Who’s the hero? Harry, Hermione or Snape?
This is a bit weird, but the last week, for me, has been Harry Potter week. Which, I realise, it has been for a lot of people. The weird thing, for me, is that I have never read Harry Potter. I have only watched the films because my wife is a fan, and I will admit to absolutely loving A Very Potter Musical, which is kind of Harry Potter for grown ups, but where they burst into song periodically.
Otherwise, unlike most lesbians my age, I seem to lack the Harry Potter-loving gene.
But last Wednesday, I saw Darren Criss perform in London, and he performed a couple of the songs from A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel (those are the YouTube links). I also queued with people who had queued earlier that day in Leicester Square for wristbands to watch the red carpet event for the Harry Potter premiere the following day.
That was already a lot of Harry Potter. But then, I found an intriguing post by Racheline Maltese about the character of Snape, which made me think it might be worth having a read of all those books someday. She starts saying this:
One of the persistent criticisms of the Harry Potter series has been its portrayal of gender roles, and specifically its lack of representation when it comes to female heroism. While significant female characters exist in the form of Hermione Granger, Bellatrix Lestrange and Molly Weasley, each of these characters are largely defined by their relational roles: Hermione is Harry’s friend. Bellatrix is Voldemort’s romantically, or possibly erotically, chosen, and Molly Weasley is defined through her epitomization of motherhood.
Letters from Titan
In fact, I’m now going to totally contradict myself and say that female heroism isn’t absent in the shadow of Harry’s journey, it’s just in a superficially male guise. That guise being the character of Severus Snape.
In many ways, none of what I’m about to go into regarding Snape is a particualrly unique phenomenon. There is, of course, a long history of queering the villain. However, as the series ultimately reveals, Severus Snape is no villain, which is what makes his representation of female attributes, and in fact, female heroism, so unique.
Letters from Titan
And today, another post came to my attention, in which Joy Engel (rather emphatically) explores an alternate (and more feminine) focus for the story.
On the other side of the common room, we have Hermione. Who is muggle born, which means she simply doesn’t have that same built-in support as Harry. She can’t go home to her parents and talk about how people keep trying to kill her because her parents just wouldn’t understand. And while she’s at school, instead of having every single teacher fall over their magic wand to get on her good side, she’s held down. People won’t stop talking about her Muggle parents and it’s all she can do to keep up her studies.
By which I mean, BEING BETTER THAN ALL OF THE SCHOOL.
And when Snape assigns homework Harry is all “Wah-Wah, there is sport tomorrow, fulfilling my responsibility will be so hard.”
Meanwhile Hermione is MOVING FUCKING TIME so she can take more classes. Because girl knows SOMETHING is happening and she needs to STUDY THE EFF UP.
You know what? I’ve seen enough in the films to agree with her on that one.
And since we’re on the topic of Hermione, I’m going to take this bizarre post full circle, and leave you with Darren Criss singing Hermione’s song from A Very Potter Sequel, The Coolest Girl.
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