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Inspirational women of the Harry Potter stories

These witches are our queens. And these are the lessons we learned from them.

Illustration of Ginny Weasley playing Quidditch, by Jessica Roux
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

You don’t have to dumb yourself down – Hermione Granger

From that first day at Hogwarts, there was one very notable hand up in class. Hermione’s intelligence and outright love of learning instantly won over most teachers and even scored her a rare smile from Professor McGonagall. But others weren’t impressed. Professor Snape famously called Miss Granger ‘an insufferable know-it-all’, and Ron’s rant about her ‘Levi-o-sa’ pronunciation nearly ruined any potential friendship forever.

While it might have been easier for Hermione to take a back seat in class, we’re so glad she stuck to her guns. Otherwise she just wouldn’t be Hermione. Instead, she continued to raise the bar for women and Muggle-borns everywhere.

Snape teaching potions from the Philosopher's Stone
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Don’t let anyone put you in a box – Ginny Weasley

‘You’re too young’ were three words Ginny must have been sick to death of hearing. After her run-in with Lord Voldemort, she was pigeonholed as a victim, but it wasn’t long before she emerged as a fully-fledged warrior witch and master of the Bat-Bogey Hex.

Despite being told to stay safe and keep out of trouble, Ginny fought valiantly at the Department of Mysteries, the Astronomy Tower and the Battle of Hogwarts, despite what her mother may have thought about such things. She knew she was capable of holding her own after all her hard work with Dumbledore’s Army (a name she herself came up with, actually).

Ginny also surprised her big brothers with her talent on the Quidditch field, having sneaked out with their brooms and practised in secret for years. She also showed great patience by getting over her teenage crush on Harry and dating other boys, which amusingly seemed to attract Harry to her in the end. In her own words, ‘Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.’

Ginny pointing her wand in the Room of Requiremnt
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Express yourself, no matter if people laugh – Luna Lovegood

When we first met Luna, she was reading a magazine upside down and wearing a necklace made of Butterbeer corks. Nobody had to ask how she got the nickname ‘Loony’ Lovegood. But when we got to know her, we saw that Luna was a kind kid, creative and, most importantly, perfectly happy the way she was.

Students would tease Luna, playing pranks such as hiding her belongings on the last day of term. But it never seemed to get her down at all. Instead, Luna just carried on doing the things she loved: talking about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, commentating on Quidditch matches and making her own jewellery. Her matter-of-fact lifestyle and otherworldly way of thinking came in useful for Harry, who found Luna the only source of comfort to chat to after Sirius’s death. We can all learn from Luna’s example – walk tall, be yourself and wear those homemade radish earrings with pride.

Luna wearing her Gryffindor roaring lion hat
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Keep your cool when peers try your patience – Minerva McGonagall

Professor McGonagall may be known as strict, but her no-nonsense attitude was highly valuable during her time at Hogwarts, especially having to work with the likes of Dolores Umbridge and the Carrows. Seeing their approaches to ‘teaching’ must have been unbelievably frustrating, especially for someone so devoted to improving young minds. It would have taken all of Professor McGonagall’s strength not to call them all blithering idiots and Transfigure them into a puddle of slime right on the spot.

But when all was said and done, McGonagall’s impeccable record as Transfiguration professor, head of Gryffindor and Hogwarts Headmistress continued unblemished. As well it should.

Work hard, but play hard too – Nymphadora Tonks

She may have had it easy when it came to her Concealment and Disguise assessment (a definite Metamorphmagus perk) but there’s no doubt Tonks worked damn hard for her career, which she achieved so young. Seriously, a minimum of five N.E.W.T.s at ‘Exceeds Expectations’ or higher? And that’s before the intense training programme Aurors must complete. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

But Tonks never forgot how to have fun. She was a self-confessed misbehaver at school, she loved joking around with Harry and friends, and those funny faces of hers made Tonks the life and soul of the party. It does us good to cut loose now and then. So after a good, hard slog through work or study, why not colour your hair bubble-gum pink and take off to see the Muggle equivalent of the Weird Sisters? You’ve earned it.

Illustration of Tonks from the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Though others may doubt you, don’t doubt yourself – Fleur Delacour

Maybe it was jealousy or maybe there was something about Veela blood that rubbed them up the wrong way, but Fleur was rarely surrounded by fans of the female sort. Quite the opposite, in fact – she quickly earned the nickname ‘Phlegm’ when she got together with Bill Weasley, and got a bit of a reputation for being shallow. And sure, sometimes Fleur was a little tactless.

But let’s not forget that Fleur wasn’t just a beautiful, somewhat snooty Beauxbatons student, but a talented witch and a Triwizard Tournament champion. That Goblet of Fire doesn’t just pick anybody, you know. Her fierce attitude carried her through to work with the Order of the Phoenix, and the more we got to know her, the more we realised how strong she was. Along the way, she gained the hard-won respect of those who doubted her. And, being Fleur Delacour, she was happy to be ‘good-looking enough for both of us’ when her beloved Bill was scarred horribly by Fenrir Greyback.

Fleur dancing into the Great Hall
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Let fools underestimate you at their own peril – Molly Weasley

Molly wasn’t just a maternal, all-cooking, all-cleaning housewife. She was all of those things, plus a mother of seven, plus an absolutely sterling witch who killed none other than Bellatrix Lestrange.

The moment Ginny was threatened, Molly Weasley went toe-to-toe with one of the most dangerous Dark witches in the world, striking the battle-hardened duellist down in a blaze of maternal fury. And there was much rejoicing. Bella, which part of ‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!’ did you fail to understand?

Up until that point we’d seen her duel more with dishes than Death Eaters, but we knew that Mrs Weasley was not a woman to be trifled with. (Although she probably does make a cracking trifle.)

Her scoldings and Howlers showed her zero-tolerance attitude towards nonsense, plus we knew she loved her children with the ferocity of a Hungarian Horntail. She may have weeped at a Boggart that imitated her dead family, but when the time came to defend her brood, Molly didn’t hold back, because that inner strength was there all along.

Molly Weasley pointing her wand in the final battle
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2