Well, perhaps this post is a little cynical for Valentine’s Day! I decided to write it, though, because a couple of weeks ago J.K. Rowling said she thought Hermione and Ron in the Harry Potter series are heading towards marriage guidance counselling and not a Happy Ever After. She explained how she brought Hermione and Ron together ‘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… I know, I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility.’
Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the films, told The Sunday Times: ‘I think there are fans out there who know that, too, and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.’
J.K. Rowling’s comments caused quite a stir, for lots of reasons. After all, fans invest a lot of emotion in the books and films, and some of them feel cheated that J.K. Rowling now regrets this ending. There was an interesting article in The Guardian on how common it is for writers to wish they could go back to their published work and change things, and whether J.K. Rowling was right to admit this to her fans.
One of the most interesting discussions I heard was on BBC Radio 4′ Woman’s Hour. Jojo Moyes, author of the bestselling Me Before You, and playwright Samantha Ellis went through a list of romantic leads and discussed whether they’d stay together after the author has written The End. They were quite funny, and here’s their verdict!
- Lizzie Bennett and Mr Darcy. Their verdict: probably not. (I can’t believe they said this!) They felt Lizzie didn’t have the experience to run Pemberley and she’d be letting the side down, and that Darcy was so up himself he’d always be thinking how he’d dragged her out of the gutter and what a shower her family were. (Well, those weren’t the BBC’s exact words, but you get my drift.)
I don’t agree at all with this verdict! I think Lizzie is very resourceful and has enough charm to deal superbly with the servants at Pemberley. Darcy’s friends would all love her, too. And if having in-laws you don’t get on with is a barrier to the HEA, there’d be a lot more people staying single! My verdict: a resounding yes.
- Heathcliffe and Catherine Earnshaw. I don’t think it’s any surprise that their verdict was No. And in fact, Charlotte Bronte didn’t give this couple a happy ending, either. Far from it. So this one is a no-brainer.
- Rhett Butler and Scarlett. Their verdict was yes. This is a tough one! The authors thought Scarlett had grown and changed, and was mature enough by the end of the book/film for a happy and stable marriage.
I don’t know if I agree with their verdict or not. I’d really, really love it if Rhett and Scarlett finally had some happy years together. I think Scarlett is very determined, and after Rhett has come off the furious boil he’ll realise he still loves her. So maybe!?
- Romeo and Juliet. Well, obviously, that didn’t pan out well for them in the play, but the two writers thought even if they’d lived, they never would have been happy together. I agree. It was all teenage angst, and anyway, Juliet was far too good for Romeo, who’s actually a bit of a dim prat. I think after less than a year she’d realise this, and move on.
- Jo March and Professor Bhaer in Little Women. Their verdict: no way would Jo be happy with this guy. I have to agree. I remember reading this book and being totally gutted that Jo didn’t fall for the handsome and charming Laurie. Fritz Bhaer is dull and worthy, and – what’s worse! – makes Jo stop writing her novels!! That’s just the pits. But according to the BBC programme, Louisa May Alcott didn’t want Jo to marry at all, and reluctantly gave in because the fans and publishers demanded it. Maybe making Jo marry the dull Professor Bauer was her revenge!
It was an interesting discussion and a good game to play – but not one I’d like to play again! I’m all about the happy ending, and don’t want anyone to be analysing my favourite reads and telling me, ‘Well that will never work out!’ Let me have my illusions :) As far as I’m concerned Jane Eyre is monumentally happy with crotchety Mr Rochester; Margaret Hale and John Thornton couldn’t be more content in North and South; and Denise and John Mouret live in permanent marital bliss in Zola’s The Ladies Paradise. They do in my mind, anyway!
How about you? Are there any romances where you think the happy couple are heading for the divorce courts? Where do you stand on Rhett and Scarlett? And would Jo be happier being single? If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear them!