Competing Friends, or In Ron's Defense
An original editorial by Hazel Impey (sootyface)
Having read hpboy13s editorial, Ron or Hermione? Harrys Truest Friend
, I felt moved to respond with my own. In hpboy13s editorial, the overall point made is that Hermione is a better friend to Harry than Ron. I would like to politely, and with
the greatest respect towards the writer of the editorial in question challenge this idea. Its probably a good idea to read the original editorial yourself first, but here are the general points that were made, if I may summarize:
- The trio began with Ron as Harrys overall best friend, much more so than
- The balance slowly began to shift, until at the end of PoA, Hermione was
on an equal par with Ron.
- Due to Rons jealousy in GoF and DH, and generally appalling behavior in
HBP, by the end of the series, Hermione should be considered a much better friend
I would first like to ask the question: How is friendship defined? How do we measure
how good a friend a person is? How do we define it?
All people are very different. Therefore, all people are friends in different ways,
and all people will define friendship in different ways.
This means that to look at how good a friend a person is, we have to first consider
how good a person they are, and why they are that way.
One of the things I have always loved and appreciated about Jo Rowlings writing is
the way she has never written a perfect character. Harry has moments of temper,
and reacts instinctively and sometimes irrationally. Dumbledore once supported the
idea of wizards ruling over Muggles. Hagrid has a blind spot when it comes to
magical creatures. Mirroring this, all the evil characters have some kind of
redeeming feature. Bellatrix is not in her right mind. Draco Malfoy cannot kill.
Lucius and Narcissa ultimately care more for their son than for who wins the war.
Dudley is capable of appreciating Harry. Even Lord Voldemort, though he has made
terrible decisions, did so because (to quote Remus Lupin in the OotP film) ... [his
mind] has been twisted and warped by fear.
In much the same way, Ron and Hermione are not perfect as individuals. Harry, the protagonist, is
close, but isnt quite there. If any character were to be perfect, they would not be
One way of looking at this question of who is Harrys best friend is to look at
why the trio behave the way they do, why they are the way they are.
Harry is deprived of love and attention, and instead treated as though he is worth
much less than anyone else. He lacks self confidence for some time, feeling
victimized, and is easily angered by taunts about his parents or friends. The
miracle of Harry, and the (I hesitate to say it) entire point of his character is
that he has managed to overcome this upbringing. Because he was never loved as a
child, he makes up for it by loving others instead. Because he was always wrong as
a child, he makes up for it by accepting the mistakes of others and forgiving them.
He names his son after someone he hated for seven years, for Merlins sake! So its
not much for Harry to forgive Ron for caving in to fear and a lack of confidence; or
Hermione for refusing to believe that authority figures can be wrong.
Ron is deprived in a different way. Although he is loved by his parents and his
family, they are confident enough to assume he takes this love for granted. But Ron,
ever lacking in confidence, cannot. He needs to be told that people care for him.
This isnt attention seeking, its a lack of self belief, no doubt increased by his
knack of making himself an easy target for the twins and their jokes. Therefore,
when Ron meets Harry, he immediately begins to realize that he can be special,
different, and important things he may never have seen in himself before. He gains
confidence as Harrys friend. However, after a while, Ron begins to think that
people are only paying him attention because of his friendship with Harry. Wouldnt
this make anyone resentful? Harrys name coming out of the Goblet of Fire is the
final straw. Ron is desperate to have the kind of natural specialness (yes, I know
its not a word) that Harry has, but hes looking in the wrong direction. Hell never
find it there. He lets his jealousy and temper overcome his loyalty for one burst of
temper, and is then too scared of rejection to admit to having been wrong. The same
occurs in Book 7. He lets his temper run away with him (as both Harry and
Hermione have also been known to do) and runs away from the situation.
Ron makes the classic mistake that we have all probably made once, but would never
admit to: he tries to measure how good he is by someone else, not by his own
individual merits. He assumes and is allowed to assume that he must be the same
as someone else to be worth anything at all. He doesnt have the skill academically
to become like Hermione, so he sticks with Harry, and when his skills lie in
different areas he feels as though he has failed. This failure becomes resentment
and anger at his own lack of ability.
