As a community of geeks, most of us have come across the negative view that the label “geek” often comes with. In fact, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines a geek as: “A person who is socially awkward and unpopular : a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people”.
Urban dictionary’s humorous definition is a blend of both positive and negative: “The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult.”
But I think the best summary is simply: “A person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity.” (Merriam Webster)
That’s basically what being a geek is all about, in my opinion. I mean, how does knowing every statistic about every football player and team, as well as playing fantasy football, not count as geeking out? However, the majority of society probably attributes “geeks” as the first definition above — the outcasts, the socially awkward, the unpopular, etc. — and so a stigma gets applied to those passionate about something.
Eventually, though, I think people find out Urban Dictionary’s definition isn’t far from the truth, as these geeks mature to use their intelligence and passions to add value to the world and those around them.
As Tony Robbins points out, “Knowledge isn’t power; it’s potential power. Execution trumps knowledge any day of the week.”
In light of GUG’s Girl Geek Week, I don’t think it would be complete without highlighting one of the most well-known and wholly geek female protagonists in literature: Hermione Granger. She is a girl who truly exemplifies the power of executed knowledge throughout the Harry Potter series, showing how being a geek is not only helpful, but integral to team Potter’s success. She shows that being a geek isn’t a stigma, but a strength that can be used for good.
There are many times in the series that Hermione proves to be pivotal in their success, and although this is definitely not the full list of all her important actions, here are seven major ways that Hermione’s intellect, logic, and passion for learning made her an integral character in the Harry Potter series (SPOILER ALERT!):
1. Getting Harry and Ron Out of Devil’s Snare
This is pretty straightforward. If she wasn’t there to tell them what to do, or hadn’t studied like she did, Harry Potter and team would have been trapped and potentially suffocated. Not to mention, they never would have made it to stop Voldemort from finding the Sorcerer’s Stone. Even Voldemort would have probably been disappointed by the ease of his victory. Come on Ron and Harry, get it together! This is only the second obstacle on the way to the stone.
2. Finding Out They Were Up Against a Basilisk
Her findings about the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets obviously add to Harry’s advantage when going up against it. Because Hermione discovers the information about basilisks in a library book and rips out the page, they know that looking into its eyes will cause instant death. This allows them to solve the mystery of why students are being petrified, as well as protect themselves when they enter the chamber. Also, when Hermione encounters the basilisk, she knows to look through a mirror like a genius (causing her to become petrified, instead of dead). But not even petrification will stop this queen geek from helping her friends. The information on the library book page in her hand helps Harry find the chamber and stop Voldemort. If they hadn’t known what they were up against, would Harry have been prepared to fight against it? Probably not. Again, another possible defeat for team Potter if it wasn’t for Hermione.
3. Using the Time Turner to Save Sirius Black
Hermione is so legit that Professor McGonagall agrees to gives her a time travelling device, making it possible for her to go back in time and attend more classes than any other student in her year. There is no reason for her to take on such an intense class load, other than the fact that she is so dedicated to learning and fascinated by all the subjects available to choose from. She takes the initiative to go to McGonagall and make special arrangements in order to expand her wealth of knowledge. I mean, what kind of student is trusted enough to be given a time travelling device to use as he/she pleases? The one and only Hermione. Not only does she use it in her quest for knowledge, but she and Harry also use the time turner to save Sirius Black from execution.
4. Helping Harry Defeat a Dragon
This is not shown as clearly in the movies as it is described in the books, but it isn’t just by chance that Harry is able to adequately summon his broom during the first challenge in the Goblet of Fire. Only allowed a wand, Harry is unsure of how he can possibly get past a dragon. The idea is given by Mad Eye Moody that Harry’s best option is to summon his broom during the challenge. Because Hermione is the only one who really has the knack for summoning spells, due to her diligent studies and practice with the spell, she gives Harry the necessary training to successfully summon his broom during the challenge. “Accio firebolt!” If Hermione hadn’t mastered the spell well enough to teach Harry, and if she hadn’t stayed up all night with him to help him learn how to do it, Harry’s time in the tournament would have probably ended right there.
5. Creating Dumbledore’s Army
Dumbledore’s Army is organized and strategized solely by Harry Potter, right? WRONG! Hermione is the one who first has the idea to practice defense against the dark arts secretly. They are not allowed to practice in class, because Umbridge fears that they will be able to fight against the Ministry. So it is Hermione who convinces Harry to teach anyone who wants to know how to truly defend themselves against the dark arts. And, since Hermione is not a natural law-breaker, she actually checks all the school rules to make sure that they are not going against the school by forming a group like this (though Umbridge quickly mades a rule against it once she gets wind of what they are doing). Hermione should be considered the mastermind behind the formation of Dumbledore’s Army, which is the training ground for the small group of students who will fight against Voldemort at the Ministry later that year. She also does other cool things in the book, like jinxing a piece of parchment which will make anyone who signed up for Dumbledore’s Army break out in boils that spell “sneak” across their face if they break the oath to not tell Umbridge.
6. Always Giving Good Advice
This is not so much what Hermione does, but what Harry fails to do in response to Hermione’s advice. Hermione gives explicit warning to not trust what “The Half Blood Prince” wrote in the potions book he found, but Harry does not listen. As a result, he almost kills Draco with a spell from the potions book. Does Hermione come off as a bit bossy at times? Perhaps. But that’s because she is usually right when no one is listening. When Hermione gives advice, it is highly recommended to heed it.
7. Keeping Harry and Ron Alive While Searching for Horcruxes
Near the end of the series, the trio’s mission to find and destroy all the horcruxes makes them the main target for Voldemort and his Death Eaters. The person who pretty much keeps them alive the whole time is Hermione. She does a number of things that greatly aid in their search, such as: charming a purse to make it secretly giant to pack everything they could possibly need, coming up with a bunch of great places for them to hide (like random forests that she’s visited with her parents, where her magic bag comes into use as they take out a tent, clothes, books, etc), putting enchantments all over the area so no one will be able to find them while they try to figure out where the horcruxes are, and using her genius and quick thinking to put a spell on Harry that screws up his face when Death Eaters catch him, concealing his true identity.
It is true that Hermione is made fun of quite a bit outside her friend group for being a “know it all,” but she doesn’t let that stop her. Hermione is a great example of the power of being a geek. Instead of being looked down upon, her intelligence makes her one of the most valued members of the team. And I think we can definitely learn a lot from her. In this case, the lesson being that geeks have the opportunity and capacity to use our knowledge and passions for good and to help others. So let’s continually strive to do good with our passions and punch all the negative views of geeks in the face!
As mentioned before, there are a lot more important moments where Hermione is pivotal in the Harry Potter series. Let’s see how many more all of you can come up with in the comments section below!
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