While rereading the Harry Potter books, it might occur to you that while Harry is lovely and Ron is great, Hermione is the real hero of the story. Heck, Harry and Ron would likely tell you the same thing. For Witchy Wednesday, let’s explore the glory that is Hermione Granger, bookworm, loyal friend, the most brilliant witch of her age, who feels like an actual person.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Without Hermione, Voldemort would have taken over the wizarding and Muggle worlds and we’d be slaves to a cruel wizard right now. In fiction … of course, we mean in fiction. Each of our heroes has a job to do. Harry has the connection to Voldemort (we will use his full name … take a deep breath and try to say it out loud). He’s brave and self-effacing. He knows that doing the right thing matters. Ron is a loyal friend, plays a mean game of wizard's chess, and gives Harry a safe place to compete, making them both better. However, neither of these magical kids can sit still long enough to do the research necessary to find the right spells, understand what is needed, and the bravery to go against their own bookworm programming to become part of a very important group. In so many stories, the wizards and witches just happen to have the knowledge for the exact catastrophe that’s coming. With Hermione, we see the actual work go into keeping evil at bay.
Hermione’s research in Hogwarts, a History alone saved the world and her friends many times over. Harry had an invisibility cloak and the ability to get into the Restricted Section of the library without being seen during the holiday break to find out about Nicolas Flamel and he still couldn’t manage it. She is the one who figures out what is paralyzing the kids at Hogwarts. She carries her books with her when the trio goes on the run to save the world. Hey, they may be heavy, but you never know when research will help you out.
In some books and movies, the magic user is a sort of band-aid for the story. Got a problem? Whip up a little spell or a potion and all is well. With Hermione, we’re not getting a quick fix. We’re getting an entire night in a library, reading until our eyes water. We know how hard Hermione works. We know that she works so much and so hard that the teachers give her a Time Turner so she can do even more work. Our girl isn’t using this to sleep in or go out to party. She’s using it for class, for research, and to save her friends. (Sometimes she uses it to annoy teachers, like when she read the entire Defense Against the Dark Arts book to piss off Umbrage. Hermione isn’t above that, and we wouldn’t be either.)
She’s not all about work, though. She gets asked out to the winter formal because she’s a bookworm and not a fawning idiot. She has a life outside Hogwarts, one that she gives up to protect her parents from Voldemort. She clearly learned how to punch somewhere, because she gives what for to Draco when he’s more idiotic than usual.
Hermione is brave, despite her instinct to follow all the rules. As early as the first book/movie, she lies to teachers (oh, the horror) to get her friends out of trouble, and goes against the rules of the school consistently throughout the series for the greater good. She puts up with bullying about her blood status and fights for those who aren’t treated fairly. Sure, she’s not great with naming the society that helps out house elves, but that doesn’t negate her campaign.
When we think of Hermione, we think of someone who is all about books and school and teachers, and we’re not wrong there. She’s a bookworm, and how she missed out on Ravenclaw is still a bit of a mystery despite her bravery. You know those dual house quizzes? Yeah, she’d totally be a Gryffinclaw. A Ravendor? That said, she’ll defy teachers and walk out of stupid classes like Divination. Sure, some prophecy is real in this universe, but the class is just silly, and a waste of time for someone like Hermione.
More importantly, as a character, she’s far more relatable than many witches who have power at their fingertips and a way out of everything. In a way, the fact that these kids have to work really hard to get to a solution — Hermione more than the others — is why it resonates so much. Hermione is real to us because she is us. She’s frustrating sometimes. She’s that annoying person who always has an answer. She doesn’t handle emotions well. She cries on the steps at the winter formal when her love life sort of sucks. She gets picked on, even by her friends sometimes, and she’s not always great at letting herself be vulnerable. She’s a know-it-all, something that’s super great when a scary wizard is on the loose but can be a pain in the wizarding ass at any other time. It hardly matters. She’s glorious in her intelligence. She’s essential to the story. She’s a hard worker and a good and loyal friend. Hermione is the real hero of Harry Potter.