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Harry Potter is the Boy Who Lived. Hermione Granger is the Girl Who Studied And Saved Everyone

12 July 2011 31 Comments

Guest Post by Joy Engel of Your Daily Dose of Joy

If you have not read/seen the Harry Potter series and would like to one day, this post is straight up LACED with spoilers. You have been warned.

In preparation for the final movie, I’m rewatching all of the films to date (thanks, ABC Family, for that well-timed marathon last weekend and sorry, my DVR, for taking up so much space). In the middle of Prisoner of Azkaban last night (I’ll admit that I had this thought before last night) I had a revelation.

The books should be named after Hermione Granger.

Yes, yes, sad times about that whole your parents thing dying, Harry. Please see the condolences card I sent you 12 YEARS AGO for my sympathy. In the meantime, look at how many people are COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK to be your new mentor.

Even McGonagall* is like, “Hey kid, here is a free fancy broom. Just because that one time when your parents died and you’re good at catching shit.”

On the other side of the common room, we have Hermione. Who is muggle born, which means she simply doesn’t have that same built-in support as Harry. She can’t go home to her parents and talk about how people keep trying to kill her because her parents just wouldn’t understand. And while she’s at school, instead of having every single teacher fall over their magic wand to get on her good side, she’s held down. People won’t stop talking about her Muggle parents and it’s all she can do to keep up her studies.

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) OWNS This GroupBy which I mean, BEING BETTER THAN ALL OF THE SCHOOL.

And when Snape assigns homework Harry is all “Wah-Wah, there is sport tomorrow, fulfilling my responsibility will be so hard.”

Meanwhile Hermione is MOVING FUCKING TIME so she can take more classes. Because girl knows SOMETHING is happening and she needs to STUDY THE EFF UP.

When the time comes around to fight, the boys are like, “Oh wow, look at this thing that happened. Isn’t that crazy?” while Hermione is like, “Idiots, I figured that out like 5 books ago. CAN YOU PLEASE FOCUS.”

And after she saves the day and just about everyone in the entire book/series/magical world tells her that she’s “The smartest witch for her age,” is it Hermione who finally gets the fancy broom?

Of course not.

SWOOP IN AN STEAL THE GLORY AGAIN, HORRIBLE HARRY.

In the final book, girl has to wipe her parents’ memory of any trace of her so they’ll be protected. Essentially orphaning herself. But do people feel bad? Do they start going all Harry Potter on her?

No.

They are like, “Oh, hey, Hermione, all of my friends and family who still love me and still know who I am are getting together for a massive party. You can come if you want.” And she’s like, “Jolly, fucking jolly, assholes.”

And in the end?

She gets stuck with Ron. Ron who did not age well, Ron who really hasn’t done much more than sulk since that one time when he moved the pieces correctly in Wizard’s chess. Ron. I mean, at least let her have a little something, something going on with Sirius before he dies.

Sirius is deserving of a woman like Hermione.

Finally, I present you with the photo from last night’s premiere. There are our favorite kids (God, Neville, stop being so goddamn hot) and who stands out?

Hermione.

Girl is like: “Fuck this bullshit. I own this series. I OWN THEM ALL.”

Elisa’s Note – I read this piece on Joy’s Tumblr today, and aside from being completely distracted by the level of hotness Neville Longbottom has managed to attain in his 7 Years at Hogwarts and how his barely-able-to-drink-in-the-US-age makes me feel like a less-hot-and-sightly-predatory-version-of-Demi-Moore, I found myself nodding along.

I’m curious what you all think.

On the surface it SEEMS like Harry Potter has the “better” story (because we all know that the only way to be important is to have the best story, right?!) but with all that she has to offer, why is Hermione destined to always play second fiddle to Harry?

I suppose without the shit that went down with Harry, the series never would have happened in the first place, so there’s that.

But seriously. Come about Book 5 or so I was like “Jesus, we all get it. Your life sucks, you are an orphan who is convinced no one loves you, you are a sub-par wizard who is fortunate enough to never have to die because you are all linked to the Dude-Who-Cannot-Be-Named, and because of this your friends are fucking ready to DIE for your ass. But no, go be all broody and woe-is-me while the rest of the world is taking friggin Avada Kedavra death spells for the greater good. You’re right. Life is just SO totally unfair sometimes.”

Does Harry deserve to be immortalized more than Hermione or is he a perfect example of “Right Place – Right Time – Right Person”?

