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Essays

Hermione's Family

by Scott

I do know that many people have theorized about how Muggle-borns get their Hogwarts letters (and take them seriously), or are taken to Diagon Alley for the first time, or how they are able to adjust. Even with Rowling's recent comments on this topic, we're still left with a lot of questions about the whole process. I, however, am curious as to how a Muggle family, specifically the Grangers, deals with such issues beyond the initial shock and what affect that has on their relationship. In the Royal Albert Hall interview (RAH), Jo basically said that we wouldn't be learning much more about Hermione's parents: "Well we've seen them briefly but they're dentists so they're not that interesting." She repeated this sentiment in her comments at the Edinburgh Book Festival:

I have deliberately kept Hermione's family in the background. You see so much of Ron's family so I thought that I would keep Hermione's family, by contrast, quite ordinary. They are dentists, as you know. They are a bit bemused by their odd daughter but quite proud of her all the same.
Oh but Jo they are interesting and far from ordinary! (And not least of all because they ALMOST NEVER see their daughter.)  In PS/SS Hermione goes home for Christmas (PS12) and at the beginning of CS Mr and Mrs Granger accompany her to Diagon Alley where we see them "standing nervously..." in Gringotts bank (CS4). So Hermione sees them this first year as much as one would expect a boarding school child to see his/her parents, and they obviously know something about the Wizarding World even if they are nonplussed at the site of a Goblins' bank.

Yet as Hermione becomes more and more a part of the Wizarding World, she appears to drift further apart from her parents. In CS she stays over for Christmas holidays, albeit because of the Polyjuice Potion (CS12). It feels to me as though the Grangers don't even seem to know their daughter that well; they do know what she's doing but they've never seen her perform magic, have they? I got the feeling, especially after reading OP, that the Granger trip to France (PA1) was a way for both Hermione and her parents to find something over which they could connect. The idea going something along the lines of --

MR GRANGER: We should do something with Hermione this summer...something that we'd ALL enjoy.
MRS GRANGER: Well she always did want to go to France.

But of course once that was before she knew she was a witch, and once they got there it was all wizarding history for Hermione. I might be wrong of course and her parents may truly be fascinated by the Wizarding community and its history, but it might also feel really well...foreign (it is after all) and at least a bit foreboding.

We can assume that after this lovely family outing (feeling closer than ever) they...they...they drop Herimone and her Hogwarts things at the Leaky Cauldron (PA4)?? Then Hermione once again stays over for Christmas break, and when Harry gets to the Burrow in GF5 Hermione's already there (having arrived the previous afternoon according to Ron's letter to Harry, in GF3). She attends the Quidditch World Cup and stays at the Burrow until time to go to school...then of course she stays over at Hogwarts for the Yule Ball.

When Harry gets to Grimmauld Place during the first week of August it is implied that Hermione has been there for a good amount of time if not ALL summer (OP1 from the letters she and Ron sent Harry, OP3 Harry's arrival a few days after the dementor attack on 2 August). So either she's seen her parents for a VERY short amount of time, or she hasn't seen them at all since she left for the Burrow and the World Cup over a year previously.

I think it is very telling that when Hermione hears about being a prefect and asks Harry if she can use Hedwig (OP9, she tells him "They'll be really pleased-- I mean prefect is something they can understand."(Emphasis JKR's) ...well it struck me that there might be some sadness and even bitterness in her voice. After all, for all her accomplishments how much can her parents really appreciate? Prefect yes, but top marks in Transfiguration or Charms? Did any one else read this line this way, or am I simply way too speculative? On another note this is the first time I noticed Hermione corresponding with her parents at all. I know she can't use Muggle post, and she doesn't have an owl, but she could've used a school one. Have I missed something?

We do know that Hermione's parents are disappointed that she didn't go skiing with them over Christmas (OP23), but she doesn't seem to care all that much. Harry and Ron and the whole Weasley clan are her friends (and wizards to boot), but I just find it kind of sad if being a witch has made Hermione feel that separate from her family.

Overall I can't decide if it feels like Hermione is at fault here or if her parents are. I suppose there's always the alternative that no one is at fault, but I still feel a subtext of "strained parent child relationship" whenever the Grangers are mentioned.

I don't pretend to know much about the psyche of a typical British Boarding school child, but I find it odd that they never seem to get homesick (especially Hermione and other Muggle-borns and esp. during the first year or two). I know Harry isn't going to miss the Dursleys, but for someone like Hermione, coming from what one hopes is a loving and supportive household and going into a whole new world (literally), this can't be that easy. And at eleven? I don't think I would've felt comfortable departing from my family at this age; can anyone who lived in a boarding school speak of their own experiences?

© 2004 by Scott, used by permission
copyedited by Michele L. Worley

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