Why I Liked Hermione (And Why I Hate Her Now).
(A guest editorial by Reecey).
Last week’s post being about Harry Potter just before the anniversary was an accident, this one helping bookend it is not.
Now, allow me to tell you about my evolving relationship with the character of Hermione Granger.
When I was in late primary school, I started reading the Harry Potter series. It was when the third book came out, mid ninety nine, and I was nine years old going on ten.
I remember my parents were pleased, because I was in this strange ongoing phase where I was only really interested in reading fact based books like the Horrible History and Horrible Science books.
An interest in actual fiction was a boon.
So imagine, a small girl who loves to read, obsessively so you could say, likes to learn and suddenly pulled into this world of magic and wonder …
Of course I felt like I could relate to Hermione.
It didn’t hurt that her presented physical description of having brown hair and large front teeth was something I could see in myself either.
Sure, the one word description of ‘brown’ brought to mind a sort of mid-tone colour, whereas my hair is so dark it’s easily mistakable for black, and my hair is straight rather than bushy.
And my eyes aren’t brown, they’re … well, they’re not brown. Green is what I said at the time.
I could even relate to how she seemed to have a hard time making friends.
I’d been in a school that I fit into really badly for a couple of years, and I knew what it felt like to have someone determined to antagonise you on a daily basis around.
But, I suppose, as I got older, I related to her less and less.
I didn’t hate her, although she could be pretty grating sometimes, but there wasn’t that same feeling of ‘yes, I see myself in this fictional girl’.
Gotta be honest, the movies probably didn’t help.
I felt betrayed when they cast an obvious dirty blonde in the role I was born for.
I was an arrogant child.
Which is now where we get to my feelings about Hermione now.
A few years ago I started rereading a book I read and loved as a teen.
It’s called Old Magic, and I might review it one day.
If, and only if, I can force myself to get through it, because the protagonist is absolutely intolerable from an adult’s perspective.
I was shocked at how awful and judgemental she was, and it became abundantly obvious why she had a grand total of one friend in her relatively isolated New Zealand community.
I think this is what prompted me to think about Hermione and how I related to her as a child.
I came to the conclusion some years ago that my difficulty making friends as a child was likely due to my personality flaws and not so much to do with the other children around me.
I was pretty arrogant, fairly bossy and completely tactless.
I was determined that I was the smartest person in any given room and that led to smarmy complacency.
And all of a sudden, why the other girls ostracised Hermione in the first book made total sense.
She was awful.
The only reason she managed to have any friends in the First Year was because she latched onto a victim of child abuse who didn’t know any better and her obvious future love interest who wasn’t going to abandon said abuse victim because they were besties at first sight.
Everything about her demeanour in those first few books screams ‘I had no friends in primary school and thought secondary would be an easy ride.'
Why do you think she’s so scared of being expelled? She’d end up having to go to a normal school full of normal children that she already knows won’t like her. Especially since the chances of one of her primary school classmates being in said school are probably fifty/fifty at best.
And they’d instantly recognise her because of her name.
This kind of ‘it’s not my fault no one likes me!’ attitude is the major regret that I have from my childhood.
And, just like child me, Hermione makes no effort to change her ways.
You know that ‘I’m not like other girls, I read’ mentality that tumblr professes to despise?
That’s Hermione’s entire personality in a single sentence.
(Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast too, come to think of it. Please stop casting Emma Watson in roles like this, casting directors.)
In my defence, I never thought that. Teen girls read more than teen boys and I knew that at the time. I wasn’t fundamentally different from other girls my age, just more extreme.
And worse, in hindsight.
Other things became clearer in hindsight too, like the fact Hermione’s two dentist parents and stupid archaic name that Rowling got from god only knows where (jk, she got it from Jill Murphy, no relation) meant that Hermione Granger is upper middle class.
Which explains a number of things, from her total arrogance, to her holiday in the south of France, to her total comfort in a Public School, to her stupidly named leaflet campaign in the face of slavery, to the fact that, despite her friend’s guardians obviously being abusive, her parents didn’t do a damned thing to help him.
The middle classes are a class for themselves.
Hermione Granger has immense amounts of privilege.
So she’s a ‘muggleborn’ in the wizarding world, so what?
In the real world, the one we live in and purports to exist in the world of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger would be my social superior.
Her parents probably had her trained to pass the eleven-plus so that she could take a place in a Grammar School from someone who actually needed it. (Reinforcing her fear of expulsion because she might have to go to a -gasp- Comprehensive.)
Her marrying into an ancient pureblood family is, at worst, a lateral move for her.
This awful, awful girl would have landed on her feet witch or not, and she’s meant to be our representative in a world where people like us are looked down upon?
I’ve never been so insulted in my life.