home Books, Europe, Fantasy, Feminism, Humor In praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger series

In praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger series

It’s the end of an era. The entertainment which has stretched across books, movies, and countless marketing tie-ins, which has captivated children and adults for well over a decade and which has, for better or worse, managed to become the defining myth for an entire generation, is winding to its close. I speak, of course, of the Hermione Granger series, by Joanne Rowling.

So, before she goes away for good, let us sing the praises of Hermione. A generation could not have asked for a better role model. Looking back over the series — from Hermione Granger and the Philosopher’s Stone through to Hermione Granger and the Deathly Hallows — the startling thing about it is how original it is. It’s what inspires your respect for Rowling: She could only have written the Hermione Granger by refusing to take the easy way out.

For starters, she gave us a female lead. As difficult as it is to imagine, Rowling was pressured to revise her initial drafts to make the lead wizard male. “More universal,” they said. “Nobody’s going to follow a female character for 4,000 pages,” they said. “Girls don’t buy books,” they said, “and boys won’t buy books about them.” But Rowling proved them wrong. She was even asked to hide her own gender, and to publish her books under a pen name, so that children wouldn’t run screaming at the thought of reading something by a lady. But Joanne Rowling never bowed to the forces of crass commercialism. She will forever be “Joanne Rowling,” and the Hermione Granger series will always be Hermione’s show.

And what a show it is. In Hermione, Joanne Rowling undermines all of the cliches that we have come to expect in our mythic heroes. It’s easy to imagine Hermione’s origin story as some warmed-over Star Wars claptrap, with tragically missing parents and unsatisfying parental substitutes and a realization that she belongs to a hidden order, with wondrous (and unsettlingly genetic) gifts. But, no: Hermione’s normal parents are her normal parents. She just so happens to be gifted. Being special, Rowling tells us, isn’t about where you come from; it’s about what you can do, if you put your mind to it. And what Hermione can do, when she puts her mind to it, is magic.

Ditto for the whole “Chosen One” thing. Look: I’ve enjoyed stories that relied on a “Chosen One” mythology to convince us that the hero is worth our time. I liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as anyone. But it’s hard to deny that “Chosen Ones” are lazy writing. Why is this person the hero? Because everyone says he’s the hero. Why does everyone say he’s the hero? Because everyone says so, shut up, there’s magic.

Hermione is not Chosen. That’s the best thing about her. Hermione is a hero because she decides to be a hero; she’s brave, she’s principled, she works hard, and she never apologizes for the fact that her goal is to be very, extremely good at this whole “wizard” deal. Just as Hermione’s origins are nothing special, we’re left with the impression that her much-vaunted intelligence might not be anything special, on its own. But Hermione is never comfortable with relying on her “gifts” to get by. There’s no prophecy assuring her importance; the only way for Hermione to have the life she wants is to work for it. So Hermione Granger, generation-defining role model, works her adorable British ass off for seven straight books in a row. Although she deals with the slings and arrows of any coming-of-age tale — being told that she’s “bossy,” stuck-up, boring, “annoying,” etc — she’s too strong to let that stop her. In Hermione Granger and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she actually masters the forces of space and time just so that she can have more hours in the day to learn.

And it pays off. Hermione saves the day, over and over; in every book, there is a moment where her classmates need to be saved, and they need a plan that is going to save them, and they inevitably turn to Hermione, “the brightest witch of her age.” Hermione always comes through; she has the plans, she saves them all. That’s why her name is on the cover of every book.

As the series developed, its politics did, too. Dumbledore, memorably, falls in love with a younger man in the third installment. Other female characters were introduced, and developed beyond stereotype; we learned to value McGonagall as much as Dumbledore, to stop slagging Lavender Brown off as clingy and gross because she actually wanted her boyfriend to like her, to see the Patil sisters and Luna as something other than flaky, intuitive, girly idiots. Unbelievably, even Ginny Weasley got an actual personality. Hermione was not an exceptionalist, the one girl in the world worth liking; she didn’t need to be surrounded by female stereotypes in order to stand out as a compelling female character. And Hermione, in her defining moment, became an activist for the enfranchisement of house-elves.

The best thing about this development is Rowling’s lack of condescension; it’s easy to take potshots at youthful activism, and a lesser author would have played Hermione’s campaign for nasty comedy. Imagine that abomination; Hermione being the only character to notice that her sparkly, magical world relied on the creation of a goddamn slave race, and all of the supposedly sympathetic characters being like, “no, they like slavery! Stop being such a downer!” Instead, Hermione works with the house-elves to free them early on, and many house-elves become well-developed, central characters.

