Spoilers: All five books
Word Count: 4,537
She pointed at the last and youngest of her sons. He was tall, thin, and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose. (SS, 93)
Ronald Weasley is one of the most important characters in the series--not only because he’s one of Harry’s “sidekicks,” but because Ron grounds Harry in a way that Hermione can’t. Ron is just a normal boy who is thrust into extraordinary situations with two characters who are extraordinarily good at what they do--Harry is the Boy Who Lived, and Hermione is the smartest witch in their year. Between these two illustrious bookends, Ron sometimes appears to be simply the comic relief of the Trio, or as though he has nothing to offer them in the way of skills or friendship. However, I believe that Ron is the glue that holds the Trio together; Harry and Hermione are both very driven people--driven by ghosts, ambition or both--and Ron is just a normal boy who wants to make a place for himself in the world. His normalcy is the greatest thing that he can give to both Harry and Hermione, because at times they both sorely need it.
Ron is the sixth and youngest son of Molly and Arthur Weasley. Since Ron is the youngest and the Weasleys struggle for money, Ron is often the one who gets the hand-me-downs of his older brothers--“You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I’ve got Bill’s old robes, Charlie’s old wand, and Percy’s old rat” (SS, 99). Ron’s embarrassment and dislike of his family’s poverty is a constant theme throughout all five books, culminating in GoF, which I’ll talk about in a bit. As shadow_pryde says: “When it comes down to it, Ron's your average bloke. Nice guy, good family, decent upbringing, and the kind of guy that will be loyal to you as long as you're loyal to him.”
I think it can be agreed that Ron is a very proud person. Despite his family’s financial troubles-or perhaps because of it, Ron has a very strong sense of pride and doesn’t like to be looked down upon or pitied for his family’s monetary problems. This is shown in GoF when Ron and Harry are talking about the leprechaun gold from the Quidditch World Cup: “Why didn’t you tell me about the gold? [. . .] The gold I gave you at the Quidditch World Cup," said Ron. "The leprechaun gold I gave you for my Omnioculars. In the Top Box. Why didn't you tell me it disappeared?" (GoF, 545). Ron is disturbed by the thought that Harry wants to treat him as a charity case or pities him for his financial situation. Harry is very aware of Ron's insecurity on this topic, and shows it in GoF when he tells the Weasley twins to take his Triwizard Tournament money and to “buy Ron some different dress robes and say they're from you” (GoF, 733). Harry realizes that Ron is very touchy about the fact that the Weasleys don’t have much money, and that he has an overabundance of it. It’s hard to say if the other Weasley children are so aware of their poverty as Ron is--or at least if it bothers them the way that it bothers him.
Despite the reputation that he has as being “thick,” or in extreme cases even “stupid,” I consider Ron to be very practical when necessary. He’s an excellent foil for Hermione’s idealistic naivete and Harry’s inexperience--unlike both Harry and Hermione, Ron was born and raised in the wizarding world and is all too aware of its prejudices and the way that things work. Perhaps because he is the sixth son and probably put up with a lot of teasing and pranks from his older brothers--notably Fred and George--Ron seems to be aware that people are not as black and white as Hermione believes them to be.
In GoF, Hermione says, "Look, I don't care what you say, Dumbledore trusts Snape--"
"Oh, give it a rest, Hermione," said Ron impatiently. "I know Dumbledore’s brilliant and everything, but that doesn't mean a really clever Dark wizard couldn't fool him--" (GoF, 530).
And then again just a few pages later--“Percy would never throw any of his family to the dementors," said Hermione severely.
"I don't know," said Ron. "If he thought we were standing in the way of his career...Percy's really ambitious, you know..." (GoF, 534).
Although Ron doesn’t want to look badly upon either Dumbledore or Percy, he’s aware that they are neither as powerful or as “good,” as Hermione believes they are. In the second quote, Hermione is blindly sure that Percy would never turn on his family. Yet in OotP this is exactly what happens--although Percy hasn’t (and may not) thrown any of his family to the dementors, he did try to get Harry--an honorary member of his family--expelled from Hogwarts. Not only that, but he also coldly rejects his mother’s Christmas gift and doesn't go to the hospital to see his own father when he is grievously injured. Percy may yet return to the fold, or show his actions to be justified, but so far in the series Percy has shown that he’s very devoted to his career and will cut himself off from his family if it means that he might succeed. Considering the direction that the corrupted Ministry is moving, Ron could end up being correct about Percy in books six and seven.
