Beyond Newt Scamander and Percival Graves, a slightly more humble witch steals the show in #JKRowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Still being a prominent member of the main cast means that she doesn't go unnoticed, but amongst the rest of the action, #QueenieGoldstein's excellence as a character can get overlooked.
On the surface, Queenie (Alison Sudol) is an angelic woman, warm and welcoming, with a particular talent for reading minds. When we get to look past that, though, there's far more intrigue to her character. With a bucketload of emotional intuitiveness enhanced by both her brilliant legilimency and sorrowful past, there's no doubt that these aspects of Queenie will become even more of a crucial addition to the #HarryPotter universe in future sequels.
The Sister Dynamic
From her very first entrance, we're all bewitched by Queenie. She embraces the 1920s flapper aesthetic with exceptional grace, so you can't help but develop a bit of a crush on her. What's particularly magical about this trait of hers is that it contrasts so greatly with her sister, Tina (Katherine Waterston), the "career girl" of the two.
As a result, we're given two different types of femininity embodied within the sisters. You have the somewhat stern, ambitious woman, determined to do her job to the best of her abilities — and the affectionate, charismatic woman, more interested in socialising with a variety of people.
We see both of them are attracted to the prospect of a potentially dangerous adventure, which makes Queenie particularly fascinating.
She Defies Expectations
Now, if we're going by a slightly sexist assumption here, we wouldn't expect a pretty little thing like Queenie to want to get involved in the hazardous situations that she encounters, because — by looking at her — our first impression might be that she's more concerned with her appearance than the world of wizard politics.
But that's the thing: Queenie loves to look good and keep up to date with the political climate (an assumption I'm making from the fact that she works at the Magical Congress of the United States of America). On top of that, she's willing to put herself in danger in order to save her sister with no questions asked.
She defies the expectation of being a "high maintenance" woman and is actually an extremely selfless and intelligent individual. It just makes you fall in love with her even more.
Her character reminds us of the usual lesson of "don't judge a book by its cover," but delivers another important message to us (particularly so to younger viewers): there is nothing weak or shameful about being feminine. As Alison Sudol put it herself:
"She’s soft and nurturing, and we need more female characters like that to show young women you can be feminine and that actually can be a strength."
A Fascinating History
Queenie's and Tina's childhood is a painful one: their parents died of Dragon Pox when they were young, leaving them to have to look after one another. Interestingly, this could actually enhance a point being made upon the shift in social attitudes that was already occurring at this point in history. The 1920s saw women gain more independence, as they were seen from a new perspective after their contribution to the First World War.
So, as Queenie and Tina became orphans as children, the implication is they probably learnt how to care for themselves very quickly, which is reflected by the fact that they still live together when we meet them in Fantastic Beasts. This then further emphasizes the more general challenge to women's roles at that time, as the two of them embody that newfound female independence in a more personal way.
Why the focus on Queenie? Her relationship with Jacob (Dan Fogler) somewhat hints at the sexual liberation Flappers achieved during their era, and also addresses the limitations that faced them, too. While Queenie and Jacob's relationship isn't a sexual one, the flirtation between the two of them demonstrates a new type of courting that was evolving as a result of women's liberation — one in which the woman approaches the man.
But we see that not much can happen between the couple, due to the social barriers preventing them from having a future together. There was still a stigma attached to flirtatious women, even with new romantic opportunities available to them. They were still expected not to pursue these opportunities, and to maintain far more conservative values.
Alongside her sister, Queenie sends us a message from the Wizarding World that's important to acknowledge in our current era: she reminds us that there's no shame in femininity or flirtatiousness. She defies the expectations of these characteristics, and in the process reveals a unique perspective on the lives of Flappers in 1920s America — and how there's far more to these women that what we see on the surface.
Why did you love Queenie? Sound off in the comments below!