Tomorrow I’ll say it’s all fine and I’m sorry and I need to be less sensitive, but I’ll leave out the part about me crying all night.
The reaction I get from a lot of men when I talk to them about feminism is not that they’re against it, but rather, that they don’t see the point. “Women already have rights,” they say. And I’m lucky enough to live in a nation where that is true. Women can vote, women can go to school, women can work. But feminism isn’t exclusive to the U.S., or countries where women have rights. It’s a global issue. And even in countries where we have come farther in terms of women’s rights, we still have a long way to go. But I think a good place to start is respect. Feminism is largely about respect. It is about the belief that women should be treated with the same respect with which men are treated. It is respect that a woman’s opinions, perspectives, desires, are valid. As a woman, I believe that I should be regarded as equally competent, equally intelligent, equally worthy, equally human. I don’t want to be a pretty little thing; I don’t want to be your arm candy; I don’t want to be just another piece to complete your idea of a perfect life. I don’t want to be viewed only as someone’s wife, or sister, or daughter. I am a human being, plain and simple. I don’t want to be taught that, as a woman, my skills and talents are better suited in the home. I don’t want to be taught that my appearance is the most important thing about me. I don’t want to be taught that yes, I can have a career, but it will take a backseat to my husband’s career. I don’t want to be taught that being a wife and a mother should be my ultimate goal in life. I don’t want to be discouraged from pursuing a career that is considered a “man’s profession.” I don’t want to be told that my life has limitations simply because I am a female.
I want to be looked at as a human being who is deserving of respect. I want to be looked at as a person who is capable of making sound decisions, pursuing ambitions, and being self-reliant, because that is who I am. And yes, I can be emotional, and yes, I may also be sensitive, and yes, I do identify with being empathetic and caring, and yes, those traits are typically defined as feminine traits. But no, those traits do not make me any less intelligent or any less logical or any less capable. And I don’t want these traits to be viewed as weaknesses. It is not a weakness to be privy to human emotion and to know how to deal with it and to not be afraid of it. In fact, that is an essential part of personal growth. I think it’s high time we learn that emotion, and being emotional, is simply a part of being human. It’s high time we come to terms with the fact that emotional intelligence is integral to being a functioning, self-aware, and successful person–man or woman.
I want the perception of women to change. We don’t all want the same things. We don’t want to be lumped into categories–all women who like pink and bake cookies and want to get married and have families, or those bossy man-hating women who are career-obsessed and only eat takeout. There’s more to it than that. And it shouldn’t be an us-against-them sort of thing. It should be about personal choice, and whatever the choice, it should be respected.
I don’t want to feel guilty for wanting a fulfilling career instead of a family, for wanting to delay marriage, or for not having a maternal instinct. I don’t want the first question my relatives ask me at family reunions to be “Are you seeing anyone?” and then ask me why not if I say no, or rudely pry if I say yes. I want to be asked about my life, my goals, my opinions on important issues. My relationship status does not define who I am. But my goals, my opinions, my passions? These do, and knowing these is knowing who I am.
I don’t want to feel like I’m doing less with my life if I do only want a marriage and a family instead of a career. And if I want a marriage and a family, I don’t want to be taught that I will always need to obey and submit to my husband. I don’t want my agency and my authority to be undermined because of silly social constructs. I want my marriage to be a partnership, and I want to teach my children that that is what a marriage must look like in order for it to work.
I don’t want to feel like I’m chasing the impossible if I find that I want the career and the marriage and the family. I don’t want to feel like I need to make tradeoffs. I don’t want to feel like I need to marry down if I want my own career. I don’t want to feel like no upstanding man in a respectable profession will want a woman who is in an equally respectable profession because he thinks she won’t be able to support his career or maintain the household, or she won’t want to. I don’t want to feel like I won’t be supported if I pursue my career, and I’ll have to bear my career work and our housework and family work all on my own. I don’t want to feel like I need to be smart, but not too smart, ambitious, but not too ambitious, in order to have the things I want out of my personal life. I want to feel like my potential as a wife is not wholly based on what I do for a living, or what I want to do with my career–but instead, is based on my support for my husband, my willingness to work in order to keep our relationship alive, my choice to love and respect my husband every day. And I want to know that we’ll both work toward our career goals, and we’ll both work to maintain our home and our family and our marriage.
I want to feel like I am valued for more than just my appearance or my cooking abilities or my cute hobbies. I want to feel like my worth as a woman and as a person lies in more important things, such as the passion with which I do things and the courage with which I go after my ambitions and the desire I have for helping to make a difference and the love I have for the people in my life. So my challenge to you is this: prove me wrong. Prove that my opinions on how women are perceived are wrong. This may not change the world overnight, but it’ll be a drop in the bucket. If enough people prove me wrong, then maybe it’ll be big enough for people to notice.
I came across this poetry slam video by Rachel Rostad a few years ago, and it really did get me thinking about the comparisons between Harry Potter’s two love interests, Cho Chang and Ginny Weasley. When I first heard Rachel’s poem, it really resonated with me because I did wonder why Harry’s “weaker” love interest was portrayed as an Asian female. It is reminiscent of the submissive, tragically love-struck Asian woman present in such works like Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon. While initially when I read about Cho’s character, I was excited that there was an Asian character in the books–but as I read Order of the Phoenix, I quickly became disillusioned with how her character was portrayed. And when I reached Half-Blood Prince and read about how Ginny’s character (quite suddenly and jarringly) blossomed into someone confident and tough and completely anti-Cho, I was even more let down. I wrote a post on why I didn’t like Ginny’s character a while back, and I remember thinking while I wrote this that Ginny’s character not only seems like a perfect complement to Harry–she also seems like the quintessential anti-Cho. And I don’t quite agree with how Rowling portrayed Harry’s failed relationship with Cho, and how she portrayed Harry’s subsequent, successful relationship with Ginny.
Why? What’s wrong with portraying Harry’s first relationship as difficult, with two teenagers in awkward, confusing stages of their lives not knowing how to handle each other? Absolutely nothing. And that’s exactly why this is a problem. Harry and Cho’s relationship is a very realistic portrayal of a relationship. In relationships, people often do fight. People often do make up later. People often do feel confused about how to understand their partner, or how to feel understood by them. Harry and Cho’s relationship felt real. It wasn’t the best relationship, but the things that Harry and Cho went through are things that every couple goes through, even those in great, healthy relationships.
On the other hand, Harry’s relationship with Ginny, although not as fleshed out and written in as much detail as Cho’s, doesn’t seem nearly as realistic. Ginny’s character is a Mary-Sue–a perfect, charming, cool girl–compared to Cho’s portrayal of an emotional teenage girl, confused and grieving over her lost love, Cedric. Cho, while emotional, difficult, and complicated, seems more like a real person than Ginny does. Yet the relationship that works is the one where the girl is, essentially, “perfect.” The relationship that works is the one where the girl doesn’t inconvenience her boyfriend with her silly emotions–and even if she has them, she certainly won’t show them. Where Cho seems irrational, Ginny is level-headed. Where Cho seems emotional, Ginny has it together. While Cho is weak, Ginny is strong. And while it isn’t a bad thing to show that one girl’s personality just works better with Harry’s, it isn’t fair to show the other girl as “flawed,” with her emotional nature portrayed as a bad trait. Cho is made out to be the weak one–she’s the one where Harry had the failed relationship. She’s the one that was too emotional, that was too hard to please, too hard to control. And making Ginny, the successful relationship, the stark opposite of Cho implies the message that in order to make a relationship work, you shouldn’t show emotions. You shouldn’t be vulnerable around the person with whom you’re in a relationship–because, you know, who does that? Relationships shouldn’t be messy, no one should be weepy, no one should lose their shit no matter how crappy they feel. And this, of course, is about as far from realistic as it can get. Because relationships are messy. People do get emotional–incredibly emotional–because they care. Relationships can make people a little crazy, a little jealous, a little more emotional than they typically are. And ironically, that’s normal.
