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A good friend of mine recently sent me her essay to read, and I found it phenomenal. An in-depth look at how easily a character's growth and personality can be erased in the process of adapting a book to film, the essay truly highlighted the issue using an infamous series popular to our generation. After obtaining permission from my friend, I bring you this wonderful piece.
They say the books are always better than the movies. Even one of the greatest series of all time, Harry Potter, by J.K Rowling, is no exception. Ron Weasley is one of the main characters of Harry Potter and the male best friend of the main character. He is a beloved character to die-hard fans, yet is despised in the movies. Book Ron is one of the most important characters to the story, while movie Ron is as useless as a broken clock. Book Ron is, and always will be, far superior to Ron in the movies. This is supported by their personalities, growth, and importance to the story.
Book Ron is the heart of the Harry Potter “Golden Trio.” He comes from a large family, and is used to taking care of the rest of his family. He is the emotional support for the main character, Harry Potter. He is very witty, and has contributed many zingers and comebacks. In the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling wrote, “Ron told Malfoy to do something that Harry knew he would never have dared say in front of Mrs. Weasley.” He stood up to the school bully for his friends, and used harsh language to do so. He is passionate about protecting both Harry (the main character) and Hermione (the mutual best friend of Ron and Harry), and loves them fiercely. In the books, Ron had screamed "You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don't want to be told?" at Professor Snape, the substitute Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, when he called Hermione an “insufferable know-it-all.” He refused to let his friends be picked on, even by a teacher who scared him. This is a stark contrast to movie Ron, who not only did not defend Hermione, but validated the bullying by simply saying “He’s got a point, you know.” In the movies, Ron rarely stood up for his friends, hardly ever expressed any loyalty to his friends, and many times laughed at their expense, especially Hermione, who was supposed to be his love interest. In the movies, Ron’s personality was nonexistent, and he had often been rude and even went as far to be abusive. In the seventh movie, The Deathly Hallows: Part One, he picked a fight with Harry because he was jealous of Harry and Hermione. He went to the extreme with his anger and screamed at Harry, “Your parents are dead! You have no family!” This is a diversion from the books, when Ron picked a fight because he was worried about his family and he felt like Harry didn’t care. In the books, Ron was much more selfless and empathetic towards the people he loved. In the movies however, Ron was much more self absorbed, possessive, and short tempered. In short, book Ron is a loyal friend and movie Ron is selfish and innocuous.
As you read the books, Ron showed tremendous progress throughout the story and really grows as a character. The best example of this was with his relationship with Hermione, his best friend turned lover. In the first four books, Ron saw Hermione through a purely platonic stand-point, and hardly considered her as a potential love interest. However, after realizing she was accompanying an older boy to their school dance, he became enraged and jealous. He accused her of “fraternizing with the enemy.” He had not realized he liked her until he saw her with another boy, and he redirected the frustration he had towards himself to her. About three years later, at a wedding, Ron realized the other boy was in attendance, and immediately asked Hermione to dance. In the book, Ron learned from his mistake and made sure to ask Hermione to dance before some else did. He understood what happened three years previously was unacceptable, and he needed to treat Hermione with respect. While movie Ron had the same outburst at the school dance that book Ron had, movie Ron does not learn from his mistakes. In the movie, Ron, while at the wedding, stood in the corner watching Hermione longly while the older boy asks her to dance. This crucial scene was cut out because the director was not a fan of Ron and Hermione as a couple. This scene was supposed to show how much Ron had grown over the years, and realized he had to put himself out there so Hermione would know he was interested. The movie version of Ron did not take any necessary steps to better himself, and was too cowardly to even try anything new. This was very inconsistent with the “house” or school team he was sorted into, Gryffindor. Gryffindor emphasized the importance of bravery and courage, so the fact that a scene that displayed how courageous Ron was for showing his growth ruins the character further. The growth Ron displayed in the books made him very likeable and very relatable, whereas Ron in the movies stayed the same and never grew up.
Throughout the books, Ron was essential to the “Golden Trio,” Harry and Hermione would not have made it as far without him. In the books, Ron served as the heart of the group, and the only one who grew up in a family of wizards. He had a social understanding that Harry and Hermione lacked. For example, in the first book, Ron blatantly screamed to Hermione, “are you a witch or not?!” when they were being strangled by Devil’s Snare. Because Hermione was still not used to magic yet, she forgot she was a witch, and needed someone to remind her. Unfortunately, in the movies, during this scene, all Ron does is scream for help and left Hermione to solve the problem all by herself. He was completely useless throughout the entire ordeal, because the director wanted Hermione to look better. Another place book Ron’s knowledge of the wizarding world shines is in the second book when he explains the slur “Mudblood” is used to describe wizards and witches who come from non-magical families. However, in the movies, this line was given to Hermione instead of Ron, making Ron seem less important. In the second book, Ron was Harry’s emotional support when everyone was falsely accusing Harry of something he didn’t do. He accepted the challenge of following the spiders with Harry, despite Ron being terrified of spiders. The movie gave a ridiculous downgrade to this, and made Ron whine, “why spiders? Why couldn’t it be follow the butterflies?” Ron did not make Harry feel safer; if anything, he made Harry even more scared, putting a detriment on the excursion. In the third book, Ron stood on his broken leg in front of Harry to protect him from the escaped criminal and claimed, “if you want to kill Harry, you have to kill us too!” This is to show his bravery, loyalty, and love for his best friend. He would do anything for Harry, not matter what state he’s in. Unfortunately, because the director of the movies appears to be obsessed with Hermione, Hermione gets the pivotal line in the movie. Ron rarely had a good or important moment in the movies, every single one of them is cut out or given to Hermione. In the books, Ron gives the book humanity, while the movie served to give us a bland nothing.
Ron in the books was flawed, but ultimately a supportive and loving best friend who would give anything to protect his friends. In the movies, Ron was, at most, an annoyance who occasionally got a funny line. In the books, Ron was how we related to growing up, because he had to learn from his mistakes throughout the books. In contrast to this, movie Ron was just a rude, inconsiderate person who never gives us anything to relate to. The book version of Ron gave a plethora of useful information and was the guardian of the other two. On the other hand, the movie version of Ron always sat there and did nothing and said nothing important. In short, the books gave us a lovable character who was easy to identify with, and the movies gave us a character who was as bland as a rice cake to make Hermione look better. In the future, the director who is chosen to turn a piece of literature to film cannot have a character bias when portraying beloved characters. A personal opinion is that books that are this long and detailed should be made into a TV show, and not a movie in order to allow for more detail and character development.