Hey! I’m kind of curious what you think I’m going to be talking about with this particular title. I mean, of course Harry deserves more love in his life, after losing basically everyone he’s close to and being forced to live with the Dursleys every summer, but that’s not it. And I do actually like Ginny, so it’s not that either.
I think that Harry deserves more love from us, his fans.
I was scrolling through Pinterest one day after I was starting this whole #HogwartsOctober feature and I saw a picture from Tumblr pop up that kind of took me back.
I’m paraphrasing, but it basically said, “If you ask someone who their favorite Harry Potter character is, have you noticed that no one ever says Harry Potter?”
It was something of an embarrassing revelation. I mean, I only put Harry as #4 of my own list of favorite characters. (I had to look it back up because I wasn’t even positive I’d put him on the list.) And it’s true that even when I talk to people who have read the series, they mention other characters. Neville. Hermione. Luna. Fred and George. Dumbledore. Never is it Harry.
My Theory About This
I have a theory about why this is the case. Whether or not it’s an accurate theory, I can’t exactly say. But it works from my perspective, so maybe it works for others.
I think it comes down to the genius of J.K. Rowling’s writing style.
Hear me out. When we read these stories, we get completely sucked into the world. Harry is our eyes and ears for this world, so in many ways, we feel like we are Harry. Even though the story is written in 3rd person, I always feel like I’m totally drawn into the world. I almost forget that Harry’s really even there because I feel like it’s all happening to me.
That’s one possibility anyway. I mean, half the time I legitimately forget that Harry’s a character at all. I think of the others (Sirius, Ron, McGonagall) because of how much of an impact they have on Harry and us as the readers. That’s why we tend to fall in love with these other characters; because Harry loves them.
There’s another theory too, one that I can sometimes see.
There’s the argument that Harry’s really stupid at times. I’m almost finished with Goblet of Fire and Barty Crouch (disguised as Moody) talks about Harry’s frequent stupidity and how Crouch had to keep stepping in to lead Harry in the right direction. He calls Harry proud and independent, in the ways he refused to ask for help from those around him. Of course, Crouch is a bitter and horrible human being so his perspective really counts for nothing. But he does have a point that at times, Harry chooses not to say something or not to ask for help when he clearly needs to. Or he doesn’t make the connections to things happening right in front of him. Sometimes he’s blinded by his own prejudices (*cough* Malfoy *cough*).
Why Harry Deserves More Respect
First of all, what I just listed in the previous paragraph, I want you to think about what you were like as a 14 year old. Kind of stupid yourself, right? 8th grader, maybe freshman in high school? Yeah, those probably aren’t your brightest moments, are they?
Give Harry some slack. He’s making a lot of the same mistakes we made as a kid too.
I’m finding as I reread that I’m actually growing more protective of Harry. I’m becoming more like Mrs. Weasley, wanting to just give Harry a hug and protect him from the world. Oh crap…and I knit sweaters too…yikes, that got a lot closer to her than I thought it would when I started that sentence…
ANYWAY, Harry deserves more respect because he’s putting up with (and successfully defeating, I might add) danger all around him.
At eleven, he’d spend 10 years living with emotionally abusive relatives. He discovered he belonged to a world where he is so famous people recognize him on sight. (Ask any child actor: this is very hard to deal with.) He, with the help of Hermione and Ron, work their way through deadly challenges for Harry to face down a teacher he trusted who happens to be hosting Voldemort on the back of his head. Harry nearly died then, but he was willing to if it stopped Quirrell and Voldemort. At eleven.
At twelve, he’s watching classmates become petrified by an unknown monster, which threatens to close the school (coincidentally the only home he’s ever known). He’s getting massive amounts of backlash from his ability to speak Parseltongue and people purposely avoid him, thinking he’s the heir of Slytherin. He questions his entire identity as a Gryffindor. Oh, and did I mention he nearly died again that year? But again, he was willing to do it to save Ginny.
At thirteen, his every move is being scrutinized by teachers and adults who don’t want to treat him like a rational human being because they don’t want to tell him Sirius is out for him. He is left out of things like Hogsmeade and becomes more isolated from his friends. Dementors are making him relive his worst moments over and over again. Oh, and yeah, he almost died again. This time it was a combination of dementor attack and potential werewolf attack.
At fourteen, he’s entered into the Triwizard Tournament against his will. He battles dragons, mer-people, and a maze of horrors. He puts up with Rita Skeeter publishing trash about him and his reputation. He watched a classmate die. He experienced 2 Unforgivable Curses in a single night. And, once again, Harry knew there was a very strong possibility that he could die at the hands of Voldemort. This is the first time I really saw him embrace that idea though. Like if he was going to die, he was going to go down swinging. And he was going to make Voldemort pay in the process.
It goes on and on and on.
It’s not very often that Harry complains about the burden placed on his shoulders. Sure, sometimes he does. Who wouldn’t? It’s not fair that he has to put up with all of this. It’s not fair that a number of people truly have it out for him (Umbridge, Snape, Death Eaters), even when he hasn’t done anything to them personally.
But the moment he’s asked to step up, he does it. He may not know what he’s doing, but when he’s called to action, he’s going to do his best to save those who need him. He doesn’t even need to be asked. He will sacrifice himself to protect anyone who needs it.
I’m finding that the older I get, the more I admire Harry. He’s fascinating in his complexity. He tackles such big things at such a young age and I do not envy him in the slightest.
Harry is becoming my hero in a way he never was when I was a teenager. I appreciate him much more now that I’ve faced/still facing my own Voldemorts in life.