I love Harry Potter. Of course, I love Harry, Ron and Hermione. And Neville, Ginny, Luna and Fred and George, and Rowling’s other young characters.
But, as well, I love her grown up characters. I love it that she didn’t fall victim to the old trope of children’s book writers who write adult characters who are simply unalloyed morons. Who continually get IN the way, instead of OUT of the way, or, even better, who work hard to be good examples of adulthood.
So, in honor of Rowling’s awesome adult characters, I want to mention five of my favorites:
- Minerva McGonagall. Oh, how I love thee, Professor McGonagall. It’s not just Maggie Smith’s brilliant performance in the movies, although that certainly doesn’t hurt. It’s McGonagall’s unswerving sense of decency, and the prickly tenderness that marks her relationship with Harry, in particular, but also with the other young Gryffindor’s in her charge.
- Molly Weasley. The truest mother figure in the series, Molly Weasley is supportive without being disempowered or weak. Her relationship with Arthur Weasley is a lovely example of a real and solid marriage built on things like mutual respect and trust and honor. And, best of all, she effing kicks ass at combat magic. If there is a character that I most aspire to be like, it is probably Molly Weasley. And not just because of that cheer-worthy scene during the Battle For Hogwarts that all Harry Potter fans will remember, and relish, but also because she had a heart big enough to take in a motherless boy and give him the unconditional love that he needed and deserved, even though she had seven children of her own already.
- Remus Lupin. Again, my love of all things Lupin isn’t merely because David Thewlis is an amazing actor. Lupin is deeply honorable, and unselfish to the point of self-destruction. He expects literally nothing for himself.
- Dolores Umbridge. Yes, I hate her. We’re meant to hate her. And, of course, Rowling almost went over the top with the evil that is Umbridge, as she is one of the least-multi-dimensional characters in the series. There is an argument to be made, and in my opinion that argument is not laughable, that Umbridge is a more dangerous kind of evil than Voldemort. Because Voldemort is openly evil – he revels in his evil, rolls around in it like a dog covering himself in stink. Umbridge, on the other hand, pretends to be good but is, at her core, completely rotten. And therefore, as a character she is valuable. She reminds us to look below the surface, to refuse to take things at face value, to question authority. She added tremendously to the story.
- Hagrid. Of course, Hagrid. If Harry is the soul of the story, and Hermione is the brains, then Hagrid is the heart. And he is all heart, all good, almost childlike in his deep and abiding belief in Dumbledore, in Harry, and in the inevitability of the triumph of good over evil. The scene in the last book where Hagrid carries Harry back to castle is beautiful, so poignant and tender that it has the power to move me to tears nearly every time I read it.
There are so many other characters that I could’ve mentioned: Dobby, of course, and Severus Snape, who I’m sure I’ll talk about at some point, and Sirius Black, and Dumbledore himself.
I have nearly finished my re-read of Sorcerer’s Stone. More on that later.