Harry Potter, the wizarding boy who was first launched to fame in 1997 and graced our screens in 2001, is one of the most recognised names in the world. His glasses are almost as unique as his scar with their completely round lenses and thin frames in a style that even John Lennon would find hard to pull off. Despite their unusual shape, the glasses have come to be seen as a part of his character rather than an accessory or even an aid that helps him to see, they are as much a part of him as his nose or mouth, but what is the truth behind their origin?
Image from io9.com
There has been much speculation about why Harry Potter author JK Rowling chose for the main character to need spectacles for his vision, and this has unearthed some interesting theories. Some suppose that Rowling decided Harry’s vision had been damaged due to the deadly Avada Kedavra curse that evil baddie Voldemort had tried to kill him with as a baby, and due to this the glasses would be a second visual indication of the event that named him ‘The Boy Who lived’. Another theory is that Rowling wanted to create a link between Harry and his father James who also wore round glasses and who Harry is compared to more than once in the series of six books. Even beyond the question of why the character needs glasses in the first place, there are discussions about the lack of laser eye surgery, contact lenses or vision-healing spells in the mysterious wizarding world.
Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe has his own theory about why the character wears glasses- speaking in a webcast with Vogue, Radcliffe was subjected to 73 rapid fire questions and, when asked to reveal a fact about Potter that only he know, Radcliffe joked he “didn’t really need glasses. That was just a fashion statement”. That supposed revelation caused an uproar between fans, but all evidence does point to the contrary. It seems that there may be some wishful thinking on Radcliffe’s part as he managed to go through 160 prop pairs, which were designed by William Luff, while shooting the seven Harry Potter films. Within two weeks of the start of filming for first movie Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, Radcliffe found he was allergic to the nickel in the spectacle props he’d been using and they had to be remade.
Image from harrypotter.wikia.com
The true revelation comes from Rowling herself, who spoke about the issue during an interview for BBC’s Newsround. When asked why the character wears glasses, Rowling revealed that she wore glasses throughout her childhood and was “sick and tired” of only brainy characters being glasses wearers while she wanted to read about a bespectacled hero. She went on to say “[Harry wearing glasses] also has a symbolic function, Harry is the eyes on to the books in the sense that it is always Harry’s point of view, so there was also that, you know, facet of him wearing glasses”. It seems that the distinctive round spectacles were really a way of creating a refreshing young character who is no more intelligent than others just because he happens to have poor vision.
For those who may be worried that Harry would move on from his distinguishing round frames as he grew older, there is no need to be concerned. In a fictional news story by catty journalist character Rita Skeeter published by Rowling on her website Pottermore, she states that the now 33 year old Harry “continues to wear the distinctive round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient 12 year old”. Ouch!
While glasses with completely round lenses are often saved only for Potter-style fancy dress, now that you know the truth behind Harry Potter’s glasses, there is no harm in taking a little inspiration from the characteristic design. Round and oval glasses can suit people much more than they’d think and there’s thankfully much more chance of them looking brainy than a ‘style-deficient 12 year old’ with the right frames!