(Click the character infographic to download.)
House: Gryffindor, 4th Year
Ron has kind of a lousy time in Goblet of Fire, since he spends much of it consumed with jealousy. First off, as J.K. Rowling has commented: "he's made friends with the most famous boy in his year, and that's not easy, it's not easy to be in this situation" (source).
Harry's been famous since Ron first met him, what with being the Boy Who Lived and all. But finally, after three years of patience, the fact of Harry's fame seems to start getting to Ron. When Harry's name jumps out of the Goblet of Fire, Ron's convinced that Harry put his own name in and deliberately left Ron's out. And even though Hermione assures Harry that she knows Ron misses him, Ron is too stubborn to apologize for his assumptions about Harry's fame-seeking behavior. It's not until Ron watches Harry almost get killed by a dragon in the first task that he's able to unbend enough to apologize. He finally decides that Harry's been put up for the Triwizard Tournament as part of a murder plot, and Ron goes back to being the supportive friend he's always been.
But that's just the start of jealousy for poor Ron. Just as he's got Harry squared away, Ron's troubles with Hermione start. Ron takes Hermione absolutely for granted. When neither he nor Harry can get a date for the Yule Ball, Ron tells Hermione unflatteringly: "Hermione, Neville's right – you are a girl ..." (22.154). (We can already tell this isn't going to go well.) Hermione points out that she's going with someone else, and shouts: "Just because it's taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn't mean no one else has spotted I'm a girl!" (22.161).
Ron is then completely jealous of Hermione's mystery partner – later revealed to be Viktor Krum – but he can't for the life of him figure out why it bothers him so much. In fact, Ron is so amazingly dense about his feelings for Hermione that he thinks he's mad because Viktor Krum is Harry's opponent in the Triwizard Tournament. Huh?
Hermione, being much more emotionally aware than Ron, knows exactly what's wrong. She advises him, "Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!" (23.240). Ron thinks Hermione's gone nuts, but we agree with Harry: "Hermione had gotten the point much better than Ron had" (23.243).
By the end of the book, Ron still doesn't seem to know exactly what was happening between him and Hermione around the Yule Ball. But he does finally give in and ask for an autograph from Viktor Krum – the best professional Seeker in the Quidditch world. This goes to show what we like about Ron: he's got a hot temper on him, for sure. And he holds grudges like the stubborn mule that he is. But he's also an essentially good-hearted guy, and he'll always do the right thing in the end.
Also, as a final note, we'd like to point out that Ron has plenty of reason to be jealous. He's got a loving family and good friends, sure. But he's also terribly poor, and his family is of a relatively low social status in the wizarding world. Harry has a lot on his plate, but he's also fantastically wealthy as a wizard. Ron has to deal with his poverty a lot in this book, from the hideous hand-me-down robes that his mother gets him for the Yule Ball to the disappearing leprechaun gold he accidentally tries to use to pay for souvenirs at the Quidditch World Cup. As Ron says straight out, "I hate being poor [...] It's rubbish" (28.99-101). Because there's no way to magic money out of thin air (at least, not money that lasts) (source), Ron's poverty isn't going away any time soon.
This poverty is something that Ron has in common with J.K. Rowling when she was working on Book 1 as a single mom. She has commented:
I think I really gave [Harry] a fortune because I was so broke when I – when I wrote the first book, and it was wishful thinking that I would not have to worry about such things. (source)
Most of us have been in the position Ron and Rowling share, of wishing that we didn't "have to worry" about things like money and material possessions. We can only hope that, like J.K. Rowling, we'll become bestselling authors one day – or that we'll win the Lottery *fingers crossed*.