana may have been hidden away because she was a Squib, he imagined her situation in terms of his own childhood – locked away by the Dursleys. As it happened, this was wrong (unsurprising, given it was based on information that came from Rita Skeeter) but it did give Harry a personal outlook on Dumbledore’s early life.
When he was walking towards his death in the Forbidden Forest, Harry acknowledged Voldemort and Snape as his fellow ‘abandoned boys of Hogwarts’. Their motivations might have been different but they, like Harry – and Sirius, Hagrid and even Dumbledore – found purpose at the school.