Monday, July 31, 2023

7 Harry Potter Characters We Love to Hate

Today is Harry Potter’s birthday and this probably isn’t the best way to celebrate him but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about well written characters from the series. As I finish up my reread of the series, I want to highlight five characters that are written, so well that we love to hate them. We all pretty much agree about number one, but I’m curious about your thoughts on the rest. 

7. Gilderoy Lockhart

Sadly, in many ways, Lockhart is the most benign of the characters on this list. He’s so obnoxious and self-centered, even with his memory raised, that you can’t help but roll your eyes every time he comes on the scene. And then you add into the fact that he ruined other peoples lives to make his writing a success. Sad thing is, he was obviously a talented writer, but he had to take all the glory for himself. 

6. Peter Pettigrew

With a betrayal as heinous as his, he ought to really go further down the list. But I'm putting him here towards the top because in many ways he's just so forgettable. We love to hate him, yes, but I almost didn't put him on the list. After Prisoner of Azkaban and especially after Goblet of Fire, he takes such a back seat that sometimes I honestly forget what he did. I guess that's the fate fitting for someone was cowardly as him, to be forgotten.

5. Rita Skeeter

With all the horrid, slanderous content on the internet, her journalism could be considered tame. But all the same, Rita spent years making her name off misquoting and misrepresenting people just to sell articles and get her name published. She had a small moment of redemption when she told Harry's side of the story in Order of the Phoenix (which was cut from the movie), but she had to be blackmailed into that. And over the course of the series she slandered Hermione, Hagrid, Dumbledore, and probably more. At the very least I can give her at that a lot of the Dumbledore content was accurate... but it presented the late headmaster in such a dark light, trying to tarnish his memory. 

4. Cornelius Fudge

He’s your typical politician, or anyone in leadership in any organization, for that matter, that is scared to be wrong, all for the sake of keeping his status. He was willing to expel Harry from Hogwarts to avoid admitting that they  dementors might not be in his control. And that’s a relatively minor sin compared to giving Voldemort the ability to grow his army and secret, just by being in denial.

3. Vernon and Petunia Dursley

Essays could be written, and maybe have been written already, about how awful the Dursleys are. When I was younger, I knew they were bad people just by virtue of how rude they were to Harry. But as an adult who has been to therapy, they’re not just rude or mean, they’re abusive and neglectful. It’s not just their hatred of magic, but how they treated Harry to try to sniff it out. All because Petunia was jealous of her sister. The extended version of Deathly Hallows Part One has her saying that she lost her sister when Harry lost his mother, but I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for her with how she treated her sister's son. 

2. Bellatrix Lestrange

I’d be curious to know what she was like before going to Azkaban. Was she just as insane as after her escape? Or was her confinement the reason she was unhinged in the 90s? Either way, her psychotic behavior and sycophant nature is what makes us love Bellatrix. Yet at the same time we all cheered when Mrs. Weasley defeated her. 

1. Dolores Umbridge

Naturally, this infamous professor/headmistress/politician is number one on my list. She is power-hungry and dark. She had no qualms with torturing a teenager, both with her quill and with a curse. And then later, on when the regime changed, it was all too easy for her to come on board with it. Her loyalty changed to whoever could bring her power and she showed her ruthlessness by condemning muggleborns. Heck. She was so dark that she could wear a Horcrux all day every day, and only feel her mood improve. That ought to say something.

Who have I missed? With over 200 named characters in the Harry Potter franchise, I’m certain my list is incomplete. I suppose I could have put Snape on this list too, but I’ve already discussed him a bit too much. And he sort of redeemed himself. So did Dudley, at least more than his parents. 

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