Why Luna Lovegood Is the Bravest Character
Luna Lovegood has always been my favorite character. I love her radish earrings, her sunflower-yellow dress, and the way that – even in a world of magic – she still manages to be more imaginative and creative than everyone around her. At the end of the day, however, I think the real reason I admire Luna is that she is brave in all the ways that I want to be brave. Although there are a lot of brave characters in the series, they tend to have Gryffindor-esque bravery, which involves open defiance of authority and leaping headlong into battle. Luna has as much of this kind of bravery as any Gryffindor, but she also shows a unique form of bravery that is in many ways far more difficult: the bravery of defying social norms, having faith in others, and accepting the problems you face.
Luna, with her Spectrespecs and butterbeer cork necklace, clearly has no problem defying social norms and just being herself. Luna makes this seem so effortless that it’s easy to overlook it as a type of bravery: It appears that she doesn’t care what people think, so how is she being brave? Yet I think that Luna is very aware of others’ cruelty toward her and deeply wants to have friends. We see this when she points out Ron’s unkindness, is grateful to Ginny for standing up for her, and beams at Harry for asking her to Slughorn’s party. Having friends is so important to Luna that she paints portraits of each of them on her ceiling. And yet, Luna never acts desperate, never tries to force friendship, and – most importantly – never tries to change herself to get anyone to like her. This is the type of bravery that the rest of us can only aspire to.
Luna’s bravery also manifests itself in the way that she believes things even without proof. This, of course, is not an inherently brave thing – it can also be seen as a type of blindness or unwillingness to see the truth. But Luna is brave because she uses this faith to support the people around her, particularly her friends. When Harry says that Voldemort is back, Luna doesn’t ask any questions; she just believes. When Harry says that Sirius is in danger, Luna doesn’t have any idea what he’s talking about, but she’s still willing to risk everything to help him. In the seventh book, it takes Harry a long time to learn this same lesson. He has to choose to believe Dumbledore even when he is bombarded with evidence that makes him doubt everything. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Harry finally chooses to trust Dumbledore only after he’s been reunited with Luna and reminded of her implicit and instinctual trust in the people she loves.
Luna is also overflowing with traditional, Gryffindor-style bravery. Luna risks expulsion to join Dumbledore’s Army and is willing to endanger her life to save Sirius. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Luna is one of the few who fights – even without the aid of Felix Felicis – when the Death Eaters invade the castle. Luna resists the Death Eaters who run the school in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and when she is captured and imprisoned in Malfoy Manor for months on end, she still manages to retain her cheerful demeanor. When the time comes, she goes straight back to Hogwarts to meet the Death Eaters again for the final battle.
Even during these dangerous times, Luna has a particularly zen type of bravery, one that comes from an unflinching acceptance of the present moment. When Harry and his friends are caught in Umbridge’s office, everyone else fights furiously, but Luna “stood limply by the side of her captor, gazing vaguely out of the window as though rather bored by the proceedings” (OotP 744). This could be seen as passivity, but I view it as stunning bravery. Luna knows when fighting will be helpful and when it won’t, and when it isn’t helpful, she manages to let go of all fear and simply accept the moment as it is. We see this time and time again: Luna accepts her stuff being stolen, being locked in a basement, and even the inevitability of death itself. By not being afraid, Luna gains the upper hand in Umbridge’s office, and I would bet anything that her captor is far more disturbed by her boredom than they would be by any amount of fighting.
All in all, I think Luna exemplifies the types of bravery that most of us struggle with the most: resisting social expectations, having faith in the people we love, and accepting what we can’t change. On top of all that, Luna will fight for justice all day, anytime, and without hesitation. Luna may be a Ravenclaw, but she has the heart of a lion.