So, I wanted to take a break from all the serious, heavy analyses of the Potter books and take on a more casual tone for this discussion of a subject I feel rather strongly about. It’s a bit controversial, and there’s a good chance I’m outnumbered in my opinion. I’m just going to come out and say it:
I do not like Ginny Weasley.
Now, before you shoot back a counterargument, hear me out. There are reasons why I just don’t like Ginny as a character, including her character development (especially compared to other characters’ developments) and personality. In my opinion, Ginny’s character development just isn’t as believable as other characters’ developments, such as Neville’s, and her personality doesn’t seem strong enough for a standalone character; instead, her personality is made just for Harry.
In the series, we see a great deal of character shifts, even among the secondary characters. For instance, Neville starts out as a bumbling, awkward boy and by Book 7, grows into a hero and a leader, playing a significant role in the downfall of Lord Voldemort. Neville’s character growth, however, evolves at a much more believable pace–over the course of all seven books. Moreover, his character growth represents many different things. Neville is a foil of Peter Pettigrew, showing that Neville’s own bravery and strength of character is what makes all the difference between him and Pettigrew. Although early on in the series, Neville and Pettigrew were often compared, ultimately, Neville becomes recognized as someone brave, while Pettigrew remains a servant and never develops any sort of conviction. Neville also played a key part in defeating Lord Voldemort. As being almost the Chosen One, he is the one to kill Nagini, one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. He and previous members of the D.A. reunite to fight against the Death Eaters that have taken over Hogwarts. And even in Book 1, Neville has the courage to stand up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they are about to sneak out of Gryffindor Tower yet again (to prevent “Snape” from stealing the Sorcerer’s Stone).
While Neville’s character certainly hints at his heroic, courageous qualities at the beginning of the book series, Ginny’s character growth seems much more out of the blue. As readers, we don’t quite get a sense of what her character is like, the way we do with Neville, or with Ron, or Fred, or George, or Percy, which makes Ginny’s character development feel less believable. Percy’s naturally pompous nature in the first four books does give readers a hint that his ambitions may get the better of him–which they do, in Book 5, when Percy chooses a high Ministry position over his family. Ron’s moments of insecurity in Book 1 (such as when he sees himself in the Mirror of Erised standing out among his brothers) foreshadow the weaknesses that Ron must overcome in the later books, as well as his development into a hero, into someone who does not fade into the shadows of his older brothers. In the first four books, Ginny is portrayed as the shy, awkward younger sister of Ron. She has quite the crush on Harry, and she can barely speak whenever Harry is in the same room with her. Book 5 is when Ginny really comes out of her shell and blossoms into a strong, confident, smart girl, who is popular among the other students. However, unlike her older brothers, readers don’t get a much of hint in the earlier books that beneath Ginny’s shy, awkward facade is a strong, confident girl. If readers had been given some foreshadowing of Ginny’s true character, like Neville or Percy, then Ginny’s character development would have been much more convincing. Rather, in the later books, we’re simply told that, as a young girl, Ginny would sneak out and practice Quidditch, which explains why she’s so skilled–her character is simply given exposition when the moment calls for it, her strong nature is simply accounted for in the later books, without any sort of foreshadowing, which makes her character development feel rather abrupt.
Ginny’s personality is another reason why I don’t care for her character as much as I do other characters. By no means is Ginny a bad character, nor does she have a poor personality, but I will say that her character is somewhat flat and definitely not as dynamic as some of the other secondary characters in the books, such as Malfoy, Neville, and Luna. Her character just doesn’t feel as developed and as complicated as some of the other secondary characters, and her development seems like it happens simply because at this point in the plot, Harry needs to be given a love interest–which is a bit of an anomaly in the books, as most of the other love interests (such as Ron and Hermione’s, or James and Lily’s) blossomed more slowly, over a longer period.
