"People believe you are the Chosen One, you see. They think you quite the hero – which, of course, you are, Harry, chosen or not! How many times have you faced He Who Must Not Be Named now? Well, anyway, the point is, you are a symbol of hope for many, Harry. The idea that there is somebody out there who might be able, who might even be destined, to destroy He Who Must Not Be Named...."
-- Rufus Scrimgeour (HBP16)
The Chosen One is the child referred to in the Prophecy made by seer Sybill Trelawney – the child who will be the one to defeat the Dark Lord. The Prophecy is made in front of Albus Dumbledore when he is interviewing Trelawney for a position at Hogwarts, and was partially overheard by Severus Snape (OP37):
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …“ (OP37)
Harry Potter finally hears the full text of the Prophecy via Dumbledore’s memories in the Pensieve (OP37). Later that year, Harry is given the title of the “Chosen One” in an article published in the Daily Prophet after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries (HBP3):
“Some are going so far as to call Potter the ‘Chosen One’, believing that the prophecy names him as the only one who will be able to rid us of He Who Must Not Be Named.” (HBP3)
However, there were two wizard children born at the end of July 1980: Neville Longbottom and Harry, so either could have been the “Chosen One”, and Harry wonders about this:
“Had Voldemort chosen Neville, it would be Neville sitting opposite Harry bearing the lightning-shaped scar and the weight of the prophecy … or would it? Would Neville’s mother have died to save him, as Lily had died for Harry? Surely she would … but what if she had been unable to stand between her son and Voldemort? Would there, then, have been no ‘Chosen One’ at all? An empty seat where Neville now sat and a scarless Harry who would have been kissed goodbye by his own mother, not Ron’s?” (HBP7)
This epithet could apply to either Harry Potter or Neville Longbottom as both their families had defied Lord Voldemort three times. On her old website, in the FAQ section (and before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published in 2005), J K Rowling gave fans her thoughts on Neville and the Chosen One:
"In effect, the prophecy gave Voldemort the choice of two candidates for his possible nemesis. In choosing which boy to murder, he was also (without realising it) choosing which boy to anoint as the Chosen One – to give him tools no other wizard possessed – the scar and the ability it conferred, a magical window into Voldemort's mind. So what would have happened if Voldemort had decided that the pure-blood, not the half-blood, was the bigger threat? What would have happened if he had attacked Neville instead? Harry wonders this during the course of 'Half-Blood Prince' and concludes, rightly, that the answer hinges on whether or not one of Neville's parents would have been able, or prepared, to die for their son in the way that Lily died for Harry. If they hadn't, Neville would have been killed outright. Had Frank or Alice thrown themselves in front of Neville, however, the killing curse would have rebounded just as it did in Harry's case, and Neville would have been the one who survived with the lightning scar. What would this have meant? Would a Neville bearing the lightning scar have been as successful at evading Voldemort as Harry has been? Would Neville have had the qualities that have enabled Harry to remain strong and sane throughout all of his many ordeals? Although Dumbledore does not say as much, he does not believe so: he believes Voldemort did indeed choose the boy most likely to be able to topple him, for Harry's survival has not depended wholly or even mainly upon his scar.
So where does this leave Neville, the boy who was so nearly King? Well, it does not give him either hidden powers or a mysterious destiny. He remains a 'normal' wizarding boy, albeit one with a past, in its way, as tragic as Harry's. As you saw in 'Order of the Phoenix,' however, Neville is not without his own latent strengths. It remains to be seen how he will feel if he ever finds out how close he came to being the Chosen One.
Some of you, who have been convinced that the prophecy marked Neville, in some mystical fashion, for a fate intertwined with Harry's, may find this answer rather dull. Yet I was making what I felt was a significant point about Harry and Voldemort, and about prophecies themselves, in showing Neville as the also-ran. If neither boy was 'pre-ordained' before Voldemort's attack to become his possible vanquisher, then the prophecy (like the one the witches make to Macbeth, if anyone has read the play of the same name) becomes the catalyst for a situation that would never have occurred if it had not been made. Harry is propelled into a terrifying position he might never have sought, while Neville remains the tantalising 'might-have-been'."
In the end, Lord Voldemort choses Harry - and Harry ultimately choses to defeat him.
From the Web
The Rowling Library:
- TRL Magazine Issue #53, article on page 4: Who Chose the Chosen One? by Oliver Horton
- Archived FAQ from the old J K Rowling website: What is the significance of Neville being the other boy to whom the prophecy might have referred?
- Becoming Harry Potter: The Chosen One #MNBHP by Nicole Rivera
- If Neville Longbottom were "The Chosen One" by Amy Hogan
- What If Neville Was the Chosen One? (Trailer) by Montana Schrader & Stacey Lannigan
The-Leaky-Cauldron: Fulfilling the Prophecy by Doris
WizardingWorld (Pottermore) features: