Ron Weasley is my favourite Harry Potter character and I have noticed that I am in the penumbra of Harry Potter fans for thinking this. Unlike Nevile Longbottom who had an upsurge of popularity in the latter novels and films (rightly so he becomes awesome) Ron began to suffer from fandom fatigue and eventually gathered up an unhealthy amount of distain. So why do I support Ronald Weasley?
To answer that question one must look at the dynamic encoded into Harry Potter’s DNA. JK Rowling opted to give Harry two friends who’ll help him fight Voldemort. The “Trio model” is a much better model than the “dynamic duo”, a model fiction is obsessed with. This was a brilliant idea as a trio allows more depth to the characters and adds an added layer of mortality to the proceedings as the reader will wonder if all three will make it out alive (in the case of Potter this was a real worry). Trios allow ties to be severed, and situations are given different perspectives.
Harry is the readers avatar, we experience the expansion of the wizarding world when Harry experiences it, we learn out the caste system wizards have in place when Harry does, we learn the truth when Harry does. So naturally Harry is easiest character to relate to. Hermione is the smart, pragmatic one which is a breath of fresh-air as the literary world and especial the film industry, seem to cast women has emotionally unstable, irrational beings that anybody who has met a real woman will tell you is a lie. Hermione is without doubt an outstanding role model for young girls. But what of Ron?
How can we connect with a character who already knows the inner workings of the wizarding world (many times Ron acts as exposition) and isn’t as cool as the other two? We connect with Ron through his humour and most importantly, his flaws. Out of the three Ron is the most flawed. Okay maybe Harry goes through that angsty stage in Order Of The Phoenix but he was being riled by the freakin’ government. Ron on the other hand is prone to many fits of jealousy. The j-word is often labelled the most undesirable human trait but it exists in all of us. This jealousy causes him to de-friend Harry in Goblet of Fire (we’ll calls these the dark months) and bugger off (among other factors) in Deathly Hallows. But jealousy is engrained in every human being on the planet and is impossible to avoid. The common insults thrown at Ron are: he’s lazy, untalented and poor. Fans rally against him because he doesn’t make up for the readerships personal failings as we have all done something that we have regretted.
But Ron has a right to be jealous. He doesn’t take to the education system, he is overshadowed by high-achieving brothers and when he does arrive at school he choses the smartest girl at school and a boy who is practically a celebrity. His envy only gets the better of him when Harry is given attention when he has been told exclusively not to court it. And yet the main reason for giving Harry the silent treatment is because he is upset Harry didn’t include him as well. And yet Ron openly embraces his friends, inviting Harry over on every christmas holiday or voluntarily staying at Hogwarts so he is not alone. Ron treats them like family from the get go. I mean he stole his dads flying car to help Harry escape the Dursley’s just because he didn’t reply to any of Ron’s letters. That’s knightly right? Speaking of knights he willingly sacrifices himself during the human chess game in order to stop Voldemort stealing the philosophers stone. That is valiant and just as brave as Harry.
Furthermore, Ron arguably suffers and looses the most during the series (from when Harry joins Hogwarts). Harry looses Sirus and Dumbledore and witness Cedric Digory’s murder. However how much pain do the Weasley’s go through? Mr Weasley is savaged by Nagini, Bill is mauled by a werewolf, George loses an ear, Hermione gets petrified (this affects Harry to but Ron is visibly more damaged) Ginny is possessed by Lord Voldemort and taken into the chamber of secrets, he himself is poisoned, the political machinations of the wizarding world tear his family apart, Hermione is tortured and most importantly it is his brother Fred who dies. All of this effects Harry but Ron is tethered to these characters by blood.
Circling back to the trio, Ron provides something that neither Hermione no matter how hard she tries can not provide. The ability for Harry to cut loose and just have fun in these dark times. Ron allows Harry to forget about his duty. They spends the holidays together (Hermione goes skiing). During the dark months, Harry openly admits that he doesn’t have as much fun with Hermione than he does with Ron and that is nothing to do with Hermione as a person, Harry loves her like a sister. He just doesn’t like hanging out at the library. Look at The Deathly Hallows, when Ron wandered off it was all work work work. But when he returns, he and Harry do this…
Just boys being boys.
Why is Ronald Weasley hated? I hypothesise, and many others have as well, is it is down to the films. The films being later than the books are what people remember and to be honest Ron is nothing more than a whiny sidekick.
As established Ron is a stubborn, loyal and pretty fierce character but in the films he is underserved (not as much as Ginny mind). When being tasked with being the series’s screenwriter, Steve Kloves openly said Hermione was his favourite character. Whilst that’s a good thing as that character had the potential to be terribly adapted and god knows films need more characters like Hermione. Also, Radcliffe clearly has more rapport with Watson so the films were clever to exploit this but sadly as a result some of Ron’s attributes were transferred over to Hermione.
In the first film, during the Devil’s Snare scene, Hermione uses her logic to defeat the plant and save Ron who is squirming and not following basic instructions. Now Hermione needs to have her moment in the sun and due to timing it has to be now. In the book however it is later at the potions scene after Ron has successfully got the pair of them past the chessboard. In the original version, Hermione remembers her lessons but complains about the lack of matches. Ron in reply reminds her that she is a witch. Two versions, two completely different characters: (1) Book Ron is pragmatic and tactical, (2) film Ron just squeals.
This situation occurs again in Prisoner Of Azkaban. Book Ron tells Sirus that he’ll have to kill him as well as Harry with Hermione offering help later on in the scene. Film Ron just sits, whimpering on the bed whilst Hermione protects Harry from harm.
Film Ron is characterised as a bit of a dick as well. When Snape insults Hermione for being an insufferable know-it-all, film Ron just says: “He’s right you know.” Book Ron on the other hand shouts back defending Hermione. People who have only viewed the films will probably wonder why Hermione gets with Ron.
Ron Weasley isn’t popular because people mistake film Ron with the greater, more distinguished book-Ron. I like Ron because he is possibly the most flawed character of the three, he is loyal until the end and is just as likely to help you defeat a tyrannical wizard than to support you play quidditch.