Ginny is presented in the series as someone who grows into (get ready for me to use the same adjectives) confident, pretty, smart, witty, athletic, a bit smart-mouthed, strong-willed, etc. She doesn’t cry, she’s not very weepy, she likes Quidditch, and she’s relatively smart and proficient at defensive spells (and the Bat-Bogey Hex…which doesn’t sound intimidating in the least; sorry, Ginny). She’s the exact opposite of Harry’s previous girlfriend, Cho Chang–while Cho seems weak and weepy, Ginny is tough and level-headed. She likes all the same things Harry likes, and, at least in terms of surface-level traits, she is quite compatible with Harry. Which is all great, but I can’t help but feel like her character is simply derived from Harry’s character. It seems like her personality has been tailored to fit Harry’s, rather than being created as a standalone character who, although different from Harry, complements him as well. As a standalone character, I don’t think Ginny is as strong as other secondary characters, but as Harry’s love interest, she does fit the bill. But what does Ginny have to offer as a character on her own, aside from being Harry’s love interest? What I love about Luna Lovegood is how strong she is in her own beliefs, how comfortable she is in her own skin, despite what people say about her. Although she’s a foil to the bookish, logical Hermione Granger, they share quite similar personality traits. Both Hermione and Luna do not care about others’ perceptions of them and have a strong conviction in their own beliefs. Both are clever, intuitive, compassionate, and understanding, especially during times when Harry feels most isolated. What they offer as characters are the message that despite differences in beliefs, we are still not as unlike as we may think, and the fact that we have faith in something and will fight for something is a characteristic that unites us. They represent the idea that compassion and love can be found in anyone, and that those characteristics are important in keeping a community together. Although Malfoy is primarily a foil to Harry, as a standalone character, he shows that redemption is possible, even in someone who grew up in a family who supported Voldemort and his ideas. Malfoy, although not the most likable character, ultimately shows that he loves his family, and that love is what redeems him and his parents. As a love interest for Harry, Ginny’s character is all right, but as a character on her own, there wasn’t much depth. She has a lot of great surface-level characteristics, and she does play a great part in fighting the Death Eaters at Hogwarts, but beyond that, I didn’t find that Ginny’s character represented any sort of significant theme from the series, the way other characters did.
Now, my reasons for disliking Ginny can most definitely be refuted. Ginny isn’t a central character, so she isn’t given as much exposition as other characters, even other secondary characters. Perhaps the sole purpose of Ginny’s character is to be Harry’s love interest, and therefore, her character isn’t expanded much beyond those surface-level personality traits. Our view of Ginny is filtered through Harry’s perception of her, which naturally would be quite perfect and could explain Ginny’s sudden character change. In addition, romantic relationships aren’t the central plot of the books; the Potter books aren’t a romance story, so it’s natural that the romance in the books takes a backseat to the central plot.
While romance isn’t a central plot of the Potter epic, love is, and (for me, at least), despite these counterarguments, it is still hard to see how love developed between Harry and Ginny, or how Ginny somehow fulfilled a void or was a source of comfort to Harry in times of feeling isolated or misunderstood. Hermione and Luna fill this role quite well, actually, and I thought both those characters had much better chemistry with Harry than Ginny did. In this sense, it was a bit hard to buy Harry and Ginny’s relationship, particularly because in other relationships, such as Lily and James or Ron and Hermione, we see their characters both in flattering and unflattering lights, and we also see how their characters complement each other. In both these relationships, the characters are different people, sometimes with opposing views, yet in the end they do complement each other more than other characters would. And despite the counterarguments, I think it’s important that Harry’s relationship be portrayed in the same way. I think it’s important that Harry’s love interest be shown to be human, to be flawed, and to stand for a significant idea in the books.
These books are meticulously put together; absolutely nothing in these books is (at least, from what I perceived) arbitrary. Rowling chose every detail of every character in this novel for a particular reason. And while I know that there are probably things about Ginny (reasons she was chosen as Harry’s love interest and reasons she was given the personality she has) that I don’t know about, and there are probably reasons why Ginny makes a more appropriate love interest than another female character, I was simply never quite a fan of Ginny. But, I still love the books, and I still think the story is one of the most brilliant I’ve read.