Saturday, July 9, 2011

Character Trajectories

For the DA Six... (we are still counting down, after all)


The group that goes to the Ministry at the end of Order of the Phoenix, of course... but I'm not going to talk about that battle, except in passing. What I want to do is look at those six characters and their growth across seven books.


Harry, our fabulous MC, doesn't so much go through unusual growth as on an amazing journey. Harry is ALWAYS a mostly kind boy, with certain strengths and unusually high morals for a boy who grows up with such poor examples.

I love though, the shift from stuff happening TO Harry to Harry making stuff HAPPEN. It is why Order of the Phoenix will remain in my top spot as favorite of the books—this is where the shift happens—where Harry takes control of his destiny. I don't see it so much as character trajectory though, as maturing and accepting something that was always necessary.

He does the best expressions...

You know... Ron is funny, so you can miss it, but he's got a sort of nasty streak. He knows the words he's supposed to say—spouting his parents' beliefs about who should get to be a wizard, but he has accepted a lot of cultural prejudice and has made no effort to UNLEARN most of it. This is beautiful in a way—showing his beliefs about House Elves for instance, illustrates a great truth about prejudices—they are easy to hold in general terms, but when you meet a specific case (Dobby) they fall all to hell.

Over the course of the books, though, we learn a lot of Ron's snark and meanness is insecurity—sixth son—last failure by parents trying again and again for a daughter.

I think though, the set-up... Ron's quiet anger, hidden by humor... the under the surface burbling, fed beautifully into Deathly Hallows and the demons that were able to briefly master him. And mastering them was such a central point of action in the book. Brilliantly played... readers LOVE Ron—he is so real (the central humor figure for much of the series), but the failure... for a time... was played from the beginning. I happen to think Ron's trajectory is a beautiful bit of writing.


Hermione's journey and trajectory is very different. She starts out as a girl who sees the world in black and white, but right from the first book she sees that sometimes breaking the rules can have positive results (making two close friends when formerly she had none).

And this new attitude, through the books, has times that make us CHEER (forming the DA) and times that make us think HOLY CRAP, HERMIONE CROSSED A LINE! (Cursing McLaggen). This, too, I think is brilliant. I think there are some lessons we learn... and overlearn and cross lines on... that we have to learn moderation with.

It is one of my favorite things about Rowling... that the world has lessons that work, and lessons that work too well so you need to reassess... no black and white for her (or me)


Oh, man. Is there any more clear case of FINDING PURPOSE and finally becoming who he was meant to? Clumsy, forgetful, accident prone Neville... taking on the inner school battle and... well this movie will give his GRAND show, so I won't spoil... but Neville goes through a HUGE transformation—ALSO understandable. When Neville is a BABY, his parents are tortured into insanity. He grows up with a gran who has a case of hero worship over her son and keeps pointing out how her grandson doesn't measure up. I'd lack confidence, too.


We meet Luna late, in the course of the books—not until Order of the Phoenix. I loved her from the start. She has a quiet, non-traditional wisdom... and a serenity. Yet she is so obviously ALSO a case for pity—she is moving through the world very alone—she tells Harry more than once, 'It's like having friends'-- like she doesn't know what ACTUALLY having friends is like. MAN, I wanted Harry and Luna to end up together after OoP. I liked what she brought out in him. (and I had other plans for Ginny)

I ALSO really liked that she seemed to be the uninjurred one, for so long, in the Ministry battle—she was pulling her own.


Ginny starts out as timid crush girl. Our first heavy exposure, she is in love with Harry and ends up possessed by HWMNBN (not to be confused with HWMNBMOTI). And then she is quietly sort of present... but barely... she goes to a ball with Neville. She is present in Weasley family situations. But until Order of the Phoenix when we learn she is quite popular, we don't see her a lot.

And then in the DA, we get a taste of just how powerful she is... And she gets Harry's Seeker spot when Umbridge pulls him off...

You know... I had Ginny pegged as eventual Minister of Magic. I think my problem with the Harry/Ginny romance is I like her too well. I wanted her to have her OWN story, not be a sidebar in Harry's... not that wife is sidebar... exactly... I mean I don't think Luna would have been a sidebar. But Harry and Ginny have too much in common and Ginny doesn't trump him by a lot anywhere. He is 'more'. Luna is on a different enough plane that there aren't the comparisons... or so I saw it...

Anyway... I wished Ginny had had a bigger role in DH, if she was going to be Harry's long term partner and all... I like her magical trajectory, and I like how she coped with 'Harry not being ready yet' but I think her line is the one I like least.

6 more days, Potter Peeps!


Siv Maria said...

It is always interesting to see how characters change and develope over the course of years.

KatieO said...

Very nice analysis, and nice post!
Can't wait for the opening...

Caledonia Lass said...

I have enjoyed watching the changes of these characters book by book. And then to see it on the movie screen just solidified them all the more (for me at least) as my all time favorites.
Very good post and I agree on every point. Have a great weekend!

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow! Awesome breakdown! I also wanted Harry and Luna to end up together. Altho, I do love Ginny's character. She's all girl power. I wanted Neville to be more than just a professor... I was rooting for him to be the Head Master of Hogwarts. I had such high hopes for him. And you know, Neville and Luna as a couple was in the back of my mind too.

Teresa aka Journaling Woman said...

It's always amazing to me to see how child actors grow up in movies and they become those characters to the world.

I can't wait to see the movie. My daughter and I will be going.

AllMyPosts said...


the seven books are top on the list of favorites!! Ha!!

I liked the way, Neville Longbottom changes!!! It was good!! (I think ... it was put up .. just to tell that .. all ends well .. Ha Ha)!!

cool one!!

with warm regards
Another Author

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I thought Luna and Harry would get together as well. I liked her quirkiness.

Anonymous said...

Love this post, I love how you brokedown each character's growth. I haven't read the HP books in about two or three years, I think I definitely need to reread them now that I love writing more than I did before.

Hart Johnson said...

Thanks so much, everyone! And Madeline--definitely read them now that you're writing--there are tons of great lessons in them on plotting!

mshatch said...

I'm re-reading the last two books (again) to be ready for the last movie. great post.

TreeX said...

Have you realised it's FOUR years since the War family last got together? :/

Michael Di Gesu said...

Greetings Your Royal Tartness.

LOVED this post.... You know how I feel about HP.... Posts about HP all week at my blog starting Monday!

I had a terrific time with blogger friend and HP lover, Abby Menard. We had a great visit although it was short. An iced latte and gelatto at Cafe Baci downtown across from Millennium Park.

YOU know HP came up in our conversation.

I can't wait until our visit Tart! It will be TOOOO fierce!

Old Kitty said...

What a thoroughly fabulous NAKED HP post!! And haven't they all grown!! Wow! Take care

Cheeseboy said...

I've always considered Ron to be the true hero of the series. Much like Samwise Gangee is the true hero of Lord of the Rings.

Krista M said...

I agree with your characterizations analysis. (That was fun to write) :) And Ron is very much the heart and comedy of the story that keeps it going. He reminds me of Sam from The Lord of the Rings. Harry never would have been able to destroy Voldemort without Ron helping him out and Hermione. :) I'm very excited for the final installment! I have my ticket for the 12:01 am showing and I'm so excited!