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Ron And Hermione Or Harry And Hermione?

J. K. Rowling, having gained perspective in the intervening seven years since the final Harry Potter book released, thinks she made a mistake.
| Feb 10, 2014 | 20 comments |

Jk-rowling-Harry Potter is once again in the news. Or at least his creator, J. K. Rowling, is. It seems she’s had second thoughts about the resolution of her seven-book epic fantasy series. As fans of the books and/or movies know, in an epilogue to book 7, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, the protagonist, Harry Potter, grows up to marry, not the girl with whom he’d shared so many of his adventures, but Ron’s younger sister, Ginny.

And what became of Hermione? She marries Ron, Harry’s good friend who also accompanied them on many of their clashes with Lord Voldemort and his cohorts.

Now, it seems, J. K. Rowling, having gained perspective in the intervening seven years since the final book released, thinks she made a mistake.

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says in the interview. “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.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” she adds. “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.” (CNN Entertainment, “JK Rowling says Hermione should have married Harry Potter, not Ron” by Saeed Ahmed(

Interestingly, as I re-read four of the books this past Christmas, I began to notice places and ways that Harry’s relationship with Ginny developed.

Harry Potter7You see, I was one who went through the entire seven books holding out hope that Harry and Hermione would get together. I read the resolution with some sense of dissatisfaction. Yes, I was glad they all lived, grew up, found love and purpose, stayed friends . . . but, Hermione and Harry were best friends really, closer in many respects than Harry and Ron, so I wanted to see them fall in love.

During my latest partial re-read, however, I saw the seeds of lasting relationships, both with Ron and Hermione and with Harry and Ginny.

Imagine my surprise, then, when this latest news came out. From all this I’ve learned a couple things: first, I don’t think Rowling sold Ron and Hermione’s relationship as much as she could have. At the same time, I don’t think she sold Harry and Ginny’s relationship at all. The tender shoots of a lasting relationship are there, as I discovered this past December, but they are so tender, it’s easy to believe that something stronger could crowd them out. And I firmly believed Harry and Hermione’s relationship was stronger. They’d been through so much together, sacrificed for each other, believed in each other.

However, I’d adjusted to the end J. K. Rowling conceived . . . until this past week when she retracted her imagined resolution. Which brings me to the second thing I’ve learned: after a novelist puts “The End” to a story, she needs to shut up and sit down and let the story speak for itself. She doesn’t need to tell her fans that she sees Dumbledore as gay or that she made a mistake with the resolution. The story is what it is now and has already played on the hearts and minds of readers, as is. Changing it now doesn’t work. Telling readers how to interpret characters, doesn’t work.

So here’s how I’m thinking about this “who should Harry have married” issue: He should have married Hermione, but he didn’t. No point wishing he had.

What are your thoughts? Did you see Hermione and Ron’s relationship coming or did you think she belonged with Harry? Do you think Rowling has made the story less satisfying by saying she got the end wrong or do you feel justified in wishing it were different?

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.

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Jonathan Lovelace
Member

“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.”

That’s the first explanation of the romantic subplots of the last two and a half or so books that both makes sense, suffices to explain what we see, and doesn’t depend on uncharitable assumptions about Rowling’s competence as a writer. Still, however, I find the greatest value in the Harry Potter series as a source of inspiration for people to write vast quantities of fan-fiction, some of which is far better than the original.
Until somewhere between the middle of Book 5 and the end of Book 6, I would have said that Rowling was clearly foreshadowing an ending where Harry ended up with Hermione. The Harry Potter books were the only time I’d experienced the phenomenon of “falling in love with a fictional character” where the character in question isn’t the protagonist, isn’t the point-of-view character, and isn’t romantically linked with the protagonist.

Do you think Rowling has made the story less satisfying by saying she got the end wrong or do you feel justified in wishing it were different?

She’s raised my respect for her ever so slightly, by finally publicly admitting what I’ve seen as blatantly obvious all along. Not that I’m likely to read anything by her ever again, except maybe the first three or four Harry Potter books. By now I far prefer fan-fiction to Rowling’s original.

D. M. Dutcher
Member

I don’t think he should have married Hermione. It would wind up making Ron useless and vulnerable to “Ron the death eater” tropes. It’s kind of nice that you don’t have to be the chosen one to win the brainy girl of your dreams, too. 
Ever since Harry rescued Ginny early on, I figured there’d be something there. I think though there was a much stronger case for Luna being groomed as Harry’s counterpart, but for some reason that went nowhere.

Leah Burchfiel
Member

Yeah, Luna would have been a lot better, though I don’t think I would like it going in a very Manic Pixie Dream Girl direction. And it would be interesting to see her character develop in a mature-but-still-whimsical way.

Michelle R. Wood
Member

I have little opinion on the subject of who-should-end-up-with-who fandom wars, considering how little I generally “ship” any pairing. I will say that Ron/Hermione makes far more sense than Harry/Ginny, which literally came out of left field (at least on his part). It really felt like she got to a point in the story and suddenly thought, “Huh, guess I should pair him up with someone.” I honestly don’t understand why people feel any of them had to end up with each other (or, and especially in Hermione’s case, with anyone).

On the otherhand, I do want to thank you Becky for introducing a new, fluffy topic for discussion. While I like talking shop in the theology department as much as anyone (actually, probably more than most), we hit it pretty heavy all last week, and on basically the same subject. Let’s have as much “spec” as “faith” on the blog, please.

HG Ferguson
Guest
HG Ferguson

‘Which brings me to the second thing I’ve learned: after a novelist puts “The End” to a story, she needs to shut up and sit down and let the story speak for itself.’

