Taran’s Arrogance in The Book of Three versus Harry’s Humility from the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
In The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, the protagonist, Taran, faces similar situations as Harry Potter from the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, which involves seeking victory against the evil villain to become a hero. Both young boys are eleven-years-old who have been raised as orphans with little to no knowledge of who their real parents were. Even though these boys share similar attributes, how they are raised is still vastly different, causing one of them to be the true hero. A hero who can sacrifice themselves to save others and show character growth quicker. Harry lives through a miserable childhood where he is constantly bullied and insulted by the Dursleys, whereas, Taran’s foster family loves him dearly. These differences cause Taran to behave arrogantly, spoiled and childish while Harry remains humble. Taran’s arrogant behaviour causes him to be disobedient because he wants to show his greatness. He also has an unrealistic view of the world and what it means to be a hero. However, Harry’s humility makes him able to sacrifice himself for the greater good and have a sense of the real world which makes Harry the better hero. Due to the different environments Harry and Taran live in, Taran becomes more spoiled or arrogant, while Harry grew to be humble; this affects the journey of their success when they go through character development where Taran is blinded by too much pride and keep making mistakes and Harry contributing to the society with humility.
While Harry is treated harshly by the Dursleys, Taran is spoiled from being blessed with a loving family which causes him to be arrogant around those who tries to help him. He disobeys because he wants to show his amazing capabilities. Taran does not listen to his guardians. Taran protests, ‘“I could do better at making a sword…I know I could.” And before Coll could answer, he snatched the tongs, flung a strip of red-hot iron to the anvil, and began hammering away as fast as he could’(Alexander 3). Taran goes against what Coll tells him not to do and even in front of him. He believes Coll is him holding back from his true greatness. Coll does not even punish Taran for his disobedience. In fact, he always gets away from punishment unless he touches The Book of Three. This makes Taran feel it is okay to not listen to his guardians. He does this because he feels he is invincible; he does not need to ask for help and show his awesome capabilities. This belief hurts him when he ignores Gwydion’s instruction to run away when the soldiers attack them. This ends up with both being captured. He goes against his guardian and handles things to impress others, thinking he knows something but it ends up disastrously. He continually does this because he feels insecure. He is not willing to admit that he is wrong; this hinders him from learning faster. Unlike Harry, Taran is the realistic version of the eleven-years-old hero, always thinking he is right and everything should go in his way. Taran’s upbringings delay him from character development which is essential because his arrogance causes more problem to other people around him and from their goal.
Taran’s unrealistic view of the world hinders him from knowing what it means to be a hero, making him the less suited hero. Having to live in a rural town, he is cut off from the rest of the world. He does not know anything unless he reads or hears tales from Dallben or hero stories. This may cause him to form an unrealistic view of the world. He believes being a hero is fun and glorious. Because of that, he strives to become a hero without putting all the work in, thinking he has all the qualities he needs to become a hero. One way Taran reveals his fantasies is when he tries to cross the river even though he does not know how to swim. He thought he has a special ability where he could learn to swim on the first try. Rather than apologizing, he gives an excuse that it is Melyngar’s fault. Because of these fantasies, he does not want to admit he is wrong. He keeps making the same mistakes because he does not want to replace his concept of hero or view of the world with the truth. That is why he takes longer to learn from his mistakes since he never wants to admit them. He is blinded by pride and thinks he does not need help. For example, even though Eilonwy saves him from the prison, he acts as if he saves her instead when it is the opposite. Like in a fairytale, he believes the hero does everything by himself and it is the man who saves the girl. When Taran and others are on their way to Caer Dathyl, he wants to Eilonwy to go away: ‘“You’ll make a fine sight—a little girl carrying a sword…Instead of a sword, you should be carrying a doll…There is risk enough…without having to worry about a girl”’(87-88). Rather than appreciating his companions’ help, he tells her to go away even after what she has done. He is not accepting that it is Eilonwy that saved him. Since she is a girl, he believes she needs to be protected and cannot handle the hardships, even though she has proven herself enough to be better than Taran himself. This is not a trait a hero should have. He needs to be modest and know that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. However, Taran does not see that; he is being arrogant. Having to accept reality would help him to become a better hero but because he was isolated from rest of the world, it interferes Taran’s character development where he keeps denying the truth and continues making mistakes.
Harry’s humbleness is due to growing up in a different environment than Taran’s which causes him to have an idea of the reality which helps him be a better hero. The Dursleys provide him with the bare minimum and treat Harry as a servant. Harry knows the world does not revolve around him. He thinks he is unimportant and uncomfortable even after Hagrid tells him his true identity:‘“Hagrid,’ [Harry] said quietly, ‘I think you must have made a mistake. I don’t think I can be a wizard”’(Rowling 44). While being a hero does not cross Harry’s mind, Taran goes all-out to achieve it. Because of Harry’s earlier experiences, he knows how people can be treated unfairly and he finds it unjust. Since he knows the realities, he does not hold much pride, unlike Taran. This way Harry learns from his mistakes and does not make the same mistakes again. He also tries to get help much as possible because he knows his own capabilities, where Taran does not. Because Harry is humble, he only sacrifices himself because he knows what it feels like when someone physically or emotionally hurts him. For example, when Malfoy mocks Neville and steals the Remembrall from him, Harry immediately tries to get it back for him. He truly wants to help others. He is willing to take risks only with moral intentions. Harry’s humility is a very important trait to become a hero. Harry’s character development of humility came from his upbringings, resulting him being a better hero than Taran.
As Harry and Taran go through the journey of becoming heroes, Taran’s arrogant personality and Harry’s humility affect their success. Because Taran’s family is easy with him, he feels everything revolves around him. He does not receive any punishment, making him seem it is okay to disobey others. Since Taran lives in a rural area, he is isolated from the rest of the world. Therefore, he has his own concept of the world and what a true hero is. He thinks of his power and glorifies the hero role as fun. When he starts noticing that his fantasies are false, he does not want to believe it and thus, keeps making the same mistakes. Harry, who lived through a harsh childhood, is different from Taran. He knows the world is not as fair as it should be. He is humble and cares for other people. He is willing to sacrifice himself without seeking any glory. He is not too proud to ask for help nor arrogant. With a different childhood in experience, Taran’s faces problem with character growth; his arrogance holds him back from becoming the hero that he wants to be, and Harry’s humility makes him the better hero.
Alexander,Lloyd.The Book of Three. Henry Holt and Company New York,1964
Rowling,J.K.Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone. The Sorcerer’s Stone – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.pdf,1997
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