Moreover, portraying Ginny as a sort of “cool girl”, who never gets mad, never cries, never challenges Harry in any way, and showing that this relationship is the one that just works, implicitly places the responsibility of making a relationship work on the female. “Oh, your relationship isn’t working? Well maybe just be a little more understanding, a little less emotional. Maybe learn to like sports, be more of a guys’ girl.” (This basically encompasses the entirety of Ginny’s personality.) And if you’re not like that, well tough shit–you’re just going to have to find a real-life Michael Corner. Harry and Ginny work because Ginny never really gives him grief. There’s no doubt that Harry cares for Ginny, and I’m sure his reasons for loving her encompass more than just her tough nature, but one of the main reasons Harry begins to stop caring for Cho and begins to dread seeing her is because she’s too difficult. Harry’s choice of Ginny over Cho makes him seem lazy because he doesn’t seem to want to deal with real human emotion in a romantic relationship. And “one of the many wonderful things about Ginny” is that she “isn’t particularly weepy.” Ginny’s personality almost strikes me as a little misogynistic, because it includes all the great things that a guy wants in a girl, without any of the messier, more complicated, more emotional parts. Ginny is a poorly developed, poorly represented character, and choosing her to be Harry’s love interest doesn’t send a message consistent with the book series.
I do think that Cho Chang may have gotten the short end of the stick in the book series. And understandably, Harry was a teenage boy in Book 5, so it’s not expected that he handle those relationship problems in the most graceful way. He did what he could, and ultimately, he felt betrayed by Cho–and rightfully so. But I don’t think it’s quite fair to pit Ginny and Cho up against each other and show how Ginny is a baller while Cho is weak and weepy. Cho was emotional because she just lost Cedric–and emotion isn’t a sign of weakness (a message enforced throughout the books). So it feels contradictory that Cho is portrayed as the weaker of the two women because of her (completely warranted) emotional state. While Cho may not have been right for Harry, her character shouldn’t be portrayed as inferior to Ginny’s. They’re both deserving women in their own right, and maybe the books could have been a little more objective towards Cho.
Many viewers touted Anna’s character in Frozen as a welcome change from the stereotypical Disney princess–and many thought this was a nice departure from the feminine, perfect, dainty female stereotype. To me, however, this only perpetuated a different female stereotype: the stereotype of the “adorkable,” quirky, awkward, spunky, girl who doesn’t need to be rescued and isn’t afraid to get her shoes dirty–but still looks pretty. Anna’s personality almost seems like a milder, less obvious version of the “cool girl” stereotype (also discussed here)–she’s down for adventure, she isn’t “needy” or “clingy”, she wants to do the rescuing rather than be rescued, but she does it all while still looking conventionally attractive. She sort of reminds me of a Disney version of Jennifer Lawrence–Anna says awkward things but people somehow find it endearing and refreshing because she’s “real”. The truth is, people find this stuff endearing and adorkable because Anna, JLaw, Zooey Deschanel, & co. are still considered pretty–they just portray the sort of cool, guys’ girl-but-still-hot type of character that most find quite appealing. But the same kind of weird and awkward personality on a girl who’s “average-looking” wouldn’t be taken in quite the same way. It’s not a pleasant truth, but it is the truth, as difficult as it is to admit. And it is the truth because characters like the “manic pixie dream girl” or the “cool girl” are just that–characters. They don’t wholly encompass the complexity of real people. These characters were created to fulfill some sort of fantasy of the ideal woman–which in itself is sort of ludicrous because the ideal woman, or the ideal man, is simply a figment constructed, and continually perpetuated, by the media. And I think touting Anna’s personality (and that of any other “cool girl” in Hollywood) as a more appealing personality, or as more “real” and “down-to-earth” isn’t healthy either–it still perpetuates a misogynistic female stereotype that many women try to fit, and it implicitly sends the message that women who don’t share these personality traits are artificial, pretentious, or “crazy”–which isn’t true at all. I think Frozen tried too hard to break away from Disney princess stereotypes, but as a result, the character development felt weak, rushed, and thrown-together–and I don’t think it quite broke away from stereotypes as much as others claim it did.
