Friday, August 26, 2016

Negative Imagery Surrounding Ginny

* This essay is an ARCHIVE. It was written by Darynthe, and originally posted at Portkey on 1/24/2005.




Ginny Weasley has suddenly become one of the most commented characters in Harry Potter. Ever since OotP she’s now, in fact, the subject of some arguments.

On one hand we have all the followers and admirers of one girl who surprisingly enough became very prominent at book 5 after 4 books of relative obscurity. These fans find this “new” personality quite believable and even so promising that they already think that she is meant to be Harry’s Love Interest (in uppercase).

On the other hand, we have the rest of the world. For those who Ginny Weasley has little interest and even less projection for the two remaining books. An apathy from a portion of the Potter fans that we have found quite intriguing.

There exist already a couple of essays devoted to the positive sides of Ginny Weasley and they do take her short appearances year by year making up a quite creative image. But is there something deeper in all those apparently positive traits?

Here we will have a point by point a brief analysis of the Ginny Weasley dilemma from diverse points of view, but with emphasis on the romantic one.

Ginny’s Journey

In a few words Ginny is a little blushing girl who has a crush on the famous hero Harry Potter. The function of this crush is indeed interwoven with the plot in Book 2. Her unrequited romantic interest is important so that she is torn because of it and comes to trust the Tom Riddle journal aiding him to open the Chamber of Secrets. Meanwhile Harry pays her painfully little attention.

From book 3 on, Ginny’s feelings for Harry lose plot interest, but remain as a part of the personality that was created for her, nonetheless holding little appeal for both Harry and the reader. There exists extremely little contact with her despite the fact that Ginny belongs to the family that has taken Harry in, the Weasleys. If Harry learns something about her, it is through third parts, resulting in little less but a nice anecdote, nothing else. It is noticeable that no bond of friendship grows between Harry and Ginny, despite the fact that Harry has spent a couple of summers at her home and they share the same house at Hogwarts, not to mention she is sister to his best friends and best female friend to Hermione. All very auspicious situations for a closer relationship that never grew.

Now suddenly during book 5, Ginny Weasley incarnates everything that has and hasn’t been told about her. She is:

-Cool and very self-confident and remains unabashed under any circumstance.
-Gets completely over her crush on the Boy Who Lived.
-Is courageous and stands up to Harry while previously she wouldn’t mumble a word.
-Becomes a good witch and her bogey hex is admired.
-Dates a popular guy and ditches him whenever she wants without as much as blinking for the loss. -Replaces said person in a matter of days.
-Becomes the seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and is the one player to actually make the move to win the cup.
-Is described with terms as windswept, has a red mane, and repeatedly cat like.
-Is loyal and helps Harry to feel “more hopeful”.
-Goes with Hermione’s plan without asking and charges with the rest of the sextet towards the Minister of Magic.
-Is Hermione best female friend and confident.
-Is funny.

Busy girl!!

The Dilemma: to Mary-Sue or not to Mary-Sue

While we can arguably be surprised that Ginny has had an amazing personality transplant, we will also be even more astonished that all the traits transplanted have been only positive. Unfortunately, that per se is not so good from a literary POV.

While all the rest of characters during the series have been worked out to have some kind of flaw, for instance Dumbledore is revealed as an old man who made many mistakes taking information away from Harry and ultimately causing Sirius demise, or Hermione is depicted as a nagging person who often likes to bicker and has bushy hair and large front teeth, or Ron is a jealous and insecure person--- Ginny remains basically flawless, which have given many the strong suspicion that she may be an infiltrated Mary Sue in the series.

But what is a Mary Sue? It is basically a character created unconsciously by the author to represent what she would like to be, reason for which, a Mary Sue is known to be almost perfect, is loved by all other characters, end up being the love interest of the hero of the story, or simply be able to save the day single handed, but at the same time her presence in the whole scheme of the plot could be eliminated without a sensitive change in the story.

Mary Sue is known to be physically pretty, have a very interesting hair and show unknown powers, suddenly become friends with all the main characters and is special in some way.

Ginny has a peculiar way to fill all these traits: she has been said to have a few characteristics that could be called attractive, her hair is very often mentioned, she has a trademark hex and is known to be special for being the first girl in many generations in the Weasley family. We are informed that Hermione is good friends with Ginny although we never see how such a friendship was born or is fed. In a similar fashion, she ends up being Neville’s date for the Ball although previously we never knew they had interacted. All this said, let us take a look at Ginny’s deeper interactions in the books and decide how true the Mary Sue adjective does fit her.

