Essay: Not Just Fredandgeorge – The Twins’ Differences

by John Kearns, October 2009
 

Even though I’ve read the Harry Potter series many times over, I have always more or less lumped Fred and George together in my mind as two parts of a single character. Whenever I see “Fred and George,” my mind interprets it as “FredandGeorge;” whenever I see the name of just one of the duo, I treat it as “FredorGeorge,” not really noticing any differences between them.

Nor am I the only one who feels this way. Even their own mother, when she encounters a boggart and sees her family members dead one at a time, only sees the twins together. Even Harry gets his own boggart, but as with everything else, the twins are a package deal.

This viewpoint seems to even be true for J.K. Rowling herself. After all, once Fred is killed, she has said in interviews that she sees George as marrying Angelina Johnson – the girl Fred took to the Yule Ball. Could they really be that interchangeable?

Well, a closer inspection reveals a slightly different story.

Consider the following (admittedly unscientific) statistics that I compiled looking through the books:

  • When the twins are telling jokes, Fred initiates the goofiness roughly 75% of the time.
  • When the twins take action (such as buying butterbeers for the D.A., making a wager with Bagman, or bargaining with Mundungus Fletcher), Fred is the instigator about 85% of the time.
  • When the twins are selling merchandise from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Fred is virtually always the one hawking their wares to the crowd.

Of course, these statistics could easily be explained by the fact that Fred is the first twin to pop into Rowling’s head when she’s writing the duo – after all, not once in hundreds of references are the pair ever described as “George and Fred.” Perhaps they simply pop into Rowling’s head in the same order, and thus Fred tends to always go first?

As you’ve probably guessed, that’s not quite true.

Harry of course first meets Fred and George at King’s Cross Station, where he encounters the Weasleys as they’re getting onto Platform 9¾. But the first twin he talks to is not, in fact, the first twin:

“Want a hand?” It was one of the red-haired twins he’d followed through the barrier.
 
“Yes, please,” Harry panted.
 
“Oy, Fred! C’mere and help!”
 
With the twins’ help, Harry’s trunk was at last tucked away in a corner of the compartment. (PS6)

This is a rare occurrence – the twins are doing something that doesn’t involve some type of joke! But much the way Fred’s introduction (“Only joking, I am Fred”) gave us a quick insight into his personality, George’s introduction here lends insight into what he’s like as well.

Again it’s possible that Rowling wrote things this way inadvertently, of course; after all, the first time we saw the twins, Fred spoke first, so it makes sense that the twins’ second appearance is initiated by George, right? For any given moment, this is certainly a possibility. But over the thousands of the pages of the books, a pattern emerges that I think is too pronounced to be a coincidence. A few more stats:

  • When a twin is making fun of a family member, it’s Fred 85% of the time.
  • But when a twin is sympathizing with family or helping them out, 80% of the time, it’s George.
  • When one of the twins steps a bit over the line – trying to get their younger brother to make an Unbreakable Vow, or feeding a firework to a salamander, or chucking his beater’s club at Marcus Flint – it’s Fred just about every time.
  • And while Fred gives Harry plenty of laughs, when Harry needs a hand or doesn’t know what’s going on, George is the twin to step up and help him out 72% of the time.

The picture is starting to become a little clearer. So let’s look at the twins (for a change) one at a time.

Fred Weasley: The Driver

”Where’s the fun without a bit of risk?” – Fred Weasley, GF12

The fact that the twins are consistently referred to as “Fred and George” and not the other way round actually says a fair amount about Fred’s character. It’s fair to guess he was probably the first one born, as he seems to have been first in most other things since. Fred is the twin who jumps across the Age Line first when entering the Triwizard Tournament; he’s the first member of the D.A. to grab Hermione’s parchment and sign his name without hesitation; and he’s the first to jump up and volunteer for a role in the final battle against Voldemort. George may never be far behind, but it’s rare that Fred is behind George at all.

When the twins fly Arthur’s Ford Anglia to get Harry from Privet Drive, Fred is of course the one in the driver’s seat – which I think is an appropriate metaphor for his role as a twin as well. He’s almost always the one pushing forward, and while George usually jumps right in with him, he does sometimes have to rein Fred in a bit, for example telling Fred while they write Ludo Bagman that they’ve “got to be careful,” and warning him when they “could end up in serious trouble for that.”

Fred also has an impulsiveness about him that sometimes leads to problems – in fact, he’s rather like Harry and Ron in that regard:

…said Mrs. Weasley, “Floo powder’s a lot quicker, dear, but goodness me, if you’ve never used it before –“
 
“He’ll be all right, Mum,” said Fred. “Harry, watch us first.” (CS4)

You may recall that the Harry didn’t exactly end up “all right” the way Fred expected.

We’ve learned from Ron that this impulsiveness of Fred’s isn’t exactly recent; after all, while they were growing up, Fred was the one who turned Ron’s toy into a spider, gave him an Acid Pop that burned a hole in his tongue, tried to get his younger brother to make an Unbreakable Vow, and warned Ron that the Sorting ceremony involved wrestling a troll. George tends to be conspicuously absent in these stories, and today Fred’s still the one playing most of the jokes – though his primary target seems to have shifted, as Percy now needs to check to be sure the first twin isn’t shutting him in a pyramid or bewitching his badge to read “Pinhead.”

Of course, there’s more to Fred’s character than a simple inability to take things seriously. It’s clear he cares very much about Harry, for example, and considers him a good friend – little hints of this, like Fred’s winking at Harry as he makes his way out of the common room towards the Yule Ball, are scattered throughout the books.