This is unfortunate, because Disney has previously done a fantastic job of defying princess stereotypes in previous films–Mulan and Merida certainly defy female damsel-in-distress or princess stereotypes in more powerful ways than Anna’s character. Although the former Disney heroines do still fit the conventional attractiveness bill, their beauty isn’t a central part of their character (unlike Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora), and it isn’t what makes them likable. What really makes Mulan and Merida compelling characters is the fact that they undergo real internal conflicts about who they are, what they stand for, and what they’re capable of. And in the end, they do discover themselves. They realize that they’re capable of much more than they gave themselves credit for. In Mulan’s case, she finds that strength, determination, and wit that has been in her all along–and she saves her country. Merida and her mother come to find that understanding and acceptance of each other, despite their different ideologies. Both Mulan and Merida come into their own and learn that they don’t need to mold themselves into somebody they’re not. And, most of all, they no longer mourn the fact that they aren’t like everyone else. They learn to love themselves for exactly who they are, and that self-acceptance is what ultimately helps to resolve the central conflicts in the films. I don’t really see that Anna’s character has the same arc. Her character remains stagnant for most of the film. And I wanted to see that growth for a main character–that kind of development is what makes these stories so novel and yet so familiar at the same time. Because while the story may be new, people profoundly relate to these internal struggles that the protagonists face. People know the feeling of not quite fitting in, feeling a little left out, and wondering if something is wrong with them. And when a character in a story like this eventually discovers who they are and learns to love and accept themselves, that is what gives people hope.
So, in a word, no–I don’t think Anna’s character fits the bill of a strong, female lead. I don’t think her character should be viewed as such. Her character, in my opinion, is a weak impersonation of a different sort of female stereotype–but a stereotype nonetheless. There weren’t any scenes in the film (even her self-sacrifice for Elsa) that made me really want to root for her character, or that made me relate to her character, or that made me view her character as a fresh, modern take on Disney female leads. Anna’s character was flat, and she didn’t learn anything in the end. Her character at the beginning of the film was exactly the same as it was at the end of the film. Her character, like other sort of flat, Mary-Sue-type characters (Ginny Weasley & co.), doesn’t really stand for anything or represent anything meaningful. Had Anna’s character been more fully developed, it might have changed my opinion on Frozen.
So I know this is almost a year after Frozen debuted in theaters, and while I did watch the film shortly after it came out in theaters, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I wasn’t blown away by it until watching it for the second time, as I did earlier today.
As I watched the film earlier today, a ton of questions flooded into my head during the film that never got answered. Where does Elsa’s power come from? How did Anna grow up? Her character is so bubbly and open–and we know she’s the stark contrast to Elsa, but what other factors contributed to her personality formation? What about the girls’ parents? We only know that the parents told Elsa to keep her powers a secret to protect Anna…but how did this affect Elsa and Anna’s parents? What I really missed from Frozen was the character development–how they became the way they are, and how they changed throughout the film.
Anna’s and Elsa’s personalities in particular are things I wished were more well thought-out. Elsa and Anna were made to be opposites–and that was made apparent in the film. However, in terms of their individual personalities, I just couldn’t believe them as thoughtfully-developed characters. Elsa shuts everyone out, including her sister, because her powers caused her to hurt her sister. Anna can’t understand why Elsa shuts her out–yet she’s the quirky, bubbly, outgoing opposite of Anna. And while the sisters eventually reconcile, they really don’t have much character growth throughout the film that leads them to the resolution that they reach. And while Anna’s character has frequently been touted as a refreshing departure from the typical Disney princess, I don’t think that’s quite true (more on Anna’s character in my post here). While the critique for many previous Disney princesses is that they are beautiful and smart, or beautiful and strong, with beauty still a defining trait of the princesses, Anna is also beautiful, and her beauty is a defining trait for her–she is no different from these portrayals of Disney princesses. If anything, Anna’s portrayal is weaker, because her sense of self-sacrifice doesn’t come across as strongly as it does with other Disney female leads such as Mulan or Belle, who both sacrifice themselves for their fathers–the reason being is that both Mulan and Belle are much more fully developed characters that experience some kind of growth throughout their films.
