Oh … you’ve forgotten something: Neville Longbottom

August 10, 2010

Here’s one more thing from Sorcerer’s Stone that I didn’t mention Friday.  I really had forgotten that Neville Longbottom was such a major character from the very beginning of the series.  Which is all the more shocking to me because he’s a favorite character from the books overall.  I love his whole journey from “There’s no need to tell me I’m not brave enough to be in Gryffindor” in the first book to pulling the sword of Gryffindor out of the sorting hat and killing Nagini with it in the seventh.   Neville really has to overcome some internal demons and, to a certain extent, totally reinvent himself as the hero of his own story.

The Boy Who Nobody Cared About

Neville is one of the first people Harry meets on the train; he rides with Harry and Hermione in a boat to the castle, discovers Fluffy with the trio while wandering the halls at night, tries to warn Harry about Draco and gets detention with him.  He inadvertently gives Harry the secret of Nicholas Flamel by handing him back the Dumbledore chocolate frog card.  He’s everywhere in the story and yet … always peripheral.

I started to wonder this time through if there was ever a draft of the book that had him coming down beyond the trapdoor – he would have known how to handle the devil’s snare … in fact, now that I think of it, that task seems to have been put there just for him.  Harry catches the key, Ron defeats the chess set and Hermione IDs the correct potions to take and they all kind of deal with the herbology professor’s contribution as a team effort but if they’d had Neville he could have figured it out in a trice.  I understand why the trio seems stronger but … I would have liked to read that scene.

Ten Points to Gryffindor

In the story as published, he plays a fairly small role in the finale but he is there: demonstrating his bravery by standing up to Harry, Ron and Hermione (however unsuccessfully) as they leave the Gryffindor common room on their way to confront Fluffy.  Dumbledore again draws attention to him (and the importance of his actions) by giving him the final 10 points that tip Gryffindor over into the lead in the race for the House cup.  It almost makes it feel like its J.K. Rowling who’s interested in him and only Harry who doesn’t see him as important (more on the use of Third Person Limited narration as a tool of misdirection later).

Where’d he go?

But, at least in my memory, he then disappears in the next book other than the fairly regular occurrence of Snape being mean to him.  (Why?  We know that Snape has a semi-legitimate reason for being pointedly cruel to Harry all the time and … Hermione’s resemblance to Lily when tied t her obvious allegiance to Harry clearly also tips the scales to the negative but what is his beef with Neville?  I suppose he’s just bugged by incompetence and not a very nice teacher.)  Perhaps I’ll read it and discover he’s quietly simmering away there just as he was in Sorcerer’s Stone but as far as I can recall he doesn’t really come into it again until he joins the DA.

One of the things I regret most about Harry’s year seven taking place away from Hogwarts is that we don’t get to see Neville, Ginny and Luna come into their own as leaders of the DA.  (I know, I know, they do it BECAUSE the trio are away but still I would love to hear what happened at the school from their perspective … and in greater detail.)  I think I’ll have to post again about Neville after I’ve re-read further!

[Note: I’m using an image of the remembrall as the header for this post because I really don’t like the way Neville is portrayed in the Harry Potter films.  I’m sure the actor they cast is a very worthy human being but they’ve used his physical type and an endless series of pratfalls to turn Neville from a person into a sight gag and I resent it.  I think this is one of the major problems with having started making movie adaptations before all the books were finished and we really knew how people would turn out.  But I can’t help using a screenshot because … well, its so pretty.]

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One Response to “Oh … you’ve forgotten something: Neville Longbottom”

  1. […] said earlier that I wanted to come back to Neville after having re-read further into the books.  I never made […]

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