Tue
Nov 19 2013 3:00pm
Neville Longbottom is the Most Important Person in Harry Potter—And Here’s Why

Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows Part 2

So here’s the thing: out of all your wizarding students and house elves and headmasters and Death Eaters and muggles and centaurs, there is really only one person who determines the course of the Harry Potter series.

It’s Neville Longbottom.

Neville Longbottom has quite a following in the Harry Potter fandom, and for good reason—he is humble and noble, brave and kind, he’s a wonderful friend and a fierce supporter. Neville is what most Gryffindors would be like in the real world, a person capable of heroic feats under dire circumstances, but not inclined to them every waking moment. Neville understands that it’s not about being loud and brash every day, it’s about picking your battles and knowing what’s dear and worth fighting for.

Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows Part 2

Neville also might have been the chosen one, according to Trelawney’s prophecy. If Voldemort had simply decided he was the real threat, then Harry could have avoided his mark and lived life out… well, a little more normally.

But it’s not quite so simple as all that. See, Rowling largely operates Harry’s generation in a clear system of parallels to the previous generation, Marauders and all. Harry is his father—Quidditch star, a little pig-headed sometimes, an excellent leader. Ron is Sirius Black—snarky and fun, loyal to a fault, mired in self-doubts. Hermione is Remus Lupin—book smart and meticulous, always level-headed, unfailingly perceptive. Ginny is Lily Evans—a firecracker, clever and kind, unwilling to take excuses. Draco Malfoy is Severus Snape—a natural foil to Harry, pretentious, possessed of the frailest ego and also deeper sense of right and wrong when it counts. And guess what?

Neville Longbottom is Peter Pettigrew.

Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter, Prisoner of Azkaban

Think about it—the tag along friend who looks up to the trio, but is looked down on by everyone else for not being remarkably talented or suave. Someone who is trusted with a lot of Harry's most important secrets, in a perfect position to give everyone away. “Foolish boy,” as McGonagall said of little Pettigrew. Another pureblood who has no respect from the higher-up notable wizarding families. Gullible, the easy mark, someone who other children make fun of when Harry, Hermione, and Ron aren’t on hand to defend him. Neville is Peter’s brand new analog in the story.

Or, at least, he could have been. Neville is a perfect example of how one single ingredient in the recipe can either ruin your casserole (or stew, or treacle tart, whatever you like), or utterly perfect your whole dish. Neville is the tide-turner, the shiny hinge. And all because he happens to be in the same position as Wormtail… but makes all the hard choices that Pettigrew refused the first time around. Other characters are in similar positions, but none of them go so far as Neville. None of them prove that the shaping of destiny is all on the individual the way he does.

Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, Order of the Pheonix

Of course, Neville does embody many characteristics that are worth emulating all on his own, but the more important part of that equation is how his strengths fill a gap in group dynamics that the Marauders were missing. Harry and company need Neville in the exact way that James and Lily and the Order of the Phoenix needed Peter. The difference is that Neville is more than up to the task.

It’s a lesson in self-worth under stronger personalities that most human beings could do with at some point or another. Because society at large insists that the only people of value are leaders and their closest confederates, people like Neville are dismissed at first blush much in the same manner that he is dismissed by his classmates in his first years at Hogwarts. But that lack of confidence from his peers doesn’t lead him to throw in the towel; his self-deprecation eventually turns into a dogged insistence on growing his skill set, on offering his help whether or not it’s been called for, on figuring out how he can best be of use in the coming fight.

Young Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix

Peter Pettigrew was in that very same place, but let his weaknesses carry through life; he hero-worshipped James and Sirius, then simply transferred that sensibility to Voldemort. He is the ultimate follower, he moves to what he perceives as the strongest single voice in the room. Which is the reason why Peter doesn’t seem to lose much sleep over his decisions—while he’s aware that what he has done is wrong, his basic excuse for everything is “But You Know Who had so much power! There was no other choice that makes sense!” Sirius says that he would have died rather than betray Lily and James the way Peter did, but the real point to take away is that dying was never the only option. If Peter had worked a little harder, relied less on the protection of others, believed in the power of his friendships and family, he need never have made those choices in the first place.

This is why Neville’s very first act of heroism is a perfect juxtaposition to Peter’s failings when he stands up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Philosopher’s Stone. Dumbledore recognizes it as such, and rewards him for his body bind with the final points needed to win Gryffindor the House Cup. He makes it Neville’s personal victory by announcing him last. (You have to surmise that Dumbledore sees how history might repeat itself and is relieved to see Neville going down a different road.) Where Peter spent his life in the shadow of his friends, remembered even by professors as little more than a sycophant—recall that Professor McGonagall thinks of him primarily as that boy who trailed after James and Sirius—Neville steps away from that position immediately and shows everyone that while he may be meek, he’s no one to mess around with.

Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, Philosopher's Stone

More important than Neville’s defense of what’s right is his role as a keeper of hope. Neville comes to Harry’s aid when no one believes what he says, fights alongside him when most flee at the prospect of real danger, then keeps his platoon going from inside Hogwarts during Harry’s absence. He has the hardest job of anyone, and it’s a responsibility he takes on without being asked or expected to do so. He houses refuges in the Room of Requirement, lets everyone know that Dumbledore’s Army is alive and well. Epic tales always demand that someone never give up the cause no matter how bleak things seem, and that’s Neville through and through. His friends are kidnapped, tortured and gone, but he stays at Hogwarts while two Death Eaters are teaching classes and keeps the candle burning for Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s return. If he hadn’t, who knows if the Battle of Hogwarts could have even taken place. Still, Harry didn’t come up with Neville’s role in a brilliant moment of strategic awareness—they simply got lucky that Neville decided he wanted the job.

You could argue that his parentage has a lot to do with his journey. Frank and Alice Longbottom were tortured to insanity by the Lestranges, and so he has a deeply personal reason to stand against Voldemort. But by all accounts, Peter also had a good family who would have been horrified by the choices he made. This ties into Pettigrew’s decision to fake his own death—his mother could believe that he died a hero. Neville’s situation is exactly opposite and once again shows Peter up in every sense; he fights for a family that is no longer present, wants to make his parents proud though they will never consciously know what he is doing in their memory.

Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, Deathyly Hallows Part 2

In the final hour, Neville is given a chance to make the same cowardly choice that Peter did, to join Voldemort’s forces and go the easy route. And instead he pulls Godric Gryffindor’s sword out of a burning Sorting Hat and destroys the final horcrux by slicing off Nagini’s head. It couldn’t be more clear than it is in that moment; Harry needs Neville in order to end this war just as much as he needs Ron and Hermione, the same way that his parents needed Peter. And it is true that Harry is a much better friend to Neville than his father might have been to Peter, but at the end of the day, that’s still down to Neville—down to a boy who demanded respect from his friends right from the start, no matter how small or unremarkable he felt. Who had the gumption to do what he knew was right, not when it was hard but because it was hard.

That distinction makes Neville Longbottom the truest of Gryffindors and a surprising balancing point of the entire Harry Potter narrative. Who Peter Pettigrew might have been had he understood that courage wasn’t about blind action, but about doing what was needed even if no one ever asked. In a world of leaders and followers, there are some who don’t attempt to fit either mold, and it is those distinct few who really determine the future of us all. That is what Neville Longbottom can teach us.


Emily Asher-Perrin always loved how Potter generations paralleled so beautifully. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

146 comments
Christopher Bennett
1. ChristopherLBennett
I'm kind of disappointed by the casting of Matthew Lewis as Neville in the movies. I mean, Neville's supposed to be this chubby little nerd that nobody would expect to be at all impressive, so that it's a nifty surprise when he turns out to be so important. But even though Lewis fit the mold when he was a kid in the first movie, he then shot up into this really tall, slender, good-looking guy who looked like a strong, heroic figure, and thus didn't look right for Neville at all. It kind of undermines the point of the character.
Colin R
3. Colin R
Really what one has to wonder is how someone like Peter Pettigrew ended up a Gryffindor at all. It's not that it is surprising that someone from Gryffindor might go bad, it's just that you would expect them to do so out of boldness or arrogance.
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
He got those crucial ten points for learning the meaning of friendship! It is always important to remember when Dumbledore's arbitrary favoritism steals yet another House Cup from Slytherin after they worked hard to earn it.

Seriously, I wouldn't argue his parentage has anything to do with it; that sort of claptrap might as well be Death-Eater talk! Parentage, as though he inherited some innate nobility! Bah! His upbringing, his past, his history, his life, that is what you mean!

I drank a lot of coffee just now!
Dixon Davis
5. KadesSwordElanor
Emily, this is something I have wanted to put into words for a longtime, but you did a much better job stating it that me. Neville is pivotal to the destruction of evil, much as Sam in LOTR, but neither get the credit they deserve.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
This article is the best, Emily, thanks.

Neville's always been the one character I've loved more than the others, because things don't come easy, but he keeps trying. I HATED how the movies always made him the butt of the joke.