And there we have it: The defining hero of our age is a girl who saves the day with her egalitarianism, love of learning, hard work, and refusal to give way to peer pressure. It’s hard to think of the Hermione Granger series as anything other than flawless. And yet — as fans constantly point out — there is a very big flaw in the series. You know who I’m talking about; it’s He Who Must Not Be Named, but we spell it H-A-R-R-Y.

The character of Harry Potter is an obnoxious error in the Hermione Granger universe, made more obnoxious by his constant presence. It’s tempting to just write Harry off as a love interest who didn’t quite work out; the popular-yet-brooding jock is hardly an unfamiliar type. And, given that Hermione is constantly having to rescue Harry, he does come across as a sort of male damsel-in-distress.

But, if we look closely, we can see that Harry is a parody of every cliche Rowling avoided with Hermione. Harry is not particularly bright or studious; he’s provided with an endless supply of gifts and favors; he’s the heir to no less than two huge fortunes; he’s privileged above his fellow students, due to his fame for something he didn’t actually do himself; he even seems to take credit for “Dumbledore’s Army,” which Hermione started. Of course this character is obnoxious. It’s only by treating ourselves to the irritation caused by Harry that we can fully appreciate Hermione herself.

Those who doubt Rowling’s satiric intent need look no farther than the scathingly funny epilogue to the final book. In the end, we see Harry married to some girl he met as a teenager, dropping his kids off at school, and reminiscing about his glory days. In the end, Potter is just another jock who peaked in high school. And Hermione? Well. Rowling would never insult Hermione by dropping her into some suburban nightmare of marrying a boy she met before graduation. What we learn about Hermione is what she does for her job. Although we are, thankfully, treated to the hint that she’s been hooking up with Neville Longbottom.

“For truly,” goes the last line, “Neville somehow got really handsome. All was well.” Indeed.

Front page photo: Emma Watson filming for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Editor’s Note: Sady’s responded to the comment thread with a follow-up thread here.

210 thoughts on “In praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger series

  1. Wow, this is really very quite harsh. I think the books were written wonderfully. Each character, despite their gender, was immeasurably valuable throughout the entire series. All were heroes in their own way and deserved recognition– which they received. I don’t understand why you’re complaining.

    …I guess some people will go to any length to find a reason to criticize someone. What a shame.

  2. Pingback: That Fucking Hippy Reads | thatfuckinghippy That Fucking Hippy Reads |
  3. I thought the article held some interesting ideas… however, i found it irritating to read. What is the use in picking apart a CHILDREN’S novel. It was originally written for children after all, not adults to scrutinise and criticise. Rowling, and all writers, are under so much pressure to be ‘politically correct’, to not be racist or sexist but people still find fault. There are interesting, brave and clever characters in the novel – both female and male characters. Equally, there are characters we laugh at – again both male and female. Lavender Brown is a classic example, but so are Crabbe and Goyle who we do not distinguish as real characters. All stories have to have the classic stereotypes in order to be understandable to people, particularly children.

    The main characters in novels are also often slightly lacking in personality but there has to be someone who the story centres around.

    I do think that it would be interesting to have the story of Harry Potter written from a different point of view, but i challenge someone to actually write this rather than criticise one of the best-known writers.

    I apologise for the rant.

  4. I love your commentary because it’s so true. We live in a world in which a male lead “appeals to everyone” and a female lead “is targeted towards girls.” There’s nothing wrong with stories about boys, but there is something wrong when stories about boys are so overwhelmingly common compared to stories about girls, or when boys won’t read stories that feature girls.

  5. That’s why His Dark Materials are much better books. Lyra is a strong, independent female protagonist. Hard to find in kid’s books.

    I disagree that Hermione runs the show in the books. If she did there’d be much less quidditch.

    You mention a lot of the great female characters but what about the ones that are woefully underused? Tonks for example, or Fleur.

    The biggest waste to me is Luna, who is by far the best character Rowling came up with.

    Interesting also to see that the movies totally cut out Winky… I guess one elf was expensive enough to make.

  6. ITT: People incapable of enjoying a good joke and people incapable of learning a good lesson.

  7. I found this article interesting and funny and took it for what it was – I say that right off so I don’t get accused of taking it “too seriously” by having some arguments with it. 🙂

    First off, I thought Rowling’s take on the whole “chosen one” business was rather brilliant. Yes, we’re in a world with magic, so there’s a possibility of a prophesy that can narrow down to a couple of boys born in the same month who are most likely to take down Voldemort. But Dumbledore underscores that, magic or no, prophesy or no, OF COURSE someone is going to take down Voldemort, and that someone is going to be someone who he has wronged – “like tyrants everywhere.” Harry’s nothing special. Neither is Neville. Both of them, however, rise to the occasion and are both responsible for Voldemort’s end. We can see that had Voldemort chosen Neville instead, the story would have ended the same way. They weren’t motivated by some amazing superhuman gifts, but by the fact that this monster had taken their childhoods and the people that they loved. She turned the convention on its head and there ended up being nothing mystical about it at all, the “chosen one” business was bollocks, it was just human nature and something Voldemort didn’t understand any more than he understood why Lily would jump in front of her infant son. To come away from this story actually believing Harry is “the chosen one” is to miss the point entirely.

