The Lion and the Serpent

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Chapter 19 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Lion and the Serpent← Chapter 18 | Chapter 20 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry is pleased with the D.A.'s progress, and he takes great pleasure in flouting Umbridge's regulations. With various team Quidditch practices, it is difficult to have a regular night for Dumbledore's Army to meet, but Hermione has a solution: she gives everyone fake Galleons that transmit messages. Harry can use them to summon them for the next meeting. Terry Boot is impressed, saying this is a Protean Charm, and it is NEWT-level magic.

The first Quidditch match is approaching, and Ron is a nervous wreck. Their opponent is Slytherin, and the students are wearing badges reading, "Weasley is our King". It is a cruel effort to undermine Ron's confidence by implying he will win the game for Slytherin with his poor Keeping skills. During the game, Slytherin students sing, "Weasley is our King" to further unnerve him. It apparently works, as Ron plays badly, missing several shots, but Harry catches the Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor.

After the game, Harry (already angry after Crabbe hit him with a bludger after the final whistle) and George Weasley jump Malfoy and his cronies for mocking Ron. McGonagall hauls them into her office and assigns each a week's detention. However, Umbridge barges in with another Decree in hand, declaring she now has sole authority over all student discipline. Over McGonagall's protests, she permanently bans Harry and George from Quidditch. She also bans Fred Weasley, even though he was never involved in the incident. Umbridge also confiscates their brooms.

In the Common room, Angelina frets over losing her team Beaters and Seeker, then goes to bed. Only Harry, Hermione, and Ginny are left in the common room when Ron arrives, still wearing his Quidditch robes. He threatens to quit the team, saying he never should have thought he could be a Keeper. When he hears about Umbridge's permanent bans, Ron says it is the worst he has ever felt, to which Harry agrees. Hermione tells them something that cheers them up: Hagrid is back.

Analysis[edit]

Just as Harry's unhappy mood was improving, Umbridge squashes it yet again. She grows more dictatorial by the day, and it seems she constantly passes new decrees solely to increase her power. She obviously favours Slytherins. Although Crabbe was involved in the fight, he only had to write lines as his punishment, while Harry, Fred, and George were permanently banned from Quidditch. That Fred was included, even though he was uninvolved in the incident, shows how biased and vicious Umbridge truly is. Harry had previously asked Sirius if he thought Umbridge was a Death Eater. Sirius does not believe she is, and her actions seemingly support this. Rather, they indicate a growing addiction to, and abuse of, power.

Umbridge's implementing the Ministry's agenda is further seen. She, along with Cornelius Fudge and other Ministry officials, continues a public smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore, in an attempt to refute their claims that the Dark Lord has arisen. Close-minded and paranoid, they still suspect Dumbledore is recruiting Hogwarts students for a secret wizard army with which to overthrow the Ministry. Umbridge was likely placed at Hogwarts solely as Fudge's spy and to deliberately meddle in its operations; nothing so far changes that belief, and she fully utilizes her ever-increasing and Ministry-backed authority to prevent Harry or Dumbledore from becoming what is perceived as an even greater threat. Banning Harry from Quidditch seems designed to demoralize, and thus further discredit, Harry publicly. It is uncertain why she chooses to also ban Fred, despite her "explanation"; the obvious reason appears to be spite, he (and George) supports Harry, and, "because I can."

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Review[edit]

  1. Why did Crabbe receive such a light punishment for the same offense as Harry and the Twins?
  2. Why would calling Ron a "King" be insulting and what effect does it have on him? Who is doing it?
  3. Why would Umbridge ban both Weasley twins from Quidditch when only one was involved in the incident with Malfoy?
  4. Why would Umbridge confiscate the students' brooms?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why does Umbridge favor Slytherin students?
  2. Why is McGonagall angry at Umbridge? What does this indicate?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Umbridge will shortly demonstrate her unreasoning hatred of what she terms "half-breeds": magical creatures who are either part-human (like Hagrid) or have human characteristics. We will see this in how she treats Hagrid, and later her reaction to the Centaurs in the Forbidden Forest. This actually suggests that Umbridge will create more difficulties for Harry. With his broom confiscated and his Quidditch ban, Harry's only enjoyment will be teaching Dumbledore's Army and his friends, notably Hagrid. Hagrid's return is heartening, but with Umbridge threatening to sack him, yet another pleasure and security in Harry's life is threatened.

Ron lacking confidence in his own Keeping abilities will be a recurring thread in this book and the next. He finally hits his stride in time for the year's final match, which will be won, and the Quidditch Cup with it, thanks to his efforts. However, he loses faith in himself again by the next book. This is likely meant to illuminate Ron's still emerging and vacillating maturity; he tries out for Keeper but lacks the inner strength to keep at it, and, after disappointments on the field, he wants to quit. It is only external influences that convinces him to keep trying. This behavioral pattern is quite realistically rendered; one can see the author's awareness of how boys venture into new and complicated endeavors.