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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Not so random HP thoughts

I have a couple of radical notions here.

1. I like Harry Potter.
This kid has the weight of his world on his shoulders, and he's known it at least subliminally since he was eleven. He's been marked for death since he was a baby, and he knows that, too. He's also been mistreated for ten years running, and despite that, he thinks about others. I'm going to give a lot of examples from PS/SS because I'm reading PS right now (just got the Brit editions. Yay!) Halloween Feast - he doesn't like Hermione at this point. At all. And yet, he goes to save her from the troll. Why? Because he's a good kid.

In OotP, he was annoying and I wanted to hit him a time or two, but the fact is, he's angry and scared and there's no adult he can rely on at this point - the Weasleys aren't his, Remus isn't his, Dumbledore won't talk to him, McGonagall he respects but doesnt't have that sort of relationship with, and Sirius is emotionally his ag now that he's trapped in Grimmauld Place.

On the other hand, he was a pleasure to watch teach - and it wasn't to get attention. He got joy from seeing his friends improve, not because he was leading them. Born teacher. His own teachers would have been proud if they could have seen.

2. I like Ron Weasley.
It's not easy being a sidekick, or a youngest brother in a family of overachievers, or poor. It's not easy to have one best friend take to flying and magic as if born to it, and have the other just be better at information gathering and analysis. And Ron isn't always graceful about that.

But. He has a head for strategy that neither of the other two have. And he has courage enough for any Gryffindor. And he's starting to be something other than Harry's friend or the youngest Weasley. He's a prefect now - watch him next year as he grows into it. He's a keeper now - watch him help Harry as captain. Or be captain. Watch him grow to be the leader he's meant to be - and be a greater Head Boy than Percy ever could be.

3. I like Hermione Granger.
She's me. Only smarter. And more dangerous because not only is she a powerful witch who can learn any spell right off, but she is also very, very ruthless and pragmatic. She doesn't think twice about burning Snape in the first book. She forments a revolution in the fifth. And she clearly wants to do something political in the future. But notice - none of this is for herself. It's all for other people.

A lot has been made about her makeover in book 4 - in professional essay collections as well as here. That she becomes acceptable once she's beautiful and it takes plastic surgery to make her so. We've all seen makeover movies - "Miss Congeniality" or "The Princess Diaries". Here's the thing. Normally, in makeover movies, the "victim" is magically able to maintain her new hair/makeup/mode of dressing even though she was not able to do so before. She becomes this new person.

Hermione fixed her teeth by taking advantage of a situation. This was the plastic surgery. I don't understand anyone's problem with this - her parents were going to correct this themselves. She just chose a faster and far less painful manner. And she did her hair up and wore pretty dress robes. But the next day, she was back to the way she was, bushy hair and all, and happy to be so.

And Viktor fell for her as she studied in the library, not because she was Cinderella at the Yule Ball.

4. I like the twins.
The first thing they do is help Harry get into the train - this kid they've never seen before. And they accept him as a brother, too. Better than a brother - brothers get teased.

They're also brilliant - they're doing advanced work in potions and charms, and I really believe that they're doing weapons research for Dumbledore. Yes, it's all jokes - but notice that they don't set out to hurt anyone. They filled the school with fireworks, but no one got injured. Neville is turned into a canary, but turns back right away. They test things on themselves before they recruit others. And, seriously - those Skivving Snackboxes could be useful in a first aid kit once perfected - to cure fainting, fevers and nosebleed (as opposed to causing them. Poor Alicia.) And the Puking Pastilles - my goodness. An emetic that works quickly but can be stopped before things get worse?

And I'll bet they're planning this, too.

Are they nice? Well. They could be nicer. But they're not malicious. And they're going to be invaluable to the Order.

5. I don't like Draco Malfoy. Yes, he's my OTP with Harry, but that doesn't make him more likeable.
I'm rereading PS, as I said. And what a little sh!t he is. Sorry for the language. From his first scene, where he introduces us to pureblood politics to his cowardice/bullying in the Forbidden Forest, he does nothing even neutral. Harry doesn't like him because he reminds him of his cousin Dudley - he's spoiled and brags of being a bully, and Harry hates bullies - and because he's gratuitously nasty about Hagrid, the first person Harry can remember ever being nice to him. Unlike the Weasleys who are nice for no reason. He challenges Harry to a duel and then doesn't show up, instead setting him up with Mr. Filch. So he has no honor and is a coward to boot. He curses Neville for absolutely no reason - the same thing that James does that people revile him for, and he steals Neville's Remembrall. In fact, Neville - completely ineffectual Neville - is a prime target for him, more than Neville ever is to the Weasley twins.