    Also, Hermione’s role was brilliant in so many ways. How many stories have you read where there is the hero, and his able and worthy comrade, and then the girl who is along for the ride to look pretty and provide companionship, hero worship, or sex, but otherwise isn’t strictly necessary to the mission? Rowling switched those roles. Hermione is the necessary one, the partner, the leader, the coach, the brains. RON is the damsel in distress who is just there for (Harry’s) companionship. Look how many times he isn’t in the story because he’s injured or throwing a temper tantrum. In Goblet of Fire he’s even buried at the bottom of the lake with a bunch of girls to be rescued by the big strong heroes (and nobody mentions it, even though in real life you know they would).

    Hermione has no competition, no equal. From the very first minute we meet her, the idea that “blood status” (or gender for that matter) matters to magical ability is shown as patently absurd. While Ron feels self-conscious about his poverty throughout the series, he is never ashamed of his family’s status as “blood traitors” who disavow bigotry. He doesn’t like Hermione initially because she is his intellectual superior and rubs it in his face… but he doesn’t turn around and rub his blood status in HER face. He makes her cry with”Nobody likes you because you’re a jerk.”

    I agree with the other comments that the house elf issues are handled brilliantly. She has HAGRID of all people saying without a trace of irony, “You get weirdos in every breed but they LIKE being slaves.” You are SUPPOSED to read that and think “OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.” If you put the book away after that, thinking that this means the AUTHOR condones the status quo, wow do you need to go back to school. Hermione is the only person who sees the situation for what it is, and other people -genuinely good people – are blind to it because it’s so engrained in society. She is attracted to Ron for whatever reason people are attracted to other people, but she does not give him her love until he learns empathy.

    Finally, I have to shake my head every time somebody harps on the “how did they both marry their high school sweethearts?” bit.

    1) Have you not noticed how SMALL and insulated the wizarding community is? I worked nights for 5 years. I married a coworker. LOTS of my coworkers were married to each other. Yes, they could have married muggles or people from other countries or the odd home-schooled kid, but odds are in favor, in this world, of marrying someone you went to school with. Duh.

    2) This also seems to be a fairly old-fashioned community in some ways; it’s evolved alongside the muggle world but somewhat differently. Marrying young seems to be fairly normal, like it might have been in our grandparents’ generation. They come of age at 17, after all. Harry’s parents married young. They just finished a war – people come home from wars and get married. They just do. Some of this is inspired by WWII, after all.

    3) The greatest reason of all: Hermione and Harry aren’t just marrying Ron and Ginny. They’re becoming Weasleys. Especially in Harry’s case, it is obvious from the beginning that this is what he wants more than anything in the world. We get just as much detail about the first time Mrs. Weasley hugs him as we do about the first time he kisses Ginny. Is it “suburban” for an orphan, abused kid to want to become part of an intact, loving, functional family? He doesn’t give a flying flip about his fortune. He marries into a family who has nothing materially because they have everything he wants. Could Hermione have done better than Ron? Of course she could have – but again, people come home from wars and get married. She’s been told for years despite being the most brilliant witch of her age that she’s subhuman because of her blood status, and here’s this pureblood family who has always treated her exactly like one of their own. Also, where is it written that the woman can’t be the smarter one of the couple? Why is it OK for a man to be an engineer and want to come home to Suzie Homemaker who rubs his feet and bakes him cookies and has no clue what the hell he’s talking about, but a smart woman can’t marry Blue Collar Jack or she’s settling? There’s nothing feminist about the idea that a woman must always go out and mate with a man who is “better” than her at whatever she’s good at… even when she’s the best there is.

  8. What happened to you HP fans? Where’s your sense of humor–don’t you know satire when you see (or read) it?

    Chuckle and move on, I say.

  9. Yikes, some people are taking this wayyy too seriously. She actually makes some really good points and I like how it was done with humor. I mean, I thought it was hilarious, and I’m a Harry Potter fan. Just calm down if you’re freaking out about this, it’s not the end of the world that there is a different perspective out there…

  10. I find the article fun and interesting, as satire should be. It’s not quite Jonathan Swift’s, A Modest Proposal, but the article does have its moments. What if the books had been about Hermione and not about Harry? Would they have been as successful?

