Tue
Mar 8 2011 1:00pm

Ron Weasley, Romantic Hero?

What 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 Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. RowlingHarry 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.

A Hermione SandwichAnother 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.

Aww!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?


 

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.

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25 comments
Stephanie Treanor
1. Streanor
RON ALL THE WAY!! He was always my favorite character in the books and his romance with Hermione just kept me coming back for more!!

Laura, I completely swooned when Ron explained at the Deathly Hallows that it was Hermione's voice calling to him that brought him back.. THEY BELONG TOGETHER!! And she beats him up when he returns... CLASSIC!

I really can't wait to see what the movie version of the "kiss scene" will be. I must say after i read it in the book (and jumped up and down at 4 am waking my neighbors) of course i was excited that it finally happened but I was a little disappointed.. I wanted Ron to be the iniator. I felt that would be his final step in his metamorphasis from this shy boy constantly in the shadows of his older brothers and finally become the man with the confidence that he always had hidden deep within.

They changed the Harry/Ginny kiss in the book which I was also disappointed about... i thought that was really well written and could have easily been translated to film.

OH and if Harry is around for this kiss, he better keep his mouth SHUT! We've been waiting a VERY LONG TIME TO SEE THIS.
Heather Kinn
2. HeatherK
Weasley is My Our King!

We need more ginger love in romancelandia. :D
Laura K. Curtis
3. LauraKCurtis
@Streanor - yeah, so true on the keeping his mouth shut thing! All in all, I thought they did a pretty good job with the movies. And for me, as for you, Ron is far more appealing than Harry!!
Heather Waters (redline_)
4. redline_
To be honest, I have not read the Harry Potter books. (I know, I know, I know--you didn't know there were people like me out there.)

Having said that, this article really made me want to give the series another try because Ron/Hermione sounds absolutely adorable. Okay, and because I am SUCH a sucker for the underappreciated beta and for relationships that develop over time (and involve lots of angsting).
Wendy the Super Librarian
5. WendyCrutcher
I was so glad to read how Rowling wrapped up Ron's story arc because for a long while I suspected he was going to be a "doomed" character. But I gotta say, by the time it was all said and done, I was firmly a Neville Longbottom girl ;)
Warren Ockrassa
6. warreno
Really didn't care for a lot of the later novels - I felt Rowling, like Stephen King, benefits best from an editor with the spine to say, "This is too loose; redact and tighten the plot" - but I've always had a soft spot for Ron. I liked him better in the books, where he was generally less nebbishy.

I'd rather be involved with him than Harry, definitely.
Laura K. Curtis
7. LauraKCurtis
@redline - well, if you don't feel like slogging through the books, there *are* the movies. They are a lot of fun!

@Wendy - I have a soft spot for Neville myself. Probably because I trip over my own feet with alarming regularity!
Clare Toohey
8. clare2e
Am I crazy for also having a slight, gingery Fred & George sandwich thing going on on my brain pantry?
Laura K. Curtis
9. LauraKCurtis
LOLOL! Clare, you are too funny. I know you have a thing for redheads, as you've been known to make yourself into one on occasion...
miss
10. miss
ron ALL the time. he is my favorite hp character and i'm so glad ron and hermione ended up together
romance reader
11. bookstorecat
HeatherK said:
We need more ginger love in romancelandia. :D

I'll second that!
miss
12. Adam
Nice breakdown of the Ron and Hermione relationship. I just wish you would've included more details from Deathly Hallows Part I, such as how they acted after his return and his clear feelings when they're captured and Hermione is tortured. Either way, good stuff.
miss
13. rae99
Another thing I love about Ron is how protective he is of Hermione. He went after Malfoy when he called Hermione a "mudblood" in Chamber of Secrets, he tried to protect her from Grawp in The Order of the Phoenix, he went after Kreacher when he called her a "mudblood" in Deathly Hallows and also tried to protect her from Bellatrix also in Deathly Hallows. No one better mess with his woman :)
Laura K. Curtis
14. LauraKCurtis
@Adam and @Rae - absolutely! His protectiveness of Hermione shows his heroism as well as their rightness for each other. He is a kind soul at heart, too, if occasionally he gets distracted.
April Newton
15. lakelandpoet
You know, I never actually broke it down and thought about the romantic side of HP. Now that you mention it, yeah, Ron is the hero. His character progression, I think, makes him the perfect hero!
miss
16. Girl
Ron is a pathetic child.
Severus Snape all the way.
miss
17. Sharon H.
For those people who don't like Ron and Hermione together, well, we all know how the books end. When I first started reading them, I was a Harry and Hermione fan but now I know that there's no other way.

