Saturday, 30 July 2011


Once there were two very different boys...

Who grew up to be two very different men...

Okay I'm gonna stop with my plagiarised introduction now. Neville Longbottom and Draco Malfoy are two supporting characters that get as much of a character arc as any of the protagonists. I cannot exactly call them two sides of the same coin, but they are the light and the dark side respectively of two very similar coins. Both have their family history thrust upon them, and they try to come out of it in the best way they think.

Let's start with Draco.

"Wait 'til my father hears about this!"

Beginning: A spoilt brat if there ever was one. The first time we see him with his slick blonde hair and an air of superiority around him, he scoffs at Ron and informs Harry that "Some wizarding families are much better than  others." And then he gets sorted in the biggest baddest house of all, Slytherin. We see how he enjoys every defeat that Griffindors and in particular, Harry and his friends have to face, and is made miserable if they succeed. We see the cowardly nature of his come out is when he and Harry see Quirrell/Voldemort in the Dark he screams and flees. In the second film, he starts, quiet early, with his pure-blood claims and mudblood prejudice. We also meet Lucius, his father, and see the overwhelming influence of his family on him. However, as they are rich and proud, Draco has still not come out of their shadow and seen how wrong they are.

Middle: Draco ceases in importance over the next few films. There is obviously the Buckbeak incident... "You and your bloody chicken!" He also gets punched in the face by Hermione and is turned into a ferret by Mad-Eye Moody. He later joins Umbridge's KGB Inquisitorial Squad, but gets thwarted by Dumbledore's Army. The most important thing is that due to failing to retrieve Harry's prophecy in the Department of Ministry, Lucius starts facing criminal charges in the Ministry and falls out of favour with Voldemort. This proves to be a turning point in the silver spoon-fed/papa's boy Draco's life, and thus character.

End: In the sixth film, we see a new Draco. Dressed all in black, and moody beyond recognition, this Draco has some very bad ideas in his head. Voldemort gives him a task- kill Dumbledore, and regain his family's place among his loyal servants. Harry senses this, and that leads to a first confrontation between them when Draco petrifies Harry, kicks him on the face and leaves him in the Hogwarts train to go back to London. Narcissa, a clearly devoted mother, asks Snape to look after him- and we see many a fight between Draco and his once-favourite professor as teenage tendencies, family pressure and a fear of his life all been weigh heavily on Draco. He cries in the Room of Requirement and in bathrooms. I felt really bad for him in this film, but also glad that he made a comeback. He showcases another side of the teenage spectrum that this film, focused on sixteen year-olds, was a lot about. The boy has to, in many ways, grow up faster than the rest, as he starts facing decisions about killing another person and saving his family's pride, or doing the right thing. We know that he has finally begun to understand the right and wrong of his endeavours because he was going to lower his wand instead of killing Dumbledore in the Astronomy Tower in the end. Then in the seventh film, again we see that he doesn't rat out the disfigured Harry to Bellatrix, despite the pressure his father puts on him. Also though he duels with Harry, it is clear that he isn't giving it his all, because deep down he knows that Harry is right. The fear in his eyes when Voldemort had mercilessly killed Charity Burbage in front of him, is what I think, keeps him in the Death Eaters side. Finally in the last film, we see that he tries to be the old bully to Harry in the Room of Requirements again, but something keeps stopping him. Harry saves him there, and then when Voldemort comes to Hogwarts with the apparently dead body of Harry and calls for allegiance of people from the "good side", Draco only goes over because of his family. As his family fleds, he leaves because he cared too much about them, and not because he himself was a coward.

Final Thoughts: Draco was expertly played by Tom Felton. He went through the three stages perfectly. Draco was unfortunate in many ways because of his family background and attachment. He never had the strongest of characters, but I suppose that makes him more real. His smugness and all went away when he was faced with real danger of losing his life and those of his loved ones. He and Harry, as seen in the epilogue, are finally just civil to each other, and that shows that he must have mended his ways completely in the end.

Now Neville.

"Why is it always me?"