While I hate to make the comparison between Tangled and Frozen because it’s been made so many times before (for very similar reasons), what I really missed in Frozen that I loved in Tangled was the character growth–Rapunzel’s growth from a sheltered, naive girl to someone strong-willed and independent, and Flynn’s transformation from a selfish, cunning thief to a self-sacrificing man who loves and cares deeply for Rapunzel. Most other Disney movies focus on this character growth–Simba’s eventual acceptance of responsibility in The Lion King, Mulan’s discovery of her identity after her journey disguising herself as a soldier in place of her father, Merida and her mother’s eventual ability to understand each other in Brave. This sort of character growth was what really made me connect with and root for the characters in those films, but that kind of growth and journey wasn’t really there in Frozen. While the protagonists in Tangled and Frozen do go on some kind of quest that takes up the greater part of the film, the quest in Tangled really pulls in the viewers because of the profound character development, and its entertainment factor is augmented, rather than carried by, the quippy dialogue and action among the main characters and side characters. On the other hand, Frozen’s quest needs those exchanges among Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf, and needs the comic relief from the side-character Olaf, in order for audiences to really be captured by it.
And what about Hans? Hans does a complete 180 three-quarters of the way into the movie, from sweet and charming to evil and greedy, plotting to steal Elsa’s throne–and I did not see it coming at all. What else motivated him to manipulate Anna and attempt to murder Elsa, besides having 12 older brothers? It’s hard to believe Hans’ character turnaround, because his feelings for Anna (whether real or not) were quite believable at the beginning of the film. He did look at her affectionately, and it didn’t seem contrived–it seemed real, especially considering that at the end of the film, Hans tells Anna that Elsa was the preferable choice for a marriage. Hans did seem genuinely worried for Anna as she took off to find Elsa–and when Anna’s horse returned without Anna. Hans did seem like a genuinely decent person when he tried to save Elsa from the other men trying to kill her in her ice palace. He deflects one man’s fatal arrow aimed at Elsa, and he tells Elsa to “not be the monster they think she is.” To me, Hans did seem like someone empathetic and good, and he did seem to actually care for Anna. If Hans were evil the whole time, what hints did he leave to indicate that he had ulterior motives (besides that one line in the “Love is an Open Door” song about “finally finding his place” and having 12 older brothers in line for the throne before him)? While Hans’s motives for plotting to steal Elsa’s throne do seem believable, when he tells Anna that he has 12 older brothers, it doesn’t seem like something he’s embittered about–it simply seems as though he shared Anna’s feelings of being left out by a sibling. Nothing in Hans’s demeanor changes to indicate that this one detail about his life might prove to be something of more significance later on in the plot. Although the love song with Anna and Hans does seem a bit weird and displaced at the beginning of the film, that doesn’t seem like enough of a hint that Hans might be evil–all it does is hint that this “romance” between them is likely not true love. All it does is further support the portrayal of Anna’s character as naive and desperate for love–but not the idea that Hans could be evil. I think the foreshadowing of Hans as a villain could have been more thoughtful and less random, and showing this would have made his character, and the film, much stronger.
In terms of entertainment, I will say that Frozen more than delivered. I was thoroughly entertained by the cinematography, the side characters (I think Olaf was probably my favorite character in the entire film), and especially the music. Idina Menzel and Kristin Bell were wonderful together in all of their duets. As a film meant to entertain, Frozen was spot on. However, in terms of a story, and a strong plot, built on a foundation of strong, well-developed, dynamic characters, I don’t think Frozen quite hit the mark. I still like the film, but it isn’t my favorite Disney film. The Disney films I love that really hit home (Brave, Tangled, Mulan, The Lion King) all feature some kind of character growth–and focus more on the development and journey of the character rather than focusing on trying to completely avoid Disney stereotypes–and this is where I think Frozen went wrong. If Frozen had focused more on creating multifaceted characters and the journey that these characters take to become better versions of themselves, rather than trying to avoid creating a typical Disney film, I would have enjoyed Frozen much, much more. And it’s not like the concept of a strong Disney princess valuing familial love over romantic love has never been done before. Brave did this beautifully, as did Mulan and Beauty and the Beast. I think Frozen tried too hard to defy stereotypes, to pull the rug out from under the audience–and this weakened the film and made it a flimsy adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale. The basis of a great Disney film comes from the characters and their growth as the film progresses, and I greatly missed this in Frozen.
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.
