In a recent post on Bustle, an editor took a look at the harm of normalizing the relationship that Ron and Hermioine have in Harry Potter. This perspective really made me question my interpretation of their relationship and Ron as a whole. I have found, looking back on the books and movies, that there are some issues that in hindsight, could have been addressed in different ways. Here are the reasons why we should have problems with Ron Weasley.
Ron Weasley is the most relatable character
We can clearly see that Ron, the most relatable character in the story. Unlike the main character he is familiar with the societal norms of the wizarding world and isn’t particularly unique. Unless you spent your childhood living under a staircase or as a prodigy, you probably can identify with Ron Weasley on many points.
I’m the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left — Bill was Head Boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy’s a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they’re really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it’s no big deal, because they did it first.
Despite all this, the expectation and implications through out the books, he also becomes the least matured character. Ron was set up to be a normal kid among chosen ones and gifted learners. Then he is given the most instances of being insecure while also having the most examples of people exploiting those insecurities. So, despite the fact that by the end of it all he becomes a prefect, a key Quidditch Keeper and gets “more O.W.L.’s than Fred and George combined” it seems like many people envisioned him doing poorly (pun intended).
In an interview with JK Rowling and Mugglenet, when asked about Ron and the deluminator she says:
“He wasn’t the most skilled, or the most intelligent, but he held the trio together; his humour and his good heart were essential.”
“Ron and Hermione, however, are drawn to each other because they balance each other out. Hermione’s got the sensitivity and maturity that’s been left out of Ron, and Ron loosens up Hermione a bit, gets her to have some fun. They love each other and they bicker a bit, but they enjoy bickering, so we shouldn’t worry about it.” -JK Rowling
That turned into:
“Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counselling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counselling? They’ll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical.“—J. K. Rowling on Hermione and Ron’s adult relationship
“in an interview with Wonderland, that she regretted that Ron and Hermione ended up together. She called it “wish fulfillment” and acknowledged, “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.”
The way I see it, there are some people who think “I can’t really be Hermione, but at least I am better than Ron” and that is not the example you want from your biggest role model and your most relatable characters. Which brings me to my second point,
Hermione is the biggest Role Model
The muggleborn whiz kid is probably the closest thing we have to a classical hero. the article from Bustle opens with this:
“As a child of the ’90s, I learned a lot from Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger that I will forever hold close to my heart. From her, I learned to be unapologetic about my knowledge and confident in my opinions. I learned the moral responsibility to speak up for people who don’t have a voice of their own. I learned to be brave, to be relentless, to be fierce, and to value my relationships with people for the precious things that they are.”
Not many people are saying the same thing about Ron. He had no S.P.E.W. that he rallied for as he grew and no true ambition for his future that gives a person the niche needed to become more confident and self-assured. We don’t have an inkling as to what Ron has a passion for other than his friends. Now JK talks about this being wish fulfillment but I think she assumed a relationship existed without placing the evidence for the reader to find. In my opinion, she wanted to evoke the same kind of love hate that the Legolas and Gimli bromance has, you know, minus the ‘b’.
But that relationship was purposefully developed via specific moments of mutual respect, understanding, and badassery throughout the story. But, because Ron and Hermione have mostly an “implied” relationship that isn’t solidified though the actions of the later books in the series,
It leads to those terrible relationship stigmas.
I should have known people would be protective of their Hermione. It is not bad to have and take ownership of a strong smart confident female main character. We need more of them. The problem that this and the “implied relationship” cause is an imbalance. Hermione might be overly critical and bossy, but Ron is definitely insecure and that is part of the problem being captious is negligible, but insecurities cause you to lash out, to over react, or to misplace anger and aggression –are things Ron has done often in his youth with no real signs of decline. With that the audience is left to discover that she was basically flawless compared to her counterpart(s).
Then we start to logic out the love and say “well she can do better than him”. Couple Hermione with someone who doesn’t meet the same standard of know -it-all expectations, and your minds go into the “she is settling” zone. Once there, regardless of all Hermione’s intelligence and wisdom she can’t help but settle for Ron.
That is insulting to her, Ron and all the people who are attracted to or in relationships with people that don’t meet someone else’s made up standards. It perpetuates that silly 1-10 grading of people. That stigma allows us to think Ron would drag Hermione down, the same guy who when into a forest full of spiders despite a huge arachnophobia, same guy who at 11 and 13 sacrificed himself for his best mate, the same wizard who would splinch his fingernails off trying to find Hermione and Harry, he would some how make Hermione be with him if she didn’t want him?
Now that stigma is very different from the real relationship problems that do exist in their courtship. The misogynistic and archaic tropes that need to end like the “teasing because he likes you” or “using so and so to get back at you” those are undoubtedly detrimental. Unfortunately,
those are also common in teenage relationships until they learn how to express there feelings in a more healthy way. Without the proof of Ron establishing more maturity, this relationship stigma is easily applied to people “like” Ron,(you know, all of us) and can snowball into the assumption that “those people” will not change.
If there is no greater Ron than the self sacrificing 11 year old version then what hope is there for the average insecure adolescent reading these novels or the average adults like us reading too much into them?
Ron expressed desire to evacuate the house-elves from the Kitchens, Hermione, who had always been concerned for creatures so often mistreated by society, was so touched that she ran and nuzzled and kissed him, much to Ron’s delight. However, their kiss was interrupted by Harry, who pointed out that there was a war going on and that they could carry on later, to which Ron pointed out there might not be later.