Thu
Mar 10 2011 12:27pm

Ron Weasley, Romantic Hero?

Ron WeasleyWhat defines a romantic hero? Does he have to be sexy? Strong? The most important man in the room? Or can he merely be “the one who gets the girl”? If a story has a strong, intelligent heroine, do readers—or viewers in the case of movies—just go along with the heroine’s choice of hero? If you consider the Harry Potter movies fantasy or adventure, Harry is the hero. But if you consider the cycle a romance, it is Ron who steals the focus.

More than any factor that defines a romantic hero, after all, is that he is brought closer to the heroine by the arc of the story. He may start out less than worthy, but he grows to deserve her. He may not believe he cares about anything or anyone, but by the end she is the center of his world.

Harry never changes. He is loyal, intelligent, caring, and an exceptionally talented wizard right from the start. He is destined for greatness. Interestingly, these are the kind of characteristics one finds in Medieval romances, which are not “romances” in the modern sense, but stories of adventure. If we switch to the modern “boy meets girl” definition of a romance, however, Harry doesn’t fulfill the requirements for a hero.

At the beginning of the cycle, we meet Harry, Ron, and Hermione in quick succession. (Because I’ve recently refreshed myself with the movies in anticipation of the finale, I am going to refer to the movies here rather than the books.) In true romantic fashion, Hermione takes one look at Ron and dismisses him as useless. After all, he messes up a simple spell, something she would never do. She is far more impressed with Harry.

This is a standard genre convention, one so common as to border on cliché: frequently, the hero and heroine dislike each other for any number of reasons at the beginning of a romance. Part of the thrill is watching them figure out they were meant for each other. Shortly after they meet on the train, and after Hermione once again proves her superiority in the field of magic, Ron remarks to Harry that Hermione is weird and has no friends. This completes the founding trope: now she has dismissed him and he has hurt her feelings. Any romance reader immediately recognizes these cues.

It is tempting to go straight to the end of the series to view Ron in his heroic phase, but such extremes are completely unnecessary. Even at the end of the first movie, Ron sacrifices himself in the game of Wizard’s Chess to save the others. And when he does, Hermione stays behind to help him, letting Harry go on alone.

Another convention of romance is the strength of the hero’s family ties. Romantic heroes without families often belong to pseudo-familial communities like paramilitary groups, military units, or tight-knit small towns. In their interactions with these groups, protagonists can show off their heroism without, well, showing off.  Both Harry and Hermione are singularly lacking in family—Harry’s parents are dead and Hermione’s are muggles and rarely discussed. Ron’s family is the important one. For all intents and purposes, they adopt both Harry and Hermione. The bond Ron shares with his brothers and his parents is key to seeing that he is good husband and father material.

(It should be noted at this point that another typical feature of the family-oriented romance is a secondary romance featuring some other member of the hero’s family or community. In this case, that honor belongs to Ginny Weasley and Harry. Harry saves her in the Chamber of Secrets, and they end up together, though we don’t see much of the romance’s progression.)

Ron’s heroism is also displayed in his willingness to undertake even those adventures he most fears when his friends ask it of him. Harry and Hermione venture bravely forth into the unknown, often finding themselves overwhelmed and in trouble. Ron, on the other hand, only reluctantly ventures out of his safety zone. Although his terror at first glance lowers our opinion of him, he rises to every occasion and never fails his friends. This is far more impressive than a person whose single-minded focus on a goal allows them to ignore their fears.

And, finally, there are the outwardly romantic aspects of Ron’s journey. He gets involved with a ridiculous girl who makes his life miserable, which leads to Hermione’s first open admission of love. Still, if we are to consider the whole cycle a romance, the couple cannot end up together until the very end. If the couple resolves their differences too early, the end of the story becomes pointless and dragging. So even after Ron ditches the dreadful Lavender Brown, he and Hermione still have hurdles to overcome.

Not the least of these obstacles is Ron’s own feeling of inferiority. This becomes clear in Deathly Hallows, when he storms out of their tent in the woods, leaving Harry and Hermione alone. He is jealous of their relationship, frustrated by his own inability to talk to Hermione about his feelings, and he feels useless in their quest. He returns, however, just when the others need him most, and he is brought back to them by the sound of Hermione’s voice calling to him over the miles.

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED READING THE SERIES/SEEN THE FINAL MOVIE.

Ron and Hermione fight together at the end of Deathly Hallows. Together, they retrieve the basilisk fangs needed to destroy the cup Horcrux. When Ron suggests warning the House elves, his selfless impulse and the growing maturity and compassion it evinces allow Hermione to admit her own feelings without reserve.