As a favorite t-shirt says, you can't spell Hermione without R-O-N. :)
miss
18. LGC
I think Ron is an idiot. He is actually my least favorite character. Anyone can see that Hermione and Severus Snape belong together. The fact is, Ron isn't that smart. Hermione would have to resort to dumbing herself down to even get him to understand what she was saying. She is way too intelligent for him. Also, She and ron have nothing in common except Harry, Voldemort and Hogwarts. All he talks about is Quidditch and food and she is a book worm who loved to do her homework and wrote extra. And you also have to think about how badly Ron treated her. He used her to do his homework, got mad at her for almost a full year because of a little kiss and then ran off and left them in the woods while they were hunting for the horcruxes. He may have come back, but by then he was just viewed as a jerk in my eyes. Anyone who would run out on their friends after making a promise to stick with them is no good. Snape would challenge her and match her intelligence. Ron would just hinder her and expect her to be another Molly weasley, which the world most definitely did not need.
Heather Waters (redline_)
19. redline_
Now that we've had a Harry/Hermione post go up, I had to come back and reread the Ron one. I've only read the first book at this point, but have to admit I lean more towards Ron/Hermione. Just don't get the appeal of Harry, who seems very self-centered (perhaps rightfully so, but still).
miss
20. jsmom2
Neville... definitely Neville although I absolutely see the Severus angle :)
miss
21. Viviane
Hello!!
Your post is fantastic, absolutely brilliant really!!
I would like to ask permission to translate it to Portuguese and post it on my tumblr with due credit.
I ask this permission to spread the love for Ron, a fascinating character and sometimes misunderstood, this text is a great contribution to the fandom!
My tumblr is:

http://accioloveronhermione.tumblr.com/

Thanks for your attention,
Thousand Kisses,
Vivi
Heather Waters
22. hnwaters
@Viviane -- Hi! Thanks, we're so glad you like the article. We've never gotten a translation request before--let me ask about it and get back to you! We sent you a response!
miss
23. Anon1
As a note: In the first movie, it was Ron who saved Harry and Hermione from the troll in the bathroom. He got the levitate spell correct and dropped the club on the troll's head.

Again, he came through when needed most.
miss
24. CHIRAG84
Okay Ron is an interesting character and despite his obvious flaws he is a loyal and brave friend. I also like Ron but calling him a hero is taking things too far!

I will be very bluntly honest here, throughout the books Ron never changed or improved much. So the very premise of the article is wrong. Till the end Ron remains immature and childish and the way he abandoned Harry and Hermione in DH was inexcusable in my opinion.

Moreover I found Ron's treatment of Hermione in book 6 clearly appaling. I admit I am an H/Hr shipper but even if I was not, the book 6 still proved to me that Ron is not the right guy for Hermione.

Just look at Ron's character, from the beginning he was mentally ambitious but always lazy. He wanted to become head boy yet never preferred to take his studies seriously. He is a person with a severe inferiority complex and my personal experience shows that such people are nver completely trustworthy!

You may like Ron, even I do but you cannot change the basic fact Ron is certainly not a hero. A loyal friend a brave sidekick and a comic relief but nothing more.
miss
25. MagicalMe
Ron forever and always! Harry is the noble one, sure. He's a hero, sure. But Harry had greatness thrust upon him. Ron could have easily walked away from it all. As a pureblood from a long line of pureblood families, he could have easily chosen an easy way out. But he chose to be a hero. Ron is not just a romantic hero. He's loyal, brave and clever. People need only read the books for evidence.

Not to mention, his sarcasm and wit just does it for me! :P
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