Sunday, July 3, 2011

The other boy that lived: Neville in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Where to begin, where to begin – ah yes with the beginning...

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

This is one of three opening sentences that I know off by heart (if you're curious the other two are Pride and Prejudice and The Bible). You can kind of guess the importance I place on this book simply by those associations.

Ok this really isn't going to work.... I can't just write about every single line in all of these books, well actually I could, quite happily, but no one else want to read that and if my poor mother might die trying.

There are just so many things I could write about each one of these books, so I think it would be best if I pick a theme and stick to it. The theme for this blog is none other then my beloved sidekick, Neville Longbottom... the boy that almost was the hero.

Crowning moment of Neville...

I've always been a fan of the other guy (I'm not talking about the film with Will Ferrel, although it does kind of fit). I'm talking about the sidekick – the one who has to stand next the hero, or behind him, or maybe even hang out in a lab or a van with making sure the technology works. The guys who let's face it does just as much, if not more, than the hero and without any kind of special powers or destiny. He almost never gets the girl or any of the glory but I think there something even more extraordinary about him (or her) because they aren't special: they usually have no other reason for being there and helping other then the fact that they are genuinely good people.

Neville Longbottom is one of these people. He's just kind of seen as the comic relief guy, he's just always around. Rowling tends to use him as a plot device a lot of the time – it's his lost toad (poor poor Trevor) that means Hermione meets Harry and Ron. Then it's only after he falls off his broom that allows Harry's Quidditch talent to surface (it's Neville's rememball that Harry is trying to save from Malfoy's clutches). In fact the more I think about it, the more he seems to be used to show off how fantastic Harry is – Harry sticks up for Neville in front of Malfoy, Harry is able to withstand his time in the Forbidden Forest with Malfoy much better.

  • You could almost say that Neville ships Drarry – he always seems to be pushing them together. (If you're confused about what I mean about Drarry, I think it's probably better you stay that way – if you're still curious no doubt one of these posts will be dedicated to it.

Yet the thing is, Neville is more then just the village idiot – and this is one of the things that I think that Rowling does fantastically across the books – Neville gets to go from being the poor boy that lost his toad and was terrified of this grandmother to the BAMF that takes on Voldemort himself. I would say that Neville has more character growth then Harry does. Harry was simply born to be a hero, Neville has to work for it and I think that makes what he achieved even more heroic.

There are the beginnings of this transformation in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Sure Neville is mostly the bumbling ball of nerves we all fell in love with, but he does get a few moments of awesome – that while they do not work at as well as Harry's heroic efforts are no less epic.

Awesome Neville Number 1:

The time that never took and Crabbe and Goyle, while Ron was too busy with scrawny old Malfoy. This is one of the first times that Neville stands up for himself; and of course it doesn't work out as he might have hoped (he ends up in the hospital). Anyone who is willing to take on the two biggest blokes in the entire grade single handedly is incredibly stupid, but also incredibly brave – and hey it's no more stupid then trying to take on the greatest dark wizard that ever lived with only one year of schooling under your belt.

Awesome Neville Number 2:

Neville tries to warn Harry of Draco's plan to stop the kids. This is the moment I begin to think that Harry and Neville's relationship is fairly unbalances. Neville, who is clearly terrified of being out of bed at night (not to mention Malfoy) is willing to risk expulsion in an attempt to save Harry from punishment. This seems like the kind of thing you would only do for your best friends – Ron/Harry/Hermione do this for each other all the time – but as the book is from Harry's perspective there is no way you could say that Neville is in Harry's circle of best friends. This makes me really sad because clearly Neville count's Harry as one of his.

It's a little bit heartbreaking when Neville is told that he has just been caught up in a cruel practical joke. It's almost as if this is the moment Neville realises that Harry does not consider them really close friends. Poor, poor Neville – I would be your friend.

Awesome Neville Number 3:

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

Neville takes a stand against the people he at least thinks are his best friends. I can't tell you whether this just a reaction to the hurt Neville felt about the incident discussed above (something a few people have argued) but I like to think that it is a lot more then petty anger. This is Neville standing up for what he thinks is right and you have to admit he kind of has point. Sure the whole world is in danger but Harry, Ron and Hermione really shouldn't be off gallivanting around the castle at night.

When I think about it, for a school run by magic they really don't have all that great security. I know no one can get it, but you would think there would be some kind of spell that told the teachers when a student was out of bed at night – the Fat Lady certainly keeps her mouth shut. If I was a parent I would be worried about the amount of freedom my 11 year old child was experiencing... also they seem to just live in Gryfindor Tower without any kind of adult supervision and no 17 year old prefects do not count. I know they don't understand muggle things but I think Filch could use some security cameras – might work a little better then Mrs Norris... It's almost as if they want the kids to go walking around at night.

Anyway, back to Neville's awesome... the way he stands up to the Harry Potter, who he clearly worships, makes Neville Longbottom one of the most badass mofo's ever to have graced the pages of a book and the best part is he only gets better from here.

Hope you enjoyed this – please comment any Neville love below. If you don't like Neville feel free to comment as well, but try to have a good argument for it or else I will rip you to shreds. I mean that purely figuratively of course.

I know there is so much else I could have written – and if you have any thoughts on the first Harry Potter book, or even the movie if you wish, and you would like to share them with the world... please write it in a blog, send it on to me and I'll post it here, where the 5 other people that read this blog can enjoy it.

I want to end on a thoughtful note – so I decided that I am going to end each of these Harry Potter themed blogs with some wise words from the greatest Headmaster Hogwarts has ever known.... Albus Dumbledore.

After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Albus Dumbledore (via J.K. Rowling)

Thanks for your time, I'm sure my blog will be back to normal next post, as normal as it ever is on this blog. xx