In Defense of Ron and Hermione (Or: letting go of your story)

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I have SO much respect for JK Rowling.

I can not even describe what the Harry Potter  books meant to me and, obviously, millions of others. They spanned generations and bridged cultures. Whole families waited gladly in endless lines dressed up as witches and wizards (I think the parents were just as excited as their kids) for a chance to hold the latest Harry Potter book in their hands at midnight and stay up all night reading until dawn.

I am not joking when I say that at one point I clung to those books like a life raft and Harry Potter literally saved me. I could wax poetic for pages and pages about Harry Potter. I will never write a “review” or post a “discussion” about them because they are so much more than books to me, they have truly become a part of my story.

In case you were wondering how deep my devotion runs: I have a whole Harry Potter section on my bookshelves complete with both British and American additions, a wand from Olivanders (I TOTALLY cried when the actor chose me for a wand), Griffindor scarf and the TriWizard cup my husband and I toasted with at our wedding. I have been known to reread the entire series approximately once every year or so which means that I have now probably read the first book at least 15 times (not kidding).

So why did I feel the need to write today?

Well… after reading Rowling’s confession about Ron and Hermione’s incompatibility I feel it may be worth discussing the role of the writer (artist) in the lives of their work after it is published.

But first, lets just chat about Ron and Hermione.

Really. Why should’t they have been together? I can understand, being an adult myself these days… and a married one at that, how given time and perspective away from a story she might look at those two and say “Yeesh!! what was I thinking?? It’s true that they did not seem perfectly suited to each other and on paper Harry looks like a better match for Hermione. But I don’t think that automatically means they were going to end up in marriage counseling!! And I DONT think this means that Harry was  Hermione’s soul mate. They were all kids in the books, Ron and Hermione argued like kids…but they were also best friends who had a lot to give to each other and who shared their childhood together in a way that Harry, being the “Chosen One” did not.

The truth is: people love who they love.  Sometimes we fall for someone who is our equal in every way: intellectually, emotionally etc. But just as often we find ourselves bafflingly in love with our polar opposite only to discover that they have a lot to teach us about ourselves and the world.  That is who Ron and Hermione were together, opposites, two people experiencing the same (rather traumatizing) circumstances  who were able to offer each other (and Harry) a different set of skills and  perspective. It is not inconceivable at all that they might have fallen in love. Or that many years down the road with Voldemort behind them they might still find value in the other persons brand of wisdom.

Lets just be honest with ourselves for a second though… Relationships fail for any number of reasons. Maybe you woke up one day and realized you were lying in bed with someone you don’t know or understand at all anymore or maybe you felt like you and  your partner were so alike that you  could no longer see where you ended and they began… I am no relationship guru…I’m just a woman who loves books but I DO know that relationships are tough and they require a lot of work no matter who you are or how perfectly matched. (Twilight isn’t real Yo!)

But relationships aside, wether you agree with me about Ron and Hermione or not,  I think the more important conversation here is about understanding when it is time to cut those apron strings and let your work go.

My husband is a writer, my sister is an artist and in the days before I hit my head, lost my freaking mind and decided to go to medical school…I was a theatre major. I KNOW how personal art is. Especially for a writer…SO much work goes into a single book, literally YEARS of blood sweat and tears… I do not think it is an understatement to compare a book to a Horcrux, it does contain a part of the authors soul and we are having a HP inspired chat after all. With that said I must confess to you that I do not usually like it when an artist “explains” their work to me.

Difficult though it may be; once you have released your work into the world it is no longer yours, it is mine. THAT is the beauty of art and that is how it should be. I (the reader/viewer/listener) have taken your creation into myself mixed it with my own experiences and allowed it to speak to me through the filter of my life. If the work is good  it has now become a part of me, just as it was a part of you.

In theatre school one of the lessons we learned was this: It doesn’t matter what you, the actor feel,  your heart might be breaking into a million pieces on stage and you can be FEELING all you want….. If the audience doesn’t see it, doesn’t feel it, it didn’t happen.