He also knows what buttons to push - Harry's family, Ron's poverty, Hermione's looks and bookwormish attitude. He's a nasty kid. Tom Felton is pretty, but Draco is nasty.

6. I *despise* Lucius Malfoy.
I drool over Jason Isaacs, but that's neither here nor there.

This is a man who bullies his son; who apparently bribes his way into favor with the ministry (which is why I *do* think he bribed Draco's way onto the team, even though Draco could have made it on his own, and I think he did it to undermine Draco's confidence and make him more controllable.) This is a man who has no problems trying to kill fifteen year olds, or to torture Muggles at a campsite. This is a man who willingly chose to follow Voldemort, but also chose to hide behind Imperious when he had to.

This is a man who taught his son to be prejudiced and believe himself superior - even the face of Harry's half-blood power and Hermione's sheer ability.

This is the man who slipped Tom Riddle's diary into Ginny Weasley's cauldron, knowing that she would use it. Knowing that through her, the Chamber would be opened and the basilisk set free. Knowing that, therefore, Muggleborns would die (it was only chance than none did.) And I do wonder how the basilisk could tell muggleborns from purebloods...Perhaps he put his own son in deadly danger.

Knowing that Ginny Weasley would probably not survive and deciding to sacrifice this *pureblood* girl, this *relative* of his to the cause. And he did it in the coldest of blood.

7. I don't completely trust Dumbledore, but I'd far rather be on his side than on Voldemort's. Like, a zillion percent.

I don't like all of his tactics. I hate that he's using children as weapons - not just Harry, but Hermione and Neville and probably Draco, and that he's done that since Voldemort's first rise to power. I'd like to think he hates it, too, but I don't know.

Dumbledore is like Hermione - he's pragmatic.

I do, by the way, buy most of his explanation as to why he didn't look at Harry during OotP, because we *saw* it - the one time his and Harry's eyes met, it was very bad.

But I also think there was guilt there. He knows that if defeating Voldemort called for Harry's death, he'd let it happen.

The hell of it is, he's probably right. Voldemort both sociopathic and immensely powerful, and he led a true reign of terror for eleven years prior to his defeat by Harry. If he had the chance to do it again, and to succeed this time, the world, both Wizard and Muggle, could well be destroyed.

I'm also sure that Dumbledore would sacrifice his own life if need be.

Dumbledore is scary. But he's not evil.

8. I don't like Snape, but I don't hate him, either, and I have a lot of respect for the difficult choice he made. He's still not a nice person, and he is deeply flawed. (That is, he is probably the most complex person in the books.)

He's a lousy teacher. He's terrorized at least one student almost beyond endurance, and there have probably been others. He's also damn good at potions - which he doesn't want to teach. And he did join Voldemort for a time. And then he did the impossible and walked out.

He favors his House. He hates Gryffindor. However, I have not seen the adult Snape treat muggleborns any better or worse than purebloods (except for Slytherin.) Like Draco, he has a talent for finding just the right buttons to press - witness his treatment of Sirius.

And in many ways, he's still that humiliated fifteen year old, just like Sirius is still the same inside. Sirius' imprisonment and personality both combined to keep him from fully maturing (although he was better when he was on the run.) Snape - I don't know what factors have kept him from seeing that the student who acts most like young James Potter is Draco Malfoy, not Harry.

I want to know, though. I want to know why he join and left the Death Eaters, and why he can't see Harry for what he is. I want to know.

9. I love Neville. :)

But doesn't everyone? Again, in reading Book 1, I saw when Neville showed himself to be the opposite of Peter Pettigrew. Peter would have backed down when his friends challenged him, and let it seethe inside. Neville didn't back down. He had to be cursed to get him out of the way, and that's not good *but* it also means that Neville could keep his pride. He did his best and got suitably rewarded. No one controls Neville - he's not a sniviling hanger-on. And he is strong and loyal and I hope we see even more of him in Book 6.


You radical! What a fully subversive reading! :)

I love Harry for the same reasons. Thanks for listing them.

I just get really, really tired of people deciding that Rowling must be all wrong about her own characters, or condemning Harry and co for not being perfect while making every sort of allowance for Lucius and Draco.

I only hope that Draco turns around.

he's spoiled and brags of being a bully

True. Definitely spoiled. And a bully. And for the classic reason: he can't measure up (to his classmates, and especially not to Lucius) and is afraid of admitting it.

Whereas Lucius spoils his (I don't recall, but I think, only) son in hopes that he will eventually display the same extraordinary talents as Lucius himself. (Lucius is VERY talented, but too ambitious for his abilities, and displays the same cowardice, as you note, as his son does under proportionate pressure.)

As for Neville, I have been asserting since Book 1 that there are hidden depths there, as acknowledged in canon in Book 5. (As in, who was the other possible fulfillment of the prophecy?) I think he's actually the opposite of Draco in this way, too: he has tremendous talents, suppressed by the trauma of his parents' fate and the expectations laid on him by his grandmother. He doesn't bluster and bully to hide his inability to reach those talents (though we're finally seeing come out), but acknowledges them and acquires the reputation of an incompetent.

I can hardly wait until Neville blossoms fully. (Perhaps absorbing the memories left by Dumbledore when he necessarily dies. It will be dangerous to do, and should be done by Harry, but Neville finds a way to get to them first. Just guessing, mind...)

I do believe that Neville was obliviated - that he was witness to the attack on his parents and so his grandmother or uncle or maybe some misguided Healer decided that it was too much of a trauma for a baby to have, so they removed the memory.

And did far more harm than good. One of the affects of being memory charmed is having a poor memory afterwards - which Neville does. In OotP, though, he was gifted with that little plant he cherished so much. The thing is, there's a real world plant with a similar name - and it's said to improve memory.

But look at the difference even on the train. He gets into a compartment without worrying who else is there. Trevor, whom he lost in the first book, is comfortably by him the entire time, and he calmly pockets it before they leave. And then how he is in the DA - partially due to Harry's fine teaching, and partially due to his own determination, but also, I think, just because he's finally getting access to himself.

His actions in the Ministry are especially telling. He can't speak clearly, so he can't use proper spells. But he keeps the prophecy until he breaks it (notice, btw, that only Harry and Neville ever touch it. The Shrodinger's prophecy has not been fulfilled *yet*. Who says the Mark has to be visible?) And he jams that wand right up his opponent's nose.

He'll have his own wand next year. And, as others have notice - Fawkes did drop another feather.

I got here via friendsfriends and I just wanted to say what an amazing post this is! I just kept nodding as I read. Wonderful, wonderful essay.

Thank you. And welcome.

none of this is for herself. It's all for other people.

This means that Hermione is also potentially the most dangerous student at Hogwarts. She's smart. She's powerful. She knows better than you do. And she wants people to do what SHE thinks is best for them and I don't at all see her as above trying to force the issue. (I don't think Rowling would let that happen, but I also don't think we're going to see what happens Hermione stays a crusader as she grows up.)

Hermione terrifies me if I think about her too much. She has a great store house of knowledge, she had great ability *and* she has the soul of a crusader - and she takes prisoners. Witness what she did to Rita and then how she exploited it. Hermione will never let a tool go to waste.

If she were ambitious for more than knowledge, she would have the potential to be a Dark Lady herself.

I think that if they give her a really juicy longterm research project and add a crusade for werewolf rights, she'll stay nicely busy.

erm -- radical? These all seem pretty obvious to me, except Harry/Draco being the OTP. Because ew, Book!Draco is skeevy. The idea that people make excuses for Lucius gives me the creeps -- I can "enjoy" stories where he's a total manipulative bastard, Lionel Luthor's soul twin, but I can't imagine *liking* him.

I especially agree about Snape being the most complex person in the books. I think he's much less attractive in the books than Alan Rickman play him, and much crueler -- but he's also more layered.

I agree with the person who said (below) that Hermione could easily become very, very scary.

And Neville? My hero.

My vision of Snape is not Alan Rickman (but you probably knew that. :)) Snape jumped to the front of my brain at the end of GoF, when I realized what he had done and what he would be doing, and how dangerous that was and therefore how brave Snape was.

She can be. She probably won't be, but she can be.

I agree with most of this.

I liked a story I read (yours, I think) where Draco proves himself a closet submissive, and becomes much happier and less nasty when he admits love for Harry and submits to him in the Room of Requirement.

I really hate stories where Harry is an adult and hasn't grown up (there was a story set in San Francisco which I simply couldn't finish). Because I think he can grow up and be far more mature than he is now.

