Since the release of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001, Harry Potter has become one of the most beloved cinematic characters across the globe. When you think about Harry Potter, one of the first things that comes to mind is his glasses. In fact, The Boy Who Lived tops the list of MovieWeb’s most iconic movie characters who wear glasses, alongside other iconic characters like Clark Kent and Velma from Scooby-Doo. Along with his lightning-bold scar, his round glasses are integral to his character design. And even more than two decades since the series began, Harry Potter’s glasses are still instantly recognizable.

If you’ve ever wondered what they symbolize or why they matter in the franchise, here are a few ideas that may just provide an explanation:

It shows that heroes can wear glasses

In the media, people who wear glasses are often labeled as “nerds” or “losers.” One only needs to look at Dwight Schrute from The Office or Chidi Anagonye from The Good Place to see just how popular this trope is. But that’s not the reason why Harry wears them. In a 2005 ITV press conference, author J.K. Rowling revealed that she also wore glasses throughout her childhood and was tired of how people with glasses are known as the “brainy” ones—so she wrote about a hero who wears them.

That’s made especially clear given that Harry wore his glasses through every major battle in the books. He donned them when he slayed the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, fought through his brief stay in the Little Hangleton graveyard at the height of the Triwizard Tournament, and attempted to rescue Sirius from the Department of Mysteries. He even wore them during the forest scene in The Deathly Hallows, where he willingly gives himself up to Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts. That makes Rowling’s strong attempts at breaking the glasses-wearing nerd trope a great explanation of why Harry’s specs matter so much.

It’s a distinctive part of Harry’s identity

If Ron is known for his ginger hair and Hermione for her curls and book smarts, Harry is distinguishable by his lightning scar and glasses. Even if you only see these two elements, you’ll immediately know they pertain to Harry Potter. It’s a significant aspect of his character design that stuck with the public, especially since he’s rarely seen without them. Even movie posters and promotional material showed him with his glasses.

It’s so iconic that Harry Potter’s specs are among the most popular glasses for Halloween costumes. Of course, you’ll need a Gryffindor robe, a lightning bolt-shaped scar that sits off-center on your forehead, and a sturdy 11-inch wand. However, it’s the glasses that are non-negotiable. As long as you don round frames like those on the Ray-Ban Round Metal or the Main and Central Collingwood, you can easily dress up as Harry. People will surely recognize you because that’s how integral they are to Harry’s character—and without them, the franchise’s memorability probably wouldn’t have been so long-lived.

It symbolizes Harry’s vulnerability

Although Harry is the main character and hero, he still started his story as a boy. An orphan, he was sent to live with his Aunt Petunia and her family—and he wasn’t treated very kindly during his stay. As a matter of fact, his glasses were only held together by a piece of tape because of their treatment.

In a way, Harry’s glasses symbolize the loss of innocence that plays a key theme throughout all seven books, especially as his encounters with Voldemort grow more complex. In doing so, they also display his vulnerability. Yes, he’s “The Boy Who Lived,” but he was still raised as a human—or should we say, Muggle—who was only 11 years old when he was thrust into the wizarding world to save his friends and protect magic folk from Voldemort himself. Though he’s strong, Harry’s glasses remind us that he’s still vulnerable despite what he went through—and since this adds human elements to a story that’s otherwise completely magical, Harry’s story is much more relatable and lovable.

Harry Potter’s glasses are an iconic part of his identity and are a vital reason why the franchise is still going strong today. It symbolizes his heroism, vulnerability, and overall character that many people have come to love.

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