Like in CoS, they had him pass out while they were working on the Mandrakes! When, in actuality, Herbology IS HIS BEST CLASS! And they took away his pivotal triumphant moment in DH2.
Scott Silver
7. hihosilver28
Well said, Emily. :-) I didn't really pick up on the generational parallels (other than Harry and his dad), but it seems completely obvious now. I love what Rowling did with Neville over the course of the series and it completely took me by surprise.

@KadesSwordElanor
While that was once true, once the movies came out for The Lord of the Rings, the tides have gone to a much more Sam centric loving. Not that he's undeserving in the least, but I have felt and will always feel that Frodo carried the larger burden.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
8. hoopmanjh
That's one thing I kind of regret about Deathly Hallows in particular -- Rowling kept such a tight narrative focus on Harry that we never really got to see what Neville (and everyone else) got up to at Hogwarts while he was sitting in the tent sniping at Ron & Hermione.
Colin R
9. Zylaa
Oh my gosh, I have never seen these generational parallels before... you have done what I would have thought impossible and made Neville Longbottom even more awesome. Thank you.

@Aeryl--So glad that other people were as annoyed as I was by that scene in the second movie!
Charles Hamlyn
10. cbhamlyn
Great great article. Well said!

I've put a lot of thought into the Harry Potter series in my life but I'm guilty of not giving Neville enough credit for his role. I definitely saw his importance, but not all of it. I certainly never saw him as the Peter Petigrew parallel. After reading your article I of course said to myself - "So if Harry, Ginny and James (son) had to go into hiding, Ron would seem the obvious choice of secret keeper, but would it make sense to use Neville instead? ABSOLUTELY!"
David Levinson
11. DemetriosX
I never really saw that in Neville before. But for me part of that is because he always seemed more of an equal to the others, which Pettigrew was not. I did see the connection of the other three, but thought Colin Creevey would be their Wormtail. Once he receded into the background, I forgot the whole parallels thing.

@1 ChristopherLBennett
I disagree about Matthew Lewis. There's absolutely nothing in Rowling's narrative to indicate that Neville didn't undergo the same physical metamorphosis.
Colin R
12. Aries Rising
ChristopherLBennett:

because casters clearly know what kids are going to grow up to look like.
Colin R
13. DavidEsmale
There is one particular scene in the book that I got so mad about when it wasn't in the movie. When Harry was preparing to walk calmly to what he believed was his death, who did he turn to in order to complete the quest of defeating Voldemort? Neville.

That's an important moment for both of them. For Harry, it's the moment when he really acknowledges Neville not just as a 'follower' or friend, but as an equal. For Neville, it's the culmination of his entire story arc: he is asked to complete the quest, not because of prophecy, or because he happens to be friends with Harry, but because of who he is and the decisions he's made. Because Harry knows Neville will do the right thing, no matter what.
Colin R
14. bookworm1398
I agree with a lot of what you say about Neville, but if you are making an extended group of Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Ginny and Neville, I have to ask what about Luna?
I can't think of a parallel to her in the previous generation, but in this one she is as much a part of the story as Neville is. She has some of the same qualities you mentioned above: loyal, not very talented, fights along them when noone else believes them, not liked by others, neither a leader or follower but someone who marches to her own drum.
Neville is awesome, but I was somewhat upset to see my favorite character completely left out here.
Colin R
16. Alexwww
Since when is there a "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone?"
Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
@13, And the Warner Bros character assassination of Neville Longbottom continues! I hated that too!

@16, That's the actual Non-US title that it was orginally released under.
Colin R
18. Colin R
Generally I'm not as sanguine about the portrayal of Neville. He's a nice character, and it's cool that he ultimately serves an important role in beating Voldemort. But Harry Potter isn't really a tale of nerds and outcasts--Harry, Ron and Hermione are the stars, and they're basically the most popular kids in school. Harry and Ron are star jocks, and Hermione might as well be class president. Neville is kind of a nebbish, and I can't help but feel that the message being delivered is that Neville's virtues emerge because Harry is much kinder to and supportive of him than I suspect that James and Sirius really were to Peter.
Christopher Bennett
19. ChristopherLBennett
@11: It's not about factual consistency, it's about impressions. Neville was written to be a nerdy character who seemed unimpressive on the surface.

@12: Yes, obviously I wasn't blaming the casting department, just pointing out that it's a crapshoot when you cast children for a long-running series, because sometimes the way they grow up can surprise you. (Look at Emma Watson. Hermione was written as kind of plain and mousy. Who knew Watson would grow up to be so sublimely beautiful?)

Still, some characters in the series were recast in later films -- Dumbledore, obviously, but also some of the supporting players. So the filmmakers could've decided to recast Neville. Instead, they chose to stick with Lewis. I can't fault their loyalty, but it certainly was an unexpected metamorphosis that he went through.

@14: Luna, by her very nature, is unparalleled. (And she's one character who was absolutely perfectly cast. Evanna Lynch was completely wonderful.)
Nathan Martin
20. lerris
@16 The original title in Britain was "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." American publishers thought it was "too British" and localized the language somewhat.

I find the title change to be insulting to the American audience. The Philosopher's Stone was a goal of the medieval alchemists, and Nicholas Flamel was a real person who was reputed to have succeeded in creating it. I would have hoped that a publisher, of all businesses, would want to promote a wider literacy.

As a Canadian, my copy is of "The Philosopher's Stone."
Colin R
21. bluemesa356
Your article about Neville Longbottom is dead on target, but you're wrong about one character.....Ron Weasley. You state that he's like Sirius Black. You state "he's snarky and fun, loyal to a fault." Ron Weasley has several faults that make him, at best, an acquaintance, and not a true friend. Snarky? Nope! Try sarcastic, bitter and self-centered. He constantly shows his envy of others, or at least, what they have achieved and their wealth (if any). He thinks that, like Draco Malfoy, everything should be given to him without ONE bit of effort. He is also a mama's boy. If Molly (or his future wife) wasn't there to feed him outrageous amounts of food and dress him, he'd be screwed. He's lazy in school, with no desire to prove himself. Rather, he's content to copy the work of others (Hermione), just to pass his classes.
He brags about being Harry's friend ad nauseum, but is never really a friend. Sure, at the end of DH2, he showed up, but before then? Does "Goblet of Fire" and Ron's condemnation of Harry after the Harry's name coming from the goblet ring any bells? Ron is a single minded individual, more like a toddler really, with his "I,I,I, me, me, me" attitude. Comparing him to his father and siblings (even Percy), are we even sure that he (and Molly) are truly related to the other Weasleys? Hell, Percy's more of a Weasley than Ron!!!!!!!
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
23. EllenMCM
I thought the decision to stick with Lewis as Neville made sense. The efforts to disguise his increasing height for some of the middle movies were kind of adorably funny, and the character grew into Lewis's physique really nicely.
Colin R
24. fiddler
I'm surprised no one's mentioned Neville's grandmother yet, I'm pretty sure he learnt a lot about stubbornness / morality from her.
Church Tucker
25. Church
@11 There's absolutely nothing in Rowling's narrative to indicate that Neville didn't undergo the same physical metamorphosis.
Whereas Ron was (belatedly) given a growth spurt in the books to match Rupert's.
Colin R
26. Jenny H
I think this article was really interesting. I've never thought about the Neville/Peter parallel, but I now believe that it was intentional on JKR's part. I think the biggest point this article misses is the manner in which Neville/Peter are treated by their friends. Peter was always the butt of mean spirited jokes made by James and Sirius. He was made fun of and belittled, in reference to his intelligence after taking OWLs, his excitement seeing James playing with the snitch, how long it took him to become an animagus, etc...

Harry et al, on the other hand, are constantly encouraging Neville from book one. They tell him to stand up to bullies, that "he's worth ten of Malfoy", mentoring him in DA meetings, etc... The article makes a good point that the Neville/Peter character has a tremendous amount of power on tipping the scales in the war against Voldemort. However, I think it's the environment of love, inclusion, and encouragement fostered by Harry, Ron, and Hermione that makes the difference in the end.
Colin R
27. JILLA
Very nicely said. Good article.
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
@20: As I recall, it wasn't that "philosopher's stone" was too British, but that it sounded too dry and abstract. Philosophers? Boring! Sorcerors are much cooler! Although of course that's predicated on the assumption that American kids wouldn't know what the Philosopher's Stone was, so yeah, it is kind of insulting.