Well said.  Sometimes stories just write themselves, in a manner of speaking.  And let the reader decide what something means, or doesn’t mean.  Or even should mean.  Let the story speak.  Hear, hear!

Julie D
Guest

I really didn’t come down one way or another with Harry Potter ships, though there are others I ship most strongly in other fandom. It’s not that authors should never talk about their writing process or alternate outcomes, but it really doesn’t make sense to Rowling to say something so decisive at this point. 

Paul Lee
Member

Ron and Hermione should have married, as they did in the canon. But Ginny should have married some sidekick, or she simply could have been ignored. Harry’s angst and isolation should have prevented him from developing a healthy romantic relationship. In the end, everyone else would be grateful to Harry, but Harry would still be a creature of two worlds with no true home and no true community, a tragic sacrifice. Seriously, he could have been boarding a boat to go to America or something at the end. 😉
 
Or, he could have just stayed dead.
 
Failing that, pairing Harry and Ginny was vastly better than pairing Harry and Hermione would have been. Ginny is sort of an audience avatar, and her relationship to Harry brings the fiction closer to us. Not everyone is a wunderkind with a tragic backstory and super abilities (with equally attractive failings). Ginny’s romance with Harry allows us ordinary Muggles to hope that maybe our lives aren’t as completely meaningless as they seem.
 
Plus, Harry marrying Ginny seems dramatically more realistic. In real life, it’s got to be rare that your best opposite-gender friend turns into your romantic interest turns into your spouse. In real life, people move away, or the social structure of the community changes completely. But if the community of peers does stay together from childhood to adulthood, it’s most realistic that couples who were indifferent to each other in youth would fall in love as adults, while childhood crushes would drift apart.

merechristian
Member
merechristian

I think that Rowling’s comments are basically basing everything on Movie!Ron and Movie!Hermione, and ignoring Book!Ron and Book!Hermione. Ron in the m0vies was a doofus whose best stuff was given to Hermione, while Ron in the books was a great character, and my favorite of the series.

Also, I can’t stand authors who keep piping up to try to reinterpret their stuff, and think it is a disservice to fans. Eventually, you have to let fans have their own enjoyment without trying to dictate what they should think of the story.

J.M. Hackman
Guest
J.M. Hackman

“after a novelist puts “The End” to a story, she needs to shut up and sit down and let the story speak for itself.”
Hear, hear.  Well said.  It seems pointless for her to backtrack and tell us she made a mistake.  We’ve all read the books, we’ve made our peace with her decisions.
I was surprised by the Harry/Ginny pairing, because it seemed to be thrown in at the last minute, unlike Harry and Hermione’s relationship which, though platonic, seemed so strong.  But a Harry/Hermione love match would have been almost too perfect. ( He’s the “chosen one” AND gets the girl?  Really?)  And I never saw the Ron/Hermione match working; I walked away from the books going, “huh?”  I never really bought it.  And like other posts, I would have loved to see Luna find her soul-mate — maybe someone practical to balance out her whimsy.

Leanna
Guest
Leanna

I vehemently disagree with Harry and Hermione ending up together, simply because I love that they are allowed to have a deep friendship and love for each other without it turning into -OMG we are DESTINED to be lovers! 
Friendship love is just as precious as romantic-love.
 
But, I like that she’s able to reconsider what she wrote and talk about it. There’s no need for stories to be fixed. I’d be fine if she even rewrote the books regardless of whether I liked or despised the changes (assuming the originals were kept available).
 
This site promotes speculative fiction. Why all the hate for authors speculating post-publication? In what way does it actually diminish what came before?

D. M. Dutcher
Member

Three words: Han shot first.
 
It can be really dangerous for a creator to do this, because they can make money by doing rereleases, and not all changes are good. For me, the revolution that Dumbledore was gay was bad because it gave a very unsavory reason for why Dumbledore never reigned in the young Tom Riddle even when it was apparent he was messed up; he was sexually attracted to him. It added the specter of something that changed the story for me.
 
It’s better just to let the work stand on its own, otherwise we’ll get director’s cuts and author’s editions and watch the work slowly be edited to something else entirely. 

Leanna
Guest
Leanna

Originals of the Star Wars films are not available, which was my one caveat. So that example is less relevant.
Dumbledore being gay isn’t a particularly good example either because that was always part of his character, not something she added afterwards. His stereotypical gayness is actually something that bothers people who want more gay characters in kids’ fiction (I’d link to a specific article but I don’t remember the name of the website)
 
What have you actually lost if there are multiple versions of the same story in existence by the same author? You don’t have to accept the last version as canon. As has been said multiple times in this comment thread, the reader’s interpretation is up to the reader, not the author. 

D. M. Dutcher
Member

Well, mostly because they do tend to replace the original versions of the work, as well as split fan communities up.
 
 
For the former, it’s uncomfortable because you’re retconning people’s childhoods. This is why a lot of fans are wary about reimaginings or reboots of old properties. The Transformers and Godzilla are two examples of this, with the latter even being recognized in later films. The American Godzilla is ranked on in Godzilla: Final Wars, which itself is a radical departure from why fans love that series.
 
The latter is pretty bad too. Yeah, to some extent the reader influences the work, but readers can hijack the work and turn it into something alien from the obvious intent. An interesting example is here:
 
Draco in leather pants-TV Tropes
 
So it can be rough. 

Leanna
Guest
Leanna

Nothing has actually changed in anyone’s childhood. You’re still free to re-interpret as you wish. Actually, “Han shot first” is a good example of an old version being considered true over a new version in spite of the creator’s wishes.

And fandoms are split all the time anyway. 😛