JKR loses faith in Ron & Hermione as couple

by Deborah Chan/Arabella

Yes, the pub is still in operation. We’re just in that kind of post-New Year’s, snoozy, shut-in-the-house-by-the-massive-winter-storm-and-subzero temps apocalypse.

However, whilst we’ve been busy shoveling snow in the U.S., J.K. Rowling has been shoveling Ron and Hermione out of marital happiness. And right before Valentine’s Day, no less.

Heartless.

She has decided that Ron and Hermione really don’t work as a couple.

In an interview with Emma Watson, guest editor for Wonderland magazine, she says:

“If I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

Watson responded,

“I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.”

A huge controversy, while the books were being published, was over the Shipping Wars—who would end up with whom. Some hated the Ron and Hermione pairing, feeling that Harry and Hermione made the better pair. Others liked Hermirone in an opposites-attract-kind-of-way. We had some pretty heated arguments in the pub on the subject.

John Granger has written a post at HogPro on Rowling’s reverse, which you can check out here.

But here are some questions I have for you:

  1. Given the saga’s alchemical nature, did Rowling make a mistake? What do you think she meant by “reasons, but not for reasons of credibility,” “wish fulfillment” and “clinging to the plot”? Did she write her characters into a romantic corner because of her alchemical scaffold? In other words, did she fail to make character sense in order to make alchemical sense?
  2. What do you think of an author who rejects their own storyline and characters as written? Does this make the author wrong at the time but now correct? Can an author reverse herself and not damage her story?
  3. How does this affect your feelings about the original story? Do you feel let down by Rowlings musings?.
  4. Do you ever feel that Rowling, much as we appreciate her for giving us such a splendid story, would do better to stop tinkering with the story post-saga?

About Deborah Chan/Arabella

Deborah Chan, previously “Arabella Figg” I read the first three Harry Potter books in 1999 to see what the fuss was about and was hooked. After participating at HogwartsProfessor.com for several years, and then here at the pub, I joined the Blogengamot in 2009. I enjoy discussing and writing about the books I love, and particularly enjoy looking into characters' psychological and emotional motivations. My husband Rick and I live in Spokane, WA, where I’m a columnist for our newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. Our cat Casey Rose is my gravatar. Butterbeers all around!

12 thoughts on “JKR loses faith in Ron & Hermione as couple

  1. 1. There was no mistake. JKR wrote the books. They are hers. She can do as she pleases. I’ve seen alchemical justifications of a Harry/Hermione pairing in several places. Yes, she wrote herself in a corner, probably because of time restraints, or she just wanted to move to something else. Or maybe even it’s for the reason she stated in the interview. And yes, I feel that while her characters may make alchemical sense, that for me at least they are lacking in emotional sense. This rather spoiled the last couple books for me.

    2. As I said, JKR can do as she pleases. Even though I always preferred a H/Hr pairing in the books from the time I read the first one (and long before I saw the films), I have long felt that the problem with the romance in HP is not so much the final pairings, but in the way the author developed them. I realize that the Harry Potter books are not even remotely about romance, but JKR could have done a much better job building that part of her story. Why didn’t she bring Ginny out of the shadows much earlier? She has maybe ten lines books 3-5. Why did she have to dumb down Hermione in HBP? Did Ron have to be so cruel to Hermione in the last two books to characterize the Quarreling Couple? Isn’t that speech by Ginny to Harry at Dumbledore’s funeral a bit fan-girlish? Does Ginny understand Harry at all?

    I could go on and on.

    The films did a much better job with the romance of the story than the books did, IMHO. At least Ginny was visible, even if she said little, and dumbed-down Movie Ron was less of a prat.

    3. Good for JKR for being honest. I feel a little vindicated actually.

    4. Why? What would we talk about then? Everything has already been sliced and diced to a T. Isn’t it great there is something new in the HP world? I enjoy looking at this site and John Granger’s. There is always room for more HP talk by intelligent people.

    I would be very happy if Rowling revised the whole thing. And not to my preferred pairings necessarily, but fix the ones she has. I don’t think she would have to change more than 5000-10,000 words to make considerable improvement. A drop in the bucket, really. But why stop there? I think there is lots that she could do to fix the last two books especially.

    To use a musical analogy: look how many times Beethoven returned to Leonore/Fidelio before he got it right. Or maybe he never did. Beethoven wrote a new last movement for his Opus 130 quartet. Bruckner revised his symphonies constantly. How about Prokofiev’s Fourth Symphony? Stravinsky tinkered with Firebird and Petrouchka for years after their premiers. Some people prefer the original Firebird, but it’s the revised version that gets played more. You can have it both ways.