And perhaps it’s partially as a result of his impulsiveness, but Fred also seems to be the twin who is most stunned when something catastrophic really does happen:

“Harry!” said Fred, who looked extremely white underneath, the mud. “How’re you feeling?”
 
“What happened?” he said, sitting up so suddenly they all gasped.
 
“You fell off,” said Fred. “Must’ve been — what — fifty feet?”
 

 
Harry put his face to his knees, his hands gripping his hair. Fred grabbed his shoulder and shook it roughly.
 
“C’mon, Harry, you’ve never missed the Snitch before.” (PA9)

Likewise, when Ron is poisoned, Fred is the sibling who expresses the most concern – and when Ron can’t manage to save a goal in a Quidditch match, Fred realizes that saying anything to Ron about it would be going too far, saying he hasn’t “got the heart.”

So while Fred can come across as brash, brazen, and overly exuberant, these alone don’t provide the full reason Harry enjoys his company. He’s a true friend, and deep down very loyal and caring. In fact in this regard I think he has far more in common with Harry – and Ron – than either of them fully realize.

Though mostly he’s just a whole lot of fun.

”Excellent, are we carrying on?” said Fred Weasley brightly. (PA13)

Dumbledore cleared his throat…. “It is my very great pleasure to inform you that the Triwizard Tour¬nament will be taking place at Hogwarts this year.”
 
“You’re JOKING!” said Fred Weasley loudly. (GF12)

Chest heaving with emotion, Wood turned to Harry.
 
”It’ll be down to you, Harry, to show them that a Seeker has to have something more than a rich father. Get to that Snitch before Malfoy or die trying, Harry, because we’ve got to win today, we’ve got to.”
 
“So no pressure, Harry,” said Fred, winking at him. (CS10)

“… said Percy sanctimoniously, “I shudder to think what the state of my in-tray would be if I was away from work for five days.”
 
“Yeah, someone might slip dragon dung in it again, eh, Perce?” said Fred.
 
“That was a sample of fertilizer from Norway!” said Percy, going very red in the face. “It was nothing personal!”
 
“It was,” Fred whispered to Harry as they got up from the table. “We sent it.” (GF5)

 

George Weasley: The Navigator

While Fred is flying the Ford Anglia towards the Burrow, George is of course sitting in the passenger seat, guiding the way. And just as it works with Fred, this metaphor is a good description of George’s role, too. He’s definitely the more reserved of the two, and does a good deal of the thinking for the duo – after all, he’s the one reining in Fred when they’re discussing Ludo Bagman, and when Hermione asks whether they’ve ever truly cared about getting into trouble, George is quick to point out that “[of] course we have…. Never been expelled, have we?”

And just as Fred has a lot in common with Harry and Ron, I think George has quite a bit in common with Hermione. I’ve said elsewhere that Harry and Ron are lucky to have Hermione, in that she helps them avoid over-the-top stupidity (like flying a car to Hogwarts). Fred is lucky, in much the same way, to have George – the fact that the twins haven’t been expelled is probably largely thanks to him.

Of course it’s worth remembering that the person George is reining in is Fred Weasley – it’s not like that’s saying George is an angel himself. He’s still a Weasley twin, and he still goes along with nearly everything Fred starts. And for that matter, it’s not like he’s not goofing around himself – he may only instigate 25% of the twins’ jokes, but he joins in on most of the others. And after all, a quarter of the twins’ jokes is still a whole lot of jokes.

Where I think George really differentiates himself from his twin, though, is in his thoughtfulness. Look at the difference between the twins’ first reaction to hearing they’re required to buy all of Lockhart’s books:

Fred, who had finished his own list, peered over at Harry’s.
 
“You’ve been told to get all Lockhart’s books, too!” he said. “The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher must be a fan – bet it’s a witch.”
 
At this point, Fred caught his mother’s eye and quickly busied himself with the marmalade.
 
“That lot won’t come cheap,” said George, with a quick look at his parents. “Lockhart’s books are really expensive….” (CS4)

George is the twin who spots Harry’s quizzical looks and explains to him about gnomes; who jumps in to compliment Oliver Wood after Oliver has complimented everyone else on the team; and who refuses – and then thanks Harry for – the Triwizard winnings. And while Fred jumps in with George, just as George joins Fred’s jokes, George is the generally the one who thinks to say these things in the first place.

It’s also clear that family is important to George, more so than Fred. He forces Percy to sit with his brothers on Christmas because it’s “a time for family;” he gets excited when he notices his father’s home from work (“Dad’s home!”); and he notices when Ron and Bill aren’t back yet from their flying encounter with the Death Eaters. And it’s probably as a result of this that he gets upset when he and his brother are passed over:

Mrs. Weasley let out a shriek just like Hermione’s.
 
”I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it! Oh, Ron, how wonderful! A prefect! That’s everyone in the family!”
 
“What are Fred and I, next-door neighbours?” said George indignantly, as his mother pushed him aside and flung her arms around her youngest son. (OP9)

There are admittedly fewer “George moments” in the books than there are for Fred; George just seems to spend a little bit more of his time in the background (though again, compared to Fred, that’s not saying a lot). But he’s a great friend, and lots of fun to be with – and really helps complete and round out the Weasley twins.

Mrs. Weasley… was sporting a brand-new midnight blue witch’s hat glittering with what looked like tiny starlike diamonds, and a spectacular golden necklace.
 
“Fred and George gave them to me! Aren’t they beautiful?”
 
“Well, we find we appreciate you more and more, Mum, now we’re washing our own socks,” said George. (HBP16)

”What’s going on?” said Wood as the Gryffindor team huddled together, while Slytherins in the crowd jeered. “We’re being flattened. Fred, George, where were you when that Bludger stopped Angelina scoring?”
 
