Sunday, February 09, 2014

You Sank My (Relation)Ship!

A few weekends ago there was big rumblings in the Internet world about an interview given by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. The buzz centered around some out-of-context comments Rowling made regarding the relationship that her characters Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger developed in the course of the books--especially in the final two volumes in which Ron and Hermione officially coupled off.

Credit: jscolemanfch/DesktopWallpapers4me *
Rowling said that she has since had second thoughts about this pairing and apparently stated that she felt Hermione and Harry were more suited for each other and that (presumably) if given the chance to do it over, she would pair off the three main characters in a different way, specifically allowing the Chosen One to couple up with Hogwarts favorite bookworm.

First, I'll repeat the maxim often said by young adult author John Green "Books belong to their readers." Meaning, once published, it matters far more how a reader interprets a story than how the author may have intended that story.

Credit: jscolemanfch/DesktopWallpapers4me *
So, if you want Harry and Hermione to couple up, well you can look for those moments when it might have happened and treasure those events. And you can certainly look to the movie versions of the books to seek lots of Harry + Hermione scenes.

But the facts of the published work remains. And Rowling DID choose to make the story a certain way. It is already there in black and white on billions of pages all over the world. That makes the relationship "canon" and not subject to change . . . unless Rowling decided to pull a George Lucas and start releasing new, authentic versions of the story that she was unable to publish. (But we know, of course, that NO ONE had more influence and control over their final product than Rowling did over the Harry Potter series. So I do not believe that she was prevented from publishing the story that she wanted to tell.)

Why the change of heart now? Without reading the full interview, I can't begin to guess.

What do I think? Personally, I understand where she may be coming from with regards to the personality differences between Hermione and Ron/Harry. I think that even part of the interview was about how Ron and Hermione were destined to a future of couples counseling because of their different personalities. And I guess that may be true. But I also heard Emma Watson respond that she reckons ALL of them would have a future of counseling in front of them, since they were young kids tasked with saving the world and experiencing traumatic events and all that. Just because you carry a wand doesn't mean you can't experience PTSD, I suppose.

But what bothers me most about Rowling's questioning of her authorial choices is what implications it has other than Ron and Hermione. Specifically Ginny's relationship with Harry. If Hermione was somehow supposed to end up with Harry, then what would have happened to Ginny? And what about all of the turmoil and feelings that Harry experienced in Books Six and Seven that centered around his developing feelings for Ron's sister? I love those passages of the seven books almost more than any other part. And to hear Rowling try to moonwalk away from that, for whatever reason, is . . . well, it's not upsetting because I'm not a teenager . . . but I wish it were not so.

And besides, I've already got so much opinion invested in the Harry + Ginny relationship. I won't back out of it now!

Still, the books and what I make of them belong to me now. And I am pleased with the results of the romances as they are. Unless and until Rowling pulls a Lucas, I will always have it the way that I want it. And I think that is the way it should be anyway.

*Sorry to illustrate the post with movie images--which I think contribute to this disagreement more than anything else. Ron is underutilized in the movies and Harry + Hermione are pushed forward with frequency. Also, Bonnie Wright's portrayal of Ginny is not convincing enough to make her seem a viable option, unless you can watch the movie through a strong knowledge of the book's characterization of Ms. Weasley.

Other thoughts from people more connected to the issue than I.

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