Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yes, I Am A Geek. A Raging Loser.

I suppose that I should warn you, if you haven't read all of the Harry Potter series (including book 7), there will be spoilery plot points here. But it's been out for six months, so why haven't you read it yet? Schmuck.

*This was written shortly after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows*

Allow me to be a nerd here for a few minutes. The recent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has had the wizarding world on everyone's mind, including my own. Something I have noticed in reading all of the Harry Potter books is how incredibly awesome and feminist the character of Hermione Granger is.

Take the third book for example (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). She is issued a time turner, which could easily be abused, but she uses only to get to class, and then at the end of the story she uses it to go back in time and save the lives of two innocents. Also, during this life-saving mission, she completely takes the lead. She is most likey terrified out of her mind, but she keeps her cool. She also demonstrates here and throughout the series and amazing ability to think rationally under pressure (Devil's Snare, anyone?).

But she's not perfect. Like everyone else, she is flawed in many ways. Her incredible intelligence makes her somewhat of a know-it-all (though that is a trait that has saved the asses of her, Ron, and Harry on several occasions). She also loses her head a little as her feelings for Ron grow. Think about the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Or Ron's relationship with Lavender Brown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Or Ron's betrayal in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But she still manages to pull herself together and get on with the task at hand.

Think about Deathly Hallows for a moment. At this point we've established that she's madly in love with Ron, even if they haven't officially gotten together yet. When Ron walks out on she and Harry while they are in hiding, she could easily betray her mission to follow the man she loves. But she doesn't. She risks that relationship for her friendship with Harry and the fact that what they are doing is what will ultimately save the wizarding world.

With all of her strength, she is not simply a female version of male heroes. She is a unique character, and is incredibly feminine in her own way. Her strength isn't "justified" by making her a tomboy, she is smart without having to play the stereotypical nerd. She is allowed to be strong and intelligent while still being attractive and having friends. She is even shown as being attractive to boys in the stories, something that is usually not given to intelligent female characters. She blurs the line between the "pretty girl" and the "smart girl," showing a sampling of both that actually reflects real life. Hermione is an empowering character and a good role model to young female readers who can learn that it's perfectly OK to be pretty and feminine while still being the smartest kid in school.

Besides, she can hide out in the woods for weeks at a time with nothing but a little beaded evening bag.

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