How the boy wizard won over religious critics — and the deeper meaning theologians now see in his tale.

1 Comment

  1. “Harry Potter is really a reluctant hero, and I’m not convinced the narrative has him effectively going beyond personal motives.”

    Yes. Thank you. One of the things I appreciated about the series was how ignoble Harry really is. He’s a selfish little punk and for the first half of the series, he isn’t even that great a magician. And in almost every case, he climatically succeeds not because of who he is but because of who cares for him.

    If it weren’t for circumstance and celebrity, Hermione would be the rightful hero of the story. She’s the one who is a magical genius. She’s the one with ethic and motivation. She’s the one who is selfless. She’s the one who is empathetic. And she’s the one who is good.

    And if Hermione is the good version of Harry, then Ron is the bad. He’s a tool and a hanger-on. Useless for most everything save for giving Harry the necessary ego-boost to motivate him to do the world-saving he apparently needs to do so that Harry’s mother can defeat Voldemort (which is, essentially, how it always plays out).

    So yeah, I liked Harry Potter because it chose the wrong hero from the beginning, made no apologies for it, and convinced readers that Harry was a hero. At best, he’s an anti-hero. We root for him and he eventually makes good, but he’s never all that excited about it (except for when it either eases his revenge-complex or helps him score with the ladies). I’m having trouble remembering much about the seventh book, but if I recall, Harry never moves into wholly selfless hero-mode, even in the finale. Instead of being motivated by the good of the human race (muggle and wizard alike), he’s always motivated by the need to revenge his dead parents or anger that anyone would hurt what’s his (friends, lifestyle, dreams, etc.). At all times, I suspected that if Voldemort hadn’t killed his parents and had limited his killing spree and death-eater cult to Beauxbatons, Harry would have been happy to ignore him (until maybe going up against Voldemort was part of his job as an Auror—but again, doing a job well is not quite so noble a motivation as The Welfare of the World).

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