Neville does stand up to his friends, but he doesn't know the whole picture and refuses to listen, disregarding the possibility that their reasons for breaking the rules may be more important than house points.

What if he actually succeeded in stopping them (for example, by causing enough ruckus to wake up some Gryffindor prefect)?

How is standing up to your friends without hearing them out and deciding without having all the information considered to be behaviour worthy of praise?

He was acting hysterically, more than anything:

"You can't go out," said Neville, "you'll be caught again. Gryffindor will be in even more trouble."

"You don't understand," said Harry, "this is important."


He took a step forward and Neville dropped Trevor the toad, who leapt out of sight.

"Go on then, try and hit me!" said Neville, raising his fists. "I'm ready!"

Harry turned to Hermione. "Do something," he said desperately.

  • 34
    because Dumbledore could not do the same
    – Skooba
    Jul 16, 2016 at 14:23
  • 33
    Because that was an important behavior for Neville to learn at the time. Things come in stages, and the "investigating and weighing reasons" can come later, after one discovers the possibility that one can say "No, this is not right." Jul 16, 2016 at 14:30
  • 14
    Also regardless of why they were leaving, they were still breaking the rules, and therefore, Neville trying to stop them was still the right thing to do from one perspective. The other part is that even if the other kids' hearts were in the right place, it was pretty presumptuous of them to think they as first years could stand up to an adult wizard who they already had an inkling was somehow connected to Voldemort. It was only by luck that they succeeded when the right thing to do really was directing their efforts into trying to convince the teachers the stone was in danger.
    – Kai
    Jul 16, 2016 at 16:35
  • 21
    The fact that his first reaction was “I’ll fight you” is a bit hysterical, but really, I see no indication that he was unwilling to listen to his friends. Ron was the one who got aggressive first, and none of the Trio even tried to reason with him beyond saying, “This is important” (which is a hollow, meaningless thing to say). It’s not so much that Neville was unwilling to listen to his friends as it is that the friends were in too much of a hurry to give him anything to listen to and just Petrified him instead. Jul 16, 2016 at 18:51
  • 14
    "What if he actually succeeded in stopping them" Then Harry wouldn't be here to get the stone, and Voldemort would fruitlessly try to figure out mirror secrets until someone more capable would come and apprehend him. Jul 17, 2016 at 13:30

5 Answers 5


Dumbledore was known to have failed to stand up to his friend.

We don't really know about that when Dumbledore makes his speech, but hind sight makes this quote resonate all the more.

Dumbledore raised his hand. The room gradually fell silent. "There are all kinds of courage," said Dumbledore, smiling.

"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Gellert Grindelwald was a friend of Dumbledore who "turned to the Dark Side". Dumbledore waited YEARS to confront Grindelwald and people suffered and died for it. Dumbledore expressed great regret for not having acted sooner and having courage to stand up when it was needed most, regardless that the person was once his friend.

In more a general sense it is about "doing what is right" in a resolute way. Nevile was known to be shy and socially awkward. He didn't seem to have any friends beyond Harry, Ron, and Hermione (or at least close friends). Many questioned his sorting into Grffyindor because he did not show any of the "brave" qualities. For Neville to take a stand against his friends, and thus risk losing the friendship, is a very brave thing to do.

One could also make the argument Dumbledore was cheating just to let Gryffindor win the House cup...

  • 1
    Plus it's not like Quirrel would've gotten the Stone anyways
    – Areeb
    Jul 16, 2016 at 16:01
  • 9
    When did jkr come up with the whole Dumbledore - Grindlewald plot though? This smells like a retcon
    – Valorum
    Jul 16, 2016 at 18:43
  • 3
    @Valorum A retcon would involve changing the story written earlier to fit with a story written later. The order in which the stories occur in-universe is not relevant. Sure, jkr may not have come up with the idea of why Dumbledore may have put such an emphasis on standing up to your friends until after that book was published, but that doesn't make the back story a retcon.
    – chepner
    Jul 16, 2016 at 19:21
  • 2
    @Valorum The answer fits the asked question exactly, it draws upon the universe as it currently stands. If the question asked specifically why Rowling wrote that at that time and it was established that she didn't have the whole Dumbledore's story in mind, then your concern would be valid. However, I'm not even sure about the second point, the first one clearly doesn't apply.
    – Malcolm
    Jul 16, 2016 at 22:30
  • 1
    DVK raises a good point, Dumbledore does say that he didn't confront G because he didn't want to learn who killed Ariana. The logic of the question could perhaps be better applied to before she was killed, though it gets murky. Dumbledore was still going along with Grindelwalds plans then, but he does say he knew the man had a dark side. "That which I had always sensed in him, though I pretended not to, now sprang into terrible being.". However, this seems to be more because of D's selfishness than his fear.
    – DavidS
    Jul 19, 2016 at 9:10
  1. First off, I must wholly disagree with the prior answer. Canon clearly specifies that the reason Dumbledore didn't stand up to Grindewald wasn't due to being friends - it was because he was afraid of learning the truth of who killed Ariana.

    you are very kind, Harry. But while I busied myself with the training of young wizards, Grindelwald was raising an army. They say he feared me, and perhaps he did, but less, I think, than I feared him.

