Harry Potter and the Boy Nobody Liked
Summary: This essay puts forward the reason why most “Harry Potter” fans do not count the main character as their favorite. J.K Rowling said herself that she was surprised more fans didn’t favor Harry over the secondary main characters, Ron or Hermione. What is it about Harry’s personality, appearance, and film adaptation that readers disliked?
Harry Potter, the biggest franchise in the world, and as the title begs to differ, the reason behind the success wasn’t due to the boy behind the name.
When asked about her favorite character throughout the series, Jo Rowling admitted that she was loyal to Harry and that she did not understand why fans didn’t like him as much as the other two secondary mains; Ron and Hermione. As you’re reading this, think to yourself and answer truthfully: out of the golden trio, who is your favorite?
I guarantee not many of you said the boy who lived. If you did, then well done, you have just made this essay and argument invalid! I appreciate it, really, I do.
It isn’t uncommon for the main character of a novel to go unloved. Authors all around the world question why their main characters aren’t favored as much as their secondary leads, or even a character they created for the sake of emotional impact when they unexpectedly die.
For example, think of the Twilight series. Bella is hated by nearly every fan out there. Contrary to what most people believe, it’s not just because she had two hot guys after her beck and call. It’s because there was an aspect of her that was perfect – too perfect – that she had to have two supernatural hunks chase after her.
Disliked main characters are also found in Firestar from the Warrior Cats series, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby and Frodo from Lord of the Rings.
But why is Harry not a popular main character in the Harry Potter series?
This is based on the book, not the movie. If you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “but appearance has nothing to do with it! I wouldn’t hate him because of the way he looks!” then think again.
Most of my friends are distracted by the fact Harry wears glasses. When watching the movie, they’d question why Harry was the only kid in school wearing glasses or a point I have questioned myself, “If he’s supposed to be so powerful, then why can’t he fix his eyesight?” I’m sure it wasn’t high on Harry’s to-do list, but it is a valid point.
Harry’s glasses are a symbol of his weakness, as I’m sure most of you are aware, but subconsciously it also gives the impression that he is intellectual. Once again, this is reinforced by the constant mention of Harry getting better grades than Ron. No one likes a know-it-all (as seen with Hermione. Even if you like her character, I guarantee that if she was in your class at school, she’d annoy you) and Harry proves Ron and Hermione wrong a little too much. In Deathly Hallows, for example, Ron and Hermione are unsure if there is a Horcrux in Hogwarts, but Harry enforces his opinion on them, as he usually does.
I’d like to think Harry’s glasses are not the reason why people don’t like him. For anyone who has felt offended in any way by my last comment, then I want you to know that I have nothing against glasses – I happen to wear them.
In the earlier novels, Harry was a scrawny little thing with untidy hair and bright green eyes. He grew to be apparently handsome, as Hermione observes in Half-Blood Prince. Here is the aspect of Harry being perfect that readers would hate; he’s popular, he’s handsome and he’s intellectual. Just what a girl wants, and just what a guy doesn’t want to hear about. Being perfect isn’t an aspect that readers appreciate interpreting, partly due to their own insecurities and partly because it’s unlikely anyone out there is completely perfect.
There are parts of Harry that are not perfect (wait until I get to his personality) but if you were to look at this boy with battle scars, untidy black hair, athletic, popular, and yet intellectual without knowing his personality, you’d either fall in love with him or absolutely hate him for stealing your girlfriend. But that argument hasn’t answered why even girls don’t class him as their favorite, does it?
I’ll start with naming Harry’s good characteristics, just in case you’re thinking I’m biased. Harry is loyal to his friends, completely devoted to their safety, and would risk his life for you. He’s very brave and chivalrous, considerate and meaningful. He’s also trustworthy and smart, and if I’ve missed anything, please correct me.
However, his other personality isn’t attractive, or desirable. Firstly, Harry has a tendency to be moody. One moment he’d be laughing with Ron and the next he’d have a Voldy-vision and be in a grump for at least five chapters. That brings me to my second point; Harry is very argumentative. He and Hermione’s arguments of “yes, it is!” and “no, it isn’t!” (if you want a reference, look at the novels from 1-7) have gotten me angry at the conversation, and I’m only reading it. With Harry, if he believes something then he believes he’s right; something I call narrow-minded.
Harry is too hasty and rushes into situations without really thinking. He has a tendency to “act the hero” and feel the need to save everybody. Furthermore, he feels sorry for himself on more than one occasion but when someone feels sorry for him, take Hermione for example, it infuriates him.
Although Harry may be considerate, there’s also a part of him that is quite detached. When he’s put into a dangerous situation, he tends to numb his feelings, especially toward Ron and Hermione. The only person Harry thinks about in a battle seems to be Ginny. In Order of the Phoenix, Harry is too preoccupied to care enough about Ron; also in Half-Blood Prince he admits he’s glad that everyone is safe, but especially Ginny. Another example would be in Deathly Hallows during the ordeal at Malfoy Manor; Harry detaches himself from his feelings once more.
The problem doesn’t lie in Harry’s moody and unpredictable personality – because that shows us he isn’t perfect and could probably be more likable – but it lies in the fact that the reader sees too much of his bad personality and not enough of his funny and kind personality traits.
Another reason why Harry may not be as popular as his two best friends is that Jo Rowling made Ron and Hermione too likable and honest. Everyone loves the underdog and without a doubt, Ron is the black sheep out of the golden trio. He gets lower grades, he makes more mistakes, and seems to live in the shadow of Harry and Hermione throughout the series. Ron adds light humor to the books and films, not to mention he comes from a loveable family who doesn’t own a lot of money; another characteristic that is likable. Compared to underdog Ron, rich Harry automatically falls into the background of likeableness.
Hermione is a character that female fans familiarise themselves with. She’s not afraid to show she is intelligent; she’s brave and has the “Cinderella story” to her name. She’s just a normal girl trying to find her way in the magical world. The more people can relate to characters, the more they like them, and this is what happened with Hermione.
BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION
First impressions are lasting impressions. If people see what they like on the big screen, then they will usually adjust to see that the next time they read the book. Harry’s adaptation on screen is quite different from what we find in the books. He’s less moody and less angsty, but there’s something missing from his character in the films, something that only reading the book will make you understand. I wouldn’t like to think it is Daniel Radcliffe (who acted fantastically in the last two films) but it is true to say some people don’t adjust to his acting and feel unsatisfied. In a way, this could be said for Ron and Hermione too. Ron is far too quiet in the last films and Hermione isn’t whiny or nerdy enough to do her character justice.
No matter what personal reasons you have for disliking Harry (if you do) there is no doubt he is a very well-written and well-rounded character. Readers tend to dislike main characters for their perfect natures and because they’re the only characters of which we are given direct views of their thoughts, be it written in the third person or first person. Has this essay changed your thoughts on the famous main character? Or has it made you dislike him even more? Whether you hate Harry or love him, you cannot deny that J.K. Rowling made a fantastic lead character worthy of the success he created.