Hermione Granger and The Goblet of Sexism
The Letter / The Scar
Next morning, Hermione awoke early, despite having stayed up so late. It wasn’t exactly unusual for her, she’d always been an early riser. Neither of her parents were the least bit surprised to find her in the kitchen, making scrambled eggs, when they made their way downstairs to have breakfast before work.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Granger were dentists, but they didn’t work together, they worked in seperate offices across town. Mr. Granger liked to joke that they were rivals. Mrs. Granger had always said that she wanted to work somewhere where she was considered a dentist, not a dentist’s wife. The Grangers had actually meant in school, and plenty of people had suggested that Jean ought to have dropped out after the wedding (Hermione had heard the stories from her mother many times) but she was firm in her stance. And so, regardless of the fact that Hugh Granger now owned his own practice – Granger Family Dentistry – his wife commuted across town to Happy Smiles Dentistry everyone morning. This meant she had to leave rather earlier than her husband for work, but she never complained about the inconvenience.
“Tea’s already on, mum.” Hermione said as her mothers hand reached for the kettle.
“That smells amazing Hermione!” Mr. Granger sniffed appreciatively in the direction of the frying pan, “I do reckon I’ve finally taught you everything I know! Well, about eggs, at any rate!”
Just then, a large brown owl tapped pointedly on the kitchen window. All three of the Grangers turned to look, but with mild curiosity rather than shock.
Many muggle, or non-magical, families would probably be alarmed to see an owl come right up to their home in broad daylight over breakfast, but in the Granger household it had become a matter of course. Mr. Granger unlatchd the window above the kitchen sink and let the large bird jump down into the basin.
“Looks like the paper’s here for you, peanut!”
Hermione winced at the childhood nickname, but fished in her dressing gown pocket for a couple of bronze knuts. She always kept a few knuts in her dressing gown pocket during the holidays, precisely for the purpose of paying the morning delivery owl. She handed the wizarding money to her father, who put it into a small leather pouch the owl wore attached to one leg. It stood stock still, with wings outstretched, during the whole procedure. He looked rather regal.
Hermione turned the heat off the eggs, and turned to watch her father carefully paying the very official looking owl, who was still standing in the sink basin. On the counter sat Hermione’s morning copy of “the daily prophet,” the wizarding newspaper, the front page covered in black and white, moving, photographs. She reflected that it was probably a very good thing the Grangers never had company over breakfast.
Mrs. Granger was pouring herself tea out of a china teapot, and then she too looked up at the little scene by the window. Mr. Granger was now closing the drawstring of the leather money pouch for the owl. For a moment she looked lost in thought, pouring her tea, but then suddenly her face changed to a rather serious and thoughtful expression. In fact, she nearly jumped.
“Wait a moment! I’ve something to send with that owl!”
Hermione was in the middle if dishing scrambled eggs into a plate for her own breakfast, but she put down the spatula, “Mum!” she said, “you can’t send a letter with that owl, he’s a daily prophet owl and he works for their offices!”
“Oh for goodness said I’ll pay extra,” Jean Granger was running into the next room, presumably for whatever it was that she wanted to send by owl post.
Hugh Granger smiled, turning from the owl to address the kitchen at large, “it’s times like these that I think we really ought to get our own owl, for the house! Might be good for you too, peanut, make it easier for you to get ahold of those friends of yours. And who knows, maybe I’ll take up a correspondence with old Arthur Weasley!” He chuckled to himself, because Arthur Weasley was completely obsessed with Muggles and nearly ambushed Mr. Granger on every occasion that they met.
Hermione chose to ignore the joke.
“But DAD,” she began, “owls are frightfully loud and think of the neigh-” she had meant to say “neighbors” but just that second the large and dignified owl apparently ran out of patience for the whole Granger family. It screetched, flapped its wings, and took off out the window, right as Mrs. Granger came in from the hall holding a small blue envelope in one hand, and several wizarding coins in the other. She looked extremely crestfallen.
