In Defense of Cho
Everyone remembers their first crush: catching glances at them when they aren’t looking and the butterflies. In the grand scheme of the series, people tend to overlook the importance that Cho Chang had on Harry’s adolescence. Even though things didn’t work out the way Book 4 Harry would have liked, it is clear that Cho shaped his romantic life. So, let’s take a look at Harry and Cho’s relationship, starting all the way in his third year.
In Book 3 and Book 4, Harry’s crush on Cho Chang is unreciprocated. Cho, a year older than Harry, finds herself drawn to the older, mature, handsome Cedric Diggory. It was clear that Cho’s rejection of Harry is apologetic and without negative intentions, which shows that Cho may have fallen for Harry properly under different circumstances (for example, if Cedric had survived the Tournament, finished his time at Hogwarts, and ended his relationship with Cho due to distance, leaving Cho with open options for her sixth year). Harry’s crush on Cho during the Tournament is primarily based on her attractive appearance and popularity within her friend group. Harry may have idealized Cho, merely because that is the way she presents herself from an outsider’s perspective.
After Cedric’s death, Cho is overcome with grief. Most of the time that Harry sees her in Book 5, she is crying. Harry tries to begin a romantic relationship with her (and they even go on a date), but realizes that he does not like the side of Cho that he has started to see. Her overemotional behavior is a turn-off to Harry. Along with her constant sadness, Cho seems to enjoy playing mind games with Harry. She accuses him of having feelings for Hermione on several occasions and suggests to Harry that Roger Davies may have asked her on a date. Harry sees no point in these games and even becomes irritated by them. Once their relationship sizzles out, there is very little further contact between Harry and Cho, other than awkward glances and small talk.
So why is this important?
Harry’s faulted experience with Cho causes him to realize the kind of girl that he would rather be with, one who is stable, not overemotional, and not interested in drama or mind games. This type of girl, he realizes in Book 6, is Ginny Weasley. Cho Chang indirectly led Harry to see Ginny as more than just his best friend’s sister. And that is the relevance of Cho Chang in the Harry Potter series. She is pretty, nice, smart, and popular, but that does not mean that she is perfect. Harry’s maturation throughout the series includes his ability to look past someone’s outer mask in order to see his or her true self, which he finally experienced with Cho in his fifth year at Hogwarts.