Monday, 19 September 2011

Happy Birthday, Hermione Granger

I mean it. I'm well aware of the usual objections to Harry Potter: unoriginal, overly politically-correct, flabby prose, adults who read books for children should be ashamed yada yada yada. But today I'd like to leave the literary debates aside and simply note that Hermione - who should really have been the main character rather than the helper (in structuralist terms) - is a true role-model. She repeatedly saves the world by reading a lot and thinking about things carefully.

Perhaps I'm biased. After all, I read a lot and am supposed to think carefully about things, as a teacher. But there are plenty of 'action' heroes who rely on instinct and brute force: James Bond certainly hasn't got to grips with deconstruction. There aren't enough thinkers in the battle of good versus evil.

A lot of people think Hermione's a stereotypical nerd: certainly other characters find her bossy, interfering and impatient: even Ron and Harry do so at times. This, I think, says more about them than it does about her. It's a way of dividing readers and characters between elementary and intellectual souls.

I certainly don't want to get into any discussion of the film version: try typing 'Hermione' into Youtube and you'll enter an awful world of bitchiness, neo-paedophilia and American teen angst soundtracked by the drippiest of whine-rock.

Any character which promotes reading research and contemplation deserves praise. Here's a line for my new students:
I've learned all the course books by heart of course. I just hope it will be enough.
Unfortunately, she occasionally lets the side down:
 "Books! And cleverness! There are more important things--friendship and bravery…"
Don't listen to her, kids. She doesn't really mean it.

1 comment:

The Red Witch said...

Without Hermoine, Harry would have been captured and killed early on. Another author who doesn't get much respect in academic circles, wrote that fairy stories were not really meant for small children, that the taste for them rises in the 10-12 year olds and that the taste for them increases with age rather than diminishes. I think Professor Tolkien knew a thing or two about story telling.