Ginny’s Hair

Ginny’s hair has been mentioned more times than anybody else’s in the books. Given her little screen time, it takes away great part of the effort that should be given to describe and most importantly show us her personality. And while we have come to love other characters for their mistakes, their learning from failures, their humour or lack thereof, their exploits, etc, we often get a glimpse of Ginny’s hair. My question here is, is this deliberate? And if so, why?

Ginny’s hair is red, just like all the rest of the Weasleys. Given this rather flimsy connection with Lily Potter, this has been taken as a romantic foreshadowing; especially since it’s also been called “windswept” after playing Quidditch.

While hair colour seems to be quite a neutral characteristic, this has been a little of a red herring regarding Harry’s preferences: in fact Harry wouldn’t necessarily prefer a red head just because his mother was one, he never got to actually live with his redhead mother. Truth is that Harry seems to like dark hair, as Cho Chang is a living proof.

Given that Mary Sue most physical quality is to have astoundingly beautiful and prominent hair, usually auburn, we’ll conclude that this apparent positive quality is indeed, neutral for Ginny to become a convincingly well developed character.

Finally, although Ginny’s hair has been mentioned a lot during the series, other’s people’s hair have been too. Sirius, Ron and Hermione’s are often mentioned and Harry has been described as “hair man”.

Ginny Feline Quality

During most of the books, Harry has described Ginny with a few adjectives that have given her some of a feline nature. “She made a sound like an angry cat”, “Ginny was by the firelight curled up like a cat, her eyes reflected the firelight”, etc. are not uncommon and are also appreciated by Ginny fans as a symptom of Harry’s attraction for the feline Ginny. Indeed, this seems to be the most basic element of Ginny’s physical nature. But does this means that she is pretty?

Ultimately, the truth is this is no good. Harry Potter dislikes cats with all his soul.

From book 1, we have instances that illustrate this point:

-Harry feels it is torture to go to Mrs Figgs to see the pics of her cats and be around them.
-Harry sees Crookshanks and thinks he is the ugliest cat he’s ever seen.
-Harry doesn’t mind killing Crookshanks if he is in front of Sirius, not taking into account that the loyal animal wanted to give his life to protect somebody.
-He also believes that he killed Scabbers, Harry doesn’t give him the benefit of the doubt.
-Harry dislikes Mrs Norris and sees the cat as one of the most sinister figures in the castle. And indeed the cat is seen as sneaky and meddlesome.
-Harry goes into Umbridge office and sees the plates with kittens gamboling; he thinks them horrible and garish.
-People who love cats have been described as a little mean and a little dumb, we have Umbridge, Mrs Figgs and Filch. And at first, during PoA, even Hermione was depicted as blindly prejudiced by her murderous cat.
-We learn during the Occumency lessons that one of Harry’s worst memories is the time when Hermione turned into a half cat while drinking polyjuice. Not when she is petrified, but when she turns into a *cat*.

Is Harry less of a good character because he dislikes cats and sometimes even hates them without a good reason? Personally I think don’t think so. This is simply a personal thing. He is not a cat person and never will, even if he eventually learns to love Crookshanks.

As we see now, being compared to a cat by Harry Potter is probably the farthest thing from complimentary or poetic. I am afraid that this alone talks of a completely lack of attraction towards Ginny Weasley that will do away with any possible chance fans may think she would have of catching his fancy.

Interesting lead that is quite in plain view if we as much as examine Harry’s tastes a little closer.

Ginny as Ron’s Valentine’s Project

Although Harry Potter is arguably not a romantic novel, we have so far quite a little bit of subplots about little romances among teenagers. There will be even more space for this in the upcoming two books. After all they are more mature beings and this is a normal part of growing up.

The great question is will Ginny and Harry be romantically involved at some point in time. And here is the answer:

I’ve always thought he was a bit of an idiot,” Ron said, prodding his queen forward toward Harry’s quivering castle.“Good for you, just choose someone –better – next time.”
He cast Harry an oddly furtive look as he said it.
Well, I’ve chosen Dean Thomas, would you say he’s better?” asked Ginny vaguely.
WHAT?” shouted Ron, upending the chessboard. Crookshanks went plunging after the pieces and Hedwig and Pigwidgeon twittered and hooted angrily from overhead.

