Two weeks ago I began my series on some of the characters of Harry Potter by taking a look at Harry’s faithful sidekick, Ron Weasley. Today I am going to look at another member of the all important trio. Let’s dive right in!
HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER
When you think of Hermione what’s the first word that pops into your head? I am willing to bet it was something like smart, intelligent, gifted, or some other synonym of those words. From the moment we are introduced to her in Philosopher’s Stone and she spouts off that she has “learnt all [their] set books by heart” we are primed to know that she is “the smart one” (79*). But that is not all she is.
It is not until Order of the Phoenix that one of Rowling’s characters, in the form of Terry Boot, asks Hermione the question most readers had been thinking all along: Why did the Sorting Hat put her in Gryffindor as opposed to Ravenclaw? (353) Our first introduction to the house qualities comes through the Sorting Hat’s song. We learn that Ravenclaw house holds “those of wit and learning”, whereas Gryffindors are “brave at heart” and exhibit “daring, nerve, and chivalry” (Philosopher’s Stone, 88). It seems obvious that Hermione would fit in with Ravenclaw – I have even heard it said, though I don’t remember where, that she was only put in Gryffindor because it was more convenient – but I believe that Gryffindor is actually the perfect fit for her.
It would be impossible to list out all the instances where Hermione has demonstrated her bravery, daring, and nerve. Every single book has countless examples and Deathly Hallows is pretty much one giant display of these traits. From fighting Death Eaters to stomping through the Forbidden Forest to defying the Ministry of Magic – and the list goes on – she demonstrates these most basic Gryffindor qualities. But I want to focus more on what I think is the most important (and most overlooked) quality of a Gryffindor: chivalry.
The idea of chivalry comes from the medieval period and its order of knights. Thanks in large part to Queen Elinor of Aquataine and her court, the idea of “courtly love” is what is most frequently associated with the term chivalry, but that is just a small part of it. Chivalry also encompasses a strict code of honor and loyalty towards ones brothers in arms and those who are weak or unable to fend for themselves. Hermione embodies all of these qualities.
You would be hard pressed to find someone in the Harry Potter series who demonstrates more loyalty to their comrades in arms than Hermione. From the moment she gave Harry her loyalty she never took it back. Regardless of how it may have looked to Harry at times, she always had his best interests at heart and had his back. Even if that meant doing something she knew would upset him, like when she told McGonagall her suspicions regarding the mysterious gift of the very expensive Firebolt. She stays by his side through countless dangerous situations and, more impressively, his frequent mood swings.
In my experience, people who are highly intelligent do not always have the most common sense or emotional empathy. This is not the case with Hermione. She is very attuned to the emotional state of those around her and their well-being. She does not like to see anyone, regardless of species, mistreated and is compelled to act against it. The most obvious example of this trait is her crusade for House Elf rights, but there are many other, smaller instances as well. When she and Ron are made prefects in their fifth year she takes her duties very seriously. She does not allow anyone, including Ron, to bully the younger students – even if it is something as insignificant as addressing them as “midgets” (Order of the Phoenix, 194).
In spite of Hermione’s extreme intellect, I believe that she belongs in Gryffindor more than Ravenclaw. She embodies all of the qualities that are required of a true Gryffindor and her intelligence only helps to serve her in those areas. Hermione is one of my favorite characters, not just of this series, but in all of fiction. She is an incredible role-model for young girls to look up to. She is never overly concerned with what people think of her or how popular she is. Instead, she wants to better herself and those around her. She is willing to look adversity in the face, no matter how big, if she thinks it is the right thing to do. If that isn’t daring, nerve, and chivalry, then I don’t know what is.
What do you think? Do you think Hermione was sorted into the correct house? What do you like/not like about her character? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
*All page numbers are from the UK editions.