    “Oh, not death,” said Dumbledore, in answer to Harry’s questioning look. “Not what he could do to me magically. I knew that we were evenly matched, perhaps that I was a shade more skillful. It was the truth I feared. You see, I never knew which of us, in that last, horrific fight, had actually cast the curse that killed my sister. You may call me cowardly: You would be right, Harry. I dreaded beyond all things the knowledge that it had been I who brought about her death, not merely through my arrogance and stupidity, but that I actually struck the blow that snuffed out her life.

  2. The reason it's more couageous to stand up to your friends is because of the following reasons:

    • People rarely stop doing bad things because someone they dislike/disrespect tell them to stop. They DO stop doing bad things because their friends tell them to do so.

      Note that Lupin feels guilty for not stopping James Potter and Sirius from bullying Snape in PoA

      'Of course he was a bit of an idiot!' said Sirius bracingly, 'we were all idiots! Well not Moony so much,' he said fairly, looking at Lupin.

      But Lupin shook his head. 'Did I ever tell you to lay off Snape?' he said. 'Did I ever have the guts to tell you I thought you were out of order?'

      'Yeah, well,' said Sirius, 'you made us feel ashamed of ourselves sometimes . . . that was something . . .'

    • There are very little consequences for standing up to your enemy, comparatively. They are ALREADY your enemy. Malfoy would hound Harry whether Harry liked it or not, whether Harry confronted him or not.

      In contrast, Neville risked losing friendship of the people he confronted over this.

      Remember how Hermione nearly lost Harry's friendship out of doing what she thought was the right thing in PoA and telling McGonagle about Harry's Firebolt?

      'So that's it, is it?' said Professor McGonagall beadily, walking over to the fireside and staring at the Firebolt. 'Miss Granger has just informed me that you have been sent a broomstick, Potter.'

      Harry and Ron looked around at Hermione. They could see her forehead reddening over the top of her book, which was upside-down.


      Professor McGonagall turned on her heel and carried the Firebolt out of the portrait hole, which closed behind her. Harry stood staring after her, the tin of High-Finish Polish still clutched in his hands. Ron, however, rounded on Hermione.
      'What did you go running to McGonagall for?' ...

      ... Harry knew that Hermione had meant well, but that didn't stop him being angry with her. He had been the owner of the best broom in the world for a few short hours, and now, because of her interference, he didn't know whether he would ever see it again. He was positive that there was nothing wrong with the Firebolt now, but what sort of state would it be in once it had been subjected to all sorts of anti-jinx tests?

    • Peer pressure is among the worst factors in any bad teenage behavior. Most teenagers aren't psychopaths on their own, but in a peer group are more likely to be pressured into doing bad things, out of the fear of peer disapproval, being laughed at or ostracized. Going against your peer group takes a LOT more courage, especially for a teenager.

  • 8
    True. I suspect the issue was Dumbledore not standing up to Grindelwald before the he and the latter had their falling-out, though: "Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes."
    – Adamant
    Jul 17, 2016 at 3:38
  • 4
    I mean, Dumbledore may have been romantically infatuated with Grindelwald, sure. I don't think the fact that his feelings might have run deeper than mere friendship invalidates the point, though.
    – Adamant
    Jul 17, 2016 at 3:40
  • 3
    @DVK Albeforth on Grindelwald: "... and I had the Cruciatus Curse used on me by my brother’s best friend..." There was Albus, looking after his mentally challenged sister, with no one to talk to except Albeforth :/ reminded me of that Chinese scholar in exile in some backwards village motif ("Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters? Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?") Then enter GG... He was D's intellectual equal with whom they
    – user68762
    Jul 17, 2016 at 10:33
  • 1
    ... shared ideas, influenced each other and were inseparable. Sure they were friends and (platonic?) lovers. And Moony is a filthy hypocrite :) After his boggart stunt the whole hogwarts was laughing at Snape for weeks.
    – user68762
    Jul 17, 2016 at 10:34
  • 4
    +1 especially for your last bullet point. This is why Dumbledore is publicly commending Neville for his actions; he wants to teach the entire school that sometimes one should stand up to one's friends.
    – zwol
    Jul 17, 2016 at 20:36

Neville did have the information to justify his actions.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are clearly up to no good:

"... if Filch spots one of our feet wandering along on its own —"

"What are you doing?" ... Neville appeared from behind an armchair ...

