Monthly Archives: August 2015

Phlegm

Now, I never really thought much about Fleur.  She’s beautiful, obviously, and French.  And Bill – generally considered the coolest Weasley – falls in love with her and they get married, and she is incredibly passionate about loving him in spite of his being part werewolf.  And, obviously, Ginny and Molly and Hermione don’t really like her.  For no real reason.  So, I never gave her much thought – just another side character in a world that’s stuffed to the gills with side characters.  And then I came across this  while dicking around on Pinterest:

Fleur

And it got me thinking.  I’ve discussed before how absolutely amazing Rowling is at writing female characters – not just stereotypes, but fully fleshed out characters who happen to be female – and I think this is another example.  First of all, Fleur herself is a well-rounded character – she’s beautiful, which you would expect to be her defining characteristic – and suck up and a little stuffy, which would go along with it nicely if Rowling was simply dealing in stereotypes.  But she’s also incredibly brave, and passionate, and loving, and kind.  She wasn’t shallow or self-serving, she stood up in a war that really, wasn’t hers – she could have left Bill and the others to fight Voldemort while she went back and lived her life in safety in France.  None of the other characters truly expected her to stay, particularly after Bill was attacked by a werewolf.  But she stood by his side – all of their sides – and took part in their war despite the assumptions they had made against her.

And if that were all Rowling did with Fleur, she would still be an amazing character.  But the way Molly and Ginny and Hermione treat her also gave Rowling the opportunity to show another side of their characters.  Because – while I don’t think Fleur is necessarily completely innocent – it definitely comes across that there is a bit of jealousy, a bit of OTHERING going on between Hermione, Ginny and Fleur (who, reminder, grow up to all be sisters in law).  Fleur is French, and beautiful, and – yes – a little more…refined…than the others.  And rather than reach out to her (again, she’s voluntarily staying in a foreign country that is at war, far from her friends and family), they cast her out, and mock her, and hold themselves apart from her.  So, yeah – they kind of suck.  But it gives another layer of believably to their characters.  Because, yeah.  Sometimes women – even women as smart and strong and secure as Hermione and Molly and Ginny – get intimidated by another women and start acting like high schoolers.

And this is why i wonder if I’ll ever get tired of reading Harry Potter, or discussing Harry Potter, or just thinking about Harry Potter.  Because it’s so well written, and the characters are so well written and so fleshed out and real, that every time I think I’m coming to the end of my obsession, something new and subtle catches my eye and draws me back in

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Neville

So, first of all.  Lets just acknowledge that Matthew Lewis made the most stunning physical transformation of all the Harry Potter cast.  And isn’t it just so perfect that his character, Neville Longbottom, made the most stunning personality transformation?  From shy, stuttering, terrible student to confident, self possessed leader of Dumbledore’s Army.  It’s incredible.

Neville is (like so many other characters, honestly) set up as a kind of foil for Harry.  While Harry was raised Muggle, Neville was raised as a wizard.  Neville is shy and self-effacing, Harry (despite the abuse he suffered) was snarky and confident.  Harry was talented – both magically and on his broomstick – and didn’t seem to struggle at all in school, except against laziness and death.  Neville struggled and strived for every success, because everything was difficult for him (though it has been pointed out that up till OotP Neville was using his father’s wand, and the wand chooses the wizard, so…).  Neville could have been The Chosen One, but Voldemort chose Harry instead, leaving Neville and his parents to the Death Eaters.

I think that last piece is really the crux of the differences between Neville and Harry.  Harry’s parents were dead, and Voldemort wanted him dead as well.  Harry, as an individual, was a danger to Voldemort’s very life.  Neville lost his parents, too, though in arguably a more tragic way, to the Death Eaters.  He had a huge grudge against them – they didn’t seem to have any care for him (do we know where Neville was when his parents were captured and tortured?) but he had a huge grudge against them.  So he ended up leading an army of students against them.  Now, while Harry started his army, of course, and began the training, I don’t think that there’s any doubt that Neville was leading them while Harry was off hunting Horcruxes and killing Voldemort.  He helped train them so they could defend themselves, he kept their spirits up and refused to bow to the Carrows, he was the symbol Harry couldn’t be because Harry wasn’t there.

In short, I think Neville represents all the unsung heroes who make the known heroes actions possible.

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Percy Weasley

Percy.  Far and away, the least popular Weasley (including Charlie, who WASN’T EVEN IN THE MOVIES.  WTF, Warner Bros?).  While most of the Weasleys were loud, affectionate, fun-loving people, Percy was straight laced, by the books, and ambitious.  It’s really only the last part that gets him in trouble.

Let’s be clear:  I have no problems with Percy Weasley being ambitious.  I don’t even have a problem with him trying to distance himself from his family – listen, he’s wrong, the Weasleys are awesome, but it’s his choice, you know?  He saw his parents struggling with money his whole life, his father unable to earn any respect at work – is it really and truly any wonder that he wanted to carve out a better life for himself?  No, no it is not.

