J.K. Rowling's Biggest Regrets About Harry Potter
Harry Potter scribe JK Rowling has created a wizarding world that has sparked the imaginations of millions across the globe. And while her accomplishments have made her a very rich and powerful person, that doesn't mean she lives entirely without regret. To many fans, the decision to pair Ron Weasley with Hermione Granger was a strange one. Ron, the goofy sidekick, had almost nothing in common with Hermione, whereas Harry always recognized her status as the secret MVP of the story’s central trio. Sure, Ron had a few moments of bravery, and there was that tenuous connection with her being a muggle and his dad having a fascination with the non-wizarding world, but please. Even Rowling knows that Hermione and Harry were the real endgame of the series.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Rowling admitted:
"I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfilment. That's how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility."
Of course, it’s possible that the personal reason she's alluding to here is the fact that Ron Weasley was based on a close childhood friend of hers, while Hermione was based in part upon herself. Rowling revealed that Albus Dumbledore was meant to be a gay character, even if it wasn't completely spelled out in her books. During a reading of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she answered a fan question as to whether Dumbledore had ever fallen in love, saying:
"Dumbledore is gay, actually."
While the news was received warmly by the crowd, she expressed some regret that she hadn't been clearer about that before, saying:
"I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy."
The matter would become a point of contention later on, however, when Dumbledore's sexuality was again left ambiguous in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
LGBTQ advocates were dismayed when director David Yates revealed that the film would "not explicitly" address his homosexuality.Although Rowling still openly defended her decision to make Dumbledore gay, she chose to ignore those who criticized the film's lack of attention to that detail. For the third instalment in the franchise, Yates has maintained that they will make Dumbledore's romantic history with Grindelwald a little more obvious. Rowling fielded more public disappointment over the fact that the cast for the first Fantastic Beasts was predominantly white. Producer David Heyman defended the film's casting by explaining that the story's timeline had a lot to do with the cast's whiteness, pointing out to Entertainment Weekly that 1920s era New York was racially segregated.
“The wizarding world is a much more open and tolerant society where people of color and different ethnic backgrounds exist harmoniously together." Heyman also promised that the series would have "people of color filling this world in an organic way."
Rowling, meanwhile, simply denied that the cast was all-white on Twitter and challenged a fan to wait to see the movie before judging, adding:
"It is a trilogy and all the characters have not been revealed or cast yet."
The author faced further Fantastic Beasts backlash when the character of Nagini, Voldemort’s pet snake from the original series, was introduced in The Crimes of Grindelwald as a maledictus, played by South Korean actress Claudia Kim. Rowling was accused of fabricating diversity with the decision, which she fought back against by pointing out that the word “Nagini” comes from Indonesian mythology, and that Indonesia has a significant Chinese population. Still, as many suspected, the character came through as something of a token inclusion in the movie. All of this comes on top of other long-running Potter franchise controversies, such as the issue of Jewish representation and varying interpretations of Hermione's race. It’s not hard to imagine that, given the chance, she would have approached the diversity of her characters a little differently.
Plenty of characters died in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but one of the offing’s that hurt the most was Fred Weasley, who was killed in an explosion at the Battle of Hogwarts. Fred had become a fan favourite, alongside his twin brother George, thanks to his signature cheery demeanor. She would later apologise to fans for claiming the fictional life of a character who was so beloved by readers.
In 2015, she tweeted:
"Today I would just like to say: I'm really sorry about Fred."
In 2016, Rowling returned to her tradition of apologizing for a character's authorial execution. This time, she shone the spotlight on Remus Lupin, the Hogwart’s Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who also turned out to be a werewolf. It wasn't just Remus' death that hit so hard, though. He died shortly after his wife Tonks was also killed, which meant that their new born son Teddy lost both his parents before he had a chance to know them - just like Harry Potter had so many years before. Rowling issued a series of tweets apologizing and explaining the need for Lupin's death, writing:
"In the interests of total honesty, I'd also like to confess that I didn't decide to kill Lupin until I wrote Order of the Phoenix. Arthur lived, so Lupin had to die. I'm sorry. I didn't enjoy doing it. The only time my editor ever saw me cry was over the fate of Teddy."
To orphan one little wizard baby? Cruel. Two of them? That’s just diabolical. Whether or not Professor Severus Snape actually redeemed himself at the end of Deathly Hallows is up for debate. Sure, he was working for the good guys all along and only killed Dumbledore so that Draco Malfoy wouldn't have to. But he was pretty terrible to Harry from the very start of his tenure at Hogwarts. Making the generous assumption that he was trying to teach Potter to toughen up in preparation for his fateful confrontation with Lord Voldemort, you can’t help but imagine some of that was him projecting his pure acrimony for James Potter onto the Boy Who Lived. The fandom’s split opinion on Snape meant that a good chunk of them would have been happy if Rowling never apologized for his death - which is why her 2017 commemoration of the Battle of Hogwarts ended up a little more timid than usual.
