To the casual Potter observer, there is only one Hermione Granger. Although she uses Polyjuice Potion on various occasions, she has no twin and never magically duplicates herself. But deep-diving Potter fans know that there are, in fact, two: Book Hermione and Movie Hermione. More than any other character, her portrayal differs across the mediums. Since the Potterverse has now expanded to play form with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it stands to reason that only one Hermione will appear in the play, so the real Hermione Granger needs to stand up.
Now, this dual-Hermione business might sound like nitpicking from superfans, but it matters because she is the Minister for Magic in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Depending on which Hermione is the Minister, this is either an awesome development or one worth a shrug. Let’s examine.
The Hermione Debate
Many fans have noticed that the Potter movies frequently give Hermione lines she did not say in the books. As one fan explains, “if you’re going to kill Harry, you’re going to have to kill me too” — Ron says this. Who gets that line in the movie? Hermione. “Fear of a name increases the fear of the thing itself.” Hermione doesn’t say Voldemort’s name until well into the books. That’s Dumbledore’s line. When does Hermione say it in the movies? Begging of movie 2.”
By giving Hermione Ron and Dumbledore’s lines, the films make her less flawed than the books. She’s smarter without being as grating or know-it-all, and she’s more loyal and sure of herself. Also, she’s not as equal parts annoying and endearing about S.P.E.W., because that doesn’t exist on screen.
In contrast, Book Ron is more loyal and filled with knowledge about tactics and the Wizarding world, but since Hermione gets many of his lines in the films, Movie Ron is mostly the comic relief sidekick. The most obvious instance of this shift is in Deathly Hallows Part 2, when Harry is venturing into the forest to his ostensible death and Hermione offers to come with him. Not only does this not happen in the books, but the scene emphasizes Hermione’s loyalty and heroism to such an extent that Ron fades into the background.
Why does it matter?
It might seem trivial, but by giving Movie Hermione Dumbledore’s wisdom and Ron’s loyalty, the movies’ writers imply that Hermione isn’t a strong enough character as she is in the books. Hermione has many flaws on the page — she can be inflexible about rules, arrogant about her intelligence, and she has the capacity to be vindictive, as we see in her treatment of Rita Skeeter at the end of Goblet of Fire and Ron in the middle of Half-Blood Prince, when he is dating Lavender Brown.
In other words, book Hermione is a character who is wonderfully flawed and deeply human. By smoothing over her flaws, the films — perhaps inadvertently — fall Hollywood’s tendency to arm “Strong Female Characters” with an unrealistic sense of perfection, thereby removing their humanity. The fan frustration is twofold: It’s about Hermione and Ron’s respective characterizations, and how Hollywood approaches the notion of “Strong Female Characters.”
In Cursed Child, Ron is such a buffoon (cracking jokes around every corner, sending Harry’s kids gifts that make their hair pink or love potion, ignoring his traumatic history with love potion) it’s impossible to understand why Hermione would be with him. In that regard, she’s mostly Movie Hermione. And in that regard, her rise as Minister for Magic is less of an exciting development and more of an eye roll, because of course this kind of one-dimensional version of a Strong Female Character would rule, uninterestingly.
But. There is a but. She has a minor rebellion by eating toffee (page 30), and does not rule with one-dimension, but is rather frazzled.
She therefore falls somewhere in the middle. And if the prospect of three Hermiones is boggling your mind as surely as a Confundus Charm, rest assured: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not canon anyway.