This is as many have noticed before, a bona fide and complete piece of foreshadowing. Let us pick apart the points in their apparent logic order:
  1. Ginny has to choose someone else to date
  2. Ron wants her to choose someone better
  3. Ron casts a furtive look at Harry at the same time he says the last; obviously implying he wants Harry to date Ginny
  4. Foreshadowing appears: Ron prods his queen –Ginny- towards the quivering castle – a scared or reluctant Harry.
  5. Before the Queen can attack the castle Ron himself upends the chessboard – Ron will act in his matchmaking abilities trying to set up a Ginny and Harry pairing but this effort will fail.
  6. Crookshanks plunges after the pieces - Crookshanks representing Hermione not only as her pet, but embodying her qualities of high intelligence, judgement, and her partiality for Harry. Ergo, possibly Hermione intervenes in Ron’s attempt at matchmaker in some way that is anything but supportive.
  7. Hedwig and Pigwidgeon twitter and hoot angrily - Harry and Ron, by analogy also represented by their pets, have what seems a bad argument.
I find very interesting that this complete line of foreshadowing is at the end of Order of the Phoenix. My hunch is that we’ll see some of this happening during the Half-Blood Prince. Many other forms of foreshadowing are casting darker shadows in the Ron & Harry friendship and although that is subject of quite a different essay, we have that Ginny Weasley’s romantic attachment for Harry Potter will again play a part in the plot of one of the books, sadly for Ginny’s fans, again this will bring no expectancy of a new love in the air.

Now we will briefly analyse three more separate instances of negative foreshadowing regarding the romantic partnership of Harry and Ginny.

And Yet, More Negative H&G Foreshadowing

Let us take a look at Ginny and Harry’s first meeting. We see Ginny very interested in the Boy who Lived after she learns his identity. Then we have a scene that has interpreted by some fans as a foreshadowing with positive aspects of some sort: Ginny runs after the train in which Harry and his brothers are leaving while Harry observes with indifference.

This is by the most obvious and logic interpretation another foreshadowing of her forthcoming unrequited feeling for a Harry who flees from her attentions. Of course this revelation has already played itself out. During the next years Ginny spends her time chasing after a crush that will never return her interest.

Yet another line of arguable foreshadowing occurs again in the train, during Harry’s third year.

Ginny enters the compartment where Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville are sitting in the darkness moments before the dementors make their first entrance. Ginny is looking for Ron and for a place to “sit”.

Harry felt her pass him, heard the door slide open again, and then a thud and two loud squeals of pain.
"Who's that?"
"Who's that?"
"Ginny?"
"Hermione?"
"What are you doing?"
"I was looking for Ron—"
"Come in and sit down—"
"Not here!" said Harry hurriedly. "I'm here!"
"Ouch!" said Neville.
"Quiet!" said a hoarse voice suddenly.

Harry shouts “not here!”. Harry doesn’t want his personal space invaded by Ginny. He instinctively doesn’t want her close to him, nor in the darkness, nor on his legs… On the other hand, Neville, with far less complaining allows her to accommodate herself. The scene speaks for itself. Maybe the first time we have a little of what may be between Neville and Ginny although not totally clear.

Finally, couldn’t leave unnoticed an episode that has made many wonder a lot because it could perhaps hold both positive and negative foreshadowing connotations.

Yeah,” said Ron slowly, savoring the words, “we won. Did you see the look on Chang’s face when Ginny got the Snitch right out from under her nose?”
{…} “Well, actually…. no Ron,” said Hermione with a heavy sigh.{…}
OotP p704

The snitch has been thought to symbolize love. While Ginny and Cho are looking for Harry’s love, Ginny takes it away from Cho. But is this really good?

Yes, could be, but given the evidence of the other predictions, I am afraid that this episodes is more in line with what we had when Ginny followed the departing train.

Both Ginny and Cho are trying to capture Harry’s attention as he is trying to flee from them just like the Snitch does.

We see here that maybe Ginny is Cho’s successor in more than one aspect. In fact, both share shockingly similar personality aspects: Cho is very popular, Ginny seems to be quite popular. They both are self-confident and extroverted. Cho is a Quidditch player, and therefore athletic and cool, and so is Ginny. They both are seekers. They share already two love interests: Michel Corner and Harry Potter.

All these “coincidences” have a sad logical conclusion for the Harry/Ginny relationship: JKR would hardly show so patently that Harry and Cho would never be happy together to immediately match him with her “shadow”.

But on the other hand, if Ginny represents Cho’s shadow, she would be arguably destined to Harry’s own shadow: Neville.

Harry’s Instincts on Ginny: Deep Inside His Mind

We’ll discuss now Harry’s gut reactions to Ginny. Let us see a few examples and let us examine what his unconscious feelings for Ginny are.

Among the most important moments we have first and foremost, Harry’s saving Ginny from the Secret of Chambers. There of course, one very positive moment for the prospective couple occurs: Harry saves her and is concerned about her, so much as to be worried of her being expelled. As many have said, we have what could be fairy tale material; the hero rescues the young damsel in distress.

