Heroines in fantasy

In the Guardian today, Laura Barton discusses the role of the heroine in fiction and the somewhat dearth of them. Which to me seems odd. This comes off the back of Nancy Drew coming to the screen, but it ignores possibly the best known heroine – Hermione Grainger. No her name is not on the book cover but lets face it, without her, both Harry and Ron would have been dog food in number one (thus messing up books 2 to 7) yet she is always ignored. Why?

In the children’s fantastic writing, especially of the religious bent, women get a raw deal (apart from Charles Kingsley curiously enough where the daughter gets straight to Paradise after her death). They rarely feature in Tolkien and CS Lewis (where we encounter what Neil Gaiman calls, the Problem of Susan). When they do appear, they are either in less powerful roles (poerhaps a reflection of Oxford college life at the time?) or are barred from Paradise because they begin maturing.

This goes for JK Rowling. At the time of writing, I haven’t read Deathly Hallows as it is not out yet, but it looks like it will have protestant undertones (Calvinist I think) of predestination. Harry will become something interesting (perhaps the sacrificial lamb to Voldemort – a two for one deal which would fit in with the stated two deaths) but I hope that Hermione continues her growth and that she does not fall into the problem of Susan. She has clearly show the drive to learn, developed a nascent Socialism (although perhaps misguided its direction?) and gave Malfoy the slap he deserves. In contrast, Ron goes “bloody hell” and legs it, Harry just meekly grins and overcomes with a lot of help from his friends.

There need to be more strong women characters in fantasy writing. Perhaps we’ll see more?

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