Although it's true that sometimes Ron isn't the brightest boy on the books--he does come up with some fantastical solutions or theories--it's also true that everyone, including himself, vastly underestimates him. This is most starkly shown in OotP when he receives his prefect badge. Not only are Fred and George visibly shocked--and very vocal about it--but Ron also "took the badge, stared at it for a moment, and then held it out to Harry as though asking mutely for confirmation that it was genuine" (OotP, 162). Although he's in shock, Ron also doesn't snap back at Fred and George for saying "There's been a mistake [. . .] No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect" (OotP, 161). I would argue that although he's so visibly shocked at receiving the prefect badge, his silence on denying Fred and George's words means that he subconsciously agrees with everything that they're saying--that he was sure that Harry would be a prefect and not him, and that no one in their right mind would make him a prefect. And Hermione's less than tactful reaction only makes it clearer how people view Ron as just someone in the background.
"Ron's prefect, not me," Harry said.
"Ron?" said Hermione, her jaw dropping. "But...are you sure? I mean--"
She turned red as Ron looked around at her with a defiant expression on his face.
"It's my name on the letter," he said.
"I..." said Hermione, looking thoroughly bewildered. "I...well...wow! Well done, Ron! That's really--"
"Unexpected," said George, nodding.
"No," said Hermione, blushing harder than ever, "no, it's not...Ron's done loads of...he's really..." (OotP, 162-163)
Although Ron's willing to be doubted by his older brothers--something that's probably happened for most of his life--he's not willing to take it from Hermione, as shown in this passage. But this passage also shows that even Hermione, who is supposed to be one of best friends, underestimates him and his abilities.
Perhaps one of Ron’s finest qualities is his sense of humor. Although Harry and Hermione manage a quip every once in a while, it is most often Ron who provides a comedic moment. fivil says that: “He's boyish and funny in the way that he likes to be funny. He has a bit of that class clown attitude to him, but not too much.” Throughout the books, he's often lightened a tense moment from something he’s said. One of my favorite examples is: “So light a fire!” Harry choked.
“Yes--of course--but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
“HAVE YOU GONE MAD?” Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?”
“Oh, right!” said Hermione, and she whipped out her wand, waved it, muttered something, and sent a jet of the same bluebell flames she had used on Snape at the plant. (SS, 278)
Even as funny as this scene is (to me), it’s also an example that Ron can keep his head in a crisis. There is a marked difference in his behavior here when compared to Hermione’s, and although Hermione comes into her own later in the series, it is Ron who is Harry’s second in his planned duel against Malfoy. Ron is also the one who defiantly tells Sirius that he’ll have to kill both he and Hermione to hurt Harry in PoA. If Hermione might have been placed in Ravenclaw, I would argue that Ron is a true Gryffindor, with perhaps a little Hufflepuff thrown in. Despite his Hufflepuff-like loyalty, Ron is a man of action--he’s more suited for adventures with Harry than poring over books in the library with Hermione.
Situations Around Ron and his Reactions to them
One of the largest factors in Ron’s actions is the fact that he is very much overshadowed by his brothers. Although he is occasionally brought into the spotlight, it is usually through his relationship with Harry. His brush with Sirius in the bedchamber in PoA is because Sirius was looking for Harry, and his fame after the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament was because he was the person Harry had to retrieve from the lake. Ron is acutely aware of the fact that he excels at nothing definable, whereas his older brothers do. He says it himself, shortly after he meets Harry and they’re talking in the compartment on the Hogwarts Express: “You could say I’ve got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left-Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy’s a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone think they’re really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it’s no big deal, because they did it first.” (SS, 99).
Whenever Ron finds a chance to make himself known, he seizes it. After both Sirius’s bedchamber appearance and the Second Task, Ron embellishes his story to gain a wider audience as well as to seem more interesting and as though he were more involved in these events. Some people see this as that he’s desperate for attention, and I agree with that to a point. To me, Ron is a perfect example of the “middle child syndrome.” As the youngest son he was no doubt a little overlooked--wedged between the twins and Ginny, who as the only girl in the family naturally would garner attention, he seems to fade away. Ron isn’t the eldest like Bill, or “cool” like Charlie, exceptionally smart like Percy, troublemaking like the twins, or the only girl. Ron hasn’t found his niche, and although he hangs out with the famous Harry Potter, most people just see him as Harry’s sidekick. He certainly doesn’t gain recognition from his family--which I believe, he desperately wants--for being Harry’s friend. On the contrary, he is shoved into the background once again because Harry’s tragic past and circumstances make Mrs. Weasley fuss over Harry much more than her own son.