    It seems to me that such speculation is the province of healthy and open dialogue and not a reason to slag off the author for imagining something different. Take it for what’s it worth, just as you take the journals of Samwise Gamgee for what they were worth — entertainment and a look at what if.

  11. What on earth is this?! Is this supposed to be a completely new and fabulous new series of books by JKR that we have not heard of? I mean, come on…

  12. DUDE this article totally made me realize that Tamora Pierce has written 2 series of books that parallel that HP/Hermione thing discussed here. The Alanna series is about a chosen one (no parents, has the hand of the goddess upon her, etc.); the Kel series is about a relatively normal girl who busts her ass to succeed. And guess what? No one liked Kel, everyone though Alanna was cooler – at least among the people I’ve talked to. But I love Kel, and Hermione too. Anyone else care to nerd out with me? Yay Tamora Pierce!

  13. Oh, did the author hide her sex? I thought she had her photograph on the back cover, or some blurb saying “she” was researching “her” next story. But maybe she didn’t. What difference did it make? To the public in general, I don’t know. To prejudiced publishers, maybe enough to make a difference. To me, none. I loved the Clan of the Cave Bear series, and the fact that the author was a woman, the lead character female, even the fact that the male lead appeared only in the second story and always was somehow second to the decisive action of Ayla, were no reasons toput down the book, or to refuse to pick it up in the first place. When I was younger I devoured Enid Blyton’s «Club of Five» series (or however it was called in English, I read them in French translation). I never knew what sex “Enid” was (and the Hachette publishers certainly did not mention it anywhere) but the lead character was certainly a girl. Maybe a slightly “mannish” girl, but not outrageously so. She had (at least in French) an androgynous first name (Claude) and she certainly preferred outdoor sports and solving enigmas to playing with dolls — but my daughter, slightly younger than me, was of the same kind. I even liked my mother’s stories by the Comtesse de Ségur, but they were obviously written for an earlier generation, and I could see how much society had changed. But it is true that apart from these few, most of the stories I’ve come across (and what kind of stories do nerdish types like me read? F&SF, mostly), were written by men and about men. Oh, I forgot one more exception: the “Diadem” series, I don’t remember the author, but the lead character was a girl named Aleytys. I only read the final story but I loved it too. Still much, much, much too much one-sided, as if girls could only be the faire-valoir — which in my experience, in real life they are less now than in my parents’ time, and certainly a lot less than in my grandparents’.
    So Hermione is the bookish type, always ready with an answer to everything. Some people would regard such a character as a boring know-it-all, I don’t. Oh, when in high school (a boys-only school) there was a boy who was always first in everything, but it wasn’t me. I just wasn’t as motivated as he or Hermione were to always achieve the 95-to-100% bracket. But we shared some interests (about tramway lines and their colours for instance) and I also now and then happened to be the only one with the right answer — yes, Hermione was obviously “the No.1 girl” in the story, and I could relate to her, maybe from the same subjective distance as Harry and Ron. Ginny came later, she was younger, in a different class, and she idolized Harry to a point that I found annoying. But maybe that’s part of life. OTOH, as has already been said, at least Hermione had loving parents, while Privet Drive was a caricature of a household, to the point where Harry was happy when he could leave his uncle, aunt and cousin to live with a foster-foster-family!
    The stories are written from Harry’s point of view. But Hermione is an essential character of the plot. She comes forward a lot more than Jondalar in the Cave Bear stories, in my opinion.
    If these stories had been written in the same tradition as the fairy tales of my infancy, which ended in English with «they lived happily ever after» or in my native French with «ils vécurent heureux et eurent beaucoup d’enfants» (they lived happy and had a lot of children), Harry and Hermione would have married at the end. When it didn’t happen that way, I felt something had gone amiss. But, well, I suppose the author has her reasons.
    But one thing I really can’t understand, is that among the Harry Potter fans that I’ve met online, there were many girls who seemed to love that Malfoy character. Someday I’ll need to have that explained. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen the films (I did read the books, and once opened, I could hardly lay one down unless sleep overcame me), but that boy seemed to me to be the epitome of everything that I wouldn’t want to be near (second, maybe, to Harry’s cousin). What could these girls see in him?

  14. Woah. I thought that HP was ageist because he never won by himself but only by direct or indirect help from adults, but I never noticed the whole condescension about Hermione’s house elves’ liberation cause, although somehow it’s a much bigger wrongness.

  15. As commentary, this is quite clever. But the books as the author imagined them would be deadly dull, didactic and lacking in the mythic quality that made the HP books so appealing. If J.K. had followed this blueprint, she might have been a moderately successful children’s author who appealed to parents looking for politically correct books for their children, but she wouldn’t be the richest woman in England.