The US editions of the first few books had a lot of interior changes as well to Americanize the terminology and slang. Those diminished in later editions. Someday I hope to replace my US editions of the books with editions that contain the unaltered original text.
Marilynn Byerly
29. MByerly
@22 The character Ron has a heavy narrative burden to bear. He's the "normal" one with all the teenaged emotional messiness that Rowling wanted to show while Harry has Voldemort in his head and the angst of being the chosen one to deal with.
Colin R
30. UniMehe
As the Ravenclaw Room Guard would say, "Well reasoned."
Colin R
31. WOL
I had not picked up on the generational angle either, but again, now that you mention it, it seems obvious. I also loved the way JKR handled Luna Lovegood -- letting us look past all the "she actually believes all the weirdo rubbish her dad prints in his rag" to see her empathy, compassion and courage. I think what I liked best about her was her unflappableness. No matter what life handed her, she rolled with the punches, then quietly and calmly did what needed to be done.
Colin R
32. sashmo4
I really enjoyed reading this, but I don't really think the generational parallels are as tidy as you present them here. I think in a lot of ways, they all contrast with each other to make some of the more important points of the series, not just in the case of Neville. I do agree, however, that Neville is wonderful.
Colin R
33. WOL
I might also point out that Ron has lived his whole life as "a face in the crowd" of his five older brothers, none of whom were slackers, and all of whom were talented and had strong personalities. Ron is having to deal with people's (and especially his parents') expectations based on the achievements of his older brothers, while trying to sort out and establish his own identity. At the beginning of the story, although Ron yearns for a place in the spotlight (as shown by how he sees himself in the Mirror of Erised), he has convinced himself he'll never be able to live up to his brothers' achievements, so he really doesn't try. Gradually, it dawns on him what his friends already know, that he has been selling himself short.

It's an interesting juxtaposition of Hermione as the confident, self posessed only child, and Ron with his angst, lack of confidence, and a swarm of siblings. He wants to stand out from the crowd, but then, there's safety in numbers.
Colin R
34. Colin R
The influence of childhood upbringing is a not-very-subtle message in the narratives, yes. James and Sirius came from fairly pampered Pureblood families, and had the arrogance that went along with that--it was Lily the Muggle-born and Remus the werewolf who had experience enough to have compassion for others. Not enough to balance that out for Snape and Peter, to their sorrow.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione all have their own issues that give them perspective--Harry an abused orphan, doesn't take his birthright entirely for granted and is generous with his riches; Ron comes from a large and loving family but is poor and uncertain of his place; Hermione the Muggle-born has to sink or swim on her merits. Neville's unhappy upbringing and desire to live up to his parents are the source of his courage. And no wonder poor Hagrid has a heart that can embrace the most dreadful creatures.

It's not all cut and dried, obviously; Draco has the arrogance of the pampered blue-blood, but what redemption the Malfoys achieve comes from the fact that they do actually care about each other.
Colin R
35. Adam331
I agree that Neville turns out to be an important and very likeable character, but to call him the most important character is ludicrous. I would call him the 6th most important person and he could arguably be lower.

I would place the importance of characters in this order Harry, Dumbledore, Hermione, Snape, Ron and then Neville could arguably be placed on the list. Sure he makes some important stands and takes some important actions throughout the books, but there are a lot of people who do. Harry's life and quest are saved on many occasions by many different people.

So I can see this makes an interesting article, but really Neville is a likeable character who turns out to play a much bigger part than anyone ever expected. But he is not the most important character.
Corkryn Williams
36. MadCow21
Neville slaying Nagini was the highlight of the entire series for me. For many of the same reasons, The Witch King's defeat at the hands of Eowyn was the high point of my LotR read. Guess I'm a sucker for underappreciated, yet wholly dedicated supporting characters finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Colin R
37. ky to the la
best goddamn thing i've read about the harry potter novels.

"It’s a lesson in self-worth under stronger personalities that most human beings could do with at some point or another."

SO. PERFECT.
Kari Phillips
38. utkari02
I agree with #21.
Comparing Ron to Sirius is doing a disservice to Sirius. Ron was petty, entitled, jealous and annoying for the majority of the series. In my personal opinion, he should have died in the 7th book instead of Dobby. Hermione, Sirius & Dobby were the only characters that were 100% loyal to Harry.

I also agree with #35.
Yes, Neville was awesome and had amazing growth, but I wouldn't call him the most important person of the series either. It's called the Harry Potter series, so Harry Potter is the most important person in the series. Everyone else is there to either help or hurt him, but there would be no story without Harry Potter.
Colin R
39. Colin R
Sirius was kind of a petty, entitled, arrogant kid.
Colin R
40. TEAM NEVILLE
It doesn't matter if Rowling denies this, I completely believe that Neville actually IS the chosen one from the prophecy. HE is the one who kills Voldemort by destroying the FINAL horcrux. Technically Harry accidentally kills him when all he was trying to do was disarm him, but NEVILLE was the one who made Voldemort mortal, thereby causing his inevitable death.

All other aspects of the prophecy also apply to Neville. He's also a much more likeable character with a much purer sense of right and wrong. HE'S THE CHOSEN ONE! GO TEAM NEVILLE!!
Colin R
41. chavisory
bookworm1398--I'd say the analog to Luna is Professor Trelawney. Loopy, scorned, mocked, and underestimated by most of her peers, and much, much wiser than most people ever realize or notice when it really counted.
Colin R
42. Heather B from SC
I love this so much. Absolutely brilliant reasoning and wonderful to see new thoughts on this excellent series. Thank you.
Colin R
43. DougL
The most important ingredient here is that Harry is way, way, way nicer than his Dad. If Neville had never been involved in the DA lessons that Harry undertook to teach, Neville would be toast, Harry was far more inclusive than we must believe his father was, for all the time he spent with Hermione and Ron.
Christopher Bennett
44. ChristopherLBennett
@40: But the point of the books was that there was no real "Chosen One," no fixed destiny, just individual choice and free will. The only reason Harry was so central to events was that Voldemort believed he was central and reacted to him accordingly. There was no cosmic predestination putting Harry in that position, just the actions and beliefs of the people around him, pushing him into the role they thought he was "destined" for. And that means it could've gone either way. Anyone could've potentially been the one to defeat Voldemort, if circumstances had favored them.
Charles Dunkley
45. cedunkley
Great article. I remember reading the last book really hoping Neville wouldn't be one of the casualties.
Colin R
46. Stephanie Stamm
Great article. I always loved Neville, knew he had to play a major role in the last book, and was thrilled that he was the one who killed Nagini. But I never saw the generational parallels you've pointed out--or thought his role through in this way. Thanks for this!
Colin R
47. pg
@18: "Harry, Ron and Hermione are the stars, and they're basically the most popular kids in school." - What? Seriously? I think maybe you're assuming they're popular just because they are the focus of the narrative. At best, their popularity varies wildly over the course of the seven books - in 2 and 5, Harry was an outright outcast for much of the books. In 4, the school was largely behind Cedric (who clearly is actually popular) and against Harry until the dragon task. Hermione is never shown to be particularly popular or well-liked beyond her circle of friends. In fact, in #1 she apparently has no friends until Ron and Harry team up with her. Ron isn't generally an outcast, but he's not as popular as his brothers (well, maybe more popular than Percy, but not the twins, and it's implied that Charlie and Bill were among the cool kids as well). His popularity goes up once he's on the Quidditch team, and he gets to date popular Lavendar, but that's not til book 6. On the whole, Harry, Ron, and Hermione might not be as big of outcasts (most of the time) as Neville or Luna, but to say that they're the most popular kids in school ignores at least half of what happens in the books.
Shelly wb
48. shellywb
For a long time I thought Neville was the chosen one. I liked him best of the book characters (I stopped watching the movies after 4).
Colin R
49. NevilleLove
For any other Neville lovers out there there is some great fanfiction from the HP fandom that fills in some of the gaps of his final year at hogwarts keeping the DA alive. My personal favorite is Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness which shows Neville for the true hero he is (unlike the final movie did >
Colin R
50. IGotBupkis
Good, thoughtful piece.
Colin R
51. Dani the 5th Marauder
Beautiful piece, and you are spot on with the generational parallels. I only take issue with calling Neville "the truest of Gryffindors." A pivotal hero who helped determine the course of the story? Yes. But to say that Harry only reacted the way he did because he was singled out is patently false; he didn't know about the prophecy until the end of Book 5, yet he fought Voldemort every step of the way anyway because that's just who he was. Nor do I think it's fair to overlook Hermione - the girl erased herself from her parents' memories just to save them and go fight a Wizarding War, when she could've hid away in the Muggle world. You could argue that she was simply "dragged into" supporting Harry, but this isn't true; she's the one who came up with the idea for the DA well before they knew they'd need to hunt for Horcruxes.

The point is that there are a lot of incredible heroes in that story, including Snape himself - it contradicts the ethos of the series to pit one's virtues against the other's.
Colin R
52. (still) Steve Morrison
The parallel between Neville and Peter is actually made in text, near the beginning of PoA chapter 11 (soon after Harry learns that Sirius Black supposedly betrayed his parents):
But Harry lay still, pretending to be asleep. He heard Ron leave again, and rolled over on his back, his eyes wide open.

A hatred such as he had never known before was coursing through Harry like poison. He could see Black laughing at him through the darkness, as though somebody had pasted the picture from the album over his eyes. He watched, as though somebody was playing him a piece of film, Sirius Black blasting Peter Pettigrew (who resembled Neville Longbottom) into a thousand pieces.
Colin R
53. NerosLyre
@17 But the movie takes that choice from Harry and gives it to Neville. Because Neville does stand up to Voldemort and kill a horcrux... of his own volition.
Colin R
54. lids
I've seen one of the HP movies...this blog temps me to give it a second chance just watching from this prospective.
Colin R
55. knave
One thing I want to talk about regarding the article, one thing I want to talk about regarding some of the comments here.