Having grown up in the wizarding world, Ron is very aware of the politics, the bigotry and the beliefs of it, whereas Harry and Hermione are not. Many times he has to explain these beliefs to Harry and Hermione, or even shows them himself. In CoS, he is the one who is immediately offended when Malfoy calls Hermione a "mudblood," and in GoF he has to explain to Harry why it’s so controversial and shocking that Hagrid’s mother was a giantess. In PoA, when Lupin starts toward an immobilized Ron in the Shrieking Shack after having been revealed as a werewolf, Ron gasps and says, “Get away from me, werewolf!” (PoA, 345). Although this certainly may be taken at surface value as blind prejudice, it must also be noted that despite his horror at being near Lupin after finding out that he’s a werewolf, Ron has grown up with stories about werewolves and their dangers. He is the only one in the room who has this reaction, and I believe it’s for that reason. Although Hermione may read in a book that werewolves are very dangerous, she never grew up with the knowledge as a part of her life as Ron did. Sirius has known that Remus was a werewolf for nearly twenty years, and Harry is both unaware of the implications as well as shell-shocked from learning that his parents were betrayed and who Sirius really is. Ron has just been slapped in the face with the knowledge that one of his favorite teachers is a werewolf, something that he has long been taught to fear. So yes, his cry is prejudiced, but it is also a reflex and an echo of his upbringing. In addition, Ron is also in considerable pain from a broken leg. After Ron has healed and has had time to think the matter over, he never appears to discriminate against Lupin for being a werewolf, so I believe that it was simply from pain, shock and upbringing that Ron said such a thing to Lupin. The same idea can be applied to his reaction at hearing that Hagrid is half-giant--although he initially appears to have a prejudiced view, even immediately afterwards he never does or says anything to make a reader or the other characters believe that he personally holds prejudiced beliefs.
Ron and his Relationships
I think a key thing to keep in mind when considering Ron and his relationships with others is to remember that Ron is a very protective individual. Since Ron is most often shown with Harry, it is easy to show how protective he is of Harry, although you also often see flashes of this aimed toward Hermione and his family. lysrouge sums up Ron’s emotions and emotional temperament very well in this way: “As far as emotions go, I think he's a bit underdeveloped in understanding his emotions. He knows they're there, but he oversimplifies what he's feeling, much like a young child.” Even canon supports this, because in OotP when Hermione is explaining Cho’s feelings to Harry and Ron, Ron abruptly says “One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.” Of course, to which Hermione replies nastily, “Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.” (OotP, 459). I believe that Ron, more so than Hermione or Harry, considers them to be a unit. Although both Harry and Hermione value their friendship, Harry considers himself to be closer to Ron, and Hermione focuses more on Harry as the pinpoint of their friendship. Ron, however, believes that whatever happens to Harry and Hermione also happens to him, and is both baffled and hurt when it doesn't. In PoA, when McGonagall calls on Harry and Hermione to accompany her to her office before the Sorting Feast, she says: "There's no need to look so worried--I just want a word in my office," she told them. "Move along there, Weasley." [. . .] Ron stared as Professor McGonagall ushered Harry and Hermione away from the chattering crowd[. . .]" (PoA, 88). I would say that Ron's reaction shows that he's floored by the thought that he would not be involved in whatever McGonagall has to talk about to Harry and Hermione. And again, in OotP when he's arguing with his mother to let him listen to Order business, Ron says: "Harry'll tell me and Hermione everything you say anyway!" said Ron hotly. "Won't--won't you?" he added uncertainly, meeting Harry's eyes" (OotP, 91). I would say that Ron is firmly in the mindset of something similar to the Three Muskateers--what happens to one happens to all.
Ron and Harry: The Dynamic Duo
Ron and Harry are very similar in a lot of ways. They are very alike in temperament, although many consider Ron to be more hotheaded than Harry. Harry realizes how similar and well matched they are once he and Ron aren’t speaking in GoF: “Harry liked Hermione very much, but she just wasn't the same as Ron. There was much less laughter and a lot more hanging around in the library when Hermione was your best friend.” (GoF, 316). They are both incredibly stubborn, proud and are more than willing to cut at people with their tongue when angered. Prime examples of this would be when Ron is angry with Hermione when he thinks that Crookshanks ate Scabbers, and when Harry had his famous CAPSLOCK moment early on in OotP, lashing out at both Hermione and Ron. They are both men of action, and although I consider them both to be smart, neither are bookworms like Hermione.
