What’s the Matter with Ginny?
The Harry Potter series isn’t perfect, as much as we’d like to deny the fact. Despite the beautiful world-building and crisp plotting, there are issues that could use fixing. One of these issues is the character of Ginny Weasley. She is the no-nonsense younger sister to Ron, Harry Potter’s main squeeze and future wife, and a star Quidditch player as an adult. While her importance is implied, her execution is extremely mishandled. By the end of the series she seems to only be there as a way to tie Harry back to the Weasleys so that he will have a proper family once and for all. She is also there so that the hero will have a girlfriend. Let’s just be honest. Her characterization leaves much to be desired, and let’s not get into the movies’ interpretation. Ginny Weasley is a character who has gotten snubbed.
How could she have been better utilized throughout the series? Well, folks, here is a theory.
Ginny Weasley would have been a stronger character in terms of execution and would ultimately have fit better into the story if she and Ron were twins.
More opportunity to flesh out her character
The biggest flaw with Ginny’s character development is that we are told all of it but never shown. This may have worked to the second book’s advantage but doesn’t do much for the rest of the series. If Ginny were Ron’s twin, she would have been given the opportunity to flesh herself out as a character. Being in the same year as the trio would provide more character interaction and also would supply a romantic build-up between her and Harry instead of it just popping up, giving their relationship the same weight as Ron and Hermione’s.
If Ginny were a year older, she would be in the same year as the trio. She wouldn’t be as close with them as they are with each other due to Ron wanting his own friends to himself in his first year. Plus, Ginny would be too nervous to interact with Harry. However, the reader would see Ginny in class and the trio interacting with her in small ways but in more ways than is provided currently. This would also show us Ginny and Hermione’s friendship as something genuine instead of sort of just there because they are two girls sharing a room during some summer holidays.
Still contribute to Ron’s insecurities
Ginny being a year older and a twin would not alter where the series ends up. In fact, most elements and interaction could stay the same. She would be the younger twin, which would keep her as the baby sister. Her birth will contribute to Ron’s anxiety that he is the least loved of his siblings as he is just another son born when his mother craved a daughter. If anything, this would heighten his anxiety since they were born the same day.
More time for Harry and Ginny’s relationship to grow
Once Ginny learns to be comfortable with Harry, she would join in more of the trio interaction. She wouldn’t necessarily be in on their adventures, but we’d see Harry grow somewhat of a friendship with her earlier on. Their relationship tends to come off as stagnant in the books. Perhaps Harry would ask Ginny to the Yule Ball. Perhaps we’d see Harry grow jealous of Neville for asking Ginny first. Harry would still date Cho, and as he grows more distant from her, he’d grow closer to Ginny in the process. This could tie into his decision to stop seeing Cho. Not only are they growing apart, but Ginny is also filling in that void. Harry would not only be spending time with Hermione in Order of the Phoenix but now also Ginny. Once Cho is out of the picture, we’d actually see the scenes Harry and Ginny share that are given one-sentence descriptions in Half-Blood Prince.
We’d see them do homework together and share actual dialogue. They’d talk about Quidditch, and she’d be an outlet for his frustration when Ron and Hermione have had another fight. They could have intimate conversations, and she’d tell him more about her experience with Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets. This would be something only the two of them share (and would fit nicely when you bring Ring Composition into play). Once again, we are told these scenes exist, but we hardly see them. We need another 20! WE NEED TO SEE THEM!
When Harry goes on his mission to find Voldemort’s Horcruxes, she will still understand. The reader will have a better grasp of her emotions. At this point, the reader now has a reason to be invested in this couple. Ron’s reaction to the two of them will also remain the same, but perhaps the tension between him and Harry will originate earlier in the series, say in Goblet of Fire.
Ultimately, Ginny’s character lacks a lot of screen time. When she is the same age as the trio, she gets more of a chance at being a genuine character instead of a last-minute girl for the hero to snag.
What do you think about this theory? Is it plausible, or would it never work? Let us know in the comments below!
That would be great! I loved Ginny, and it would make everything so much better if she had been apart of the trio. It would have added more female dialogue too. I would have liked it if Hermione could have had a close girlfriend in the story.
Four people is a quartet, not a trio. 😉
Mind you, your point about improved Bechdel Test compatibility is worthwhile (although there are of course other ways Rowling could have achieved this).
i never saw a problem with book-Ginny. I would have liked a little more but I feel in books 5-7 she did come into her own. movie ginny however left some to be desired. I still have to explain and defend ginny for people who only watch the movies and dont understand…..
My only “issue” with book-Ginny is that I wanted to see more of her.