  16. Look, I love feminism and Harry Potter as much the next liberal arts student, but this article’s whole angle is kind of stupid.

  17. Satire or not, this piece relies on the ridiculous notion that female-centred stories are necessarily more feminist than male-centered story. The author completely ignores the feminist value of having a male lead like Harry – Harry represents a version of masculinity that challenges traditional masculine archetypes.

    For one thing, Harry relies and believes in the power of love. I think this is an incredibly obvious lesson of the book and its also important that this love is not exclusively romantic, but the love of friendship and family as well. How often do you get male leads whose biggest strength is that they can love? In fact, Harry is not afraid to feel or cry. He is emotionally open, which sets him appart from many male leads.

    Secondly, Harry relies on people and accepts help. This is not a weakness as some commenters have suggested. He isn’t some lone wolf or solitary hero figure. Harry knows he needs people and he values their help immensely.

    Harry also has great empathy and selflessness. He saves Wormtail’s life despite knowing how he betrayed James and Lily. He refuses to leave anyone behind, whether it’s Cedric Diggory’s body or Malfoy trapped in the burning Room of Requirements.

    Having female leads is great and all, but having positive male leads in children’s stories, especially ones read widely by boys, is also important. I think Harry is a male hero constructed with very feminist ideals.

  18. A friend of mine has always claimed the real hero of the Lord of the Rings is Gollum, the patient, steadfast one who ultimately saves the world at the cost of his own life (yet never gets the parade). Quite so.

  19. Yeah, this is late. Whatever.

    I’m so glad I don’t have to say anything about the irritating parts of this satire (enough commentators have already highlighted what makes the article seem idiotic. I’m also glad I don’t have to re-iterate the awesomeness of the bits in the satire that stick up for Hermione. This way, it’s easier for me to get right to what fascinates me about this article.

    I find it both fascinating, and very telling, that you seem to feel Hermione’s brilliance, effectiveness, and heroism can only be highlighted by adopting the perspective that Harry’s character is obnoxious, irritating, and utterly useless. And thereby pitting her as a foil against Harry, to show how much better she is in comparison. It’s like you believe Hermione’s greatness would not shine so bright if viewed from a perspective that values and embraces Harry – and his own heroic qualities – as much as it does Hermione.

    Given that this is the perspective from which Rowling wrote the HP books, your frustration with this aspect of the series suddenly makes so much more sense. But it’s also awfully condescending, coming from a so-called feminist. Why assume that Hermione cannot or would not be fully appreciated as a character in her own right, just because we only see her through the eyes of a male character the author intends for us to like?

    There are plenty of qualities Harry has and Hermione doesn’t which make it obvious why he’s the hero; and vice versa to explain why he desperately needs HER, as well. They learned from each other. Any and all important differences between them are strictly differences of personality, not gender. And together with Ron, they encompass about 90% of the heroic force in this series. It’s the fact that these heroic personality traits are split into two different characters that makes those characters both effective AND relatable, whereas if all the qualities could be found in just one of them, that person would be an utter Mary Sue.

    So, the satire was funny, but the idea that Harry has to be seen as obnoxious to make Hermione look better is annoying and somewhat insulting.

  20. Mya, your comment is quite amusing to read. Yours is a classic case of wishful thinking, of putting the cart before the horse (because your personal preference is for the cart :-)). We both see the author’s comparison of Hermione with Harry, with the ostensible ‘hero’ falling short; yet you somehow feel that it’s all a plot, a faulty perspective, slewed thinking, some sort of subterfuge, it can’t be so! Because you don’t want it to be so! You’re ‘insulted’ that it is so!

    > And thereby pitting her as a foil against Harry, to show how much better she is in comparison.

    But she *is* better in comparison. There were no magic spells issued here; the author didn’t shout CONFUNDUS! and conjure evidence out of thin air to show how Hermione is the better of the two. That’s simply the fact of the matter/books. Despite your wishing hard that it were otherwise, and preferring to believe that such results were somehow achieved by lights and mirrors.

    Otherwise I’m sure you would have pointed out the actual ‘errors’ in the article, rather than just waving your arms and saying “the article is wrong because … uhm, the *perspective* is wrong, because … the article is wrong!”.

    > the idea that Harry has to be seen as obnoxious to make Hermione look better is annoying and somewhat insulting.

    Tch. Again you try and assign some mystifying motivation to the author; you’re trying to point at puppet strings that aren’t there. The author didn’t make Harry obnoxious; she simply made the comparison. It’s too bad you found the results ‘insulting’ and need to fabricate a conspiracy to explain the results.

