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Published in: Nancy Drew: Critical Readings of Nancy Drew and Other Girl Sleuths. Michael Cornelius, editor. McFarland, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7864-3995-9.


Reappearing in the long tradition of girl sleuths such as Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew, Hermione Granger interrupts the centrality of the male-fantasy-adventure in the Harry Potter series. Throughout the novels, Hermione asserts her own subjecthood and participates in a shared agency to change from a scared girl into a woman battling for justice. Clearly, the Harry Potter series can affect readers differently. Some may perceive the comparisons to the Nancy Drew role of Era Three when Hermione uses her wits to detect clues, solve mysteries, and uncover suspects and their motives. Although others may stereotype Hermione as the conventional female helpmate, still others may find that her take-charge personality affirms that her role is equal to Harry’s. Unlike Nancy Drew, however, Hermione engages in social activism, thus subverting the wizarding world’s dominant values and matching feminism’s more humanistic aims. In the end, Hermione’s adventures can offer young girl readers a newer role model to address the typical adolescent tasks of seeking independent action, learning when to conform (or not), working cooperatively with others, using knowledge for real purposes, and of contributing to the larger community to better others’ circumstances. Using cultural and feminist criticism, this investigation concludes that readers can approve of Hermione’s disruption of the male fantasy adventure genre and admire her maturation into a keener adult role model who thinks clearly, lives justly, and works for others beyond the world of fantasy.