The North Tower #2: Harry or Neville: Who’s the “Real” One?
Hi, everybody, and welcome back. I got a lot of owls this week about my first article here at the North Tower and I want to say thank you to all the people who said nice things about it. I’m glad you liked it. I also want to say that, in the future, I won’t be able to answer all owls, so if you really want an answer, please write that in your letter.
Okay, enough about that, let’s get down to business.
I got quite a lot of owls about Neville and Harry in relation to the prophecy. What if Neville’s “the One” after all and not Harry? So, I chose that mystery for today’s topic.
According to the prophecy (which we analysed last week), “the One” is born at the end of July to parents who have thrice defied Voldemort. Both Neville and Harry fit this description. They are both potentials.
The second part states that “the Dark Lord will mark him his equal, and he will have powers the Dark Lord knows not.” Ah yes, the marking and the powers. I’ve heard the argument that Neville is marked by Voldemort because of the suffering his parents’ insanity has caused him and that he, too, is full of love (love being the assumed power). Okay, let’s take a closer look at this.
The wording is important. It says “mark him as his equal” not just “mark him.” Neville might have emotional scars caused by Voldy, but in what way is Neville his equal exactly? Harry has fought against Voldemort four times. Alone, or with very little help. Neville has fought against him how many times? That’s right, none. Voldemortpersonally attacked Harry as a baby and gave him his scar along with many of his own powers (this is important; in the prophecy “Dark Lord” is the subject: he acts). Neville’s parents were tortured by V’s followers, and Neville didn’t get any of the Dark Lord’s powers from that experience (he probably wasn’t even around). Harry has a strong connection with Voldemort: they can enter each other’s minds, Harry can feel what Voldy feels and know when he’s close by, they come from very similar backgrounds, their wands are brothers, they both speak Parseltongue (the only two living wizards who do), and (as Tom Riddle says in CoS) they even look somewhat alike. What connection do Neville and Voldy have? They haven’t even met! Every fight between Harry and Voldemort ends with neither really wins. Harry doesn’t kill Voldy and vice versa. They each have one smaller victory over the other: Harry “kills” the diary in CoS, and Voldemort manages to restore his body in GoF. So far, they are pretty equal.
The most important argument, though, refers back to “the One.” There is only onewho is chosen to vanquish Voldemort. This means that if Neville is the One, Harry can’t be. It means that Harry doesn’t have the defeating powers and that he’s not equal to Voldemort. In his fights against the Dark Lord, Harry’s used love (PS, OotP), loyalty (CoS), strength of mind (GoF) and courage as his main powers. He fits the prophecy perfectly. Neville doesn’t. It doesn’t matter that Neville in OotP is starting to become a good wizard. Ron’s also a good wizard; it doesn’t make him the one either.
Let’s not forget also the importance of choice. It’s emphasized over and over again in the books. Voldemort chose Harry to be the One. He made that choice when he came to Godric’s Hollow that night and tried to kill him. The prophecy was fulfilledbecause of that choice. This reminds me greatly of the Greek myths where a prophecy is often fulfilled because someone makes the choice to try to stop it from coming true (e.g. King Oedipus and Perseus). When has Voldemort ever picked Neville out of the crowd? As I said before, they’ve never even met! (We’re not counting when he lived in the back of Quirell’s head here.) For Neville to be the One, it’s necessary for Harry to not have been marked Voldemort’s equal and to not have the great powers. We know this is not true. We’ve seen that. It’s obvious.
“What if Voldemort chose the wrong boy and Neville’s the real One?” Let’s go back to the text again. According to the prophecy, in order to be the One four conditions must be fulfilled:
1) The One has to be born at the end of July.
2) The One has to be born to parents who have thrice defied Voldemort.
3) The Dark Lord must mark the One as his equal.
4) The One must have powers the Dark Lord knows not.
This means that Voldemort cannot choose the wrong boy. The identity of the One is not independent of his choice; it is determined by it, since one of the conditions is that the One is chosen by Voldemort. Harry fulfills all conditions; Neville doesn’t.
Finally, Dumbledore spells it out for us, saying about the same as I just did, only a lot briefer :-). “There is no doubt that it is you, [Harry].” I don’t think that JKR is trying to trick us here (like she does with the prophecy). This goes perfectly together with one of the main ideas in the books: “you are not what you are born, but what you choose to become.” Voldemort chose Harry that night a long time ago. He’s the One. That means Neville cannot be.
(This doesn’t mean that Neville won’t have an important part to play in the end. I think he has. But he’s not the One who will vanquish the Dark Lord.)
Take care, see you next week.