Why an Adult Hermione Is So Important to Me
When I was five years old, I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time. Immediately, I found myself drawn to one character: Hermione. From the moment of her first introduction and the description of her bushy brown hair, slightly bucked teeth, bossy nature, and love of books, my mind whispered, “It’s me!” Never before had I found a character I so related to. As the films were released, I found even more to relate to, especially with coming to love, or at least tame and tolerate, my obnoxiously curly hair (Emma Watson’s gave me so much inspiration for how to style and be happy with my own – to which I am eternally grateful to the hair specialists of the films). My favorite and most often used Halloween costume was Hermione, a carefully cultivated outfit constructed to be as close to the movies as possible.
As I grew, I found myself relating to Hermione more and more. My bossy side got me in trouble (to the point that my fifth grade class wanted to impeach me as class president because of it). I still loved books and was often a know-it-all, and my hair continued to be bushy. But like Hermione, I found better ways to share my knowledge and passion, and I relaxed a little on rules when I needed to. As the seven books came to a close, I found some comfort in knowing that I could mark myself with Hermione’s journey until I, too, turned 17.
But then I turned 18, and then 19, and on and on. I still loved and related to Hermione, but the fictional person I most related to was now younger than me, at a different point of life. I loved the small tidbits Rowling gave us about Hermione’s life: that she is Head of Magical Law Enforcement, that she is still fighting for justice and truth, that she is married to Ron (who, incidentally, I found possesses many of the personality qualities I’m looking for in a partner), that she had two children whom she loves and worries about. But I was becoming an adult now, and the Hermione I knew was still preserved at age 17, helping to save the wizarding world.
And then, there was Cursed Child.
When I went to see the show, I was on the cusp of graduating college and beginning my career as a teacher. My life was about to completely change, and I was still feeling more like 17-year-old Hermione than any kind of “real” adult. All of this had been swirling around in the back of my mind for about a month when I set off for London. Seeing Cursed Child was one of the last things we were doing on the trip, and I tried to forget about what was waiting for me when I got home and just enjoy the show. I wasn’t prepared for how much an adult Hermione would affect me while I was thinking about the next chapter in my life.
My first pleasant surprise in Cursed Child was to find that Hermione was Minister of Magic 22 years later. I was delighted that she had gone so far and was still fighting for what was right and good, leading her community. I was further delighted by her relationship with Ron; it was so mutually affectionate, with such a sweet codependency, that I couldn’t help but melt when they were together or sob in the alternate timelines where they weren’t together but still pulled toward each other (especially when they were subject to the Dementor’s Kiss).
An especially striking moment for me was the alternate timeline where Hermione is the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Though many have complained about this spinster Hermione and her bitterness, the scene made me sit up a little straighter in my seat. As someone who is currently surrounded by friends getting married, engaged, or seriously dating someone, I saw some of the loneliness I often feel at my lowest moments in this version of Hermione. She was still doing great things, teaching a new generation to defend themselves against Dark Magic, but that trace of bitterness could only come from the feeling of being isolated and left behind. As I watched, I was reminded of my own occasional bitterness, and I found myself thinking, “Make the choice to not end up like that.”
More than anything, though, seeing an adult Hermione, who could lead her community and be such a natural extension of the Hermione I connected to all those years ago was comforting. It was a reminder that I could still be like my fictional hero as I became an adult. More than that, it was a reminder that I can do this whole adult thing. So today, on her birthday, I celebrate not only Hermione herself but also the woman she has helped me become.