Ok, so I know I’ve previously written about how I don’t particularly care for Ginny Weasley (yes, even Book Ginny), but recent articles I’ve come across singing Ginny’s praises have brought about a lot of GIF-able facial expressions on my part, so I thus feel the need to regale you with more reasons why Book Ginny is not my favorite character in the books (and I just don’t see the connection with Harry either).
I stand by what I’ve previously said about Ginny and the reasons why I don’t care for her character. She’s underdeveloped, and she’s a more edgily-packaged Mary-Sue. She’s Lily Potter with a little more grit. JKR tries really, really, really hard to get us to fall in love with Ginny and see her as a worthy and compelling love interest for Harry. But, we honestly don’t get to see her character growth throughout the books, so when BAM! JKR introduces us to this new and improved Ginny who kicks ass and doesn’t take shit from anyone, we can’t help but do a double take and check if we missed anything in the past four to five books.
I don’t have a problem with Ginny as a supporting character. Why not make the youngest Weasley sibling grow into someone who gains confidence, who has a place in Dumbledore’s Army, who in some way, does come into her own? I don’t have a problem with JKR developing Ginny the way she did. What I don’t really get is JKR developing Ginny into this awesome, badass character specifically to convince readers that she is a perfect match for Harry.
I’m not sure if JKR had always meant for Ginny to be Harry’s love interest (though some sources claim she had), so either their relationship (and the hints leading up to their relationship) should have been better presented to us, or Harry should have just ended up with another character.
If JKR had decided that Ginny would be Harry’s love interest, she must have thought of what attributes would suit Harry and give him that sense of normalcy and stability that he really needed. In a lot of ways, Ginny does give him this–and all of those ways have to do with the fact that she’s a member of the Weasley family, which is where Harry truly feels a sense of home and belonging and safety. But marrying Ginny isn’t necessary for Harry to get that sense of home and belonging with the Weasley family–he already has it, because he basically is part of their family, and the Weasleys consider him as such.
Weasley family aside, it feels like JKR just took a bunch of attributes and formed Ginny’s character that way. To me, Ginny doesn’t read as a carefully thought-out character. She’s a collection of cool-girl attributes. She’s snarky, she’s “funny” (usually at the expense of others, though this often gets glossed over), she’s athletic, she’s attractive, she’s tough and doesn’t cry. These characteristics are what most teenage boys look for in their ideal girlfriend. Most teenage boys don’t want to (and aren’t equipped with the emotional development to) deal with real, difficult emotions that go beyond happiness or attraction. Most teenage boys don’t want to (and don’t know how to) deal with girls who are sensitive, complex, and not always cheerful and easygoing. It’s natural that an ideal love interest for a teenage boy is someone who doesn’t cry much, who isn’t difficult to deal with.
But Harry isn’t most teenage boys. At age 16, Harry has dealt with much more loss, pain, and doubt than many people twice his age. Considering all that Harry has been through, those experiences should have made him more emotionally mature than the average teenage boy. And, I think he is presented this way in the books. While he has his moments (as we all do, and as all the other characters do), at his core, Harry is someone willing to sacrifice himself for those he loves, and for the greater good. Harry is someone who shows compassion for others (freeing Dobby, burying Dobby by hand), and who is completely capable and willing to show mercy and forgiveness (stopping Sirius and Remus from killing Peter Pettigrew). He’s not an average teenage boy. He, of all the other young characters in the books, should be the one able to deal with difficult emotions.
So it feels weirdly out of character for Harry to be attracted to Ginny because of Ginny’s cool-girl attributes. His attraction to Ginny, to me, reads more like a fling or teenage relationship, but not a lasting relationship that ultimately leads to marriage. Who knows, maybe Ginny matures over the next few years?
If Ginny really were a real, compelling love interest for Harry, we should have been shown this. Instead, we’re only told. We’re told how Harry feels like his relationship with her is something out of someone else’s life. We’re told how Harry feels that chest monster of jealousy when he sees Ginny with Dean. What we don’t see, and what we’re not shown, are those tender moments between Harry and Ginny, where we can really feel, as readers, the emotional connection between them and the love they have for each other. What would have sold me on the Harry/Ginny relationship is if we actually got to see moments of true connection between Harry and Ginny–not superficial attraction or some scene where Ginny once again shows how badass she is. The breakup between Harry and Ginny at the end of Book 6 tries to give us one of those moments, but it doesn’t quite work because 1) Harry again reiterates how Ginny is so wonderful because she doesn’t cry; 2) it doesn’t have much of a backbone. This is the only scene we have of Ginny and Harry–prior to that, we’re only told how great she is and told how great their relationship is; 3) Ginny’s statement that Harry would never truly be happy unless he was hunting Voldemort shows how little she really knows Harry. No, hunting Voldemort does not make Harry “happy.” Harry hunts Voldemort because he must; because he puts the needs and safety of the Wizarding World before anything else that would make him happy. In this short conversation between Harry and Ginny, we see how Ginny views Harry–she admires him, she sees him as “The Boy Who Lived,” instead of just seeing Harry for who he is without being defined by Voldemort. While I’m sure Ginny does genuinely care for Harry, this conversation between them implies that perhaps Ginny cannot distinguish Harry outside of him fighting Voldemort, and that her love for Harry is strongly influenced by her admiration of his accomplishments and victories against Voldemort.
