Of favorite unlikely heroes, next to Samwise Gamgee in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, comes Neville Longbottom out of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
There is just something about those characters that never claim the spotlight, never start out as the main hero, and yet, answer the call when the situation arises.
Here we have Neville Longbottom, whose sorted history is scattered over the series. He lives with his grandmother, his parents have apparently been tortured to the point of insanity—and subsequently sent to live out their lives in an insane asylum.
Neville is this shy, clumsy, background character that really surfaces to light in the series. He is the absolute definition of bravery: when fear has every opportunity to overwhelm the character, it simply does not—this innate ability for this character to surrender that last shred of self that leads him to step forward when others greater than he would not.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things a person can do, is stand up to their own friends. And, in book one, the author makes a big deal of Neville Longbottom doing just that. When our main characters attempt to sneak out of their dormitory after hours, Neville approaches him and attempts to stop them. While defeated, and our heroes go out anyway, it’s the effort Neville displays that foreshadows his inner (and less visible) strength of character.
In several scenes throughout the series, Neville is written in as standing up to evil wherever it surfaces while also enduring some fairly brutal treatment: e.g. Book Four and the lesson of the Unforgiveable Curses in which Neville is reminded how his family was tortured so cruelly.
In the end, just as Samwise lends his strength to Frodo, so does Neville by actually being the hero who destroys the final piece of an evil wizards plan—the last horcrux. What is especially triumphant in this scene, is how he managed it: drawing the fabled Sword of Godric Gryffindor from the hat, an action previously done in Book Two by Harry Potter.
This proves, once and for all, that Neville is as strong a hero as any of the main characters. A delightful, and wonderful experience that left this writer wanting more of this most excellent, and unlikely hero.