Qualms with the Harry Potter series?


Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2013
I haven't read this series in a long time and started a re-read. I enjoyed Book 1 for the majority (except the annoying last minute Hagrid side plot). I found Book 2 hard to read through. I just stopped caring after Harry got saved by Ron :( and the plot wasn't all that interesting to me. Started reading my original favorite, Book 3. Got my juices going but again I stopped caring after there were no consequences to Harry's actions and everything was just laughed away. I get that these are books for kids but Harry getting "saved" from difficult situations instead using his brains/resources to get himself out of them makes the tension go away and makes me lose interest. All the while I am thinking "Yikes! Wow this is crazy. How the heck will harry get out out of this problem now--oh Ron saves him--oh Dumbledore saves him--oh Fudge says everything is A-Ok.--" I think it gets better by Book 5, since that's when Harry starts taking some initiative with Dumbledore's Army and all, but this ^ problem is making it difficult for me to care.

Also I don't find Harry (as a CHARACTER) terribly interesting. I find his circumstances interesting, but not him himself. I think he gets better in Book 5 and onward (from my memory). He is still a little irritating since everything in the entire Wizarding world seems to center around him (which is understandable) but it still makes me roll my eyes none the less. Doesn't help that his character is pretty bland to me.

As for other minor stuff, Ron somewhat annoys me on my re-read. Ron is so dense and petty, especially in book 2. Which is sad because he was my favorite character in Book 1; not the brightest person, definitely not the best wizard but he had a lot of bravery and loyalty and sharp but funny comebacks and street smarts (wizarding world wise). In Book 2 he just seems like really dumb and a punching bag/laughing stock. He just exists so bad things happen to him and get laughed at. In book 3 he seems ok. Hopefully he will stay that way. But I know he gets really irritating in Book 4 with all the "jealous of Harry stuff. ugh."

So what are your qualms with the HP series? (If any :D )
I love the Harry Potter books, and have read them quite a few times.

BUT ... I agree, Harry doesn't really do much except serve as a rallying point for everyone else, and he only manages because he has competent and loyal friends who keep saving his butt.

It doesn't keep me from liking the books, though. :D
I know of one published writer who has several times expressed the opinion that Harry is not really the protagonist of most of the books, since the only one undergoing real change is actually Ron. It's not a major fault, mind you, since many books have the main character not being the protagonist but in a seven volume work it can be a little unsettling.
I agree with a lot of what the OP says. Harry is a lesser hero saved by greater friends, whose past brings interesting actions to his present.

I also don't like that Harry's protection is his parents' sacrifice because they love him. Did no other person sacrifice themselves to save one they loved?

While it may be that it's not until book 5 that Harry starts to become a little more active, I found that book irritating because he was so snappy and such a teenager. I know it's fully intended, but it was grating to read at the time :)

Thankfully the world is supported by a wonderful array of intrigue and characters. That was the strength of the series for me.
Although I can see what you all are saying, I actually don't perceive these things as flaws to the book. If the characters were too mature or too independent of more experienced adults around them, the story would be less believable. I think they are fairly realistic kids who act like typical teenagers, just in extraordinary circumstances.
Interesting. I have a very slick new box set with the updated US covers and was thinking about re-reading these soon because I loved them the first time through. Curious if I notice anything similar.

I will say Harry was never THAT interesting to me, other than him being a chosen one that doesn't really want the title. To me, the book was always more about the power of friendship and how Harry, prophecies be damned, would have been nothing without the people supporting him. It was an interesting take on a hero story I thought... maybe not that original, but very well done. I also recall the first two books being pretty mediocre and things not really taking off until book 3, where things begin to get darker and Harry has to get serious.
i found Ron to be the most annoying character throughout the series.
Harry is largely a figurehead style character. And ultimately we learn why by book 7.
I think Harry's own skills are consistently DOWNplayed solely so Rowling didn't give us another Gary Stu character.
The adult characters are all far more interesting than the students. Frankly i wanted MORE McGonagal. No other character intrigued me more. Having Dame Maggie Smith playing her in the films made me love her even more. I always saw Minerva as the next most powerful wizard/witch in Hogwarts after Dumbledore. ((Snape being a close 3rd perhaps)). There was always such respect directed towards her character. I always wanted to know precisely why. transfiguration was Dumbledore's own class, and she must have been something remarkable to succeed him once he became headmaster.
I don't really know what it was about HP I didn't like...I just...couldn't pick any of the books up after Chamber of Secrets. That might not make me entirely qualified, then, but...

First off, I've always been kind of slightly averse to urban fantasy. If it is done well, I can be tricked into enjoying it, or if it has themes and issues I find interesting. But, I'm an escapist reader, and not only from my own depression, but also from the world in general, so urban usually doesn't work too well for me in that respect.

Secondly...now, I have had glimpses of British entertainment culture, through the likes of Benny Hill, some British movies, and this site, and such, but, I feel like it just hasn't been nearly enough for me to make any general statements about it, and there is still a lot I don't understand. And wording that is just different between American English and, well, U.K. original English. (Please correct me on how to properly differentiate between the two.) It's rather minor for most, perhaps, but the word "trolley" for example, makes me think of the street cars found in San Francisco that people ride, and "bogie", though a different spelling, makes me think of golf. :eek:

And perhaps third, and most importantly, Chamber of Secrets was a gift from an aunt of mine who my mother and I had long since had an irreparable falling out with. I won't go into further detail, but suffice it to say that I do not equate the series very well to my memories because of that connection.
Am I alone in thinking Harry is a great character?

