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Bravery vs. Enemies and vs. Friends

Commentary

When Dumbledore awards Gryffindor 10 points for Neville's bravery in standing up to his friends before they set out for their race to the Sorcerer's Stone, many fans experienced mixed feelings.  Sure, everyone (as a reader, if not as a self-identifying Slytherin) wants Gryffindor to beat Slytherin in the House Cup--but at the last possible moment (arguably after the last possible moment)?  Giving Neville 10 points for a display of courage for which Dumbledore was not even present, not even in the school, seems almost like a cheap shot against Slytherin, the House against which so many already feel a prejudicial bias.  Did Slytherin deserve to win the House Cup that year?  Probably not, but the banners were already green and flying in their honor.  The Slytherins who did rightfully earn House Points and believe they had won the Cup did not deserve to have it ripped away from them.  Dumbledore is a sensitive man of discerning judgment--why did he go so far?

After much thought, I don't think it was solely out of love for Harry, who had been through so much and needed a win at the end of a tough first year.  I believe his motives shine through in this quote.  Who better than Dumbledore, who delayed his capture of Gellert Grindelwald for five years during which fatalities and disappearances occurred, understands the critical importance and pain of standing up to those you love and respect?

Dumbledore probably also did not mind reminding his students that he is basically always watching them.

Other noteworthy instances in which characters showed bravery against friends include:

  • when Hermione tells Professor McGonagall that Harry has received a Firebolt from an unknown entity, despite knowing that Harry and Ron will be devastated
  • (arguably) when Dudley tells Harry that he doesn't think he's a waste of space
  • when Harry quarrels with Lupin, who has just expressed his wish to abandon his wife and unborn child in favor of joining Harry in his quest to defeat Voldemort

--AK

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Tags: bravery courage enemies friends friendship

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