I read the San Francisco one - the parts I liked were how American wizards acted - ways I could see because I can believe that the US wizarding culture is a bit more assimilated than the British one.

I'm writing the sequel to that one, and now I need a line about Draco being a total git in his first couple of years.

i feel sorry for draco. i was watching "cut scenes" on my brothers cos dvd and they DID have the scene where draco and his lucius sell the stuff from their house to that guy on knockturn alley! that really shows interaction between father and son. i think draco has been bred that way b/c he doesn't konw how else to act ot get his fathers limited attention and praise.

Of course. Draco is what his father tried to make of him.

I hope Snape is trying to fight that influence, but how do you fight a father?

Like several of the commentators, above, I have a hard time believing that these are controversial opinions, but I'm going to have to take slight issue with a few of them, anyway.

3. Hermione Granger

She is also very, very ruthless and pragmatic.

To a certain extent, yes, but she's also quite naive. She used the centaurs without hesitation in OotP, but she was completely surprised and even a bit hurt when they objected to being used. As an intelligent person, she is bound to lose this naivety if she continues in the course she is taking. And this loss of naivety won't necessarily take her in the direction of greater ruthlessness -- it's as likely that she will be less inclined to use people once she realizes they don't like it.

6. Lucius Malfoy

This is a man who bullies his son.

I don't recall much sign of it. Though it wouldn't be inconsistent with his character.

8. Severus Snape

The student who acts most like young James Potter is Draco Malfoy, not Harry.

This is taking a very narrow view of James. To a certain extent, that's unavoidable -- we know very little about him. The only clear picture we have of him is from Snape's memory, and as I believe Lupin pointed out, that's hardly going to be an unbiased viewpoint. Certainly many people both liked James and considered him to be a good person, and this includes those, like Lupin himself and Lily, who were apparently aware of his flaws.

But beyond the issue of whether or not James was really as bad as all that, he had many personality traits that Harry shares, and that Draco doesn't.

James was apparently extraordinarily brave. Harry is; Draco isn't.

James also had a talent for making friends, which Harry seems to have inherited to some extent, and while Draco does have a crowd of sycophants, we haven't ever seen anybody stick out their neck for him.

James was always getting into trouble, and getting out of it again (in Snape's estimation) with unfair ease; to a certain extent this applies to both Harry and Draco, but moreso to Harry.

James was able to do far more powerful magic than he should have been able to, without much application on his part; the same is true of Harry, and we have no indication that it's true of Draco.

The only respect in which Draco resembles James more than Harry does, as far as I can tell, is his penchant for picking on the weak. Which, you may fairly claim, is the only aspect of James' personality that Snape had reason to complain about, but that doesn't really matter. Snape hated the whole James Potter, not one personality trait or another.

HP fandom is weird. I think it comes of having three years without new source material, but knowing more was coming. I hope the next book comes much sooner.

I think you're right about James in general, however Snape seems to feel that Harry is just like the James in his head - the bullying pureblood prince of Quidditch and Gryffindor. We know he isn't - but the person who matches that perception the most is Draco (except the Gryffindor part.) Snape is willfully blind about Harry. We don't know how he is about Draco because we've never had a scene with the two of them alone.

I can't disagree with much of this either. (Well, technically my OTP for Harry is Ron, but that's based way more on my personal preference for love and/or slash based on friendship over that based on rivalry. That's actually the way I got into it, realizing you can also slash men who care for each other in the first place. But I digress...

I want to know, though. I want to know why he join and left the Death Eaters, and why he can't see Harry for what he is. I want to know.

I try not to let my fanwomanish attitude toward Snape blind me to the fact that he's a giant bag of personal and ethical issues. However, I think he is the only person in the books besides Dumbledore who sees how dangerous Harry could potentially be. Snape puts him in his place, to put it way too nicely, directly; Dumbledore leaves/left it up to the Dursleys. (Not that either is fair.)

As for why he joined the Death Eaters and why he left, I do think we'll find out that whatever theories people may have that he had feelings for Lily or James... whatever it was it wasn't love or rejection, but something bigger. At least I hope so. And if we don't find out I'll pull a Misery. Ok I won't, but I hope we find out.