“We were twenty feet above her, stopping the other Bludger from murdering Harry, Oliver,” said George angrily. “Someone’s fixed it – it won’t leave Harry alone. It hasn’t gone for anyone else all game.”
 

 
“If we stop now, we’ll have to forfeit the match!” said Harry. “And we’re not losing to Slytherin just because of a crazy Bludger! Come on, Oliver, tell them to leave me alone!”
 
“This is all your fault,” George said angrily to Wood. “’Get the Snitch or die trying,’ what a stupid thing to tell him.” (CS10)

“Right you are, Verity, I’m coming,” said George promptly. “Harry, you help yourself to anything you want, all right? No charge.”
 
“I can’t do that!” said Harry, who had already pulled out his money bag to pay for the Decoy Detonators.
 
“You don’t pay here,” said Fred firmly, waving away Harry’s gold.
 
“But…”
 
“You gave us our start-up loan, we haven’t forgotten,” said George sternly. “Take whatever you like, and just remember to tell people where you got it, if they ask.” (HBP6)

 

Fred and George – or George and Fred

It’s probable, of course, that J.K. Rowling didn’t consciously intend for every one of these moments to highlight the differences between the twins’ characters. But I think it’s clear that she had individual traits in mind when she was writing them, and that they came across clearly throughout the books.

Of course it’s also true that at the end of the day, Fred and George are far more alike than they are different. Both are fun and goofy; both care deeply about Harry and, in the end, their family as well. And naturally, the quotes I used here to highlight their differences were carefully selected – there are plenty of other quotes that could be used to dispute my ideas. But the source of these ideas was the statistics I compiled first, on which twin tended towards certain interactions – and I do think that generally speaking, the twins do tend toward different characteristics.

What makes me saddest about these ideas is the thought of George being left behind after Fred’s death. Of course the twins were an inseparable duo, but even more than that, they were a duo for whom Fred provided much of the humor, and the fun. Rowling has said in interviews that George never really recovered from his twin’s death, and it’s not hard to see why. After all, if there’s one thing George did, it’s care for his family – and without Fred’s impulsiveness and humor, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes could never quite be the same.

 


74 Responses to “Essay: Not Just Fredandgeorge – The Twins’ Differences”

  1. Awesome essay! Of all the deaths in Harry Potter, Fred’s was the one I hated the most. He and George felt like one of those “couldn’t possibly die” characters. Rowling did a good job showing how Voldemort’s tyranny could affect anyone. Besides George, I think Mrs. Weasley had a tough time coping. The last thing she did to Fred was push him aside to hug Percy.

  2. Excellent essay, very well-written. This is an interesting topic, and even though I’ve read similar essays and discussions before, this one was much more detailed. I’ve always liked George better, right from the start, perhaps because he never really seemed to get as much space as Fred. Who did George take to the Yule Ball? I was actually very happy that it was Fred, not George, who ended up dead. It felt fair.

  3. Great essay (did you really calculate those statistics? That’s dedication. I admire it).
    Fred’s death shocked me more than other. His was the last name I expected to read among the fallen, especially since George lived, and throughout the books they’re always attached. It returned me to the thought “Don’t pity the dead. Pity the living.”
    Roonil Wazlib, I hadn’t thought back to the significance of Mrs. Weasley pushing Fred out of her way. Talk about bitter irony. “If the Hogwarts Express crashed tomorrow…”

  4. Excellent job on the essay.

    This is basically dead on what I have always thought about the twins. Or rather, have thought since I actually put time into trying to differentiate their characters, which was really only like one read through the series ago.

  5. Wonderful essay! I agree, the twins were among those chracters that “just COULDN’T die” – the ones I was sure Jo simply wouldn’t dare kill. And I did notice that Fred seems to have more fo the cruel streak that Ron has, while George is the kinder one. In fact, keeping in mind the comments abotu Molly’s pettiness in OotP, we can sorta separate the Weasleys into ones with a cruel streak and ones without. With are Ron, Fred, and Molly. Without are George, Bill, Percy, Arthur, and Ginny. Hard to say where Charlie fits in.

  6. I read an essay once, I don’t remember where, that was speculating on which twin would die in the 7th book, written before it had come out — the theory being that there was no way all the Weasleys would make it out alive, and one of the twins seemed fair game. Anyway, it stated — quite accurately — that it would be Fred to die, and the reasoning was along these same lines — Fred is more impulsive, more outgoing, more wild, etc., making it more likely he’d put himself in danger. Not to mention, George would have an easier time being alone than Fred — I don’t think there’s ANYBODY ELSE who *could* have reined Fred in, aside from George, so he’d be totally lost on his own, whereas the more grounded George would be having a lot less fun but would at least be self-sufficient. Anyway, the article stuck with me and I’ve always paid attention to the characterization in all my re-reads since then.

  7. that was a wonderful essay and very enlightening too

    also hpboy13 observation is interesting however I will have to severely dissagree that ginny is in the “without cruel strike” since she ran over someone with her broom for insulting harry, and her insults to ron were pretty harsh when he finds her with dean

  8. I didn’t notice any of the differences here; I wonder if you would have looked for them at all, if Fred hadn’t died?
    I think that was the reason for killing him off – pardon my word choice :) – to highlight the fact that they actually have differences.
    Meaning that one can survive without the other, and they’re not a “package deal” like you said. Often, but not always.

