From Young Adult to classics, female protagonists have been a major player in many stories. Sometimes they’re young and lovely, others are old and bad-ass. Sometimes, they’re not all that attractive. Sometimes, they’re terrible examples of the world women live in. The way people write their heroines into existence differs greatly, just as the wide world of women do. I want to explore some of the qualities I find most endearing (and problematic) in some of the prominent characters in literature.
I would like to start off with my favorite lady because well, I’m the boss around here.
Hermione starts off as a bossy know-it-all with an irrational fear of breaking rules or doing anything incorrectly. She’s brilliant, talented and hard-working, which all together lead Ron to the conclusion that she’s ‘a nightmare’. She’s not, Ron’s just an idiot (for the first few chapters, anyway). What I find most important about Hermione as a character is that she is her own person. She never has any need of a crutch, or for someone else to make decisions. Hell, she even goes to the bathroom by herself! Which doesn’t work out too well, but you get what I mean. We also never see her resort to being a bitch or hurting someone else in order to make herself feel or seem better. Well, except to punch Malfoy in the face. But that was completely called for. She is powerful and capable, all on her own.
There is also a very unique quality to the way Hermione interacts with others emotionally. Very rarely do we see her act out. She has this ability to quietly maintain herself, while letting you know exactly what she’s feeling. The only instance I can think of where she had a breakdown was when she found Ron and Lavender making out. And instead of losing it and scratching some eyes out, she charmed up a bunch of little birds to peck the crap out of Ron. A classy move, on all accounts.
Hermione is also a real person. She has insecurities and fears just like anyone else. I think the moment that I actually, finally, warmed up to her was in Goblet of Fire after Malfoy hexes her front teeth. When she comes back from the hospital wing, Harry notices that she looks different. That sly little minx just let Madame Pomfrey give her a bit of a makeover by letting her shrink her teeth down a bit past their original size. Imagine being clever enough to make that snap decision after you’d just been hexed and your teeth were growing down past your chin? Seriously.
We’re also aware of the fact that for all her brilliance and annoying habit of leaping out of her chair to answer questions, Hermione questions herself all the time. This occurs first in the Sorcerer’s Stone, while Harry is having his own moment of self-doubt. “Me! Books and cleverness – there are more important things…” Hermione still hasn’t given herself the credit she deserves for not only getting Harry and Ron out of a perilous situation, but getting them through the logic puzzle just moments before. And here she is, bolstering up a friend in need of some encouragement by confiding her own insecurities to him. She studies like a crazy-person and spends most of the days before testing FREAKING THE EFF OUT. Also, does anyone else think the whole semester where she was using the Time Turner was a HUGE over-compensation?! I mean, damn girl, give yourself a break! For all her self-assurance, Hermione is a flawed and human character. Her perseverance and determination make it obvious for us Muggles that the magical world is not all charms and self-washing dishes – it’s a lot of hard freakin’ work.
Growing up reading these books, I learned a lot from Miss Granger (and in turn Jo Rowling, for being the literary maven she is). While it seems that she cares less about her appearance and social life and more about her school work, it’s far from the truth. She has a very healthy social life, has a monstrous crush on a boy who also happens to be her best friend, and thinks her teeth are too big and her hair too frizzy. She is a teenage girl who just happens to be one of the most brilliant members of her peer group. And regardless of the teasing or belittling that comes with being smarter than everyone else, Hermione doesn’t let it stop her from earning the title “Cleverest Witch of her Age”.
She also gets her man by story’s end. But not until they defeat Voldemort and save the world. And she gets a steady job. THEN she has time for some dating and baby-making.
- 10 Reasons Why We Should Be Hermiones, Not Bellas (womynews.wordpress.com)