What can be said about the Harry Potter series that hasn’t been said already? My whole life has been filled with it, as far as I can remember. One of my early childhood memories is hearing that there would be a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone movie and subsequently seeing it the night of release about a year later. J.K. Rowling herself became a huge inspiration to me, especially as a child, and set me on a path towards writing. I likely wouldn’t be the person I am today without the series.
This is the first story I can remember being exposed to that featured prominent female characters. Although the main character is male, Hermione Granger is just as important as both Ron and Harry. Some have referred to these three as The Golden Trio, and that’s because they balance each other perfectly. Harry takes on the brave but impulsive role. Ron, while not as smart as the other two, acts as emotional support and is generally more levelheaded. Hermione is clever, smart, and has a strong moral compass, but has more difficulty interacting with people and tends to panic in difficult situations.
Unfortunately, in the movies most of Ron’s roles are put on Hermione as well, throwing off the balance of both the trio and her character (and putting Ron into a comic relief role). The most cited example of this is Prisoner of Azkaban, in the Shrieking Shack scene with Sirius. In the book, Ron tells Sirius that if he wants Harry he’ll have to go through him and Hermione. In the movie, Hermione says this.
Hermione isn’t a good character just because she’s really smart and just generally really awesome, it’s because she also isn’t perfect. No one cares about a character who’s perfect. Movie-Hermione always knows exactly what to do all the time, and always knows what to say to help someone. The flaws in the movies are actually good illustrations of what a well-rounded character book-Hermione is. She’s a character people can relate to.
When the Golden Trio gets caught in Devil’s Snare, book-Hermione panics because of their lack of kindling. Ron has to remind her that she can use magic, for God’s sake. Being a muggle-born puts Hermione in a close position to that of the reader. We’re muggle-born, too! I would even guess that most of us would do the same as Hermione in that position.
She is the closest connection Hogwarts has to our world. Although Harry is the main character and we see everything from his point of view, Hermione’s life is more relatable. Most of us don’t have famous parents who were murdered by a Dark Lord who was brought down by our mother’s love for us. Meanwhile, Hermione’s parents are dentists.
When the movies made Hermione almost perfect they took away a large part of that connection. Not to mention the lack of S.P.E.W., Hermione’s Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. This organization she formed to free the house-elves of Hogwarts is why she’s in Gryffindor and not Ravenclaw. Godric Gryffindor valued “daring, nerve, and chivalry,” but Hermione really isn’t all that daring or brave. With S.P.E.W., she shows us her chivalry, with her sense of justice and eagerness to help those less fortunate. This is also manifested in her blackmailing of Rita Skeeter, forcing her to write positively about Harry lest the world find out Ms. Skeeter can turn herself into a beetle and eavesdrop on private conversations.
Most of us don’t have famous parents who were murdered by a Dark Lord who was brought down by our mother’s love for us. Meanwhile, Hermione’s parents are dentists.Hermione isn’t the only one who seems like she may be in the wrong house — by all accounts, Luna Lovegood could very well be a Gryffindor. She’s consistently brave and treats those less fortunate than her with much more respect than others do, but her quirkiness and eccentricities landed her in Ravenclaw.
For a character that doesn’t appear until over halfway through the series, Luna is so important. She participates in all three major battles — the Department of Mysteries, the Astronomy Tower, and the Battle of Hogwarts — and she connects them to learn about the Deathly Hallows, though unknowingly. She also leads the trio to the final Horcrux, the Lost Diadem. Even after the Battle of Hogwarts, Luna gives Harry the moment he needs to get away from all the commotion.
Luna and her father’s magazine, the Quibbler, play a much larger part in the books than the movies, although I would argue that the movies’ treatment of Luna as a character is much better than Ron or Hermione’s. Luna uses her connection to the Quibbler to give Harry an outlet to tell the story of Voldemort’s resurrection, and continually give Harry the support he needs from the public.
But I believe the most notable thing about Luna Lovegood, at least the most touching, is her room, where she has painted large portraits of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville all interlinked with a golden chain made up of the word “friends” over and over. This is where I fully appreciated the importance of Luna Lovegood, and that she’s more than just a side character.
The Harry Potter series is wonderful for many reasons, but chief among them is the careful humanization of every character. Hermione and Luna are just the start. Hagrid, McGonagall, Snape, Dumbledore, Ron, Harry, Sirius, Molly Weasley — the list goes on. They’re all such memorable characters, it’s incredible to have them all in one series. The way Hogwarts comes to life is not just through careful world-building, it’s through the characters. They make Hogwarts real, they make us wonder where our letter is on our eleventh birthday, they make us believe Diagon Alley is just a brick tap away, wonder what house we’re in, what our Patronus is. It’s like magic.
Joel Wallick is currently pursuing a degree in film studies at Bowling Green State University with an undecided minor. He has been gaming since early childhood, beginning with Pokemon Silver.
Curious about how the Girls in Capes staff would be sorted into Houses at Hogwarts? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, if you’re curious. (Spoiler alert: Joel’s a Gryffindor.)
We love the women of Harry Potter – Mrs. Weasley reigned supreme in last year’s March Madness tournament. You can also find out how the Harry Potter series addresses the idea of the greater good.