I talked about favourite books, so now it’s time for favourite characters. What does it mean: a favourite character? More specifically, is your favourite the character you identify with, or is it the character you’re in love with? Obviously J.M. Barrie is sympathetic to Peter Pan. But does that mean he sees himself as Peter Pan? That’s what lots of scholars say. Or is he in love with Peter Pan? That’s what I think.
My guess is that most people reading the Harry Potter books identify with Hermione. Girls, boys, it doesn’t matter: she is the voice of common sense, as well the one who understands the muggle perspective, our perspective. I’d go so far as to say it doesn’t really make sense to read the books without identifying with Hermione. What she thinks is always, in the broadest sense, true; it’s what we’re meant to think, what we’re being drawn to think. But does this make her the universal favourite? I do not think so. Nor, for that matter, does it make Ron the universal favourite. But I’m thinking more and more that “favourite” implies a loosely erotic connection.
One of my students came into my class with a favourite character: Bellatrix Lestrange. I have put gentle effort into questioning this choice, and believe I have successfully steered him in the direction of his next love, who turns out to be Narcissa Malfoy. In turn, he has convinced me that Cissy is one of the great behind-the-scenes manipulators of the books. I look forward to future character studies.