Podcast Question of the Week: Episode 227

Hermione is the belle of the ball, but even on this special evening, the magic of the night is fleeting.

In this chapter, Hermione finally has her big moment of transformation and confidence boosting. However, by the chapter’s end, Ron has mostly ruined her evening. Is Hermione let down not only by Ron (as well as Harry), but also by the narrative and Rowling’s writing?

Let us know what you think in the comments below, and listen to our next recap episode for some answers!


  • BloodCharm

    I don’t see Ron ruining her entire evening in the book- She tells him off, but seems to enjoy the rest of her time with Viktor afterwards and then gets into a fight with Ron after the ball is over. I’d say she still appreciated the evening for the good things that happened. And she continues her relationship with Krum throughout the rest of the book, so no, she isn’t cheated by the narrative in my opinion.

    I think she gets her moment again at the wedding, when Ron dances with her and is complimented for her dress.

  • Pretty much the entire series is written from the perspective of a male character (Harry most of the time, the Muggle Prime Minister in “The Other Minister”, no one in particular in the first half of “The Riddle House” and Frank for the rest of it). So we don’t know what Hermione is thinking but didn’t say aloud in Harry’s hearing.

  • Huffleclaw

    This is a question which I have never really given much thought, but rereading this chapter and relistening to the podcast, I really began to notice some ways that the writing of this chapter being disappointing. I do think that yes, Hermione is being let down by the writing and narrative of this chapter. I do not think Rowling meant to do this intentionally, but I feel like she is letting the character down with the “transformation scene” that Hermione goes through in the chapter. Harry/Narrator remarks: “But she didn’t look like Hermione at all. … and she was holding herself differently, somehow – or maybe it was merely the absence of the twenty or so books she usually had slung over her back.” Equating posture and Hermione’s bookworm nature – her intelligence – rings awkward for me. So many intelligent girls are pressured – or think that they are pressured – to be less intelligent in order to be noticed and appreciated as beautiful. I really feel that by equating Hermione’s transformation with “ditching” books is the wrong way to go.

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      I get what you mean. It’s like that trope where “that nerdy girl takes off her glasses and she’s actually really beautiful and then the guy falls for her” – can she not be beautiful *with* her glasses? She needs them to see!

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    I’d like to ask if Hermione can be let down by Harry or Ron in this situation. They behaved badly and made her experience of the evening less pleasant, but I’d guess she expected them to do so, to an extend. During their school years before, she has learned what to expect of them, and that’s why she didn’t tell them who was her date for the ball. She had a good time dancing and enjoyed herself, and during that time she kind of forgot how self-centered her two friends usually are. Maybe Hermione could not have predicted that Ron would embarrass himself like he did, and then get in a fight with her, but she kind of knew he would not take the news gladly that she, the friend-girl Ron has been taking for granted since Halloween in their first year, was asked out by Viktor Krum, Ron’s big Quidditch hero.

    Of course, Ron and Harry should have had their wits about them to not act like baboons towards their friend when she was having a good time. In that regard, they did let her down, they disappointed her hope that this dance would be thoroughly good fun. I’m not saying this is her fault, not at all, like you mentioned in the episode, other people would have been glad to go out with Padma or Parvati. But Harry and Ron could not figure out how to find something enjoyable about the event and crashed Hermione’s party by insisting on being miserable.

    so no account from me on if Hermione is let down by the narrative, but the question back if this was the most important day for her, or if most of her confidence boost happend before and after the dance.

  • Does Luna Have An Etsy?

    I think the letdown here is the fact that such a moment is necessary for Hermione to come into her own at all. As discussed in the episode, many teenage girls do feel pressure to conform to societal beauty ideals and see it as almost a requirement for “growing up.” But few people who experience this pressure consider it a positive aspect of puberty. And by elevating Hermione’s physical transformation to a place of importance for her coming of age romantically, the narrative to some extent validates the societal pressures behind it.

  • JusticeforBookGinny

    When I read about this event for Hermione, I can relate instantly to everything she is feeling- I don’t think this a letdown in the narrative necessarily, or in Rowling’s writing, but rather an honest depiction of the emotionally charged and incredibly volatile nature of any event that involves teenagers. It’s a night to have fun. I can imagine her getting ready, slightly giddy, and imagining Ron’s look of awe and confusion as he watches her dance, and can imagine her wondering to herself- will he maybe ask me to dance? Will he say I look beautiful? She dressed up, not just for Krum or for herself, but for Ron as well. She knows how superficial he is, knows how ridiculous 14-year-old boys can be about girls. But tonight, he WILL see her as beautiful, respectable, worthy of attention and admiration, and maybe he will feel a little jealous but maybe that will make him see more clearly next time that she is not some random person to be passed over. To have all those hopes and dreams completely shattered by Ron’s complete unwillingness to do anything other than criticize must have been devastating. I can imagine this, having been in similar situations myself. For Hermione to come down from that giddy, adrenaline filled high of dancing, feeling beautiful, feeling wanted and special and liked, to receive criticism and bitter anger from someone with so much emotional influence over her must have been horrible. I don’t think it’s a letdown in Rowling’s writing but rather a brutally painful and honest depiction of how awful it can be to have delightful anticipation come face to face with a much more horrible reality.

  • hyungchunnie

    I know that it would seem that Ron was a bit harsh with Hermione during the Yule Ball, but he was just a teenage boy trying to sort his feelings. At that age I don’t even think he himself knew he had feelings that deep for her, especially someone that you spend everyday with sometimes you just don’t realize your feelings as quickly. In my opinion, it made Ron and the story even more relatable to the readers.

    Also, just throwing this here. listening to this podcast episode. I agree that the movie was very much cut on the important contents. Not much Rita Skeeter which was sad because I remember reading and being so triggered by her. I also noticed in the movie there was not even a hint of mention about Hermione’s House Elf Movement. or did I just miss that?