Continuing on from Part One, today I will be discussing why Ron did not deserve the flak he received for his fallout with Harry and why S.P.E.W. made sense from Hermione’s point of view!
4. HARRY & RON’S FEUD
Now, Ron received a lot of unfair demonisation for his feud with Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. What seems to be lost amongst the criticism is that Ron is an insecure and poor 14-year-old boy competing for popularity in a large family comprised of older brothers who have achieved success at Hogwarts – that includes Fred and George, yes – and, having graduated, gone on to achieve success in glamorous and exciting professions. Percy, Fred and George manifest their financial ambitions in different ways with Percy seeking success through traditional methods whereas Fred and George pursue success through innovative inventions. The desire for financial security is present amongst Fred, George, Ron and Percy, but each react in a different way. Given that his best friend is the famous Harry Potter, it further adds another heavily loaded bullet point to add to the long list of why Ron Weasley believed that he was not good enough. With both Harry and Hermione being financially secure, it becomes difficult to compare Ron’s insecurities to Hermione and Harry’s.
With that being said, as the audience, we’re privy to Harry’s reaction to Ron believing that Harry planned to enter the Triwizard Tournament and we know, for certain, that voluntary signing up to a dangerous competition that isn’t for a ‘good cause’ is an idea that Harry would not entertain. Harry likes the quiet and peaceful life, after all. Ron should have known that too. Ron insisting that Harry entered his own name into the cup (without judgement) understandably triggers Harry – his best friend does not believe him – and things escalate from this point. Hermione believes Harry; she is the most logical of the trio and given that she and Harry share a muggle upbringing, they both share the belief that the Tournament is dangerous. Once Ron realises the true danger the Triwizard Tournament presents, he goes to Harry immediately to apologise.
Some fans are harsh in their assessment of Ron. Ron is allowed to feel insecure, desire status and popularity, and be sulky. If we compare Ron’s actions to other ‘heroes’ in the series, he is far less dangerous and the least violent of the trio and, yet, they aren’t on the receiving end of vilification. This extends to fans disparaging Cho for openly weeping and mourning the murder of her boyfriend – whatever happened to mental health matters? Yes, “it’s just a book” but it remains a harmful message to send to audiences. As Ned Stark rightly said: “So, if you must hate, Arya, hate those who would truly do us harm.” There was no maliciousness intended on Ron’s part. And, as we see, Harry and Ron, by the end of the series, sit down to have a healthy and fruitful discussion which addresses Ron’s insecurities. Now, this is one of Rowling’s better ideas and a lesson that I hope male readers have taken away.
5. HERMIONE AND S.P.E.W.
Strangely, I find myself opposing my former views on Hermione’s approach to S.P.E.W. Hermione, having had a muggle upbringing, grew up learning a very different history of the world. When a muggle works, he/she earns pay, sick pay, additional benefits, accrues an x number of days off, and the ability to terminate their employment contract. As none of these considerations are factored in the working conditions of house elves, it is quite natural that Hermione would deem the nature of the house elves working conditions to be unfair and harsh from a muggle’s point of view.
Hermione does speak to the house elves to learn more about their conditions and their opinions on their working conditions. Moreover, she commits her time to researching the history of house elves. Both Dobby and Winky (and Kreacher) receive unfair and unjust treatment from their masters. In the Chamber of Secrets, Dobby is flogged by the Malfoy’s and was the recipient of repeated abuse at their hands. Winky is unfairly dismissed for the actions of Barty Crouch Jr. While the house elves employed at Hogwarts enjoy fair treatment, it remains that there must be other house elves who do not share similar working conditions.
Hermione is young… and, more importantly, powerless to achieve success in her campaign for better working conditions for house elves. Given her youth, Hermione employs campaigning tactics that are achievable in accordance to her limited resources. Knitting socks hidden underneath rubbish that house elves are contractually obligated to clean was an incredibly self-imposing move on Hermione’s part. This is unsuccessful as the house elves refused to clean Gryffindor Tower leaving the household duties to Dobby alone.
It is difficult to compare the working conditions and history of house elves to real history as the wizarding world operates under an almost wholly different culture. Hermione’s attempts to liberate the house elves demonstrates that Hermione’s reasoning is much more in line with her knowledge of real (muggle) history. But she is young, she has heard and seen Dobby and Winky suffer mistreatment at the hands of their masters, she is Muggle-born… and she didn’t intend to cause harm.
