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A Prospective Eulogy for Ginny Weasley. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
A Prospective Eulogy for Ginny Weasley.

Recently, we’ve seen a good deal of argy-bargy concerning the Downtrodden Females of the Potterverse. Also, How JKR Cannot Write Romance. And, also, How JKR Has Committed Character-Assassination and Made All the Women Mary-Sues.

I have neither the qualifications nor the interest that would lead me into joining the Feminist Fray. But I am going to talk briefly about Ginevra Weasley, from a purely literary perspective.

La Rowling is in some ways an unfortunate woman. She is writing books – best-selling, yes, but wait for it – in an environment infected with the redbrick SCR idiocies of post-modernism. She is, what is more, writing books that are themselves traditionally and tightly plotted, that rely upon certain devices and the cunning subversion of certain devices (the Roger Ackroyd Effect), that exult in clues that range from the limits of Harry’s narrative POV to nomenclature to sly puns to sleight of hand and misdirection; and, thanks to the unfortunate fact that many of her adult readers actually take Frog literary theorists seriously, a goodish bit of her audience Simply Don’t Get These Things. Even her apparent digressions and confusions are part of the prestidigitation: style as a distraction from the clues the reader is meant to detect.

All efforts to fit JKR’s narrative and characters to a strict, a procrustean formula, be it religious, gnostic, Campbellite, alchemical, or what-not, fail, it is true; but it is equally true that she is using symbols and connotations, evocations and emotive sources, in her own fashion, eclectically, ‘fused and inverted’ (as DLS might have said). Amongst her most common tropes of course is this: that names are character (and character is destiny). Yet she does not insist upon unalterable Fate, and she at once raises expectations with the connotations of her characters’s names, and twists or destroys those expectations in the service of plot.

With that in mind, let us look briefly at Ginny Weasley. Harry is a mythic hero, certainly, he’s Prince Hal, he’s Hotspur, he’s Achilles, he’s Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all. (And he’d damned well better start being crafty Odysseus son of Laertes if he expects to see his twentieth year.) But most of all, Harry is Arthur, just as much as Arthur Weasley is Arthur (bear these mirrors in mind): Harry is the pre-Malory Arthur and the TH White Arthur, ‘Wart’ the once and future king a-borning. He is the Welsh and bardic Arthur (and if James ‘Prongs’ Potter isn’t in some way Cernunnos, I’ll eat my best Barbour Kelso shooting cap.)

And Ginevra Weasley is not Virginia Weasley. She is Ginevra. Guinevere.

Now, who remembers how that worked out in the Matter of Britain, hmmm?

One possibility, then, is that Guinevere/Ginevra betrays him: she respects and idolises him, but she finds that her crush was never actually love. But the possibilities for betrayal in the Potterverse are much more dire than some courtly-love triangle. She has, after all, been possessed by Voldemort before….

Far more likely, however, is a variation on this theme, one more typical of the Potterverse. To the great annoyance of many, Ginny has been built up to be Everything Harry Ought to Want (and thinks he does want, and so on). Now, that sort of build-up of schmoop and fluff and Too Good to Be True and sick-making perfection could, of course, simply be appallingly bad writing.

Or, of course, it could have a sting in the tail.

The idea that Harry’s secret power is love is one thing. The idea that love in that context is defined as something this insipid, is another thing entirely, and at odds with the moral imagination that permeates the Potterverse. Love implicates pain and loss and death and sacrifice, as Lily (Evans) Potter demonstrated and as Albus tried to convey to Harry whilst Harry was vandalising Albus’s desk. The power Tom Riddle never knew and yet knows not is the power to love and accept the vulnerabilities that come with opening oneself to love.

The fact is, I’m afraid Ginny’s for the high jump. Destined for the chop. Slated to be the Red Death in the final alchemical stages. She’s the one who got away, and Voldemort has a long memory for grudges. She’s practically Lily’s revenant, she is Lily’s mirror, as Harry as an Arthurian figure mirrors Ginny’s father, Arthur. Harry’s and Ginny’s adolescent affaire has been built so high, I submit, in order that the crash that comes when the proverbial rug’s pulled out from under it, will be as resounding as possible. She will quite likely die, the New Lily, saving him, and that will unlock the power that vanquishes Voldemort through Harry.

Or not. JKR toys with these expectations, there is no certainty. But in a world in which a boy named Alastor becomes an avenger of blood and a boy named Remus is made a werewolf, naming a daughter Ginevra was not the happiest of the Weasleys’s inspirations.

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Comments
From: ver2frog Date: December 3rd, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay!
Ron has to be Lancelot! and the true dream of the homoerotic triangulation in positing the sister (Guinevere) for the object of desire (Ron) is classic!

but then, Ginevra gesturing to Ginevra Fanshawe "the coquette" (Villette) would be a smack in the face, and sorta like what slash fandom thinks of Ginny anyway, pretty, flirty, a bit flimsy...