If I had to choose a character that would have been a more convincing love interest for Harry, I would actually choose Luna. I honestly think Luna and Harry are a great fit for each other. First off, we’re given plenty of moments between Luna and Harry where we’re shown their connection to each other and their understanding of each other. Where Luna consoles Harry in Book 5, though Harry couldn’t find any consolation, nor felt like speaking with, Ron or Hermione. Where they talk about how they can both see thestrals. At the end of Book 5, where Luna talks to Harry about her mother’s death–she says that “it’s not like she’ll never see Mum again,” and that comforts Harry, who is dealing with fresh grief at the loss of Sirius. During Bill and Fleur’s wedding where Luna recognizes Harry under Polyjuice Potion. At the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, where Luna senses exactly what Harry needs–peace and quiet–and provides a way for him to get that. While Luna isn’t mentioned in the books as many times as Ginny, as a character, she is far better developed, and we are shown why she’s such a true badass, rather than just told. We are shown how well Luna knows Harry and how they connect with each other, rather than just told.
Moreover, I think Luna would have been able to give Harry that sense of normalcy and stability he needed–perhaps more than Ginny could, or at least in a different way. I think both Luna and Harry needed a sense of normalcy and stability, and they would have been able to provide it for each other due to how much they had in common and their personalities. Both Luna and Harry experienced loss at a young age, and they’ve had to deal with it and cope with it at a young age. Both Luna and Harry have felt like outsiders. With Harry, who has often felt misunderstood, Luna would have been able to provide him with that empathy and understanding, and thus help him feel less isolated and alone. Luna and Harry know each other for who they truly are–when Harry finds out that Luna was taken to Azkaban, he says “She’s tough, Luna, much tougher than you’d think.” While superficially, Harry and Luna seem very different, their core personalities are quite compatible, and they each recognize each other for who they truly are. While Luna isn’t as athletic as Ginny is and isn’t as into all those typical guy interests that Ginny is said to have–that doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship deal-breaker. Couples don’t necessarily have to like all the same things in order for them to be a successful couple. All they need is an acceptance of each other and an understanding of who they really are–and a willingness to make things work. While we’re not shown much of Harry in the context of a relationship, as well as Luna–based on what we know of the characters, of how those characters have been developed–it’s not unreasonable to assume that they’d be able to accept, understand, and support each other and each other’s interests.
While some have argued that Luna is “too weird” for Harry, and Harry needed someone normal to have a normal life, I call bullshit. The Harry that I’ve come to know in the books is someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about someone’s weirdness. And what really makes Luna weird, anyway? So she wears radish earrings and believes in far-fetched things (which haven’t actually been disproved!)–so what? She has her beliefs, and she sticks to them, even in the face of overwhelming odds proving her beliefs don’t exist. Sound familiar? Yeah–we really don’t have a real reason to think Luna’s an actual weirdo not worthy of Harry. Luna is strong, compassionate, understanding (and Harry recognizes this)–and we know this about Luna because we’re shown this. Not because scenes of her telling someone off or hexing someone are emphasized over and over again.
I don’t think Harry and Ginny are completely wrong for each other. But I think that the reasons why Harry was attracted to Ginny–she likes sports too, she plays Quidditch well, she doesn’t cry much, she’s one of the guys except hot–aren’t really the traits that form the basis of a strong, lasting, mature relationship. Harry and Ginny’s relationship–at least from what we’re shown in the books–is based on attraction. It may work while they’re young and in school–but based on what we’ve been shown (and told) about Ginny’s character, I’m just not convinced that she’s really the best match for Harry. She doesn’t have the same level of character growth and development that other minor characters (in a lot of cases, characters who get fewer mentions in the books) do, and other than her collection of cool-girl traits (which are only surface level), we don’t really see who she is and how exactly she complements Harry. So yeah….I still don’t like her. But, maybe if her character had actually been more developed (and Luna’s character is proof that you don’t need more book mentions to be a thoughtfully-developed character), I would actually like her. And I would see how she’s a great love interest for Harry. And I would instead be writing about why I think she’s awesome and a great feminist icon in the books (she’s not–that title also belongs Luna. And Hermione, Tonks, McGonagall…) But unfortunately, we don’t get that in the books. Ginny Weasley is just that one part of the Harry Potter books that isn’t really all that great.