Not Too Wild About Harry

And I know I’m going to get in trouble with the Harry Potter people about this, so let me start off by saying that I’m not a Harry-hater. Far from it. I read the first five HP books and enjoyed them. So please, HP fans, don’t send angry Bludgers my way.
My gripe with the Harry Potter series, and I wasn’t aware of this when I began reading the books, is that the characters are so stereotyped. That’s not to say they’re unlikable or uninteresting, just predictable and rather dull after five books.
Even Harry himself isn’t immune from being stereotypical. I would not like to call him a Mary Sue, because he isn’t perfect, but he comes close. Here’s this funny-looking, orphaned misfit kid who is sent to live with horrible relatives and never learns till he’s eleven that he is Heir to a Great Magical Legacy! Whereupon he is whisked away to a magical school to learn his craft. He even has a distinctive, vivid scar to show his true origins. A distinctive scar, according to one unscientific quiz I took online, is a hallmark of a Mary Sue character.
And Harry’s not alone. A lot of the other characters are stereotypes as well, some seemingly straight out of Central Casting, a few even worse than that. A sampling:

The Dursleys: Harry’s rotten relatives. Rowling probably meant them to be frightening, but they are so overdrawn they’re only laughable. Uncle Vernon is a blustering bully who is nonetheless terrified of his magical nephew’s powers. Aunt Petunia is a shrew who acres mainly about What the Neighbors Think. And fat Cousin Dudley is always trying to destroy Harry, but he is so stupid and self-centered that none of his plans can ever work.
Ron “Second Fiddle” Weasley: The Hero’s Sidekick, a role as old as storytelling itself. He’s loyal! He’s steadfast! He’s nice! But he can never quite measure up, and he’s destined to always be in somebody’s shadow.
Fred and George Weasley: The Merry Pranksters. All life’s a joke, and these interchangeable goofballs have the market cornered when it comes to silly gags. I’m surprised they don’t leave banana peels around for people to slip on, though I guess with all that magic at their disposal, they really don’t need to stoop that low.
Percy Weasley: A good example of an aptly-named Character. Prissy, pompous, play-by-the-rules Percy is just like the kid we all knew in school, the one who made the good grades, never got in trouble and was A Good Example, and consequently nobody really liked him.
Ginny Weasley: The little sister who never quite grows up, always tagging along after the bigger kids, wanting to join in but getting on everybody’s nerves.
Hermione Granger: Know-it-all who likes to boss everybody else around, even when, as often happens, her ideas aren’t very good.
Draco Malfoy: Evil, but one-dimensionally evil. Can’t do anything without his two stooges, Crabbe and Goyle. His specialty seems to be sniping at Ron about the Weasleys’ humble station in life.
Rubeus Hagrid: Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but soft-hearted to a fault and almost fanatically loyal to Hogwarts and all it stands for. Keeps his job and even gets promoted, despite some very grave screw-ups.
Cedrick Diggory: As high-achieving as Percy, but everyone likes him and he is even gallant enough to help Harry out when they are in competition in “Goblet of Fire.” So of course, he must die.
Albus Dumbledore: Albus, Albus, he’s the man! If he can’t fix it, no one can! So of course he had to be killed off too. In spite of his Mary-Sueishness, I really liked Dumbledore, and when I heard that he was going to die in “Half-Blood Prince,” I lost all desire to continue reading the series.

And that’s my two Gallions. Have I left out anybody? Misjudged anybody? Anybody agree with me, stand up and be counted!

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6 Responses to “Not Too Wild About Harry”

  1. Antoine Says:

    I love the name Ginny Weasley. (I know, I know, names are the topic of earlier posts, but I have no opinion on the Potter oeuvre as I’ve never read any of the Rowling books.) If ever I write a novel, I’m having a character named Ginny Kidney, after the description of the portion of that organ sent to a player in the Jack the Ripper case which, evidently, looked as if it had once been inside someone with a taste for the gin.

    • ghostscribe Says:

      Oh yuck! Ginny’s full first name was Ginevra, I think. Which means “juniprtz,” which in turn makes the whole name much more gin-soaked. lol

      • Antoine Says:

        Yes, during the big gin surge in England post-1700, gin was known as Geneva. Good to know Rowling is embedding information to set her readers on a downward spiral. Doss house, here we come! “Drunk for ha’pence, dead drunk for a penny, straw for free,” as they say. Harry Potted, indeed.

      • ghostscribe Says:

        *snort* Rowling got some of her names from a book about botany, if I remember. Albus, Rubeus, maybe Ginevra too. Hogwarts’s cranky janitor, Argus Filch, is also cleverly named. As is Sybil Trelawney, who teaches Divination.

  2. Brian Schnabel Says:

    Interesting view point. But, it really is one of those book series that needs to be red all the way through to the end of book seven before you can fully appreciate what Ms. Rowling has done.

    Site’s looking good!

    • ghostscribe Says:

      Spoken lieka true Potter apologist. lol I really did love the first two books. I think it was their innocence and the newness of the whoel Hogwarts experience (to Harry and to the reader) that I liked. I’m not much on series books in general. The only series I’ve read every single book in as an adult is Sue Graftoon’s alphabetical Kinsey Millhone mysteries. I have plenty of gripes with those too, which I may just blog about tomorrow (thanks for putting the idea in my mind) but I have read all of them, A through T, and when U comes out, I’ll read that too.

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