When we first meet Ron, there is no character who seems less likely to be a romantic hero. Yet, as time goes on, it becomes increasingly evident that Ron Weasley, however unlikely, is the hero of the Harry Potter romance cycle. Not only does he fulfill all the requirements, but in the end, as all good heroes do, he gets the girl.

What do you think? Could you fall for Ron? Or is it Harry forever and always?

This post and its ensuing discussion originally appeared on our romance sister site Heroes & Heartbreakers.


Laura K Curtis lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and 3 dogs, who've taught her how easily love can co-exist with the desire to kill. She blogs at Women of Mystery and maintains an online store at TorchSongs GlassWorks. She can also be found on Twitter and poking her nose into all sorts of trouble in various spots around the web.

15 comments
Kate Keith-Fitzgerald
1. ceitfianna
This seems very true to me and lays out all the reasons that I like Ron and Hermione. Their relationship just feels so real and complicated with all its ups and downs as they mature and figure out where they're going.
dwndrgn
2. dwndrgn
Ron has always been my favorite!
Heidi Byrd
3. sweetlilflower
Interesting point! I agree that Ron is, indeed, the romantic hero of the story. He starts out as quite a little git, but then matures into a (somewhat) responsible and capable man.
dwndrgn
4. Sharat Buddhavarapu
I figure you have a good point here, but Harry isn't a stagnant character as you tried to posit in the beginning. He is driven by the quest to defeat Voldemort, no doubt, but in that quest he changes subtly every year.
In the first movie he has to accept the magic community, and adopt them as a "family". Hogwarts becomes home, Hagrid and Dumbledore rare his father figures. In the second, he has to deal with the cosequences of being shunned by the community for speaking Parseltongue, and his best friend's sister disappearing. His familial attachment to Dumbledore and Gryffindor is revealed in Fawkes and the sword coming to save him. Third movie, emotionally he discovers his godfather, and Remus Lupin. You can see Harry's dad's friends are gathering around him now, in a protective sort of circle. Fourth movie, The Weasleys take him to the Quidditch World Cup, he shows friendship with Cedric, first romantic failure with Cho, sees parents when Priori Incantatem goes off. Oh and the Weasleys being family begins in the second movie when they break him out of his uncle's prison. The fifth movie, he has to deal with the pressure of his father figure, Dumbledore, being banished from the school, leading a group of students who look at him with awe, being tortured by Umbridge, and his godfather dying. Occlumency with Snape teaches him his father was pretty vile. He learns the prophecy that ties him even closer to Voldemort. Sixth movie, Dumbledore gives him private lessons, more father-son bonding, Half-Blood Prince teaches him spells he will regret, gets together with Ginny for about 2 minutes,and death of Dumbledore. Finally the first part of the seventh book, regrets having to let Ginny go, he and Ron have a huge fight, and make good, and Dobby dies.

Bottom Line: Harry Changes emotionally in every movie. He is very interesting, romantically.

But if you want to say that Ron and Hermoine are the more interesting romance, then I'll support that since it happens much more on-screen than Harry-Ginny.
Paul Weimer
5. PrinceJvstin
Ron and Hermione are the Alpha Couple.
Harry and Ginny are the Beta Couple.
Laura K. Curtis
6. LauraKCurtis
@ceitfianna - I agree. The complexities are what keep it interesting.

@dwndrgn - Totally! Probably because if I were a wizardling, I would be more like Ron or even Neville than any of the more capable ones. I can trip and fall over a speck of dust in my house, I'm that much of a klutz.

@sweetlilflower - I giggled out loud at your qualifier of "somewhat"