First of all, the bit about comparing the second generation to the Marauders era has some flaws, I think. The most obvious to me is that I think Harry is actually the "Snape" to Draco's James. It's not a perfect analog, of course, but their backgrounds are completely flipped. James came from a clearly very affluent, prestigious, pureblood family.. like Malfoy. Harry grew up poor*, despised, lonely, abused.. like Snape. (*Technically the Dursleys are well-off but with the way they treat him it's applicable enough.)

Ultimately, relating to your point about how Neville surpasses Pettigrew, Harry's ability to not become embittered by his experiences is how he becomes the better man than Snape. I do think it's key that Rowling gave a clear indication that it was difficult not to give into that - as much as people may hate how much of a jerk Harry is in OotP, it was an important part of his character arc, not just because frankly it would have been unrealistic given his circumstances had he not reached any kind of breaking point, but to show his strength of character to be able to move beyond it (in a way Snape never did). This was clear to me even before Deathly Hallows came out - the parallels between Harry, Severus, and Tom were rather blatant, and it was one reason that I knew after HBP that Snape couldn't be truly evil, because he was clearly positioned as the one in the middle of their triangle: Harry on one end, Tom on the other, but Snape vacillating somewhere in the middle. If he was truly Voldemort's henchmen, the parallels completely broke down; it made far more sense thematically for him to have both sides to his character, both dark and light. I took this completely for granted for a long time, and then when Deathly Hallows came out there was a passage in right toward the very end (right after Harry witnesses Snape's memories and is walking to his death) that proved that Rowling and I were on the same level here, which makes the parallels explicitly clear:
He wanted to be stopped, to be dragged back, to be sent back home...
But he was home. Hogwarts was the first and best home he had known. He and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home here...
So although the obvious leap is to connect Harry and James, I really think it's far more important to look at the similarities (and differences) between Harry and Snape. I could also write another essay on the Draco/James comparison, but I think it's less vital to the story as a whole, but I think it's pretty self-explanatory. I want to stress here that I'm not one of the fans who apologises for Snape behaviour and castigates James - I do believe that James ultimately matured in a way Snape didn't (and I like to think Draco did, too, for that matter), but while Snape certainly wasn't innocent I think he was the victim in a lot of ways. Just like Draco being the instigator in a lot of their confrontations doesn't mean Harry couldn't be a jerk to him, too.

This is where I digress and say that I love the epilogue and will defend it to the death for several reasons, one of those being that it puts what I believe to be a perfect cap on Snape's character arc. The ultimate tragedy of Snape is that he spends his whole life seeking validation, which is what puts him into the hands of the Death Eaters, and it's only through Harry - the son of the love of his life - that he finally gets the recognition he craves, and of course only when it's too late for it to be any benefit to him.


Now the other thing, responding to the comments here, I want to talk about Ron. Actually, well, first I want to extrapolate a bit further on the other parallels a bit and why the second generation are, in a lot of ways, improved versions on the previous. For example, the Hermione/Remus comparison is one that's pretty obvious, but frankly - and I say this as someone who's basically in love with the character - Remus is pretty clearly the morally weakest character amongst all the "good guys". As understandable as it is and as sorry as I feel for him, it is frankly deplorable that he did not inform the authorities that Sirius was an animagus. It's not even as though he thought Sirius was innocent, because he didn't. You can argue that him running from his new wife and son is even worse in some ways, as well. Then there's the obvious stuff like not speaking up for Snape (or Lily). (And I think your point about Neville standing up to the others as a parallel to Peter works just the seem as a parallel to Remus.) Point being, as kind and loveable as Remus is, he has very little backbone - so while Hermione fulfills the bookish role in the group like he did, she's very different than him as well.

Which is getting to Ron, and this is the trickiest one, partially just due to fan reaction - as seen in these very comments, Ron is a very controversial character. And I honestly think that's sad and misses the nuance of Ron. Yes, he's a jerk to Harry and especially Hermione many times. We're not supposed to pretend that's not true. But ultimately, when it most counts, he's there for them. I think one of Harry's best quotes in the entire series is when Ron finds them via the deluminator and Ron says that Dumbledore must have known he'd want to leave, but Harry says, "No, he knew you'd want to come back."

Ron struggles with things, and frankly, if you take a step back and think about it, it would not be easy to be Harry Potter's friend. Your life is guaranteed to be in mortal danger at least once a year, for one thing. And then you get into Ron's inferiority complex and, yeah, being best friends with The Chosen One would be difficult. But that's why he's such a great character. It would be easy for him to just blithely go along, be the perfect sidekick, but apart from making him a more interesting and believable character, it only shows him to be even stronger than if he'd accept things without any issues that he is, ultimately, able to overcome his own weaknesses to stick by Harry and Hermione's sides. Kind of like how Sirius struggled to overcome his upbringing - as much as he turned his back on a lot of the pureblood ideals he was brought up on, it's clear that with his arrogance and disdain for those he considered "lesser" (Snape, obviously) that he was still affected by that environment. Unfortunately for Sirius, his chance to 'grow up' came at the expense of his sanity and he came out of Azkaban a very stunted man who wanted to do his best for his godson but didn't know how.

And I think my ultimate point here is that pretty much all the characters in the series, even the 'good guys', have deep flaws. And that's something I admire about the books greatly. Even Dumbledore, the archetype that he is, has his weaknesses. And while we're talking about comparisons, this is why I think he's a better character than (say) Gandalf, with whom he obviously shares a similar role in their respective stories. Gandalf, when presented with the One Ring, denies it and tells Frodo to hide it even from him. Dumbledore, when presented with the ring containing the Resurrection Stone, can't deny his ambition and puts it on. And to me, that very weakness makes him more believable, more human, and therefore more interesting.
Colin R
56. tdlloyd
While I appreciate the article (and all the comments), too much of this is an attempt to cram a complex (and beautiful) story into a neat little grid.

Harry's generational counter-part isn't his Dad (Dumbledore tells us that he's actually more like his mom). Harry's counter-part is Tom Riddle. And I know this is nothing new to everyone here, but it's an important point. One of the core messages in the series is that we choose who we become--it doesn't just happen to us. Harry starts to feel sorry for Tom Riddle, starts to feel that maybe it wasn't all his fault that he grew up to be the Dark Lord, until Dumbledore points out that Harry has been through a similarly difficult childhood, and it has if anything made him more compassionate.

Peter Pettigrew and Neville Longbottom don't turn out differently because of how they are treated by their friends (or non-friends). They react to similar experiences and challenges in completely different ways. The author of this article is spot on on this point.On the other hand, the comparisons between Hermione and Lupin and between Ron and Sirius are strained at best.

Instead, I think it's interesting to note how the main characers (all Gryffindors) correspond to the four Hogwarts houses. Hermione is clearly a fit for Ravenclaw, Neville is a perfect fit for Hufflepuff, Harry has several connections to Slytherin, and Ron...well, Ron's the least solid fit, but the whole Weasley family are Gryffindors through and through. It's also interesting to ponder what aspects of their characters made the other Gryffindors--why was Hermione NOT in Ravenclaw, Neville in Hufflepuff, etc?
Colin R
58. Ando
I'd like to point something out to the multiple commenters who are complaining that the series is named after Harry Potter, which means that he *must* be the most important character. That doesn't necessarily follow.

The "Legend of Zelda" series of video games really is more about Link than Zelda. Yes, she's in it and is important to each storyline, but really, each game is about a boy coming into knowledge of his heroism.

Even the Lord of the Rings goes against this. You can argue all day about whether Frodo or Sam is the biggest hero, but the "Lord of the Rings" referenced in the series' title is Sauron (been a while since I read the books, but I seem to recall that Gandalf referred to Sauron that way at some point).

Just because Harry Potter is the titular character doesn't mean he has to be the most important to the story. I agree that he's really not that big of a hero. Honestly, he rides the coattails of many of the other characters. Just look at him in GoF - without the help of one of the villains, he might've ended up dragon fodder before the rest of the tournament even happened. He frankly falls into a mold I really hate, when using a coming-of-age story, with the hero getting all whiny and emo about their fate and what they have to go through. All heroes suffer - it's part of the epic legend storytelling mold. Without the suffering and trials, you can't really be molded into a strong hero. But my favorite characters are the ones who take their suffering well (not necessarily stoically - it's OK to have a breakdown when a close friend dies) and then use it to become stronger. Harry clearly lets his problems devastate him and pouts and whines about his lot in life.

Neville is a far stronger - and better - character.
Colin R
59. Colin R
Observations that Harry isn't a hero because other people help him with his accomplishments or because sometimes he is a sullen, self-pitying teenager (a rare breed indeed!) is kind of missing the forest for the trees. Most of Harry's heroic accomplishments are small gestures, not big ones--he is kind to his friends and to his enemies. He naturally befriends misfits and outcasts like Hagrid, Dobby, Neville, and Luna. Sometimes against his better judgment, he helps people even when they're opposed to him--Peter Pettigrew yes, but he helps his opponents in the Triwizard Tournament, and even has pity for Draco Malfoy and Kreacher.

