I’m Worth Twelve of You, Malfoy: Why I’m Neville Longbottom

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As Harry Potter crazed kids, when we were asked who are favorite character was or who we related to most our answer was most likely one of the Golden Trio. Harry, because he’s the lead and the star. Hermione, because she has the brains and the talent. Ron, because he’s funny and loyal and has the best family. Not to completely discount our responses back then, but we did not yet fully comprehend the deeper characteristics and traits of the characters in Harry Potter, nor did we fully know who we were yet. As we grow older, our answers change with us. Luna, because she may say an odd thing or two but her heart is always in the right place and she’s incredibly passionate and protective of the ones she loves. Ginny, because she feels pushed to the side most of her life and steps up to be a very powerful witch and does not apologize for it.

For me, it’s Neville Longbottom.

As a kid, no one wants to be Neville. He’s chubby, he’s weird, he didn’t know he had powers for way too long (basically, a late bloomer). He fell off of everything, he tripped over everything, he blew up potions in Snape’s class and “Ten points from Gryffindor!“. He was bullied relentlessly by Malfoy for no reason other than he didn’t have everything together and he was easy to embarrass.

I am Neville Longbottom.

As a 19 year old who has read the Sorcerer’s Stone at least 3 times before, I am rereading it once more for my study in children’s lit class for university. I have had this small theory that I’m Neville for a while, but as I am reading through this book again I keep finding more and more evidence that my theory is true. The way I came about this idea needs a little explaining, so here’s some backstory:

Most people know I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. Not necessarily in the way that I talk about Harry Potter all the time, but in the way that I know everything about the story and the universe and it’s hard to find a fact that I don’t know. I have an entire shelf on my bookcase dedicated to Harry Potter stuff, and not all of it even fits. I will definitely cry if I hear Hedwig’s Theme. This is common knowledge, and if it’s not, people find out soon enough. Then comes the inevitable question: What house are you in? Now, see, there’s a variance of how seriously certain types of fans take Hogwarts houses. Casual fans see the houses as the brave one, the smart one, the evil one, and the one that takes the losers. Fans that probably care too much about the book series know that these are just harmful house stereotypes. Me, being one of these fans, thinks much deeper about Hogwarts houses and, taking this into account, I am a Gryffindor.

So, when people ask “What house are you in?” and I respond with “I’m in Gryffindor”, a lot of the time they respond with a look of confusion and doubt. “Really? You’re a Gryffindor?” Yes, I am. Let me explain.

Hogwarts students are sorted into houses when they are 11 years old. When I was 11, I believed that I was a Gryffindor. I wasn’t shy at school, I talked in class, I introduced myself to new people, I was incredibly accident prone and had a high pain tolerance so all falls and scrapes and bruises were not a big deal. To an 11-year-old, this was being brave. Being brave meant doing big things you weren’t scared of or not even being scared of anything. That was being brave as a kid. As you grow, what’s considered bravery shifts and changes just like you shift and change.

Middle school and high school were different. I became very self conscious in middle school because of body image issues and I wasn’t very outgoing. In high school, body image wasn’t so much of a big deal as my newfound nervousness and anxiety. I went to a new school for high school, one that was small and where most people already knew each other. Making friends was hard, really hard, and I didn’t feel like I had real friends until senior year. I was afraid of doing things, like going to dances and football games or even eating in the dining hall. The nervousness turned into anxiety and I would have panic attacks if I tried to do those things. Most of freshman and sophomore year I spent all my free time tucked in the library. I still have anxiety issues today and though they manifest themselves a little differently, they are still there.

This is not bravery, is it?

Actually, to me, yeah, it is. Junior year of high school I had to give a speech in front of the whole school as a graduation requirement. I was beyond nervous. I actually tried to transfer schools to avoid giving the speech, but my parents wouldn’t let me (thanks, guys). I started panicking about my November speech during the June before. The week before my speech, the anxiety was real and bad. Surprisingly, when I woke up on the morning of my speech day, I thought “I’m excited”. Now, I wasn’t actually excited, but I knew I had to give the speech, so I told myself all day “I’m excited, I’m excited”. Once I got to school, when people asked me how I was feeling I responded by saying “I’m excited!”. By the time I was behind the stage waiting to walk out, the nerves weren’t bad nerves but excited ones. I had convinced myself and my body that I was actually looking forward to giving the speech. I don’t remember when I was on stage and talking, it was such a blur, but I do remember sitting down afterwards, being so incredibly proud of myself. I did it. I did the scariest thing in the world for me at the time, I conquered it, and that is what bravery is.

