The interview that was heard about around the world is finally out, and J.K. Rowling opens up into real human detail about Hermoine, Ron, and Harry.
Admittedly, the wait has been almost sickening and we haven’t even known about it for that long, but now that the famous interview of J.K. Rowling by Emma Watson is out, we just want to talk about it more. Not because of the outrage, but because J.K. Rowling admits almost all too late that Harry, Hermoine and Ron were more than characters–they were real people.
Rowling: It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it… I’m not sure you could have got over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can’t believe we are saying all of this – this is Potter heresy!
In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit, and I’ll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn’t told [Steven] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.
Watson: This is just so interesting because when I was doing the scene, I said to David [Heyman]: “This isn’t in the book, she didn’t write this.” I’m not sure I am comfortable insinuating something however subtle it is!
Rowling: Yes, but David and Steve – they felt what I felt when writing it.
Watson: That is so strange.
Rowling: And actually I liked that scene in the film, because it was articulating something I hadn’t said but I had felt. I really liked it and I thought that it was right. I think you do feel the ghost of what could have been in that scene.
Watson: It’s a really haunting scene. It is funny because it really divided people. Some people loved that scene and some people really didn’t.
Rowling: Yes, some people utterly hated it. But that is true of so many really good scenes in books and films; they evoke that strong positive/negative feeling. I was fine with it, I liked it.
Watson: I remember really loving shooting those scenes that don’t have any dialogue, where you are just kind of trying to express a moment in time and a feeling without saying anything. It was just Dan and I spontaneously sort of trying to convey an idea and it was really fun.
Rowling: And you got it perfectly, you got perfectly the sort of mixture of awkwardness and genuine emotion, because it teeters on the edge of “What are we doing? Oh come on let’s do it anyway,” which I thought was just right for that time.
Watson: I think it was just the sense that in the moment they needed to be together and be kids and raise each others morale.
Rowling: That is just it, you are so right. All this says something very powerful about the character of Hermione as well. Hermione was the one that stuck with Harry all the way through that last installment, that very last part of the adventure. It wasn’t Ron, which also says something very powerful about Ron. He was injured in a way, in his self-esteem, from the start of the series. He always knew he came second to fourth best, and then he had to make friends with the hero of it all and that’s a hell of a position to be in, eternally overshadowed. So Ron had to act out in that way at some point.
But Hermione’s always there for Harry. I remember you sent me a note after you read Hallows and before you starting shooting, and said something about that, because it was Hermione’s journey as much as Harry’s at the end.
Watson: I completely agree and the fact that they were true equals and the fact that she really said goodbye to her family makes it her sacrifice too.
Rowling: Yes, her sacrifice was massive, completely. A very calculated act of bravery. That is not an “in the moment” act of bravery where emotion carries you through, that is a deliberate choice.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Chew over those words and consider what these two women are saying.
One of the reasons Harry Potter is so big is because the series is actually very much the only one in it’s class. The book series begins with the main characters when they are 11 and follows them until they’re young adults.
It’s different from other stories because it follows these children through terrible and traumatic events. The children aren’t just dealing with bad guys, they’re dealing with actual evil. The encounter with evil doesn’t just stop after the first time, the encounters continue for years. The evil grows and becomes more powerful and it’s presence in the world doesn’t diminish until the main characters destroy it.
Those of us who grew up with Harry Potter, and by that I mean we read the books as they were being released, are now of the age when we can look back at our own childhood friendships and compare those relationships to that of Ron, Harry, and Hermoine. And with that perspective, I’m sympathetic to J.K. Rowling
With age and life experience behind us, while the relationship between Hermoine and Ron is expected, Rowling is right. Ron and Hermoine’s relationship is combative, and the reality is people don’t grow out of that and it would be an incredibly strenuous relationship to maintain. People mature, absolutely, however personality traits that define our character rarely go away.
Susanne Collins brought the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder to the table with The Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss loved Gale, but their relationship was a childhood relationship. Katniss’s experience in the Hunger Games with Peeta, killing and fighting for their lives, was an adult relationship. It turned whatever she had with Gale, while faced with very real problems such as starvation, oppression, and a yearning for freedom, into a childhood relationship, regardless of age. Being thrown into violent life and death situations and sharing other quiet moments of strenuous reflection with Peeta made that an adult relationship, which would explain the tension she began to feel with Gale. They had shared experiences, they were attracted to each other, but they couldn’t connect on the same level Katniss and Peeta connected.
Again, this goes back to Harry Potter’s uniqueness as a series: these traumatic experiences happened to Harry, Ron, and Hermoine during their childhood. Their adult experiences were in their childhood. They had years to allow these life-scarring events define them, to mould them, and make them the people they became. While Ginny and Harry were infatuated with one another, and deeply cared about the well being and existence of the other, it always felt like there was a deeper level connection missing in the text and in the films. Likewise, while there was chemistry between Ron and Hermoine, the compatibility was lacking and that they wound up together felt like…settling. We shared a life experience that other people can’t understand; you make me laugh; I’m incredibly jealous; so we’re going to end up together. They would certainly need counseling with those underlying currents in their marriage.
Admittedly, it did bother me that the film included an additional scene of Harry and Hermoine dancing when it wasn’t in the book, but overall, I’ve been a defender of that scene. At that point in their lives, Harry and Hermoine were not interested in each other; there was no lust between them at all. Each one’s heart was focused on another, but even so, Harry could still see how upset Hermoine was and made the effort to make her smile, because he cared about her. He knew what would make her smile because he was her friend, and the dance in the tent scene is so incredibly beautiful because it’s of two people–not kids, not adults, but two people–who love one another and take a moment to just enjoy the time they have together, to have fun, to laugh, and to appreciate the friend they would quite literally die for. It’s a powerful scene that emphasizes the deep, unconditional love two people can have for one another. There is no tally keeping, no words, and nothing in the world more important than simply trying to help brighten the day of someone you care about.
This isn’t a defense for Hermoine and Harry to be together. This is a defense for love. Knowing that J.K. Rowling felt that while writing the book and blessed the scene nearly brings tears to my eyes. When speaking in terms of marriage and creating a family, it’s easy to just put two characters together and call that good. But in real life, it’s not that easy. Marriage is not effortless, but it takes two people so irrefutably compassionate about one other that self defining traits such as a love for learning or enjoyment of a sport or a whole slew of really bad days won’t deter them from taking the time every day to make the others day a little bit better. It seems that this is what J.K. Rowling realizes now looking back and regrets. And while she undoubtedly upset people, I’m happy she said it.