I will be honest. I have always had a soft spot for Percy.
When we think of Percy, we usually think of his pompous nature, his infatuation with rules and regulations, and his disloyalty to his family.
Percy flaunting his Head Boy badge.
Percy sucking up to Barty Crouch.
Percy rejecting his Christmas jumper. (This one always really gets me.)
But, gentle reader, there is so much more to Percy than these things. He is actually a complex character, with an incredible journey. We don’t often look on Percy with sympathy, or take the time to note his good points. (Yes, Percy has good points.)
In this post, that is what I aim to do.
Note: this post will be spoilery (a term which here means, the opposite of spoiler free)
(I won’t be using any pictures, because movie-Percy does not live up to my standards of his character. This post is exclusively about book-Percy.)
If you are willing to suffer through anyway, Gaston, we shall begin.
Percy comes from a large family, and his family is poor. He is highly motivated and ambitious, and he doesn’t understand why his father is not.
The ridicule his family receives bothers him. It is not just for his own sake that it bothers him though. It hurts him for his family’s sake as well.
Mrs. Weasley takes great pride in her sons’ accomplishments. She is extremely vocal about it throughout the series. This obviously has an effect on Percy.
He already has two older brothers who distinguished themselves at school. Percy wants to live up to them, and go beyond.
These things in mind, Percy sets out to make something of himself.
One final note: Percy loves his family.
Percy loves his family.
He may not always be very good at showing it, but the fact remains.
Moments When He Displays It
Okay, so actually I only really have a few, but that doesn’t mean more don’t exist.
The first is in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after Harry has just completed the Second Task in the Black Lake, and Percy is worried about his brother.
“…but Percy, who looked very white and somehow much younger than usual, came splashing out to meet them.”
“Percy seized Ron and was dragging him back to the bank (“Gerroff, Percy, I’m all right!”)…”
“Madame Pomfrey had gone to rescue Ron from Percy’s clutches;…”
That’s it. It is only a few scattered sentences in the larger scene, and it’s not a big deal, but it is a big deal.
When it comes down to it, Percy is willing to forgo his pride. He goes splashing out into the lake to meet them while everyone else is standing on the bank. He doesn’t need to do that. But the prospect of his brother in danger causes Percy to set his dignity aside.
(A Brief Digression…)
We all know how Percy gets more and more involved in the Ministry and basically disowns his family. Yes, it’s horrible and I don’t begrudge anyone who hates him for it.
But guys, let’s think about this.
All humans come of age at some point in their lives and have to make the transition from living under their parents to being their own adult. This can be tumultuous and difficult under the best of circumstances. Percy goes through this at a hugely tense and unstable time for the entire Wizarding world.
He is working at the Ministry. He admires the people he is working for. These are people with ambitions and aspirations akin to his own. He relates to them, in ways he never related to his family.
When things start going wonky (this is the technical term for what happens) the Ministry tells him what he wants to hear. That there is no danger. That their institution is rock solid and powerful. That he is doing a wonderful job.
His family tells him that Voldemort has returned. They tell him unpleasant and terrifying things about the people he admires.They tell him that the Ministry is corrupt and full of lies. They tell him that he is being used.
From Percy’s perspective, his family is discrediting what he has worked for, and dismissing his accomplishments. He doesn’t want to believe them. So Percy chooses to hold onto the lies of the Ministry rather than trust his family.
We beat him up over this, but honestly, how many comforting lies do we give into every day because we don’t want to face ugly truths?
I am not trying to say that what he did wasn’t awful. I am just trying to point out why he did it.
Okay, that tangent is done.
Moments When He Displays It (continued)
Even after making some bad decisions and siding with the Ministry, it doesn’t take Percy long to realize his mistake. He could have gone on with it forever, but NO. He recognizes his wrongdoing and COMES BACK. And he apologizes and it’s beautiful.
“I was a fool!” Percy roared, so loudly that Lupin nearly dropped his photograph. “I was an idiot, I was a pompous prat, I was a–a–“
Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron,” said Fred.
“Yes, I was!”
“Well, you can’t say fairer than that,” said Fred, holding out his hand to Percy.
Mrs. Weasley burst into tears. She ran forward, pushed Fred aside, and pulled Percy into a strangling hug, while he patted her on the back, his eyes on his father.
“I’m sorry, Dad,” Percy said.
–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 605-606
Percy is only twenty years old by this point. His journey to adulthood is bumpy and he treats his family pretty rotten at times, but he comes back around.
Side note: This isn’t what this post is about, but to be honest, I think we place a lot of blame on Percy and let Ron off easy. Ron can be a jerk sometimes too, folks.
The Greatest Epiphany I Have Ever Had
Okay, that is a slight exaggeration.
But this was kind of a big deal for me.
Percy’s character arc is leading up to one single moment: Fred’s death.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of the only books that has ever made me cry. And it wasn’t just because Fred died. It’s because of how J. K. Rowling led up to it. How she led up to it with Percy.
Percy misses about three years of his family’s lives. They all suffer from it. When Percy comes back, Fred is the first to accept him.
The Weasley’s experience the elation of regaining a son and the devastation of losing one in the course of one night.
Percy is with Fred when he dies.
Fred dies with “the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.”
That laugh was caused by Percy.
DON’T TELL ME YOU DON’T HAVE FEELINGS ABOUT THIS. I KNOW YOU DO.
“Get down!” Harry shouted, as more curses flew through the night. He and Ron had both grabbed Hermione and pulled her to the floor, but Percy lay across Fred’s body, shielding it from further harm, and when Harry shouted, “Percy, come on, we’ve got to move!” he shook his head.
-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 638
I don’t know if I should hate J. K. Rowling for doing this or make her an ice cream cake.
AND THEY DON’T HAVE THIS IN THE MOVIE AT ALL. WHY? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
But that’s not what this post is about either…
There you have my rambling thoughts. I love Percy, despite how infuriating he can be. If you hate him, that’s okay too.
What do you think of Percy? Do you think of him as the worst Weasley, or do you have a soft spot for him in spite of his shortcomings? I am up for friendly disagreements! What are some characters (from Harry Potter or otherwise) that you think have been underappreciated? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments!