Who will defend Harry Potter?

I received the following in my mail today. It’s from AWAD mail # 190, December 10, 2005.

From: Mike Pope (mike.popeATmicrosoft.com)
Subject: Harry Potter
Refer: http://wordsmith.org/words/cringeworthy.html

A bespectacled, hard-working Brit (I thought that was Harry Potter).

Actually, the “hard-working” part is Hermione. Some time ago, ChrisSuellentrop wrote an amusing essay in Slate http://www.slate.com/id/2073627/(or perhaps an infuriating one, if one is particularly enamored of MasterPotter) in which he casts a critical eye on the success of Harry Potter andconcludes that Harry himself has had little to do with it:

Harry Potter is no braver than his best friend, Ron Weasley, just richer andbetter-connected. Harry’s other good friend, Hermione Granger, is smarterand a better student. The one thing Harry excels at is the sport ofQuidditch, and his pampered-jock status allows him to slide in his studies,as long as he brings the school glory on the playing field. But as CharlesBarkley long ago noted, being a good athlete doesn’t make you a role model.[…]

What Harry has achieved on his own, without his mother, stems mostly fromluck and, more often, inheritance. He’s a trust-fund kid whose success athis school, Hogwarts, is largely attributable to the gifts his friends andrelatives lavish upon him. A few examples: an enchanted map (made in part byhis father), an invisibility cloak (his father’s), and a state-of-the artmagical broom (a gift from his godfather) that is the equivalent of a Lexusin a high-school parking lot… In fact, Harry rarely puts hard workor effort into anything. He is a “natural”. Time and again, Harry iscelebrated for his instinctual gifts. When he learns that he is aParselmouth, or someone who can speak the language of snakes, Rowlingwrites, “He wasn’t even aware of deciding to do it.” (In fact, when Harrytries to speak this language, he can’t do it. He can only do itinstinctively.) When Harry stabs a basilisk in Chamber of Secrets, Rowlingwrites that he did it “without thinking, without considering, as though hehad meant to do it all along.” In Goblet of Fire, during Harry’s battle withVoldemort, Rowling writes that “Harry didn’t understand why he was doing it,didn’t know what it might achieve. …”

As they say, “when you put it that way …”


13 thoughts on “Who will defend Harry Potter?

  1. Strange observations….must have thought real hard to find all this out…

    As they say, “when you put it that way …”


  2. Hey hi there….

    it is aferall a book which ppl like…. a bed time story….

    but as a student of literature if i were to take up these as subjects of study maybe i would go thru them in detail and deconstruct.

    But good observations….

    …it is harry potter’s book, he is the hero……..even if he is dumb, deaf, blind or limp(if he were)….it is his story. he has precedence over the other “talented” ones.


  3. There is actually a book that actually makes fun of harry potter. Instead of the scar on his forehead he sports a question mark. My friend came across this book while we were shopping in landmark. It’s called Braddy Trotter or something like that. 😉

  4. Good one! But is Harry Potter meant to be read like this? I mean, it is just a fancy fairy tale meant to be read without looking for too much! 🙂

  5. Guess I’ll have to try and defend Mr. Potter, even though he doesn’t really need any muggles defending him! The article is really in bad taste, and doesn’t really say anything that we alreadey don’t know from reading the books. Harry has never claimed to be a hero, or a great magician. He’s just had greatness thrust upon him, literally!

    As Harry himself says, no-one would want his parents to be murdered when he was a baby, just so he can become a hero. Hermione is definitely more intelligent than Harry, but doesn’t have the rashness of just fighting for what is right, whatever the consequences, that Harry has. Time and again, Harry has not hesitated in breaking the rules, cos his heart told him that it was right. If Hermione had had her way, Harry would never have been able to defeat Voldermot’s machinations again and again.

    Yes, Ron is not as rich as Harry, but he is definitely not braver, or better at studies, or sports. But all that is immaterial in the series, what matters is that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are friends, and accept each other with all their virtues and vices. Harry never tries to act superior because of all his ‘good fortune’ that the author of the article talks about, and all three friends are perfectly aware of this.

    But why am I arguing at all? I really haven’t understood the actual point of the article. The simple fact is that it is Harry’s destiny to fight the Dark Lord, and only one of them will survive. In such a scenario, how can anyone else be the hero of the story? I rest my case.

  6. I hate deconstructing books somehow..takes the joy out of savouring it.
    Hermione is the quintessential feminist figure, too bright to be Harry’s gf – she’s like the friend – figure. I think her hormones take over her intelligence a lot of the time..
    Hermione to Hormonie..ugh at this rate i cant enjoy the book anymore.

  7. sick this post is

    i love the books of harry potter a lot..

    seriously i don like this post..

    sorry but this is the fact..

    delete this comment if u want…


    take care..

  8. Aha I see a fellow AWAD subscriber – a true delight it is! And a fellow Harry Potter non-blind-fan!

    Found my way here via Aristera. Been fun reading your blog and found my way to a superb blog through you – Language Guy! Many thanks!

  9. obi wan above has pretty much said everything i wanted to in favour of mr harry p. his story is not one of achieveing greatnes through grit and determination. he had greatness thrust upon him and his story is more about coming to terms with that.
    about the comparison with ron & hermoine: everyone is the hero in the story of his or her life and this series of books is called harry potter.
    one last point in defence of my favourite wizard. harry has shown true strength of charachter several times. remember him in the triward contest?
    so careful before you berate harry potter!

  10. Kannan: The observations ain’t mine! But thanks anyways.

    Ash: Thanks!

    Zee: There is also a Russian copy of our hero called Tanya Grotter! 🙂

    Naveen: Rowling has created a whole parallel world of magic and madness. While one can read HP in any way you want, I would prefer to go a little beyond the obvious. But as I always say, to each his own!

    Anurag: Perhaps you are the only one who got the point of the article! Nice to be in good company!

    Rohit: To each his own!

    Clash: Are you from Pluto? 😉

    Dreamcatcher: I try and not deconstruct. But I can’t help noticing those that do!

    Jigal: You are welcome not to visit this site.

    Geetanjali: Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope to see you again!

    That girl in Pink: HP is a a very morally upright guy. I think the fact that he is a wizard is secondary. It’s like those sfx added to make the story better.

  11. Completely agree with Obi Wan. I was intending to pen the same and realized he said it all.

    The point of the article isn’t very crystal, with a apparent lack of a more detailed facts to base their argument. Is it bravery you are talking about in general or is it jus Harry , who is jus a boy wizard with a story.

    I agree with Geetanjali, there have been several instances in the story where the boy wizard has shown strength of character…

    But it all boils down to one thing I wish to say,

    The story is about a boy wizard, his destiny and the rest of the characters form a part of the story. The story is about him, but neither the author nor the readers claim that Harry is the hero. He is one of the main protagonist (although several online dictionary quote it as being a hero, it essentially means the main performer) , and a protagonist doesnt necessarily make him or her the Hero of the story.

    I understand many may disagree, but I still maintain my stand.

    Obi Wan / Geetanjali – Concur with your thoughts. 🙂

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