To me, being a Gryffindor means being brave when I have to be, in the moments where it matters the most, no matter how much I don’t want to. Bravery is standing up to someone else, standing up for yourself, for the first time ever even after panicking about it the night before. Bravery is moving to a dorm at your university even though you would rather live at home and commute because you know the experience will be good for you. Bravery is also living from home and commuting every once and a while because sometimes doing what is best for you and not what everyone else is doing demands a sort of courage.

This is why I’m Neville Longbottom.

In the Harry Potter books, no one thinks that Neville should be in Gryffindor. In the Sorcerer’s Stone, chapter 13, Neville was unfairly jinxed by Malfoy. This scene follows the incident:

“You’ve got to stand up to him, Neville!” said Ron. “He’s used to walking all over people, but that’s no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier.”

“There’s no need to tell me I’m not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy’s already done that,” Neville chocked out.

“You’re worth twelve of Malfoy,” Harry said. “The Sorting Hat chose you for Gryffindor, didn’t it? And where’s Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin.”

In the early years, not only did Neville not think that he was supposed to be in Gryffindor, but others also told him so. Fortunately, he had Ron and Harry who were willing to say nice things and be kind to him. Later in the chapter, during a Quidditch match, a miraculous thing happens.

“…Longbottom, you’ve got no brains.”

Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to Malfoy.

“I’m worth twelve of you, Malfoy,” he stammered.

This is a big deal for Neville. It’s the end of their first year and he had been kicked around and bullied by Malfoy for months. This is the first time that Neville ever does anything about it. Malfoy is unfazed, of course, a comment like that doesn’t stop a bully from being a bully. But it’s a step. Neville “went red but turned in his seat” to confront Malfoy; he was hurt and embarrassed and probably didn’t want to do it but he remembered what Ron and Harry had said the night before and decided to be brave.

That’s the thing, I think. Bravery, a lot of the time, is a concious decision. Sure, there are probably people who are naturally brave and do whatever they want; those are the reckless Gryffindor stereotypes who don’t have a regard for their own life that we all hear rumors about (*ahem* the Weasley twins). What I find interesting is that Neville is the only example of this type of Gryffindor, the one who is scared and nervous and blundering around most of the time and needs to make that conscious decision of bravery. There aren’t any other Gryffindor students that I can think of that felt like they did not fit into their house. Through not feeling like a true Gryffindor, Neville represents that kid who is not sure of themselves until they’re a bit older; a late bloomer. But they were always there, showing true moments of themselves through the mess that is growing up.

So, I think for a lot of people, or for maybe just a few, bravery is a decision we make. We’re not always sure of ourselves, it took us a while to figure out where we belong, and maybe we’re not brave all of the time, but we’re brave when it matters the most. And that’s what makes Neville and I Gryffindors.

 

xx, Em

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Every time I talk about Hogwarts houses, I hear everyone make stereotypes about each one. People think Ravenclaws are only smart, Slytherins are evil, Gryffindors are stupidly brave, and Hufflepuffs are the dumb rejects. I LOVED your response. There are many ways to be brave, loyal, smart, and cunning. I’m also a Gryffindor, but my bravery is more of a always saying what I think, standing up for what I believe in (very loudly), loving change and new experiences and doing anything, ANYTHING, for my friends kind of bravery. We’re all brave in different ways, and that’s what I love about Neville. He shows that you don’t have to be headstrong to be courageous. <3

  2. says

    It’s very fascinating story! I’m also a potterhead, so reading your post I had excitement. I remembered how important to me the story of the boy-who-lived. When you told about yourself, I thought it was about me, too:)

  3. sofia says

    this blog post specifically is amazing and truly inspirational (your others ones are great too btw). I loved how you found those tiny but specific details which shows nevilles true character. On the other hand I definitely agree and I too am one of the few who was not born brave but I am definitely brave when it matters most. Love love love this and have a wonderful day!,(quick question, not that it matters much, but did u take the pottermore quiz and get griffindor?)