Rowling never had her heart in the Ginny-Harry thing; she made it pretty clear that she always had Harry-Hermione in the back of her mind.
I thought she made it pretty clear that she only ever considered Harry-Ginny and Ron-Hermione. It was only later that she thought it didn’t seem to “feel” natural to the storyline. Not that those pairings don’t work but she had to make them work.
J.K. Rowling has never once said she had any regrets over Harry & Ginny. That’s something the fandom have invented for themselves. She has actually talked positively about Harry & Ginny in recent times. Hopefully The Cursed Child play will again show they are happy and well suited like the epilogue already showed us.
Could I have some of what you’re smoking?
I love that people constantly refer to the article where someone claimed that Jo meant Harry and Hermione should end up together when she actually said that Ron and Hermione would probably need counselling. It was total bullshit when the article was new, and people REALLY need to stop pretending it wasn’t immediately exposed as false.
J.K. Rowling ALWAYS had Ginny in mind has Harry’s love. They were set up from their first meeting in PS. Jo’s interviews from the past heavily hinted about it all before it happened in HBP. Ginny was not a last minute love interest. Her dislikers just want to see it that way.
There’s nothing wrong with Ginny’s character, other than it would’ve been great if she’d gotten more page time, but overall she is no smaller a character than Neville Longbottom. Yes, in the films she deserved more and yet she still got some standout moments that are ignored.
Ginny is an important and great character in HP, and the only problem is how the fandom treat her. The sexist attitudes she faces are ridiculous.
Their relationship didn’t just “pop up”, there are many hints left for it, particularly in CoS and OotP. And the reason JKR did not write it the way you wanted is because HP is not a romance series.
Just wish she’d built up more of an actual friendship between them before HBP.
I agree with this essay. There was never any point to Ginny other than becoming Harry’s wife, and that’s a shame. All the other teenage characters got to contribute significantly to the plot. Ginny deserved the same, but alas, it seems like she was only written for shipping reasons. Her most important role was in CoS, and her being possessed by Voldemort could have been important later in the story but it wasn’t (other than reassuring Harry he wasn’t possessed).
The biggest problem I had with Ginny was (apart from the above) that she didn’t keep her maiden name.
Disappointing in the abstract, perhaps, but still in keeping with wizarding tradition (and to be fair, taking the husband’s surname is still the norm amongst Muggles too). And at least Hermione (according to Rowling) kept her maiden name.
But here’s a thought – given that so many pureblood families seem to be going extinct in the male line, one would expect the savvier families to start practising absolute primogeniture (i.e., eldest of either sex inherits) and requiring wizards marrying their eldest daughters to take their wife’s surname, in order to keep the family name in existence.
Sorry. I love the Weasleys but if I had the chance to change my name to Potter, I’d do it every single time!
If Ginny had been Ron’s twin sister, she would probably become friends with Hermione long before Halloween the first year, meaning that Hermione would not be so upset about Ron and not having any friends. She wouldn’t be alone crying in the bathroom and the friendship formed after taking on the troll would not be as strong and important as all of them already had friends. The trio would not be as close if this scene (or the setup for it) would have been any different.
Yes, that’s certainly one possible way in which this “Ron and Ginny are Twin” AU could make the story less satisfactory. Mind you, there are other ways of using the troll to bring Hermione into the group (or bringing her into the group in some other fashion), but each choice has its own knock-on effects for both the plot and the character dynamics, changing the series further and further from Rowling’s original, and with no guarantee that it would be any better.
No, because Ginny wasn’t in Hogwarts then.
If she was Ron’s twin (which is what this article is about) she WOULD be in Hogwarts then.
Great article, Danielle!
This would have been awesome! Most of my ships are non-canon (including Ginny), but this writing of the original story I think would just make her character even stronger (leading to even more/better fanfiction for her). I love the series, and I love the fanfiction of it just as much, so when I hear about these types of things, I think of it from both aspects. And I think both the original series and fanfiction would benefit from this change.
If you want to make changes like making Ron and Ginny twins, then you need to take off the shipping goggles and look at how such a change affects other aspects of the story.
1. The plot of CoS becomes a lot harder to sustain. Ginny succumbs to Riddle’s diary because she’s feeling isolated, which is easy to maintain if she’s the only Weasley in her year, and not sharing classes or a dorm with anyone she knows. Putting her in the same year as Ron, Harry and Hermione (with whom she’d be sharing a dorm) reduces the chances of Riddle getting his claws into her, and makes his possession of her far more susceptible to detection. That in itself should be sufficient reason for any serious writer to reject the Ron-Ginny Twin idea – it wouldn’t serve the story. There are also a host of other, smaller plot complications that arise (e.g., who goes on the run in DH, who gets left behind, and why).
