I I I
I came to what I think is an important realization today, when trying to describe the Harry Potter universe to a friend: The Harry Rowling gave us is not a hero. He is an ordinary boy thrust into heroic circumstances.
Of, sure, he *ought* to be a hero! He SHOULD BE a hero! In fanfiction all of the time that's what we turn him into, because that's what we really want him to be. And he showed some glimmers of that potential early on.
But that's not the Harry Rowling gave us.
To illustrate that point, let's show a comparison. Let us replace the ordinary Harry Potter out of the books with a little toy plastic Mr. Potato Head, and see what changes.
I I I
In the first place, Mr Potato Head is lying in Harry's crib when Lily sacrifices herself so Voldy shoots himself in the face with a death curse. No changes.
Mr Potato Head is then dropped off by Dumbledore at the Dursleys. They yell and scream at the toy, constantly berate it, toss it about very roughly and keep it in a cupboard. No change there.
Ten years later Hagrid stops by, picks up the toy and takes it to Diagon Alley, where he buys it a set of basic school supplies and returns it to the Dursleys. No change there.
Come September First, Vernon Dursley drops Mr Potato Head off in the middle of Kings Cross Station and drives away cackling. The Weasleys find the toy and carry it onto the platform. No change there.
Ron is playing with Mr Potato Head in his compartment when they are visited, in order, by Neville, Hermione and Draco Malfoy. The first two are looking for a toad and receive no help. Draco mocks Ron then offers his hand to Mr Potato Head, only to become angry when the toy does not respond. No change there.
Train stops, elves carry the luggage, Ron carries Mr Potato Head out to meet Hagrid who delivers them all, via boat, to Hogwarts castle. They stand in a little room, ghosts enter, girls scream, and McGonagall arrives to take them in for their Sorting. The hat sings, then gets put on the toy's head and finds no loyalty, no ambition, no thirst for knowledge or courage, so it does what it did with Pettigrew and proclaims Gryffindor. No change there.
Mr Potato Head is then carried up to the dorms. In following days Ron hauls him about to their various classes, always arriving together. No change there.
Snape makes fun of the Mr Potato Head without any provocation on its part. No change.
Halloween rolls around, a troll gets let into the castle, and Hermione dies because that's the ONE thing, going to rescue her, that Harry did in that book better than a Mr Potato Head.
But say she doesn't die, that teachers arrive to rescue her in time and she makes an eventual full recovery, what happens? Ron gets in a fight with Malfoy, who proclaims a wizards duel at midnight, then fails to show up. Hermione gets dragged along trying to stop him from going out after curfew (carrying a Mr Potato Head, 'he's my second') and risk losing house points. They get chased by Filch, run into Fluffy, and Hermione notices the trap door, then starts wondering what it was guarding. No change there either.
During the year Hagrid invites Mr Potato Head down to his hut. Ron carries him there, and they have tea and rock cakes, which Mr Potato Head does not eat. No change there.
During the process of these visits to Hagrid, they get let in when the half-giant is in the process of hatching a dragon egg. After some experiments with fire in a wooden hut, it is decided this is lunacy, and Ron contacts his brother Charlie who agrees to take the dragon. They get caught by Malfoy on the way back from doing so. No change there.
Serving detention in the Forbidden Forest for the above infraction, Voldemort is seen and they get saved by a centaur. Still no change to the action.
Climactic end of the first novel arrives: Mr Potato Head is carried by Ron and Hermione down past Fluffy (the harp left behind by Quirrel ought to be enough of a clue, even if they never got Hagrid to spill the beans about that to them). Hermione gets them through the plant. Ron, the Quidditch nut, flies a broom to get the key (although we'll be fair and say he's not a brilliant flier, so gets banged up by a few keys), gets them past the chessboard, the troll chamber is empty, then Hermione flings Mr Potato Head through the flames into the last chamber, where Quirrel picks it up and dies, burned to death by contact with it.
Anyone see any changes I missed? And that first book was when Harry was at his MOST HEROIC!
I I I
A hero initiates action. He has goals and something he is trying to achieve. The Harry Rowling gave us sits there passively receiving anything that is done to him - just like a Mr Potato Head.