By SRUTHI NARAYANAN ’14
J.K Rowling, renowned author of the Harry Potter book series, revealed recently that she might have made the wrong choice in pairing the scholarly Hermione Granger with loveable sidekick Ron Weasley. In an interview with Emma Watson, the actress who gave Hermione life in the Harry Potter films, Rowling said that Hermione would have been better off marrying Harry and admitted to pairing Ron and Hermione together for selfish reasons driven by “wish-fulfillment.”
“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,” Rowling confided to Watson. This candid confession from Rowling speaks largely to an author’s responsibility to her characters and to her story. Rowling has confessed in past interviews to being reduced to tears while scripting a character’s death, despite being in total control of their fates. She spoke somewhat comically about her daughter witnessing this and inquiring as to why she was offing the character when it upset her so much.
But perhaps Rowling, as the writer of the series and as the mother of these characters, is not as in control of the storyline as one may be led to think. She comments that the choice to pair Ron with Hermione was one “made for very personal reasons, not reasons of credibility,” and speaks about this with awareness of the idea that once characters have been created, their motives and mannerisms must remain consistent. It is likely that, upon reflection after the series’ conclusion several years ago, Rowling has realized this much more deeply.
Rowling says: “I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.” Any champions of the underdog might ponder what Ron’s fate would then be if his best friend Harry, who consistently overshadowed him, got the girl in addition to all of the fame and glory that Ron yearned for.
This is not the first time that Rowling has commented on the characters of the Harry Potter world post-publication. In an interview several years ago, she publicly revealed something that perhaps only a handful of Potter fans suspected: that Albus Dumbledore was gay and had had a relationship with fellow wizard Gellert Grindelwald. It is the kind of confession that causes readers to go back into the books, searching for clues that may have slipped past them in a first reading.
One also wonders about the acceptability of an author’s making changes to something that has now been accepted as canon. Given the fact that Ron and Hermione did end up getting married at the end of the series, Rowling’s confession almost seems like a retraction of that relationship. Does this change the story for readers? Will Harry Potter fans now be able to go back into the novels and see hints of this possibly more successful relationship?
The evidence is in the writing.