PS – I obviously do not like broody woe-is-me characters *AHEM* *Bill Compton* *Heathcliff* *I’m looking at you*

* Edited to update the incorrect spelling of Minerva McGonagall – our deepest and most sincere apologies to anyone who was offended by our oversight

Love and Lobsters blog on How About We? and The Daily DateJoy Engel lives and works in Portland, Maine where she tweets far too much and solves the occasional murder-mystery while riding around on a bicycle. She also writes a wildly hilarious and brilliantly frank modern dating column on the unique online dating site How About We? called Love and Lobsters.

Did you know I have a private newsletter that goes out ONLY to subscribers? It offers stories of travel adventures, writing brilliance, links to great content around the internet and other crazy shaningans.


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  • http://www.oheliza.com Courtney Elizabeth

    i’ve always said harry and ron would have died in the first 10 minutes if not for hermione.

    and omg neville longbottom got FI-INE! mmm mmm good.

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Haha, very valid point!

      What good would the Harry Potter books have been without Harry Potter?! She saved the entire frickin’ series legacy!

      And yes…seriously out of control that Neville has gotten.

  • Chris

    When I read the books (originally and on several other occasions), I always felt that Harry wasn’t all that adept. And my reasoning was because he had the abilities, but lacked the drive to achieve the greatness everyone believed he possessed. Hermione, on the other hand, had both. this was most likely to overcome the fact that she is a muggle-born witch. This made Hermione the far superior witch. But the books also say something about society and how we glorify, or celebritize, people for the obstacles they have had to overcome (granted some may be worthwhile, but others are not). He’s the human interest angle that draws the reader into the story.

    And yes, I have spent too much time thinking about this fictionalized, young adult series. And this article was hilarious!

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Chris – That is a very good assessment I think. Beyond the drive, I think he just fell back on the laurels of “I’m Harry Potter, bitches” a little too often. Like he knew he’d never HAVE to become really good, cause there would always be someone else there to save his ass.

      Or perhaps that is the greatest message of the series – that sometimes the half-assed average-at-best person is the key to saving the world.

      Either way, the societal connection is so very true. How often we as a public emulate people who are famous or celebrities because of the work of others, instead of looking to the people who helped them get there. Or, in Hermione’s case, did all the REAL work anyways.

  • Ashley

    I was also disappointed to see her end up with Ron. I think Hermione needs someone that can keep up a conversation with her and Ron often just dismisses everything she says. Anyway, in my personal fanon she ends up with Luna.

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Ashley – I am torn myself. I feel like she certainly could do well with someone who could keep up with her. That epilogue or not, eventually she would tire of a husband that she was always rolling her eyes at.

      On the other side, perhaps he is a good balance for her. You know, his goofy-sometimes-foolish ways could bring her down when she starts spinning off into crazy-work-knickers-in-a-bunch mode. And equally, she helps him to become a better version of himself by making him want to be someone worthy of her love.

      As I re-read and re-watch I flip about 70 times between these two concepts.

      I think I would feel equally about Luna. She is adorable, but not much more in the brilliant conversation department than Ron.

  • Sabrina

    Yes, yes, Hermione Granger is amazing. I get it. She’s one of my favorite characters. She’s smart, she’s witty, she’ll do anything to get the job done.

    But what you said about Harry? That’s going too far.

    Harry, like Hermione, had Muggle relatives and therefore had no one to turn to in his household when things went bad. (I would like to point out that he and Hermione had RON to talk to during all this, and while I’m on the subject of Ron…we all know he has flaws, but he’s funny and genuine and isn’t a complete bore, and he’s extremely loyal and very much in love with Hermione. Hermione loves him too, he was NEVER stuck with him. She also had Harry, who I believe would be more than willing to help her with her problems.)

    Of course Harry’s going to complain about schoolwork. He has a LITTLE more on his mind than the average bear, if you know what I mean. Voldemort singled HIM out, not Hermione. He’s also going to worry about Quidditch, the sport that he cares about very much.

    Hermione didn’t have anything going on besides schoolwork, so of course she’s going to throw herself into it because she has NOTHING BETTER TO DO.

    McGonagall (Which, by the way, is how it’s spelled. If you’re going to write something about Harry Potter, get the Transfiguration teacher’s freaking name right!) never gave Harry the broom, by the way–Sirius did. And Sirius isn’t going to give Hermione presents because she does well in school! She’s not exactly the child of his best friend.

    Most of Harry’s teachers didn’t love him, by the way. If you read the books a little closer, you’d know that.

    I also believe that when Hermione had to wipe her parents memories, Ron went “all Harry Potter on her.” (That shouldn’t even be a phrase, because most people weren’t super sympathetic about the death of his parents, all they cared about was the freaking scar on his forehead.) Holding her hand, cradling her when she was upset…the works.

    I do have to agree with what you said about her doing a lot of work. But she did this WILLINGLY, not because Harry asked her to.

