This continues a series begun last spring. If you’re new to this series, or wish a refresher, see Part 1–The Magical World, Part 2—Institutions and Groups, Part 3—The Trio, and Part 4—The Evanses and Dursleys for this series’ introduction and context.
The Grangers are Muggles, and Hermione is the only Muggle-born character we see who struggles between her love for and loyalty to both her blood family and wizarding family. Hermione is lucky—her parents are enthusiastic about their daughter’s magical abilities, embrace the magical world and her school, and are proud of her accomplishments.
Muggle parents are fascinating to contemplate. What do they think when they learn the source of their child’s strange, unfocused and troubling abilities? When their 11-year olds get a letter from complete strangers inviting them to a school the family has never heard of, to be taught to use their strange abilities? Who would believe it? We never hear of a Parent’s Day at Hogwarts, so do the parents ever even visit the school where their children spend seven years? Also, once the child enters the magical world, he or she is also leaving the Muggle world and its interests, most likely for good. Do the parents mourn? Worry? Feel conflicted over divided loyalties? Do they have the urge to pull their child out of the Wizarding World, and what happens to a magical Muggle child denied a wizarding education?
Unfortunately, we never get a glimpse into these quandaries beyond Hermione’s parents, and we get very little there.
To complete my trifecta of important girl characters, let’s talk about my fellow Ravenclaw: Luna!
Many younger readers (and the adults too!) aspire to be more like some of their favorite characters. Who doesn’t want to be brave like Harry, self-sacrificing like Snape, fiery like Ginny, loyal like Ron, intelligent like Hermione? It’s one of my dearest hopes that more readers, especially the girls, aspire to be more like Luna: weird, honest, kind, and most importantly non-conformist.
It’s an understatement to say that Luna doesn’t fit in anywhere at Hogwarts. When we first meet her in OOTP, Neville, the underdog of Gryffindor, is afraid to share a train compartment with her. Even her fellow Ravenclaws exclude her, and she doesn’t seem to have any friends until Ginny is nice to her and defends her when others tease. When she talks about the D.A. as “almost like having friends” it broke my heart. Haven’t we all been there at some point?
No matter her social situation, though, very little upsets Luna. Rowling most often describes her and the way she speaks as “serene.” While Luna’s not numb to what’s going on around her (I’ll argue she’s the most perceptive character we see [<—slight pun intended]), she’s also not crying in the bathroom and fretting over why no one likes her. She never tries to change who she is so that others will accept her. Most people and characters try, to a greater or lesser degree, to fit in and be accepted, popular, loved. Think about all the back-to-school prep that’s been going on lately: if you buy the right clothes you’ll be like the cool kids (and it’s assumed you want to be cool); if you have the right backpack/hairstyle/shoes people will accept you. For Luna, none of that matters. I think she sees through the artifice of it all and rejects it. She would rather be happy and weird. That level of self-assurance and inner-strength are both admirable and rare, especially in adolescents. Continue reading
Yes! Luna Lovegood wearing her famous lion hat while cheering for Gryffindor in Quidditch. The hat of course made its first appearance in the fifth book, but there were no Quidditch scenes in the film version. Good thing she also wore it in the sixth book and will definitely be in the film. Brilliant.
Read a Review of the Half-Blood Prince film!