But what is Snape doing that will make Harry *less* dangerous? If a child is not arrogant, trying to stamp it out isn't going to do much good. Nor does Harry try to get out of homework or punishment, except once in 5th year. About all he's doing is making Harry resent him and mistrust him - and Harry knows all about resentment and lack of trust, given his upbringing. You want to make Harry less of a danger, do what McGonagall is doing - be fair. She punishes Gryffindor as much as any other House, so he knows where he stands with her. And he does what she says.

Snape is trying to put in *James* in his place, but Harry isn't James.

Just a note to say I really enjoyed reading your post and the discussions - many great insights! I recently reread the books myself, but you know, I missed the clues about Neville that you point out (i.e., that his mistakes tend to be very powerful) - cool!

They're presented as "Neville's screwing up again", and often they're background, so the reader doesn't notice.

But I decided to look. :)

Hmmm.... This has got my little brain a-whirring.
Knowing what I know about trauma in children from work, and putting the psychological backgrounds together....
No wonder Draco is such a noxious little shit in the book.
And I agree that Neville must have had an obliviate charm - but he also demonstrates some of the exaggerated startle response and timidity of someone with PTSD.
hoo-weee.. my brain is a-whirring.

And completely unrelated, my husband pointed out to me that Petunia and Lily had flower names... so maybe they're the two youngest sisters of Hyacinth, Daisy, Rose and Violet from "Keeping Up Appearances."

Can you explain about Draco?

And, yeah. I can see that. Say, oh. He saw his parents being tortured (and maybe got a taste himself) and everyone thought that, at his age, it wouldn't be a problem - he'd forget. Except he didn't and he'd cry all the time and shy away from his family, so they obliviated him.

Also, wouldn't being tossed hither and yon as he was as a small child also produce PTSD?

And. Grin. Interesting, though - there's also Narcissa and Pansy.

I'm with you on a lot of this (especially Neville, natch) but not about the twins. The twins are not nice people. They pull the Ton Tongue Toffee stunt on Dudley - and leave without making sure that there's someone on hand who can reverse it (and they haven't tested that one on each other; they say to Harry that they've been looking for someone to test it on all summer). However bad Dudley is, that's bullying someone weaker than you are because you can. Also, it's taking advantage of the fact that you're a wizard and he's a Muggle - a Death eater characteristic. While in Grimmauld Place they steal the Dark snuffbox - which is both immoral as theft in itself, and a breach of hospitality since it's stealing from a house in which one is a guest, as well as dangerous, because it's clearly a Dark artefact. They take Doxy venom "to experiment with". They taunt Sirius about his doing nothing for the order. They make a profit out of their rebellion against Umbridge, when they've already got a strategy for what to do with their wrecked school careers, and then leave others to carry on the revolution who don't have those luxuries.

I do agree with you about the Ton-tongue Toffee - they did it quite on purpose, knowing Dudley's weakness. However, their father *was* around at the time. I don't know if they cared, but he was there.

Actually, taking advantage of being stronger is just a bully characteristic, and they do have that.

If I remember correctly from the book, though, Sirius was discarding that snuff box - declaring it, in effect, ownerless. That being the case, it wasn't theft. It was, however, unwise because it was Dark and rude in that Sirius didn't want anyone to own it. They do take Doxy eggs to experiment with - I'm not sure why that's bad, though. (I know they took eggs. Did they also take venom?)

I also don't recall them taunting Sirius. I could be wrong about that, but all I can remember is Snape doing the taunting. That doesn't seem the Twins' style.

And I really don't see the problem with them trying to take a profit out of their rebellion. Hogwarts is going to be their prime source of customers and as they went out with a bang and used up quite a bit of their stock, it only makes sense to advertise. They had no reason to stay there - and if they had premises, they really had to leave anyway or waste their rent.

The others may not have had their resources, but, other than Harry, they weren't in danger of being tossed out, either. And Harry was in danger without them because that's how Umbridge was. The only person they encouraged to actively revolt was Peeves, and Peeves had the covert support of the teachers.

I like the twins. I don't like their jokes or their attitude towards authority, but they are fiercely loyal. They've only been vicious to Umbridge, Dudley and Draco - and Draco only after he attacked them or Hermione verbally.

And I really do believe they're doing weapons research for the Order.

That is, he is probably the most complex person in the books.

*nodsnodsnods* HP is not my fannish cuppa, even though I enjoy the books and movies, for several reasons. But the biggest one is that only Snape is the kind of layered, conflicted character that I'm interested in writing/reading in fanfic, and there's nobody I'd want to pair him with except maybe James Potter, who is both married and dead.