Potterhead July – Ginny Weasley: An Exposition

potterheadjuly

Hosted by Aentee @ Read At Midnight, the Potterhead July blog festival is a way for bloggers to celebrate the much-beloved series in anticipation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child‘s release. When I first came across the sign-up post for this festival, I was beyond ecstatic. I immediately signed up and decide I wanted to write about Ginny Weasley. I really loved her character in the books, but have always been peeved about the way she was portrayed in the movies. So for my post, I wanted to take the time to focus on this minor character, who I don’t think gets the kind of attention or appreciation she deserves. I’d like to apologize in advance for this very long post.

Not much is written about Ginny Weasley in the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. We get a small peak at her character as the youngest of seven children, the only daughter of Arthur and Molly Weasley, who for the first time is left home without any of her brothers, as Ron, older than her by a year, attends Hogwarts for the first time. This is also the first time she sees Harry and like many in the Wizarding World, she is awe-struck.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the first book that gives us a closer look at Ginny, but not many take the time to really think about what she went through in this novel. Here is where we learn that Ginny has a huge crush on Harry, so much so that it renders her incapable of being herself around him. The first time we get a glimpse of the real Ginny is when Malfoy antagonizes Harry in Flourish and Blotts, accusing him of being an attention-seeker. Ginny immediately defends Harry. This is one of her most defining characteristics throughout the series. Ginny Weasley will stand up for people she cares about when they are unfairly targeted.

At eleven years old, Ginny Weasley was possessed by Voldemort. I just want to take a moment to let that sink in. Imagine how lonely it must have been for this little girl, attending a new school and who is probably having trouble making friends. Her brothers aren’t a big help as they have their own lives and probably don’t want to be seen hanging out with a first-year. She finds a diary and for the first time, she feels like she can express all these feelings she has inside her. To her surprise, the diary isn’t just a place for her to write down her hopes and fears, it listens to her. Unbeknownst to Ginny, the memory of Voldemort’s younger self begins to control her. Students are attacked and no one know who is behind it. Something that really struck me is that at one point, Ginny strangles the school’s roosters. I can’t imagine learning this about myself, knowing that I killed innocent animals and it’s something Ginny had to deal with when she was eleven.

Ginny is for the most part absent in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but I do want to highlight one scene. So much focus is given to Harry and his visceral reaction to the dementors. These creatures feed on dark moments in your past, for Harry this was the loss of his parents. For Ginny, it was what she experienced with Tom Riddle’s diary. Did she relive those moments when she strangled those roosters? Does she remember writing those messages on the walls in their blood? Does she remember ordering the basilisk to attack other children?

“Ginny, who was huddled in her corner looking nearly as bad as Harry felt, gave a small sob.”

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ginny, who has been very quiet while around Harry, begins to slowly come out of her shell around him. Yes, she still blushes when he smiles at her, but she’s no longer afraid to talk in front of him. One relationship that I don’t think got enough attention in the series is the friendship between Ginny and Hermione. Unlike Ron and Harry, Hermione has spent considerable time with Ginny. How do I know this? When Hermione is asked to attend the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum, the only one she tells beforehand is Ginny. And out of loyalty, when Ron questions whether Hermione actually has a date, Ginny quickly defends her without giving away her friend’s secret.

If you’re looking for the installment where Ginny is finally allowed to be herself, then pick up Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In my opinion, it is in this book that Ginny becomes a fully-realized character. She’s strong-willed, snarky, loyal to her family, isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, and willing to risk anything in order to help her friends.

One of my favorite things about the Weasley family is how accepting they are. Unlike pure-blood families like the Malfoys, the Weasleys do not hold any prejudice against Muggle-born witches. We know that Ron is quick to defend Hermione against those who may call her a Mudblood, but it’s also an unacceptable term to Ginny a well, as we see when they both yell at Kreacher for his derogatory language. It’s very important to Ginny that people not be allowed to put others down, including themselves. Neville is a character that struggles with self-confidence and in one scene refers to himself as “nobody.” Without hesitation, Ginny tells him that he’s wrong in such a fierce way that I imagine it must have made Neville feel a little bit better about himself.

When looking more closely at a character you admire, it’s really easy to pass over those moments that show them in an unflattering light, but I didn’t want to do this with Ginny. I believe ignoring the faults of characters (*cough*movie Hermione*cough*) really does them an injustice. Although later Ginny finds it unacceptable to refer to Luna as Loony Lovegood, in the first instance that this eccentric character makes her debut, Ginny calls her just that. I don’t think at this point Ginny really understood how hurtful such a comment could be or that it’s still wrong to make fun of someone even if they don’t seem bothered by it.

Ginny also tends to be very blunt in her opinions and while this may rub some people the wrong way, I actually think it was necessary in this book. As we all know, Harry is especially moody in HP5. I know a lot of us wanted to smack him upside the head a few times and while Hermione and Ron tried to be understanding, they were constantly walking on egg shells around him. Ginny on the other hand, never felt the need to sugar-coat things for Harry.

      “I didn’t want anyone to talk to me,” said Harry, who was feeling more and more nettled.
      “Well, that was a bit stupid of you,” said Ginny angrily, “seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels.”
      Harry remained quite still as the impact of these words hit him. Then he wheeled around.
      “I forgot,” he said.
      “Lucky you,” said Ginny coolly.

