A microessay in-response to a prompt sponsored by RandomHouse
What has reading taught you about navigating the world? What is one story that has most impacted your worldview or way you move through life?Prose. Challenge. 300 – 500 words allowed.
I’m inspired by what is, quite controversially, my favorite book of all time: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My literary hero is Hermione Granger, who is both an exceptional intellectual and super-savvy communicator. In Order, Hermione teaches her peers about democratic leadership by simply starting a conversation. During the first meeting of a secret student Defense Against the Dark Arts group, Hermione suggests that they all “ought to elect a leader” and “ought to vote on it properly.” Harry Potter may have been the ideal, presumed selection, but Hermione insisted on a vote to manifest consensus. She used plain language to encourage their participation, leaning into proven decision-making methods like inclusive polling to “make it formal” and “establish authority.” Reading this scene at the early age of eleven, it became clear I wanted to be that kind of leader: a person who would speak with great wisdom but communicate using common sense.
Hermione had a certain knack for making good decisions, a fact which points to certain insight, yet she kept her mind sharp by not bending to the ‘fragrant guesswork’ of the divining arts. She was a known rule-enforcer, an ally to proper procedure (as am I), but Hermione Jean’s record of rule-breaking is directly correlated to the numerous courageous decisions made in the face of crisis, danger, and emergent peril. She’s a good egg, hard to crack; she can be trusted. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione appealed to the leadership at Hogwarts School at age thirteen to expand her magical studies and was presented with a “Time-Turner,” a magical device which allowed her to take more classes, even when the lessons were scheduled for precisely the same window of time. Her thirst for knowledge matches mine, and her bravery stands as a pillar of magical realism I can lean on when I’m in a tough spot. I trusted Hermione to the very end because she said things like, “I also think we ought to have a name. It would promote a feeling of team spirit and unity, don’t you think?” I read, I remembered, I gleaned. Words are power, just ask Dumbledore (Rowling, 391).
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