I read this post yesterday by the magnificent Tyler Tarver and it spurred me to think about all things Potter. That and maybe the bombardment of previews sprinkled throughout every TV show.
I kept getting stuck on two things though that are kind of related. The first…
#1 – Why Does Harry Wear Glasses?
Let me start with this: I’m no authority on HP. I got in on the craze late so some of the nitty gritty details found in the text are foreign to me.
That being said, why does Harry have to wear glasses? Maybe there’s an easy answer I don’t know about. Or is it simply a detail like how Hagrid has a supreme beard or how most postal workers wear tight pants/shorts?
But if it IS just a detail, why?
I mean this is the wizard universe, correct? Bones can be regrown but vision can’t be restored? If it is JUST a detail, it seems careless. It would be like depicting a universe where cows are the most intelligent and sentient beings, but they still have to be milked each morning by farmhands. The presumption is that a character/being that powerful/intelligent could apply a quick fix.
Because are we really to believe that the Boy Who Lived and the Boy who will also go on to vanquish evil personified also needs corrective eyewear? Seems sloppy.
So then, we kinda have to believe that the need for glasses is more elemental to Harry’s character, right? We don’t really see other characters with corrective eyewear, but then again we don’t really see any other characters who can go toe to toe with He Who Must Not Be Named.
So the glasses then become something of a subtle commentary ostensibly meaning that Harry is so inconceivably awesome, that he HAS to need glasses because if not, his essential awesomeness would make your entire person explode into a confetti shower of body tissue.
(Which by the way, in the pantheon of fictional villains, doesn’t Voldemort HAVE to be #1? People refer to him not by name, but through an ominous sentence. Think about that: he’s so bad that even his name upon your tongue dooms you, so you have to navigate some murky grammatical waters to even functionally discuss him. That’s just good hustle.
Even Keyser Soze can’t compare, who on his own is still pretty awesome. I don’t even know what language that name is or what it means, but it’s such a cool mishmash of sounds and letters that it intimidates. That fact is mitigated by the villain actually being Kevin Spacey, but hey, he’s #2 for a reason.)
Hyperbole aside, this idea is likely not only as a commentary but also as a comparative method. Harry’s poor eyesight is seen in juxtaposition to his inherent power and destiny. He can survive the profound evil that is Voldemort, yet he is also tripped up by an eye examine. It doesn’t seem right, but it IS right because it forces us to view Harry differently than we would the classic hero.
It’s the same reason why an actor like Tobey MaGuire played Spiderman and not Brad Pitt: our classic notion of what a hero is isn’t always (or usually) accurate. Heroes are rarely the physical incarnations of Greek gods. They’re usually an ordinary vessel through which extraordinary things are done. Which brings us to the next point…
#2 – The Unconventional Savior
For all intents and purposes, Cedric Diggory SHOULD have been the Hogwarts student tapped to duel with the Big V. He was smart, strong, brave, needed no corrective eyewear, and perhaps most importantly, was good.
He looked the part and seemingly, he embodied everything that suggested that he could stand up to the greatest baddy of all-time if given the chance.
But we all know what happened: when chanced with an encounter, Voldemort killed him SO HARD that he turned Cedric into a sparkling vampire doomed to spend eternity with Kristen Stewart.
Defeating Voldemort was about defeating convention. Familiar tactics would always fall against a foe like him as the Order of the Phoenix and Ministry of Magic found out. You couldn’t just step up to Voldemort, throw down and walk off the winner. That’s not how these things work. You have to adapt and change to defy convention.
His people were clamoring for a conventional King. A new David, but maybe with a squarer jaw and a gaudy gold heavyweight belt reading “MESSIAH AND SAVIOR OF THE WORLD who would body slam the Romans for eternity and lead the Jews in a chorus of WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS.
But instead, they got a common man born to the lowest rung of society, who grew up largely toiling in obscurity before His ministry began and then when it did begin, there were no championship belts. No body slams. No WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS.
But in the end, Christ sacrificed himself out of love so that his kingdom could be protected and His greatest enemy could be thwarted.
Sounds a lot like Harry, Right?
A boy hero with bad eyes, who lived when he should have died, who then grows up to die so that others (and he) can live.
So why do you think Harry needs to wear glasses?