One of the biggest factors in considering Ron’s character is his behavior with Harry in GoF concerning Harry’s entrance into the Triwizard Tournament. A very large number of people consider Ron’s actions to be spurred by jealousy--that this is just one more thing that Harry has bested him at, that Harry is going to shine at, whereas Ron is not. However, I think that Ron felt betrayed more than anything. He thought that Harry had managed to get over the Age Line and hadn’t shared the information with him; in every adventure they’d had before that, Harry had shared almost everything he knew with Ron and Hermione. However, Ron sees this as a betrayal because Harry is now leaving him out of things, and Ron can apparently think of no other reason for him to do so except for that Harry wants the attention on himself. Ron intellectually knows that Harry doesn’t like the limelight, but when people are emotional they’re not always thinking very clearly. Ron even tries to apologize to Harry, but Harry throws a fit and throws a badge at him. Although Ron was wrong to get upset and think that Harry was trying to outshine him, Harry was also wrong for actually physically throwing something at Ron and venting his rage on him. In the end, though, they make up and there are very few times in the rest of the book or in OotP that they have a real fight. Part of this, I think, is that Ron’s fully beginning to accept the fact that Harry tries to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible. In OotP, Ron even endorses Hermione’s plan to form the DA with Harry as the leader; if Ron were as consumed with jealousy as many think, wouldn’t this just be another opportunity for Ron to think that Harry is just trying to draw attention to himself?
A large part of Ron's behavior is moulded by the fact that he's very protective of Harry. Although Ron has a protective nature, it seems as though it is most marked when he's dealing with Harry. Ron often tells Hermione to be quiet when she persists in asking Harry questions that he's not ready to deal with, and his famous line of "If you want to kill Harry, you'll have to kill us too!" (PoA, 339) is one of the best examples of the fact that he sees himself as Harry's defender whenever it's possible. In OotP when Harry and Seamus have their argument, Ron immediately defends Harry and uses his status as a prefect to do so. Whereas Hermione would more than likely balk at using her prefect status for personal gain or to threaten someone, Ron uses whatever means he has. In SS, when Harry is worried about the Slytherin match, both Ron and Hermione bring their wands to the Quidditch match to defend Harry.
"Ron and Hermione, meanwhile, had found a place in the stands next to Neville, who couldn’t understand why they looked so grim and worried, or why they had both brought their wands to the match. Little did Harry know that Ron and Hermione had been secretly practicing the Leg-Locker Curse. They’d gotten the idea from Malfoy using it on Neville, and were ready to use it on Snape if he showed any sign of wanting to hurt Harry.
“Now, don’t forget, it’s Locomotor Mortis,” Hermione muttered as Ron slipped his wand up his sleeve.
“I know,” Ron snapped. “Don’t nag.” (SS, 221)
This whole scene puts me in mind of Ron and Hermione arming themselves for battle, and are willing to pit themselves against a teacher if Harry needs them to. One of the stories in the fic recommendation list at the bottom of this essay (Knights), likens Harry and Ron to chess pieces, with Ron as the knight and Harry as the king. The imagery of knight and king shouldn't be overlooked, I believe, because I think that Ron has been placed in the role of a medieval knight defending his king. I don't think it's a coincidence that Ron chose the knight as his chess piece in the chess challenge at the end of SS--his piece was ultimately the one that was sacrificed to defend his side and allow his "king" (Harry) to move forward in the game.
As fivil says: “His friendship with Harry, though it may sometimes be threatened by Harry's temper (or complex personality) or Ron's jealousy/stubbornness, is just one of the things I absolutely love about the books. It's just very deep-rooted, these guys understand each other and truly appreciate one another as friends.”
Ron and Hermione: The Verbal Duelists
Ron and Hermione’s relationship is harder to pin down. Although Ron certainly displays his trademark protectiveness and loyalty toward her, he also treats her differently than he treats Harry. He is quicker to snap at Hermione, and often has to tell her to just plain shut up because she’s nagging or prying at something that Harry would probably not like to talk about. Their verbal sparring--most prominent from PoA onward--has become a hotbed of debate. Ron/Hermione shippers see it as attraction, and others, such as fivil, see it as “personalities clashing.” Others see it as an attempt by Ron to dominate Hermione, and a large portion of the people who responded to this poll believe that Ron isn’t picking on Hermione any more than she’s picking on him--they’re each giving as good as they’ve got, and verbal sparring has just become a part of their relationship. Personally, I’m inclined to agree with this last faction and with fivil in saying that Ron and Hermione are very different people, and despite the fact that they’re both intensely loyal to Harry and to each other, it’s inevitable that two such different people are going to argue.