Unluckily, again the hand of JKR appears: Ginny is unconscious all the time, giving no space for a real interaction and bonding under extreme circumstances or for it even to be called a shared adventure. This takes away most of the romantic edge that the situation could give. Secondly, Ginny escaping such dire circumstances without even a telling off from teachers, classmates or family –very a la Wesley Crusher, first canon Mary Sue ever documented--- is not believable and becomes a wasted opportunity to develop her character.

Harry’s feelings here are little affected too. We have that he saves people, that’s his “job”. Harry saves Ron, saves Hermione, saves the little Delacour girl, saves Cedric’s body, saves Sirius, etc. Consequently there will be extremely little evidence of romantic foreshadowing if we take this as a lead. And yet, Harry will do a little move people saving thing in the next books...

So, it is inside Harry’s subconscious mind where the answer to if this adventure affected him or not, really lies. Does saving little Ginny mark his life and give him a first moment of unconscious realization of his feelings? The answer is no, during OotP Harry has completely forgotten that Ginny was ever possessed by Riddle.

Some still think that the situation was too traumatic for Harry’s conscious to want to remember. Yet, there exists first hand proof that this is not the case: through Snape’s classes we readers had the privilege of knowing now Harry’s worst or most traumatic memories and they do not include Ginny’s touch with death.

Following, yet another taletelling instance of unconscious feelings:

We’ve got another Seeker!”
Who?” said Harry quickly.
Ginny Weasley,” said Katie.
Harry gaped at her.
Yeah, I know,” said Angelina, pulling out her wand and flexing her arm, “but she’s pretty good actually.{…}”

Emphasis mine. Yeah I know? What does she know and what was so obvious about Harry’s face so as to say something like that? What is that is so objectionable about Ginny Weasley getting the position? We don’t get to know because the case is soon turned into Harry’s ability and his not enjoying his banning, etc. But I find this a clear clue of Harry not taking Ginny’s abilities in good esteem, to say the least.

Let us analyse now the library incident. Harry accepts Ginny help and it does aid him in his endeavor of breaking into Umbridge’s fire. Sadly, it is Ginny again who makes the approach; it is never Harry the one to start it. He merely accepts her help and release a little detail –not the heart of it- of what is bothering him. Ginny provides the help in a rash manner, not caring to ask what he needed to do it for or how dangerous and risky the action was going to turn. In fact, Harry risked his own expulsion and the twins’ by doing this. It was unnecessary and foolhardy.

If I have to accept that it showed a moment of closeness between Harry and Ginny, it showed even more starkly how terrible a combination they could be by themselves. Two people who act recklessly, don’t consider danger and do not ponder advantage vs. risk could hardly be the means to vanquish the Dark Lord or *even* open a shop.

Another frontal and disdainful moment:

Hi”, said Ginny uncertainly. “We recognized Harry’s voice – what are you yelling about?”
Never you mind,” said Harry roughly.
Ginny raised her eyebrows.
There is no need to take that tone with me,” she said coolly. “I was only wondering whether I could help.”
Well, you can’t” said Harry shortly.

Here, although I have to agree with Ginny followers about the fact that she’s acting quite assertive way towards Harry and can manage well his anger towards her, I’m afraid that that means nothing. Even if she went in this moment and gave him a kiss in the lips, it wouldn’t be a jot more promising either, because here just like in all the other moments we have analyzed, Harry rejects any approach from Ginny. It’s clear that the help accepted in the library didn’t mean much to Harry for this episode happens a while after that meeting.

We still have left behind a couple of incidents that follow the same beeline of carelessness and indifference: Harry learns that Ginny no longer holds a candle for him and he finds the subject far less interesting that Ron does, and later, when he counts with Neville, Ginny and Luna for the MOM expedition, he thinks to himself that out of the DA, those would be last people he would have chosen to go with him.

Literary Intent

Why I do believe that JKR is very aware of what she is doing with Ginny’s character, and why Ginny is not supposed to be Harry’s love interest? Because this inordinate and deliberate absence in moments that might have made her develop as an independent character and give her flesh and spine.

As previously mentioned, during the five first years in Hogwarts that we know of Ginny through third parties:

Ron says” that Ginny never stops talking except when Harry is around.
The twins say” that Ginny has a powerful bogey hex.
Hermione says” that Ginny has stopped fancying Harry.
Ron says” that Ginny jinxed Malfoy in a wonderful way during the pre-Dom scene
Hermione says” that Ginny have been stealing the twins brooms to practice Quidditch in secret.
Ron says” that Ginny caught the snitch under Cho’s nose

Had all these events been shown to us instead of being “informed” we probably wouldn’t really have a case for this essay. Unfortunately, this method is used consistently through the 5 books. The obvious intention is to avoid a reader investment in the character.

