Hello! My name is Katherine and I am extremely happy to be here! I’m doing a sort of fanfic/re-write/decon of Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire, using Hermione Granger as the point of view character. You probably already know this, but it felt weird to put a whole chapter of writing up without even popping in to say hi first. Ok then, so the format of this is going to be fic first, decon afterwards. Also, this is going to go chapter-by-chapter, and I’m going to do my best to stick to the original timeline for reasons basically my own limited ability as a writer. I’ll get into more details after the fic, ok then, introductions over, let’s go!
Hermione Granger And The Goblet Of Sexism
The Part-Time Witch / The Riddle House
It was quite late, but Hermione Granger couldn’t sleep. She was sitting up, cross legged, in her bed, pouring over a spell book for the fifth time. The frustrating thing was, she had already memorized it, and she wouldn’t be able to get any new books until September. Her father had offered to take her to the library, but she couldn’t think of what good the muggle library could do her now. Anyway, it was just possible that she had missed something important.
Hermione Granger, you see, was a witch.
At fourteen, she was awkwardly growing into herself, she was tallish with long limbs she never knew quite what to do with, though all anybody ever seemed to notice about her was her bushy brown hair. There was a lot of it, and even though she often got mocked for it, it was one of the few things she really liked about herself. She refused to let her mother cut it, she wouldn’t even discuss it. It was the one thing they really disagreed on.
She was tired, but she couldn’t sleep. Wrapped in her soft dressing gown (in her favorite color, kerry green), she pushed her face closer to the pages of the large leather bound book, and willed herself to stay awake.
There was a soft knock at the door.
It was her mother, “Hermione, do you happen to know what time it is?”
She did, but she shook her head anyway.
“It’s just past midnight, dear. I know it’s the holidays, and I know you’re growing up, but I do wish you would put that book up and go to sleep.”
“Mum, if I don’t study, I’ll fall behind, and you know very well what will happen then! If I don’t prove myself, I’ll just look like a stupid muggle born, and I’ll end up with some tediously boring desk job.” she said it all in one breath.
“I know, dear,” Mrs. Granger heaved a heavy sigh, “but you’re only fourteen, and you deserve a break from that school. And you need sleep, remember what happened last year?”
Hermione lived two lives. During the school year, she attended Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where she studied spells, charms, arothmancy, magical creatures, and other fascinating subjects that pertained to magic. She slept in a castle dormitory and wore long, flowing black robes, every day as she went to and from her lessons. She took her meals in the cavernous great hall with it’s bewitched ceiling, and she spent her free time either in the library, or with her two friends, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter.
But during the holidays, she wasn’t a witch. Technically speaking she was always a witch, but during the holidays she wasn’t functionally a witch, seeing as how Hogwarts students weren’t allowed to do magic outside of school until they were of age. Instead, she was the only child of Mister and Missus Hugh and Jean Granger, and anything magical about her had to be kept secret. Contrary to what you might think, it wasn’t her parents who wanted her to keep her powers hushed up, they were actually rather supportive. Oh no. It was Wizarding Law. Hermione had had to learn right away that the wizarding world was just as filled with rules, corruption, bureaucracy, and downright nonsense, as the non-magical world. Her parents were allowed to know she was a witch, but telling anyone else about her powers risked violating the Statute of Secrecy and if she was found out, she would be expelled, or maybe even worse. Her first summer off, when she was twelve, had been alright, she’d never been away from home for so long before, and she’d gotten into a spot of bother with a dark wizard at the end of term (she hadn’t told her parents the half of it), and she was happy to be home. But since then, every holiday away from the school had been more and more trying for her. She hoped her parents didn’t notice, as she really didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
Hermione lived for magic. She breathed magic. She dreamed magic. It felt like the only thing that came naturally to her, the only task at which she wasn’t awkward and unsure. She had to be the best at it, she just had to.
The previous year, her desire to excel had been so great that she had signed up for more lessons than there were school hours in the day. She had been scolded, but had then persuaded her head of house to let her use a magical object — a time turner — to travel backwards through time every day, in order to make it to all her lessons.
“I still think you could have used that damn thing to get a little more sleep…” Mrs. Granger was saying.
“Mum!” Hermione pushed her hair up out of her eyes in exasperation, “I’ve told you a thousand times, it was only approved for LESSONS!”
Perhaps Mrs. Granger and her daughter disagreed on rather more than hair styles, afterall.
The fact was, Jean Granger was an intensely practical woman, and also intensely protective of her daughter. She was proud, to be sure, of her budding young witch, but whereas her husband beamed endlessly about his daughters accomplishments (often without fully understanding them), Jean Granger saw the stress the magical world put on Hermione. She worried about her, especially since Hermione had taken to skipping family holidays in order to stay at school and work even harder during her time off.
