“The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail.”
Today I am happy to let writer Jessica O’Neal take the stage.
Whether you’re writing or reading, you want characters to be believable and complex–even inspiring, and Jessica has a knack for reminding you why it’s so awesome to take a journey with a great character.
A big thank you to Jessica for sharing her post on Harry Potter. Be sure to check out her site for more characters from the Harry Potter series, and Robin Hood! She even posts about her own archery stories–she has a bow and arrow!
The Characters of Harry Potter: Harry
by Jessica O’Neal
One of the things that I love so much about the Harry Potter series is that J.K Rowling was able to create such a large cast of characters that I got to know and love. There are so many that I absolutely adore and have probably referred to at some point in time as my favorite. But I can only have one actual favorite character. For me, that character is Harry.
I am very aware that I am in the minority with this opinion and, to be honest, I don’t care. Harry, just like every other character that Jo created, is flawed in many ways. There are times when I want to smack him or hide my head in shame at his behavior, but I still love him. From the moment we first meet him in the small cupboard under the stairs he took my heart in his neglected little hands and never let go.
I tend to have a bit of a bleeding heart for those who face injustice and, goodness, Harry faces more than his fair share of injustice. From neglect bordering on abuse at his home to constant scrutiny and judgement by his peers to the bullying of “Professor” Snape to countless false accusations by peers as well as authority figures, Harry is plagued by unfair situations. In spite of all this, however, he somehow manages to to keep a surprisingly level head and never stops in his quest to defeat evil.
Ironically, the book that seems to turn people away from Harry the most is one that makes me love him more than ever and is my second favorite in the series: Order of the Phoenix. The Harry in this book is often referred to as ALLCAPS!HARRY in the fandom. If you have read the book, it is not hard to ascertain why. After fifteen years of being bullied, ridiculed, and forced to face more life or death situations than most adults Harry is finally fed up. He is frustrated and angry, which tends to boil over from time to time in a speech written in all caps. Yes, he frequently directs that anger towards the wrong people; yes, he is a bit more rash than usual; yes, he whines and complains about things a good deal; but you know what? I probably would have done the same thing. In fact, I would have been way worse.
After everything he had been through – living with the Dursley’s, facing Voldemort in the back of his teacher’s head, everything in the Chamber of Secrets, the fiasco with Sirius, competing in the Triwizard Tournament, watching a friend be murdered in front of him, seeing Voldemort returned to a body, being forced to battle Voldemort in the certainty that he would not survive – he is left feeling abandoned, attacked by Dementors, and threatened with getting expelled from Hogwarts.
When he is finally rescued from the Dursley’s he finds out that he is being lied about and defamed by the government and the media. He barely escapes being expelled from Hogwarts only to arrive at the school that is supposed to be his safe haven and be faced with Dolores Umbridge. Just the mention of that woman’s name makes my blood pressure rise. She is evil and I am not ashamed to say that I hate her. So much. She makes Harry’s day to day life hell. I challenge anyone to have to deal with her the way Harry did and not get a little grumpy and whiney.
I could go on listing out all the things that Harry has to face, but I won’t – I think I have made my point. Any normal person forced to deal with all the things Harry is would lose their temper on occasion, too. The fact that he does makes Harry more human, more relatable.
It is so difficult for me to read through all of his struggles, but I do and I root for him with every fiber of my being. I join him in the rollercoaster of emotions that he feels throughout the entire series. When he finally makes it to the end of Deathly Hallows and begins to triumph I am barely able to contain my joy. After seven long books of struggle after struggle after struggle he is able to show everyone that he is capable, despite all of their doubts and cruelty.
No matter how many times I have read Deathly Hallows, I still sob through the scenes where people stand up for Harry. My absolute favorite scene is when they are in the Great Hall and Voldemort has told them that if they turn Harry over no one has to die. Pansy Parkinson stands up, points to Harry, and yells for someone to grab him. One by one the students at the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff tables stand up and point their wands, not at Harry, but at Pansy. Harry is described as being “awestruck and overwhelmed” (490-491). Every time I read this scene I can’t help but cheer as tears run down my face. All the events and torment he has been through from the beginning of the series run through my mind and I feel just as awestruck and overwhelmed as he does. People finally realize they need to Support Harry Potter.
*Page numbers from the UK editions.
How do you feel about Harry? Do you find him whiney and annoying or do you understand where he is coming from?
What characters have left an impression on you?