Little is known about Hermiones upbringing, but I think we can assume it was the
best of the trios. She has two loving parents who support her; she is intelligent
and presumably gets a lot of care and attention from them. The problem Hermione has
is that she tries to replace people with books. She rejects Harrys instincts in
favor of logic, and is then exasperated when there is not enough information to
reach a conclusion. When her faith in authority figures crumbles, she turns even
more so to her books as their replacements.
She also, presumably, knew that she loved Ron since at least GoF, possibly PoA. And yet what does this otherwise logical, strong-willed, and capable young woman do? She
sits around and hopes that hell notice her. Being a bit like this myself, I cant say that I would have done anything better, but it proves that Hermione is not always right, and she does have as many flaws as Ron.
There is no denying that Hermione is an amazing friend to Harry. She is determined,
she is clever, she is caring and respectful of his feelings, and she knows where the
line is to be drawn when he shouts at them in OotP. However, she too has her flaws.
The only difference between her flaws and Rons are that Rons are much less
We find it acceptable that Hermione can be bossy, does little or nothing to begin a
relationship with Ron and then becomes upset when he doesnt notice her,
unflinchingly believes authority figures and refuses to accept that there is more to
Harrys rejection of Occlumency in DH than simply being a risk-taker. She also
openly rejects theories or ideas based on instinct rather than fact (which
most of Harrys are), preferring to stick to logic even when that is getting them
Rons flaws are much less acceptable; we find it difficult to accept that he simply
lacks self confidence, and instead draw attention to the behavior it causes jealousy of Harry and Hermione. Ron is no better friend to Harry than Hermione, but
he is no worse either; his flaws are just simpler, and slightly harsher, than
Hermiones complex and varied faults. To put it simply, we are happy to identify
ourselves with Hermione, because it is much easier to admit to being bossy than
Ron, just like Hermione, is a great friend to Harry. He is incredibly loyal, and
only on two occasions has he ever appeared to sway in his belief in Harry in GoF,
when his lack of confidence is temporarily stronger than his loyalty, and in DH,
when the same feelings resurface.
Rons loyalty and belief in Harry is otherwise pretty incredible. He backs Harry up
in almost every conversation the trio have, trusts Harry instinctively, and faces
his fears to follow him. For examples, look at his chess move in PS/SS, his
following of the spiders despite his arachnophobia in CoS, and his acceptance of
Harry and Ginny as a couple in HBP. (I personally would see his later comments
about having given his permission as simply playing the role of Ginnys big brother.
He acts how he knows he is expected to act.)
Rons confidence decreases slowly throughout the books, most probably because Hermione
was rising in Harrys esteem. He tries to bring back the balance by treating her
almost like "one of the lads" hence his treatment of her as the Yule Ball
approaches, because if she is "one of the lads" then she is, socially, less of a
threat to his friendship with Harry.
Ron has not made all of the best decisions. He allows his temper to take over
easily. But he is a loyal friend even when he is angry with Harry he still
Does he [Ron] still think I entered myself?
no, I dont think so
not really, said Hermione awkwardly.
(GoF, UK paperback, Chapter 18, pg. 254)
Hermione is an excellent friend. Next to Ron, who expresses his feelings in an
unpracticed and therefore explosive and often offensive manner, she appears calm and
consistently rational. She has learned to express her feelings maturely and sensibly.
But does this make her a better friend?
I dont think so. I think that Ron and Hermione, although very different, are
equally good friends to Harry. Harry knows this, and treats them accordingly. When
Ron is behaving appallingly in HBP, Harry comforts Hermione because she has no one
else to turn to Ron has friends like Dean, Seamus and Neville to talk to. When
Hermione flies off the handle at Ron in DH, Harry was glad that Ron was fighting
back. (DH, UK hardback, Chapter 19, pg. 310) So he should be! He has
forgiven Ron for their argument, and he doesnt want Hermione walking all over Ron
because of it. After a while, though, he realizes there is more to it than that
Ron and Hermione have their own issues to settle.
So, to conclude: Ron, Hermione and Harry are and always have been equals. The
dynamics between the three of them and the mistakes that they make only prove that
they are good enough friends to always get past them. They treat each other as real
people, with real flaws, and I put to you readers that neither Ron nor Hermione is
better just different.