2. Turning the canon trio into a quartet has a lot of knock-on effects in terms of character dynamics. There’s a reason why Rowling chose Harry, Ron and Hermione as her primary characters – a trio with their particular strengths, weaknesses and areas of expertise makes for a stable, balanced dynamic. You can’t just slot in another pre-formed character willy-nilly – you need to rethink the other characters, their interactions and contributions to the group in order to maintain the balance. For example, one of Ron’s original, distinctive roles in the group is that he’s the only one who’s magically-raised, and so has local knowledge that the others initially lack. Promoting Ginny to main character status takes this distinctiveness away from him.
3. There’s already a pair of Weasley twins. Adding another pair strains credulity – not so much because of the odds (about 10,000 to 1, apparently), but because it looks like a clumsy narrative gimmick. It makes the author look as if their character ideas are so limited that they’re repeating themselves – and within the same family, no less. To avoid this, you’d have to lose Fred and George as a unit, either replacing them with a single character or a non-related duo (e.g., [Hypothetical Prankster] Weasley and his inseparable partner-in-mischief Lee Jordan).
In short, whatever one thinks of Ginny’s character development, your solution of ageing her up a year by making her Ron’s twin causes more narrative problems than it solves. It might make a decent AU in fanfic if properly thought out, but ultimately it seems that you’re criticising Rowling for telling the story that she wanted to tell, rather than the one you wanted to read (and which sounds a lot more touchy-feely than Rowling’s).
In any case, while it would be nice to see a lot more of the lives of a lot of characters (not just Ginny), the narrative’s 3rd Person Limited POV precludes this. Nevertheless, we get plenty of hints about Ginny throughout the series, and not just things that we’re told – things that we’re shown. E.g., that she’s strong-minded even at the age of 11 is shown by the fact that she temporarily manages to throw off Riddle’s influence; that she’s loyal is shown by the fact that she keeps her word to Neville even when offered the opportunity to go to the Yule Ball with Harry. In fact, there’s quite a bit of foreshadowing of her later emergence in OotP as a confident (and rather fierce) character. So what’s wrong with reading between the lines? Do we really need everything spelt out for us?
As for her relationship with Harry, we see it develop over the course of two whole books (their growing friendship in OotP and the long run-up to their hooking up in HBP), i.e., nearly two years of narrative time. As others have pointed out (and apparently it needs to be pointed out often and loudly), the HP books are not a romance series. Rowling devotes as much times as she needs to the sexual and romantic elements of the coming-of-age aspect of the narrative and no more.
Finally, it’s significant that complaints like this rarely seem to be directed against other characters. Luna doesn’t even appear until Book 5, and one doesn’t hear many complaints about her being an underdeveloped character. Some of Neville’s most important character development (during the Carrows’ regime in DH) takes place off-screen, yet one doesn’t hear many complaints about that either. Much of Draco’s later character development is off-screen too (again, few audible complaints). We see snapshots that allow us to understand what he’s going through and to fill in the blanks, but then we get that with Ginny too.
Instead, these complaints are always about Ginny, Ginny, Ginny. The hypocrisy is wearying. And it’s probably no accident that this article reads suspiciously like “Ginny should have more visible character development so that she’ll be a better girlfriend/wife for Harry” – i.e., as if the female character’s development was primarily to serve her relationship with a male character. And I can’t be the only person who finds this problematic.
Definitely agree. While subsequent readings of Harry Potter hinted semi-sufficiently at Ginny being really into Harry, there’s almost nothing about Harry being into Ginny until Half-Blood Prince. And then it’s really sudden and used just a princess in the castle for Harry. There was never a relationship built up between them. The most we get is summary like, “They spent a lot of time together in the Burrow when Harry was staying with them, and she’d gotten over her mysterious discomfort with Harry, and now they’re bantering.” We just have to accept that relationship developed without many specifics and without Ginny getting much attention both in the books and especially in the movies. I think she could definitely have been better utilized. But then again, the books were quiet long, and as I don’t even think the trio got enough development to make sense of some of their interactions (especially as Hermione is so high achieving and Ron so minimal effort, there’s no way their relationship would be balanced and last any length of time, they’re really just together to provide a wish-fulfillment / romance angle — Rowling has admitted to this — to the story) adding Ginny would have necessitated even further development of her character, and that would have been extra strain on Rowling who was working really hard to crank out the books near the end and tie up all the loose end in Deathly Hallows. So I get why Ginny’s character ended up being so shallow and under developed, but it definitely would have been nice if Ginny got more attention as far as making her a romantic interest both Harry and the audience really cared about.