Another widely known instance of this technique is used at the Ministry of Magic. Ginny is separated with other two people, Ron and Luna, from a great part of the action: a deliberate attempt from the writer to avoid again investment in the character. Instead, we have a new trio emerging in the form of Harry, Hermione and Neville.

While putting Ginny in Hermione’s place during this confrontation would have made a lot of sense romantic wise as a build-up for a future pairing, it hasn’t happened, putting yet another nail in the coffin for the Harry-Ginny ship. Even more, for providing us with a contrast for Harry’s subconscious feelings related to his three possible love interests we have that the three of them are jinxed into unconsciousness while Harry is present. This is another literary means of telling us how we should invest emotionally in the romantic area. Let us see:

1. Luna:
{…} he heard Luna cry, ‘Collo – aaaaaaargh…….’ ”
He turned in time to see her flying through the air. {…} Luna hit a desk, slid over its surface and onto the floor on the other side where she lay sprawled, as still as Hermione”

Emotion-meter range 0/10 for not having a single emotion related to her going down in the same way as Hermione.

2. Hermione:

But the Death eater Hermione had just struck dumb made a sudden slashing movement with his wand and gave a tiny ‘oh’ as though of surprise then crumpled onto the floor where she lay motionless.
HERMIONE!”
Harry feel to his knees beside her {…} A whine of panic inside his head was preventing him thinking properly. He had one hand on Hermione’s shoulder which was still warm, yet did not dare look at her properly. Don’t let her be dead, don’t let her be dead it is my fault if she is dead… {…}
Hermione’ Harry said at once, shaking her ‘Hermione wake up…’
Neville groped for Hermione’s wrist.
dat’s a pulse, Harry, I’d be sure it is…’
Such a powerful wave of relief swept through Harry that for a moment he felt light-headed.
She’s alive?’

Emotion – meter: 10/10 Harry feels here -unlike with Luna- an irrational fear of Hermione’s death even though he knows that only AK is able to kill. He also feels his responsibility in bringing her to her possible death. He loses momentarily his ability to think clearly. While in Luna’s case not a thought about her life or his responsibility crosses his head at all probably due to having more pressing issues at hand.

3. Ginny

Harry, it’ll suffocate him!” screamed Ginny, immobilized by her broken ankle on the floor – then a jet of red light flew from one of the Death Eater’s wand and hit her squarely in the face. She keeled over sideways and lay there unconscious.

Emotion / meter: 0/10

To make a long story short: we are 5/7 done with the series and if there are some clues to be given regarding the heroine of the books, or at least regarding the final pairing for Harry Potter, they should be there right now. This was one of them, and as we see Ginny is not in Harry’s heart in a special way.

Finally, the third point from the literary intent big scheme of things show us how there exists a level of symmetry in the romantic couples that surround Harry Potter.

Let us see it in a graphic manner:

============================================================

Hermione:----------------------------------------------------------------------------:Harry

Unrequited crush--> Ron--> not aware of Real LI<--Ginny<-- Unrequited crush

First relationship--> Krum--> jealous of real LI<--Cho<--First relationship

-----Unconscious Real LI --> Harry/Hermione<--Unconscious Real LI------

============================================================

If this is indeed the final pairing, the situations surrounding these failed relationships show a deeper pattern of growth, balance and development that have a complete plot plan and the role played by Ginny is cleared in the realm of Harry’s Love Interests. We also would have it for a means to equilibrate the experiences that live Harry and Hermione each before getting to the projected romantic twist of the series of best friends turned into lovers and settles them both on equal footing to recognize true love.

On the other hand, for both Ginny and Ron, the experience helps to grow personally towards a maturity of their characters.

Conclusion

There is a complex web of repetitive negative imagery surrounding Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter as a couple, which has been deftly put in the background of their interactions. We have big canon reasons to think that Ginny has never been meant to achieve the status of love interest for Harry, although her crush has served and probably will still work in the future as a plot devise of some importance for the series.

While we also have some clues that mark Ginny Weasley as a possible Mary-Sue, this is likely the consequence of a deliberate act of literate intent from JKR, because as we see, everything has its reason and clues although seem contradictory, in the end find it’s way to fit into this complex puzzle that is shipping in the Potterverse.



Note: Thanks to Ana Christina who provided her personal insight and a complete investigation about the Mary Sue argument and also for her personal support. 

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