If these don't seem like a big deal, I think it's also worth remembering that even Harry's 'betters' have sometimes forgotten his; who knows what might have happened if James and Sirius had been kinder to Severus Snape and Peter Pettigrew; it took life-changing tragedy for Dumbledore to acquire the compassion that Harry has.
Colin R
60. Susan Macdonald
Well written and well thought out essay.
Colin R
61. Minerva
Harry was the chosen one (quite explicitly) because Voldemort chose him. It could as well have been Neville, and if it had been (Dumbledore tells us) Neville would have risen to the challenge. The novels draw attention to Voldemort's failure to understand the power of love, but that wasn't the whole of his fatal flaw. Neville was allowed within striking range of Nargini because Voldemort disdained him. He became mortal because of his arrogance and disregard for people he considered lesser beings. That same arrogance weakened the alliances in the previous generation, so they were unable to overcome him. That is why Harry's willingness to respect and befriend the underdog is so important, and so central to his character. That trait, more than any other, differentiates him from Voldemort and changes the course of history. Perhaps it is that lack of arrogance which makes love possible ?
Colin R
62. Colin R
Also in defense of Ronald Weasley--he and Harry are close. Practically brothers, not just because of their friendship but because Harry is symbolically and eventually literally folded into Ron's family. But Ron already has lots of brothers, and he's overshadowed by them all--now here comes a new 'brother' who overshadows him without even trying.

The miscalculation with Ron was pairing him with Hermione. It's a bit trite in the books, but the films gosh. Who knew that Watson would have no chemistry with Grint when they were young adults, but that she and Radcliffe would have fireworks?
James Whitehead
63. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@61Minerva, good points (and good name). I also think Harry was more predisposed to 'underdogs' since, especially in the muggle world, he was one. Harry's childhood wasn't spectacluraly fun after all.

Harry's appreciation of and affection for Neville increases greatly when he learns more about Neville's history; even dramatically so when the trio meet Neville @ St. Mungo's @ Christmas while he's visiting his parents.

Kato
Tabitha Jensen
64. Pabkins
Heck yes! I totally agree - he was a keystone in this series!
Donia L
65. Donia
@19 (ChristopherLBennett) Hermione was much more than just "kind of plain and mousy" in the books: she was bucktoothed and unattractive, as well as unbelievably annoying when we first meet her, which made the initial realization earlier on that Harry and Ron are probably going to become friends with her (at least for me) come with a groan. And as much as I *adored* Emma Watson's acting from day 1, I was also really annoyed with the casting from day 1 because she was just so durn cute (as much as they tried to tokenly crimp her hair to make it look frizzy -- it never made her look unattractive). So that despite her bossy behavior, at no point in the 1st movie do you really *dislike* Hermione because her cuteness makes it, well, cute. A lot of the flack Hermione gets in the books - esp from Slytherin - is because she's more than just "plain" ...she's unattractive (they think she's ugly). She actually uses magic to alter her own appearance permanently at one point (well, she gets the Infirmary to do it for her unwittingly when they're fixing her teeth)). So no, it wasn't a surprise (to me) that Emma Watson grew up beautiful because she was a lovely child. Which was part of why her casting annoyed me from the get-go: because in Hollywood, main (ok I'll say it, main female) characters always have to be attractive, even if they're supposed to be "unattractive" (thus the "just add glasses/ponytail/frizzy hair to an attractive actress" formula in so many movies).

As you can probably tell, I'm very conflicted about Hermione in the movies because I love the performance, but think it sacrificed an important part of Hermione's character and character-building (also puts a different light on Viktor Krum's attentions!).

@16 I'm sure other people have addressed this by now, but it's been "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" since the very beginning... only in pandering to American audiences did they decide "philosophers" are too boring and "sorcerers" are much more exciting (!) because apparently no (American) child would want to read a book with "philosopher" in the title.
Colin R
66. KateS
The reader could also notice that Sirius and James were very similar growing up. They had the same personality and came from very well to do families. So if anything, I would note that Ron is actually like James while Harry is more like Sirius. Ron/James's families took in Harry/Sirius as they were they're families. It's hard to pin point actual parallels between the four characters as who is better in similarity as they all have characteristics of one another.
I also completely disagree with 38. when it comes to killing off Ron. Ron is a completely loyal friend except for two occassions and one of which was caused by a horcrux and the other by teenage hormones. How do we know if Sirius and James ever fought because of James's accomplishments or Sirius's? Which is why I think Rowling needs to write a prequel concerning the Marauders :) I think the reader should trust Rowling's judgement when it comes to her characters. Ron and Sirius are similar and I think that's what the writer is getting at.
Colin R
67. LPalmer1
When reading the 7th book, my family and I all discussed that Neville had to be intregal to Voldemort's defeat. He had proven his loyalty, suffered his parents' insanity, and deserved a solid ending. When he cut off the final horcrux's head, it was a great catharsis for a great character.
Colin R
68. Colin R
My takeaway about Hermione in the books wasn't that she was particularl ugly or even plain--it was that like a lot of kids on the cusp of puberty, she was an awkward kid who grew into a fairly pretty girl. Harry and Ron were slow to notice it; Viktor Krum had no preconceived notions of her. Hermione didn't care much about her own appearance much of the time. And everyone else in Hogwarts was probably a little terrified of her.
Chrystina Williams
69. bookliaison
Thanks for sharing, loved reading this! Neville has long been a favorite character of mine.
Colin R
70. Yvan
More than a retelling of Neville Longbottom's heroism, this piece offered a new understanding of Peter Pettigrew. Many of us will loathe him just because we saw him as the feeble follower of the Dark Lord. But before he became the traitor, he was a marauder, a friend, a Gryffindor. Only that he chose to track a different path. Thank you for sharing these insights!
Colin R
71. Colorado
Good article. One minor correction though. When Dumbledore awards Neville those points no one is aware that Peter was actually the traitor. Dumbledore thought that Black was the traitor like everyone else. So he was either just awarding points to Neville based on his actions or being unfair to Slytherin (depending on your point of view). But it couldn't be about him being happy Neville wasn't following Peter's path--he would have thought Peter a hero who dies at the hands of Black at that point.
Colin R
72. kormantic
It seems like a little Neville appreciation would be enjoyed by this crew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc7Wz03VKfA
Colin R
73. njsnana
superior article. I always thought that Neville was underrated. He is that everyman who can rise to extraordinary heights. I also see that the same way he is the anti-thesis to Peter, he is a mirror image of Gollum in LOTR. Gollum is the one who throws the ring into Mt. Doom, not Frodo, and Neville is the one who destroys the last horcrux, not Harry.
Colin R
74. Ray Dean
Don't forget the gillyweed... if Neville hadn't told Harry about it and gotten it for him... he'd never have been able to do the challenge underwater
Colin R
75. Javakoala
There's a brilliant Neville-centric fanfic by Thanfiction called "Dumbledor's Army and the Year of Darkness" over on ffn. The author really captures everything about Neville that this essay touched on.
Colin R
77. Ken H
Good essay that, and I think you make a good case for Neville. As someone above said, much like Sam Gamgee, he becomes something like the moral center of the tale.

Not to change the subject, but one instance in which I thought the movies actually surpassed the books was in Chamber of Secrets, in the scene at the bookstore. Rather than getting into a brawl with Lucius Malfoy as in the book, Arthur Weasley simply stares him down. I thought it added depth to Arthur's character, and it was a fine piece of acting by both Mark Williams (almost criminally underused in most of the rest of the films) and Jason Isaacs.
Joseph Newton
78. crzydroid
Great article, I never thought of the parallel before.

@21, 38: Sirius was kind of an asshat while he was in school, so I'm not sure how Ron's character flaws make him different. If anything, they strengthen the link.
Colin R
79. Nÿasha is a elf.
Hermione along of the history lost that feature of smart girl (although horribly pedantic and pretentious) and sweet, to become an ordinary girl -- antipathetic -- and passionate. I belive that she to extinguish if, simply. I ended up liking what it was before, no matter how arrogant. I rooted for her to take some good knockout of Snape and, behold what happened!
Colin R
80. Nÿasha is a elf.
Amf. Sorry for the "I" excessive.
Colin R
81. LisaVPadol
I agree with Team Neville -- Neville is the chosen one, and no one ever figures that out.

Regarding Viktor Krum, one subtle touch, which appears differently in the book and movie: In the book, when rumors are flying wildly, and Mrs. Weasley sends Hermione a slap in the face of a gift without bothering to check her facts, Viktor Krum pulls Harry aside and asks what the truth about Harry and Hermione is. And when Harry tells him, he believes it. In the movie, that subplot's gone. Instead, when Skeeter tries to corner Harry, Viktor says that the tent they're in "is only for contestants. And their friends." He is instantly including Hermione and Ron inside as he excludes Skeeter.