  9. Ditto on Hayley’s point.

  10. Nice analysis. I’ve always detected a difference between Fred and George. First of all the length of their names have always made me think George was a bit more grounded and Fred more quick, which supports this essay. J.K. would never think of two of her characters as the same and I think that their portrayal in the films was not sensitive to this. Yes Ginny definitely has a mean streak as does Percy. Remember his fight with his father? Charlie seems to not have a mean streak but your right who really knows?

  11. piggybacking on cowboy Jim’s point… did anyone noticed these differences on the Twins IN the Movies? I mean there are instances in which they talk at the same time as if one but… I would like to think they have some sort of difference on film too

    I would to hear what you guys think

  12. Excellent essay for all the reasons people have listed above.
    I think JKR said at one point that Fred was the crueler and funnier of the twins. After hearing that, I started to detect a difference between the two, but more often than not, they are together.
    I don’t the films ever show a difference between Fred and George. The filmmakers aren’t always very sensitive to things like portraying the characters’ personalities correctly! But I think we fans just understand their personalities more.
    As for the Weasley meanstreaks:
    Molly – We see a lot of her mean streak.
    Arthur – He did get in a fight with Lucius at the bookstore. Not that I blame him, but still…
    Bill – The first thing that comes to my mind is him saying somewhat mean things (or at least one) to Ron, but he is his brother, so that’s understandable.
    Charlie – We don’t know much about him, but he has been nice and helpful.
    Percy – That depends on how you look at it.
    Fred – I think his mean streak has been well established.
    George – He is usually kind, but does go along with some of the meaner things Fred does.
    Ron – He definitely has a mean streak.
    Ginny – See emily’s comment. Yes, she can be cruel.
    So make up your own mind on that.

  13. I was watching the Goblet of Fire movie and noticed that when Death Eaters attack at the World Cup Mr. Weasley tells George that Ginny is his responsibility, not Fred. I thinks it’s a coincidence, but that’s the best I’ve got for movies showing the difference between the twins.

  14. Actually, Mickey, Arthur says, “Fred, George, Ginny is your responsibility,” handing it over to both of them.

    I think the movies are trying to play up the ‘identical to the last freckle’ bit, and not bothering to show that they really are two unique people who just happen to look alike.

  15. Oh, I thought he just said George.
    I’m pretty certain that the twins are 100% identical in the movies, too. Warner Bros. has this tendency to not bother too much with developing the character’s personalities. I think they just change them to fit the script they made. But this is going to turn into a movie/book discussion rather than George/Fred, so sorry.

  16. ”Excellent, are we carrying on?” said Fred Weasley brightly. (PA13)
    The best line in all the books :D Everytime I see it, it just makes me sry with laughter, I don’t even know why :P

  17. *cry

  18. I always loved George a little bit more than Fred, partly because he seemed to be the one in the background, and maybe partly because I like the name George better than Fred. But I never thought that any of them would die. Actually, when I started reading the last book, I was going through all of the characters in my head, guessing who would die … and Fred and George came as a package deal. “JKR couldn’t kill one of them off, leaving the other behind, and there’s no way she’s killing both, so they’re safe.” I was wrong. And I still haven’t forgiven JKR for doing it.

  19. *sniff* Excellent essay. Wish I could write an essay like this. I never actually thought Fred would die. I didn’t think any of the Weasleys would die in the Deathly Hallows.

  20. I have to say that I think I understand what George must feel when Fred dies- I’m a triplet, and I can’t imagine how I would feel if one or both of my sisters died, and I was left alone. i’m not sure if people realize how much multiple siblings depend on each other- it’s like having your best friend with you constantly, one you know will never leave you, one whose judgement you respect extremely highly.

  21. I don’t even know what it’s going to be like when we all three go to different colleges, that’s how much we share. Poor George.

  22. You know, I agree with all the stuff you guys are saying, but I kind of feel like Fred’s being unfairly critisized; George is usually more reserved than Fred, but would you call Fred cruel?

  23. Bella + James P., I guess I wasn’t trying to say so much that Fred is a cruel person – remember, the differences that do exist between the twins are pretty slight, and this essay is written to highlight every one of them. But I would say that he has a bit of a cruel streak. Does the difference I’m trying to get at make sense?

  24. This essay was brilliant – I had always noticed in my readings of the books the differences between the twins, but John has put these into words and they are exactly as I would have done (if I had had his gift of writing). When Fred died I was gobsmacked – and put the book aside for a couple of days – I really couldn’t believe that one of the twins would be “killed off”. I felt so sorry for George as they had such a close relationship throughout all the books – I thought it was such a catastrophe and can well believe JKR’s remakrs that “George never got over it”.

  25. This essay brought tears to my eyes. Good job, John. I’ve actually always thought of the twins as FredandGeorge and I feel bad about it since the twins deserve more respect from me than that. I was particularly upset that Fred died because he was together with Percy (the git of the family) when it happened, . I was like “No! Percy’s RIGHT THERE! RIGHT THERE! Take him instead!” That’s probably a little unfair to Percy, but he’s my least fave Weasley so I’d be the least sorry to see him die. I wonder if that’s the reaction JKR was going for, or if I’m the only one who feels that way.

  26. My theory is that Fred would have rashly committed suicide if George had died instead. Lack of good judgment is embedded in his personality. What do you think?

  27. Lydia – Fred most certainly would have done something rash and foolish, but killing himself? No way. He’d take his anger out on someone else, not himself.

  28. Excellent essay! I only recently discovered this site and am devouring it. Fascinating, thoughful stuff. I couldn’t agree more, since GoF at the latest I felt the twins were shown as individuals.

    On George and Angelina Johnson – JKR said (I think it was in that ‘A Year in the Life of’ documentary) something along the lines of the relationship probably not being that healthy, and something of a substitute for their loss.