  2. 1. Probably she made alchemical sense but not as much character sense. It IS difficult to believe that Hermione would have been content with Ron, but there are all kinds of strange couples in the world who don’t seem to be a good match from the outside but are perfectly happy with each other, so I was willing to accept the story as is.
    The books are great; they are my favorite books of all time, and millions of people love them. They are not perfect, but I’ve never read a book that was perfect, and yet I love many, many imperfect books.
    She did not make a mistake— she wrote a series of incredible books.
    2. An author has every right to discuss her book later and share what she thinks she could have done better. She is brave to do it, because her books are popular worldwide and she gets plenty of flack and criticism when she comments on them.
    3. I don’t feel let down. I only wish I could discuss the books at length with her in person! :-) I like to hear what she’s thinking. And I appreciate her honesty as well.
    4. Now that all the books are published and I’ve read them all, I don’t mind when she shares about the characters post-saga. Before all the books were published, I sometimes wished she would not comment on fan ideas— I preferred waiting for the books themselves. For example, when one fan put up the website “Dumbledore Is Not Dead,” making a case that Dumbledore was not really dead, I didn’t like it when JKR came out and refuted the website and said that he was truly dead. I liked waiting for the actual books to see what would happen. But now that the books are out, I don’t mind her speaking about her characters.
    I hope she writes more books about the magical world and Hogwarts!!!

    By the way, HURIN, those are really good points about the musicians. And, I agree with you completely about Ginny, and about Hermione in Half Blood Prince.

  3. Thank you hurin and phoenixsong58 for stopping by with such thoughtful comments!

    I do agree that the romances could have been better developed. We knew Hermione liked Ron, but her reasons weren’t really fleshed out; he didn’t seem a logical choice, looking at it only character-wise. I loved Book!Ron (and deplored Film!Ron), and the equanimity with which Ron always regarded Hermione–he was unflappable over her demands and criticisms. Harry had more trouble with her temperament.

    Ginny wasn’t well developed, either. After Harry rescues her in CoS, it would have been nice to see more interaction and hints. I love Ginny’s character and I liked the way she emerged from her shyness to stand up to others, including Harry. It was important for him to be paired up with someone who understood LV possession. She was also funny and lighthearted, not as intense as Hermione.

    But all that old ground aside, I’m troubled by the impact of Rowling’s statements. I can never read the books again without knowing this huge change of heart. And I wonder if JKR will change her mind again about this or other aspects of the saga. This isn’t just some enjoyable and informative backstory, this is major. I do see music as being different from characters n a story.

    Which also raises the question asked elsewhere, is an author the best interperetor of her own work. Does it still “belong” to her once published, or to her readers?

    1. I do agree, Ginny’s character was hardly developed at all in the books. This meant I, and I suspect many other readers, were not able to develop any kind of an emotional relationship with her. I never rooted for Ginny to end up romantically involved with Harry. In fact, I remember thinking if Harry ended up with her, he would eventually die of boredom. Though, after re-reading all of the books to many times to count, I think I understand why Rowling did not spend more time developing Ginny or her relationship with Harry.

      Each one of the Harry Potter books was a mystery story unto themselves and yet were a piece of the mystery of the entire series. J.K. Rowling did not cheat when it came to presenting all of the puzzle pieces of the mysteries to us. She gave us every clue within the words and sentences of the books. This meant every sentence, and even every word pertaining to the mystery had to be slipped into the books in a nonchalant manner. (She wanted us to have the clues, but did not want us to figure out the mystery until before she was ready.) She was able to do this quite artfully by sneaking it in while sharing what was going on with the main characters in relation to their friends, their teachers, their families their pets.. etc.

      Was the reason Rowling did not feel she could give Ginny the development she deserved because the books were getting to thick? Did Rowling feel she needed to cut back on some characters, which meant poor Ginny ended up on the cutting room floor? If this was the case, why was so much space taken up by Luna’s character? (Something I really enjoyed.)

      I agree with Hurin, the Harry/Ginny relationship was developed much more in the movies. (Though I do not to think of the movies as canon.) Were the movies Rowling’s way to make up for the lack of Ginny’s character development in the books?

      As for Rowling changing her mind and voicing her opinion, I think she may be doing what we all are doing, thinking about the HP books and giving our thoughts and opinions. Sure, she can voice her opinions about the books, but I would not consider it canon. If she wants to change canon she might want to rewrite some of the aspects of the books from a different angle.

      Well, I think I asked more questions than I answered.

  4. Actually, her comment seriously annoyed me. Justly or unjustly. I’m sure Harry/Hermione shippers DO generally feel vindicated, and I can certainly understand that, and in most worlds I’d have said two people with their personalities would have done better than an opposites-attract case like Ron/Hermione. But this isn’t most worlds, it’s Harry Potter, and I was quite convinced from the middle of book one that Ron, not Harry, was destined for Hermione.

