The recent quote from JK Rowling on the fact that she regrets Ron and Hermione ending up together and getting married at the end of her Harry Potter books have caused an internet frenzy of comments, tweets, and articles (much like this one), some with viewpoints that agree with Rowling’s now “distanced view”. If you hadn’t heard (which considering the amount of coverage it is getting I am sure you have), Rowling believes that Harry and Hermione would have made much more sense as a couple and that Ron and Hermione’s fictional marriage together would need some serious marriage counselling for it to last.
The quote which was published in the Sunday Times is below:
“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfilment. 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.
I know, I’m sorry. I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”
Now, I am all for authors having opinions on their characters, I mean they are their characters, but I think there comes a time when a writer should actually keep their opinions out of the public forum and let their original works speak for themselves.
Speaking out about characters and regrets with where you took the story are all very well and I imagine personally satisfying years after the books have been published, but where does that leave the reader?
The author is the only real authority on the imaginary world that they have created and by doing a public 180 on one of the key parts of the storyline leaves the reader and future readers wondering what on earth is going on and wondering about the integrity and the solidity of the story.
Also, the fact that, unlike in other popular books where fans like to debate who characters should have ended up with (see The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Mortal Instruments etc.), there was never any hint of a love triangle between Harry, Ron and Hermione. All of the trappings in terms of romantic entanglements led to Ron and Hermione, with Hermione fashioning herself as a pretty good wingman for Harry, encouraging him to date Cho Chang and then Ron’s sister Ginny. So for a Harry and Hermione hook-up, the series would need a serious re-haul.
I am not saying I don’t like the idea of Harry and Hermione. In some ways they are very similar but the Ron and Hermione match works just fine as it is…even if it was some kind of misguided “wish fulfilment”. Plus, it is fiction. The romantic matches don’t have to have real world credibility. The fact is, as a reader, I want to enjoy what is on the written page not wonder if the writer messed up and spend the whole time analysing the books from that perspective.
This is not the first time that Rowling has spoken out about her characters and given them new twists. Her gay Dumbledore bombshell that she dropped back in 2007 was not really a bombshell. It was just a shame that she didn’t write it into the book series as it is a pretty great idea and would have given a whole new depth to his character.
When you reread the Harry Potter series now, instead of it seeming like the cohesive fantasy world with an exciting storyline that it is – if you take Rowling’s regrets and comments into consideration – you will be reading a patchy piece of fiction that lacks credible relationships and characters. If the author of the series doesn’t even believe it, why should we?
Once a book is published it is up to the reader to interpret it how they will, and it is only by the author respecting and allowing this freedom that their work is likely to be fully and imaginatively enjoyed for years after its creation. As Rowling’s comments are an excerpt from a full interview to be published on 7th February in Wonderland, the motivation around making them is currently unclear but by dragging her characters out of the original text to accompany her in a drive to remain in the public eye, and presumably to ensure her longevity as an author, she is, ironically, at risk of damaging the legacy she has built to date. This may sound a bit harsh, but when you bring something like this up in an interview, whether it is a moment of honesty or not, you know that it will create massive waves of publicity and your fans will take everything you say to heart and it will indeed impact how they and future readers will look at your creation.