    Jo wanted a big theme in the book to be friendship, and how you don’t need to be alone and you can rely on your true friends. Hermione plays a big part in the book because she was someone Harry could lean on, a sister figure who loves him very much.

    (Also, I’m not even going to EXPLAIN how wrong your statement was about Sirius being worthy of Hermione.)

    Don’t mess with my man, please.

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Sabrina – Wow, I suppose one could say the post touched a nerve for you!

      First and foremost, thanks for the clarification, and I’ve updated McGonagle to McGonagall. Personally I don’t like to get caught up in such minute details as an accidental mis-spelling, but I can understand why that gets under some people’s skin.

      Also, you seem to know more about the HP Universe than I, but I do believe Joy was correct and McGonagall DID give Harry his first broom, a Nimbus when he made her house’s Quidditch team. Sirius sent Harry his Firebolt after the Nimbus was destroyed by the Whomping Willow. I *do* think she gave him the broom in part because she knew that Harry didn’t have a family member to buy him his first broom, and she obviously has a soft-spot for that forehead-scarred little boy. Which is totally a +1 for the “Harry Does Have A Really Shitty Life Sometimes” column.

      Now that we have those things out of the way, to the rest of your points.

      I think Harry and Hermione DID have a special bond because they had no one outside their circle of wizarding friends to turn to. This is especially evident in the Deathly Hallows book as they search for the Horcruxes together. Because of this, they lean on Ron in different ways, and he is there for Hermione in a way that shows why a romance between them is important and beautiful (I go into that more in the comment above).

      Having never been an actual wizard myself, I cannot fully speak for Hermione, but I am pretty sure that there is a lot she could have done besides study her ass off and be willing to lay down her life. It seems like every other girl in Hogwarts can find things to occupy their time, I’m sure she could have found some alternate interests or activities.

      And I do admire her more than Harry BECAUSE of the choice she makes. Yes, Harry is singled out and it totally DOES suck to be him a lot of the time. But Hermione sucks it up, pulls up to the table and gets shit done cause it has to get done. She doesn’t whine about missing out on personal activities or her own life because she recognizes what is at stake.

      The strength of the plot IS friendship, and the fact that these 3 each bring a different but necessary dynamic to the battle between good and evil is not to be overlooked or diminished.

      I just am not a fan of the way that Hermione is so often relegated to being such a secondary character to Harry when she really DOES have a much more pivotal role in the story.

      In the end, as I noted though, the story exists because Harry Potter does. As a friend notes, he is the human-interest-angle to the story.

      That’s how life goes sometimes. It isn’t always fair. A good lesson actually.

      • http://teresajusino.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

        “Having never been an actual wizard myself, I cannot fully speak for Hermione, but I am pretty sure that there is a lot she could have done besides study her ass off and be willing to lay down her life. It seems like every other girl in Hogwarts can find things to occupy their time, I’m sure she could have found some alternate interests or activities.”

        You seem to be looking at Hermione, however, as if she’s not the kind of person who studied because it was fun. She LIKED studying. She wasn’t like other girls. Whether Harry Potter was there or not, whether the Dark Lord was returning or not, Hermione would’ve been moving time to take more classes anyway, because she LIKED IT. THAT’S why she was an important secondary character. She was the person who was GOOD at studying. She wasn’t sacrificing herself against her will, or being a martyr – she was good at studying, because she genuinely thought it was fun, and her being good at studying and enjoying it makes her an asset.

        As for other interests…did you want her to be Sporty Spice and take up Quiddich to be well-rounded? Or would you rather she worry about boys all the time, or talk makeup with the girls from Slytherin. She didn’t have time for that, because she was too busy being an activist and organizing a House Elf rebellion. How’s THAT for an outside interest?

        • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

          Ummm…we’re saying pretty much the same thing (she is important BECAUSE of her scholarly pursuits, not in spite of them) but you seem to be saying it AT me.

          My comment was directed at Sabrina’s note that Hermione “had nothing better to do” and that is why she studied.

          • http://teresajusino.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

            Maybe I misunderstood you. It seemed like you were saying that she deserved more attention than Harry (or at least AS much) because of her studying, and you seemed to elevate her studying to the level of sacrifice.

            What I’m saying is that the reason why she’s a good SECONDARY character, and why the books shouldn’t be named after her, is that it’s merely that her already inherent interests prove useful. It’s not as if she worked to become studious in order to defeat Voldemort. Does that make sense? If this were the story of how Hermione Granger learned to be more studious, and eventually that careful study brought about the death of the Dark Lord, then I would agree that Hermione deserved more attention. But that’s not what the story was. Both Hermione and Ron were missing pieces for Harry, but Harry is the hero because he learned how to incorporate them. That is the journey. So I don’t agree that Hermione deserved better treatment or more attention, because I think she was strong exactly where she was. That’s where she most effectively served the story.