This is a character note that becomes important when he's shown torturing Cedric. It seems very odd that the Krum who has shown what appeared to be natural basic decency is that much of a creep -- and yet, when I first read the fourth book, I took the scene at face value. The earlier scenes are meant to signal that something isn't what it seems. It's a rare subtle touch.
Colin R
82. Pragya
I really liked what you have written about Neville, he is one of those characters in the book who demanded attention to a point till you can't ignore them anymore. Rowling made him grow up from the person who was always at the wrong place at the wrong time, a guy who had got the hard end of the stick, to one who grasped that end and didn't let go. I am glad that you pointed out those ideas of Rowling about Neville.
Colin R
83. Lawren
I was 10 when i first started reading the Harry Potter books and i always loved Neville. He was the underdog that would one day be a hero as most underdogs go through. (I'm a big marvel and DC comics fan.) So one day mom asked me "why Neville? He isn't really important to the story." I said because every underdog becomes a hero. Like when Robin becomes Nightwing. Mind i was reading the 2nd book at the time and i understood his importance. Not to the point this article however.
Colin R
84. Mark S.
Edit: Philosopher's Stone should be Sorceror's Stone.

Yeah, I'm a geek...
Colin R
85. AJane
Did anyone else think of Three Versions of Judas by Jorge Luis Borges when reading this?
Colin R
86. EJW
Yes, Neville is more heroic than Pettigrew, and yes, he takes the hard path where Pettigrew took the easy way out. But there's one huge difference the author missed: how they were treated. Yes, Neville and Pettigrew are both pathetic characters, they're made fun of; but where the Marauders, by all accounts, called Pettigrew a friend but treated him like crap, Harry, Ron, and Hermione treat Neville with kindness even before he's part of their core group. This doesn't undermine how amazing Neville is, but I think it shows that something as simple as a little kindness can make a huge difference. Neville continued to fight the fight because his fellow Gryffindors had given him something to fight for.
Colin R
87. Eric J Juneau
Absence of villainy doesn't mean presence of heroism. I do love Neville, but I think the real hero of the Harry Potter books is Hermione. She does all the hard work, all the research, comes up with ideas, has the sense to know when to act and when not to, rationality and realism. Harry simply acts, often without much thought to consequences. Hermione is like Sun Tzu -- the true warrior knows when to fight and when not to.
Colin R
88. LeoRising
@ 53 Yes, Neville kills Nagini of his own choosing, and in what might be the best moment of the series tells Voldemort to go to hell ( I cheered at that point). But has anyone noticed that other than destroying the diary, Harry himself did not destroy a single Horcrux? Not one. Harry didn't even kill Voldemort--he killed himself when his curse rebounded on him (again). So the question is, did Harry really destroy Voldemort, or did Neville when he destroyed the final Horcrux, leaving Voldemort mortal and wide open for his own arrogance and stupidity?
Chris Nelly
89. Aeryl
@86, The author didn't miss the differences in how they were treated, it's a big part of the article is how Harry and crew valued Neville.
Colin R
90. Pomona Sprout
@88 Harry destroys the diary Horcrux in CoS, piercing it with the basilisk fang.
Colin R
91. fjcasper
'There are all kinds of courage,' said Dumbledore, smiling. 'It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr Neville Longbottom.
James Whitehead
92. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@91fjcasper, I loved that part in the book (and the movie for that matter).

Kato
Colin R
93. Ishita
touched and humbled. Never thought of Neville in this light before.
Colin R
94. Sam S.
MC Chris had it right!
Colin R
95. Anthony James
It'd be kinda cool of somone would cut all Neville's key scenes together, from beginning to end, so we can see the rise and rise of Hogwarts True hero !!
Colin R
96. Doodlez
So - to all the people who think they're so smart by "correcting" this in saying that 'Philosopher' should be 'Sorcerer' -- check your facts, bros. The original title was "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" - it was released in England under that name. When it was released in the United States, they changed it to "Sorcerer's Stone" because they didn't think Americans would understand the meaning .
Colin R
97. PurpleRoses
I loved this article.
Colin R
98. Prem
Bloody brilliant mate!
Colin R
99. Chatterjee
Neville was always special. But by drawing parallel with Pettegrew, he becomes a larger figure in the series. Touched, and inspired by your analysis. Thank you!
http://deepchatter.blogspot.com/
Colin R
100. Pink
A decent article-with a few glaring mistakes.
For one, Harry was the the last horcrux, not Nagini.
And out of the whole series, the most important person, is Harry himself.
Neville is important, too. But only a fool would not admit that Harry is the most important person. This is the Harry Potter series. Not Neville Longbottom series.
I love Neville to bits, but I have to point out here that Harry is indeed, the most important person.
Colin R
101. MurielVI
Why is everyone saying Neville destroyed the last horcrux, by killing Nagini? The last horcrux was Harry.
Neville is great by the way he and Luna and my favorite characters.
Colin R
102. Phoenix
@19, I would like to point out that they recast Dumbledore because the previous actor DIED. They would not have if he hadn't died. Thus that cannot be your point, because obviously Richard Harris couldn't have continued acting postmortem. Michael Gambon was only cast because of this.
Colin R
103. Nessa
@100,101: Nagini was the last Horcrux wasn't she? Because Harry had already died and come back to life when Neville killed the snake (I seem to remember him watching the scene lying in Hagrid's arms).

I do agree, Harry is the most important character, though I think the title is just supposed to be hyperbole. Neville is awesome, and I think the actor for him does a brilliant job (It doesn't matter to me that he grew up to be tall and skinny instead of fat; he gets the essence of Neville across, and at least he's not a pretty-boy or anything).
I never noticed the parallels with Peter, but they make a lot of sense. I disagree that Dumbledore recognized Neville's role as the "Peter" of Harry's generation, though - even he doesn't have that much omniscience.
Colin R
104. MurielVI
@103
The horcruxes are counted (at least by me) in the order they were made and / or discovered.

The diary was the first made, harry was the last horcrux made.
Colin R
105. LazyWizard
I am sorry, but your headline and the premise of this whole article is wrong and it is even udermined during the course of the article. Neville definitely isn't the one who determines the course of the Harry Potter series. You haven't even written any proof of that. He's, however, ONE of the most remarkable and important characters and IS crucial to the story, but the whole idea that there is only one character who determines all is ridiculous and fanciful. I wish it was so, because Neville is one of my favourite characters and I was filled with joy during his transformation, but he simply isn't the main determining force and you have yet to prove that he is. In my eyes you have "only" proved that he is a crucial part of the story and a wonderful character at that and you have done so with a great skill in a nicely written article. :)
Colin R
106. Botrix
Two things I picked up in the comments.

Neville only gives Harry gillyweed in the movies. Its actually Dobby in the books.

Dumbledore would have known Peter was the traitor because he set up the enchantment of the potters which had Peter as Secret Keeper. It was the fact that Sirius was inoccent of murder which was unknown at the time.

Loved reading everyone's input. AWESOME!
Bridget McGovern
107. BMcGovern
Regarding the ordering of the horcruxes: according to the Harry Potter Wiki, Nagini was the last horcrux created. Harry was created (as horcrux) on October 31, 1981, and destroyed by Voldemort's Killing Curse in the Forbidden Forest. Nagini was created in 1994 with the murder of Bertha Jorkins and destroyed by Neville during the Battle of Hogwarts. There's a handy list at this page:
http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Horcrux
Colin R
108. Nessa
@104: Harry was not the last Horcrux made. Voldemort didn't even realize he was a horcrux. He accidentally became one on the night that Lily and James Potter died. Voldemort killed a muggle (forgot his name, sorry) to make the last Horcrux, Nagini, during Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts. So Nagini is the very last Horcrux, both in the time of creation, and in the time it was destroyed.

Harry was the one responsible for killing the very last piece of Voldemort's soul, though. The part of his soul that still inhabited his body.
Colin R
109. SendaiChef
A word about "The Philosopher's Stone" - It was called that for a reason. At the time of Sir Issac Newton's death he was heavily involved in alchemy and was looking for a substance that could make someone immortal as well as turn things to gold, exactly as JKR described. It was called (ta da!) The Philosopher's Stone. Just another example of the ignorance of American marketing. JKR always does her homework!
Colin R
110. Suricat
For those who want to know what really happened to Neville during year 7 : https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4315906/ This is better than J.K. Rowling's.
Colin R
111. Amblin
Did you not read the books? I thought all of this was spelled out pretty clear in the books but not enough in the movies...
Colin R
112. Sunnystars
I think Snape is actually the most important person in Harry Potter. However, I enjoyed reading this article and for me, the whole point of everything that has happened in the series is what Dumbledore told Harry way back in the second book: It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
The choices we make define the course of our lives. The reason why I am so in love with the Harry Potter series is that almost all the characters are relatable. Every so often we find ourselves faced with a difficult choice. Choosing something over the other opens up doors of endless possibilities. The choices each character made are essential to the plot.
Anyway, I'm getting carried away. Kudos to the writer of this blog post!
Colin R
113. Naomi Patterson
Wonderful article -- well written, well thought out
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
114. Lisamarie
I missed a lot of this since I was on a business trip, and I will have to read the comments later, but I loved this. Being on the dorky side myself, I always had a soft spot for Neville and have also felt he was one of the pivotal characters. (Aside: we just got some marvellous Harry Potter stamps from the US Post Office and I was dissapointed to see there was no Neville stamp!)

