By Louisa Ackermann
‘Feminism’ isn’t a word you’d usually associate with children’s literature, but JK Rowling’s portrayal of Muggle-born witch Hermione Granger has changed that. Girls and women generally in the Harry Potter universe are central to the stories, the solutions and the bravery, and they are never presented as secondary to the men. They have their own complexities, insecurities and values and are compelling in their own rights, rather than just existing to pander to stereotypical caricatures of women. Neither the males or females of the wizarding world are based around gender stereotypes, and Hermione is perhaps one of the most complex and wonderful examples of a feminist role model in literature. She is clever, never feeling the need to dumb herself down for the purposes of male attraction and her brains save the day time and time again.
She solves the riddle of the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, conjures up Polyjuice potions as if they’re cups of tea, and is unafraid to correct her peers out of fear of looking pushy (“It’s Wingardium Levi-OH-Sa, not Levi-Oh-SA!”) Even when presented with a Time-Turner, one of the rarest and most magical objects even in the realms of Hogwarts, it is with the purpose of attending more classes than there are hours in the day, and nuturing that bad-ass brain of hers.
She is brave, as any Gryffindor should be, and she stands up for what she believes in. The student’s guerrilla group, Dumbledore’s Army, was initiated by Ms Granger. It became a beacon of hope and inspiration for students otherwise disillusioned by the injustices of Professor Umbridge and the Death Eaters. Admittedly her work for SPEW towards the emancipation of Hogwarts’ house-elves was a little misguided, but her principles were noble, and a mark of her strength – “the brightest witch of her age.”
She decides over and over again, over the course of seven increasingly lengthy books, to stand up for justice, to go to the library and to save the day. She is herself, and unashamedly so, utterly comfortable with who she is, no matter how many people call her bossy, nerdy, buck-toothed or mudblooded. She is a true feminist hero.