Ginny’s relationship with her brothers is really interesting to me. I grew up with two brothers and sort of felt that need to prove that I was just as tough as the boys growing up, so I can’t imagine how it might have been for Ginny who had six older brothers. While I think it’s always the assumption that she must have been closest to Ron because he was only a year older, this wasn’t the case. Fred and George are two halves of a whole, not because they were twins, but because they were brothers who enjoyed getting into mischief together and enjoyed a good laugh in general. One thing I noticed while researcing for this post is how often Ginny is seen with these two. Whether it’s joining in an impromptu dance routine or being the go-between with them and Harry, it’s clear that these two had a very strong influence on her.

“The thing about growing up with Fred and George,” said Ginny thoughtfully, “is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

And can we just take a moment and give this girl a round of applause for sneaking into the broom shed to practice with her brothers’ brooms when they weren’t paying attention because they wouldn’t let her play with them? She didn’t let six older brother stop her from doing something she loved and I’ve got nothing but admiration for her because of it.

Not letting her brothers’ bossy (though mostly well-meaning) attitudes dictate what she does is one of my favorite things about Ginny. It stands to reason that she’s been bossed around quite a bit by the six of them over the years and maybe this is why it’s so important for her to stand up for herself as she grows older. Being the only girl could not have been easy, especially when they all have an opinion on things like who she should date. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince there is a lot of conflict between Ginny and Ron. It is my humble opinion that Ron was pretty insufferable in the book when it came to his sister Ginny. For some reason, he felt that he could be judgmental when it came to his sister’s love life and while I understand that he was probably feeling protective of her, I couldn’t help but applaud Ginny for calling him out on his hypocrisy and sexist attitude.

       “…let’s get this straight once and for all. It is none of your business who I go out with or what I do with them, Ron —“
      “Yes it is!” said Ron, just as angrily. “D’you think I want people saying my sister’s a —“
      “A what?” shouted Ginny, drawing her wand. “A what, exactly?”

Like I said before, I don’t want to paint a picture of Ginny Weasley as a perfect person. While I do believe she was justified in her anger toward Ron, she didn’t always handle that anger well. She could be down-right mean to him. She felt that he was being unfair to her and knew exactly how to hurt him back in response. She’s also very judgmental when it comes to Bill’s relationship with Fleur. At the time I read this, it was comedic to see how the males reacted to Fleur versus the females, but looking back, I do feel that it was an unfortunate portrayal of female relationships. There’s also that unfortunate nickname Ginny gave Fleur.

Ginny has really come into her own in this novel. While we as readers tend to focus on Ginny when she is interacting with the three main leads, it’s interesting to note that she has her own set of friends apart from them, her own love life, she’s a Quidditch star in her own right, and Slughorn was so impressed with her Bat-Bogey Hex, he invites her to his exclusive club. No matter how popular Ginny became, she was always there to defend her friends. Whether it was defending her Quidditch team from rude comments made by Zacharias Smith or Luna from a couple of bullies, Ginny is not someone you should ever mess with.

“Oh, it’s been all right,” said Luna. “A bit lonely without the D.A. Ginny’s been nice, though. She stopped two boys in our Transfiguration class calling me ‘Loony’ the other day —“

It would be remiss of me to leave out the fact that in this installment, Harry and Ginny end up getting together. I can go on and on about why I think they make a really great pair, but I just want to say that these characters have a lot more in common than many people realize. Yes, both of them enjoy the game of Quidditch, but they also have a similar energy, each is ready and willing to go on an adventure at a drop of a hat. They both have strong leadership skills and are willing to go to great lengths for the things they believe in. Both have had terrible encounters with Voldemort, but neither has lost their spirit because of it, they’ve pressed on despite the horrors they’ve witnessed.

It’s really a shame that we don’t get to see Ginny too much in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, but I want to touch on a few things. Ginny’s relationship with Harry comes to an abrupt end at the end of the Half-Blood Prince and while she doesn’t agree with this decision, I think in some way she understood that there were more important things to worry about than her romantic relationship with Harry. We see that she still cares deeply for him, but she doesn’t push him, accepts that he is destined (as well as determined) to fight Voldemort. As fierce as ever, while the Golden Trio is out trying to find and destroy Horcruxes, Ginny along with Neville and Luna are trying to hold down the fort at Hogwarts. Despite the danger, she along with other students returns to Hogwarts to take a final stand against the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters.

Ginny is a character that undergoes tremendous growth over the course of seven books. She went from having a very meek beginning to being one of the most fearless and brave characters in the series. There’s much to admire about her and I hope that you’ve found something in my post that made you feel the same. I’m always up for a discussion on Ginny Weasley, so leave a comment and let’s talk! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Ginny scenes:

      “Three dementor attacks in a week, and all Romilda Vane does is ask me if it’s true you’ve got a hippogriff tattooed across your chest.”
      Ron and Hermione both roared with laughter. Harry ignored them.
      “What did you tell her?”
      “I told her it’s a Hungarian Horntail,” said Ginny, turning a page of the newspaper idly. “Much more macho.”
      “Thanks,” said Harry grinning. “And what did you tell her Ron’s got?”
      “A Pygmy Puff, but I didn’t say where.”