To the hardcore and possibly even casual Harry Potter fan, this is going to sound ridiculously naive, but until yesterday I had no idea there were fans who thought author J.K. Rowling made a colossal mistake by not ultimately having Harry end his life happily ever after with Hermione Granger. I could have guessed as much, but I was first converted to the franchise when the film version of Order of the Phoenix was released after which I circled back to see the prior films and read several of the novels. Based upon that initial exposure I thought Rowling was building toward a union between Harry and Luna Lovegood, who actually turned out, like Hermione, to just be a girl he was friends with because boys and girls can actually just be friends.
My relationship with the franchise was not as intimate nor as long-lasting as others. When it came to the Harry, Ron Weasley, Hermione triangle I didn’t really perceive there was such a triangle (it seemed blatantly obvious Harry and Hermione=brother/sister bond while Ron and Hermione was more romantic) until it was explored in The Deathly Hallows. Pairing off Harry and Hermione was the more obvious route as they were the male and female leads of the story which made me appreciate Rowling’s decision to go against the grain and have Hermione actually fall in love with Ron.
“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron. I know, I’m sorry. I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”
In an odd turn of events, this interview was actually conducted by Emma Watson since she was the guest editor of this particular issue of Wonderworld. So, what did Hermione Granger herself have to say about this? She kind of agrees: “I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.” Both Rowling and Watson generally agree later in the interview Ron and Hermione would have needed relationship counseling before too long.
You hear that Ron Weasley? There’s a reason Hermione keeps inviting Harry and Ginny over for dinner only to mysteriously take so long in the kitchen when she asks Harry to help bring out the food.
This is not the first time Rowling has offered an alternate possibility to a story resolution from the Harry Potter series. She broke many a Remus Lupin-loving fan’s heart when she revealed in 2007 that Arthur Weasley’s life was spared in Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix in exchange for killing Remus in The Deathly Hallows. Since Arthur was arguably the only positive father figure in the entire series Rowling couldn’t bear offing him. Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks were picked as alternates for the final book because their deaths as parents of a newborn son nicely echoed the deaths of Harry’s parents from the very beginning of the story.
However, this is different. That was something she almost did but then changed her mind. Now, she’s talking about something she wished she had done differently. She’s speaking directly to the shipping fandom surrounding the Harry Potter series. Harry/Hermione fans were reportedly so incensed by the events of Half-Blood Prince in which Harry is paired off with Ginny that many apparently threatened to return their copies of the book. Now, at the very least Rowling is conceding that Hermione and Ron may have not made for an ultimately happy couple.
Is she right? Is Hermione seriously out of Ron’s league? Well, duh. However, would they make for an unhappy couple? Should Harry have ended up with his best friend Hermione instead of Ron’s sister Ginny? Meredith Borders at BadAssDigest thinks so:
“I’ve always believed that Harry and Hermione would have made a more credible (to use Rowling’s phrasing here) couple than she and Ron. Look, if we’re honest, what exactly is Ron bringing to this relationship? He’s loyal and brave, yes. So is Hermione. Harry, too. Ron’s also of mediocre intelligence and talent, while Hermione’s one of the most brilliant wizards in Hogwarts history. Harry’s the only one who surpasses her in Defense against the Dark Arts, and don’t you think Hermione enjoys a challenge? How can Ron ever challenge her? I can’t imagine that he could make Hermione happy, or that after years of comparing himself to his infinitely superior wife, it wouldn’t start to wear on his already paper-thin self-confidence […] Is there any chance that he hasn’t been sentenced to a lifetime of resentment for being shackled to a person so much smarter, more talented, more interesting and better looking than he is?”
Granted, we are talking about novels which see our characters progressing through their awkward teenage years. Harry is often just as sullen and pouty as Ron, so much so throughout Order of the Phoenix that he might as well be off in a corner literally hitting his head against a wall most of the time. Her argument continues:
“But marrying so far out of one’s league can only lead to unhappiness on both sides, and Hermione is entire planets out of Ron’s league. She’s a whole solar system above him. She is AMAZING, and she deserves someone amazing. Ronald Weasley just isn’t amazing. Harry is. And sure, Ginny’s cool and all, and she’s smart and pretty and good at sports, but she has never felt like a fully developed character to me. She feels like a character created with the express objective of finding a match for Harry, because his true match was already intended for someone else.”
Meredith goes on to compare Ron Weasley to Duckie (Jon Cryer) from Pretty in Pink, arguing Andie (Molly Ringwald) deserved to end up with Blane (Andrew McCarthy) just as Hermione deserved to end up with Harry. Basically, the Duckies and Ron Weasley’s of the world are nice guys, but unlike so many mismatched family sitcom couples post-Everbody Loves Raymond the Andies and Hermione’s of the world shouldn’t have to settle for the nice guy.
Suck it, stupid nice, non-traditional cinematic/literary heroes of the world! In truth, Meredith’s argument is but one of three types currently being made across all corners of the internet and in many an increasingly long comments section. As argued by Elisa Doucette at Forbes.com, the types of arguments (with a fair amount of overlap between each type) from those who agree with Rowling break down into:
- Ron Wouldn’t Be Good Enough For Hermione-Meredith’s argument
- Harry & Hermione Could Never Stay “Just Friends”-Self-explanatory
- Most Men Couldn’t Handle a Woman like Hermione Anyway-She’s such a “type a” high-achiever that only a certain kind of man could “handle her”
Doucette thinks this is insulting to Hermione, concluding:
“It doesn’t matter whether Hermione ended up with Ron or Harry or that quiet kid in the 3rd row in Potions class in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban. The point is, she is a brilliant woman who has the ability to make these decisions for herself.”
Hypable compiled a list of Twitter reactions from published authors as well as random fans. Populazzi author Elise Allen agreed with Rowling long-term but not short-term:
One of the fans correctly observed how a Harry/Hermione pairing would fly in the face of the ways in which Rowling had characterized their relationship throughout all 7 novels:
Ultimately, it matters not. The Deathly Hallows book came out in 2007, the last film in 2011. Rowling’s statements about original creative intent or retrospective regret are interesting insights into the creative process, but the art is out at this point. Those who want a Harry/Hermione union can turn to fan-fiction where anyone who ever identified with Hermione as a reader and felt more drawn to Harry than Ron can make their own case. However, as Stephen Colbert pointed out on last night’s Colbert Report this introduces the potential for some hilarious titles for any future Harry Potter novels:
What do you think? Do you agree with Rowling? Disagree? Just realize that being reminded of Harry Potter makes you want to go back and watch the movies right now (if so, we can relate)? Wonder, like Vulture, more about a potential Hermione-Luna unions or other loves that dare not speak their name? Let us know in the comments section.