Most writers would agree that our reasons for writing hasn’t changed over the years. People still write to communicate, and people still write to share and preserve knowledge and ideas. What has changed is the way our generation, with all its digital and technological innovations, has influenced writing. These are the topics that this blog explores. However, I think a good place to begin this exploration is to introduce myself, talk about my passion for the written word, and discuss what I hope this blog will mean, both to you–the reader–and to me.
It’s always hard to find a place to start when talking about oneself. I’m sure this applies to many others. How many times have we changed the way we define ourselves? At various points in my life, I’ve wanted to be just about everything, from a paleontologist to a musician. Quite a career change, I know. However, I think I’ve finally been able to come up with a definition that I know won’t change.
My name is Ariadne Abby, and I’m a writer.
I’ve always loved writing, but it wasn’t until recently that I looked at my favorite pastime as something I could potentially turn into a career. And I want to say that I owe this change to the books I’ve read. In my sophomore year of college, as I found myself constantly being rendered speechless every time someone asked me what my major was, I came to the realization that my problem wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, let alone what I wanted to major in. In fact, I knew very well what I wanted to major in; I just couldn’t admit it to myself for various reasons. For one thing, I was always told by my family that “there’s no money in that. Be a nurse instead!” Don’t get me wrong; I have immense respect for nurses and physicians. I can only dream of having the same grasp on science that they do. I think they’re brilliant, but like any occupation, it takes passion to be able to do your job well. But when it’s widely understood that certain occupations just aren’t as promising as others, it’s bound to sway one’s career choice. So, for a while, I looked for other majors that might be a close second to writing, that might also be more stable. Obviously, my search has proved unsuccessful, in that respect at least. It was unsuccessful because I didn’t find a close second; I didn’t even find a regular second, or a close third, whatever that means. But it was successful in that I didn’t have to find a close second; there was nothing wrong with my first choice at all. I realize I have digressed, though, so I’ll return to why the books I read changed the course of my college career.
I think it started with Boethius, who was a medieval philosopher. Most medieval philosophy works teach the same general ideas: Happiness is every human’s ultimate goal; everything they do is an attempt to attain happiness. Not just transitory happiness; true, lasting happiness. Happiness is defined by Boethius as “that which makes a man self-sufficient, strong, worthy of respect, glorious, and joyful.” Earthly goods, such as monetary or material wealth, power, reputation, or physical beauty should not be viewed as the ultimate end, or the end that leads to happiness. It should not even be a means to obtaining happiness, because these earthly goods are transitory, and they often lead a man off the path to happiness. For example, the more wealth a man has, the less self-sufficient he is, because he has to depend on external means to help keep his wealth safe. Because his wealth has become his only means to happiness, he constantly lives in fear of that money being stolen or lost.
Now, I’m not saying to just forget about money. In these times, money is quite necessary to live. What I am saying, though, is that we shouldn’t pick an occupation because it leads to money, because money won’t necessarily lead to one being happy. Although we don’t live in medieval times, the same idea that people’s actions are directed toward an attempt to finding happiness still applies. Moreover, the more you share material wealth, the less each person gets. When knowledge is shared, however, it doesn’t diminish; knowledge is the only thing that increases when shared. We all have our own niches, so it is our responsibility to share our knowledge–that’s how knowledge grows. When I read Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy, I learned that most of my apprehensions for declaring my major were not valid reasons to choose a different major. And now, here I am, doing what I love, loving what I do, and growing with each writing/literature class I take. Since choosing to be a writer, I’ve also learned that there is money in writing. Just probably not six figures. But that’s ok….Boethius would agree.
So, with all that out of the way, this blog will discuss many pertinent issues and topics in writing, such as how the digital age has influenced and changed writing, social media, and others. This blog will not only be informative and educational to you, the reader; I hope to learn a lot from it as well. I’d like to say I’ve remained pretty technologically and computer literate, but I think it will be a completely new experience to look at technology and digital media in light of writing. I hope that this blog will change the way people view writing. I hope that this blog will change opinions that writing is dead, that no one writes anymore, and that no one reads anymore. Writing is more alive than ever! Writing has the power to effect change, and through digital media, this has become infinitely more possible. Writing is no longer quill and parchment; it is adapting to the digital age, and digital media is revolutionizing the written word. So, thanks for taking on this digital writing journey with me, and I’ll see you next time!