Rabbit Carrot Wow, thank you so much! No apology necessary for the length of response — I love in-depth conversations about the books/characters and I enjoyed reading your comment. (And I also apologize because my response ended up being quite long too!)
I really like your comparison of ‘The boy who lived’ vs ‘The boy who had no choice’ — I’d never thought of Malfoy that way, but it makes so much sense and makes his character even more sympathetic. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to love characters like Draco and Snape, seeing how nuanced and interesting their characters are — and how much more we relate to their shortcomings rather than to the heroic actions of the protagonist. And, the more I see how lucky Harry really was, and how much more he had than Draco did.
Haha — Ginny is like a digestive biscuit! Love it! It’s really such a shame that her character was developed (or rather, not developed) in the way it was. If Ginny was always meant to be Harry’s love interest (a fact that I’m wary of, but will use for the purposes of this point), then she SHOULD HAVE been more developed, and more time should have been devoted to making us organically warm up to her character. With other characters, like Ron, Hermione, Fleur, Luna, literally everyone else — they’re so human. There are things about them that are really really great, and things about them that are really really not so great. And the best part is that we come to love those characters, both with their flaws and with their positive traits. None of the characters have to change who they are for us — and for their fellow book characters — to accept them. We come to love them as they are. But with Ginny, she has to totally change in order for Harry (and for us readers) to even notice her. Ginny basically pulls a Sandy from Grease — and we all know that the message in Grease (change everything about yourself for a guy) is…not a great message.
And yes — a HUGE pet peeve of mine when the protagonist’s love interest is painted as basically a Cool Girl. Cool Girl and Mary Sue are some of the worst literary character tropes. It’s not “cool” to just not have any emotions — it’s cool to have emotions, and to be able to recognize and process them in a healthy way!
I really like that writing non-negotiable you mentioned — it’s not something I’ve thought about but is absolutely true! And it does highlight one of JKR’s weaknesses as a writer. I think she tried way too hard to make us like Ginny. I don’t know if Ginny was the original plan, so she tried to course-correct when she realized we were on Book 6 — but if that’s the case, as a writer, she should have just gone with the natural flow of where her story was taking her, instead of trying to staunchly stick to her original plan. (Which is also why I don’t think she should have stuck Ron and Hermione together! As the books progressed, I think naturally she felt like a much better fit for Harry — or for no one! The Golden Trio didn’t need to have love interests in this story anyway.)
I will definitely write a post on JKR’s taste in character relationships! It’s something that’s always been kind of in my head, and I’ve talked about it with fellow Potterheads, but I haven’t really taken the time to sit down and explore the way relationships in this series are portrayed. I definitely have a lot of thoughts on it! And I agree — I am a bit disappointed that after all the talk of rejecting pureblood ideology, the main characters end up with just…other wizards. I always thought it felt a bit unlike Hermione to just settle down and get married right after finishing school. It would have been great if someone like Ron ended up with a muggle….imagine how much of a field day Arthur would have had! And, it breaks the whole Weasley pureblood line, and the Weasleys have always been fascinated by muggles anyway. I did read somewhere that JKR said that Cho Chang married a muggle, but I also do think that Cho Chang perhaps deserved a little better in the series too….maybe that’ll be another post.
Thanks for reading, and great to hear your thoughts! :)