Beginning: Neville and Trevor. Forever. Neville is sort of the, forgive the word, loser of the bunch since the beginning. This is because he always ends up getting hurt for some reason- be it the first Quidditch practice when his broom goes berserk, or later on in the second film when the Mandrake cries affects only him and the Cornish pixies hang him from the ceiling. Still, at the end of Sorcerer's Stone, he tries to stop the trio from getting into trouble- a feat that is rewarded by the always wise Dumbledore and this causes Griffindor to finally win the House cup. This was such a hint for his involvement later on, but none of us ever expect it. At that time, he is clearly just a lovable and accident-prone underdog.

Middle: The loser-ness continues. In the fourth film, we see Mad-Eye performing the Cruciatus Curse on a spider in front of him, and that clearly bothers him. This is because Bellatrix Lestrange had used it on his parents and this had caused them to be irreparably mentally damaged for the rest of their lives. He helps Harry in the Great Lake task with Gillyweed, and is shown to be the only boy who braves the ballroom dancing lessons for the Yule Ball. In Order of Phoenix, he comes into prominence again as he forms a part of Dumbledore's Army and through many tries, succeeds in being able to perform defensive spells. It is also then that he tells Harry about his parents, and says a very important thing- "I'm quite proud to be their son. But I'm not sure I'm ready for everyone to know just yet." Another hint, that great things might be expected from Neville later. In the Department of Ministry he faces the Death Eaters, including Bellatrixm and hexes many of them bravely. 

Ending: In the seventh film, we see a glimpse of Neville standing up to the Death Eaters on the Hogwarts Express. Then in the eighth film, a bruised and beaten up, yet upbeat and very confident Neville comes to take the trio back to Hogwarts from Aberforth's house. We find out that in Harry's absence, Neville has become a sort of leader of the students who hate Hogwarts under Snape and the the Death Eaters' regime. Then there is the Battle of Hogwarts where Neville, in full glory, breaks out of his shell and blows up the bridge, causing many of Voldemort's army to die. He then faces Voldemort and spurns him off in front of everyone and asserts their cause once again, giving everyone hope. And in his spectacular killing of Nagini, he finally becomes the hero that he always was.

Final Thoughts- The films never focused on Neville properly. They never talked about the plot that Neville and Harry were both prophesied to become Voldemort's nemesis, and that if Voldemort had not chosen Harry, this could have been Neville's story all along. So there was an obvious amount of heroism in him, and his ultimate breakout would have been even more spectacular when we would have felt that, like Harry, he too is fulfilling his destiny. Neville was a true underdog from start to finish. As I just chronicled, noone would have expected him to shine, but he did...and brilliantly so. He was the humblest of them all, and was liked by anyone who's ever felt like an idiot. Matthew Lewis went from being the geeky chubby kid, to a strapping young man, and had to hide away his superior looks for most of the films to fit in as Neville better. The final film was a lot about him, and that was just great. Except maybe his accent, everything else was just spot on. While Draco caved in, Neville rose to the occasion and became the true champion of the underdogs.
Book quote, but seems apt- "You're worth twelve of Malfoy."

And the girl...

"You're just as sane as I am."

Luna Lovegood. What a crazy wonderful character?! I thought she was cool in the books, but my god Evanna Lynch owned this character and made it quite something else. Of all the supporting characters, the one I wish we knew a lot more about, more than anyone else, was Luna. She ofcourse comes into the picture from the fifth film only. Her otherworldly-ness, her strange ideas, her hair, her voice...she was a character I totally fell in love with. I remember being made uneasy by her the first time I saw her in Order of Phoenix, but as time passed, I found myself getting more and more intrigued by her. She is imaginative and wise and funny. One of the strongest character, and a most inspiring one, the girl exuded self-confidence in the dreamiest, quirkiest way possible. It's sad that I cannot find the words to describe her better because I feel like I am trying to steal ideas from the letter that Evanna Lynch wrote to her. "You baffled me, not because you were odd (though indeed you were), but because you were… perfect."

Many have wished that Luna could have ended up benig  Harry's "the one"...and this was made even more obvious by the films because Harry seemed to really connect with her. 
"They're quite gentle, really, but people avoid them, because they're a bit..."

Evanna Lynch was a great find, and even moreso because she was a real fan of the books and her character. And like I have always believed, the stories did change her life (changed mine too).

So this was part 2 of my favourite Harry Potter characters.

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