RonXHermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Note for spoilers. The following is based on the script book, not on the play.
Hermione and Ron shippers are further vindicated in the Cursed Child. This vindication was one of my strongest emotional reactions at the start of the book once the action got going, as I’ve been a RonXHermione shipper since I first read the books when I was little. I’m married now, so have obviously developed a more nuanced perspective on relationships since then, but as with most of us, the emotions that HP first sparked are the emotional ties that keep us coming back, and in so doing, help us discover new perspectives on the novels. It’s important to respect and understand your emotional reaction to works of art, and how this changes over time. Many fans will have had emotional knee-jerk reactions in disliking Cursed Child, because of the fact that what it contains contradicts their past emotional needs that previous HP canon fulfilled. Therefore it’s understandable to feel this way, and to not dismiss your feelings, but perhaps more interesting to think about why they might develop and deepen over time.
There is one obvious problem with the Hermione and Ron relationship both in books 1–7 and in Cursed Child, which is time travel. Cursed Child is build on the premise that Harry and Ginny’s son Albus, and Malfoy’s son Scorpius go back in time to save Cedric Diggory who was killed by Voldermort in Order of the Phoenix. In doing so, the boys mess with time and trigger a divergence in the timelines of Ron and Hermione, causing them not to marry and have children, and to have different career paths. Their personalities also change, Ron is intensely boring and devoid of humour, and Hermione, a professor, is spiteful and ‘really is quite mean’ (p.135). Ron and Hermione’s relationship is seen by Albus and Scorpius as the impetus for them trying to go back and fix this timeline; Albus knows the couple in his present and sees their happiness, and Scorpius has a crush on their child, Rose. So, love for RxH is the driving force behind Albus and Scorpius’ rush to challenge this changed reality for Ron and Hermione.
A feminist critique of this is clear to see; the boy’s desire to change Ron and Hermione’s timeline back to the boys’ present is solely based on the fact that R&H both unhappy when apart; and happy when together. It’s a simple and instinctual feeling for the boys. It’s irritatingly sexist to see yet again in popular fiction, a straight marriage being used as kingpin on which a woman’s entire happiness is based, as *world weary voice* women are people at half the population, and should obviously be treated as such and not just as an accessory to man. As has been pointed out clearly in the entertaining New Statesman’s SRSLY podcast, Hermione is an intelligent woman and would be perfectly capable of finding happiness without being married to Ron and them just staying friends.
However, that being said, it’s important to understand the context of the boy’s view on R&H. It comes from a very specific situation where the boys themselves are teenagers, and R&H are adult family members to Albus. It’s difficult to imagine such a situation where emotions are so powerful and have the capacity to overwhelm. The boys won’t be thinking about the exploitation of women as wives. They will be thinking about the present and what they can actually see: their aunt unhappy without her specific (not just ‘a’/any old bloke) husband, and their cousin not being born because of it. This is one of the problems with academic feminism; it excludes so many due to its (perhaps necessary) scholarly distance from everyday life/lived experience. That’s why the everyday sexism project is so important in bridging this gap.