"Nothing, Neville, nothing," said Harry, hurriedly putting the cloak behind his back.

Neville stared at their guilty faces.

"You're going out again," he said.

"No, no, no," said Hermione. "No, we're not. Why don't you go back to bed, Neville?"

And the last time the trio were up to no good, they not only lost their House a lot of points, but their lies got Neville in big trouble too when he tried to help them:

"Harry!" Neville burst out, the moment he saw the other two. "I was trying to find you to warn you, I heard Malfoy saying he was going to catch you, he said you had a drag —"

Harry shook his head violently to shut Neville up, but Professor McGonagall had seen. ...

"I think I've got a good idea of what's been going on," said Professor McGonagall. "It doesn't take a genius to work it out. You fed Draco Malfoy some cock-and-bull story about a dragon. I suppose you think it's funny that Longbottom here heard the story and believed it, too?"

Harry caught Neville's eye and tried to tell him without words that this wasn't true, because Neville was looking stunned and hurt. Poor, blundering Neville — Harry knew what it must have cost him to try and find them in the dark, to warn them.

"... All three of you will receive detentions — yes, you too Mr. Longbottom, ... and fity points will be taken from Gryffindor ... Fifty points each,"

At this point, it would be completely unreasonable to expect Neville to just take their word that they have good reason to be sneaking out again.

It's admirable because Neville has something to lose

Standing in the way of his friends' troublemaking — especially as Ron starts turning violent — could easily have cost him his friendships with the trio and their supporters, but nobody would have blamed him of anything if he turned a blind eye. But he did it anyways, because it was the right thing to do.

  • "...their lies got Neville in big trouble..." what lies? Minerva concluded the trio lied to Draco but we know they didn't. There was a dragon and they were trying to help that imbecile Hagrid.
    – user68762
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:00
  • 1
    @Will: We know that, but the scene suggests that Harry failed to convey that to Neville and we have no evidence that the trio tried (and succeeded) to correct Neville's misunderstanding afterwords.
    – user12616
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:03
  • Hm. Might be they didn't bother to explain it to him, but that means Neville wasnt really their friend, right?
    – user68762
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:09
  • @Will: Well, they did have to deal with Gryffindor's reaction the next day, the detention in the Forbidden Forest the next night, and then the panic of Voldemort's imminent attempt on the stone while they're taking their exams and Harry is suffering through constant pains in his scar.
    – user12616
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:13
  • 2
    @Will: But I would agree that from the trio's point of view, Neville is more of an acquaintance. However, I also think the trio made a rather strong impression on Neville.
    – user12616
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:16

The next time a student is in a position to stop their friends from doing something against the rules, it probably won't be a case where breaking the rules is the right thing.

Dumbledore is addressing the entire student body in this scene. He isn't just rewarding Our Heroes for their actions; he is teaching the whole school a lesson in ethics and conduct, using them as an example. He wants everyone to learn that you should stand up to your friends if you think they are doing something wrong — even if that later proves to be incorrect. After all, most of the time one should assume that there isn't some greater crisis to be averted by breaking curfew or whatever.

  • " The next time a student is in a position to stop their friends from doing something against the rules, it probably won't be a case where breaking the rules is the right thing" later, as for example in fifth year, breaking one of the many educational decrees?
    – user68762
    Jul 18, 2016 at 16:54
  • @WillRosenberg I expect Dumbledore believed he could prevent that from happening right up till it did.
    – zwol
    Jul 18, 2016 at 20:20
  • Meaning he thought he'll be always there to protect them so there was no need to prepare them about criminal orders / immoral laws?
    – user68762
    Jul 18, 2016 at 20:44
  • @R.Skeeter I'm late, here, but it's worth noting that a policy of teaching students to obey the rules absolutely, without thought to whether they are right, is common at pretty much all levels of childhood education. I don't agree but putting "school discipline" above independent moral thought, given context, actually is entirely plausible.
    – Darael
    Nov 14, 2016 at 11:55
  • 1
    @R.Skeeter Harry gets all kinds of special treatment. Unpleasant, when put that way, but true. Quite apart from which, while I stand by what I said, it's actually really useful from an educator's standpoint to reward all parties who did the "right" thing based on the information available to those parties. It's very worthwhile to say "yes, what Potter and co did had good results and we're rewarding that, but don't forget that the rules are there for good reasons [this claim need not be true] and to uphold them even if it's difficult is also admirable"
    – Darael
    Nov 14, 2016 at 12:09

It takes, not only a strong sense of self, but a strong sense of accountability to stand up to your friends. With many friendships, one doesn't want to "rock the boat."

It's important to note Neville's proclivity to sit on the sideline in the first few books. He's timid. His grandmother was a dominating personality, Neville never felt smart enough or talented enough. He appreciated his friends and wanted them to like him. Standing up to them took courage because he risked losing their friendship and respect.

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