  29. I just want to say that I [mostly] agree with your essay. That’s actually how I’ve viewed the twins since book 7 when Fred died. :(

    Between the two of them, I think Fred would be the one who would have a harder time coping if the other twin died. As you said, Fred is the more impulsive–the more passionate–so I think that Fred have a harder time (just a tiny bit more) dealing with the loss of his twin than George.

    Also, a reaction to one of the comments:
    “we can sorta separate the Weasleys into ones with a cruel streak and ones without. With are Ron, Fred, and Molly. Without are George, Bill, Percy, Arthur, and Ginny. Hard to say where Charlie fits in.”

    I disagree about Ginny. She definitely has a cruel streak. Remember the time when she tripped Ron when he was hoping to get a kiss from Fleur? Or when she hexed Zacharias Smith (although the git surely deserved it). Don’t get me wrong, Ginny’s one of my favorite characters. But I still think she’s got a cruel streak.

  30. I adore this essay. George has always been my favorite twin, but I was never sure why. I guess I picked up his thoughtfulness subconsciously.
    Incidentally, this makes me think of Schmerg_the_Impaler’s fanfiction, “Long-Distance Extendable Ears.” Read it. Read it now.

  31. Great essay. I agree that the twins are almost interchangeable – remember Gred and Forge (it still makes me laugh when I re-read it!) But I can see the diferences in their personalities as you point them out.

    I too was devastated when Fred died. I really could not believe it. I agree with Chiyou, as far as I would have prefered Percy’s death to Fred’s. Hope that doesn’t make me too evil:-)

    Just a note (I know it’s kind of petty, but I just thought it might need correcting anyway) – there is an error in your essay where you say “turned Ron’s toy broomstick into a spider…” it is actually Ron’s Teddy Bear which is turned into a spider when Ron accidentally breaks Fred’s toy broomstick. (CS Chpt 9)

  32. I never really thought about Fred and George before I read that Fred dies. Even when you ask someone who their favorite character is they will say Fred and George without even considering that these are two people instead of one. I think it is quite possible that Rowling wrote their scenes with them separate in her mind just to see who might notice that they do have their differences while most of us won’t even remember who said what, only that it was Fred or George. I had never seen the metaphor of Fred driving the car and George being along for the ride as anything but it is quite interesting. When Fred died I did start thinking about how this would affect George but never did give him his own separate personality. Maybe Fred being the one who died is also just as important as him being the one who was driving the car. Looking at Fred being the instigator of the fun and pranks we can see that him dying really shows how much happiness and even innocence was really lost that day and in that war and his separation from his twin was showing how none of them could really be whole again after everything they had lost in the same way as George having lost half of himself.

  33. Excellent essay indeed,I cried when Fred died, I just couldn’t believe it.
    But one thing i noticed- Of course i didnt read through every comment- but there was a lot of talk about cruel streaks, and I was quite intrested to know, as everyone seemed to skip over him, If any of you think he has a cruel streak? I mean, of course with Voldemort he does, that kinda goes without saying, over all Harry is nice but he does have a nasty temper.And when Angry, he has done rash things.
    For example, his argument with Sirius in the Shreiking Shack, “Are you going to kill me, Harry?”
    Or even after Sirius had passed and he had chased Bellatrix down the hall (Though he did have every reason to be angry after that whole ordeal.)

  34. I totally agree with the majority of you above. This essay was absolutely brilliant and I appreciated it. In my mind the twins were considered the same and yet completely different, though I could never figure out why. I guess it was because I totally loved reading about the both of them, but I could never get a true mark on their personality’s (I blame that for short appearances). What I did learn while reading was that it was always Fred in the action, like you said. It truly broke my heart when she killed Fred. Like everyone said they were the sole characters I thought she wouldn’t take. I was positive it would be a weasley (sp?) cuz there was no way ALL of them would live and I was sure it would be Percy. I was like “oh she’ll do that thing where he comes back for forgiveness and when things are all bright and wonderful that they’re baby came home, he dies.” The rocks fall and I’m like “Here it comes!!” And….It’s not Percy. And THAT mind fuc*ed me more than Sirius and Dumbledore’s death combined. I was in such shock I had to put the book down and walk away and go cry. I truly felt betrayed. So I totally feel you there Chiyou. She killed off alll my fave characters and she twisted the knife when she left George all alone. And Kelsey I think you just twisted it even further by those last few sentences. I wanna cry all over again. Cuz you’re right. Now I really can’t forgive Rowling.

  35. to Sammi… You know I would say YES when it comes to your question with Harry But I’m not really sure. A lot of the things he does that can appear cruel seem totally justified to me. I don’t think he has a cruel streak but I’d need to go back and re-read. Anyone with evidence?

  36. Yeah, most of his actions really are quite justified, with all the death that loomed over him all the time. (It made the epilouge all the better.) But even though a lot of it was justified, a lot of his argueung with Ron and Hermione seemed rather unjustified, seeing as how only once, when they were told not to write by Dumbledore, did he have a reason to be angry.(Other than the obvious other reasons such as Ron being mad over the Triwizard Tournament ordeal.

    And just a side note about Fred’s death:
    It didnt happen. Even though J.K. wrote it down, I am choosing to be in complete denial and I therefor choose to believe that him and George are still at W.W.W. living happily ever after and the whole ordeal with the wall actually killed Percy.

  37. I always loved the twins, George a little more, and like alot of people I thought wall falls, ‘totally Percy’, dust clears, ‘no, it’s Fred?!’ I cried so much after reading it, I probably made it worse by thinking ‘it’s Sirius all over again and now poor George is all alone’. I got really mad that Bellatrix used his death to get at Molly and always associate her as being the one that killed him for some reason. So when describing her I always say that she killed all my favorite characters.