  21. Necro bump. As if anyone is going to read this.

    This is spot on Hermione Granger.

    And at the end of it all what do we know? That through all of her trials and tribulations she ends up with a boy who barely gave a crap about her. He was mean, lazy, abusive (come on girls if you really think that making it seem like your not pretty enough to be worth his time isn’t abusive then you need help), jealous and downright bigoted. Sure he didn’t care about blood types, he cared about something else. Houses. As if a personality trait at age 11 is enough to make someone completely evil. Sure most of the snakes were jerks but that doesn’t give you the right to write off a whole house. After all wasn’t Snape supposed to be the tragic sacrificial hero?

    Hermione could have been anything she wanted to . She was the brightest student in her generation. She could been Minister or a Department Head or something else as equally impressive if she had someone that supported her and wouldn’t have been jealous of her successes. But no, Ron makes a passing comment about House elves and Hermione goes batshit insane. To the point of exasperation by Harry on her timing. And down we go into working a mid level job and pumping out ginger hairs for the goofy sidekick.

    Ron and Hermione have a downright abusive relationship. He belittles her, mocks her, hints that she’s ugly and no one wants her, and then asks her to finish his homework for him. And she does it. To me this is the biggest downfall of Hermione’s character, her acceptance and choice of sticking by people who don’t appreciate her just because she can be lonely. Yes he helped save her from a troll. That makes them close friends not soul mates. And kids, arguing and sniping is not a prelude to sexual tension..it’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship and divorce court.

  22. @brad

    >>We both see the author’s comparison of Hermione with Harry, with the ostensible ‘hero’ falling short; yet you somehow feel that it’s all a plot, a faulty perspective, slewed thinking, some sort of subterfuge, it can’t be so! Because you don’t want it to be so! You’re ‘insulted’ that it is so!>>

    Glad you had fun, but um…what the hell does this even mean? Seriously, I’m baffled by this comment. Of course we both see the author’s comparison between Harry and Hermione here, I think that’s kind of his or her point in writing the article. He or she feels that Harry falls short and is obnoxious. This is called an opinion. Nothing I or anyone else says will change the fact that it’s an opinion – neither will any hand waving, so I don’t get what you’re trying to say there – it’s an opinion that I happen to disagree with, but since it’s not MY article I didn’t harp on that. I just reflected on what I’d taken away from it.

    To me it’s weird to compare Harry and Hermione as though they were written as foils who rivaled and undermined each other, and not, y’know, friends working toward the same end. If Harry and Hermione were competitors for universal or Dumbledore’s approval, sure, I’d see the relevance of wondering who deserves said approval more. But since Harry’s given the same fanboy-gushy spiels about Hermione as the one found above (and in your comment), on several occasions – along with 95 percent of the characters in the series, villains included – I’m not sure what the complaint is here. That the story isn’t told from Hermione’s point of view? You’ve never read a book told from a POV of a character observing the initiatives of another character? Hermione is very much a hero in her own right, and most of the characters in HP, including the title one, acknowledge her as such.

    Or is it that the story is not wholly about Hermione, in that the events within are usually happening to, or because of Harry? Because that is the single, sole, only distinction between the two of them in terms of focus or hero-status, but it’s a distinction that has nothing to do with the talent or intelligence of either character. So you’d have to ask why JKR as an author felt the need to have the story’s events unfold around Harry, and not Hermione. Which was my original point – for some reason, Rowling thought there was a better story to be told around Harry instead of Hermione. To me, this article’s author seems to be arguing that since he’s such a useless character, the reason must be that he has a penis.

    Because recognizing that the reason might be Harry’s individual character, or his specific reactions to scenarios — iow, appreciating him as a character that Rowling needed to drive the story along or to tell a story at all — would mean acknowledging that Harry brought something to the story that Hermione couldn’t provide. I was just wondering if the author believes Hermione doesn’t shine as brightly to anyone who does acknowledge that (and yes, this would include Rowling herself); and if so, why.

  23. still @brad

    Because the only conclusion I could reach is that the article’s author feels Hermione can’t or won’t be fully appreciated as a hero until it’s her that readers observe taking on Harry’s exploits and heroic urges and moments — in addition to maintaining her own admirable qualities.

    The name for such female characters starts with M, ends in “Sue”. I think I’ve seen enough of your MarySue!Hermione fantasies ejaculated all over the Internet to guess that realism isn’t your biggest concern brad, but to actual women, yes, the implication that a female character isn’t fully appreciated until she’s attained some level of perfection is a bit insulting.

