Who had serious smarts, magical luggage and borderline reckless loyalty? If you answered ‘Hermione Granger’, you’re correct. However, if you answered ‘Newt Scamander’, you’re also correct. You see, Newt and Hermione were cut from the same heroic cloth. Or at very least, they shared a clandestine playbook with secret methods to befuddle enemies and undo evil.
Hermione has earned a reputation as the not-so-secret key to Harry and Ron’s survival throughout their years at Hogwarts, and presumably, beyond. For his part, we’ve seen Newt Scamander use his unique abilities to thwart one of the most notorious Dark wizards in all of history and keep a promise to a winged pal along the way. But though decades separate their respective adventures, we can draw many clear lines between the ways and means each of them employs to survive and thrive.
When we first met Hermione on the Hogwarts Express in Philosopher’s Stone, she was fresh out of the Muggle world but in full Hogwarts regalia and already capable of mending broken glasses. She was on the threshold of an unfamiliar world and in search of Neville’s lost toad.
We met Newt under similar circumstances: he was just off the boat from England and making his way through New York customs. He was in Muggle-worthy clothes, complete with a briefcase that looked so non-magical that it got mixed up with one owned by a No-Maj. He was determined to look as though he belonged. Talk about your overachievers.
And speaking of Newt’s leather case, we simply cannot discuss the parallels between these two if we don’t take a serious look at their superior packing game. Hermione’s little, beaded bag was legendary for both its space (she had a mini-library, a tent, the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black, stores of potions, clothes, rations and all manner of other goodies) and portability. Now, managing to carry all of that in a bag that tucks easily into a sock or other bit of clothing is pretty impressive.
However, Newt’s leather case must be considered the gold standard in magical bags – it doubled as an entire sanctuary, complete with any number of habitats suited to beasts of every variety. Pretty cool.
For a Hufflepuff and a Gryffindor, Newt and Hermione sure harboured some strong Ravenclaw tendencies. Hermione was never one to take a pass on answering a question posed to a class, and her ravenous reading often proved key to busting the trio out of a tight corner. Devil’s Snare? Hermione knew just the spell. Logic puzzles? Check. N.E.W.T.-level potions during her second year? No problem.
Likewise, Newt, always the scientist, used his intellect and his case full of creatures to stay safe and (mostly) out of trouble in New York. Erumpent in heat? Newt knows the mating dance. Mischievous Niffler? Newt knows how to rein him in. Like Albus Dumbledore before them, these creative thinkers have style.
Newt and Hermione’s powers of intellect didn’t always supply them with the exact right answer straight away, but their shared inquisitive nature made them both rather good detectives. Just as Hermione quickly deduced that Professor Lupin was a werewolf, Newt was fascinated to discover that Queenie was a Legilimens and quick to realise that sharing the story of another Obscurus might be the only way to reach Credence. But those are rapid realisations based on contextual evidence, the truly impressive sleuthing takes place on a grander scale.
Hermione pieced together the truth about Slytherin’s monster with nothing more than the information swirling around the school and some quality time in the library. Her timely conclusions allowed her to save both herself and Penelope Clearwater from certain death at the hands (er, scales?) of the Basilisk and gave Harry and Ron the push they needed to sort it all out.
For his part, Newt managed to track a case full of wily and elusive magical creatures throughout an unfamiliar city. He had an ally in Tina, but only his ability to put himself in the place of his animal companions to guide him. In a world where many instinctually use magic first and logic second, Hermione and Newt stood apart.
Newt Scamander’s arrival in New York wasn’t the result of some pleasure cruise. Rather, he was making a dangerous (and rather illegal) voyage to the States to deliver his friend, Frank, a Thunderbird, to his natural homeland of Arizona. Not only had Newt rescued Frank from traffickers in Egypt, and set to work restoring his strength, he’d also endeavoured to enter a turbulent atmosphere to see him home safely. Many wizards would have considered the liberation good deed enough and moved on, but Newt fought for creatures without voice.
Years later, Hermione would observe the treatment of house-elves and go against popular opinion to fight for their right to be treated as equals. S.P.E.W. might not have inspired all that many followers, but it was a mark of Hermione’s compassion that she pressed on of her own accord. To be fair, her message did eventually catch on, at least with Ron.
So: two very smart magical folk, two completely different eras. But it’s nice to see another Wizarding World character, in the shape of our Newt Scamander, championing books, cleverness – and most importantly - kindness.