This girl in my year was writing an essay on Harry Potter for her English class. It was the first time she was reading the series; it isn’t a secret that I am obsessed with the wizarding world, so I was the perfect person to ask questions to whenever she didn’t understand something. The other day, she came up to me extremely frustrated and asked me, “I get that Harry stands for bravery and represents all that’s good. Hermione represents reason and Voldemort, evil, obviously. But what on earth does Ron Weasley represent?!” I thought about it for a couple of seconds and gave her an answer I’m not very proud of: “He’s just funny.” I felt bad immediately after saying it. It’s exactly the kind of thing Ron struggles with throughout the series. He stands in the shadow of people who are brighter, braver, funnier, and more famous than him, or so he thinks, while he tries to overcome his insecurities. I began thinking about it and realized Ron is much more than “just funny.” I think he makes the difference between a bad story and a good one.
To start with, Ron holds the Golden Trio together. Harry tends to be a very dark character, in the sense that he is constantly running away from death and handling problems that are way bigger than they should be for a person his age. Imagine fighting to the death with a fifty-foot basilisk that can literally kill you with a stare. Now think about doing it at age twelve. Harry’s adventures are exciting, of course, but they are dark and dangerous. If everything were like this all the time, the series wouldn’t be as fun to read as it is.
Hermione is also an interesting and quite frankly, awesome character, but she can become just too much at times. We all love the fact that she is so strong and capable and smart, but if it all were a mixture between Harry chased by death and Hermione continuously lecturing people and studying, the series would become a bit of a heavy read. Ron gives the story a balance. Yes, there’s darkness and big themes, but there’s also fun and comedy brought by the one and only Ron Weasley, who finds the way to make even Astronomy homework fun.
Ron is more than that, though. Sometimes I think he is the most realistic character of the three. He has the kind of problems many of us could have in our boring Muggle lives. First of all, he’s constantly fighting with his siblings. I don’t know about you, but even though I love my little sister, I fight with her a lot. Siblings tend to always find a way to cause trouble.
Then, there’s the inferiority complex and the insecurity he struggles with so much. It’s a pretty normal thing for a teenager to feel inferior to the rest, especially when he/she hangs out with someone as famous as Harry Potter. Feeling like people around you are judging you for no reason whatsoever (though, to be fair, he does have reasons to feel judged) is also pretty normal. Harry tries not to care about these things and succeeds most of the time; he is used to the hatred of people in his school and his family. The Dursleys were never exactly kind to him. Ron, instead, is used to having a family that loves him, and people have never really had many reasons to direct their hatred exclusively toward him, so it’s no surprise that it was harder for him to take insults from the Slytherins during his first Quidditch match. There are few “normal” people as tough as Harry; situations like this one would usually get to you.
Ron is also jealous of his best friend, and it’s something that has a huge impact on his relationship with Harry throughout the series. We all understand Harry; we know that it’s not his fault that he gets into trouble and ends up being the center of attention. Things just happen. However, I very much doubt that it would be easy to deal with everything that surrounds him as his best friend without feeling a bit jealous. In an ideal world, this would never be an issue, but with the way we are, it would be unrealistic not to have people having this kind of feeling toward Harry. Even though it’s hard not to feel frustrated with Ron, it’s understandable for him to feel jealous when Harry enters the Triwizard Tournament, and he doesn’t or when Harry starts spending more time with Hermione during the hunt for the Horcruxes.
Another aspect that makes Ron more real is the fact that he is the only character of the three who finds the pressure of saving the world added to all the extra troubles too overwhelming. Very few people would be able to deal with a situation as delicate as that one, especially if you are a seventeen-year-old who hasn’t even finished school and is used to having at least three meals every day (I mean, who doesn’t feel annoyed when hungry! It’s pretty hard to save the world, not to say save the world with an empty stomach!). Ron leaves his best friends in a fit of anger. At first, I hated him when I read about it. How dare he leave Harry and Hermione behind?! But as I grew older and reread the story, I began thinking: Well, what would you have done? I realized just how difficult a situation like that one would be. I, as a reader, can understand Harry pretty well because I am able to see what he’s thinking and understand his relationship with Hermione, but if you were in that situation and were unable to do the same, it would be hard to understand Harry; he is a complex character. The fact that Ron left provides a sense of relief, in a way. It shows that even the best characters can make big mistakes like we all do and that it doesn’t mean they are evil or less mighty; it just means they are human.
Ron is definitely more than “just funny.” He is the character who keeps the balance in the story and lands a foot on reality. Ron is the representation of a “normal” teenager with all the faults and strengths we have. He feels jealousy and insecurity and fear like we all do, and all of his mistakes and faults make him more realistic and believable. They transform him into someone easy to love and relate to. I shiver at the thought that J.K. Rowling once intended to kill him. Without Ron, Harry Potter would be a completely different story.