            And I know that your comment was directed at Sabrina. And you said that “I’m sure she could’ve found something to occupy her time.” I was just pointing out that she already did in the books.

            • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

              I personally think that Hermione is much more than the studying she did, that merely represented a piece of her ethic, intelligence and character.

              As for the occupy her time comment, again, it was merely because Sabrina had said that she had nothing better to do. As a teenage girl, which I’m pretty sure you and I both were, there are many things that can be done to “occupy time”, shockingly beyond boys and toenail polish.

              I understand though, we obviously will never fully agree. That’s ok, the beauty of the world is that there are lots of people in it.

  • Sabrina

    Ah…you speak the truth. She did give him his first broom…I was focusing on the Firebolt, so my apologies.

    All I was trying to say with the, “Hermione has nothing better to do” thing is that in the wizarding world, there aren’t really a lot of recreational opportunities for someone who isn’t into Quidditch–yeah, sure, there are clubs, but Jo never mentioned Hermione being in one of those, ‘sides the DA.

    I do agree with you on the point of Hermione being an understated character–I get frusturated sometimes when Harry isn’t exactly fair to her. She DOES get shit done! But, in my point of view, Joy did a lot more Harry-bashing than Hermione-loving, and that ticked me off. The minute someone says that Harry’s a whiny brat who’s all, ‘woe-is-me’ I can get a little angry.

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      No worries on the broom! We all make mistakes, occupational hazard of being human. ;)

      As Teresa points out above, I think Hermione did have some outside pursuits (the House Elf Rebellion that eventually turned into a gig at the Ministry of Magic for Ms. Granger) and also really enjoyed school. Some people like that sort of thing.

      There was a good deal of Harry bashing. But realistically, I think that the harsh take on Harry had to be made to realize what an asset Hermione was to the story.

      And in Joy’s defense, that was totally me who was complaining about the woe-is-me-ness. You have to admit, he does get awfully broody for a bit in there (and not just while he’s wearing the locket). Broody does it for some, same way studying does I suppose!

      • Amy

        I know this is a conversation that’s been over for months, but I just had to point this out. It’s not pointless “woe-is-me” brooding when his situation is actually filled with woe. Most characters aren’t all coddling because Harry’s parents died years ago, it’s also because he has a genuinely tough gig. I love Hermione too, but when her parents are locking her in cupboards while Voldemort is enlisting her in deadly tournaments, killing her mentors, or otherwise hatching plans aimed at killing HER, then we can talk about naming books after her and see if she broods any less than Harry. She works hard to be awesome, which is great, but she’s also never had to deal with half the pressure Harry does.

  • Stephanie

    I agree with what you’re saying on a realistic level; that Hermione is the one who should be admired and looked up to as the better human being. I’m a law student and feminist and Hermione is definitely my favourite character and hugely underappreciated in the plot.

    But a series named after Hermione Granger would not have the same effect and would definitely not be as successful. Having studied a lot of hero theory prior to law, Harry is your textbook hero and that always wins the audience, tried and true, from Ancient Greek to Post Modern. See Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces.

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Stephanie – True, he does fit the “in-the-box” archetypal definition of a hero.

      But sometimes things need to be pulled out of boxes and re-examined. :)

      Begs the question, is a hero better when they are average/normal and thrust into greatness or when they work their asses off to achieve it?

      • Stephanie

        Agreed, things always need to be re-examined and taken out of the box and whatnot, but writing an epic novel around a sidekick archtype just wouldn’t garner enough success to raise that type of consideration.

        As for which is the better hero… I’d say it ultimately depends on WHY they are working their asses off (I would also love an example of a character who does this, because I think my following comments come from misinterpreting this type). I find that often times, characters who are striving to become heroes end up being the misguided villain of the day, or the sidekick to the true hero. Also, what is compelling about Harry (and characters such as Luke Skywalker and Frodo) is that even when thrust into greatness physically, they have to overcome the mental boundaries of what they are capable of and who they are. Not only does this add to the gravity of the task, but they become more relatable as human beings with self-doubt and whose confidence needs to build through time and experience.. Harry annoys me to no end sometimes, but all those traits are quite necessary, I think.

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  • Cassie

    It’s Avada Kedavra, I believe . . . with an a in the middle of “avada.”

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Whoops, updated now. Thanks for the note!

