It was maybe a little too perfect that as a child, I was smart and bossy with frizzy brown hair and the worst teeth imaginable (four years of braces fixed that problem, thankfully). When I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as a third grader, it was all over. I had found my literary spirit guide, and her name was Hermione Granger.
Hermione grew up alongside me from third grade until the seventh book came out, when I was sixteen. At that point, we were almost exactly the same age, and my ultimate literary inspiration had gotten me through puberty and my early teen years.
What was it about Hermione that touched a generation of young girls? Emma Watson, the actress who brought the character to life in the movies, once said, “Young girls are told you have to be a delicate princess. That’s bullshit. Hermione taught them that you can be a warrior.”
And she was a warrior. First, she was a warrior in the classroom, proving herself smarter than the boys and sometimes even her professors. Then, she was a warrior in romance, having to battle for her relationship with the sometimes thickheaded Ron Weasley. (“Just because it’s taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn’t mean no one else has spotted I’m a girl!”)
And finally, she was just a warrior — a crucial (if not the most important) part of the trio that took down Lord Voldemort.
At the end of the day, Hermione taught little third grade me (and millions of girls) that you could be smart, you could be bossy, you could be feisty, and all of that would gain you respect. as a girl from the people who mattered.
“Twitchy little ferret, aren’t you, Malfoy?”
Can’t get enough inspiring women? Check out all our posts on them both fictional and real here.
Lauren Chval is a writer and film and TV enthusiast. She recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame and is currently on the lookout for the next thing that inspires her.