Hermione recognized the stationary, it was the very same pale blue notepaper and envelopes that Jean Granger used to send letters to her sisters in the countryside. But of course, if she had been writing to one of Hermione’s aunts, she certainly wouldn’t be sending it by owl post. What on earth was this urgent letter all about? She was holding her plate of eggs, and then suddenly Hermione remembered something her mother had said the night before, while Hermione had been trying to study.
“That settles it Jeannie!” Mr. Granger was using his hand to wipe feathers out of the sink basin as he spoke, “we are getting our OWN owl. It’ll save an awful lot of hassle!”
Hermione was still holding her plate, and set it down on the counter and opened her mouth to – again – attempt to explain how awful this idea actually was, but she never got to speak. At just that moment, a small, fuzzy, something, came zooming through the open kitchen window. It hit the teapot, bounced off, and knocked over the sugar bowl, spilling sugar everywhere. Ever calm and composed, Mr. Granger finished with the sink basin, and then grabbed a rag to clean up the sugar mess.
Hermione stared at the creature before her. It was a very small, very overexcited, owl. She shook herself and strode across the room, to relieve it of it’s letter. It certainly wasn’t her friend Harry’s owl, his was a large snowy owl, and anyways he didn’t write terribly often. And Ron’s family had a very old, much less active, owl. It could be from Hogwarts, she supposed, but in all her time using the school owls (which she always did, not having an owl of her own), she had never seen such a small one. She carefully opened the envelope.
It was from Ron Weasley
I know quidditch isn’t really YOUR THING, but wanna come to the World Cup? Trying to get Harry to come as well. Ginny says if you want to stay til term starts, you can stay in her room.
Hermione looked up from the letter, to discover her mother leaning over her shoulder. “Well would you look at that!” Jean Granger said, her voice sounding quite pleased.
She didn’t know quite what to think. Sure, she, Ron, and Harry, were all school friends, and had been through quite a lot together. But if she was being completely honest, she always felt that it was more that, well, she was friends with Harry, and Ron was also friends with Harry, and so they were together rather a lot. Ginny was Ron’s younger sister, and while it was true that Ginny and Hermione got on rather well, they weren’t exactly close. Ginny was far more gregarious, having grown up with six brothers, than Hermione could ever hope to be. She had never really expected to be invited to stay with the Weasleys. It was true that Ron had mentioned something about the Quidditch World Cup taking place over the summer, but as he said, she wasn’t very interested in sports. The whole thing seemed rather odd.
With a familiar pang of guilt in her stomach, she realized that this was her chance, her one chance, to escape her parents and get back to the wizarding world a whole fortnight early. Would she take it? Could she take it? Would her mother be heartbroken.
And suddenly, thinking of her mother and the Weasleys, she remembered what it was that her mother had said the night before.
“Mum,” Hermione pulled herself out of the short letter and turned around to face her mother, “I do believe this owl is going straight back to The Burrow, so if your letter is for Mrs. Weasley, you may as well send it now and quit your worrying.”
There was a silence.
“Oh, well,” Mrs. Granger looked awkward, “Now I think of it, it really doesn’t matter, and anyways I’d better be getting on to work.” She turned to trot straight out of the kitchen, still holding the blue envelope, her tea untouched on the kitchen table. Hermione gaped at her. “But you are going, dear?” Mrs. Granger said over her shoulder as she walked away, “I mean to say, the Quidditch world cup! It sounds like a lovely opportunity.”
Hermione was seized but a sudden need to know what on earth her mother had written to Mrs. Weasley.
Deconstruction and Notes on The Source Text
This is another all Harry chapter in the original book, and it actually takes place still at night, directly after the dream/vision that he experienced in the last chapter. The basic outline is: Harry Potter wakes up with his scar in extreme pain, remembers the dream, worries about what it all might mean, thinks about who he might be able to talk to about it, and eventually settles on Sirius Black, his Godfather who happens to be on the run from the law. The chapter ends with Harry finishing his letter to Sirius and going downstairs to join his muggle family for breakfast, but I couldn’t think of any good reason to keep our Hermione up all night just to make the times match up exactly.