  • johnny gags

    you guys are forgetting the sheer differences between the books and the movies. I just finished reading the books and just started going through the films one by one. like so many times before, the films do not even come close to what the books represent. Hermione is great and the films, and like neville, gets hotter with age, but she is terribly annoying in the book. She is constantly nagging, and always is trying to deter ron and harry from investigating and trying to fight themselves. Also in the books, she is more often than not portrait as someone who is brilliant and extremely knowledge but lacks practiccality. That is to say, when it comes to performing when it matters she often lacks. The movies, she is much more pleasant and willing to go along and take risk. she is also a lot more skillful in the time of battle. That being said harry would never have gotten as far as he did without her. As far as her and ron go, i admit, it doesn’t quite seem to fit. I applaud rowling for shying away from the non obvious choice of her and harry being together, and yet ron does not seem to be the right fit. If there is one thing the films do better than the books, is they paint a beautiful freinship between harry and hermione that is not clearly expressed in the books. a purely platonic relationship, almost like a brother and sister. While it is shown in the books, the movies do a better job, i think, to actually belive this storng connection.

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  • BIG

    You all are talking about this like it’s real life. WAY too concerned and too easily offended by a mistake by other posters. Pathetic

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  • http://www.twitter.com/nobody_knows Jen

    First of all, I LOVE Hermione, without doubt my favourite character. Second of all? Harry’s many weaknesses have always bothered me which was why it was until I started reading fanfiction (2 yrs after the book series finished) that I could really get addicted to the book and really appreciate JKR’s choices as a writer. Thirdly, I really only disagreed with this statement: “The books should be named after Hermione Granger.”

    My first thought, the movies maybe. I’ve always thought Emma Watson almost grew too well for Hermione, and the movies played on that quite a bit. She wears pink instead of periwinkle in the Yule Ball because ‘Emma doesn’t look good in that colour’ and there’s always so much more Harry/Hermione scenes in the movie even after he and Ron got together! So maybe in the movies, she could definitely be the main character, and at the very least the movies definitely made the trio ALL the main characters.

    If Hermione was the main character in the books, the book series will probably be the most annoying series ever because she will be near perfect, never make mistakes, and she’ll probably spend the book enthralled by every single subject in school. Sure, I like that on occasion… in fanfiction. Yes, I’m over-emphasizing a little but at least some people will criticize that about the books if she was the main character. And when she gets teased because she has trouble making friends, she’ll go crying in the bathroom until she is pulled out of her misery by the presence of a gigantic troll and is rescued by the two same idiotic but brave boys who teased her in the first place.

    Harry has issues in the book, more than I really want for the HERO to have, and I admit I am still figuring out the ‘why JKR wrote him that way’ parts of some of them. I have my theories (I am still deciding whether part of Harry’s darkness is a consequence of living with a horcrux on his head all his life- I don’t THINK so but it is a possibility), but even without those and him being an orphan, his screwed up childhood with the Dursleys, trauma of seeing Cedric die (I thought the fifth movie did really well here) plus his whole school either in awe of him or condemning him (either way, socially isolating him), AND plain screwed-up-ness of adolescence (Harry hasn’t really whined or thrown temper tantrums any more than most teens, and he HAS had it rougher than most teens)… Well, can you really blame JKR for emphasizing on his vulnerability (yet, capacity to love)? This is from the JKR who was outraged when an Italian cover showed Harry without his glasses (“clue to his vulnerability”) (quoting this from a very old (2001) issue of Reader’s Digest I found). I think also, part of the appeal as a children’s series IS that Harry is vulnerable and have all these things happen to him. Finally, why-Harry-and-not-Hermione: we are not given a lot of details of the duels, but one clue stands out from the third year Defence Against Dark Arts exam- Harry is a fighter, a reacter in fights, who works his best on instincts. Hermione is a thinker, and (in the books) she DOESN’T cope as well in a fight as Harry does. So again, children’s book series?

    Things like Ron not aging well- that’s still just the movies isn’t it? We’re seeing things from Harry’s POV, so who knows what Hermione really sees in him?

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  • Di

    Why Sirius? Sirius was a stupid spoiled brat, a hateful insensitive bully, and he stayed that way even as an adult (though it was not his fault). Ron, James and Sirius are the characters I hate most, even more than Voldie. No, Hermione deserved better: she deserved a great man like Snape, Lupin or Bill Weasley

  • M

    even thinking that you may have over reacted a little (i mean, Harry is not that big asshole) i have to agree with the whole perspective you have of Hermione… she is really the most amazing character that i`ve ever seen… she is, with no doubt, the one with the real struggle. i mean, she is the strongest and most compassion character of the intire series. if only one of the characters of this series could be imortalized, should be her.