Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Unsung Heroes: Colin Creevey and Frank Longbottom

An exciting and informative past-time as a Harry Potter fan is to ruminate the details of characters and storylintes; to dissect the meaning behind author JK Rowling's story. Throughout the web are great multiple analyses of minor and supporting characters which challenge the importance of their small roles. For example, science fiction website Tor.com has posted a must-read analyzation of Neville Longbottom and why he is the most important character of the Harry Potter series, as well as an in-depth article on how the blockbuster series diminished the importance of Ron Weasley. While these two popular supporting characters are often the subject of worthy admiration and support by fans, another minor male character (who I always felt was cut too soon out of the Potter picture) was Colin Creevey.

After lingering over the emergence of Harry's battle against Voldemort, a case came to my attention of Creevey's similarities to that of Frank Longbottom - father of Neville Longbottom. What we know currently of both characters are mostly surface level from which is briefly told or mentioned throughout the seven books. However, a deeper look at both shows eery similarities of both unrecognized men who gave to the wizarding world movement in its resistance against evil.

First emerging in the second book Chamber of Secrets, Creevey is an enthusiastic fan of Potter's lurking around every corner to takes photographs of memorable people, objects and events to send home to his family. In Potter's second altercation against Voldemort, Creevey is attacked by the basilisk snake and temporarily petrified - simply for being a half-blood student in the wrong place at the wrong time. Creevey is a rather easily excitable child, however, he is not so far outside of being popular nor bullied; he is a middle man whose social status balances between well-known and liked.  Throughout his years at Hogwarts he become a man behind-the-scenes watching and waiting word for when he will be needed to assist the 'good guys' against evil.

Other than his marriage to Alice Longbottom and fathering Gryffindor student Neville Longbottom, very little is known about Mr. Longbottom. However, his continued display of bravery and boldness can easily have us assume that he was sorted into the Gryffindor house upon studying at Hogwarts - the same house as Creevey.

From his days at Hogwarts, we know that Longbottom was not a member of the Marauder's Map. He was not apparently so outside of the inner circle of the clique for Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and so on held him in high regards and spoke of him as a close friend from their days in Order of the Phoenix - a faction that was formed in attempt to end Voldemort and his Death Eater's persecution of Muggle-born wizards in the first wizarding world. His previous tutilage days at Hogwarts neither report that he was a severe outcast like Severus Snape nor revered jock as James Potter - however, his presence was remembered as a kindhearted and bold young man - again, a character who is not the focus of the social scene but not entirely forgettable.

Three years later after the first appearance of Creeveys' journey, he re-emerges briefly in Goblet of Fire alongside his younger brother Dennis; both attempt to correct a stack of "Potter Stinks" badges to read "Supporting Harry Potter" - however, they buttons end up reading "Potter Really Stinks".

His role grows slightly bigger in the fifth book Order of the Phoenix, in what further proves his courage and dedication. In their own attempt to support Dumbledore's continued battle against Voldemort, Potter and his friends form Dumbledore's Army - a group of students who secretly gathered in the Room of Requirement to learn defensive magic by Potter. Two members of the group was Colin, and his younger brother, Dennis. Their skills at performing magic in the D.A. was a bit challenging as their attempts with the Expelliarmus Charm resulted in blowing up books off shelves. Continually trying to achieve charms, Colin succeeds in the Impediment Jinx - this proving that he was a determined young student who was not deterred from assisting in the D.A.'s offensive learning tactics.

Both Longbottom and Creevey show their conviction against the dark magic by training and joining up with groups that aim to end Voldemort's reign. Their personalities prove to be daring and firmly courageous, however, their biggest similarity meets with a bigger sacrifice: their lives.

In the first wizarding world, a prophecy emerges that one boy born on July 31st will be Voldemort's undoing - Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter. The two boys' lives are riddled with tragedy as one could grow to be the boy who either died or lived. Potter proved to be that child who would go on to clash Voldemort for the next several years. In defense of his son's life and finishing off the pursuit of Voldemort's reign, Mr. Longbottom and wife as members of OOTP, they were tortured by four Death Eaters - most famously helmed by Bellatrix Lestrange. Their fate rest for the rest of their lives in St. Mungo's Hospital with no memories of their child Neville - who often visited his parents with his grandmother. As Sirius Black noted, it was a fate worse than death.

On May 2nd 1998, Creevey too surrenders his life. Voldemort looms nearer to Hogwarts in pursuit of killing Potter and any 'mudblood' that stands in his way. Students who are under age are escorted out of the school grounds and are prohibited to battle. Creevey is among them, however, he manages to sneak back into the castle and dies in combat. Neville and Oliver Wood recover his body, and in passing, Potter notes how small Creevey's body looks in death. While Longbottom's legacy went to live on through his son's bravery to kill Nagini at the battle of Hogwarts, on Creevey's end we are left to imagine what his brother Dennis would do in remembrance.

Both serve the popular mantra spoken by Sirius Black: "We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on." Longbottom came from a pure-blood lineage and easily could've wound up as a Death Eater; Creevey, a muggle born young adult, could've chosen not to stay and fight. Their choices are what led them on a counter-crusade. Though mentioned in passing throughout the series, and catalysts for other characters, both men represent the forgotten warriors who sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the cause.

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