  38. Don’t forget that Harry is still just a teenager, so him fighting with his friends is all just normal stuff and other than that, after everything that’s happened and is happening to him at any given point in the books he has the right to be angry if you ask me. I don’t see how’s he’s ever been downright cruel. But I would like to hear evidence, there may be something I’m just not thinking about.

  39. I cant honestly say that he is cruel. Really, now that it hink about it he seems to be rather level headed for someone whos goen through what he has.

  40. Agree with Sammi on the Harry topic as well as The Fred issue. Fred? Killed? Pshh what are you talking about? It was obviously Percy buried under those rocks. So sad that.

  41. Harry definitely isn’t cruel, but he does have a high sense of justice. In some cases, this is a good things, but in others, where he is only perceiving wrongdoing, it ends up being a bad thing because he sometimes senselessly argues with Ron and Hermionie. So I would say the anger we see in Harry comes from his sense of right and wrong, of justice, rather than a cruel streak.

  42. I’m joining the Fred death denial team. Can you not all imagine cute old men version of Fred and George selling their inventions, telling war stories and corny jokes well into their 90s?

  43. I also think Ginny should be in camp cruel and Molly should be out. Molly is just a mom with to many kids, She isn’t cruel just overwhelmed with a very casual family. Were as Ginny is very full of herself and finds it hard to see life from others stand points ( much like Ron)I don’t remember what book ( I think HBP) but I remember a part were Hermione is trying to make some point about quidditch and Ginny in an attempt to look cool in front of Harry insults her in a very cruel manner. She dates Micheal and Dean just to get Harrys attention and she strikes very low blows to Ron for his reaction to catches her making out with an older guy (which is a reaction any older brother would have).People try to call her spunky but shes just mean spirited.

  44. I have always really hated Fred’s death and felt that it didn’t really fit, it just doesn’t feel right in the story. To begin with, George had already had his ear cut off at the beginning of the story so we can now tell them apart, but also Bill and Mr. Weasley have been attacked in other stories. I understand that Jo once said that there was no way all of the Weasley’s could survive the war but I feel it would have been more poignant to kill Percy. He had just come back and made amends and then dies to defend the cause. Or, kill Charlie who we don’t really know or care as much about. Hedwig, Mad-Eye, Dobby, Lupin, Tonks and Colin Creevey were all already on the chopping block so she didn’t need this one for emotional effect. Also, by breaking up the twins she completely ruins who they were as family and business partners. If Fred was the driver in this relationship, then alot of the big ideas probably came from him so what would happen, now, to their business. I don’t know but this was the only death in the books that still does not sit right with me.

  45. Erica Chestnut, I think all of the reasons you just laid out are exactly *why* Jo felt she had to kill Fred. It would be pretty unrealistic to have a series of books where the only characters who die are those we don’t care about. Even as the series stands, I find it pretty unbelievable that Harry’s tightest-knit circle all survives (Hermione, Ron, Neville, Luna, Ginny). That’s not how real life works, and part of the point of Fred’s death (and to a lesser extent, Lupin’s, Tonks’s, and Colin Creevey’s) is to feel the pain of such a loss. Otherwise, as readers, how could we ever understand what this war, and this battle, really mean?

  46. I think that’s exactly why it made sense to kill Fred. We didn’t want it to happen. That’s what made it so hard to read about. The brilliance of J.K Rowling in doing that is seen in how much it sucked to see him die. That was exactly the point, we are supposed to feel it. If Percy or some other character that we cared very little for died instead, we would not feel the losses of the war the characters were involved in. It also makes the victory of Harry over Voldemort even more satisfying.

  47. I remember when my sister and I started the Harry Potter series, I immediately loved Fred. LOVED HIM. I don’t know what made me separate him from George when most people see them as a single entity but I did. I know that my sister and I have always been called a package deal and that annoyed me so much, so I never thought of them as one character. I love them both, but I had planned my imaginary wedding to Fred. :( Every time I love a character in any franchise, they die (I have actually done a thorough look-through of the various series I have enjoyed and found that this is NOT an exaggeration). I thought Fred would escape because he made it so far.

  48. Also, as pathetic as this seems, every time I reread the series, my heart jumps when I see Fred’s name because he’s alive again and I am desperately sad for several weeks after reading Deathly Hallows. Pathetic, I know.

  49. Molly had a mean streak, look how she treated Hermione when The Prophet was printing lies about her and Harry, and Harry had one too, look how he treated Filch (though a good argument could have been made that Filch had a huge mean streak of his own) Harry could have made his life at Hogwarts a lot easier if, when he discovered Filch’s Quickspell book, he had offered to help him learn some simple spells, if he would have done that he would have had Filch foe an ally instead of an enemy and he was very rude to Collin, who worshipped him and, in fact, made the ultimate sacrifice, for him. Collin was my favorite minor character, he was good and loyal in every way.

  50. A laugh and a cry. Thank you for writing this! -goes to huggle the twins-

  51. I really loved your essey. I’m also in denial about Fred’s death. No way. I understand that J.K. had to kill off main characters, but why one of the twins, at some point after reading it, I was like, why couldn’t she just kill off Ron. (never liked him for some reason.)

  52. Wow, what a great article. I also didn’t think about their differences. While I didn’t think they were identical to their thoughts, I never looked to see the individuals. Anyone else hate how movie twins somehow always talk at the same time or finish each others sentences? Yes, twins would have a higher chance of doing that than anyone, but they don’t share a brain. I just remember being annoyed with one of the movies when the twins didn’t ever complete a sentence alone.

