Ask any reader to name good, strong, intelligent female characters, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear the name Hermione Granger, and for good reason. Besides Lucy Pevensie, she was one of the first characters I really connected with. Sure, now I like to talk about how she’s a great character because she’s a female character who uses her intelligence, who prefers brains over strength, and many other qualities, but when I was eleven, I just loved her because I saw part of myself in her. Last Friday I kicked off my “A Letter To. . . ” feature by writing a letter to female characters in general. This week, I’m writing a letter to Hermione.
In some ways, it’s strange you’re held up as the beloved female character of readers of all ages. Unlike most characters who get that kind of treatment, you’re not even the main character of the novels you’re in! Though I’m sure we would have all loved to read Hermione Granger and Hogwarts, A History had it been offered to us readers. But that type of love for a character whose not even the main character goes a long way to show just how awesome said character must be.
As soon as you arrived on the page in the first book, something clicked for me. I was only ten, just a year younger than the characters I was reading about, but I had yet to really connect with either Harry or Ron. I didn’t know what it felt like to live under the stairs and be yelled at all the time, or how crowded a home must be with several siblings. I hadn’t experienced either of those things. But then you show up, and you love learning and school and your first reaction is to do research about something; now there was a character I could connect with!
One of the best things about reading Harry Potter was that you characters continued to grow up with me. When the last book was released, I was seventeen, same age as Harry. And as I grew up, so did you. It was comforting to realize that my bookish and nerdy habits weren’t going to be something I grew out of. Dear Hermione, your character may have changed quite a bit between the ages of 11 and 17 for the better–as did mine–but it was nice to have a character who in many ways mirrored me also stay the same in certain personality aspects. I’ve always been a stickler for the rules, only breaking them when truly necessary. There’s a lot of rule-breakers in children and young adult stories, which is fine, but it was more than comforting to realize that even during the seventh book, you may have broken the rules when you had to, but at heart, your love for rules was still the same as mind.
As one might imagine, liking rules and books as a ten-year-old doesn’t normally make you popular with your peers. Luckily, I had books to escape in to, especially the Harry Potter books! And whenever I read, I didn’t feel so different anymore, because here you were, this character that’s beloved and upheld by readers, and I connected with you. I still sometimes get told that I’m a “Hermione”, and I feel complimented every time.
So, thank you, Hermione, for being “that” character. The character that (most of the time) follows the rule. The character that actually loves school. The character that likes learning for the sake of learning. Because if I went to Hogwarts, I’d be right there reading and re-reading Hogwarts, A History right beside you.