JK Rowling‘s been doing a lot of talking lately and — shock of shocks — people aren’t happy with what she has to say. Should Ron and Hermione have ended up together? Suddenly Jo isn’t so sure, saying that as a writer, she was more focused on fulfilling her initial endgame than being true to the characters.
My personal opinion is that pairing together a group of kids who’ve spent their whole lives together almost like siblings, and who then began hooking up in their mid-teens at a boarding school, was probably never going to be the recipe for a lasting marriage, but maybe that’s cynical. Rowling’s concerns are ironically a little more adult and have more to do with Ron and Hermione’s frequent combativeness and incompatibility as people, although again — they’re a pair of fictional teens, and people (and characters) change.
She backtracked slightly, saying that she’s sure Harry and Ginny really did love each other, though I might venture to argue that she’s alone in that belief, and that with some counseling maybe Ron and Hermione could make it. Cool. So all is mostly well in this fictional paradise.
All the same, this whole kerfuffle is a perfect time to re-introduce and heavily advocate for Roland Barthes “Death of the Author.” I’m being a little glib with my definition and interpretation here, so please don’t take this as a full and proper treatise on Barthes’ theory, but essentially it states that it’s probably best for everybody if they take the author and his or her personal opinions, background and beliefs out of the equation.
Remember when we found out Dumbledore was gay? And that JK had always intended him to be so? My bullshit meter rang fairly strong on that one. It’s not that I don’t think Dumbledore could’ve been gay or straight or anything in-between. It’s more that his sexuality, for me, is simply not present in the text. And it doesn’t need to be for his individual story and the larger stories surrounding it to work. And to apply that lens after the fact is silly. If she intended for it to be on the page, then it would be on the page. More to the point, apart from Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald (which is classified as something of an obsession or infatuation but is never blatantly labelled as romantic or sexual), there’s nothing at all to indicate this fictional character’s sexuality. Can JK think that Dumbledore is gay? By all means, as can any reader. But at the end of the day, it stands as nothing more than her opinion, rather than an objective fact.
So the same goes for this Harry/Hermione/Ginny/Ron insanity. Can JK Rowling have misgivings or second thoughts? Absolutely, but that doesn’t change the final product — and it shouldn’t. Unless JK mandates that an introduction be added to all copies which states, “By the way Dumbledore was gay and Ron and Hermione and Ginny and Harry probably will get divorced at some point and not have a huge passel of children with groan-worthy “tribute” names. Actually just go ahead and ignore that whole final chapter, which even the most ardent Harry Potter fan has to admit was awful” then I’m afraid I’m going to go ahead and disregard all of this after-the-fact nonsense.
I invite you to do the same.