Witchy Women: Fleur Delacour

DWe need to talk about Fleur.

Fleur is probably the most underrated female character in the Harry Potter series. When she is discussed at all, her bravery and loyalty to those she loves is often overshadowed, and instead it is her beauty that is under discussion. Many of the other female characters in the book are initially suspicious of Fleur–Hermione and Molly and Ginny Weasley most notably.

Fleur is not-quite-entirely-human; her grandmother was a veela, a race of beautiful women with siren-like qualities and powerful magic who can turn to harpie-like creatures when angered. Her part-veela heritage manifests by making her incredibly beautiful and inspiring lots of male attention and female jealousy. Ron finds himself especially vulnerable to Fleur’s beauty, much to the ire of Hermione and Ginny.

When we initially meet Fleur, she is visiting Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament, hoping to become the champion for her school. Fleur attended Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, a French wizarding school. Despite the film’s portrayal of the school as an all-girls academy, the books are fairly clear that Fleur attends a co-ed school and that she beats out all of the other students brought along to become her school’s Triwizard Tournament competitor.

And though she gets a lot of grief about it, one can hardly be surprised at Fleur’s reaction to Harry as a competitor. When Harry’s name is pulled from the goblet, Fleur is among those who are outraged. Not only is Harry too young to enter the competition, but his entrance gives Hogwarts twice as many champions in the tournament (2 champions, to the other school’s single champion), an unfair advantage for a school that already has the advantage of being the tournament host.

Also unsurprising is Fleur’s reaction to Ron, who is fairly entranced by Fleur. Ron often finds himself red-faced and bumbling around Fleur, who is very dismissive of her young would-be suitor. And let’s be honest:

Ron only wants to go to the Yule Ball with Fleur because she’s hot. The two have nothing in common, and they barely know one another at that point. Ron is several years younger than Fleur, who must be accustomed to and exhausted by the male attention she receives because of her beauty. Fleur is not obligated to say yes to a date, even with one of our favorite characters. She is not obligated to be kind to men and boys who consistently underestimate her cognitive and emotional abilities and express interest only in her body. She is not obligated to allow herself to be fetishized because of her race or because of the way her race and sex make someone else feel. She. Is. Not. Obligated.

Of course, Ron’s feelings about Fleur and the way that other boys in the school react to her beauty earns her the dislike of Ginny and Hermione. The two make fun of Fleur’s accent and mercilessly tease Ron about his reaction to Fleur. The undercurrents of sexual jealously are apparent even in Ginny’s teasing. Of course, it is entirely possible these reactions are exacerbated by Fleur’s veela blood (remember that part of a veela’s power is to create desire in men and jealousy in women).

Ron and the others finally begin to see Fleur’s humanity in the second task of their tournament, when Harry saves her little sister Gabrielle from the merpeople after Fleur gets caught by grindylows in the water. Fleur expresses extreme gratitude to Harry and Ron, and a kind-of friendship begins to form, though there is still a stilted quality to the relationship. As the champions undertake the final task, there is a camaraderie between Harry and Fleur.

During the tournament, Fleur meets Bill Weasely—the two seem immediately transfixed by one another. Eventually, Fleur Witchybegins working a part-time job at Gringotts Bank and dating Bill. Both are part of the Order of the Phoenix. When Bill brings Fleur home to spend a summer getting to know his family, the time is strained. Fleur is blunt and critical, and the Weasely family is easy-going for the most part, and the two attitudes chafe against one another.

But Fleur stands by Bill after he is attacked by a werewolf, though his family openly expresses that they thought she would leave when she saw how scarred Bill was. Fleur is furious at their suggestions—and it’s not hard to see why a part-veela would be angry that she might leave a “contaminated” husband after a werewolf bite. At this point Molly Weasely finally comes to her senses and embraces Fleur’s devotion to her son.

Fleur is also incredibly helpful during the battles against Voldemort, fighting alongside the Order of the Phoenix and her husband. She is still blunt and critical, and she is still very, very beautiful. But just as when she was competing in the tournament all that time before, she prizes her family over all else—and she is fierce. What has changed, at this point, is not so much Fleur as the other characters’ views of her. This is not to say that she is a static character–we certainly see development between those initial moments when she arrives at Hogwarts and the moment that she stands as one of its defenders, but Fleur’s core characteristics have remained the same.

And this is all pretty brilliant, because Fleur is a complicated character. We need to keep talking about her.

*This post is a part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.
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29 Comments

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  1. Love this in-depth look at someone who is mostly talked about on the surface. Some of my favorite scenes that show her character aren’t in any of the movies. It’s a shame.

    This: “What has changed, at this point, is not so much Fleur as the other characters’ views of her.” Yes. She isn’t a static character, as you said, but the biggest change for her is in how other characters begin to really see, if not understand, her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      No, I don’t think Fleur is a static or flat character. I do think that she changes as she grows up, but I think that most of what we see is how others’ views of her change.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The movies don’t show her off anywhere to the extent of the books, but that is not a surprise.
    My favourite scene is where she speaks up toward her soon-to-be mother-iin-law, saying that she has no intention of abandoning Bill, but this excellent scene is obviously not in the movies, as we don’t even meet Bill until Deathly Hallows Part One. Too bad because that scene shows that Fleur is so much more than her beauty.
    Happy you decided to write about her for this A to Z letter F challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That is also one of my favorite scenes. I think she says something along the lines of “I am beautiful enough for the both of us” when they suggest that she’ll leave because Bill is scarred. It’s a wonderful moment.

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  3. I’ve always loved Fleur and I’m glad you’ve talked about her in depth! I think she’s matured just as much as the others but as you said at the same time their opinion changed too so it was a combination of inner and outer change. I liked the actress who played her too 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      I liked her portrayal in the films for the most part, though I do wish that Beauxbatons hadn’t been all-girls and Durmstrang all-boys, because that changed things up a bit. Ah well—in the grand scheme that’s such a little detail! hahaha

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Fleur is one of my favorite characters, and it’s nice to spend some time talking about her. 🙂

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    1. Thank you!

      Yes, I think the way Fleur sticks by Bill says a lot of good things about her character—as does her anger at the suggestion she would leave because it hadn’t occurred to her that she should.

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  4. My favorite part about the Fleur story is when she comes to the understanding with Molly. It’s so very indicative of an in-law new spouse relationship. Fleur asserts herself and Molly is forced to see that this new person in her life really does care about her son. I think Rowling did a great job with her supporting characters and I agree Fleur is a wonderfully complicated woman.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hadn’t thought much about her really, certainly not in this much depth. What I did find frustrating was the reaction of the female characters to an attractive other female (stereotypically jealous) as opposed to how the males responded to an attractive male (Oh, he’s handsome!). Always felt a bit let down by that.

    Excellent post and theme!

    A-Z Challenge no 1334

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true—I think it’s especially true in Fleur’s case. But then there’s the added complication of her veela blood, and so there’s a correlation between the way Fleur is fetishized and the way women of color are fetishzed, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great analysis. As you noted, Fleur hasn’t gotten much attention (I confess I haven’t thought much about her), but she has important lessons for us. I particularly like your emphasis on how she Is Not Obligated to conform to other people’s fantasies. So true!

    Liked by 1 person

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