  24. Hello all! especailly Adom! Cause I strongly dislike your view on the Ron Hermione relatioship! So I’m going to disect and kill your argument!
    >>And at the end of it all what do we know? That through all of her trials and tribulations she ends up with a boy who barely gave a crap about her’.
    I love how you say he barely gives a crap about her! Because I can spot on ruin this! In book two he tries to attack Draco with a BROKEN wand, just because he called her a name! In the third book he helps her with her trial defense for Buckbeak. In the fourth book he is the first to notice she has had her teeth shrunken. In the fifth book he buys her perfume for christmas. In the sixth book he mutters her name in his COMA! In the seventh book, did you completely miss it when he offered, partically begged to be TORTURED in her place?
    >>
    He was mean, lazy, abusive (come on girls if you really think that making it seem like your not pretty enough to be worth his time isn’t abusive then you need help), jealous and downright bigoted.
    Ron is supposeed to feel like a real teenager riddled with inner termoil and faults. He was supposed to be mean at times because he can be quite cruel, thats a fault and JK Rowling even has Luna say he can be quite mean at times. Your second defense is, is that he’s lazy. yes Ron has sometimes when he can come of lazy, but really, in life, it’s something bigger at works. He doesn’t aply himself in school as well as Hermione because, nobody does. And Hermione is over controltive, thats why she can’t let him fail at school, I am the same way! I used to stay up late helping my sister at school becasue I literatly COULDN”T STAND TO SEE HER FAIL AT SCHOOL. they only time he seems lazy, in practice is when he is under influence of a Horcrux in the seventh book. Your third support was that he abused Hermione because he hinted at the fact that she wasn’t pretty. And that never happens. Ron never calls her a mean name concerning her looks, her teeth or her hair. He almost does the oppisite when he spends the entire Yule Ball STARING at her. That ball certainly was a LONG ball. And Hermione is not supposed to be beautiful. Ever. Your next support is that Ron is jealous. Don’t people tend to be jealous when they see someone they have a, at least, crush on spend all night dancing with another guy, then they here rumors that they kissed, something you have never even done, and then the girl say that she is going to a dance you were supposed to go to together, with a guy because he is a really good quittch player, something you have always tried to be. Hermione can also be jealous as well. Mc laggen, ring any bells? Your final peice of evidence is that Ron is bigoted. Well, that is because, as so many forget, he was born and raised into the costum that house elf slavery is OK. The same thing happened in real life when everyone asumed that enslaving people was okay. Becuase they didn’t know any better. ANd in the seventh book Ron prove he has grown up alot, when he says that they should tell the house elves to run, and not when he suggests they fight against their will.
    >>Sure he didn’t care about blood types, he cared about something else. Houses. As if a personality trait at age 11 is enough to make someone completely evil.
    Actually, your house determines your most defining traits, for the rest of your life. Take say Snape for example, he may have been brave, but even JK Rowling faces the music and in an interview, says that Snape is not exactly a hero. He is still a Slytherin, just not a death eater. And this is what happens in wars, people lose sight of the small details and generalize. When times are tough, your forced to pick a side to fight against. And no, Slytherins are not all the enemy, but, as I so recall, all death eaters are Slyhterin. Nobody wants to be betrayed in the middle of a duel to the death. So Ron stears clear of Slyhterins, and even pokes a jab at them. But so does Mcgonagall when she suggests that all Slytherins who side with Voldemort, and fight for him, will be dueled against like any death eater.
    >>Sure most of the snakes were jerks but that doesn’t give you the right to write off a whole house. After all wasn’t Snape supposed to be the tragic sacrificial hero?
    No read my above defense again SNAPE WAS NOT A HERO. He was just a bitter man with one redefining moment in a series of him spewing misery and hate. And again, wars make people slightly blind, and Ron is no exception. Nad you said so yourself, most Snakes were jerks!
    >>Hermione could have been anything she wanted to . She was the brightest student in her generation. She could been Minister or a Department Head or something else as equally impressive if she had someone that supported her and wouldn’t have been jealous of her successes
    Yes, prehaps in time, Hermione could have succseded in becoming Minister. But if I recall JK Rowling said that Hermione, finished her education (as Hermione would), and goes in to the Department of Magical Creatures, revolutionizing rights for house elves and other unliked creatures, then she gets high up in Department of Magical Law Enforment, eradiating all pro pureblood laws! If this isn’t HERMIONE SUCSEDING, than what is? hermione finally gives a better hand to the under dog! yay! But Ron holding Hermione down? Thats laughable! Ron always calls Hermione a know it all but when it comes right down to it, he tells her how brilliant she is, and how much he appreciates her! And Hermione letting a guy hold her down? How out of character would that have been!?
    >>But no, Ron makes a passing comment about House elves and Hermione goes batshit insane. To the point of exasperation by Harry on her timing. And down we go into working a mid level job and pumping out ginger hairs for the goofy sidekick.
    Wait so Hermione sending birds on Ron for kissing Lavender (which is not the first of many clues) doesn’t scream I LIKE YOU MORE THAN A FRIEND to you? Gee Adom, your just as blind as Ron! She kisses him for more than just his house elf views! And woah. See above for Hermiones extreme job sucess list! And, ahem, Hermione wasn’t exactly a domestic wonder, but she did seem like a mother like figure to me. Shes firm, smart, wise, instrutive, and controling! And since when did two children become a lot?
    >>Ron and Hermione have a downright abusive relationship. He belittles her, mocks her, hints that she’s ugly and no one wants her, and then asks her to finish his homework for him. And she does it.
    Ron only belittles her in one of there spats, and they eventually forgive eachother, because thats what friends (and more than that) do. Other thsn that you pretty much repeat yourself.
    >>To me this is the biggest downfall of Hermione’s character, her acceptance and choice of sticking by people who don’t appreciate her just because she can be lonely
    They do. Even though Harry says she can be a little overbaring at times, he still apreciates the whole brains of the trio. And Ron wouldn’t beg to be tortured in her place and cry like a lunitic while she suffered if he didn’t even apppreciate her. And Hermione likes them. there her friends. In the end they’ll sick it through for each other. And I believe I answered why she does there homework. And Hermione was fine with being lonely in the being of book one, she only cries once, and thats only after hearing an insanley rude comment, that Ron did say, because, he’s got faults.
    >>Yes he helped save her from a troll. That makes them close friends not soul mates.
    Yup. And I absolutly love that scene. Because even when they’ve come to save her, she’s saving them. And, more to the point, it’s after that friendship that something more blooms.
    >>And kids, arguing and sniping is not a prelude to sexual tension..it’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship and divorce court.
    Actualy, it isn’t the only thing that Ron and Hermione do. contrary to popular beliefs, they do talk about other things. And, just because they argue, it doesn’t mean that doesn’t say something. Fourth and sixth, and even fifth, most of there arguements are about the otherone liking/kissing/dating someone else. yeah, and in a relationship you don’t want someone who agrees with you on everything, you want someone who you can disagree with, but still love.
    So all and all, Romione forever, and Adom, reread the books, you’ve missed some crutal things.

