In Defense of Percy Weasley
Percy is the least popular Weasley, often dismissed as an arrogant brownnoser. But that isn’t the whole of his character. Furthermore, while Percy is often entirely blamed for the feud between him and his family, in truth, both sides made mistakes. Yes, Percy has his flaws, but no one is perfect, and he doesn’t deserve to be written off entirely.
First, we’ll look at his personality, which causes his family to repeatedly make fun of him throughout the series, but none of his worst traits are actually that bad. Yes, Percy is ambitious, but honestly, so are his siblings. Bill and Charlie go on to have high-risk and impressive careers, Fred and George manage to obtain their ambition of opening a wildly successful joke shop, and Ron admits during his first year that his greatest desire is to outshine his brothers. Percy is far from being the most ambitious member of his family; he just shows it more openly than they do.
His strict adherence to the rules comes from the fact that Percy honestly believes that authority can and will do the right thing, and thus, following their rules will keep everyone safe. While this viewpoint may be naive, it doesn’t make Percy a bad person. As for his interest in seemingly boring topics, I personally think that this quality is a good one for a bureaucrat to have. I prefer the people in government to be detail-oriented and passionate about their jobs, especially the boring parts.
Speaking of the government though, let’s turn to Percy’s job and the fallout it caused. As I said before, Percy isn’t the only member of his family to be at fault for their feud. This goes back to what happened between them in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. To sum up that situation, Percy is a 17- to 18-year-old boy who begins his ambition of working for the government but very quickly ends up being out of his depth when he’s forced to take on all of his boss’s work for an entire year and ends up facing questioning and possible censure for not realizing that his boss’s illness was suspicious.
During this time, none of his family steps in despite the obvious stress he is under. Furthermore, while it’s understandable that Percy – a teenager new to the workforce – wouldn’t notice the oddness of his boss’s continued illness, Arthur Weasley, a long-time Ministry employee and department head, has no such excuse. Even if Percy didn’t ask for help, the fact that Arthur didn’t take note of his son’s obvious stress is still unacceptable. This is, I believe, the true beginning of Percy’s estrangement from his family: the realization that his family either didn’t notice or didn’t care about his struggles that year.
This sets the stage for the actual fight. To set the scene, we have Percy who’s just had the year from hell but also had a leap of good fortune in being offered a promotion. From his perspective, this promotion must have seemed like a recompense for his struggle as well as an acknowledgment of his skill. He had after all just managed to do the work of a department head for a year. But then, his father tells him that he hadn’t earned the promotion at all, that he only got it because he was a Weasley and could be used to spy on his family.
Now, Arthur is right, but imagine that situation from Percy’s point of view. His life finally seems to be getting back on track; he’s finally making a name for himself, and then his father, the same father who failed to help him when he needed it, tells him that he didn’t actually earn any of it. That is a devastating blow, and as such, it’s understandable that Percy lashes out, letting out all his stress and anger of the last year, compounded by his anger at his family’s mockery and his shame at being poor. That makes for a toxic combination.
What Percy did wasn’t right. He was wrong about Dumbledore and Fudge, and he definitely could have expressed his pain in a kinder way. But he was also a teenager. Teenagers make mistakes, they get mad, they have horrible fights with their parents – sometimes without any good reason at all.
But the most important thing about Percy Weasley is that he owns up to his actions and admits when he is wrong. That’s far from an easy thing to do and honestly shows incredible bravery. That’s why it’s so frustrating for me that his family doesn’t do the same. Yes, they welcome him back, but we don’t get any indication that they ever apologize for making fun of him all the time, not reaching out when he was struggling under Crouch, or even acknowledging why the accusation of him not earning his position would have hurt. Neither side is blameless.
Ultimately, Percy Weasley is not a perfect character, but he is perhaps an understandable one.