In the same way once you have given your story over to the reader it no longer matters what you think might have happened to those characters in twenty years (unless you plan to write a sequel…which I will HAPPILY read) If your story is told then it is up to each individual reader to color in the afterlife.

I think that this concept is tough for a lot of artists and I think that Rowling is probably one of them. I am not unsympathetic. Like I said, I know that works of art are a little (or a lot) like your children. They are representations of you  and it is understandable that it would be hard to let go. But like children, they grow when they are exposed to other people, they become bigger than the parameters of the world you imagined for them. It is not fair to the story and it’s new owners to revisit it time and time again trying to tweak little things, rewrite history or backtrack on decisions. PLEASE please let’s learn from the mistakes of George Lucas and just let it be. Go tell a new story, build us a new world and use that life and energy to give us all another reason to curl up on our couch and read from dusk til dawn.

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6 Responses to In Defense of Ron and Hermione (Or: letting go of your story)

  1. Anne says:

    Hear, hear! I don’t really dig it when an author makes proclamations about the characters after the fact. I know that it all lives in her head, but ultimately there should be a point where you just let the reader decide. Or, when Rowling mentioned that Dumbledore was actually gay, it bothered me. Not that he was gay (it would have monumental if she outed him in the series itself), but that she didn’t let that shine through the character naturally. I don’t want to hear her interpretations after the fact. Once I read it, it becomes mine. My interpretations, my reactions and thoughts and emotions.

    • lilajune says:

      Thanks!! I felt that way about Dumbledore a bit too… If it had been mentioned in cannon it would have been extraordinary! I love when an author shares deleted chapters, side stories and extras or tells a whole new story in the universe but I hate rewrites or explanations . Orson Scott Card did this to Enders Game and I wanted to kick something! And Veronica Roth’s blog about Allegiant was incredibly frustrating… The work speaks for itself and now it lives in our hearts.. No take backs 🙂

  2. DugganPubs says:

    Well said. And thanks for commenting on my blog on the same subject.

  3. Caroline says:

    I couldn’t agree more!
    I actually had a little debate going on one of my Facebook status’ about Ron and Hermione.
    You nailed it in your reasoning for why they can happily be together. They’re opposites and opposites attract…sometimes. Marriage takes work. (I’m married as well, with kids, believe me, I know!)

    I don’t necessarily agree with the postings in the comments about not liking Dumbledore being proclaimed as gay by Rowling after the fact. I may be mistaken, but I believe someone asked her if he was gay and she said yes. I think it’s IN the writing, it’s just not spelled out. And I honestly can’t think of a way that it could have been placed there organically. But maybe I’m wrong, the HP books are brilliant and Rowling probably could have done it well.

    I do however think she should have kept her mouth shut on this! Poor Ron. Yes, I treat them like they’re real people. And I think Ron is actually the most human of the trio. Harry is too close to perfect and Hermione is a brainiac. But Ron? He’s average and flawed and completely human. And he’s always getting the shaft 😦
    The books are written, it is what it is, let Ron and Hermione grow old and live happily ever after together in our minds.

    (Also, thanks for stopping by my blog and liking my post about the Vampire Academy movie!)

    • lilajune says:

      Hahahah. Of course!! I just saw Vampire Academy last night and I really enjoyed it although I haven’t read that series (I’m into all those guilty pleasure things though) the actress who played Rose was shockingly good.. and I’ve now cast her in my head as June in Legend (see my most recent post)
      I agree that the Dumbledore thing was not quite the same in that it wasn’t back tracking on decisions that were already a part of the cannon… I suppose I would just prefer if she could let it go in general…This whole thing shouldn’t be about wether you “shipped” Ron and Hermione (which is what the internets have turned it in to) it was about letting her story grow organically in the minds of readers!
      I too think of these characters as “Real” in fact there is a parallel universe hypothesis that suggests that there are an infinite number of universes with an infinite number of possibilities..I have personally interpreted this to mean that in one of those universes Harry Potter is “Historical Fact” and I am Hermione….

      anyway thanks for your thoughts!!!!!!

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