But the previous summer they had taken that trip to France, as a family, and that had been nice. Hermione has brought oodles of homework along with her, but still it had been nice.
Hermione was still looking downward at her book. She could feel her mother’s brown eyes looking at her from the doorway. She loved her mother, and wanted to please her, but all the same she really wanted to memorize this chapter before going to bed. She couldn’t afford to fall behind.
There was a long silence, as the summer night wore on around them. After what felt like an age, mrs granger broke it.
“Well,” she said, as hermione still gazed determinedly at the page before her, “if you’re staying up, I’ll put the kettle on. Would you like tea, or cocoa, dear?”
It wouldn’t escape her mother’s notice, Hermione thought, that she had chosen the caffeinated option. But then, as Mrs. Granger was a dentist, she didn’t really approve of sugar before bed, either.
“Alright then.” Mrs. Granger sounded sad, and suddenly Hermione noticed it, and felt a pang of guilt that was not unfamiliar. Her mother turned to leave the room, but in the doorway she turned back and said “next time you get an owl, let me know before you send it off. I’ve got something I need to send to that Mrs. Weasley.”
It was only after her mother’s footsteps traveled down the hall, and then down the stairs, that Hermione allowed herself to look up. She stared through her tangles of hair at the open bedroom doorway. How many times had her mother stood there over the years, just to talk? Now they literally lived in different worlds, and though her parents tried, they could never really understand what it was like to be a part-time witch. She missed the closeness she had felt with her mother when she was younger, and the security and safety she had felt in her own home. These days, she didn’t quite feel at home anywhere. Was that because of the odd back-and-forth nature of her life? She wondered. Or was it simply one of those odd facts of growing up.
Hermione Granger did not have anyone to ask.
She was still staring at the doorway, lost in thought, ignore the open book in her lap, when she heard the kettle whistle from downstairs.
Deconstruction and Notes on The Source Text
Righto. I’m re-reading the book as I go here, and though I remember it pretty well (for years the only way my insomnia would pass enough to allow me to sleep was by listening to familiar audiobooks at bedtime, and if you’re not familiar Stephen Fry does a fantastic reading of the Harry Potter series, I highly recommend it) it’s still interesting to be seeing it through a totally new lens. One of the reasons I really wanted to do this project was that as I shared this truly amazing article by Sady Doyle and began to talk about it again, I realized that despite her status Hermione is a really poorly developed character. We only ever really see her from a male perspective.
My first thought was that this is probably because of course Harry is the point-of-view character. However, J.K Rowling manages to show us other character’s inner workings a bit. We know a little something about what motivates Ron, for example, or even Lupin and Sirius to some degree. What do we know about Hermione? She’s bossy. She has brown hair. It’s bushy. We don’t know her parents first names or how she gets along with them. We don’t know her favorite color. We don’t know how she felt when she got her Hogwart’s letter (though we do hear other muggle born students discuss those feelings!) and we don’t know if she was as good a student at her muggle school as she is at Hogwarts. We don’t know if she has muggle friends she has to hide her powers from.
And in thinking about the many, many, things that I wish I knew about Hermione Jean Granger, I realized that I’m most interested in her in book four. In The Goblet of Fire, for the first time, Hermione Granger is sexualized. I’m not going to get into all of my thoughts and feelings about the events that take place later in the book here, that’s why I’m doing the whole damn book. But, it does seem to me that her sexuality is used against her, and for the benefit of others, and she is portrayed as mysterious and other.
I didn’t read this book until I was an adult. But I wonder how that must have felt, must still feel, to all the brainy 14 year old girl’s reading this book.
All of that is to say, in the original book, Chapter One is “The Riddle House” and Hermione Granger isn’t even mentioned. Which is fine, Harry Potter is the point-of-view character and I don’t think I’m angry about that. What happens in “The Riddle House” is that Harry has a dream/telepathic vision of Lord Voldemort (which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the dream is from the POV of an old man rather than Voldemort himself, but supposedly Harry is only having these visions because he’s accidentally reading Voldemort’s thoughts/feelings so what the actual hell). Voldemort discusses his recent activities and his future plans in a vague way that makes for some decent foreshadowing.
Rather than try to tie those activities in with Hermione in some way, I’ve used the space for a little bit of character development, and for something that the original book doesn’t seem to have even considered: Hermione’s relationship with her mom.
One final note! J.K. Rowling uses some devices that I frankly find a little bit annoying (even though I love these books so so so so much). She is very very fixated on certain physical characteristics of each character (with Hermione, it’s all about hair!) and she does a really unnecessary amount of recap at the beginning of each book. Because this project is about looking at the story from a different perspective, rather than trying to “correct” some of these stylistic quirks, I’m playing into them as best I can. The idea is really to try to stab at what these books would look like — with their flaws — if Hermione were centered rather than Harry. Whether or not I’ll be able to keep it up remains to be seen.