There is, however, a bit more to discuss here. Because in Harry’s consideration of whom he might talk to about his scar hurting and the seemingly related dream, he does briefly consider writing to Hermione. Hermione has gotten him out of scraps before and is, by all accounts, a brilliant witch, so it’s not a terrible idea.
Here’s the relevant passage:
…What would they say if Harry wrote to them and told them about his scar hurting?
At once, Hermione Granger’s voice seemed to fill his head, shrill and panicky.
“Your scar hurt? Harry, that’s really serious… Write to Professor Dumbledore! And I’ll go and check Common Magical Ailments And Afflictions… Maybe there’s something in there about curse scars…”
Yes, that would be Hermione’s advice: Go straight to the headmaster of Hogwarts, and in the meantime, consult a book. Harry stared out of the window at the inky blue-black sky. He doubted very much whether a book could help him now…
Ok, so it’s probably time to come clean, that Harry Potter is among my least favorite characters in Harry Potter. Why? I don’t think it’s entirely that he’s whiny, or that he has everything handed to him, or that someone else always bails him out. I think it’s actually passages like this. Despite the fact that someone always bails Harry Potter out, and that person has often been Hermione Granger, he won’t go to her for help now.
Why? Because he assumes he already knows what she’ll say. Not only does he know what she’ll say, but he knows that she’ll say it shrilly. Now, bear in mind, that the books are full of both Ron and Harry remarking casually at how they can never predict what Hermione will do or say because GIRLS UGH AMIRITE but somehow in this instance, he just knows.
And he also knows that it will be bad advice, and so is therefore not worth asking for. But actually, when I read the above passage, it doesn’t strike me as bad advice at all. There’s no good reason not to go to Dumbledore with this, except for the fact that Harry never goes to Dumbledore until he’s forced to.
Harry Potter, my friends, is a Leo. You don’t have to agree with or find astrology interesting, many don’t (Hermione Granger, for example, doesn’t!) but I will tell you this one thing. J.K Rowling knows how to write a damn Leo. I’m a Leo, so I’m allowed to say that.
But also I’m just stuck on the fact that he called Hermione – not even Hermione, the imaginary Hermione in his head! – shrill.
He decides that Ron will just want to ask his daddy for advice (can’t figure out where Harry came up with that, it’s not like Ron has been particularly dad-focused in the previous three books) and so he decides not to ask him either. What Harry needs, he thinks, is a grown up. So he decides on Sirius Black. He does not consider asking any of the other adults in his life.
I don’t have the third book handy (I believe it’s at my in-laws due to moving drama from last fall) and the timeline is a teensy bit fuzzy. But. For most of the previous book, Harry believed that Sirius Black, his godfather, was a murderer and a dangerous dark wizard who was trying to kill him. Near the end of the book, that was revealed to be false, and Harry AND HERMIONE saved him from a fate worse than death. Immediately after that, he went on the run. They hardly had time to talk. Presumably, since then, they’ve been corresponding, but it still seems to me that Harry’s feelings about his godfather might be a little conflicted. It’s been what, two months? Maybe three? Harry is barely fourteen years old, and spent the majority of last year certain this man was trying to kill him. There tends to be an emotional kickback from that kind of trauma! But no. It’s all puppies and sunshine, and Harry concludes that this near stranger is exactly the parent-like figure he can confide in.
I dunno, maybe this is supposed to be about him reaching out desperately?
Anyways, he writes the letter to Sirius, mentioning that his scar hurt and he thought that was weird. He does not mention the dream, because this is the Harry Potter series, where characters NEVER EVER EXPECT MAGIC to be the cause of anything, despite the fact that they live most of their lives surrounded by it and are learning new things about it all the time.
“Seeing a thing in a dream that corresponds to a thing that happened in real life?” says the boy who has a magical wand that he can use to create a magical light deer creature that will chase off weird soul sucking demons, “why, that sounds unrealistic!”