@Sharat - I absolutely agree that things happen to Harry, but his essential personality doesn't seem to me to change much. He moves through the world, and no one does that without change, but he's an adventure hero, a character whom Fate has destined for Great Things. It's not that I don't like Harry, because I certainly do! I just think he's the lead in a different story than Ron is. Ron's story is personal growth and romance, Harry's is saving the world.
dwndrgn
7. jemron
I feel like, for the most part, the movies use Ron as comic relief more than anything else. However, he's the more "real" character in the whole series, IMO. Specifically, there's nothing remarkable about him at first, and he's completely average. Yet, he is completely necessary to the whole story. I like him because he's the easiest to relate to. And, I'm glad he gets Hermione in the end.
Erick G
8. Erick G
It's funny how one can consider Ron to be the romantic hero of this story, and I believe that both Ron and Hermione balance each other out. My friends, on the other hand, think that Hermione should have ended up with Harry, thinking that Ron isn't good enough for her. All they see is a bumbling fool that gets the brainiac in the end, instead of the hero who can match her in skill, if not in intelligence. As it stands, they also hate the Ginny/Harry mix, but I think this is more biased towards the Harry/Hermione partnership than any real reason. But Rowling had to balance the romance somehow, and this is what we got.
Chris Chaplain
9. chaplainchris1
You're certainly right in that Ron and Hermione best fit the tropes you're searching for. But it's a little forced, in that the Harry Potter series is not, at its heart, a romance. That element is there, but trying to read it as a romance is trying to force a square peg into a round hole - and unfair to Harry and his Hero's Journey, as indicated by good comments @4. But I agree with the analysis of Ron, and the Ron and Hermione relationship, which is quite a good and satisfying one.
dwndrgn
10. HelenS
I've never been convinced by Ron and Hermione whatsoever, either in the books or the movies. No chemistry at all. I think it's pretty weird how they're all expected to end up married to people they've known since they were eleven, anyway.
dwndrgn
11. Helen G
I love, love, LOVE Ron. He's my favorite character in the whole series, but I feel like the movies sometimes give him short shrift, though Rupert Grint is awesome. In fact, I think Rupert Grint's natural, effortless comedic timing has led to the directors over the years focusing on that at the expense of Ron, the character. Hermione is equally awesome in different ways and I find their romance engaging and believable, despite following a well worn trope. The movies have done a really good job with this part of the story. Ron and Hermione come off as exactly what they are - teenagers muddling through , making mistakes, learning and growing as they go.

However, I don't feel like Harry's relationship with Ginny was nearly as interesting or believable when it definitely could have been. He saved her from Tom Riddle/Voldemort/scary basilisk! And this part of the history/relationship is never explored, and only mentioned once or twice and very much in a 'previously in the adventures of Harry Potter..." sort of way.

The point of the story was never romance - I get that, but if your hero is to have a romantic interest (especially one that develops over seven books), I feel that relationship has to unfold naturally (and onscreen). I feel like we (and Harry) got to know Luna, for example, as a real person, whereas Ginny in some ways was just a means to the end of Harry having a "real" family (the Weasleys). Harry woke up one day and Ron's little sister was pretty. Ginny occasionally (and usually offpage) kicked butt, but I never felt like we saw Harry get to know her as more than Ron's little sister. And the thing is, she easily could have been an incredibly interesting character. She had a close, personal connection to Voldemort none of the other characters had. Rowling gave us so many interesting female characters in the story, both good and evil, I think it's a shame that Harry's love interest was never fully fleshed out. It was a classic show/don't tell fail.

The series has a few flaws, and this is one of them. Don't get me wrong - I love the Harry Potter books. Ms. Rowling is a genius. If she ever wants to revisit the series, I suggest a book about the adventures of Ginny, Neville, Luna and the rest of Dumbledore's Army at Hogwarts while the main trio were off on the Great Horcrux Hunt. More Neville and Luna is never a bad thing, and it'd be nice to see what a badass Ginny is first hand.
Lisa Schensted
12. girltalk
for the record, i've ALWAYS been in love with Ron Weasley. i love a funny guy, what can i say?

but as you said, he grows and matures throughout the series that just deepend my affections for him. he also grows worthy of Hermione and establishes himself as the badass he always was inside, but didn't show. honestly, it's hard to truly shine with Fred and George around the house.

i wish that J.K. had spent more time developing the whole Ginny/Harry relationship, or downplayed it somehow. it just popped out of nowhere and didn't feel as authentic as Ron and Hermione.

in related news, this article TOTES made my day. thank you!
dwndrgn
13. witchhuntsurvivor
I have always loved Ron, in the books AND in the movies. I agree with girltalk, the Harry/Ginny just popped out of nowhere in the 6th book. But I don't really mind, since I've been trying to convince my friends that Ron and Hermione belonged together for so long, and that's exactly what happened! I love Ron Weasley! He's witty and sarcastic and I love him. He's really funny. Did I mention that I love him?
dwndrgn
14. Interlocutor
You've certainly convinced me :)
So I won't bother writing an in-depth comment, but I will show this article to my friend who despises Ron Weasley. >:D
dwndrgn
15. Stefan96hpgw
Harry/Ginny did NOT pop out of nowhere. You could see the progression of their relationship in the books (not just 5 and 6). But if you're talking about the films then yeah it does pop out of nowhere. Why? Because the films are so delusionally Harry/Hermione it's unbelievable. They always have their moments. Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny are completely shunned. This is a result of the Harry/Hermione deluded directors and actors. So SICK of the lies that delusionals put forward when they haven't read the books.

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