[Eugene Volokh says: Julia Carpenter at the Post thought it would be fun to have a post collecting some of the comments she selected from the popular Hermione/Ron thread. It seemed to be an implicit compliment to our commenters, and I thought some of our readers would have fun with it, so I’m passing it along.]
She’s the undisputed queen of fantasy fiction – but did J.K. Rowling get everything right with her blockbuster Harry Potter series?
In a new interview with HP star Emma Watson, Rowling confessed that one romance in the books – that between Watson’s Hermione and lovable ginger Ron Weasley – had been written “as a form of wish fulfillment.” And she goes on to admit Harry and Hermione would’ve been a better match. Ouch. Sorry, Ron.
In response, fans took to the Internet with expressions of joy, fan-fiction frenzy and even alternate “ships” (that’s Harry Potter geek slang for “relationship,” you Muggles). Commenters for The Washington Post had their own opinions
We’ve seen three distinct camps emerge among readers. Are Hermione and Ron perfect as a couple? If not, what would’ve been better – or more believable? Or are you sick of this whole debate? Let us know in the comments.
Team Alternate Ending
“Luna was the right one for Harry. With all his angst, he needed the ethereal, loving, respectful nature of Luna’s world as a foil.” – Ms. Anne Thrope
“On first reading I kept expecting Luna to fill that role. She didn’t have any of Hermione’s pathologies that made dealing with her occasionally tricky. She didn’t require the emotional depth/understanding Cho required Harry to have, for that relationship to have not quickly fizzled out. She seemed a good and incredibly decent person, which should have been a strong draw for Harry. The only real demerits seemed to be her loopiness and occasional obliviousness. Which were not negligible, to be sure, but which seemed more surmountable than any of the other issues in the way of a genuine, well-anticipated relationship. It’s still unclear to me why Ginny made any sense, except in more-consistent proximity making it easier for a relationship to trigger.” – Jeff Walden
“Harry Potter should have married Ron Weasley and moved to Soho.” – Madame_DeFarge
Team “Let it Be”
“I think Rowling got it right. Love is not about intellectual compatibility, it is about filling emotional needs. Hermione, though she had a family (which we only caught brief glimpses of), had always felt estranged from her family because of her differences – she was the only witch, the only one of her family that understood the power an temptations of magic, and she was forced to keep that side of her hidden. In Ron, she saw not only the boy, but the very close-knit and loving Weasley family, a family in which Hermione could be completely herself and completely accepted. Harry, as an orphan who had lost his entire immediate family, and was justifiably estranged from what was left (Uncle Dudley, et al.), could never fill that need for Hermione. Harry had the same need for family, filled very well by another Weasley, [Ginny].” – DiverDan
“Harry and Hermione are too much alike. Harry takes after his mother more than his father. He is much more studious and not mischievous like his father. Harry only seems not studious in relation to Hermione. Both Harry and Hermione are nerds. Ron is a jock, and as much of a bad boy as a Griffondor can be. Ron is also not nearly as messed up in the head as Harry. Harry needs someone who is patient and not demanding. Hermione needs someone that is emotionally centered and strong. Someone who can take her nagging and not fall out of love with her. Ron and Ginny both have a strong emotional core like their mother and the patience to deal with difficult (and somewhat needy) people like Harry and Hermione. Opposites attract. It really is true. It can make for difficult relationships, but passionate ones. It certainly makes for better literature.” – Robert Newshutz
“I think that Ron’s sister, Ginny, was after Harry on and off, throughout the series. Maybe starting a bit like having a crush on her brother’s best friend. Their mother was also the only real mother Harry has in the series. What Ron offered Hermione was legitimacy, in terms of magical heritage. She was Muggle-born, and always a bit sensitive about it. Ron’s entire family was magical, including both parents. Harry also had good blood, but his parents were always considered suspect, his father from time he was in school. And then the obvious – if Harry and Hermione end up together, who ends up with Ron and Ginny? This way the three main characters are taken care of, as well as one of the second tier characters.” – Bruce Hayden
“The reason for these various pairings is literary, not psychological. In “schoolyears” stories the hero always marries his best friend´s sister, as a way to integrate and neutralise homosexual feelings, and I’m pretty sure JKR knew that and planned it from the beginning. As for the Ronnie-Hermione match, it emphasizes the maternel aspect of marriage, another children’s books staple. This from a Derrida derider, by the way.” – annelise.volmer
“I don’t think there’s enough detail in the novels to assess the credibility of any of the romantic relationships. Moreover, the protagonists are so young that their preferences aren’t reliable. (How much sense do most teenage romances make?) We only see them in mature marriages at the end, and what happens in between is a mystery. This means we pretty much have to accept these marriages as a premise of the story.” – JRedfern
“I think she accidentally got it right the first time, and is only over-rationalizing her books. Serendipity and tradition play and ought to play an outsized role in partner selection. Further, other folks have rightly commented about the HG / HP relationship as a rare ‘platonic’ relationship between a man and a woman in hyper-popular fiction. If nothing else, for all the anti-moral lessons of that series, one central example of a moral truth – Platonic love – is accidental and wonderful. To attempt to take that away, just like trying to add post-hoc homosexuality, is an attempt to rationalize and debase a moral exemplar that the author stumbled upon.” – ARKloster
“I disagree, and I disagree with Rowling as well. The Ron & Hermione relationship is the glue that keeps this trio from becoming a duo. A Hermione relationship with Harry makes Ron far less relevant. I remember thinking that very early on in the series, perhaps as early as book 2. No, the relationship that got screwed up was Harry & Ginny. Again, though, Rowling’s hands were tied because she foreshadowed that one far too early in the series. I always thought that Luna would have been a better fit for Harry, than Ginny. Although, as others have mentioned, one of the things Harry gets out of the relationship with Ginny is a family. He wouldn’t have gotten that from the Lovegoods, as their family was shattered like the Potters. And, who knows? Maybe Hermione did meet someone else after school, but returned to Ron later. That’s certainly possible given the time frame of the events in the epilogue.” – cjbreisch
Team “Who Cares?”
“I try not to get overly invested in the sex lives of fictional teenagers.” – TheAmazingEmu