Thursday, July 21, 2016

Harry Potter Reread: Order of the Phoenix

 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) 

Potter fever is ramping up this year thanks to two exciting new projects: the eighth story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be debuting in London's West End on July 30 and the first in a new movie trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will hit theaters in November. In preparation, I decided to revisit my most beloved series and blog about it. (Besides, I don't really need an excuse to reread Harry Potter.)

Origin Story

I am ashamed to say that I don't have a great story for when I first bought Order of the Phoenix. I didn't go to a midnight release party. Hell, I didn't even buy it at a bookstore. I bought it at...a supermarket. 

I do remember buying it the very day it came out. I think the reason I bought it at the supermarket was because it was a lot cheaper. (The retail price for the Canadian edition was $43.00!) But I don't even remember reading it right away. Maybe it was because I was rereading the other books first? I remember being spoiled about the big death at the end of the book so maybe that's why I put it off. 

I was excited for Order of the Phoenix but I think at that time I wasn't a hardcore fan of Harry Potter like I am now. (I know, I know, FOR SHAME!)


Things I Noticed This Time Around

p.34-When Aunt Petunia blurts out that she knows about Dementors and Harry asks how she knows, she says 'I heard - that awful boy - telling her about them - years ago.' Harry (and the reader) assumes that she is talking about James but she's really talking about Snape!

p.108-When Harry and co. are cleaning out Number 12, Grimmauld Place,
J.K. Rowling craftily sneaks in a passing mention of a horcrux - Slytherin's locket. 'There was a musical box that emitted a faintly sinister, tinkling tune when wound, and they all found themselves becoming curiously weak and sleepy, until Ginny had the sense to slam it shut; a heavy locket none of them could open; a number of ancient seals; and, in a dusty box, an Order of Merlin, First Class, that had been awarded to Sirius's grandfather for 'services to the Ministry.' This is so clever on Rowling's part because the reader would not know the significance of this until they had read the end of the series. This is why the Harry Potter series demands to be reread.

p.240-Harry's detention with Umbridge is truly one of the most disturbing parts in the entire series. Here is a grown woman basically torturing a teenage boy because he is daring to contradict her and the government's version of events. Throughout the novel, we see the Ministry of Magic use intimidation and slander to discredit anyone who thinks Voldemort has returned.

p.473-During one of Snape's Occlumency lessons with Harry, they have this exchange:

'I told you to empty yourself of emotion!'

'Yeah? Well, I'm finding that hard at the moment,' Harry snarled.

'Then you will find yourself easy prey for the Dark Lord! said Snape savagely. 'Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked so easily - weak people, in other words - they stand no chance against his powers! He will penetrate your mind with absurd ease, Potter!'

Snape's speech is an indication of how much he has had to conceal from Voldemort, how hard he has to work to protect his true thoughts and feelings from the Dark Lord. This, to me, explains a lot about the psychology of Severus Snape. Imagine having to hide your memories, thoughts, and feelings from someone skilled at penetrating minds. Snape would constantly have to be on his guard. He would have to essentially hide who he is. Now, Snape is one of my favorite characters of all time but I would never excuse his cruel and bullying nature. But I have a hunch that this is the thing that messed him up - never allowing himself to feel anything for anybody (with the exception of Lily), taking on a life of solitude, having no one to confide in, being used by people on both sides of the war - is it any wonder why he turned out the way he did?

Favorite Parts/Lines

p.149-When Mrs. Weasley finds out that Ron was made a prefect:

'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.

p.597-After Fred and George make their spectacular exit from Hogwarts, I love how Peeves becomes anarchy incarnate in their honor: 'But not even the users of the Snackboxes could compete with that master of chaos, Peeves, who seemed to have taken Fred's parting words deeply to heart. Cackling madly, he soared through the school, upending tables, bursting out of blackboards, toppling statues and vases; twice he shut Mrs Norris inside a suit of armor, from which she was rescued, yowling loudly, by the furious caretaker. Peeves smashed lanterns and snuffed out candles, juggled burning torches over the heads of screaming students, caused neatly stacked piles of parchment to topple into fires or out of windows; flooded the second floor when he pulled off all the taps in the bathrooms, dropped a bag of tarantulas in the middle of the Great Hall during breakfast and, whenever he fancied a break, spent hours at a time floating along after Umbridge and blowing loud raspberrries every time she spoke.'

p.743-'There is a room in the Department of Mysteries,' interrupted Dumbledore, 'that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all. That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power also saved you from possession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of a force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you.'

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the force Dumbledore is talking about is love. I wonder what the room dedicated to the study of love looks like?

Concluding Thoughts

Order of the Phoenix sometimes gets flack from HP fans for being too long, too angsty, and too depressing. Yes, it can be depressing and yes, it is a bit of a slog to get through sometimes. And in some scenes you're dying for Harry to just, like, chill already. But after rereading Order of the Phoenix, it strikes me how brilliant the novel is. There are so many plot threads to keep track of, but Rowling ties them all together brilliantly. Harry might be a tad angry in this installment but he's far from boring. And while the book has a reputation for being depressing, it also has some of the best humor in the entire series. (Humor that is sadly missing from the film adaptation.)  

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