We know that Hermione, once she graduates, goes on to work at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to improve the lives and working conditions of house-elves. I can imagine her efforts were better expended, more effective and well-received post-Hogwarts. Think of the possibilities… perhaps one day, in the wizarding world, free house elves create their own opportunities – maybe we see the elfish equivalent to McDonald’s? Perhaps they become food franchise entrepreneurs or they launch a global cleaning enterprise that enables them to achieve the status of business moguls. Just imagine the service! House elves… making it rain.
What are your thoughts on Harry and Ron’s fight in Goblet of Fire? Is the vilification of Ron justified in comparison to the treatment of other characters? What do you think of S.P.E.W.? Let me know in the comments!
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I even forgot about that little fight they had because Harrys name popped up for the tournament, but with Harry being Harry, his brothers being super popular, and Hermione being super smart, it kind of feels he’s “just there” most of the time, so him feeling like that is valid.
I’m not really aware of the vilification of Ron since I’ve only watched the movies and he’s portrayed as a goofball, but I do know movies and books aren’t usually the same, so my question to you is do you feel the movie portrays him in the correct manner or not?
You seeeeeee! I think, if you’re a man, or have brothers, then you can understand how Ron feels like he’s not good enough and how that plays out… this is something that we see happen in real life.
Yeah, I do think so, but now I’m thinking that since you were able to understand Ron very well without reading the books whether it’s just a matter of perspective and boils down to the fact that men and women interpret Ron differently because some female readers do not like him, period. 😂
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That’s interesting lol
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I should at least watch the movies sometime.
I think you’ll like this one! There’s time travel in Prisoner of Azkaban, so I think you might enjoy that one better. 🙂
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Ron is justified in being insecure! Harry and even Hermione are more popular than him and so are his siblings. And his anger and (jealousy?) escalates when he thinks Harry entered the competition without even mentioning it to his best friend. Financial conditions of his family is another reason for Ron’s insecurities.
I think the reason for which Cho received a backlash was that she started going out (not really going out but you know what I mean) with Harry not long after Cedric’s death.
And it is self-imposing on Hermione’s part. I think it’s the elves that work for certain families live in a terrible condition compared to the elves working in Hogwarts.
Harry is popular because of his celeb status. In terms of popularity and gregariousness, Ron gets along with his peers far better than the rest of the trio. Though admired for her brains, Hermione doesn’t have that level of popularity and often rubs people up the wrong way. Harry is very, very introverted and we rarely see him wanting to properly socialise with others outside the trio and the rest of the Weasley’s. But worth is the sticking point. In terms of value, Ron cannot perceive what value he possesses within the trio – Hermione has her brains, Harry has his duelling abilities. Brains and brawn, but without Ron, the trio falls apart. Ron provides emotional support and humour. I think it’s easy in a fantasy series to devalue traits like this and we see various fandoms which are guilty of this. Emotional support and humour are necessary because otherwise life is comfortless and dull. And yep, as you said, the whole siblings issue – all boils down to worth and poor financial conditions plays a big part in this too.
No, it really isn’t. Every review I’ve read have focused on Cho’s “weepiness” whether it’s on WordPress or Quora (in their defence though, you can tell they’re very young based on their arguments) and aside from this, shaming someone for trying to move on after losing someone is piss poor on the audiences part – not Cho’s. Who is anyone to police who and when a woman should date (so long as it’s not cheating)? It’s downright bizarre and self-imposing. And it reeks of internalised misogyny. But again, I do believe their perception has been filtered because we see through Harry’s lens.
Hogwarts is just one place, and all the elves we meet outside of Hogwarts (Dobby and Winky included) were subjected to harsh treatment. She should not have tried to free them without their approval and consent, but I do understand that she’s working with limited resources and with very little power – it’s only when she’s in a position of authority that Hermione can enact actual change. But she’s young, passionate, and marketing and campaigning tactics are not exactly a young persons forte. I think all house elves should have rights. Whether it’s in fiction or in real life, there have always been practices that have been unfavourable to certain groups, that have been swept under the rug because “it’s always been this way” and I think this applies here.
I watched part of Harry Potter and they did a great job of making this kind of fantasy movie, but that was sometime back. I have only one fantasy story published since I usually write more adult stories. These kinds of stories remind me of the late Walt Disney. Take care now.
I agree, I think the film adaptation of Goblet of Fire was fantastic and enhanced the book! It certainly is very seemingly caricature good v bad, but it’s presented in an adult way because of JKR which makes it tricky!
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