    Besides, I’m a canon girl. Han shot first.

    1. If anything, I’d say Rowling lost some of her own way in book seven, and wrote aspects it less convincingly than the other six. It didn’t have to be that way. I felt like the characters in general, and Ron in particular, were weaker in the first half of DH than in OotP and HBP.

    2. Usually when Rowling gives out too much information, she has my sympathy. Not when she’s changing canon, though. If she’d have been vague about it, more like “Part of me can imagine it having been a mistake to put Hermione with Ron instead of Harry; I did that for reasons, but I can see reasons for doing it the other way”–THAT I would have understood. Not this.

    Once the story’s out and in fans’ hands and beloved, it belongs to them, too. If people want to write H/Hr fanfic, fine. But the books are fixed as they are, and the epilogue is part of that, and I happen to adore the epilogue.

    3. Currently refusing to accept her musings. In case that wasn’t obvious. :P

    4. See the answer to 2.

    Thanks for getting a post up, Deborah. Yours was more balanced than mine would have been. ;)

    1. “2. Usually when Rowling gives out too much information, she has my sympathy. Not when she’s changing canon, though. If she’d have been vague about it, more like “Part of me can imagine it having been a mistake to put Hermione with Ron instead of Harry; I did that for reasons, but I can see reasons for doing it the other way”–THAT I would have understood. Not this.

      Once the story’s out and in fans’ hands and beloved, it belongs to them, too. If people want to write H/Hr fanfic, fine. But the books are fixed as they are, and the epilogue is part of that, and I happen to adore the epilogue.”

      Well said. Canon rules. To be honest, my first response was “I wish Rowling would shut up.” Not so gracious toward a beloved author. But I see such second guessing based on “feels” as harmful to canon and unfair to her readers.

  5. *Emerging from beneath a rock* I tend to agree with Arabella and Jenna. My first reaction to hearing it was “that has to be fake, Rowling didn’t actually say that!”, upon realizing that it seems she did in fact say so, my next reaction was along the lines of “What?! How could she do this to us?!” In the early books, I was a Harry and Hermione fan, but from the middle of the series on, I was fully on-board the Ron and Hermione-ship. I agree that the romances and the character of Ginny could have been better developed, but the pairings are cannon, and you don’t mess with that! Also being familiar with and in agreement with John Granger’s discussion of the alchelmical structure of the books, I was further sold on the Ron/Hermione pairing.
    In terms of relationships and being well-suited, shared experiences and shared values can make a big difference when it comes to a long-term relationships, Ron and Hermione have these, whatever differences in personality and interests they also have. Furthermore, I hate the Ron minimization of Ron’s talents and virtues. Ron has flaws, but he also perseverance, a good strategic mind, a great, clever sense of humor and a good heart.
    I’m of the opinion that once a story like this is out there and done, it’s done, it’s finished, and the author shouldn’t be second-guessing their work (who knows, in time she may change her mind again and decide she was right about the pairings all along). I think no artist is 100% happy with their work and is often wondering about ways to change it and make it better, but that doesn’t mean she was wrong in her pairing, I love hearing from her about what the characters go on to do after the series ends, but I think she should recognize that the series is done, doesn’t belong solely to her anymore, and not try to tamper with or cast doubt on the story after the fact.
    For whatever it’s worth, as a musician I do see a difference between going back and correcting, editing, and updating a composition (each performance of a piece of music in inherently unique anyway, it will never be performed in the exact same way twice) and making changes to a multi-volume epic fantasy novel after it’s done. A story and it’s characters feel different to me somehow.

    1. Yup, Jenna, that was my reaction exactly — Rita’s up to her old nasty tricks. I quite liked the interview, once I got to read the whole thing.

  6. I have to find the actual article, but it seems like people are assuming JKR wishes she had paired Hermione with Harry. But from the comments above she doesn’t say that— only that Hermione and Ron were not the best pairing.
    The books are the books— I wouldn’t want a rewrite. But I still think it’s interesting to hear the things that SHE thinks about the books a few years after writing them. I mean, we all notice the things that we wish she had done a little differently (I can’t help it after twenty readings of each book!) So I’m sure she does as well. We all like to talk ad nauseum about the books. I honestly like to have her in the conversation. It’s fun. I don’t think it’ll change the books for us as we read them. Learning that Dumbledore was gay hasn’t affected anything in my reading of the stories. It doesn’t change the plot in any way or my feelings about anything. The idea that JKR thinks Ron and Hermione are not the best pairing won’t change the story, either. The fact is, Ron and Hermione married, had kids, and seem happy nineteen years later, no matter what anyone else thinks of their relationship, including JKR.

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