  4. Hannah says

    I love this. Like you, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I have a whole section of my shelves devoted to it and I’ve reread them all at least 3 times! I’m a Ravenclaw, but Gryffindor has always been my favorite house (along with its members). Thanks for blogging – you’re awesome! 🙂

  5. says

    Talking about Hogwarts houses is one of my all time favourite conversation topics. Luckily I have friends I’ve known for 16 years who still aren’t sick of discussing it either. I really like your reasoning, and of course hate it when the houses get stereotyped – I’m a nice friendly Slytherin!
    I also always think about how the houses at my own school changed over the years – I was put in the house that always won all the sporting competitions, they had like a ten year winning streak. I don’t know if it was my influence but by the time I graduated we were definitely known as the nerd house, and we didn’t win the house cup (yep we had one it’s a real thing) the entire time I was at school. It just depends on the students in that house at the time, so I like to think that Slytherin had a particularly bad group of kids when
    Harry was at school, but they might have been better at other times! and also, you don’t have to stick to your own house for your group of friends – Think of how Luna had lots of friends in Gryffindor. I fully identify as a Slytherin and I’m proud of it, but I think I would’ve have lots of friends in other houses. and that might have even made me a bit of an outcast in the common room!
    really like your blog btw

  6. Lara says

    I started following you on Instagram because you posted so often about Harry Potter. Loved loved loved this blog entry and hope you do more related to Harry Potter 🙂 You’ve inspired me to redecorate my bookshelves to make a fully HP shelf! I’m sure it won’t look anywhere near as beautiful as yours, but I can’t wait to do it.

    ps. I consider myself a Slytherin! No one believes me though 🙁

  7. Lara says

    Also, my university offered a Harry Potter course (which I took, of course) and it was the most wonderful class! I hope your children’s lit course is amazing too!

  8. Amanda M says

    This was so fun to read! I too read Harry Potter when I was a kid and I still remember going to a midnight party at my local bookstore the night Order of the Phoenix was released! But as I got older, I just kind of stopped thinking about or caring about Harry Potter (I’m almost ashamed to say that). Now that I see how many older people are still so into it, I’m feeling like I may have missed something, and you may have inspired me to re-read the series again!

  9. says

    YES! Everyone thinks Ravenclaws have to be really studious and top of the class – but I think a huge part of (me) being a Ravenclaw is finding your own learning, and teaching yourself about things you are passionate about, even if that means not doing what was required. I’d rather get a bad grade for something I’m passionate about than a good grade for something I have no interest in.

  10. Silvia says

    Hi, Emily! This is the first time I stop by in your blog, but I have been following you on Instagram for over a year, I think. Well, I loved your post! Beautifully written and so interesting. I am a Gryffindor too, according to Pottermore, but I have always felt more of a Hufflepuff… But now that I read your ideas, I think I might be well sorted after all.
    Please do write more about the houses!

  11. says

    This rings so true! When i first took the Pottermore Quiz, I was in Hufflepuff and I was a little confused by it. Not that there’s anything wrong with Hufflepuff, but it didn’t really fit my personality then, or now. I took the test again and after years of adjusting to the fact that I was in HufflePuff, I got Gryffindor. I was confused because I’m easily frightened by a lot of things, but then I remembered Neville Longbottom and how, no matter how afraid he was, he always pulls through when he needs to. As much as I try to portray ‘Hermione’ on the outside, on the inside I’m really just Neville, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m re-reading the series and realizing how much Neville and I are alike!

    India | IndiaHillWrites.com

  12. Sophie says

    I love you, your blog, instagram and your never ending love of books! I consider myself to be a Hufflepuff. According to Pottermore I’m a Ravenclaw but I feel like I suit Hufflepuff more. Reading your post has helped me recognize the different ways I am a Hufflepuff, I’m kind, smart, shy, caring and underestimated. I love your personality so much! Please don’t ever stop doing what your doing!

  13. says

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know how much of an inspiration you’ve been to me! I run a travel blog, but when I found your blog through your Instagram recently, your posts reminded me of how much I’ve always loved to read and inspired me to incorporate a new series into my blog that I’m calling “Books Abroad”. I’m just getting it off and running, but it will be about ways that travel and books overlap.

    Thanks for inspiring me. Keep doing what you’re doing here on this blog; it’s awesome 🙂

    Clara | http://roamingelsewhereblog.com

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