I often find it a shame how many people don’t appreciate Harry Potter as a character as much as some of the other characters. It might be because of this that I like him best, as I have a soft spot for characters fans neglect. My apologies for two Harry Potter posts in a row, maybe I’ll make the rest of January my unofficial Harry Potter month.
Harry goes through 11 years of his life neglected if not abused, and comes out the other side a cheerful (if a little snarky) child. Then he finds out he’s part of a magical world, where he is famous. He stays relatively modest in this situation, which can give people a large opinion of themselves quickly, for example many child stars. In fact, he just seems bemused by the whole attention he receives from it (“Let me see your scar?”) and even admits, several times, he wishes it never happened.
He’s a naturally talented Quidditch player, but he also works at it. He doesn’t get complacent because he is naturally gifted. I mean, do you ever hear about him missing out on a practice? Nope, even when Wood drags him out of bed at 6 o clock in the morning, in the pouring rain, he might grumble, but he heads down to the pitch. He practices because he knows, if he doesn’t, someone will be get better then him.
He’s a born leader, capable of inspiring confidence. He can teach school students to master spells far beyond their education level - a spell he himself mastered when he was 13! Many adult wizards struggle with Patronuses. He can lead six frightened teenagers around a maze-like place, train a sporting team to victory, and inspire a resistance movement to keep fighting even when his whereabouts are unknown.
His loyalty to his friends is absolute. If you’re in trouble, he’ll try and save you. Not only that, though, he’ll go back for people who haven’t been all that nice to him before - saving Malfoy and Goyle from the fire? Going to warn Hermione (who, at the time, they weren’t on speaking terms with) about the troll in first year? If the Dursley’s had been kidnapped by Voldemort, I bet he would’ve gone to save them. And if it comes down to sacrificing himself, or watching his friends die? He would sacrifice himself, without question.
He doesn’t fear much, either. He can walk into death without hiding or running away. He, at 14, stared down one of the most powerful wizards of all time, with all the knowledge of the likelihood the next spell used would kill him. He picks the habit of saying Voldemort’s name after the first book (“Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself” - Dumbledore to Harry, Philosopher’s Stone, Chapter 17). The only thing he really fears is Dementors, which, as Lupin points out, is an extension of fear itself. And he learns to overcome his fear by mastering the spell that stops them.
Tell any eleven year old child about a stone that can give them as much life and money as they want. What would they want if they had it? “Money, and then I could by myself all the video games/chocolate/ect. that I want.” Which would have been my personal views at that age. If I’m honest, even at this age, too. Harry finds out about this and the idea of buying things never even enters his mind. The only thing he wants with the stone is to find it, but not use it, and that’s only when the safety of the magical world hinges on him finding it.
And this plays into another aspect of Harry’s character - his generosity. He is rather well-off, in terms that might seem infinite for a teenager, but he only tries to take the money that he needs. He earns an extra 1000 galleons at one point, and what does he do with it? Gives it to two people who really need it. Not in terms of a loan, but more as a donation. He buys Omnioculars for himself and his two best friends, buys nice Christmas presents for his friends and “would happily split all the money in his Gringotts vault with the Weasley’s, but he knew they would never take it.”
He is also INCREDIBLY quick thinking. This is actually my favourite trait of his. Even in situations where Hermione might’ve panicked - “But there’s no wood?!?!?!” - Harry keeps his head and can talk them out of sticky situations. Persuading Peeves they were the Baron, so he’d leave them alone? Harry. Telling McGonagall they were sneaking off to see Hermione, in such a way that she believed them? Harry. Faking putting Felix Felices in Ron’s pumpkin juice, so he’d be more confident and play better? Harry. Riding out of Gringotts on a dragon? Harry’s idea.
Also, when people say things along the lines of "Why didn't Harry tell someone about the abuse he gets from the Dursley's?" This really annoys me. You are victim-blaming Harry for the abuse he received, asking why he didn't get himself out of it. He has been taught since he can remember that no-one cares about anything he has to say. A child in too-big hand-me-downs wouldn't really raise any eyebrows. Even if Social Services did come round, Dudley's second bedroom was perfectly set up, so all they need to say is "Oh, he actually sleeps here, he just tends to like playing in that room," and that would probably settle the matter.
Who’s your favourite Harry Potter character and why?