  53. Thank you for this, John, it’s excellent. @Paul Menkens: My impression is that Squibs can’t do magic no matter what, so the idea of anyone teaching Filch spells is impractical – they’re not in his genetic nature.

  54. @Paul Menkens: To go along with what rtozier said, JKR said that Filch’s spell course never worked (could have been “never would have worked”). Squibs are anti-Muggle borns. Where one is a witch or wizard born to a Muggle family, the other is a Muggle born to a wizard family. Different from birth and no lessons can help them.

    And, Fred’s still alive and working with his brother (they just re-opened Zonko’s under their business umbrella). In a corner of their stores, they have a display of hand-knitted, mismatched socks in lurid colors, delivered by Dobby, once he gets them made, of course…

  55. Superb article John! :)
    Though it has been obvious that it is almost always Fred who is in the limelight, as compared to George, the subtle moments that you highlighted are great! :)

  56. Great essay! One thing strikes me though about the difference between the twins. I don’t the factor of differentiation is necessarily a streak of cruelty. I believe in more to be a variable of compassion. The twins along with all the Weasleys and Harry, are passionate characters. Passion is defined as “tense or overpowering emotion such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.” These very passionate characters are going to have outbursts that are over the top and may seem cruel due to the intensity of their feelings. Theses outbursts tend to be over the top and come out as cruel, but in actuality they are as passionate as their owners. The key factor between those above mentioned to have a cruel streak, “With are Ron, Fred, and Molly. Without are George, Bill, Percy, Arthur, and Ginny,” (hpboy13) is compassions. There is proof the “without” category can also be cruel. The factor that sets them apart is their compassion. George’s compassion is stated above. We see Percy’s compassion when Fred dies. We see Arthur’s compassion when he sympathizes with Harry and treats Harry more as an adult as well as his interaction with his kids and Molly. We see Ginny’s compassion when she guides Harry away from Dumbledore’s dead body or when she defends Luna. We see Bills compassions at Shell Cottage with his interactions with Harry. There are many more examples for each character and I think everyone can identify multiple times we see Harry’s compassion as there are too many to count. The question is not whether they have a cruel streak but which characters show compassion in their nature.

  57. I really, really, really enjoyed reading this. Well done.

  58. I think this is brilliant. From the very first time we were introduced to Fred and George, I began to pick up on their subtle differences. For some reason I’ve always had the gift of being able to tell twins apart, no matter how identical (even in the movies I can easily tell the difference between James and Oliver Phelps), so it was pretty easy for me to see how Rowling made them so intertwined that they seemed the same person while simultaneously establishing them as separate and unique members of the family. Also, I agree with those who have said that George would handle being without his twin better than Fred. While George would likely implode after such a loss as this, withdrawing into himself for a while and likely succumbing to depression, he would eventually be pulled out of it by his family and friends. Although he never truly got over it, he would be able to live a semblance of a normal life. Fred, on the other hand, would explode after losing George and would likely leave a trail of destruction in his wake. He would likely do so much damage in his grief and anger that there would be no moving on for him. There just always seemed to be something about Fred that indicated his being more dependent upon his twin for existence, and while George never truly moved on I think Fred would never move on at all – if he even survived.
    I suppose all this to say, you did a great job with this essay! I agree with all your points about their differences and, although they are irreversibly intertwined from conception they are, in a way, very different individuals. Thanks for sharing!

  59. I have brothers who are identical twins, and you are correct that the more dominant twin is often more emotionally dependent on the less dominant and suffers more separation anxiety. Maybe it’s because the more laid back twin provides more support to his co-twin than his co-twin provides to him. Not sure. You even see this with the Phelps twins to an extent. James is the “gentler” twin, but he’s the one who seems much more keen on being seen as an individual. So, yeah, I think George has a far better chance of surviving the loss than Fred would.

  60. I think this essay is completely right. I’ve always noticed this about the twins. I used to think of them as being much the same until I realized Fred joked more and George was the one out of the two to usually handle the serious situations.

  61. Terrific essay! It reminded me just how tragic Fred’s death was to George (and to all of the Weasleys)

  62. Maybe jk knew she would be killing fred….that she made him more fun and george d caring one. this way in d end when fred dies….. v can only imagine d melancholy of george….n the charm of ‘fred n george’ is gone when fred is killed.

  63. I think it was very important that certain characters died. Wars don’t end with everything going back to normal. People move on and the daily needs help with that, but there are always scars and empty chairs….

    BTW what plugin are you using for the social media login linking?

  64. Daniel, I’m not sure what you mean by the social media login linking. The site is run on WordPress, so most of the social media type stuff (comment boards, Digg/Reddit links, etc.) is run by them. The only exception is the links in the sidebar – RSS/Facebook/Twitter/LJ – and those are pretty boring straightforward links. Beyond that, I really haven’t put any effort into figuring out marketing or the social media stuff; I’ve just let readers discover the site and then tell their friends about it, and I figure that’s working out fine as I’m up to a half million page views per month. :)

  65. Thank you!
    This has always been my general impression of the Weasley twins, but it’s a treat to see their characters laid out in such and intelligent manner!
    I’m particularly impressed with the statistics you got from the books, since the percentages were much higher than I would have guessed, although I did notice many of the examples which you used. I also commend your use of the Driver and the Navigator as metaphors, because I could never have articulated their roles in such a concise and accurate way.
    The one point that I found interesting was George’s concern with family, which I had noticed, although it does fit his characterization. I think he also takes the estrangement between Percy and the rest of the Weasleys more personally than Fred does.
    Also, note the symbolism of George losing one ear.