  25. Pingback: Harry Potter star Rupert Grint wears duck mask to hide from fans | Unofficial Harry Potter Fan Page
  26. Most of the adults were reading Harry potter series because not only for the children’s sake, but really for a sensible character like Hermione Granger who was a muggle like the readers. From the first book till the end, she is the only one who always knock some sense in to the heads of the protaganist Harry and his side kick Ron. She is the most intelligent for her generation , independent, compassionate, caring, brave and irresistable for being a role model for any girl child in the planet.

    But from 5th book onwards, rowling made a deliberate attempt to nuetralize Hermione’s strength as she was out doing and over powering the main lead Harry which she feared the outburst of anger and disagreement from harry’s fans.

    All the other characters in the series naturally felt that Harry is romantically attracted to Hermione as they spend most of their time together than with any one else in the whole series, Rowling twisted the tale by bringing Ginny and Ron oogling for harry and hermione which is also seems to be a forced plot as we all know Harry deserves Hermione than Ginny and Hermione deserves Harry than Ron.

  27. BULLSHIT! Fuck JK Rowling…. How can you praise her when she caved and said “Oh hooray for childrens literacy, oh you want to pay me millions of dollars to undermine to books and make movies so the kids don’t have to read? Okay!” She’s a total sell out, and screw her.

  28. This is really harsh, and rather stupid. I have read all the books and been a fan of them for the longest time, and could never see it in the light you see it in.
    Perhaps the greatest offense to me is the fact that you insulted Dumbledore and Luna (flaky, seriously?). Both were brilliant in many ways, and great characters to learn about.
    In addition, everyone was a hero in they’re own way. Gender didn’t matter. Tonks, Luna (which, yes, she is a hero), Hermione, McGonagall, Molly Weasley, ect. were so notable in the series. All of which you fail to mention in this article (except for Luna, which you showed in a positively bad light for being ‘flaky’). And all of them got quite a bit of glory in the end.
    You don’t have to hate a story just because it’s written with a male protagonist. Because what you’re saying right here is like saying all stories with male protagonists have sexist authors (which, keep in mind, Rowling is a girl).
    In all honesty, I doubt this perspective even crossed Rowling’s mind. I just think that you’re coming up with an excuse to criticize the series.

  29. Oh and you need to reread the books if this is all you’ve taken away from the series. You’ve seriously missed some crucial points.

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