I really like the parallels you draw though, I don't think I've ever thought of the Nevile/Pettigrew connection before, and how they are both different sides of the same coin, but made different choices (which is reminiscent of Dumbledore's quote).

@112 - Ah, I see you had the same thought :) Your post wasn't there when I initially opened my comment box :)
Colin R
115. JJW
@88 You are seriously undermining Harry's involvment in destroying the horcruxes. Not only did he drop out of school and put himself into serious danger (going to Godric's Hollow, for example) to find them, but when he found out that, by accident, Voldemort had made him a horcrux, he made the ultimate sacrifice by giving his own life. (At least that's what he thought he was doing. He didn't know he'd have the chance to come back). So, no Harry didn't destroy all of the horcruxes, but I think it's an important element to the story that he didn't. In the history of tyrants, fictional or nonfictional, not one of them was brought down by a single person.

@106 I don't think that's correct. I know it was Dumbledore who told Lily and James to go into hiding, but I don't know if he performed the charm and knew that Pettigrew was the secret-keeper. It just doesn't make sense that he wouldn't stand up for Sirius murduring Pettrigrew if that were the case (knowing that Pettigrew was the one who betrayed Lily and James to Voldemort).
Colin R
116. MicJam
@58:

"Without the suffering and trials, you can't really be molded into a strong hero. But my favorite characters are the ones who take their suffering well (not necessarily stoically - it's OK to have a breakdown when a close friend dies) and then use it to become stronger. Harry clearly lets his problems devastate him and pouts and whines about his lot in life."

## Which makes his overcoming them all the more impressive, surely ? He is very flawed: he lies (which is pretty stupid - that series of lies to Snape after using the Sectumsempra curse against Draco was unbelievably stupid), he can be idiotic at times, he has a nasty tendency to fly into a temper, he is arrogant, he's self-pitying, obsessive (notably in H-BP), holds grudges (his attitudes to Snape & Draco show that) - but he has the capacity, when it counts, to overcome these very unattractive features of his character; he does not let them master him. Overcoming serious character flaws is all the more impressive if a character has previously given into them. His vices are the shadow side of his virtues: his capacity for being angry (his outburst in Dumbledore's study near the end of OotP comes to mind) is evidence of the basic generosity of the character, & of his capacity for affection. It may also be relevant that astrologically Harry is a Leo - not only is this appropriate, given that a lion is the Gyffindor beast, but Leos are said to have many of the good and bad qualities Harry has.

If Harry's victory over Voldy had not meant having to overcome his own very obvious shortcomings as well, it would not have been as great. And Harry would have been much easier to mistake for a Marty Stu. He's heroic, just because he is so flawed. People who "grin and bear" their troubles are easier to get on with, but if a character is to develop, and his most private thoughts are to be shown to the reader, then a lot of the bad stuff in him will come out as well. Especially if the character is the hero. And his flaws, like his better qualities, are valuable for advancing the story. The plot would make less sense, and would be poorer, if the connections between Harry's more unattractive qualities, and their results, were not shown: but his flaws, like those of other characters, have results for the story, just as his better characteristics do.
Colin R
117. TJM
All of these comments I've read so far are the exact reason JKR needs to write a prequal series revolving around the Marauders. There's no proper exposition and the audience is left to piece it together by reading or watching the movies. Not saying that's a bad thing, but it leaves room for error in judgement. I hope JKR somehow manages to find this article and comments though. She might be very impressed and encouraged to write more stories. Personally, how did one of the darkest wizards of all time just die? Surely he must have found some way to transfer his soul into another being. Maybe even writing a sequal series about that could provide room for exposition on the Marauders. Excellent article though. :)
Colin R
118. Bitten1ce
I wanted to say "thank you" for this article. When I finished reading, I couldn't help but cry a little and think "Here's someone who is saying it's ok to be me. Not only that, but that the type of person I am is important and all these people who keep telling me that I need to be a leader, that I don't matter if I'm not a leader, are wrong. I, exactly as I am right now, matter." So, thank you.
Colin R
119. Nate2
Didn't have time to read all comments, so my apologies if this has been covered.

@5. I agree that Rowling and Tolkien have similar themes and characters - that "even the smallest of people can change the world", but I think Tolkien's version of Neville is Pippin, not Sam. Pippin is instrumental in destroying the enemy's war making capabilities which is much like destroying a Horcrux...it significantly weakened the enemy and the mission would have failed otherwise. True Neville is a stronger character, but he still has his meek beginnings.
Colin R
120. mem
I'm sorry, but you're really shoehorning the comparisons. Harry may be athletic and does have a good heart which is compared to James, but they even say in the books that he's more lke Lily. And when exactly does he act like an asshole like his father? A major point of the books is that he was not that way.

When is their any evidence that Sirius was "mired in self doubts"?

Lupin and Hermione may work, as do Lily and Ginny. But the Snape-Malfoy comparison seems a stretch as well.

Nice try, but the two generations were very different, and your attempts at parallels don't really succeed.
Colin R
121. TaliaG
horcrux, horcruces.

Not horcruxes.

Just saying.
Colin R
122. Uam
Ok, this is interesting, but I can't compare Ron with Sirius and Harry with James, Hermione is the only one who is as clever as their predecessors were.

Also, "Other characters are in similar positions, but none of them go so far as Neville. None of them prove that the shaping of destiny is all on the individual the way he does"... In my opinion, Harry does more.

Nevertheless, Neville is a decent character and a good friend.
Colin R
123. Joanna W.
I love this post! My favourites are always the background characters, the unassuming ones that everyone forgets and I in particular loved Neville. He was always helping, always strong, and no one ever thought anything of him. It's true to say, if it wasn't for him, Harry and the others wouldn't have been able to go off and save the world like they did. He held the fort, and the guy who holds the fort is just as important as the guy to goes after the baddie.
I'd like to see some analysis of other side characters in other stories. If you have some, please link!
Colin R
124. iansagefire
interesting take on the story, and i agree with much.

one point i disagree with is dumbledore seeing neville and worrying about history repeating itself (ala peter). when dumbledore awarded longbottom for his bravery in sorcerer's stone, the world still believed that sirius was resposible for the potter's and petigrew's death. at that time, he may have been hopeful for a repeat of petigrew's bravery in neville, and worried that ron or hermione would eventually turn on harry like he thought sirius did to lilly and james.

other than that, good article, i think that rowling did a fantastic job of not making this a dull hero epic where harry is just some semi-god like badass that does everything on his own, and has help from expected and unexpected places. without those around him, his mission would fail. a very interesting take on the "chosen one" trope.
Colin R
125. mschenkel
I absolutely loved this article. I always love getting other people's take on this, and you really brought a lot I hadn't thought of to light.

Also, #55! You're comment was excellent also. I really like the whole Snape-Harry comparison. I think that you really hit the nail on the head.
Colin R
126. Ashwin Kumar
Brilliant article. I read through it as well as all the comments, and, to be involved in the world of Harry Potter after a day of work, is magic for me.
I never thought about comparing Neville to Pettigrew. I already admire and love Neville as a character, but, this, as some people have pointed out, vindicates Dumbledore's great quote about choices mattering more than abilities. It has also made me see Pettigrew in a different light. Rather than just the traitor who betrayed his friends, he was, like Neville in the beginning, an underdog but ultimately Neville , unlike Pettigrew, showed strength of character to evolve into the hero he has become.
But yes, Neville's friends were kinder and also showed him respect while Peter was somewhat neglected by the rest of the Marauders. In the 3rd book, Sirius spoke of him with disdain " They were sure to come after me. They would never dream I would use a weak, talentless thing like you".
Here is the critique :) :
I don't think Neville is as such the most important character. The main character is Harry,as everything revolves around him. IMHO, Hermione, Dumbledore, Ron and Snape are also equally important as Neville. I also don't think Harry is like his father. Harry never was arrogant or bullied people. Dumbledore himself noted that " his deepest nature his closer to his mother".
Comparing Snape to Malfoy seems a bit unfair to Snape as it doesn't take account of the abuse Snape suffered as a child at the hands of his father (we can deduce that from the chapter when Harry sees in the Pensieve in OOTP while Severus's father is shouting at his wife who is cowering with fear and Severus is sobbing silently).
Colin R
127. Ashwin Kumar
Also, Sirius was not mired in self- doubts. He was bold and brash like James. Again, like people have said, Hermione shows better strength of character as compared to Remus.But then, Remus, being a werewolf, is an outcast in the wizarding world. It is true he did nothing to stop James and Sirius in his school days, but they supported him despite his condition and infact made it more memorable by transforming themselves into Animagi.
Neville is one of the greatest Gryffindors no doubt. But to call him " truest" would be a stretch. Harry showed a different kind of courage to walk into his own death when he surrendered to Voldemort. And of course, Snape was, in Harry's words "the bravest man he had ever known". Even Dumbledore said "Sometimes we Sort too soon".
Colin R
130. dferg
@56 tdlloyd - Regarding your comments on main characters belonging to other Houses! Yes!!! I thought that one of the few improvements that I would suggest to JK Rowling regarding the series is that Hermoine should have been a Ravenclaw and that Neville should have been a Hufflepuff. That way the victory would have been more of a Hogwarts event and less of a Gryffindor event. Could have made Luna a Slytherin as a bonus.
Colin R
131. thekeelog
"Neville also might have been the chosen one, according to Trelawney’s prophecy. If Voldemort had simply decided he was the real threat, then Harry could have avoided his mark and lived life out… well, a little more normally."

