Ten Times Harry Was Smarter than Hermione
by Amy Wilson
Harry himself has always been my favorite character in the Harry Potter series. I find his humility endearing. As an adult, however, I have occasionally heard people claim that Hermione is smarter than Harry and that she’s the real hero of the series. But is Hermione really smarter than Harry?
Hermione is of course very intelligent, and whenever she knows something her friends don’t, she rubs it in their faces, demanding to know if they ever read or chiding them for not paying attention in class. This makes it very easy for us, the readers, to really notice the times when Hermione is smarter than the others. Harry actually is sometimes smarter than Hermione, but these occasions aren’t as noticeable because Harry himself doesn’t make a big deal out of it. He is not, as Snape would say, an “insufferable know-it-all” (PoA 172). As a result, he doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for those times when he was the smart member of the trio. To ensure that Harry gets his due, here is a list of all the times Harry actually was smarter than Hermione.
Harry is the one who figured out how to get rid of Norbert. He remembers that Ron’s brother Charlie might be able to help them when even Ron doesn’t.
2. Gilderoy Lockhart
Harry easily sees through Gilderoy Lockhart. While Hermione is smitten with Lockhart, Harry seems to instantly recognize him as a charlatan.
3. Riddle’s Diary
Harry figures out how to work Riddle’s diary. Hermione’s attempts to work the diary involve trying to reveal previously written messages; she never tries writing in the diary herself. Incidentally, Ron immediately recognizes that the diary might be dangerous, so he was smart here too.
4. Saving Buckbeak
When Harry and Hermione travel back in time using the Time-Turner, Harry is the one who figures out what Dumbledore intended for them to do: rescue Buckbeak and then use Buckbeak to rescue Sirius.
5. Escaping a Werewolf
Harry saves himself and Hermione from being attacked by a werewolf. When Harry and Hermione are hiding with Buckbeak at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, Harry is the one who remembers that Lupin will be coming their way in his transformed state, and Harry quickly thinks of a place for them to hide: Hagrid’s empty cabin.
Harry understands house-elves better than Hermione does. Although Harry is always kind to house-elves, he doesn’t attempt to set them free if they don’t want to be set free.
Harry understands the centaurs’ need for respect. Hermione began learning about centaurs around the same time as Harry (during their first trip into the Forbidden Forest) but is disrespectful to them in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She endangers herself and Harry when she leads them into the forest under the assumption that the centaurs will not harm them. They were lucky that Grawp created a diversion at just the right time before the centaurs could take them away like they did Umbridge. Harry had misgivings about going so deep in the forest in the first place and was somewhat more cautious in speaking to the centaurs when he and Hermione were surrounded by them.
8. Draco the Death Eater
During the events of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry figures out that Draco Malfoy had become a Death Eater. At the time, there was no hard proof that Malfoy was a Death Eater, but there was a lot of circumstantial evidence. If Hermione had come up with the idea that Malfoy was a Death Eater and the boys had refused to believe her, she would have been complaining about the boys’ inability to pick up on subtle implications of people’s behavior. In a situation where Harry is more attuned to subtle implications than Hermione, Hermione refuses to listen to him, and Harry patiently puts up with this.
9. The Resurrection Stone
Harry figures out that Dumbledore had left him the Resurrection Stone in the Snitch and correctly deduces that Voldemort is chasing the Elder Wand. Hermione scoffs at both of these notions, but he is right.
10. The Elder Wand
Harry successfully traces the path of the Elder Wand and keenly observes the behavior of wands throughout Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For most of the book, Hermione refuses to acknowledge that it is even possible for the Elder Wand to exist, and she refuses to believe that wands can choose their owners or that wands might behave differently for different wizards. Harry, the more open-minded of the two, is practically teaching himself wandlore as he tries using different wands.
Harry is very observant of the world around him and of people and magical creatures. Harry’s mental abilities are more subtle than Hermione’s, and he’s never condescending to other people, so it’s easy to overlook his strengths and to think Hermione is smarter. Although Harry doesn’t spend as much time reading and studying out of books as Hermione, he is every bit as intelligent.