Women of Courage: Hermione Granger

Hermione Granger, as portrayed by Emma Watson
Hermione Granger, as portrayed by Emma Watson

Hermione Granger: The Badass Heroine We All Want To Be

Let’s face it. Without Hermione, Harry Potter would be a footnote in Voldemort: The Rise to Power, and we muggles would be little more than subservient house elves to our magical overlords.

For anyone who’s been living on Mars for the past couple of decades, Hermione Granger is one of three central characters in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Spoilers abound, so if you haven’t read the books/seen the movies and still plan to, stop reading now and check out this compilation of cute baby sloth pictures instead.


Hermione was only eleven years old when an owl arrived at her postbox bearing the Hogwarts acceptance letter. One can only imagine her muggle parents’ surprise upon learning their daughter was a witch.

Brainy and studious, she seemed a natural for highbrow-house Ravenclaw. Instead (without hesitation), the Sorting Hat placed her in Gryffindor, a house whose members are renowned for their courage. It didn’t take long to prove the Sorting Hat right.

How She’s Courageous

“We will fight! We’ll have to, to reach the snake! But let’s not lose sight now of what we’re supposed to be d-doing! We’re the only ones who can end it!”

The Harry Potter series wouldn’t be a series without Hermione. Without her courage and intellect, The Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone would have been a single foreshortened novel ending with Harry and Ron strangled by Devil’s Snare.

Most of the time, Hermione need only rely on her keen intellect to rescue her friends and untangle the many mysteries, but she never backed down when it came to defending the oppressed. Though there are plenty of articles which recount her badass credentials, here are some of the highlights:

  • She stands up to Umbridge’s umbrage.
  • She calls out Trelawny’s quackery.
  • She organizes SPEW, a society to protect the rights of house elves.
  • Came up with the whole Dumbledore’s Army thing.
  • Kept secrets, even when tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange.

And who can forget that satisfying moment in Prisoner of Azkaban when she punches Malfoy?

Fans of the series may recall in Ron & Harry sweeping in to rescue Hermione from a mountain troll in the first book, but it’s worth noting they rescued her using the spell she taught them.

Interestingly, Rowling says she resisted her editor’s requests to remove the troll scene, stating “Hermione is so very arrogant and annoying in the early part of Philosopher’s Stone that I really felt it needed something (literally) huge to bring her together with Harry and Ron.”

Hermione Granger, as portrayed by Emma Watson
Hermione Granger, as portrayed by Emma Watson

Aside from the troll incident, Hermione rarely needed rescuing. Rowling was bemused that as the series unfolded people often said, “Don’t kill off Ron” but no one ever expressed such concerns about Hermione. The reason, Rowling speculates, is everyone knew Hermione could take care of herself.

The only time Hermione was ever truly helpless was after being Petrified by the Basilisk in Chamber of Secrets–and even then she held the climax-solving clue clutched in her hand! And, by Deathly Hallows, Hermione is pretty much rescuing Harry and/or Ron on every other page.

How Her Courage Affects Others

“Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.”

Since 1997, Rowling has sold over 450 million Harry Potter books. Some people swear they had no interest in reading until they came across the series. In the US, 49% of kids have read a Harry Potter book by age 15-17. 61% of Americans have seen at least one of the movies.

Children’s books often follow familiar patterns: princesses need rescuing, or a girl has a problem and enlists a boy to help solve it. There are exceptions to be sure—but few girls in popular fiction have the agency Hermione Granger has, and none have her far-reaching influence. She’s the most admired characters in children’s fiction, right after Harry.

She’s a great role model: unapologetically brainy, fiercely activist, and never afraid to take charge. By the way, she’s still taking charge: in 2019 she’ll be elected Minister of Magic.

In 2017, the Potter Alliance launched In World Without Hermione campaign for gender equality (Hint: #WithoutHermione, Voldemort wins, everyone dies). The annual campaign helps raise funds for girls’ education and has raised $43,155 USD since October of last year.

How Her Courage Affects Me

“Books! And cleverness! There are more important things! — Friendship! And Bravery!”

I was all grown up by the time the first Harry Potter book came out, but I confess I’ve read all the books once twice okay, at least six times. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched the movies. By the time the series was winding down, my son and I would have weekend movie marathons to prime ourselves for the next release.

Rowling’s portrayal of Hermione affects my own choices as a writer. Like Hermione, my protagonists tend to be brainy, although they tend to get themselves in way more trouble than Hermione ever did. But like Hermione, they don’t need a boy to rescue them. And Rowling’s refreshing portrayal of an enduring, platonic friendship was in my heart as I crafted my protagonist’s sidekick in The Kwan Factor.

Hermione and the witches of Hogwarts don’t live in a perfectly feminist world, but in a world that very much reflects our world. They proudly and unapologetically seize their place in it. What can be more inspiring than that?

Learn More

If all of this talk of Hogwarts has you jonesing for Harry Potter movie binge, now’s the time—the entire series is currently available on HBONow.  Or better yet, you can pick up your own box set at Amazon.

Read More

This has been an edition of Women of Courage.

Originally published on KarenLeeRawson.com.

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