Not necessarily. Frank and Alice Longbottom were both aurors, and they'd already defied Voldemort three times, so we can assume that they would have greeted Voldemort's arrival by attacking him. If they both fell in battle, was there a protective spell on Neville that prevented Voldemort from killing him? More importantly, assuming they went into hiding like Lily and James did, who's to say their Fidelius charm got broken? (Let's assume Augusta was the secret keeper. I don't see her giving up the secret) By the time Harry got his acceptance letter, maybe Voldemort had taken over and Neville and his parents were still safely hidden. So, sure, Harry could have grown up with parents, but he might also have grown up under the kind of regime we see in Deathly Hallows.
Colin R
132. angel4Eva
I do not fully agree with this. Neville should not be compared to peter pettigrew. Peter was a coward. Neville was not. Ron should not be compared to sirius. Sirius was a genius wizard. Full of self doubt how. I get where your trying to go with this but i think the whole point in that it was always suppose to be harry. Neville could have been the chosen one and was the leader of the uprising within hogwarts, but neville could not have done everything that harry did. Harrys upbringing gave him everything he needed to be the chosen one. He was humbled, brave, willing to sacrifice his life for everything and he was an awesome leader. Neville was a great character, he was brave and couragious towards the end of the story but he too needed to build that up in himself through the events at hogwarts. Harry is the leader and neville is an awesome follower!!!!
Chat Rooms
133. chatrooms
Interesting point of view. Actually quite brilliant.
Colin R
134. hogran
what about nevel being the only one to notice anything out of place and run and tell harry and them as fast as he could
Colin R
135. Joseph Gill
Great article, I really enjoyed the read through and through, especially as somebody who is very high on the discection of social dynamics and grew up reading Harry Potter. However, I believe you left out a very important, and often overlooked, fact that makes Neville Longbottom the single most courageous member of The Battle Of Hogwarts.

Neville had no idea that Harry was actually alive.

You see, when Neville slices off Nagini's head, while he was litterally in the clutches of Voldemort, he believes Harry to be dead. He saw Harry's body being brought in by Hagrid, and there was zero indication until after Nellive kills Nagini that Harry, the only hope for the good side of the wizarding world, is alive and able to continue the fight.

In fact, with Harry dead, there is no hope. The chosen one, The One Who Lived, has failed, and half of The Order Of The Phoenix is gone along with him. Voldemort already controls the Ministry Of Magic and therefore the entire government of the wizarding world of England. Throughout his entire second rise to power, the only person who has shown any ability to voil Voldemort was Harry, not a single other person was even able to lay a scratch on him.

Not only is the only hope gone, but also Neville's foreseeable future is looking too bright either. After being brave enough to voice his futile resitance to Voldemort in the courtyard, he has been singled out by the Dark Lord to, assumedly, be made an example of in front of the survivors of Dumbledore's Army and the Order. He is then painfully mocked about his parents' deaths. But, just after that, Neville seizes his chance and destroys the final horocrux that is Nagini.

However, Neville knew none of this. All he knew is that his friend, one of the only people in his entire life to be decent to him the majority of the time, in a private conversation asked him to fulfill a very tall order, to kill Voldemort's only companion.

He has no idea that Nagini is a horocrux, he could never know.

He has no idea that Harry will eventually save him, in fact, for all he knows, the only other person on earth that knows of that he was asked to do is dead.

Not only that, but by choosing to kill Nagini, Neville is effectively committing suicide, and he knows it. The man whose followers killed his parents in cold blood, and had fun toying with them before ending their lives, will certainly make him suffer for this offense, before killing him, all in the most pain inducing ways he can think of.

It would've been easy for Neville to simply shut his mouth, and go on living his life. Yeah sure, he didn't kill Nagini like Harry asked him to, but he saved his own life by not doing such a (precievedly) pointless and reckless act.

While Harry's hero's sacrafice also took a very high ammount of courage, it pales in comparission to what Neville has to do. Harry has the reassurance and support of all his family and friends that have died that it will be ok. In fact, he believes he will soon be reunited with them. Not only that, but Harry understands that he must allow himself to be killed by Voldemort, it simply the only way. While Harry still had to face his own death, he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. He understood the broader implications of his actions. He was dying for a reason.

Neville wasn't afforded any of these luxuries.

He didn't believe that what he was doing was of the upmost importance.

(He thought) he knew that by killing Nagini, he was signing his death warrant.

And as far as he was concerned, he wasn't dying for anything.

Anything outside of keeping his word to his dead friend.

Neville thought that was worth dying for.
Colin R
136. crocwyrhtahjalmstallr
My friend send me the link to this as he thought I would like it. What a wondeful article - thank you! The parallel you draw between Peter and Neville brought to mind something Dumbledore said, ''It is our choices, Harry, that show what we really are far more than our abilities''
Colin R
137. crocwyrhtahjalmstallr
Sorry, *sent *wonderful
Chris Nelly
138. Aeryl
@135, I have never been angrier over a book to movie alteration, than I was when they took that moment from Neville.
Colin R
139. AnnaLisa29
Dumbledoor giving Neville's points last also reveals Dumbdoor's values on having to stand up against your friends... Something he learned with Grindlewald.
Colin R
140. Angelina vanaman
Bravo! Well written and insightful.
Colin R
141. Satpreet Jawa
I think Snape's analogue is actually Luna. She's an outcast and the only one of the group who's not a Gryffindor. Instead of making fun of her like James did to Snape, Harry and his friends accept her.
Colin R
142. Lizzybelle
What a wonderful tribute to a character I always though was under valued. Love the analogy to the previous generation.
Colin R
143. Juliette
After reading this, I'm left wondering.... who is the parallel of Malfoy? Come to think of it, what exactly does Malfoy bring to the table that the other character's don't in the end, what was his point? In the end his character is more wishy-washy and its unclear as to what we were supposed to make of him.
Colin R
144. RainNewt19510
Thank you for this.
Colin R
145. Hpfan123
I would like to point out that Neville wasn't truly a parallel for Peter but I still like this article a lot and I think these parallels were intentional. Everything in JKR's universe is. In the fifth of sixth book Neville breaks the wand he's been using since his first year. He knows his grandmother will be upset because it was his father's wand. His FATHER'S. The wand chooses the wizard. Neville's wand never chose him. That's why he was so good at herbology, no wand needed. In the seventh book, his magic has improved and he battles along side his friends as an equal, because he finally has a wand that chose him, and that will respond to him correctly.
Colin R
146. Loony
I wonder if Luna is an analogy for Aunt Petunia and what she could have been. Luna understood Harry's loss and demonstrated how to carry on in a way Harry hadn't seen before. Petunia also shared Harry's loss, but unlike Luna, who had her dad in her corner, Petunia carried it alone. She couldn't let herself miss her sister. If she had, she may have had compassion and friends, like Luna did. It's too bad for Petunia that she never heard what Luna told Harry, "the things we lose come back to us in the end, even if it's not in the way we expect."
Colin R
148. Jade S.
This article gave me goosebumps. I loved every point you made. Bravo.
Colin R
149. JustAReader
Very intresting and very true perspective. I think you pointed things that most people didnt see. Neville is one of the least characters that wasnt given a satisfactory compliment. However, given the circumstances that the focus was indeed the famous harry potter it is considerably undoubtedly selfish to just say that neville is the true hero in the story. Everyone in this story plays important role in having a peaceful ending . Sacrifices, betrayal, hatred, love, jelaousy, death and all others, they all experienced it. I wont mention particular character/s but I know (you readers) already think of someone. I think JK Rowling has the ability to make her characters grow in unexpected ways, just like how she did with Neville. To add, the sword was pulled by neville right? because at that time Neville shown a true gryffindor trait. But here;s the catch, every one can do it too but it takes an ounce of courage to do so. What I mean is, Neville's traits evolved and everyone who chooses to do so can too. However, this is only the power of the writer to do so. In the end of the day, we (readers) will always be the one to choose who's the best in the stories we read.
Colin R
150. HP Fanatic
Just saying, Neville was NOT the most important character in the Haryy Potter series.
Colin R
151. Ally Beatty
I never thought about it like that. I have a question for everyone. Does anyone know what Neville forgot in the first movie?

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