    Rest In Peace, Fred.

  66. Awesome Essay!!! I would have never thought of that!

  67. great essay! loved it.

  68. I’m definitely in camp death-denier. I actually just pretend that anything after HBP doesn’t exist at all sometimes. Leave me to my world of delusion, I’m happier there!

    When I first got into HP, I always identified them as basically interchangeable, and continued on that note for many years. But after a recent re-reading with more in-depth analysis of all characters in mind, I too noticed differences upon more thorough reading.

    One thing I think warrants pointing out about Fred and George is that while Fred is more brash and at first glace *seems* to be the dominant of the two, it may well be George who is quietly in control. George reigns Fred in. George is the one who goes along with things, but there’s little doubt in my mind that if George ever said “stop,” Fred would never continue with his scheme of the day. George is the enabler.

    While George might not be the overtly aggressive one, he’s still there and still participating, and most certainly assists Fred, and in that, he is condoning what Fred is doing. If George expresses even the slightest displeasure, Fred seems very in tune to that and backs off. For all we know, George may well be the mastermind of the two, quietly pulling the more impulsive Fred’s strings. That may actually be more likely, since George shows greater capability for planning, forethought and subtlety.

    We’ve seen several times that it takes very little for George to reign Fred in; assuming that George can reign Fred in, it speaks volumes when he doesn’t. I would argue, therefore, that George *does* have a cruel streak. He does not always actively participate, but his failure to stop Fred when he’s being a jerk (when he can see it coming, that is) is condoning it, and condoning someone else’s actions when you have the power to stop it is morally the same as doing it yourself. That’s not to say that Fred or George is evil at all, or even inherently cruel, but I most certainly take issue with the idea that George lacks a cruel streak that Fred possesses.

  69. My camps of Weasley traits:
    Cruel streak: Fred AND George, Ginny, Molly, Ron, and Percy.
    No cruel streak: Mr. Weasley, Bill, and probably Charlie, though we’ve seen too little of him to know for sure.

    To totally derail this train of ideas, of all of them, I contend that Ginny has the most pronounced cruel streak. She coolly and calculatingly hurts people through social means: shunning those she’s irritated with; using other boys to make Harry jealous; making mean jokes about Fleur who has never really done anything to her; mocking Ron about Hermione and Krum knowing that hurts him the most. She plans her actions to manipulate and hurt as it suits her purposes. Planned and subtle, I contend, is higher on the immorality scale than is rash and overt. Ginny plans her meanness in many cases, anticipating exactly how it will effect those around her. Even Percy doesn’t do that; though he is a huge jerk, he doesn’t go out of his way to hurt his family, he just does so by avoiding them and making choices they take issue with, but which at the time, he believes are right. Fred, and by association, George, behave cruelly usually out of a temperamental outburst in the heat of the moment, rarely planned out. Molly also behaves cruelly in the heat of the moment, and the Harry-Hermione thing was in defense of someone else, albeit misplaced; not for her own benefit. Ron seems to hurt people less out of intentional cruelty and more out of sheer stupidity or in rashness from a place of hurting himself. Ginny is the only Weasley I’d say has a cruel streak that borders on malevolence.

  70. Every time I think about this I want to cry for George :( he was an amazing kid.. So nice kind and even funny but he was always in the background of Fred I wish he would hav gotbmore laughs he’s soo cool! But I understand about him holding Fred back and Fred bringing out the best in George. They are a pair and always will be to me. They go together perfectly. Love them. I do like that George marries someone who rly knew Fred to so mayb he could hav a sholder to cry on and get though it a little with. I do feel Fred would hav gotten out of control of g died so I’m kinda thankful it happen this way instead but then again it’s sooo sad cause george is so amazinggg! Ahh gonna cry.., love u JK Rowling!

  71. I had also noticed the personality differences while reading the books. I thought, ‘George is like the back-up dancer while Fred was in the front, shaking it like there was no tomorrow.’ (Yeah, I know xD) That was one of the reasons I would say “My favorite character was Sirius, until he died, then my favorite character was George, before it became unbearable to even think of him because I always thought of Fred.” I took Fred’s death almost as seriously as Sirius’s. (Say that five times fast!) Sirius’s was more sadder since J.K Rowling was all like “He’s dead! He’s gone forever!!!” shoving it up Harry bu–, umm, brain?
    I do agree, George is more mellow-er than Fred, joking around Fred. And I think their noses in the movies tell some about their personalities. I don’t know.

  72. Wow, I never really thought about it this way. Really when you think about it they are so very different. I’ve pretty much always just lumped them together, like I would say “Fred and George are my favorite characters.” I could never pick just one of them because I didn’t really see much difference in them. After reading this essay, the twins remind me a lot of two other fictional ginger twins, the Hitachin brothers from Ouran High School Host Club. Hikaru is more like Fred and Kaoru is like George. I guess it was just easier to notice with them because they play more noticeably different roles in the story than Fred and George do.

  73. I just discovered this site, and this was the first thing I read on here. I absolutely LOVE this essay, I’ve yet to find another like it. George was always my favorite between the twins, maybe because Fred seemed to get more of the spotlight, but maybe because of these differences you’ve highlighted here. I never consciously noticed until GoF that they weren’t just FredandGeorge, when they had their argument about blackmailing Bagman. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if JKR wrote in that argument to highlight their differences. Is there another time in the series where we see them argue? (Or even disagree?)

  74. There’s a good essay on this on the HP lexicon too. Nice stuff. I’d have to agree with it.

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