Now, I never really thought much about Fleur. She’s beautiful, obviously, and French. And Bill – generally considered the coolest Weasley – falls in love with her and they get married, and she is incredibly passionate about loving him in spite of his being part werewolf. And, obviously, Ginny and Molly and Hermione don’t really like her. For no real reason. So, I never gave her much thought – just another side character in a world that’s stuffed to the gills with side characters. And then I came across this while dicking around on Pinterest:
And it got me thinking. I’ve discussed before how absolutely amazing Rowling is at writing female characters – not just stereotypes, but fully fleshed out characters who happen to be female – and I think this is another example. First of all, Fleur herself is a well-rounded character – she’s beautiful, which you would expect to be her defining characteristic – and suck up and a little stuffy, which would go along with it nicely if Rowling was simply dealing in stereotypes. But she’s also incredibly brave, and passionate, and loving, and kind. She wasn’t shallow or self-serving, she stood up in a war that really, wasn’t hers – she could have left Bill and the others to fight Voldemort while she went back and lived her life in safety in France. None of the other characters truly expected her to stay, particularly after Bill was attacked by a werewolf. But she stood by his side – all of their sides – and took part in their war despite the assumptions they had made against her.
And if that were all Rowling did with Fleur, she would still be an amazing character. But the way Molly and Ginny and Hermione treat her also gave Rowling the opportunity to show another side of their characters. Because – while I don’t think Fleur is necessarily completely innocent – it definitely comes across that there is a bit of jealousy, a bit of OTHERING going on between Hermione, Ginny and Fleur (who, reminder, grow up to all be sisters in law). Fleur is French, and beautiful, and – yes – a little more…refined…than the others. And rather than reach out to her (again, she’s voluntarily staying in a foreign country that is at war, far from her friends and family), they cast her out, and mock her, and hold themselves apart from her. So, yeah – they kind of suck. But it gives another layer of believably to their characters. Because, yeah. Sometimes women – even women as smart and strong and secure as Hermione and Molly and Ginny – get intimidated by another women and start acting like high schoolers.
And this is why i wonder if I’ll ever get tired of reading Harry Potter, or discussing Harry Potter, or just thinking about Harry Potter. Because it’s so well written, and the characters are so well written and so fleshed out and real, that every time I think I’m coming to the end of my obsession, something new and subtle catches my eye and draws me back in