Monday, February 17, 2014

Why did Hermione Granger have to end up with anyone at all?



JK Rowling’s recent announcement that she regrets pairing up Hermione Granger with Ron Weasley in the end of her mega-selling Harry Potter series was followed by the social media storm centering on one question: who should Hermione have ended up with?



Rowling’s revelation comes in the midst of an era of strong female protagonists whose heroism and self-worth are not (or at least, should not be) solely defined by their abilities to ensnare a husband and reproduce. And since Rowling’s Hermione definitely fits the profile of a strong heroine, why are we even debating whether Hermione should have ended up with Ron or Harry, whilst, honestly the question should be: why did she need to end up with anyone at all?



Let’s be honest – Hermione is the main character of the Harry Potter series. She is the top student and also the smartest in their circle. Without her book-smart and street-smart and her excellent knowledge of spells, history, myths, geography (the list can go on), Harry & Co would have definitely ended up destroyed by Lord Voldemort. Hence, the question – did Hermione really need to pick herself a boyfriend from amongst her friends in order to become fully defined as a character? The answer is no, she did not.



With rise of Katniss Everdeen-type strong female protagonists (Divergent’s Tris, The Mortal Instruments’ Clary and Rose fromVampire Academy among them), who are willful, paradigm-shifting and absolutely lethal, why do these leading ladies may still often find themselves trapped in some kind of inescapable love-geometry situation (e.g., a triangle) with their very identity depending on which guy they are going to end up with: the blond and nice one or the dark and mysterious one?   



Twilight franchise centering around a demure wallflower girl’s obsession with a controlling boyfriend, culminating in the girl being rewarded with physical invincibility and immortality, may have redefined the way both authors and readers see Young Adult Paranormal/Dystopian genre for years to come. Yet still, as authors like Isobelle Carmody and Marianne de Pierres demonstrate in their books, it is possible to create appealing dystopian worlds in a novel without caving in to the pressures of making a romantic angle the dominant one.



As someone who is not opposed to the romantic elements in books, particularly as in Middle Grade/Young Adult books romantic subplots are definitely expected between characters aged in their teens, I am still puzzled that more often than not The Key Resolution readers expect from a series’ finale is: so, who is she going to end up with? And I pity those authors who do not get this right: the wrath of (ex)fans of Charlaine Harris following the ending of her long-sufferingSookie Stackhouse series was formidable, complete with tears and death threats.



Going back to Hermione’s romantic fate, I wonder why an author as brilliant as JK Rowling even felt compelled to pair up her leading female character with Ron or anyone at all. In the end of the Harry Potter books Hermione finishes her education and comes to work for the Ministry of Magic, which is appropriate of her intellect and other strengths. Still the question of which boy she should have ended up with and even whether she got married at all could have easily been left out of the equation without any harm done to Hermione’s character.

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