Harry Potter The Hero

This will be the last post on Harry Potter for a while.  I think.  I’ve found two interesting pages recently, so I’m going to discuss them both here.  If you haven’t read the last book and don’t want to spoil it, don’t keep reading.  There won’t be any major plot discussions, but you never know what might be spoiled for you.

The first page is a two pronged debate on whether Harry should live or die according to his hero status.  I wrote about British bookies turning away bets a while ago.  They had decided that he was going to die because so many people were betting on it.  I said in the comments that I didn’t think he was going to and I should bet on it.  I wish I had.  In this debate, the arguments are pretty well put.  I still side completely with the “live” side though.  The argument is simply stronger.  The hero should live because his living means evil has been defeated.  There was no way in the Harry Potter story for his death to also mean the defeat of the evil that he was fighting.

The second page I came across has a very interesting point that should cause quite a bit of discussion for the author.  Jenny Sawyer says the Harry Potter hero’s journey lacks a moral struggle and is thus hollow.  As we know, the hero’s journey is not simply a physical journey.  It’s not simply “there and back again”.  There is a change that occurs in the hero.  They become a changed person, returning to their mundane world as the master of two worlds.  What Miss Sawyer is saying is that Harry never actually encounters events that make him change or make him question himself.  Everything he does is simply acting out the goodness we already know exists in him.  There are no surprises for us, the audience.  The problem is that a journey like this doesn’t teach us as well as one where the hero overcomes an internal weakness or external temptation.

Her solution is to read the stories as a journey of the hero, Severus Snape.  Snape undergoes change due to trials along the path.  He is challenged and responds and ultimately changes as a person.  What do you think?  Is Snape the true hero of the Potter saga?

9 Responses to Harry Potter The Hero

  1. nylusmilk August 6, 2007 at 5:16 pm #

    i think harry and snape are heroes in their own ways, but from that perspective, snape is probably the more dynamic character in the harry potter series.

  2. Matt Langdon August 7, 2007 at 10:19 am #

    Thanks for your comment. Harry obviously has his fans. His journey definitely follows the outward path of the hero’s journey and fans have lined up around the block and the world to follow it. I wonder what the result might have been if he’d more moral struggles along the way.

  3. Kit August 7, 2007 at 8:39 pm #

    I’m not sure if I’m convinced that Harry behaves accordingly, just b/c he is good…he does have choices, in book 3 when Lupin and Sirrius want to kill Peter Petegrew, he persuades them otherwise, this was certainly a moral choice as Pettigrew was the reason his parents were killed by Voldemort….this is just one example,but there are more, give me a few days to recap on the books 🙂

  4. Matt Langdon August 7, 2007 at 8:47 pm #

    Please do. I have to admit I haven’t read past book two. Did Harry want to kill Pettigrew and then changed his mind through some event or transformation? Or did he simply stop others from killing him? I’m not sure stopping others contradicts the point. Just because Pettigrew was the reason for Harry’s parents dying doesn’t mean Harry’s goodness wouldn’t want him not killed. I think that made sense. Hopefully you understand what I’m saying. If he didn’t change his mind or intent, then there’s still no change undergone.

  5. Kit August 7, 2007 at 8:58 pm #

    Not entirely sure if I understand…but what I can tell you is that Harry did not want to kill Pettigrew as his guilt would have saved his Godfather from going back to Prison…is this heroic b/c he is helping someone else, or is it selfish as ultimately, the saving of his Godfather would have been beneficial to Harry from the sense he would have a new family, home and he wouldn’t have to live with his awful aunt and uncle….?

  6. Matt Langdon August 7, 2007 at 9:03 pm #

    Kit, you might be forcing me to actually read the books. I don’t think I can answer the questions without the proper context. I think you’ll make a few people happy if I end up reading them.

  7. Kit August 7, 2007 at 9:34 pm #

    Hahahahaha, well it wouldn’t take you too long…

  8. nylusmilk August 8, 2007 at 6:04 am #

    if i recall correctly, the reason harry was given the choice to kill pettigrew by lupin & black because it was pettigrew who betrayed harry’s parents and brought to their death. harry wanted to kill pettigrew, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. something about his parents not wanting the stain of pettigrew’s blood on the hands of either harry, lupin or sirius black.

    harry later admitted to regretting not killing pettigrew, as he managed to escape and helped voldemort to rise again, but dumbledore said harry’s pity will come useful one day. and it did.

  9. Matt Langdon August 8, 2007 at 6:09 pm #

    Thanks for the clarification Nylus (?)