The PROBLEM is that Percy decided that he was going to carve out that better life for himself by working his way up through the Ministry of Magic.  At a time when the Ministry was just super duper corrupt.  Like, denying that the most evil wizard of all time was back and murdering the shit out of people while simultaneously being infiltrated by the minions of said evil wizard corrupt.  So, yeah, really bad.  And Percy is SO TUNNEL VISIONED on his ambitions and being successful, that he ignores all the signs, argues with anyone who tries to point out the obvious, and blithely continues supporting this regime.

So, yeah.  Do I fault Percy for wanting to distance himself from his family?  Nah.  I think he’s stupid because his family is awesome, but to each his own.  Do I fault Percy for being ambitious and wanting a better life for himself and his future family than the struggle he saw his parents go through?  Of course not.  Do I fault him for sticking with the Ministry over his family even when it became clear his family was right?  Yes, I do.  Because Percy Weasley was (at that point) an adult and should have known better.

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Tonks

Tonks is an interesting character, don’t get me wrong.  But – and I guess this isn’t that different from most of the other characters – she’s most interesting in what we don’t know about her.  I’m gonna go back to my trusty old bullet points for this one, because my kids are sick and I’m too tired to form paragraphs.

  • Tonks’ mother is Bellatrix and Narcissa’s sister – but she married a Muggle Born.  What was Tonks’ childhood like?  Did she have ANY contact with her family – obviously her mother was blasted off the Black family tree, but so was Sirius and a few other members – did they ever meet up and just talk crap about their family?  Or did her mother secretly get along with her sisters, so she got to see her COUSIN DRACO every once in a while?  Were they close to her father’s family, so she mostly grew up around Muggles?  The family dynamics of this are endlessly fascinating to me.
  • How exactly does being a met.  amorphmagus work?  Is it genetic (as it appears to be, since Teddy Lupin is canonically showing signs of being one at only days old).  If that’s the case, where did Tonks get it from?  Is it something that can be passed along Muggle lines?  That’s doubtful, so that means that somewhere along the Black Family Tree there is a metamorphmagus that we don’t know about.  Who??
  • Why did she want to be an Auror so badly?  I mean, on one hand, she’s technically a half blood and her father is a Muggle Born so yes totally makes sense that she would want to fight against Voldemort.  But Voldemort was thought to be defeated during the time she joined the Aurors, so would Dark Witches and Wizards really be targeting Muggle Borns?  I’m not saying that she HAS to have some kind of tragic backstory that led to her being an Auror, but it’s not exactly an easy job, so you’d think she had some kind of motivation to stay motivated.
  • Can we just get some more of Tonks and Mad-Eye’s relationship?  It’s totally canon that he was her mentor, and they both seem to be pretty strong willed personalaties.  Add to that Tonks’ (again CANON) total and complete clumsiness, and you’ve got a recepie for a wonderful sitcom.  I want to watch that sitcom.
  • How did her relationship with Remus begin?  Were they paired together on Order missions – I find that hard to believe, since during the First Wizarding War he was in deep cover with the werewolves.  Unless his cover was blown, wouldn’t they use him for that again?  Tonks would most definitely not be involved in that work.  Did they just get close at meetings, a few snatches of conversation at a time?  I assume her feelings started first, because Lupin was in a relationship from PoA to OotP (you’ll never convince me otherwise).  What would they have told Teddy when he asked how they met?  Inquiring minds want to know!

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Loony Luna

Luna may not be one of my very FAVORITE characters in the whole Harry Potter universe – I mean, I love her, but there are so many to choose from! – But I think that her existence is calculated and important.  She’s in Ravenclaw, allegedly the “smart” house, but she openly embraces things that are thought to be unproven nonsense.  Luna is, at her core, a reminder that Hermione-type “book” smarts is not the only type of intelligence there is.

Ravenclaw is the house of those “with a steady mind, where those of wit and learning will always find their kind.”  Somehow, that little couplet the Sorting Hat spouted at us became an image of Ravenclaws as nerds, who are obsessed with research and are too stuck up to bother with the other houses.  Facts and figures and learning take the forefront when you’re talking about Ravenclaws, even though the smartest witch in the entire series is in Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw boasts one of the stupidest characters (Lockhart). Based on the simplistic disccription of the house, those two should be reversed.

But Luna reminds us that there’s more to intelligence than books – she’s incredibly emotionally intelligent, believing the stories that people tell her (as long as she deems it believable) and adept at reading situations so that she can help others.  She’s very logical – at least, in her own brand of logic.  While Hermione desperately points out that it’s impossible to PROVE something doesn’t exist, Luna is more interested in the PROBABLE.  It’s much less probable, after all, that everyone who claims to be affected by Nargles is lying than it is that Nargles exist and nobody has yet caught one.  She understands that there are things in the world that she doesn’t understand, and has made peace with that fact.  As long as she still deems something probable, she’s willing to believe in it.

I think in many ways, that’s a way more important type of intelligence to have than loving books and remembering what you read.

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