In my poll, when asked if Ron was a good friend to Harry, there was an almost overwhelming response of "yes." However, when asked if Ron was a good friend to Hermione, the results are more mixed. Compared to the 2 votes that said Ron wasn't a good friend to Harry, there were 21 votes that said that Ron wasn't a good friend to Hermione. Although this is only about 17% of the votes, it's an interesting fact to note about the way that Ron and Hermione relate to each other and the way that people see their relationship.
In GoF, Ron’s irritation with Hermione’s relationship with Krum is often used to give proof to Ron/Hermione shipping in that he’s jealous of Krum. However, it’s also possible that Hermione has gotten close to Krum whereas Ron--who practically worships Krum in the first section of the book--has barely spoken to him.
I see the Weasleys as a very normal family, despite the theories and discussions that say otherwise. In PoA, when Harry needs to talk to Ron and Hermione in private, Ron just bluntly tells Ginny to “go away” (PoA, 74). While I don’t have any older brothers myself, this sounds pretty much like I’d imagine an older brother would be like. Ginny’s reaction--getting huffy and saying “oh, that’s nice”--tends to make me think that it’s not as if she’s unused to this treatment from older brothers. She certainly doesn’t appear to be hurt by it. In SS, Fred and George tease Ron on the train platform, and call him “ickle Ronniekins.” Again, sounds like normal teasing siblings to me. When Ginny tells Ron at the end of OotP that she’s dating Dean, he reacts precisely as an overprotective older brother would react--basically, he freaks out. I don’t hold with the idea of the Weasleys as a terribly dysfunctional family--apart from the normal amount of dysfunction necessary for any family--because JKR has set the Weasleys up as Harry’s model of what a family should be. The Weasleys and their family life are the closest thing that Harry has to a real family, and a bright point in his life. Mrs. Weasley even considers Harry to be another son, as is evidenced by her attempt to control his actions in OotP and what he hears. She doesn’t want Harry to listen to the Order’s business or hear more than is necessary, and Sirius has to forcibly remind her that she’s not Harry’s mother. Most of the family--excluding Percy--considers Harry to be just another son in the family, as Ron does. Ron is never jealous of the love that Harry gets from the Weasleys, because to Ron Harry is already just another brother anyway.
Are you Done Yet?
Although a good portion of this essay has been used to combat the idea of Ron’s overwhelming jealousy, that’s not to say that Ron is not jealous of some things. I would think him incredibly unrealistic if he weren’t jealous. Ron looks at the people around him who all have their place in the world and are all exceptionally good at something, who have things that he doesn’t have, and he wants them. He doesn’t begrudge Harry his money, but he would like to be on the same level as Harry. Ron does have his flaws-he is hotheaded, stubborn, sometimes tactless and sometimes a little oblivious, but that doesn’t mean that Ron should be wiped off as simply another person who only sees Harry as the Boy-Who-Lived, or sees his way to attention through Harry. I think anamchara’s comment sums up my idea of Ron very well:
I heart Ron because he's such a *human* character. He's a teenage boy, who is loyal but makes mistakes. I think his character is honest. He says what he means. He sometimes is jealous or irrational or concerned with the wrong thing or self-absorbed, but he's also fiercely protective and he stands up for what he believes. He's loyal and brave, and while he wants to stand out from his siblings, he mainly wants to be included as an equal when it comes to Harry and Hermione. He doesn't want to be left out. I love him because he is so real -- he's got humor and a teenage boy's priorities and sensibilities.
That's What You Want, Isn't It? by Christina
Knights by Odyssea
Just Ron by SelDear
Jerusalem by Soz
Heart Stopped Breathing by Durendal
Calling Her My Own by Malvolia
The End of the Innocence by Snuffy
The Art of War by Hijia
Second Best by coldbeverage
Ron by reinii
Young Ron and Ginny by thistlefinch
Ron and Pig by i_spite_thee
Ron by lunulet
Black Knight Ron by leelastarsky
Harry, Hermione and Ron by Lince
Maroon Jumper by lizardspots
Nobody Likes Me by celestialsoda
Knight to H3 by __hibiscus
Black Knight by cugami
Ron is Harry's Second by angua9
Anatomy of a Rift by narcissam
An Open Ron Manifesto by wahlee_98
Ron Weasley is My King by accioslash
Ron's Emotional Range by kaalee
Comparing Ron and Xander from BtVS by snoopypez
Communities on LJ:
All quotes are from the paperback American editions. Thank you for everyone who participated in my poll and generously gave me their opinions on Ron and links to other essays. I appreciate it very much. Thanks to noticeably for the beta.