A letter to Harry Potter: The boy who got saved by others

Dear Harry Potter,

I love your series, but don’t think you deserved to be called its hero, let alone have all the books and films named after you. Here’re a few reasons why:

Let’s face it, Harry; we both know that you weren’t as good as everybody around you thought you were. Even you knew it on some level. If five horny death eaters came to your house with intentions of sexually assaulting Ginny, the best you could probably do is scream, “Expelliarmus!”, and of course, pray that all their wands shared the same core as yours (Priori Incantatem). Perhaps that or the hope that the other people’s wands would come flying to you, owing to some fortunate technicality–like it does at the end of Deathly Hallows.

Now, for a wizard who wasn’t particularly extraordinary, and never sought to become one either, at least if you were mild-mannered? But you weren’t, were you? You often threw a hissy fit and on occasions, didn’t even shirk from yelling your guts out at Hermione and Ron, the two people who stuck by your angsty self through thick and thin. You were a right git especially in the Order of Phoenix, and wanted to be taken far more seriously than your age, skill, and experience merited at all times. In fact, I’m not going to be in a hurry to forget that it was partly your responsibility that the charming and most capable Sirius Black got killed. You made a mountain out of nothing and risked the life of every single student who’d joined your army, smitten by your popularity. If you’d not been a foul-mouthed student, incapable of containing yourself from peeking into people’s private lives, Snape could have well taught you occlumency, and saved you from being manipulated by Voldemort. But no, you couldn’t let that, could you? I liked you in the first three books, but the older you got, the more your general incompetence and your reluctance to evolve, got exposed. This was in quite a stark contrast to Hermione and Ron really (Hermione especially).

But hey, you had a redeeming quality as your admirers will point out. Your good heart. Do you know who else had a good heart? Lupin, Sirius, Ron, Hermione, Molly, Arthur, Tonks, Fred, George, Cedric, Charlie, Moody… you get the idea. All of them were far more skillful than you ever could be, and many sacrificed their lives too. However, due to Voldemort’s whim, you became The One. Never mind that you never particularly scaled up to this admittedly tough task imposed on you by destiny. Your first achievement (the one that made you famous)– ‘defeating’ Voldemort as a child–was a fitting precedent of what was to come your way: much fame and adulation for victories you didn’t particularly play a big part in.

No? You disagree? Okay, let’s go through your climactic achievements, each year. You had no idea why Quirrell’s skin peeled away when you touched him in the Philosopher’s Stone. The phoenix miraculously came your way in the Chamber of Secrets, just as a ghost of Voldemort looked all set to have finished you. And in the Prisoner of Azkaban, you were miraculously able to conjure a full-blooded patronus not because you were skilled, mind you, but because ‘you knew you could‘. And this, of course, was possible because of Hermione’s time-turner. In the Goblet of Fire, during a particularly life-threatening situation, you yelled, “Expelliarmus”, and the fortunate technicality of Priori Incantatem came to your rescue, on account of your wands sharing the same core. And of course, as always, you stood there utterly mind-boggled about what had just happened. Even though your parents and their friends had died, they had to travel to you from beyond their graves to rescue you. In the Order of the Phoenix, you took everybody on a merry, suicidal mission that resulted in the death of the beloved Sirius, and you again looked all set for the sticky end you seemed destined for, until Dumbledore came out of nowhere to save you. I remember that you even tried an embarrassing unforgivable curse on Bellatrix who seemed quite amused by your attempt, before gambolling away. In the Half-Blood Prince, you accompanied Dumbledore while he did all the dirty work, and quite fittingly, just before he got tragically killed, his final task was to cast a spell on you to keep you quiet, lest you ruined everything with your impulsiveness. And then, you went behind Snape in all your fury, only to learn that he is the Half-Blood Prince. If it weren’t for Dumbledore’s freezing charm, you’d most probably have wound up dead. And in the Deathly Hallows, just as Voldemort was about to dispatch you, you escaped by the technicality of the ownership of the Elder Wand. Where is the evolution of the hero you were touted to be, Harry, when till the end, you needed to be saved by good fortune and sacrificial relatives?

I could even get myself to forgive you for all this, but the utterly unconvincing, condescending way in which you addressed Voldemort before the climactic duel… You called him by his real name, and while yes, ‘fear of a name increases the fear of the person’, as Dumbledore once pointed out, the words from your mouth never seemed convincing, on account of how little you’d equipped yourself to face your adversary when the time eventually came. You had the temerity to treat him like he was beneath you, like he wasn’t even a challenge to you, when better wizards, smarter wizards, and more sacrificial wizards had been laid by the wayside by him, and when you, in your heart of hearts, knew that you needed to have trained harder, and prepared yourself better. Among the things you said include:

“You never saw Snape cast a Patronus, did you, Riddle?”
“Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle.”
“Be a man. . . try. . . Try for some remorse…”
“You still don’t get it, Riddle, do you?”
“I know things you don’t know, Tom Riddle.”

You were lucky Voldemort didn’t say, “Silencio” before you could begin trash-talking. I bet you wouldn’t know the counter-curse. “Dear Hermione, save me please? Yes, yes, I’m the One, but I’m not too proficient with even simple curses.

Even Voldemort recognised this, when he said: “He was nothing, ever, but a boy who relied on others to sacrifice themselves for him!”


(This was written years ago for Quora)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lumos says:

    Guess I’m a bit late, but I’m saying my opinion nonetheless.

    Of course Harry is flawed and far less than perfect. That’s what makes him relatable. But I think you are a bit harsh on Harry. When he shouts at his friends in Order of Phoenix, he has massive PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). He has seen the man, who killed his parents arise, killing a boy for no reason. He spent the rest of the summer in fear and uncertainty just to learn that nobody believes him. I don’t how I would react.

    Besides you completely misinterpret Harry’s final encounter with Voldemort. I think you confuse this with the usual dialogues masala hero’s deliver when they face their villain. It’s not some cocky macho talk to provoke his opponent. It’s not about feeding his ego or proving his superiority towards Voldemort. In Harry Potter’s case it’s one of the best and most justified things he could have said. Once Harry saw that damaged part of Voldemort soul that lived within him, he saw who Voldemort really was. Only a confused man who destroyed his soul beyond repair for some megalomaniac ideas. That’s where all his superiority in that scene came from. Not because he was more skilled, talented, agile or anything more than Voldemort. But because he had still a complete soul. Beyond all the pain his soul remained untouched by corruption. That’s why could talk like that to Tom Ridlle, who was in this one thing infinitely below Harry. He was not capable of feeling or even understanding love anymore. That’s why he trusted Snape, even after killing the love his life. These are the things about which Harry knew more than Tom Riddle. Even than it was not only to establish what Tom Riddle lacked or to humiliate him. It was Harry’s sincere effort to make Riddle regret his actions. Remorse was the one thing that could have saved his soul. Of course Riddle did interpret things the way you did. Therefor he got only provoked and never tried to understand what Harry meant. That’s what led to his final end. I think if you don’t understand this scene, you failed to grasp the message of the entire series. This is really the core of the story.


  2. Deepika Ramesh says:

    Sirius. Snape. Let’s not forgive Harry Potter.


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