Hermione Granger: Witch, Hero, Friend

| May 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

When I was a kid, I didn’t have any older siblings or cousins to idolize, so I turned to fiction; in the world of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, I found my first real role model in a young witch named Hermione Granger.

As far as role models go, I certainly could have picked a worse one: Hermione is clever, brave, and the strongest female character I had experienced at age seven. But I wasn’t drawn to her because of her innumerable good qualities. I was drawn to her because she was an outcast, and yet she still managed to be strong and clever despite being bullied.

photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik Enjoying Some Hard-Earned Candy via photopin (license)

photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik Enjoying Some Hard-Earned Candy via photopin (license)

When I was seven, I had big bushy hair, huge front teeth that had far outgrown the rest of my baby teeth, and I was an insufferable know-it-all who always raised their hand to answer the teachers’ questions. Sound familiar? I was also picked on and shoved around by the other kids in my class who found me annoying and weird. Hermione proved to me that I could be myself without ever apologizing. Hermione taught me to never be ashamed of being smart or looking different, even when it seems like the world is against you. I saw a lot of myself in Emma Watson, too, who looked an awful lot like I did at ten years old.  I was so proud when she solved the riddles to get to the Sorcerer’s Stone, when she uncovered the basilisk despite being petrified, and when she got Harry and Ron into the Ministry of Magic to take down Voldemort and the Death Eaters once and for all.

I’m old enough now that I don’t need Hermione the way I used to. I don’t need to reread the Harry Potter series again and again, looking for some sort of solace in her words when she saved the day again and again. (Let’s be honest, she’s the real hero of the books. Harry wouldn’t have accomplished anything without her.) Hermione taught me how to grow up, and now that I have, I look back on her like an old childhood friend, someone who held my hand when things were hard. I’m ready to pass her down to the next generation of smart little girls with not enough friends. I’m ready to share her legacy with those who need her most.

I love black Hermione, too. I love the idea of a little girl who doesn’t fit in the Muggle world or the Wizarding world and still found a way to blaze a trail. I love thinking that little black girls can point to her bushy hair and unapologetic intelligence and see themselves reflected in her. I had eight movies of a Hermione who looks like me: there are plenty of other girls who need someone who looks like them now.

Maybe it’s unusual to say that my first and best role model was fictional, the creation of someone else, but Hermione to me represents hope and power and intelligence for those little girls who needed someone to show them how to be strong. I’m grateful to J.K. Rowling for giving me the older sister I needed to teach me how to become the person I am today. I can’t wait to see who she’ll be inspiring next.


featured photo credit: coconut wireless Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade Village via photopin (license)

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Category: Art and Literature, featured, Reflections, Social Activism

Charlie Scanlan

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Charlie is a journalism major in the College of Communication.

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