"OK, here it is.
Please don't start flame wars over it, but this year I'd like to apologise for killing
“After all this time?”
It's almost like she was apologising for apologising. One character that Rowling managed to completely redeem by the time the series ended was Dobby the house elf. When we first met him, he was a completely irritating pest whose sole purpose was to get Harry in trouble with the Dursleys. By the end of the road, he was a sweet little scamp who just wanted to be free so that he could define his own loyalties. While trying to rescue Harry and Griphook from the Death Eaters, however, Dobby was stabbed by Bellatrix Lestrange. To make his death even more devastating, Harry dug his grave by hand and inscribed it with the words:
"Here lies Dobby, a free elf."
Rowling memorialised him in her 2018 tribute, despite the fact that he wasn't a part of the legendary final battle, writing:
"It's that anniversary again. This year, I apologise for killing someone who didn't die during the Battle of Hogwarts, but who laid down his life to save the people who'd win it.
I refer, of course, to Dobby the house elf."
Rowling has made about the Harry Potter series is how certain characters' names are so commonly mispronounced. With Hermione Granger, for example, Rowling had to pretty much spell it out in the text once she discovered that fans were saying her name incorrectly. Rowling has since admitted that the scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in which Hermione tells Viktor Krum to say "her-my-oh-nee" instead of "hermy-own" was also meant to be instructional for readers, since the films hadn't come out yet. One name pronunciation that she never did quite correct, however, was Lord Voldemort, whose moniker most fans think is "vawl-duh-MORT." Even the films adapted that bit of elocution. However, if Rowling had her way, fans would never say the "T" in his name at all.
In 2015, she confirmed this fun fact about the series, conceding:
"I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who pronounces it that way."
One specific regret J.K. Rowling has copped to is the type of dog bred by the third book’s nasty Aunt Marge. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry was introduced to Uncle Vernon's sister, who often used canine-related theories and phrases to analyse people.
“It’s all to do with the mother. You see it all the time with dogs. If there’s something wrong with the b*tches, then there’s something wrong with the pup.”
Clearly, her relationship with her dogs was significant to her character development. However, Rowling later said she should not have chosen bulldogs as her breed after all.
She wrote on Pottermore:
"I regret making Aunt Marge a breeder of bulldogs, as I now know them to be a non-aggressive breed. My sister owns one and he's the most lovable, affectionate dog you could hope to meet. On the other hand, they do look grumpy, and on appearance alone seemed to suit Aunt Marge."
There are some Harry Potter fan theories that Rowling has shown some major support and respect for - while others have been kindly dispelled by the author as illegitimate.
Usually, Rowling is polite enough about putting an idea to rest, like when she denied that Ron is a younger time-travelling Dumbledore and shut down the theory that Draco Malfoy became a werewolf after being bitten by Fenrir Greyback. One theory that seems to get Rowling into a tizzy, though, is the one that suggests Dumbledore may have turned his phoenix Fawkes into his own horcrux. Admittedly, the supporting evidence for the concept is pretty thin. Basically, the idea is that if Voldemort could store a piece of his existence in a snake, a bird wouldn't be off the table either, and Dumbledore may not have always been the benevolent soul that we know him to be.
However, Rowling not only put the kibosh on the idea, but also expressed personal offense to it, writing:
"The idea that anybody believes this is strangely upsetting to me."
Rowling had written a whopping 4,224 pages about her magical realm - but there was still one scene she couldn't quite squeeze into the story. In 2007, the author revealed that she wanted to include a Hogwarts graduation scene in Deathly Hallows to confirm that Hermione went back to school and finished, while Harry, Ron, Neville, and some others went straight to work to clean up Voldemort’s mess in the wizarding world.
She told fans on Pottercast:
"I felt a huge sadness that I wouldn't write a graduation scene. I felt sad that the book wasn't going to end with that feast scene, the graduation scene. A lot of people felt the epilogue was too sentimental, I think to have a graduation scene on top of what just happened would've been an absurd bit of anti-climax."
Had the scene been included, fans would've seen the trio ride the thestrals away from Hogwarts to signify a fresh new start for them as they passed over the water.
How do you feel about JK Rowlings regrets? Are there any that you agree with, we'd love to hear your comments below!
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