I loved the fact he wasn't a superhero but he had some considerable skills and ability of his own. The spells he produced showed that he had the ability to be a great wizard in his own right. He developed throughout the series in an almost typical teenage fashion.

My only dissatisfaction with the series was the epilogue -Ginny Weasley was such a drip.
I wasn't a huge HP fan. I found him a bit Oliver Twist-ist to be honest ie a little whimy and passive, which was okay when he was a child but got wearing as the series went on.

I think it was a great world and it wad great to see kids enthused about reading but, ultimately, it left me feeling a bit flat.
I never detected much trace of personality in Harry himself. I agree with Devilsgrin that the adult characters were far more interesting.
I never detected much trace of personality in Harry himself. I agree with Devilsgrin that the adult characters were far more interesting.

i think Harry was meant to be relatively bland. He was a character the reader was supposed to identify with... boy or girl, child, teen or adult. Had his personality been stronger, that would have been too difficult to do.
I actually DO like Harry. And i resent his marginalisation quite a lot. He was powerful. He was skilled. (the woah damn Patronus versus an army of Dementors is clear proof). And yet we're constantly told he's nothing special... apart from a scar and a snake's tongue...
I actually DO like Harry. And i resent his marginalisation quite a lot. He was powerful. He was skilled. (the woah damn Patronus versus an army of Dementors is clear proof). And yet we're constantly told he's nothing special... apart from a scar and a snake's tongue...

I agree with this - he may have had help during the Goblet of Fire but it was his spells that allowed him to keep pace the older more advanced students. It was his own actions that impressed the mermen etc I liked Harry and thought he was a good a character.
Qualms with the series. None. But I'd like to chime in on the discussion regarding the purpose of the character called Harry Potter.

Harry is bland... on purpose... just as devilsgrin posted. Harry is not exceptional in innate magic ability, physique, intellect, or moral character... and neither is he delinquent in any of these fields either. Readers, espcially young readers, are supposed to identify their feelings of just wanting to fit in, of not wanting to stand out, of being okay. We may admire James Bond, Wonder Woman, and Lancelot for they can do physically, mentally, and morally, but do we really identify with them? How many of us can save the world from maniacs? How many of us can block bullets? How many of us are regarded as paragons of virtue? We admire James Bond, until he fails to save a hostage... We admire Wonder Woman until we see her pain from her sundered family... We admire Lancelot until we see him betray his king... and only then do we really begin to empathize with them. The series opens with Harry's tragic past, but he had nothing to do with it. He's a kid. He's trying to just find his place.

So Harry begins to discover his magic abilities... good, but not outstanding. Except in potions, where he is atrocious, and in flying, where he excels. He gains accpetance as an athlete. (I use the term athlete in the loosest possible sense. I'm sure it takes courage to fly a broom at breakneck speeds and dizzying heights. And I'm positive it takes tremendous balance to stay on a moving broom. But as for me, and I suppose the rest of you as well, I find it difficult to really call anyone who sits down to compete an athlete.) He is seen as a something of a rebel. And he gains a reputation as a duelist. Those are his magical, physical, and mental abilities. Physical and mental growth are important, but I think the author was trying to make a more important point.

It is Harry's character, his moral qualities that gain the greatest growth... though this is missed by almost everyone, except Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Fred, George, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Sirius, Lupin, Neville, Dobby, and Griphook. Most of these people misread Harry at times and even mistrusted him. By the end, all were impressed with his steadfast refusal to succumb to fear. I think this is one of the great themes of the story... Ms. Rowling wanted us to know that even if we're not born with super powers, great height, tremendous muscle, or superior intellect, still we have an overwhelming ability to improve our moral character... do good, love others, help out, encourage, fight fear, resist evil.

Harry's lack of outstanding qualities serves to highlight his morality... with which we are all to identify.

And a few comments upon the series...

Harry appears to be the focal point of the story, but I think that is just because we see things from his point of view. The circumstances of the story deal with the supposed demise of Voldemort's reign of terror, his return, his second defeat, and the efforts of Dumbledore to thwart him. In the larger picture, I'd argue that Voldemort is more important. Just think if the story was told from Neville's, Hermione's, Draco's, Snape's, or Moody's point of view... would Voldemort be less or more important? Maybe more important from some points of view. Maybe less. Now what about Harry? Would he be more important or less? I'd have to say he'd be less important in almost every point of view... until the last two or three books. I could envision the story being written from different points of view and being retitled.... Albus Dumbledore:The Phoenix or Tom Riddle: The Fall and Rise of Lord Voldmort or Greatheart: The Story of Severus Snape.

The story has a large cast of characters. JKR wants us to identify with at least one of the peripheral figures around Harry. Ron is mistake prone. Hermione is prepared. Fred and George are zany. Vernon is judgmental. Petunia is concerned with appearances. Sirius is hot blooded. Dobby is faithful. Kreacher is lonely. Neville won't quit. Luna is kind hearted. Draco is spiteful. Lupin is merciful. Mrs. Weasley protects. Hagrid accepts. McGonagall is driven. Dumbledore is mysterious. And Snape is selfish... until we learn that he was courageous.

Just be brave until your friends' preparation, mercy, acceptance, and protection come to your aid.

That's my two cents.
Gotta admit I've never read these, but they're on my list once I've finished We and Against A Dark Background. Was inspired to read them after going on the studio tour in London, and now really want to compare the books with the films (normally I aim to read the book versions of films if the book came first anyway).

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