:D

O man, a sacrifice might be more than I can hope - I see this icky ending where Harry "does his hero thing" and collects his girly prize.
tiferet From: tiferet Date: December 3rd, 2005 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, if James Potter is Cernunnos (and I have always thought so), then so's Harry; and that doesn't make his survival terribly likely either.

I have to admit I thought Ginny was safer when I thought she was Virginia, rather than Ginevra. That name has been bothering me for a while and for every reason you elucidate above and then some. It's not as though she hasn't got Gwynhwyfar's wandering eye.

I hated HBP and for this I do not apologise, but I never thought JKR was trying to write romance.
bufo_viridis From: bufo_viridis Date: December 4th, 2005 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
V. interesting: too much fandom has spoilt it a bit for me, because of the Ron/Lancelot connection, same as ver2frog, but I hope nobody will write a fanfic of your meta essay (writing a fanfic of GIGH would be a diferent matter; meta-fanfic or fanfic square, heh. I'd to see like a loser to try imitiating you).

I quite agree - with all respect or teenagers feeling - that sth more grandiose than their mutual crush is needed for Voldie: I'd rather opt for love within the Trio, deeper if less "sexual"; or possibly Hexo :)

The main failing point for me is Harry's reaction to Ginny's possible demise/sacrifice: I'm not sure if the feeling evoked could be called "love", rather the very opposite :) And if it was Ginny's love and sacrifice, which would defeat Voldemort as Lily's done before, then would it still be Harry's deed? How did this prophecy go exactly? It must be him, or he just need to merely survive?
Of course - and if I'm so daft to only realise it now, please forgive - it's likely that Harry will now face the second sacrifice and being big enough to truly comprehend its meaning, will fullfill his growing up, will accept himself as somebody worthy enough to die for and worthy of true love - and this will give him powers to face and defeat V.
(blame avus for all "worthy of loving" part)

BTW, could you explain the abbreviations for less educated members of the audience, like myself? SCR&DLS? Whose are those Frog theorists (I rather avoid Frog theorists in general, so v. likely the information won't be of much use, but I'm still curious).
eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: December 4th, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I think one of the reasons for the sheer number of Weasleys (apart from general contrast with Harry, and Hermione) is that they are there to die in the last book. Stick Molly on the 'front line' after that and see how weak/downtrodden she is; but then that would just be written off as the act of a vengeful mother.

'Pain and loss and death and sacrifice' - exactly. And I don't think a couple of weeks of snogging is enough for that, for real love, no matter how happy Harry is (and I hope the time by the lake was not declarations of love; sex would have been so much better); maybe Ron or Hermione do have to die to inspire Harry properly and Ginny would not be sufficient.

I can't see Ginny sitting at home quietly though, and can see accidental trouble to the extent of unwitting betrayal coming to the Order from restless teenagers, 'trying to help'. Maybe that would be too much like Book 2.

Dying to save him. Oh boy. The debate about JKR writing women would go ballistic at that point. A few weeks snogging and you're prepared to die for the bloke? When dying independently of saving him would not be considered enough to enable him to kill? But then those few weeks of snogging was apparently the culmination of years of fancying. This is painful, and yes, I can see it happening, and yes, I will throw the book at the wall in disgust.

Might save Hermione though; I can't see both Ginny and Hermione dying and am aware there's no logic to this. Ginny 'dying to save Harry', instead of Ron or Hermione dying? OK, it's a deal.

eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: December 4th, 2005 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
On further thought, maybe I'm wrong looking at Ginny as a three-week snog, i.e. the past.

If Ginny is killed, Harry may not feel he has a shot at happiness in the future. He may well be thinking that she'll 'wait for him', and I think she may well do so. He does wax lyrical in Book 6 about her not questioning him, being completely behind him, yada, yada, and that the three weeks or so with her were the happiest of his life. He may have subconscious future plans; very subconscious, but still. Her death might give him enough of a 'don't care if I die' attitude that he defeats V and is doomed to live.

Enter cute Draco chappie, stage left.
From: ex_ajhalluk585 Date: December 5th, 2005 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah! The differences between those who approach the Potterverse a mythic history, and those who approach it as Golden Age Detective Story. Agatha Christie, too, has a Ginevra. A red-gold multiply talented fey beauty, youngest and most fragile of a large family oppressed by a matriarch, whose only hope for sanity and survival lies in her mother's premature decease, which occurs at the hands of a mannish harridan from her past....

Dolores Umbridge, in the Ministry, with the Mimbulus Aspidestriensa.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 31st, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

What, the Boynton Bint?

I have always said that JKR uses rough and ready, magpie-filched mythic symbolism, often unwisely, in the service of a detective story, or something vy like one, and that instead of criticising it from the perspective of the former, one wants to comprehend it as if one were, say, JIM Stewart asked to analyse his own Michael Innes confections.

But La Rowling's weakness for cognomology is simply a fact, isn't it, and a clue in itself.
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