Hermione is to Ron as Neville is to Voldemort
This post contains spoilers for the Harry Potter series. So… uh… don’t read if you’re that last person on earth who hasn’t read the series.
The Road Less Travelled has a post up about JK Rowling’s statement last week that she wished she had written the series so that Hermione ended up with Harry. That the ending she gave was wish fulfillment vs. the credible choice that Hermione would have made if this were real life. But I think if Rowling’s going to undo that, she’s also going to have to rewrite Neville’s contribution to ridding the world of Voldemort.
Because nebbishy boys who love plants usually aren’t the ones who bring about the end of an evil dictator. I mean, if we’re going with credible choices.
But we’re not going with credible choices because while we need some suspension of disbelief when it comes to fiction, we don’t want reality. Reality is boring. Reality rarely inspires us. Reality would be Harry and his mates eating potato chips and watching television like regular teenagers. But nary a crisp touches their lips at Hogwarts.
We read fiction for enjoyment purposes, we also read it to better understand our world. And sometimes, in order to understand that we have the power to rewrite our own history or the way the world has pigeonholed us due to circumstances, we need to see characters that break free of their personal trajectory and make decisions that we hope we would make if we were in a similar situation. We hope that we’d move forward and learn from our mistakes and get braver; not that we’d stay our usual, apathetic, meek selves. We hope that we’d choose the person who is good for us, vs. the person who has more money or fame.
And really, the less believable action comes from Neville vs. Ron and Hermione hooking up. We’re to believe that a boy who had his self-esteem destroyed by his grandmother was able to ignore his inner monologue about his lack of worth to become the person who destroys the seventh horcrux? THAT rarely happens. Smart girls end up with nice boys every day of the week. But shy, bumbling boys rarely tap into pools of self-empowerment and take on the leadership role in the leader’s absence. Except when they do. And I believe that Neville does because I want to believe that Neville can reach that place. Because if he can, I can. And if I can, then you can. And we need stories like that to remind ourselves that we don’t always need to remain in statis. We can charge ahead, out of our comfort zone, and maybe change the world in the process.
We don’t really want credible.
So I’m ignoring Rowling’s comment about Ron and Hermione, even though I have no interest in the love story aspect of the book whatsoever. Unless she has a reason for why credibility in that relationship is more important than credibility in all the other actions in the book. Because that is an interesting question: why does she care so much about making marriages believable when no character behaves in the way that a typical person their age would act? Young teenagers aren’t exactly known for being self-motivated and selfless; and here you have a critical mass of them all together in one space, ready to sacrifice their lives in order to rid the world of evil? That, my friend, is a tad more unbelievable than two people shacking up. And frankly, I’m glad to read something a little unbelievable. It makes me hopeful for the world.
Am I the only one who truly didn’t care one way or the other about which character ended up marrying which character? I mean, as long as Voldemort sucked it?