Is Harry Potter the Least Capable of the Harry Potter Characters?
On the podcast Writing Excuses, they have made this claim a few times. But I don’t think it’s all that accurate. Harry may not be the smartest, but he’s still smart. Bast on the information given in the books, he’s probably a B student. But he’s also a kid. He doesn’t apply himself. In that sense, he’s normal. But he’s still quite capable.
I say that because he’s ambitious. It’s his idea to go after Hermione when the troll gets in the castle, his idea to follow Snape when he thinks Snape is trying to steal the Philosopher’s stone, etc. All the ideas aren’t his, and he isn’t always the ones getting the three friends in trouble, but he is the one with the ambition to act when he believes it’s necessary. I think that his ambition, with his relative intelligence and his athletic ability, make him more than a capable character.
But I know that he’s not really supposed to be capable. He’s supposed to be someone you feel sorry for. Someone who shouldn’t be capable of pulling off the feats that he manages. But even if that’s what JK Rowling intended, I don’t think that description fits Harry. Yes, he had a bad childhood. Yes, he is sympathetic. But he’s more than that. He’s the B student who probably could have been an A student given the right amount of attention. His parents were both A students. His mom was much like Hermione, and his dad didn’t even have to try. But they had loving parents and a strong support network. Nobody was trying to kill them. Harry got his father’s athletic abilities, but he also got bullied. His father was the bully. Basically, Harry could have been like his father, but life circumstances made him more like Snape but with a better personality.
Maybe this is just me putting my own ideas into the character, but he’s never come across as incapable to me. Just unlucky.