“I am Neville Longbottom”

Harry Potter Spoilers…

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I have written before about my admiration for the character of Neville Longbottom. This week someone linked to an older article on Stirrup Queens, detailing a theory I happen to agree with: Neville is the most important character in the Harry Potter universe.

I can’t relate to Harry, can you? He’s too, well, extreme. He’s been gifted with tremendous athletic talent for starters. He’s “the chosen one.” He’s an adrenaline junkie – he takes crazy risks often without thinking. Like sneaking into Hogsmeade when a homicidal maniac is looking for him or driving off with Ron in Mr. Weasley’s flying car, just for starters. He’s unnaturally resilient – how can someone lose pretty much every parental figure in their lives and still keep going? Don’t get me wrong – I admire him as a character, but his motivations don’t resonate with me. And I’m not sure Rowling wanted them to.

Neville is another story. Neville is a kind of Gryffindor everyman. He’s a klutz, he can’t fly, and he isn’t athletic. He’s bullied by Professor Snape, and has a terrible memory for schoolwork. He has little confidence in his abilities or his smarts. He has a chorus of naysayers like his grandmother, Draco Malfoy, Snape (and I’d argue Professor McGonigall isn’t that nice to him either) implying and often outright saying he’s less than. You’d think he’d be the first to fold to Voldemort/the Death Eaters and to be afraid to stand up to those who demand capitulation. On the contrary, his refusal to capitulate results in the action that leads to Voldemort’s downfall.

It’s a wonderful moment. The twins have taken an interest in World War II because of this book, and reflection on those “darkest hours” brought me back to Neville Longbottom. When it’s most important for humankind to act, we need to stand up and say: “I am Neville Longbottom. And I won’t back down.” Sadly, the echoes of the past are still deadly.

Do you relate to Neville? Or Harry? Or, say Hannah Abbott, who is my daughter’s favorite character?

(As an aside, I am ALWAYS sorted into Gryffindor in every online quiz, even the silly BuzzFeed ones. I’m a neurotic worrier who is afraid of a lot of things like flying and heights and not eating organic food. Shouldn’t I be a Hufflepuff?!?)

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6 Comments

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6 responses to ““I am Neville Longbottom”

  1. Neville is a very interesting character in that he and his life is so much what Harry’s would have been without his family’s powerful friends looking out for him. Neville is a great example of triumph over adversity & the importance of character. Like you, I definitely do not identify with Harry. I wish he had done more himself. I’ve always identified with Hermione! Give me a book and knowledge!

  2. justinelevine

    I’ve always loved Hermione, too. An overachiever, but also a bit of an outcast with a few very good friends. I do like Neville, though. He’s probably the most real of them all.

    And: the sorting hat places you where you ask it to, remember? ūüėČ

  3. I also got frustrated with Harry in he was supposed to be the savior but he never studied to be on top of his game! He was bloody lucky to have Hermoine.

  4. I love Hermione, but Neville and the Weasley twins are up in my top 3, I think it was a shame that Neville didn’t marry Luna I think they would of been perfect. I think Neville was a bit of a Dark Horse really because at the beginning of the series he was really unlucky and useless and by the end of the series he was helping to destroy Voldemort! I think I relate most to Hermione, most quizes I take say I should be in Ravenclaw and that my patronous is a stag!

  5. Mel

    We always celebrate Neville’s birthday as Neville Longbottom Day. He is one of my favourite characters.

    But it’s interesting that you touched on a point I hadn’t considered: Harry is too damn resilient to be believable. I mean, do we know what we would do if faced with the same type of situation and loss (akin to war)? No. But even when the war isn’t “on,” the loss seems to slip off his skin for the most part like water.

  6. Mel

    I too thought I’d be in Hufflepuff, and the ChickieNob is, but the Wolvog and I are both in Ravenclaw. I’ve gone with that assessment, and even got Ravenclaw robes this year. So I’m committed to my house.

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