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A Loving Defence Of Caps Lock Harry

Author’s note: trans people are who they say they are.

When I drink a certain amount of white wine, a strange thing happens. I will, at some point in the night, wax lyrical about Harry Potter and how much the series means to me. It happened on my thirtieth birthday around three in the morning while on a video call with two of my friends, one of whom seemed utterly perplexed by my drunken crying over children’s literature, and one of whom knows me well enough to just sit back and let it happen. It happened again more recently at my second hen party. It was after midnight, just me and my bridesman (the one who knows me well enough to just let it happen), and we arrived once again on the subject of Harry Potter. I brought up one of the common gripes with the series, namely people’s widespread and intense dislike of Caps Lock Harry.

Caps Lock Harry, for anyone unfamiliar, is the term fans use to refer to the angry, bitter, shouty Harry who appears in The Order of the Phoenix. He is so called because much of his speech is written in all caps and accompanied by exclamation marks. Mere weeks after witnessing the return of Voldemort and the death of Cedric Diggory, Harry is in a rather delicate state. Quick to anger and mired in self-pity, he spends much of his time either raging or sulking, as would most of us upon finding ourselves in a comparable situation. And yet, there is a remarkable lack of empathy among readers towards this teenage protagonist in colossal amounts of pain. I have heard countless people describe book five Harry as “whiny” and “insufferable,” and to that I always say, “Yes, and so would you be.”

In my experience, all these people have one thing in common: they still have two living parents. Every single person I have heard voice that complaint, be they friend, podcast host or mere acquaintance, does not know what it is like to lose a parent, and especially not at such a young age. Even the most empathetic cannot truly understand until they go through it themselves and even then, losing a parent as an adult is an entirely different experience to losing them as a child. Research into childhood bereavement suggests that those who lose a parent below the age of ten are the most significantly affected. For those who have experienced significant loss, any subsequent losses will remind them of earlier…

Lauren Phillips-Freeman

Lauren Phillips-Freeman is a language teacher and writer with a love of words in all their forms. She uses writing to help her process her own tangled emotions.