OK, I have a confession to make. I used to absolutely, positively loathe Ronald Bilius Weasley — or otherwise known as Ron Weasley, the best friend, the sidekick, the youngest son. He used to be my least favorite character in the entire Harry Potter series, even almost as worse as Umbridge or Lord Voldemort.
When I first read the series, Ronald Weasley was just Ron, just your average Joe, nothing special. He was just a boy who happened to become friends with the famous Harry Potter and the smartest girl in their year (Hermione Granger). I dismissed his freckles, red hair, and tall lanky build as I never personally found any of those features particularly attractive. I was always more drawn to the other parts of the Golden Trio. Ron was just there (most of the time anyway).
But then, very recently, I started to reread the Harry Potter books again for probably the millionth time. Despite my initial hatred and resentment toward Ron, I’ve come to see him in a new light. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love Ron and he’s still not my favorite character. But the point I’m trying to make is that… I understand him. I understand where he’s coming from and most importantly why he acted the way that he did. And I don’t fault him, because… guess what… he is probably the most normal character in the entire series. And that is why I have a newfound respect toward him.
Ron is just a normal boy with insecurities
Without a doubt, Ron is probably the most normal boy in the entire series. He might not have survived the most deadly killing curse due to the magical power of love. He isn’t the smartest boy in the class, or even the best athlete. He isn’t a bully. He is just a normal boy. He came from two loving parents, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and was born as the youngest son after five brothers, each of whom were all talented in their own ways. He also has a younger sister, who just happened to be the only girl in the entire family.
As someone who is not only the middle child, but one who came after a long line of boys until finally having a girl, Ron was absolutely overshadowed. He has had to undergo many years thinking that he was not as good as his big brothers, or as special as his only sister. He has had to undergo many years being taunted by his older twin brothers (think: the giant spider teddy bear incident). He has had to stay in the shadows as his oldest brothers became Prefect, Head Boy, and Captain of Quidditch before he had even got a chance to step into the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Thus, his first day of school, on the train, he admitted that it didn’t matter whether or not he did anything great, because his brothers had already done it before him. When I first read that line for the very first time, I dismissed it as outright laziness and poor work ethic. But now, I see it as one of the saddest lines in the entire series. This single line that Ron Weasley confessed to Harry Potter, a boy he had just met, shows the entire wealth of his insecurities and deep rooted feelings that he will never ever be good enough for his family.
Outwardly, he may seem that he came from a loving family, something that Harry himself lacked, but he lacked other things that are just as important. He lacked confidence in his own abilities and he was prone to jealousy, because underneath it all, he wanted to be great. As the Mirror of Erised showed him just a few months after that conversation, he wanted to be the best of all of his siblings together. He may have said that it didn’t matter what he did, because that is how it felt like to his parents, but inwardly, it did.
His turn to shine
Ron’s first four years of his time at Hogwarts were marked by feelings of insecurity and jealousy. And yet, despite it all, he was still steadfastly loyal to his friends, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter. He stood by Harry even when the entire school believed him to have opened the Chamber of Secrets. He stood by Harry even when they believed Sirius Black had broken out of prison to come after him. He stood by Hermione when people dared to call her names simply because she had non-magical parents, or a muggle-born. And in their fourth year, he eventually stood by Harry as he was entered into the Triwizard Tournament, eventually fighting Lord Voldemort himself. Ron may have drifted apart from Harry during that year, but he eventually came back and when he did, he was as loyal as ever.
And then, after Voldemort’s return to power, the Trio started their fifth year. And with that, there was a surprise that I think everyone did not see coming. Ron Weasley became a prefect. Everyone, from Hermione and Harry to members of his own family, did not expect Ron to become a prefect. I am sure that they did not doubt his ability to be a leader. But they expected Harry to be chosen. After all, it was Harry who faced and fought Lord Voldemort four times. It was Harry who stopped Voldemort from getting the Philosopher’s Stone. It was Harry who destroyed the Basilisk, and saved Ginny Weasley’s life. It was Harry who went back in time with Hermione to save his godfather Sirius Black and Buckbeak the hippogriff. And it was Harry who went through all of the tasks in the Triwizard Tournament, watched Voldemort’s rebirth, and managed to escape from him. Ron may have been there through some of those events, but it was mainly Harry.
It was mainly Harry, but Ron was there. He was either next to Harry, fighting alongside him, or cheering from the sidelines. He helped Harry get to the Philosopher’s Stone by defeating that giant chess game. He helped Harry discover the location of the Chamber of Secrets, and together they ventured inside despite the danger. He and Harry went into the Forbidden Forest to track down the spiders to discover if Hagrid had opened the Chamber or not. He helped Harry prepare for the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. And then, after Voldemort’s rebirth, he was there.
When I first read the Order of the Phoenix, I was incredibly shocked that Ron was made a prefect. I thought it was a mistake. I remember feeling angry and resentful that Harry wasn’t chosen, because that is what I expected. As Hagrid once said, everything seemed to happen to Harry (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and so that is why I expected this too to happen to Harry Potter. The fact that Harry was not chosen to be prefect is one of the reasons why I resented and loathed Ron. After all, I was the kind of person who steadfastly defended the protagonist of the series.
But now, I see that Ron becoming prefect was one of the best decisions of the entire series. Now, I am glad that Dumbledore gave the position of prefect to Ron because he was the best man for the job. By making Ron a prefect, Dumbledore was showing Ron his innate leadership skills and letting them shine. He was subtly letting Ron know that he wasn’t worthless or just a sidekick of the boy who lived. He was an important member of the Golden Trio. He wasn’t just there for laughs, but was there to share his expertise of the wizarding world, his bravery and own magical talent, and his humor in the face of even the darkest of times. By making Ron a prefect, Dumbledore showed that Ron is just as important to the mission as Harry and Hermione were. And besides, it was kind of good for Harry to finally have Ron beat him at something for the first time ever.
An underrated character
So, Ronald Bilius Weasley is not just a sidekick of Harry Potter, Hermone’s love interest and eventual husband, or a comedic buffoon. He is an important character in his own right. We can see that he is an underrated character simply because of his propensity to be in the background. But behind the backdrop, we see how powerful, strong, and talented Ron Weasley really is. In fact, it is Ron who defeated the giant chess set when he was only twelve years old. It was Ron who managed to defend himself and Tonks during Bellatrix’s ferocious attacks during the Battle of the Seven Potters. It was Ron who withstood verbal assaults against his best friend Harry Potter during the majority of the Order of the Phoenix. It was Ron who bravely fought at the Battle of the Hogwarts at the end of the Half Blood Prince. It was Ron who stood in front of Harry Potter on a broken leg against Sirius Black, a man they thought wanted to kill Harry Potter. And it was Ron who went along with Harry during all of their Horcrux missions, fighting and taking down Death Eaters at the Final Battle.
It is a shame that we very rarely see Ron shine in both the books and the movies. We just seem him mainly as this comedic character who makes Harry laugh. But he is definitely much more than presented in the books and movies. Through all of those examples, Ron is a strong, talented, and powerful wizard. But most importantly, he is — and has always been — loyal to Harry Potter, Dumbledore, and to the good side. He is a testament that everyone can overcome their weaknesses and emerge the victor. He is an example that not every great person has to be a prodigy or a genius or The Chosen One. Greatness can be found in anyone who is loyal, strong, and brave — and that is exactly what makes Ron Weasley so great.