Harry Potter, Sam Malone, Gaston, and the Male Ego
The concept of the “friend zone” is a cultural phenomenon within our modern-day society. Typically, people refer to the “friend zone” as a platonic relationship that occurs between two friends (of the opposite gender if heterosexual and the same gender if homosexual) after one friend dismisses the other as a romantic partner in favor of staying close friend. In most heterosexual cases, the male is placed in the “friend zone,” but a female in this situation is also relatively common. Nowadays, the “friend zone” is considered to be quite taboo, since it often reinforces the male ego. Often times, the philosophy behind a male placed in this division includes complaining that even though he listens to the girl’s problems, consoles her, and supports her, she still does not want to pursue a romantic relationship with him, which he often considers to be problematic. In pop culture, literature, TV, and film, the “friend zone” (or similar alternatives to this) and resulting male ego is often romanticized and dismissed as being normal.
First things first, let’s cover two male ego personalities that have no affiliation with the Harry Potter franchise. Sam Malone, the protagonist in the hit 1980s television show Cheers, has a reputation as a womanizer throughout the show’s eleven seasons; this on its own is no big issue. However, Sam has one of the most crystal-clear misogynistic attitudes of any fictional male, since he assumes that every woman with whom he comes into contact is immediately attracted to him. Because of his good looks, he thinks it is okay to sweet-talk and charm women into bed, only to ditch them right after. Some female characters in the show have turned him down, dismissing him as sexist, crude, and sex-obsessed; when these women deny him, he becomes completely infatuated with them, trying harder and harder to lure them into bed with him. He simply cannot understand why any woman would not want to sleep with him. Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has a similar mentality. Because a lot of women find him attractive, he believes that every woman should feel this way about him. Belle is the only girl in town who does not want to pursue a romantic relationship with Gaston, so he becomes obsessed with getting her to marry him. Like Sam, he does not understand how Belle is not attracted to him. Both of these men have strong male egos, believing that any woman should and will be attracted to him.
Does any character embody the male ego? Let’s take a look at the Marauders’ time period. James Potter has a big ego during his earlier years of Hogwarts. He bullies Snape and tells Lily that he will stop picking on him if she goes out with him. Since Lily is one of the only girls who did not find James Potter attractive in her early Hogwarts years, he saw her as a challenge, since he believes that he deserves to have a girl like Lily interested in him. Finally, when James matured and grew out of this philosophy, she found him to be much more suitable and then became attracted to him. Next, we have Severus Snape, a character who allowed the “friend zone” to take over his life. Even though he is so desperately in love with Lily, he doesn’t expect her to fall in love with him. In fact, he holds her to a high standard of which he does not think he is worthy. James and Severus, two very different characters, respectively experience the male ego and the “friend zone” during their times at Hogwarts.
Does Harry have the male ego? Well, during the time of his crush on Cho Chang, he often feels like he deserves her affection, since he is the Boy Who Lived, but she favors Cedric Diggory for a while, which irritates him. As soon as Cedric dies, Harry feels the need to gain her affection, since he believes he has a chance. It almost seems as though Harry wants to claim Cho as a prize, but this notion could be a stretch. With Ginny Weasley, it seems as though Harry is in charge in the relationship; they start dating as soon as he wants to date her, they break up when he says they should, and they get back together when he wants to. Harry seems to have some control over Ginny, which may be the result of a minor male ego.
Do you think any characters in the Wizarding World have an ego (or lack thereof) as a result of their genders? Do you think that Harry himself might even have a male ego or is his slight egotism caused by his fame?