The Undiscussed Tragedies of Neville Longbottom

Within the Harry Potter series, there is a fair share of characters who have their own tragic stories. Harry’s own is the most well-known, but there are others, such as the Tonks family, who are equally as tragic. However, what Neville went through is often overlooked.

 

Caption Contest, week of February 22, 2009

 

Neville’s childhood was just as tragic as Harry’s. When he was a child, his parents suffered torture at the hands of Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange, along with Barty Crouch Jr. This attack is so horrific as it took place following the downfall of Voldemort, so Alice and Frank would have thought they would be safe and raising their son in a time of peace. Instead, they were tortured by four Death Eaters.  As a result of this, they were left irreversibly injured and reside in St Mungo’s as they are unable to care for both themselves and Neville, with Neville’s grandmother raising him because of this.

Neville was very private about this attack as he didn’t want everyone to know what he went through. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny end up in the Janus Thickey ward. After bumping into Lockhart, they realize Neville and his grandmother are also there. Neville’s grandmother then tells the story as Neville looks on nervously. This is understandable as Neville is clearly upset by the loss of his parents and the ability to tell his friends the truth on his own terms. Visting his parents is also upsetting as he is reminded of all that he has lost, and even though his parents are alive, he has still lost them and won’t ever get to experience what many of his classmates did growing up.

 

Frank and Alice Longbottom

 

Augusta was a strict woman who wanted the best for Neville. However, this meant she was extremely demanding of him. These high standards were because her son, Frank, was an Auror. Neville was not as talented as his father (though this could be down to him using his father’s wand and not his own), and it took time for his grandmother to accept this. It wasn’t until after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries that Augusta finally started to appreciate Neville as his own person rather than just a duplicate of his father. Even his own teachers didn’t give him a chance and believed he was clumsy and lacked the talents that others did. It wasn’t until both Lupin in Book 3 and Harry in Book 5 that he was able to get better in his abilities as they believed in him. This is truly unfair as though Neville may not have been as good at magic as his own father; he was still talented in his own ways.

 

 

Neville’s school days could be said to be not the greatest as he was often bullied by others, such as Draco. However, one of the most well-known moments of bullying is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Lupin encourages Neville to face the boggart.  The moment is framed as one that is funny, as the boggart is transformed into Snape wearing Neville’s grandmother’s clothes. However, this moment is extremely dark and needs to be discussed. Within the wizarding world, boggarts take the form of what the person fears the most.  As someone who lost his own parents in a horrific attack, it would make sense that Neville’s boggart would be related to that, but in fact, it is one of his teachers. Despite all the horrors that he went through as a child, what scares Neville most is Snape. This is something that is absolutely horrid and should be framed as such. Snape is a teacher who should be supporting Neville as he learns and not bullying him, something that only gets worse when Snape learns about the boggart. And nothing was done to stop this bullying. In fact, he simply just had to accept the fact that he was being picked on as a child by an adult in power.

 

 

However, unlike some of the other characters, Neville’s story does have a happier ending. Despite what he has gone through and the expectations placed on him, he doesn’t let any of this stop him. He uses what he has gone through in the past to fuel him, such as by joining Dumbledore’s Army and then leading it to fight for good so that no one else has to go through what he has and to help bring peace to the wizarding world. His grandmother slowly accepts him for who he is and is proud of his accomplishments. In his later life, he becomes the Herbology professor at Hogwarts and embraces his love of plants. He is a true inspiration in that your past doesn’t have to define you and that even if the ones that you love disagree with what you want to do, you shouldn’t let that stop you from doing what you love.

 

Neville with black flakes in front of his face

 

 

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Jessica Thompson

Somehow, despite reading the Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire books first, I still became a huge Harry Potter fan and fifteen years later I am still crying over the books on a daily basis. Writing and sharing my love for all things Potter is a dream come true.